03 March 2010

Scopin' the Scene or We're All on a Boat Like Leo

When I was younger, I used to be friends with this homeless man named Frank. He lived in my town square and would have me collect leftover food from the dumpster behind the nearest Chinese restaurant. We would sit and eat it together, and he would always say things like, "Never turn your back on an angry hippo!" and "Those damned Frenchies take away all the fun." Sometimes, we had leftovers from our leftovers, and I would carry some food home in wrinkled placemats and my mom would scream and faint. Whenever that happened, my dad let us have breakfast for dinner and play with firecrackers!

...joke. But I did eat Chinese food sometimes. And whenever I went to Chinese restaurants, the placemats would always have the Chinese zodiac on them, with lots of pretty pictures of all the animals. Arriving in the restaurant, I would leap onto my booster seat (I was a smart and agile 3 year old) and I would immediately find the description of the "Year of the Horse."
"Horses have a pleasant, easy going disposition which guarantees popularity and a large following of friends...etc."
"OH EM GEE THAT'S SO ME!!" I would exclaim. My parents would look at me awkwardly, and quietly sip their wonton soup.

Anyway, the point is that I could not help but feel duped when I realized that EVERY SINGLE ONE of my friends was a horse. How can that possibly be specific to me if it applies to every single member of such a diverse group of 1990ers?

And then there's the astrological zodiac. While the concept is a little more believable than the Chinese one, the whole thing is a little bit ridiculous. Horoscopes are designed so that EVERYONE can say, "Wow! That applies to me!" They even have a link for yesterday's horoscope, so everyone can see how the previous day's events were written in the stars. These writers must be undiscovered geniuses, based on the way that they can make these predictions so obviously vague but so utterly appealing.

Angelica Haynes' horoscope, for example, tells her to "explore new horizons." Well, Angelica, you're fulfilling fate even if you just wear a bracelet that is a little crazy, or you try a new spicy food. When are we NOT encouraged to explore new horizons?? Did your teachers ever say to you, "Kids, stay WITHIN the box, and only eat cheerios and ketchup for the rest of your life!"

(Frank used to say that sentence to me a lot, but that's a different story).

MY horoscope today told me that my friends and family would need some words of wisdom from me. How fortuitous that I have a blog!

Wisdom: stop looking up at those stars every once and a while, and make sure you don't trip over life.


A watched pot never boils!


02 March 2010

La Vie Boheme or Classification Nation

Today I attended a play at nearby Emerson college. My friends Nathan Stanley and Amelia Harper performed excellently (good job guys!). But this post is not about one play in particular, but about the subculture that surrounds theatre in general. Arriving early and alone, armed only with an orgo textbook (which is not appealing) I had ample time to people-watch. The creatures that I observed truly fascinated me.

The girls I saw were not dressed flashily. Most had a mild air of superiority about them, and maybe a nose ring. Some were sporting scarves. They all knew each other. They wore overwhelming, but nice-smelling perfume.
The guys were, for the most part, gay. They interacted with each other and the girls in an open way that you never really see on most college campuses. They wore tees and zip-up sweatshirts that made them look way more casual than people usually look here.
Most people, guys and girls, had really fashionable eyeglasses. I mean, really fashionable. The girl in front of me had bright pink frames. They absolutely put mine to shame.

What do I make of this? This artsy, bohemian culture is way different than anything I usually come across at Harvard. It amazes me that an entire college can be largely characterized by this one subset of people. Are all universities like this?

Let's take Harvard to use as an example. I mean, the easy thing to say is that the people that go here are the "intellectuals" of our society. But compare us to a school like MIT (which is right down the river) and the students look like apples and oranges.

At places like Williams (which is definitely full of intelligent people), students walk to class in their pajamas. But at Harvard? If you're not showered and dressed in your Sunday best for your 9 AM class, there's always a little bit of judgment going on. Upper middle class attitude dominates the social scene--if you don't come from a wealthy family and private school, you're expected to act like you do.

I think that most college campuses can be characterized in a similar way. My POINT, however, is that I think that people let their school shape who they are to become in more ways than simply their education. It's true that we're all just 20 year olds (more or less)--how different can we be? But in the context of one's university, a lot of change is possible. I find myself restricting the number of days I let myself wear sweat pants and sneakers to class. I take international diversity for granted. I've bought into the final club thing.

At theatre schools like Emerson, students will similarly find themselves slowly blending into the liberal atmosphere that surrounds it.

Should we make a conscious decision to stop this process? I don't know. We chose our schools for a reason. Just don't let yourself get to the point where you alienate yourself from the millions of other college students out there.

A baker's dozen,