When it rains at Bryn Mawr, the campus completely transforms. First of all, you realize how many geese are on campus. On my way past Thomas today, I counted 47 geese on the green in front of Thomas alone. It was a goose party. Two of them were even playing tag.  Second, everyone who forgot to close their windows goes into a state of panic. 90% of the windows on this campus leak in the rain, but a good 75% of those windows have wide windowsills that people like to put art, plants or digital clocks on. When it rains, all of these things get soaked, which means that 66% of these things will be ruined. Third, you realize how cute everyone else’s umbrellas are. While I’m trudging along with my plain blue umbrella, the campus is festooned with owl-printed, polka-dotted, and rainbow striped umbrellas.

Despite the fact that everyone has cute umbrellas, and everyone leaves them outside the dining hall, or the library, or the gym so that they don’t track water everywhere, umbrellas don’t really get stolen. I’ve lost an umbrella before, but I’ve never had one stolen. I think this shows how well Bryn Mawr’s honor code works. Even though a person might be stranded in the library without an umbrella when it’s downpouring, and even though it suck to have to go outside without an umbrella, and even though there’s a whole pile of umbrellas just inside the door, people don’t take them. It’s just not nice, and then the person whose umbrella it was will be stranded without an umbrella. It’s an example of how people here really care about each other, and how they don’t do the easiest thing if it’s the wrong thing. The honor code is alive and well at Bryn Mawr.

It was alumni weekend this past week. For athletes, that meant that we got to compete with our old teammates again. For all Mawrters, it meant that we got to reunite with some of our friends who had graduated. The life of a Mawrter after graduation, be it two years down the road or twenty years down the road, is inherently interesting to everyone on campus. It’s also a little scary. What will we do once the chapter in our life titled “Bryn Mawr” (as it is in Katherine Hepburn’s autobiography) is over? Will we decide to keep going down the scholastic path, to med school or law school or some other graduate program? Will we instead decide to try our luck in the job market, to put our internship experiences to immediate use? Will there ever be another time in our lives when we will be able to watch this much Netflix?

After catching up with my friends who are currently trying to figure out the answer to all of these questions, I’ve realized that it’s never quite clear. Sometimes you figure out the answer one day and it changes drastically the next. Even those who have a plan still check the horizon every once in a while and find it completely different. They are always looking toward the future, adjusting their course and dreaming about what they could do better, how they can push the limits to become all that they can be.

At Bryn Mawr, we have time each semester to chart our path for the next few months. As I’m pre-registering for classes I’m checking that horizon again, adjusting my route based on the new goals that I have for myself and my future. I have new expectaions for myself; ways that I can be better and get the most out of my final three semesters in this extraordinary place. My friends who have graduated are doing that all the time. At Bryn Mawr we learn to look up, because you never know what might be on the horizon.

Graduating from Bryn Mawr doesn’t mean that you’ve made it; it means that you’ve just begun. Once you graduate there’s a whole host of challenges, ones that most likely won’t involve Plenary resolutions or the 7am shift at Erdman. But what we learn at Plenary will help us in law school, or even in navigating business politics, and working as part of the Erdman team is a valuable step on the way to working as a part of a functional unit in the future. What I learned from the alums is that while the point of Bryn Mawr is to prepare us for the future, the point of Bryn Mawr is also to be at Bryn Mawr. It’s important to enjoy it while it lasts, because graduation is just around the corner. But after that there’s still Sunday brunches on alumni weekend.

Last weekend, the cross country team participated in the Centennial Conference championship. It was a cold, rainy, windy day for a cross country meet. By the time all 319 runners had completed their races, the course was a mudslide. By the end of the day, racers and spectators alike were all soaked, and my team had to huddle together to help warm up the racers, who had run for 30 minutes in just tank tops and shorts.

Despite the weather, Bryn Mawr cross country had one of its best Conference finishes in a while, and definitely the best Conference finish that this generation of the team has ever seen. Last year, we edged Gettysburg by just one point, a point that could have come down to a matter of seconds in a 24 minute race.  This year, we beat them by 11 points, a difference that is not attributable to seconds.

