I’ve been discovering how to use space.
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I’ve been discovering how to use space.
I did not glimpse the program beforehand, so the Princeton Glee Club concert in March surprised me with its first piece. The music was distinctly non-Western. The singers did not chant or sing in Latin, but in Telugu, Tamil, and nonsensical syllables. The soulful turns of phrase haunted me. The piece unlocked my imagination, evoked in my head images of places I never have visited.
Last year, I wrote a poem about a hit-and-run in which an Asian grandmother was left lying on the side of the road like roadkill (“I am the driver / the woman’s body / is violation”). Once, I wrote a poem about an accident that left my mother in a semi-vegetative state (“Your head bloomed / & you crumpled like a sheet down the stairs”). Once, I wrote a poem about experiencing death through a solitary phone call (“The day the phone rang / we were shooed outside, the day / we stripped our dolls into finer stems / naked and buried them in the lawn”).
The day was blustery and the door propped open. The only thing that stood between us and the wind was a curtain of strips of heavy plastic. It was 11 a.m. and the restaurant was virtually empty, so our server brought out a large bowl of dark chicken-bone soup before we had the chance to open our menu. Small tidbits of corn and ligament gyrated gently in the murk at the bottom of the bowl.
I remember once walking into Whitman College. I greeted the staff member on swipe duty and asked him why he looked so cheery, to which he replied, “Your face is like a big beautiful moon in the sky.” Despite the innocuous nature of this statement, I cringed inwardly. Was my face really that chubby, circular, pale?
Five months, three days, and 22 hours after I got into college, I realized that I had not written a single poem. There was one exception: a night when I wrote what it meant to be a young, young 18-year-old waiting for 19 and all of its independence to rocket me away from my parents. That night, words poured forth in a tirade. I remember one word I had used, a sweet word, corpuscle (which means minute particle) that I realize now should have been crepuscule (meaning twilight).
Reading the outcome of the Honor Code referenda in The Daily Princetonian, I felt as if Princeton had arrived at a momentous occasion — 64 percent of the student population (around 3,330 people) had turned out to vote overwhelmingly in support of the referenda — but I was unsure whether I was to celebrate or mourn. I felt like a small child standing in front of the remnants of a ruined supermarket display tower: As a hundred toppled-over cans rolled around me, I realized that we had just done something, but I wasn’t sure what we’d done.
When I first walked into the Class of 1970 Theater in Whitman, I was 15 minutes too early, and I thought I had stumbled onto a cult. The theater was tiny, less than 50 seats, and everyone was speaking Chinese. As I commented to a friend of mine, “I feel like I’ve been transported back to China.”
Many of us came to Princeton shackled with golden handcuffs, and we haven’t shed them yet.
After your family says grace, someone asks you what you do for a living and your perfect facade begins to unravel.
I’ll admit that my first impression of Amazon’s HQ2 was very cynical. I was stuck with this image of Amazon’s current headquarters sprawling across Seattle like a cancer, inflating housing prices, pushing people out of their homes — and then, the most hackle-raising image of all, constructing a homeless shelter to shuttle those people away. In a sense, a corporate entity had become a vast, sovereign force that had the power to relocate people like chess pieces.
The Profiterole (cream puff): The person who talks a lot during precept but says little, sits right next to the professor, and makes direct eye contact at every possible moment. Constantly laments how pretentious things are before saying pretentious things, i.e. “God this sounds so pretentious, but when my family went to our summer house in St. Petersburg….” Claims to know Eisgruber personally.
By the time fall break rolls around, most of us will be slumping out of midterms and heading straight to bed. But these five Princetonians have planned ahead and won’t be. Hear from them as they offer a snippet of how they are planning to spend this much-needed fall break.