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COUNTERPOINT the wellesley college journal of campus life september 2014 volume 38 issue 1


E D I TO R I A L S TA F F Hanna Day-Tenerowicz ‘16 Cecilia Nowell ‘16

Editors in Chief Staff Editors

Oset Babur ’15 Alison Lanier ’15 Ruyi Li ’16

D E S I G N S TA F F Art Director Layout Editor

Jayne yan ‘16 Charlotte Yu ’17

B U S I N E S S S TA F F Treasurer

COUNTERPOINT THE WELLESLEY COLLEGE JOURNAL OF CAMPUS LIFE SEPTEMBER 2014 Volume 38 / Issue 1

CAMPUS LIFE 4

LETTER FROM THE EDITORS

6

FINDING THE RIGHT EQUATION

OSET BABUR

8

LONDON

ALICE LEE

10

THE PROBLEM WITH WENDY WELLESLEY

COUNTERPOINT STAFF

Alice Lee ’18

S TA F F W R I T E R S Alison Lanier ’15, Oset Babur ’15, Cecilia Nowell ’16, Hanna Day-Tenerowicz ‘16

C O N T R I BU TO R S

MICHAELLA MONTANA

Michaella Montana ’16, Alice Lee ’18, Elle Friedberg ’17 (cover photo)

TRUSTEES Matt Burns MIT ’05, Kristina Costa ’09, Brian Dunagan MIT ’03, Kara Hadge WC ’08, Edward Summers MIT ’08

SUBMISSIONS Counterpoint invites all members of the Wellesley community to submit articles, letters, and art. Email submissions to cnowell@wellesley.edu and hdaytene@wellesley.edu. Counterpoint encourages cooperation between writers and editors but reserves the right to edit all submissions for length and clarity.

M E N TA L H E A LT H HANNA DAYTENEROWICZ

12

THE SELF-CARE RENAISSANCE

A R T S & C U LT U R E CECILIA NOWELL

14

MORNING STAR

COUNTERPOINT STAFF

16

CROSSWORD CONSTANCE AND MADNESS

SUBSCRIPTIONS One year’s subscription: $25. Send checks and mailing address to:

Counterpoint, Wellesley College 106 Central Street Wellesley, MA. 02481 Counterpoint is funded in part by the Wellesley Senate. Wellesley College is not responsible for the content of Counterpoint.


CAMPUS LIFE

Letter from the editors B Y C E C I L I A N OW E L L & H A N N A D AY- T E N E ROW I C Z Dear Reader, We’d like to welcome you back for another year of Counterpoint and introduce our latest addition to the magazine. This year we will be introducing a monthly feature on mental health, in hopes that Counterpoint might serve as a resource for promoting dialogues on this too-often stigmatized topic. Mental health has long been a taboo subject at Wellesley and beyond. It is a topic constantly treated as less important or less debilitating than physical health issues, a problematic notion which is so far from the truth. Our student body rallied around the issue of mental health during the College Government Presidential elections last semester, and we at Counterpoint want to ensure that the dialogue we began this past spring has a safe space to continue to grow. We want to stop the shame, silence, and stigma surrounding mental health on our campus. While the administration may react slowly to mental health issues at Wellesley, we can take action to change our own culture right now. We encourage writers of all experience levels to consider submitting their stories and opinions on mental health topics. Although we regret the stigma that often surrounds discussions of mental health, we acknowledge that many of these stories may be deeply personal and would like to remind potential writers that Counterpoint allows for anonymous submissions. If you would like to submit an article on any mental health topic or ask for more information about the magazine, please contact the CoEditors-In-Chief, Hanna (hdaytene@wellesley.edu) and Cecilia (cnowell@wellesley.edu). We hope Wellesley gains valuable, open discussion from this new forum! Fondly, Hanna, Cecilia, and the rest of the (vaguely subversive) Counterpoint staff

