counterpoint the wellesley college journal of campus life september 2013 volume 35 issue 1
EDITORIAL STAFF Editors in Chief Managing Editors Staff Editors
Madeline Furlong ‘14 Constance Chien ‘14
Oset Babur ’15 Alison Lanier ’15 Ruyi Li ‘16 Cecilia Nowell ‘16 Hanna Tenerowicz ‘16
Constance Chien ’14 Charlotte Yu ‘17
BUSINESS STAFF Treasurer
THE WELLESLEY COLLEGE JOURNAL OF CAMPUS LIFE SEPTEMBER 2013 Volume 35 / Issue 1
Mariana Zepeda ‘14 Catherine Binder ‘15
DESIGN STAFF Art Director Layout Editor
Imelda Czechs ‘14
STAFF WRITERS Alison Lanier ’15, Constance Chien ’14, Madeline Furlong ’14, Oset Babur ’15, Cecilia Nowell ‘16, Mariana Zepeda ‘14
HERE & NOW GAIL ZHUANG
CAMPUS LIFE KILY WONG
GROWING A GREEN THUMB
THE ‘A’ IN LGBT
CONTRIBUTORS Kily Wong ‘16, Gail Zhuang ‘15
ARTS & CULTURE
Cover Design: Original Art / Clara Smith ‘17
TRUSTEES Matt Burns MIT ’05, Kristina Costa ’09, Brian Dunagan MIT ’03, Kara Hadge WC ’08, Edward Summers MIT ’08
THE INTROVERT AND HER DISCONTENT
AN UNEXPECTED PATH
50 THINGS TO DO AT WELLESLEY BEFORE YOU GRADUATE: A REVISION
Counterpoint invites all members of the Wellesley community to submit articles, letters, and art. Email submissions to email@example.com. Counterpoint encourages cooperation between writers and editors but reserves the right to edit all submissions for length and clarity.
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HERE & NOW
The Adults BY GAIL ZHUANG
creak sounded unnatural, it was easier to sleep knowing a watchful parent was in the next room. Now that I’m an adult, I bear the responsibility of these protective, powerful roles. I’m not sure when the transition is supposed to happen—ideally, sometime between senior year of high school and the first year of college (give or take a few years in each direction). But the point is that there’s an invisible badge we now wear as adults. Instead of debating which Powerpuff Girl is the best, we now debate which presidential candidate we should vote for in the upcoming election. We marvel at the new vanilla-colored purse at the window. Summers are still filled with lazy days, powered by Daylight Savings Time and themed martini rendezvous. And there are still people we don’t get along with, beneath polite small talk and the clanking of tea cups. And the world is still big now. As
adults, we are supposed to be armed with the tools to fix everything. I should know the answer to every question, from why the sky is blue to what happens after we die. I should sympathize when my kid brother only wants to play games on the iPad all day. I shouldn’t jump at the sound of creaking stairs or at the sight of longlegged arachnids. After all, I wear the badge of adulthood now. Shouldn’t I be invincible? No doubt the badge is defective. The future was yesterday, melted into a puddle of to-do lists and CNN headlines. Defective badge or not, it still bemuses me to acknowledge I live in the adult world now, that each one of my student peers also wears the invisible badge of adulthood. Back during my first year at Wellesley and even today, I would inadvertently consider us ten-year-olds. Like grade school students, we obediently follow the regulations of residential deans, gorge ourselves on food prepared by the
dining hall, and celebrate often with free pizza and hugs. Every few months, we see our parents again and spend a week or two in our familiar homes, anticipating the inevitable return back to Wellesley’s lush green campus for another engaging semester. So what powers do our badges have, if we’re still the same as we were ten years ago? Why do I still feel young, despite having analyzed the philosophies of Plato, despite reading CNN every week? Maybe it’s because I still don’t know what is engraved on the invisible adulthood badge. There has to be a secret
code imprinted on those things, a special message from adult to adult—only once you read the code will you turn into a real adult. There were times when I felt the badge, times when I had the chance to glimpse at the cryptic code. Like the time when a friend graduated, for example, moving 3,000 miles away to a new apartment where she began her next phase in life alone, cooking and paying the bills by herself while pursuing new visions. Or the time when a fellow classmate spoke of raising money to heal her grandfather from an illness, and had to face opposition from her own family members. Or even last December, when the warm wisdom of a friend released me from the fears that had trapped me
for quite some time inside a block of ice. Those times, for very brief moments, I could feel my badge flicker as if it could detect the presence of something ethereal nearby—something that belonged to the true world of adulthood. Naturally, I haven’t been able to read the full inscription on the badge. No one I know has. Some have managed to read half the message; very few have deciphered up to the last bits of the code (certainly my grandparents have). Regrettably, no one has managed to read the whole thing. That’s why we are still scared of the unknown voices in the dark. That’s why I still feel ten. But tomorrow, we will turn to the next generation of adults-in-training in the hopes that one of them can unlock the mysteries of the invisible badge—and of adulthood in general. We tell them, “The future is now.” Gail Zhuang ’15 (firstname.lastname@example.org) still craves vanilla ice cream.
