Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Such sweet sorrow...

I read somewhere (I think that it was in The Making of Princeton University) that it takes two years to make a college student, and two more to make a college graduate. Freshmen don't know anything; sophomores think they know everything; juniors know what they don't know. Seniors? As a responsible junior, I must admit I don't quite know what seniors know or don't. Hopefully what they're doing with their lives. And yet, does anyone really know that? When he was 21 Louis XIV threw off the yoke of his regents and declared quite calmly that he was the State. But did he know at that point that he would be the Sun King? I mean, come on! The friggin' Sun King.

Among the things I know I don't know is this: what to do with my life. I also don't have the advantage of being King of the Kingdom of France. (Rather redundant sadly.) It's terrifying. But I suppose the point is that worrying about not being Louis XIV, or Napoleon (a general by 26) is rather pointless. It could be worse. I could be Marie Antoinette. Instead I'm me. Martha Vega. Maybe some day that name will mean something. Maybe it won't. But either way, I'm going to go get lost in the Firestone stacks. I've still got two more years to be a college graduate, and a whole lot more to find my destiny. Meanwhile, I don't want to miss out on everything Princeton has to offer (Firestone, apples, free T-shirts...). Who knows, maybe I'll even meet myself as I wander through the subterranean labyrinth.

For just this instant, however, it is the end of an era, albeit a little one. The time has come to end this post, and with it my relationship with this blog. And so as a worthier pen than mine penned: "Good-night, good-night! Parting is such sweet sorrow."


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

It's a dark and stormy night...

There's something electrifying about thunder isn't there? The rain sounds so heavy I have half a mind to go out of doors and wash my hair in the rain.


Monday, October 8, 2007

Yeah, but what about Goldman Sachs?


Everything I've Learned about Being a Good "Wife"...

A List of Things I Have Learned to do at Princeton
1. Knit
2. Cook


Sunday, October 7, 2007

Whitman at Night

Because images are lacking and I don't want to do my reading.
I had originally tried to do a panorama. This was all that could be salvaged.


Saturday, October 6, 2007

C a m p u s S a f e t y A l e r t

Campus Safety Alert

This notice is to advise you of an incident that concerns the University community

I won't ask if you received a bunch of these emails recently, because I know all of you have if you live, study, work, or breathe, on campus, on a regular basis. On the other hand, I really don't know how many of you read them.

To summarize: within such and such a period of time, in such and such a dormitory, three laptops were taken from an unlocked room. Please follow these safety tips: always lock your doors (and this is bolded), get a computer lock, and so on, and so forth.

Yesterday, we received an update: the laptops had been taken as a prank, and have since been returned. The same safety tips follow (though locking your doors is no longer in bold).

The entire incident was pretty pointless, despite the thrilling headline ("Incident: burglary and theft"). I'm glad that our campus is so safe that a drawn-out prank is pretty much the extent of our worries.


Instant gratification.

One of the problems with the Internet is that it's instant. The second after I press in Princeton, my friend in Cambridge (England, not MA) can read what I've written. Conversely, I can do the same the second after he presses . This means that if at 5:01:23 he's writing, and he presses send at 5:01:33, there's a good chance it'll be in my Webmail at 5:01:35. All of this means, that if I check my mail at 5:01:30, then again at 5:01:33, and finally at 5:01:36, I'll have something new in my inbox that third time. In any case, it's not completely illogical to check your email every three seconds if you're dependent on instant gratification (and what is the Internet, if not that?). The caveat of course, is that it's very hard to predict when exactly my friend will decide to write me, so it may very well be fruitless to check my email every three seconds... But I'll never know unless I go and check my email (wait a second while I go do that....)

Wow! Totally out of the blue I got an email. (Really, I didn't think I would get one--it was supposed to be funny...) Gee, now there's no lesson to my story. Apparently checking your email every three seconds is not completely futile. But, now that I've gotten that email (and what a happy email 'twas) I don't need to. I've gotten enough email satisfaction to last me at least for the next 3600 seconds or so, so I think I'll go enjoy the sunlight.


Thursday, October 4, 2007

Princeton Students High in Spirits on Thursday Nights.