In other news, track season is right around the corner. For some, it is already upon us. This Monday, I threw shot put for the first time in months, and it was a rude awakening. Based on the way my fellow shotputters have been gingerly lifting even the lightest of objects, I would say that it is a universal truth that even doing 500 pushups a week (a summer regime that lasted a surprisingly long time) and benching in a somewhat regular manner is not the same as heaving a 4k (8.8lb) iron ball across a field. Or, in my case, a third of the way across a field.  The difference between training for the 5k and training for every track event under the sun is stark. Gone are the arm lifts that consisted of 50 pushups. Gone are the squat lifts where I could squat low weights as long as I could do it 30 times. Now, it’s a whole new world of squatting my body weight in sets of 3 of the most intense movements I have made. I’m actually benching again, and I won’t be allowed to get away with using assistance on my pull-ups.

Where in cross country I ran in the pouring rain, I now throw in the pitch black. Each throw is accompanied by at least 2 minutes of shuffling around in the leaves in the field where we throw, punctuated by shouts of “I found it! …Nope, just a rock” because an iron shotput is hard to see under leaves at night. Soon I’ll be starting hurdles and block starts and long jump and high jump. My knees will collect bruises from hitting the hurdles, my shoes will fill with sand from the long jump pit, and despite all this I just can’t wait for track.

For the past few days, there has been a strange noise in my hall. It sounds squeaky, but when I poke my head out of my room, the hallway is empty. Since it's only been happening for a short while, I deduce that it must be due to Halloween. Perhaps, Rockefeller dorm is haunted. There are two options, it could be a haunting of Bryn Mawr, or it could be a Rockefeller-related ghost. Bryn Mawr legend (i.e. what a tour guide told me when I visited Bryn Mawr) has it that Rockefeller built this dorm for his niece so that she would go to Bryn Mawr. He even had all the doorknobs made a custom height, because she was very short, under 5 feet, and he wanted her to be comfortable here. Unfortunately, she did not end up attending Bryn Mawr, but fortunately, Bryn Mawr got a beautiful dorm out of the deal. The whole story has the feeling of possible bad blood, so there could be a ghost there. A cursory Google search doesn't reveal any satisfactory ghost stories, so I am going to make up my own.

Once upon a time there was a young woman who attended Bryn Mawr College. In the spring of her sophomore year, she met a handsome man at a Princeton social. He was studying to be a lawyer, and she knew instantly that she had never met a more good-hearted man in her entire life. The love that blossomed between the two was as fierce as it was lasting. They sent love letters back and forth between their two campuses and visited each other as much as possible. They exchanged tokens of their love and spent much time together reading, walking along Rhoads pond, and even a few fabulous evenings at the symphony in the city. The young woman loved to look into the eyes of her beloved and hear her name on his lips. Whenever he visited, they always bid each other goodbye underneath Rockefeller arch, because legend had it that lovers who kissed under that arch would be together forever. When the two finally graduated, they quickly got engaged and set a date to be married. On the day of the wedding, the groom was travelling to the wedding by train, as he had been attending an interview at a prestigious law firm the day before. The time of the wedding came, and passed, but the groom did not show up. The bride was very worried, but she stayed strong because she had faith in her beloved; she knew that he would never desert her. They would be together forever.

Finally, a police officer showed up at the door of the chapel and asked for the parents of the groom. The train had been taken over by a gang of bandits who had robbed, beaten and shot many of the passengers on the train, including the groom. A bloodstained handkerchief, monogrammed with the initials of the bride, was the token that the officer had brought to the bereaved family. Hearing this, the bride fled from the room before anyone could stop her. Blinded by grief, she didn't know where she was running, but she knew what the last words on her lips would be: "Together forever".

To this day, the ghost of the brokenhearted young woman still haunts the place where she and her beloved made their promise, and her cries sound distinctly like the squeaky wheel of a hand truck.

Happy Halloween!