The Simpsons cartoon / simpsons.wikia.com
he future is now, they tell us. But it was only yesterday when I turned ten, when I debated with my friends about the best Powerpuff Girl and craved vanilla ice cream. Summers were the time for languid days that stretched together, the season when the neighborhood playground transformed into a witch’s castle, a spaceship, or the jungle, depending on the game. There was that annoying first grader who always wanted to be the princess cowgirl with magical powers, but the rest of us would refuse to be her servants. The world was big then, but everything was okay because the adults took care of everything. They were the omniscient guardians who understood your every thought and concern. They weren’t always agreeable though, especially when it involved being late to dinner after a particularly long game of freeze tag. But at night, when murmured noises magnified themselves tenfold and every
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Growing a Green Thumb I
dug a small hole using a trowel, scooping out the dirt and watching as it moved with life. I squirmed as a worm wriggled from the disturbance. Taking a deep breath, I carefully picked up the nude specimen between my thumb and index finger as I reminded myself of how these segmented decomposers were in fact a good indicator of soil health. After all, they are nature’s custom-made tillers. Now, with the worm safely out of way, I moved to transplant my first tomato seedling. First stuffing a handful of compost, also called black gold by many gardeners, into the hole, I placed the baby plant into the ground. Gently, I created a mound around the tender stem and packed the soil around the root lightly so that the roots had enough space to breathe. Brushing my finger against the young leaves, I made note of the first leaves growing below the compounded true leaves of the tomato. Then, I watered the seedling generously with the hose imagining the roots bonding with the earth as they reached for water. page 6
“Don’t forget to water your transplants in,” our farm manager reminded us. I looked up in surprise, taking note of my fellow interns beside me. It was interesting how the place had suddenly become so silent. Each person, working meticulously, was focused only on the small plant in her hands. The rest of the world seemed forgotten as we worked in this Eden. Finally, I stood and surveyed the garden. The beds of tomatoes and basil were neatly lined, with generous space between each plant to allow each one to grow and develop fully. The early morning dew was strung along the leaves like lace. Meanwhile, the young cabbage, still in the likeness of a rose, formed its round head as purple veins pulsed beneath its blue skin. I watched the garden transform day by day. It was only ten weeks ago that I planted my first tree. I used to be the city girl who never thought to give that Norway Maple a second glance as I skipped down the stairs to the subway. But now, I stopped for a moment and watched as that very
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tree shed its maple keys. My eyes tracked the tiny seed pods, spread like the wings of a great green moth, as they fell—spinning, fluttering—and were caught in the passing breeze. I never thought my exploration of horticulture would go beyond my annual visit to the New York Botanic Garden’s Orchid Show. After all, having accidentally left the blinds down for the month that I was away, I had barely managed to keep my first-year-plant alive through winter. Yet, come spring, I managed to find my way back to the greenhouses (just as that plant found a path to recovery). And when I applied to the Environmental Horticulture Sustainable Agriculture Internship through the Wellesley Botanic Gardens, I told them I just really wanted to understand where my food comes from. Why? I guess I just was looking for an answer that would help serve as an alternative to all the malpractices I had witnessed in the eye-opening documentary Food Inc.