On Thursday nights, my roommates and I discuss
whether or not we should go out, while a choir of
students sing, "Chug! Chug! Chug!"


Apples and Oranges

My schedule this term revolves around McCosh and Firestone: class at 11 in one, followed by class at 1:30 in the other, forming a nice little chiasmus . Naturally then, I haven't been trekking down to ye not-so-olde Whitman for my lunch break (what a summer internship won't do for you...) and have instead opted to dine in ye olde-yet-recently-renovated Rocky. This has prompted a few discoveries, the most important which are as follows:

  1. Whitman apples are unbeatable. Really, they are.
  2. Rocky has Real Food.
I assume that Whitman has what could possibly be passed off as real food, but I have yet to find Real Food. (NB: pizza and sandwiches are part of neither category for the purposes of this discussion.) My first taste of the renovated Rocky was wasabi-crusted salmon. That's hard to beat, but they did, with some absolutely fantastic ratatouille-type thing (now I see what Rémy and Anton Ego were talking about--don't get the reference? Shame on you then...). Today's Real Food choice was some sort of Eastern European sausage dish. Not up to par with the eggplant ratatoille, but a good deal better than pizza.

Now, I should point out that the last time I ate this was in a Parisian restaurant. And so, even as I relished the sweet taste of the sausage, I found myself thinking of summer nights in Paris. Whitman's never done that for me...

Of course, to give Whitman its due as a dining hall, I have to reiterate my previous point: they've got fantastic apples. Their oranges ain't bad either. And their variety is better than Rocky's, to say nothing of the fact that they have a panini machine! (Interesting fact for the non-Italian speaker: panini literally means "sandwiches".)

And then there's poor ol' Wu/Wilcox. The only advantage they have is V8 and grapefruit for breakfast. And their grapefruit wasn't all that great the last time I went. Alas. Oh well. Tant pis.

And since this post is already obscenely long, I'll leave on that point. Ciao.


Wednesday, October 3, 2007


I set out for the gym, hoping to start fresh.

I would run until I found the will to read all those chapters,
all those pages.

I came back to the dorm, and I felt re-energized. Ready to
take on the challenge of catching up with weeks of unfinished

I have been checking my e-mail and my Facebook for the past
thirty minutes, and I suddenly feel exhausted.


The little joys...

As I was walking back from my morning shower, trying to figure out how to ask my darling professor for a three-hour extension on an optional project, I realized that today's class had been moved to Friday.

Happy happy day. This means I'll probably be able to go back to Mudd today. I can barely contain myself for joy.


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Indiana Jones

As I found myself walking to Frist from Mudd (for the uninitiated: where the University's archives are housed), I found it impossible to wipe that idiotic grin from my face.

Why? Because I was looking over University forms from 1934 to 1986 (I would have gone farther, but alas, Mudd closes at five). I think that in the course of any history there must be a point where what has come before stops being alien: suddenly our forefathers seem modern, there's a spark of recognizability, and poof, you finally feel that you understand.

For me, that point came in the 70s. Maybe it's because that's when the University started admitting women, but suddenly the form changes from something cold and foreign to the familiar, and I felt kinship with what has come before.

And being witness to that change, well, that was really, really cool. But now the high has worn off, and my stomach has suddenly realized that I haven't eaten anything other than that latte, a pain-au-chocolat from Witherspoon Bread Co., and a couple of apples. So, it's off to Whitman for me.


Monday, October 1, 2007


Getting to physics in the morning hasn't gotten old yet. Walking to class is special when you're a freshman, special when it's Whitman you're passing through, the freshman of residential colleges, so distinguished by the accompaniment of heavy machinery, the anxious chatter of aching drills. Whitman's South Courtyard seems different every time I go through it, because there's always something new that's under construction there. What's more, the war zone is not fenced off like it is in New Butler, but direct, in your path, so that you walk among the clouds of stone-dust, ducking awkwardly around trucks and carts and people wielding clipboards.

(This picture is a little outdated.)