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counterpoint / september 2014

counterpoint / september 2014

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CAMPUS LIFE

Finding the L

ast year I fell deeply in love with microbes. I loved them for the beautiful portraits on the agar they would create for me every week in lab, and I was engrossed tracing their metabolic fates through chemical equations. To keep up with these little creatures, though, I realized I needed a knowledge base rooted in biochemistry, a major whose stack of requirements is notoriously steep. This major includes a course that makes me shudder just thinking about: physics. To alleviate some of the stress for the following year, I signed myself up for what would prove to be one of the most difficult summers of my life: one year of physics in six weeks at Harvard Summer School. The first week of classes was nothing short of a disaster. Each day I questioned whether or not I was shooting myself in the foot by taking both semesters of physics at once. My brain hadn’t quite warmed up to the material, and I consistently felt pangs of dismay reminding me that I had no intuitive way of solving physics problems. A combination of panic and a growing fatigue from more than ten hours of physics per day frequently led me to the TAs and tutors for help. At review sessions and recitations, I looked to the approaches others used to solve the

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assignments and tried to emulate them. I followed the flow of their free body diagrams closely and scanned through cascades of equations, which seemed to be in a language I could understand but not speak fluently. Understanding the example problems did give me some hope. But in the painful quiet of my study, I remained unable to do the problems on my own. One rainy Friday night, four weeks into the course, I was walking back to my dorm through Harvard Square after a chilling review session. The professor who led the review had just boasted—yes, boasted—about how half of us would not be able to finish half of the exam. Walking through the noisy streets, the rain got heavier and heavier, and so did my exasperation. When I finally reached my dorm, completely soaked, I realized I had had enough. The competition, the influence of different interpretations of problems—it was all doing more harm than good. This weekend I would undergo temporary intellectual isolation. No study sessions, no people, no TAs, no emails, no Facebook. Just me and physics and maybe the occasional Belgian waffle snack. This weekend of solitary confinement consisted of a “there and back again”

counterpoint / september 2014

R I G H T

Image: www.telegraph.co.uk/

BY MICHAELLA MONTANA ’16

journey between my desk and my bed. Before I tried the problems I told myself I would not care whether or not I ended up with the right answer. A desk filled with problems I had attempted myself was better than one perfect solution that relied on outside help. I would attack a couple problems, then collapse on the bed. Work through a couple more, then take a nap. By nap four, I was actually starting to get the hang of it. The root of my troubles had been that I was trying to see the solution right away. If I didn’t, I was paralyzed by the fear that I would get it wrong. But by doing countless problems my own way I understood that not knowing the answer up-front is kind of the point. It was impossible for me to attack the problem head on, but I could divide it into smaller pieces and components and work through various parts here and there. After this period of solitary confinement, I went back into the physics classroom with a newly invigorated perspective. I set aside time for attempting the problems on my own before consulting the TAs (for extra guidance, instead of as a crutch). I got used to the feeling of not knowing how to solve a problem and instead treated each problem as a sketch or a painting, coloring little sections in at a time before

completing the final vision. I not only gained a greater sense of confidence, but I also aced my final exams, opening up my schedule at Wellesley so I can now spend more time with my beloved microbes. As I return to biochemistry this semester, I feel that the spirit of physics has followed me back to Wellesley. Physics is here, reminding me that in many ways, sorting out my life is not all too different from solving a hard physics problem. Taking on challenges head on can be immobilizing. Emulating someone else’s decisions can lead to even more personal confusion. But when I focus on the bits and pieces of my life individually, taking the challenges as they come, in time the hidden structure and answers to my questions eventually become clear. After working with countless physics equations at Harvard, I realized that although the answer key waited at the back of the textbook, working through problems myself was the true solution. Michaella Montana ’16 (mmontana@ wellesley.edu) is looking forward to spending some quality time with her darling microbes this semester.