Garden view from above / www.sancoind.com
BY KILY WONG At the risk of being known as the “farmer” by my friends for the rest of my Wellesley career, I took on the challenge of spending a summer hand-weeding, mulching, composting, planting, watering, fertilizing, and de-bugging an eighty-feetby-eighty-feet stretch of land to assist the student-run organic farm Regeneration. By the end of the first week, I realized why so many farmers turned to pesticide practices and GMOs. They’re time-efficient and also serve as an insurance on a season’s worth of crops. Yet along with the path of efficiency came the rise of monocultures and what Michael Pollan calls, in his book Omnivore’s Dilemma, a population of “Walking Corn.” Thanks to the large number of processed foods that now contain some product of corn, no matter what we eat, we often find ourselves consuming this indigenous grain, not to mention other types of additives and chemicals. As I navigate the produce aisles of Whole Foods, I look at the food labels that read “conventional” versus “organic”
and wonder how many people understand, let alone are able to afford, the difference. While hunger is commonly associated with developing countries, one in every two American children will at some point be on food assistance. Although there isn’t a shortage of food, many people face food insecurity every day. If we continue on our current path, we will have obesity alongside malnutrition, we will be the first generation to be sicker and die younger than our parents, and we will have a food industry that is inhumane, unsustainable, and unjustly regulated. People shouldn’t have to choose between healthy and affordable food. Reflecting back to the road-trips we took to Wellesley alumnae Eva Sommaripa’s Herb Garden and Sue Ridge’s Wildside Home, we were able to meet women who trailblazed and led by example. The Smith College Field Station’s Living Building, and UMass Amherst’s successful Permaculture Garden, I wonder if the answer has been there all along. Maybe what we need is more transparency in order to create a society that is more aware of the importance of green spaces, eco-friendly living, and the growing potential of local food. Although the summer I spent living in the Student Sustainability Co-op may not have been Thoreau’s Walden, it did heighten my awareness to the community that surrounded me. As I learned to cook dinners for nine while trying not to get “Chopped,” I realized vegetables encompassed much more than the selection available at salad bars. Navigating my way through identifying secret ingredients from kale, beets, and leeks, to Popcorn Cobs, kohlrabi, and Swiss chard from our CSA share, I discovered that there was a diversity that had suddenly disappeared from the average American’s diet. I mean, when was the last time you ever had a lemon-lavender cookie? Kohlrabi and carrot fritters? Or kale chips instead of your Pringles or Doritos? Sustainability refers to much more than the economics of comparing our consumption to our contribution. It means being accountable for the actions that will
affect not only my generation, but also the plants and organisms that live on this planet. The thing is, food security, food justice, and sustainability are not isolated issues. In fact, the current bee situation is one of many indicators that something is very wrong with the health of our environment. Since 2005, honey bees throughout Europe and North America have been struck down by an epidemic that has now been coined the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). While further research is being conducted to determine the exact cause of the sudden disappearance of the bees, recent studies have revealed that the primary culprits are malnutrition and a compromised immune system--both of which were results of human practices. Forced to feed on sugarwater as a replacement, genetically bred for desirable traits, and driven around the country to pollinate specific crops, honey bees are becoming weaker with each new generation. Because they are not specialized foragers, these beneficial insects rely on a wide variety of plants for nectar and pollen. And without happy bees or healthy hives, there will be no more food and no more honey. So as we find “A Place at the Table” and begin to imagine a future filled with greener landscapes and emerald cities, all complete with rooftop gardens, green roofs, living walls, and vertical gardens, it’s time we rethink our urban spaces. While we don’t have to become tree-hugging hippies or tractor-riding farmers to make a difference, we all have a stake in this. After all, every time you go to the supermarket and make a purchase, you are essentially voting for what corporations you want to see represented on the shelves of these stores. Observing the wave of first years walk across campus, the new green class, I chuckled at the slogan that they bring, “From Roots to Branches.” How fitting.
Kily Wong ’16 (email@example.com) has taken a lichen to Wellesley’s trees.