Today, I saw a bright blue crane, lifting construction workers up to the sky. A few mornings ago, it was huge tent poles for the barbecue; when I walked back in the afternoon, the gigantic sheets they were pulling over the framework was already shading the grass below. On the very first day, there was this guy crouched by the entrance to Hargadon Hall, engraving something in beautifully serifed letters. Idly, I wondered what words of wisdom were to be carved into that polished marble, what famous quote, what inspiring phrase.

It was done by the following day, and it said: Y E S !

"...Yes?" I asked myself. "Yes what? Yes, you have found Whitman college? Yes, we finally finished this damn building? Yes, I will go out with you?? Is it a new system of multiple choice testing - stand here if the answer is yes, sprint down to Jadwin if you think it's no?" Puzzled though I was, I walked over the word frequently in the next few days, feeling a slight rush of affirmation each time I went by. "YES!, your life is on the right track! YES!, after reading this message, you are infused with joy! YES!, there will be tacos today at lunch!"

I didn't feel that any of these was the answer, though there were indeed tacos at lunch, and it got to the point where I absolutely had to look it up. Google pulled through in the end, of course: Fred Hargadon, dean of admissions at Princeton for 15 years, retired in 2003.
Hargadon has long been a national leader in the field of college admissions. He is known for the personal attention he pays to each application and for his active engagement in the life of the campus, including frequent attendance at cultural and athletic events. He also is regarded as a gifted communicator and is legendary in the field of admissions for his acceptance letters that begin with the single word, "YES!"
Mystery solved. YES.

Just about every building at Princeton is named after someone, most of them dead. In the University Chapel, the pews have dedications on the back, In Memory of So-and-So. I wonder if these old names mean anything to anyone anymore. I wonder how many people know Dean Mathey's first name, or remember FitzRandolph's face. I wonder if anyone reads the names of labs and theaters and libraries and thinks, "That Harvey Firestone, what a guy!" or "Man, I sure miss that Tommy McCarter..."

Is there really any point to being remembered as some name, meaningless and dimensionless, if everything else about you will be forgotten? I think, rather than having some building named after me, some street, some gate - if there is a single memorable word I utter in my life, even just one, I'd like to be remembered for that.


Orange Tape

Whitman College, wonderful residential college that it is, has one truly tragic flaw: it bears testament to a terrible sort of myopia which plagued the construction. This shortsightedness is made manifest in many ways, from the grave problem that the buildings have to be retrofitted for accessibility to the significantly more amusing fact that some furniture is still on backorder.

But now, one more thing can be added to the list of things the planning committees apparently didn't think of: Sadly Dining Services tape now bars the entrance to the Whitman serving area through all but one of the wooden arches. I can see the problem to which this might be the solution: to tell the truth the first time I set foot in the dining hall I wondered how they would manage to keep out people who hadn't swiped, especially during peak hours when the cardchecker would be distracted by a long line. Apparently the answer was that they didn't (unless of course the tape was on backorder too and that was the plan all along). What I can't understand however, is why they couldn't come up with a solution that didn't clash with the architecture.

The lady checking card told me the tape was likely to be permanent. I was so upset I forgot to take an apple.


A little bit late...

The sky is a little bit overcast, it took three cups of coffee to get me to see straight, I'm behind on my reading, and my JP has to all appearances decided it hates me... and yet, I feel great.

Something about today feels like the first day of school. Maybe it's the fact that the weather is finally just right, or maybe it's that I can no longer change my classes willy-nilly, or maybe it's that I pressed snooze just four times today. Don't really know why, don't really care why; I feel great. Oh, yes, actually, I do know why. I think it has to do with the apples in Whitman.

Finally, finally I can see why Adam might have risked it all for the little fruit. I still think it should have been a mango--or a pomegranate, although you can't quite bite into pomegranates. Thank you eBay. Actually, I guess it almost makes up for the fact that I've been living in a not-quite finished room for two weeks. They finally came and fixed it, so in theory it shouldn't rain in my room on sunny, yet humid, days anymore. Will I elaborate? Probably not, it seems more exciting this way.

Well, more on Whitman later. More on the library later. Now I have to go read Leviathan. If it had to be nasty and brutish, couldn't it be short too?