Equation counterpoint / september 2014

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(OFF-) CAMPUS LIFE

London

BY OSET BABUR

F

ew people talk about their time abroad without a slew of inside jokes, the occasional sour-stained anecdote, and a bunch of unsolicited advice about what to do, where to eat, and what to buy in their city. I’ve tried to abstain from most of the above, only to harass unsuspecting juniors with orders of tea and gratuitous Instagram Throwback Thursday posts. I would like to sit down with myself from August 2013 and outline how the experience would be, tell myself what to skip and what to relish, and which expectations to dismiss— chiefly, all of them. Upon considering the cognitive damage that this kind of foreshadowing would have inflicted, I’m choosing to reflect on my experience through the expectations I had before leaving New York for the summer. Living in east London was not what I expected. It turned out that the school I chose was in the Brooklyn of London,

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in both character and distance from the city’s center. Initially, I was frustrated with the endless Tube rides that added up with six-dollar round-trip journeys. However, I found that those endless rides often ended at Tottenham Court Road, my station of choice (do most people develop a station that feels like home in every city? In New York, mine’s always been Prince Street, and I remain unsure if this is because I took the subway without getting lost for the first time from this stop, or because it is located four minutes from my favorite bookstore in the city). TCR is home to some of the best subway-fare musicians I have ever heard, and this includes all the Berklee kids on the Green Line. Additionally, east London includes Brick Lane, which housed many afternoons with my American flatmates discovering thrift shops and coffee houses in between record stores and art galleries. This may sound like a tragically hip fantasy—that’s

counterpoint / september 2014

because it was. Eating in London was not what I expected. My university’s meal plan was largely ignored in favor of the kitchens we shared in a flat of six. This meant I learned to make rice, pasta, very milky tea, and Marks & Spencer ready-made dinners. I cannot apologize to my flatmates enough for all the questions I asked, even after Googling “how many cups of water do you need for rice” and “Is it really okay not to refrigerate eggs?” I also learned that I fell into a grocery store routine that consisted, almost always, of crumpets, Cadbury’s hot chocolate mix, oatmeal, and Pimm’s. Few of these habits have left me since, save the latter for unfortunate availability reasons. Going out in London was not what I expected. I assumed that the abroad experience would be like my previous trips to Europe, primarily my summer trips back to Istanbul. I quickly understood

that London was much more expensive than Istanbul, and had an entirely different feel altogether. This is probably why most of my excursions were to either the King’s or UCL student bar, blessed with fifty-pence cider, or Shoreditch, to shuffle from bar to bar until it was late enough for the unreliable Night Bus. My most memorable night in London consisted of Mexican-ish food and a slew of pubs with names like All Bar One and the Breakfast Club. There was no bottle service, and there were no beaches. There was, however, a playlist that consisted of Ice Cube and Shaggy, and people who knew all the words. School in London was not what I expected. I feel that my academic self has two modes: high-powered work mode that surfaces around midterms, finals, and mornings of remorseful resolve, compared to disengaged, procrastination mode. Class in London was the inexplicable combination of both. I wrote papers in the Copenhagen airport en route to visit a friend, and I missed lectures of sixty to eighty students in favor of watching the PowerPoint presentations in bed with a cup of hot chocolate later that week. Everything turned out perfectly fine, and I remember a good deal of what I learned in my economic theory class, as well as my European Union law class. I

also did eighty percent of my homework in a teashop off Goodge Street, called Yumchaa. This place is now a fabled entity among some of my friends, and I maintain that I discovered it first. Traveling from London was not what I expected. I knew people who took every weekend as a sign that it was time to get out of the United Kingdom, and fly to Spain, Italy, and Morocco. I left the city roughly four times, two of which were day trips to Oxford and Bath. Every time I came back into London, I felt an overwhelming sense of homecoming and warmth, which is illogical and sappy, yet completely true. My overseas travels were memorable, and I had a good friend with whom I ate my way through Paris and drank my way through Barcelona. Still, I preferred catching part of a morning lecture, coming back to have tea with my flat mates (rather, someone had almost always made an extra mug of tea and it would become mine), and then head into central London to meet someone at Borough Market. I hoard shopping bags, receipts, public transportation stubs, and the occasional specials menu from a restaurant whenever I travel. Most of these make it onto the walls of whatever room I’m occupying in the months after, and then slowly get peeled off, as the memories become more