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The ‘A’ in LGBT BY ANONYMOUS
I’ve never felt straight. But, as far as I can tell, I’ve never felt gay either. I have only felt an equal disinterest in both sexes. The only label which felt closest to my identify was pansexual (an equal interest in all genders). But even that seemed everso-slightly wrong, considering my general lack of interest in cuddling or sexytimes. Sometime last semester I heard someone make an offhand joke about Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory being asexual. As much as I objected to Sheldon being the one media representation of my sexual orientation, it was this experience which prompted me to Google my way to discovering asexuality. The moment I stumbled upon the Asexual Visibility and Education Network’s (AVEN) homepage, I knew immediately that I’d finally found my place, sexual orientation-wise. Even though asexuality essentially means a lack of a sexual orientation, it is still part of my sexual identity. Although my interest had been piqued, I didn’t begin in-depth research on asexuality until I was fleshing out my final project for my Intro to Women’s and Gender Studies class. I made a zine in response to the media thrown at American teenage girls. As soon as I’d turned it in, I page 8
got straight to researching. Asexuality was exactly what I’d been looking for; it supported so many of my philosophies on romance and sexuality; it justified my feelings of romantic confusion throughout my adolescence; and most of all, it told me that I was neither broken nor wrong. I definitely think that looking through an asexual lens can be beneficial not just for asexuals themselves, but for people of all sexual orientations. The tenet of asexu-
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ality that resonated most deeply with me was the separation of romantic and sexual orientations. For example, one could be a homoromantic asexual (someone who’s not interested in sex itself, but seeks a romantic relationship with a same-gender partner), an aromantic asexual (someone interested in neither sex nor romance), a biromantic heterosexual (someone who’s interested in romantic relationships with either men or women, but in a sexual relationship a person of the opposite gender). The possibilities are endless. The asexual philosophy of the separation of romance and sexuality makes so much sense to me. I’ve tested the waters of relationships before, and I’ve always felt that sex is a complete non sequitur to romance for me. It’s always seemed a bit strange to me that so many people consider romance such an important precursor to sex. For example, I dated someone for a while in high school, and while I was pretty uncomfortable with the romantic aspect of our relationship, I was even more uncomfortable with the sexual component, as I felt like the two were clashing elements of completely different trains of thought. Sex and romance are so tied together in American society, but I’ve
never been able to understand why they’re always lumped together. Personally, I identify as an aromantic asexual because I don’t particularly enjoy the public aspect of romance (the holding hands, the kissing, the cuddling, and so on), and I’m also not such a fan of what traditionally goes on behind closed doors (as you may have guessed). When I first determined that I was an aromantic “ace,” I was admittedly a little sad. Did this mean I’d be alone forever? That being a cat lady was my only option for emotional bonding in life? That emotional connection with others was out of the question? After feeling these concerns, I was happy to learn about squishes and queerplatonic partners (also known as zucchinis, for some reason unclear to me). A squish is basically a platonic crush. From what I understand, it entails wanting to be really close to someone on an emotional level and excludes romantic or sexual contact. A zucchini is to a squish as a boyfriend, girlfriend, et cetera, is to a crush — it’s the next step up: a more serious and committed relationship rather than just an attraction. It’s just a different kind of committed partnership. Rather than giving priority to a romantic relationship,
queerplatonic partners instead put their friendship above the other relationships in their lives. Asexuality is considered to be a relatively new sexual orientation. Before AVEN was created in 2001, there was really no way for many asexuals to realize the validity of their feelings towards sex and romance, let alone any real way for this approximate 1% of the population to connect. Even now, the asexual commu-
nity is just beginning to develop its offline presence with things like participation in LGBTQ* pride events, as well as its own symbols of asexual pride (the most widespread being a black ring worn on the right middle finger). All this considered, I have to say I still felt a little let down by the lack of asexual awareness and visibility at Wellesley. I haven’t come out to my friends yet. I’m sure they’ll love me just the same, but coming out as asexual is terrifying not only in the conventional coming-out-ofthe-closet-about-not-being-straight way, but also in an entirely separate will-theybelieve-that-asexuality-happens-and-isnot-just-some-hormone-deficiency way. So Wellesley, I really just wanted to write you on behalf of the asexual community and gently remind you that we’re here, and we’re queer too, so accept us! Please don’t treat our (non)sexuality as just a phase, a choice, or a defect. My queerness is as valid as anyone else’s, and, what’s more, I am not an amoeba.