My fall break this year was a whirlwind. On Friday, I drove 6 ½ hours through traffic to go home to New England. I spent some quality time with my family and even more quality time the chocolate cheesecake cupcakes that my sister baked. On Wednesday, I drove 5 hours through less traffic to get back to Bryn Mawr. I spent some quality time with my team (kind of like an extended family) and even more quality time with the white chocolate chip pumpkin cookies that my teammate baked. There seems to be a pattern here.

apple team

Apple picking with my lovely team!
photo credits to Coach

On Friday, a week after my fall break began, I rode in a bus for 6 hours through traffic to go to New England for a cross country meet. It was the Seven Sisters meet, one of the biggest meets of our season. Seven Sisters is special because even though everyone has a different name on their singlet, we all cheer for each other during the race. After the race, all the teams get mixed up and we have lunch together. The food this year was phenomenal (lasagna and tiramisu for dessert) and the company was even better. My freshman year I met a girl who was also from Connecticut and had the same track coach as me. This year she made the All-Seven Sisters team. My sophomore year I got to sit next to one of my best friends from high school who goes to school over 300 miles away from me. This year, I met a girl from Ohio who taught me how to cheer like a Buckeye (you put your hand over your head like an O, then point them up to the sky for the “hi”, and then put them in an O again). Seven Sisters is a meet where you not only get closer to your own team, but to other teams as well.

sisters team

photo credits to Matt

On Saturday, I rode in a bus for 5 ½ hours to come back to campus. I hope I don’t see another exit, toll booth, or construction zone until Thanksgiving.

This semester, I am taking a class at Villanova. I’ve found that not many Mawrters know that this is an option, but if you’re motivated, it is! I’m taking anatomy and physiology, which involves memorizing more things than I thought was possible to shove into your brain at once. So far, I really like Villanova. People are friendly, the professor is approachable (she told me that she liked my Eagles shirt on Friday, so she gets extra points).

It’s nice to get off campus for a little bit. Even though Villanova is just 5 minutes down the road, it’s a completely different place. There are many ways I can highlight this, but the best example happened on Friday. Walking out of class, I spotted an interesting event. There was an L.L. Bean sale in the middle of Villanova’s campus, complete with a car shaped like a Bean boot. Coats were being sold, a few students were participating in a Bean boot toss, and best of all, there was a golden retriever puppy. I don’t know where the puppy came from, but it was adorable. This would never happen at Bryn Mawr for two reasons. 1.) Half of the students would be like “excuse me, but what is a Bean boot?” Even though I, being from a small New England town, saw nothing but Bean boots all winter long, the large West Coast, Southern, and international population would be unenthused by a car shaped like a giant boot. 2.) Everyone would be too excited by the puppy to buy anything. If given the choice between petting a fluffy, adorable puppy and buying a practical coat for the coming winter, most people would choose the puppy. But this is how Villanova is different from Bryn Mawr.

Great news! Plenary was a SUCCESS!! And given recent Plenaries, I have very low standards for a successful Plenary. In fact, I only have 1 standard: in order for Plenary to be successful, we have to finish all of the resolutions. There were a lot of resolutions, because some of them had been waiting for a year to be heard. The important thing was, however, that all of the resolutions were heard. The other important thing was that, after 2 years of starving through Plenary, I finally remembered to bring a sandwich to eat in the lobby. That way I didn’t have to join the mad post-Plenary dash to Haffner, only to sit there and eat salad and ice cream until full dinner came out half an hour later. But no matter how proud I am of my food-remembering abilities, I am much prouder of my hellee, who passed her first Plenary resolution (YAYYY!!!) and all of SGA and the Plenary committee who kept an 11-resolution Plenary as efficient as possible.

plenary

**Disclaimer: This post discusses some topics that may be sensitive to some people. I have tried to be as open-minded as possible when discussing these events.

There was a demonstration on campus this weekend. Students encircled part of the campus (through Rock Arch and then around through Pembroke Arch), holding hands and chanting. We did it to show solidarity, to show how strong our voices can be. It also showed how quickly campus can come to action.

But the thing that hit me most about the experience was the connection. From a biological perspective, the human hand has thousands of neurons packed under your skin. This means that your hand has an incredible capacity to make connections with the world around it and communicate all of those connections with your brain. This is why I think that showing solidarity by holding hands, sometimes with perfect strangers, can be so powerful. Your hand provides so much input about the person next to you, and tells the hand you’re holding so much about you.