ingrained and less prime for décor. Today, I only have a few odds and ends from London that I display, but I haven’t been able to throw out my Oyster card, and I hang on to receipts from the Jack Horner and Blackwells Oxford in my wallet. I’m almost out of the bags of Notting Hill tea I bought, and I’m about ready to make the thirty-two minute trip (that’s the Central and Northern lines with a threeblock walk) from Mile End to Goodge Street again. I’m glad I didn’t know how futile my expectations were, because that uncertainty would have terrified me. I’m also glad that I wasn’t able to talk myself out of going at the last minute, for reasons that were entirely wrong. Upon reflecting with a friend from King’s as to whether or not our lives would ever be so charmed again, we both decided that they probably would not. In lieu of chronically romanticizing those memories, however, I am sure I’ll find my way to a place as uncomplicatedly beautiful as London: the city that taught me to, for the first time, enjoy uncertainty in the most delightfully uncharacteristic way. Oset Babur ’15 (obabur@wellesley) remains territorial over a green corner chair, located on the third floor of Hatchard’s Bookstore.

counterpoint / september 2014

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CAMPUS LIFE

what it’s like to be a trans* woman in today’s society (Sophia is our fave from Orange is the New Black)! It has become this new trend to place ourselves in high standards because we go to a very liberal and intellectual liberal arts college. I find this problematic and irritating. I’m not here to hate on Wellesley. I love Wellesley. After all, I go here! But maybe it would be nice to not have to hear Hermione’s know-it-all voice as someone tells me all the activism work they’ve done

in high school. Maybe we should promote the idea that we are all actually pretty young, and there will always be more things to learn about every subject. I’m in love with this school because it builds us up to be that well-informed badass, but as first-years, we’re definitely not there yet. The first week, it felt amazing to ask fellow first-years, “What got you into Wellesley?” because there’d always be an inspirational answer. But as Confucius put it, “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s

ignorance.” Ignorance is inevitable. Let’s not yell it on the rooftops or wear it proudly on our sleeves, but let’s gracefully acknowledge it and keep our ears and minds open. It’s probably getting stuffy in there, anyway.

Alice Lee ‘18 (elee19@wellesley.edu) is offended.

THE PROBLEM WITH WENDY WELLESLEY BY ALICE LEE

E

very new student comes to Wellesley with this unswerving mindset that they are, in fact, uninhibited by an ignorant mindset. They are the people of tomorrow—people who will! Personally, I have found this to be a little annoying. While Wellesley College boasts of its racial diversity and helpfulness to students of all backgrounds, its newcomers often fail to recognize that there is still much to learn in terms of social justice. As fresh as every other first-year, I understand that I, too, fall under this category. And I accept it. I am ignorant, even though I’ve worked against it. I accept the fact that even though I’ve served in many LGBTQ organizations, I am not at all close to being able to call myself a fully effective ally. Though I hail from an Asian ancestry, I am not at all entirely aware of all the implications that

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come along with being Korean in North America. Though I am, in fact, a woman, I do not come close to understanding every hardship that impacts my gender. Ignorance is always present. I feel like this fact is lost upon first-years. I do agree that unlike most other places, Wellesley does consider that “diversity” is defined well beyond skin color. The Stone Center aids those who struggle with mental health; the Slater International Center caters to people of all backgrounds; Spectrum welcomes those of all gender identities and sexual orientations. It’s almost fruitless describing some of these organizations, because as students, we know best what Wellesley offers. However, even with its plethora of resources, students often ironically fail to be open-minded. And of course almost everybody here is mindful

counterpoint / september 2014

of religion and gender identity and sexual orientation.But I get this creeping feeling that we feel justified to speak on behalf of minority groups because we’ve read groundbreaking Slate articles, browsed through informative Tumblr posts, and watched The Daily Show. When I talk with other first-years, I am impressed with how aware they are of hard-hitting issues that oftentimes go unnoticed. However, there is something about the way many speak that makes me uncomfortable. They talk too firmly and unwaveringly, like they are trying to prove that they are one of those rare intellectuals who knows everything about intersectionality and police brutality. But when it comes time to listen, there is this quick, “Of course!” about every topic brought up. Of course we understand every aspect of Ferguson and Mike Brown. Of course we know