Anonymous plays cards with her aces high. Please email the editors for comments or questions.
cou nter point / september 2013
ARTS & CULTURE
ach year, when the dreaded chill of winter chases away long summer nights, and the earth continues on its slow orbit about our sun, the stars themselves shift across the sky as our planet moves among them. In the northern hemisphere, the Big Dipper and Summer Triangle fall over the horizon as Orion and the Seven Sisters come up in their stead. Even as the stars remain grounded in their own homes, Earth’s wild movement around our own sun shifts the view from our windows. Despite the seeming abruptness of the change, there is a familiar rhythm to the stars, as steady as the seasons and the spinning of the earth. On clear winter nights, the three brightest stars of Orion’s belt always light up the sky above my childhood home. When the last orange and pink lights of the desert sunset slip over the horizon, and the world plunges into darkness, Orion creeps up into the sky. These stars fill the sky with the light of a million suns, just when ours disappears. Every year since before I can remember, my father has dug his telescope out of our cluttered garage on clear nights for cool and quiet evenings of stargazing. My brother and I would wait impatiently, perched on the trunk of our family’s old Saturn with our bare feet knocking against the taillights, while our dad adjusted the telescope’s focus and searched for interesting planets and nebulas. Orion was always my favorite constellation as a child; he was easy to find, with his bright belt marking his center and his long limbs reaching in every direction. And he seemed like such a hero, with his sword extended as he fought page 10
Taurus. His belt also always led me to the Seven Sisters. From the cold concrete of my driveway, they looked like nothing but seven stars clumped tightly together. But with the aid of the magnifying mirrors of my dad’s telescope, dozens more stars appeared among the sisters. What looked like just a handful of stars to the naked eye were actually a cluster of nearly a thousand stars held together by a weak magnetic field. And as the seasons shifted yet again, turning back to summer, Orion and the Seven Sisters slipped away and the Big Dipper came up in their stead. This constellation lit the way to the North Star, uncommonly small and elusive for such a famous guide. In the crisp night air, whatever the season or Earth’s location in its path through the cosmos, I always knew that the stars held wonders both wildly strange and comfortingly familiar. I often think about how sailors exploring the globe would have looked at the horizon with the same ardor as I feel looking up at the stars. Before the earth was fully travelled, before we knew that the oceans circled back into each other to form the sphere of the globe, and before we knew the location of every continent and island, the horizon whispered the same unknown as the stars. The unexplored portions of maps were even decorated with dragons as a warning, marking the regions that contained wonders — or horrors—still uncharted. The sailor’s horizon held land, territory, peoples, and cultures all part of the same world, yet still unknown. As we mapped the wonders of the earth, the boundaries of our world began to shrink, and our eyes drifted from
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the horizon line to the starry sky. Scholars, theologians, artists, and astronauts looked up to the sky and wondered what might exist beyond the limits of our own world. For years, the church described stars as pinpricks in the celestial dome, points where the light of heaven and the beyond spilled through the darkness of space. Storytellers also created legends by stringing clusters of stars together into characters and constellations with elaborate mythologies. Artists painted the night sky with a beauty that reflected fervent curiosity. Scientists wondered if there might be a way to reach the stars and other worlds. After long nights of gazing up at this uncharted territory, my family would often retreat to our house to watch far more science fiction than I am willing to admit. While my days were filled with school and clubs, I like to think that I spent my evenings traversing the universe aboard Captain Kirk’s Starship Enterprise or Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon. As I watched my beloved Star Trek characters discover amazing new worlds and the cast of Star Wars travel between planets with simple ease, I wanted so badly to join them. Since my dad first showed me the valleys and mountains of the surface on the moon, I have had a persistent case of wanderlust that has only grown in passing years. Like foreign lands and distant peoples, the stars just whispered unknown to me, and begged to be explored. Despite my strong case of wanderlust, I was particularly prone to homesickness as a kid. I remember leaving sleepovers early for the comfort of my own room
BY CECILIA NOWELL
