Two figures stand under a tree near the Bowdoin Chapel. It is a birch tree or maybe an oak—I am not sure, and it doesn’t even matter. The tree is just beginning to bloom. Its silvery green leaves shudder in the cool May breeze, and its rosy buds are filled to burst with flowers that reach to meet the morning sun and cast stippled shadows across the grass.
In high school, I spent countless hours babysitting younger kids. It was my primary source of spending-money and more importantly an experience that helped me grow immensely as a person. Kids are full of contagious enthusiasm that makes it hard to be anything but happy when you’re around them.
“So, you’re a vivid dreamer. You really need to get those dreams analyzed,” my doctor told me with the authority of her white coat and the distance of a wide desk. I discussed the recurring themes and characters in my dreams: my middle school volleyball coach, my first boyfriend, my second boyfriend, my family friends, my parents.
During my time away from Bowdoin, my life changed dramatically when somebody close to me was diagnosed with a severe case of bipolar disorder. Part of their diagnosis also included “psychotic tendencies,” or sensory experiences of things that do not exist and/or beliefs with no basis in reality.
Eight months ago I checked into Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, changed into a hospital gown and mustard-colored socks and plummeted into the depths of general anesthesia to the sound of Paul Simon’s first solo album.
I was walking around Boston, having a joyous time. It was nice to be in a new city where I could forget my problems for a day. I wouldn’t say I was in epic emotional turmoil, but a month earlier I was officially diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, put on some pretty hefty medication, told that my Nordic ski career was toast and that I would potentially never be able to exercise again.
If I had a dollar for every time I heard a complaint about hookup culture, I would have at least enough to buy dinner for two. As I fantasize about wine and candlelight, I wonder what has become of dating.
I am quite fond of my life in Brunswick, but the weeks between fall break and Thanksgiving break are enough to drive anybody bananas and, coupled with the overloaded semester I had created for myself, I was ready to leave—or so I thought.
There are three fish that live in a tank in the waiting room of the Counseling Center on College Street and every week I get to spend a few minutes just staring at them. One is fat and large, it swims slowly and only turns just as it reaches the glass wall.
Relationships between the administration and student body are an integral part of a high functioning college or university. Humanizing our institutional superiors provides us a sense of companionship and support rather than discomfort and condescension as we persist in our academic, extracurricular and social endeavors.
Recently, many of my friends and peers have posted the hashtag “MeToo” on their Facebook pages. This hashtag makes a pretty compelling statement: sexual harassment and assault are still a long, long way from being preventable on Bowdoin’s campus or any place in general.
In May of 1945, Joseph H. Johnson Jr. ’44 found himself shimmying down a rope into Adolf Hitler’s library. Once ornate with handmade bookshelves of wood and glass, the library had been moved from the second floor to underground, thereby protected by the body of the mountain when British troops bombed Hitler’s Berghof home five days before his death.
When Arthur McArthur Jr. graduated from Bowdoin in 1850, there was no Office of Career Planning to point him to jobs at Deloitte and L.L. Bean. His first decade after college was a whirlwind comedy of errors: he sailed off to the Gold Rush in California but almost starved in Panama, he joined a filibustering expedition to conquer Central America but washed up on a coral reef in the Caribbean, and he served as a major in the Civil War but was shot dead by a sniper in an orchard outside of Richmond, VA.
It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that the photos captioned #bowdoinabroad on Instagram don’t tell the full story. Instagram never does; there’s no way that a filtered square can capture an entire semester. And yet I spent this past spring posting photo after photo, scrolling through cleverly captioned snapshots and trying to define and tell my own story without the context of everything I knew.
New Yorkers like to brag about how good our drinking water is, straight from the tap. And, okay, New Yorkers like to brag about a lot of things—but the drinking water really is excellent. When I left the city for Maine, though, I went straight to the salt water.
“The Fuckboy, in his current form, aims for the night, aims for the break, goals to ghost. The Softboy strings you along under loftier auspices. He is Nice yet Complicated; this isn’t just a hookup. It’s a series of such,” wrote Alan Hanson in his article “Have You Encountered the Softboy?”
Lillian Eckstein ’18 read this piece aloud to me a couple of months ago with the premise, “HOW HAVE YOU NOT READ THIS?” I cannot help but assume she was implicitly commenting on my softboy past.
A simple phrase justified my self-hatred. “That’s so gay.” I remember feeling numb as I stared into the eyes of my friend’s mother, shocked as she spoke the words in reference to her son’s unwarranted detention.
I have a cheap Richard Prince print on my dorm-room wall from his Untitled (Fashion) series. I downloaded the image from the internet and turned it into a poster. (I figured this would be within bounds based on Prince’s own relationship with appropriating others’ work.) I like the image because it’s simple and suggests our own complicity in consumer culture by appropriating what was originally a magazine ad.
I have the voice recordings from every interview I have conducted as an Orient reporter. At last count, I had 105, an average of slightly more than two interviews per week. They occupy a non-negligible portion of my phone’s memory space.
Living at school with a disability is tough. As someone who survived a brain infection three years ago and had to relearn to read, speak and walk without falling, I know my fair share of what tough is.
Recently, my friends have stopped asking me if I’m going to drink this weekend. I can’t tell if I like it. On the one hand, I now no longer have to explain, “no, I still can’t drink—yeah I’m still feeling the symptoms of my concussion—yeah it has been about 10 months now.” On the other hand, the fact that they have stopped asking also suggests that they, like me, see no time in the near future when I might be fully recovered.
Every now and then someone will ask me where I am from and I’ll tell them that I’m from Baltimore. One of two reactions follow. Either my questioner will hesitantly accept the answer and walk away or they’ll try again.