counterpoint / september 2014

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MENTAL HEALTH

The Self-Care Renaissance

I

t’s May of 2006: I’m twelve, standing in a circle with my fellow sixth-graders in the meager mountain morning sunshine. Our shadows stretch long and thin on the grey concrete beneath our feet. My mother is a chaperone on my sixth grade class’s weekend field trip to a small mountain town; I can feel her sadness on my shoulders every minute, every second. I hear her Motorola flipphone ring its obnoxious, beeping song, and my stomach sinks as she answers. When she returns to the group, she pulls me aside. She’s crying. “Hanna,” she says, “We have to go home early.” I felt the prick of tears at the corners of my eyes. “That was the doctor,” she continued, “He says your potassium levels are dangerously low. They want to put you in the hospital right away, but I won’t let them; I need to keep you safe, so we need to leave. Right now.” Despite my miserable protests and desire to stay and enjoy my sixth-grade trip like a normal kid, we drove home page 12

that morning. I wouldn’t get to return to school until I grew more medically stable, many weeks later. My own personal bully has many devious faces, but she’s best known to the public as Anorexia. I met her when I was twelve, and she never left my side after that. She quieted down somewhat as I entered a period of quasi-remission, which would last for about six years. But I always knew she was there—she’s lifealtering, unforgettable. She’s the most reliable friend anyone could ask for. That is, until she’s not. Eating disorders work so effectively at numbing away all the fear and conflict and hurt from past struggles…until they stop working. There always comes a point when starving yourself suddenly transitions from being the safer, more comfortable option to being painful, aggressive, and vindictive. I’d been in something of a downward spiral ever since my senior year of high school, but things really got bad near

counterpoint / september 2014

the end of last semester—my sophomore spring. At that point, I knew there was no way I could escape my impossibly high standards and rigid lifestyle rules without help. I felt I was caught at a dead end. I couldn’t bear to let my mom control my whole life again—I was twenty, and things had to be different now. But I couldn’t go on like this, either—I constantly felt nauseous, my stomach ached all day, I couldn’t sleep at night because I was so hungry. “You messed up, and now your body is angry with you,” Anorexia reasoned to me, “you need me now more than ever, because if you were to go back to regular eating after all you’ve done, surely your body would seek furious revenge on you.” She hissed into my ears day and night: “If you eat any more than x, you’ll probably lose control and never stop eating. It’s a better idea just not to tempt fate, because you have no self control— that’s why I’m here.”

Image: Ghost by Ron Mueck

B Y H A N N A D AY- T E N E ROW I C Z

Since I had embraced relapse so fully (and never truly recovered from the onset), it was clear to me that whatever I’d done in my previous attempt at recovery hadn’t worked. So, I made the decision to try every possible solution I’d said no to before, beginning with inpatient treatment. I packed up my dorm room on pure adrenaline late the night before I left Wellesley for the summer; I was too anxious, cold, and famished to sleep at all that night. Twenty-four miserable, hungry hours later, I was home and on my way to my intake interview at the Eating Disorder Center of Denver (EDCD). I spent the next three months there, learning about myself, learning how to function again, restoring weight, and even participating in a medical study at a nearby university. It turned out to

be one of the best summers of my life: though it was precisely nothing I had planned for, it was exactly everything I needed. It allowed me physical, mental, and emotional nourishment, and a second chance at living. I wish I could say EDCD magically cured me of my eating disorder. Unfortunately, anorexia is one of the most complex mental illnesses to treat, and recovery is a conscious, never-ending effort. I have to use food as a daily medicine just as a diabetic must take their daily insulin. For most people, skipping breakfast might not be a huge deal; in my case, it could lead me quickly down a welltraveled and treacherous path towards relapse. If I can make it to noon without eating, why break the streak there? It’s a big risk for me. Similarly, exercise is strongly advised in the U.S., lauded as an integral component of health. However, when I go to a physical and get the doctor’s scripted reprimand that I really ought to exercise on a regular basis, I can’t let myself follow the advice. Exercise presents more danger to me than its benefits would be worth. Returning to a rigid schedule of forcing myself to work out x number of times per week would likely pull me back into the open arms of my eating disorder. The likelihood of death by anorexia (around a 20% chance) is far higher than the likelihood of my dying of a condition resulting from a deficiency in regular exercise. The eating disorder is a disease, and recovery can be difficult, painful, and debilitating. What can complicate spotting a slip or a relapse from the outside is that every single eating disorder looks different—no two cases of anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, or eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS) look exactly alike. Each case comes with its own specific triggers, vices, and functions,