One more thing that all those hands were doing was tweeting up a storm. Look for the hashtags #bmcbanter, #BecauseIAm #IfIWere and you will find more insight into the demonstration than I can put into this post.

demo 1 demo 2

This summer I worked with students with special needs at a vocational education center in my town. Since I live in a beach town, this meant that I got to take them to the beach every week.

Picture a relaxing day at the beach: laying on a beach towel, the sound of the waves crashing on the shore and a good book in your hand (my picks this summer: some Oliver Sacks, The Casual Vacancy, and a few travel books), getting nice and toasty in the sun. This is what I did when I was not at work. When I was at work, I spent beach days giving a 7-year-old piggy back rides in the water while trying to keep her from drinking up the entire ocean. When it was time for us to go back for lunch, she would sprint, covered in sand, across the beach, not caring if she stepped on towels or sprayed sand on people. When I caught her she would be all giggles and hugs and it would be impossible to be anything but charmed. And a little tired.

My other favorite part of work was teaching social skills and cooking skills to kids with high-functioning ASD. I liked the social skills part because it was so rewarding to watch them start to use their People Files and refer to the Friendship Pyramid with ease. I liked the cooking skills part because we got to eat the final product.

A few weeks ago, I competed in the heptathlon at the conference championship meet. The most interesting experience I had all weekend was my long jump experience. Long jump is part of the heptathlon, but I had also qualified as an individual. Unfortunately, the mark I got in my heptathlon long jump would not count toward my mark as an individual, so I would have to long jump twice in the same day. This doesn’t sound too bad, but I also had to do six other events that weekend. Heptathlon long jump was the first event of the second day. I was on the top of my game and jumped a personal best long jump. If only that jump had counted for regular competition too.
Less than 10 minutes before the final event of the heptathlon, the 800 meter run, went off, the individual long jump competition started. Each long jumper gets three tries, but I would only have time for my first try before I had to go to the starting line. I ran the same approach that I had run for my successful jump earlier, but I was so nervous about the 800 that I ended up fouling the jump and not getting a mark. Trying to push the unsuccessful long jump attempt out of my mind, I headed to the start line of the 800, determined to focus on only that even for the 3 minutes it would take for my heptathlon career to be over. Both times I ran past the long jump pit, I made a point to ignore what was going on, and instead focus on the cheers from my teammates who had circled the track in support of my teammate and me.
The thing about mid distance races such as the 800 is that by the end, your legs feel a little numb, or at least very shaky. This race was no different. As soon as I got off the finish line, while my fellow heptathletes were congratulating each other and contemplating what type of pizza they were going to get now that the two-day competition was over, I was walking as fast as my shaky legs would allow me back to the long jump pit. If I hadn’t missed all of my attempts, I might be able to get a mark, albeit a very short one. The problem was that there was a rather large crowd of coaches and teammates gathered around the long jump ref and I had very little breath to tell them to move so I could talk to the ref. Just as I approached the crowd, I heard the ref call out my name for my third and final attempt. “I’m here!” I shouted, stumbling through the crowd. “I’m here!” The entire crowd turned to look at the crazy, breathless girl tripping toward them. In long jump, once your name is called, you have a minute to start your approach or you are disqualified. I walked as steadily as I could to the end of the runway, my legs feeling about as strong as Bambi’s in the scene where he first learns to walk. In the short 60 seconds that I had, I caught my breath as well as I could. This time, I stared the board down. I wasn’t going to step over it; I couldn’t foul. My foot hit right on the board, and I landed in the pit. A perfectly legal jump. Even from looking at it, I could tell it was short, but I didn’t care. None of the other jumpers had run an 800 right before their attempts, so in my book it was pretty impressive. And as it turned out, the ref took pity on me and allowed me to make up the jump that I had missed after the rest of my flight finished, and I jumped a respectable distance on that one. It wasn’t anywhere near my personal best, but it was decent . Especially considering it was my eighth event of the weekend.

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