and there is no one way that an eating disorder patient “should” look. In her 1990 essay, Hunger, Naomi Wolf notes that “the great weight shift must be understood as one of the major historical developments of the century, a direct solution to the dangers posed by . . . economic and reproductive freedom.” She observes that every time American women have taken steps towards equality with men, the U.S. standards for feminine beauty have suddenly taken a turn towards the unrealistically thin. She argues that this repetitive return to a focus on appearance is a subtle method for distracting non-men away from usurping the power of the patriarchy. It’s vital that Wellesley students come together to increase awareness about and fight against the prevalence of eating disorders today. We are a school that is currently beginning to rally around the vastly under-discussed issue of mental health, and yet, I have heard little discussion around eating disorders included in this dialogue, despite their overwhelming prevalence on our own campus. There’s an elephant in the room—or in the dining hall, as it were. As empowered and intelligent individuals who will shape the future of our world’s societies, I really think we can stop this trend from repeating itself or worsening further. Let’s open our eyes, let’s talk to each other about the issues that matter to us. We all deserve to take up space, and united, we can. Hanna Day-Tenerowicz ’16 (hdaytene@ wellesley.edu) is proud not to have a thigh gap.

counterpoint / september 2014

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ARTS & CULTURE

Morning Star I

“sewed” my first quilt when I was four or five years old. The quotations are there for a reason; “sewed” is a bit of an overstatement. My mother had finished a set of wall-hanging-sized quilts for my brother and me and had threaded pieces of yarn through the corner seams of the blocks. She explained to us that by tying bows in these pieces of yarn we would be “sewing” the quilt together for her. This small quilt still sits in my bedroom at home, draped over the top of a rocking chair, and I cannot count how many times I have had to retie the knots that my five-year-old self made. I “helped” sew my second quilt when I was in my early teenage years. Here, “helped” is a bit of an overstatement. My grandmother knew that I, like most girls of my age, loved horses. So, each time that she asked me to tag along with her to the quilting store—to pick up thread, or needles, or fabric—she let me pick out a horse-patterned fabric. When

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BY CECILIA NOWELL

I had amassed an enviable collection of equine fabrics, my grandma cut them into equal-sized squares and watched carefully as I sewed the blocks together in (mostly) straight lines. I wouldn’t doubt it if someone told me that she had gone back through to correct my novice quilting, which I had picked up from sewing coasters and vests at home and in my weekly sewing club. Nevertheless, with much assistance I finished the top of my horse quilt which sits today in my mother’s home amongst a pile of other quilts. This summer, I sewed my third, but in many senses first, quilt. After hinting that I might again want to try my hand at quilting after many years of only sewing buttons back on to shirts, my mother presented me with a collection of her quilting books. I spent a lazy afternoon browsing through them and marking the pages with quilts that I liked, and then asked her to look through my selections.

counterpoint / september 2014

With a well-trained eye, she quickly explained which ones would be too difficult for a beginner—either because they called for so many small blocks that they would be too time consuming or because they required a level of precision that might be difficult to accomplish without becoming frustrated. So, with my list narrowed down, I chose the “Morning Star” pattern: a quilt where separate squares connect to form stars between the blocks. Next, my mother and I dug through the closets in our house to find our organized boxes of fabric from which I could choose fabrics. Quilters, like many crafters, seem to amass supplies over the years, and I was fortunate to be able to draw from my mother’s and grandmother’s stashes of quilting materials. After comparing Batiks with Orientals and bold patterns with subtler prints, I finally settled on a collection of Civil War reproduction fabrics. So, at last, with pattern and fabric in hand, I sat down and began to quilt my

own first quilt. After finishing the blocks which would make up my quilt face, I Instagrammed a photo (for fun and for bragging rights), and was surprised when a friend of mine commented: “How did you learn?” It might be clear by now that I grew up in a family of quilters. My grandmother has been sewing since she was a child and quilting some of the most beautiful and meticulous quilts I have ever seen since she herself had children. My mother in turn also started sewing in her youth and began taking quilting classes with my grandmother just after I was born. Every quilt on every bed in our house, the blankets on our couch, and the decorations on our walls were always homemade. Just counting from memory, I can think of at least six homemade quilts in my bedroom alone, and over a dozen throughout the whole house—dozens more if you move on to my grandmother’s house. So for me quilting wasn’t something you “learned”; it was something you just kind of inherently knew. Sure, I had to learn a new pattern and how to handle large quantities of fabric when I started my quilt this summer, but I had always known how to thread a sewing machine, how to layer the quilt face on top of the batting and backing fabrics, and how to avoid any disastrous sewing calamities (those needles and rotary blades are even more dangerous than they look). Sewing my own first quilt this summer was less a

matter of learning and more a matter of coming of age. As I embarked on my quilting adventure, my mother stood at the ready—prepared to help me cut fabric, understand quilting book shorthand, and straighten out any of my mistakes. Most nights after dinner, we would both settle down in the same room and as I sewed she spoke. While I pieced blocks together, she explained how best to match up the corners of blocks when sewing long chains of fabric, how she had met some of her best friends by quilting, and how certain patterns held long cultural and political histories. She even ventured into topics quite distant from quilting, like how her day at work at been, what her weekend plans looked like, or what her friends’ had most recently been up to. None of these conversations were new for us, but what marked my coming of age was that I had become a participant in the discussion. No longer a child hiding in the room next door as adults gossiped, I responded to my mother and told stories of my own. Working at my sewing machine, I felt myself coming of age as I joined a community of other quilters, not as a daughter or granddaughter, but as a fellow woman. While I worked alongside my mother, learning the finer points of a craft which has defined our family, I wondered if this art had allowed other women to form communities of their own. Learning

how to quilt is not unlike learning how to knit or cook or carve wood—it’s a manner of learning a family trade which, in many cases, has been passed down for generations. For me, learning how to quilt this summer meant learning how to create something based on the knowledge of a community that had come before me, and in some ways promising to pass that knowledge along in the future. Joining this community meant taking responsibility for the physical creation of something new, but also meant joining a network of wise crafters. As I finished the last stitches on my Morning Star quilt, I wondered if quilting would draw me into a community of fellow women and creation just as it had drawn me closer to my mother and helped me come of age. With little time to spare, I sewed the last bits of my quilt together just days before returning to Wellesley. Together, my mother and I pinned the detailed quilt top together with the central layer of warm batting and the final layer of backing fabric. As I headed back for another year at Wellesley, my mother promised to finish the actual quilting of my very first quilt. I was surprised at first when my mom told me that I wouldn’t be able to quilt my own quilt. She then explained that many skilled quilters did not quilt their own quilts—they did the primary work of sewing together the blocks of the quilt top, but often their machines were sturdy enough or their time was not free enough to properly quilt together quilt top, batting, and backing fabric. Even the most skilled of quilters turn to others for support. And so, my mother is still helping me learn even as I finish my third quilt. Maybe the next quilt we make together will be for a new quilter to tie knots in as they learn how to sew. Cecilia Nowell ’16 (cnowell@wellesley.edu) loves quilting SEW much!

counterpoint / september 2014

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--an homage to vaguely subversive alums

Madness

Constance and

Across 3. a former Counterpoint Editor-in-Chief thesised on this author 6. best served with tonic and lime 7. #vaguelysubversive 10. society with a Tudor cottage 13. Roland Barthes’ fave punctuation 14. constantly stopping us

Down 1. how to get from the east coast to the west coast without wings 2. ________ Picture Show 3. a former Counterpoint Editor-in-Chief directed this 4. where’s Stan? 5. craze 8. a signature El Table sandwich named after travelers 9. sometimes they’re marshmallows 10. the classiest pattern 11. no god, no god! 12. 91.5 FM

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