and missing home while spending my first summer at Girl Scout camp. I loved new places, new things, and new adventures, but I also loved the familiarity of home. However, once I left on a journey and really stepped out of my front door, I was ready. I loved travelling and knew that if I wanted to see the world—and the stars—I would need to leave the comfort of the familiar. Fortunately, my homesickness passed with age and a determination to explore, and though I loved home, I began to love the possibility of having other homes as well. When I moved away from home for the first time, I found myself on my first real adventure half-way across the country. My first semester of college saw me bouncing back and forth between periods
of extreme wanderlust, where I yearned to explore absolutely everything, and longing for familiarity, where I missed the feel and comfort of home. I loved the strange climate of New England, the new people I was meeting, the new city with all its opportunities, and the prospect of being on a real adventure. More than anything, I loved that I was finally travelling, perhaps not to the stars and galaxies of science fiction and my dad’s telescope, but at least to somewhere. Occasionally, I did miss the clear desert sky of home that stretched from horizon to horizon without trees, skyscrapers, or storm clouds to obstruct perfect nighttime views of the constellations. When the New England winter weather cleared and I could find a gap in the trees large enough to see a good
piece of sky, I would glance up and find Orion’s belt right where I had left it. On late night walks back to my dorm from the library or a friend’s room, I would often stop to turn around, or even lie on the cool concrete if no one else was around, and stargaze. Halfway across the country and on my own kind of adventure, the stars were just as familiar here as the ones back home. Constant as the earth’s orbit, Orion’s belt lit up the winter sky while the Seven Sisters shimmered beside him. I grew up in a generation of travelers. We were immigrants of a different kind: people who lived out of suitcases. Our homes were between college dorms and childhood homes, divorced parents and different houses, our native countries and our adopted lands, our given families
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ARTS & CULTURE and our chosen friends. I met my fellow travelers in college, where we unpacked our baggage, and settled into our newly claimed home. We had come from all over, far-and-wide: some from houses just down the street and others from countries across the world. My friends hailed from Virginia and Colorado, Pennsylvania and Hawaii, across Africa and the Americas, Europe and Asia. We came from parents that lived on opposite sides of our cities, countries, and the world. We came as citizens and legal aliens, from legacies of travelers or the firsts to leave our hometowns. We came from our own histories and arrived ready to question our own futures. And although our childhoods were all uniquely different, I think we looked up to the stars in the same search for adventure and familiarity. My generation, children of the twentieth century and adults of the twentyfirst, seems to suffer—or perhaps delight in—an acute case of wanderlust. Unlike our predecessors, we grew up with the technology and resources to travel without ever leaving home. Although I have
never stepped outside the United States, I have walked through the streets of Rome, London, Cairo, Buenos Aires, and Beijing through photographs and search engines. I have even gazed up at the stars, in the wake of the Moon and Mars missions, knowing that I may never travel to them, but that they are also not beyond our reach. Having so much just beyond our grasp, but also right at our fingertips, makes the lure of travel impossibly attractive. Perhaps it is greedy, but knowing that so much exists and demands to be seen, makes it unbearable to ignore the sights and sounds within our reach. Despite the comfort of our homes, I think that the wonder of the unknown compels us. I think we travel because we know there is more, and that, somehow, we belong there just as much as we belong in our everyday homes. When I look up at the stars, I see a million places and questions. I see so much that I want to explore and remember how much here remains for me to discover. Yet, according to scientific theories, everything that I see came from the same beginning.
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ARTS & CULTURE Every atom and molecule of myself, our world, and our stars came from a single star that exploded into the big bang. If we were born from the same stardust, then it seems that the particles of Orion’s belt, our homes, and our selves may be some kind of kin to each other. Despite its immensity, even the strange unknown expanse of space is brimming with familiarity. Even as we travel and wander, looking to the stars and the horizon, we are essentially home. We are home where there is stardust. We are home where we take our hopes. We are home where we take our fears. We are home wherever we can glance up at the stars and see a familiar spectacle that is at once part of ourselves, yet still undiscovered. We are home where Orion’s belt, the Seven Sisters, and the Big Dipper light up a pitch-black sky, filling it with so much wonder.
Cecilia Nowell ’16 (firstname.lastname@example.org) wanders, but is not lost.
The Introvert and Her Discontent BY MARIANA ZEPEDA
t’s kind of embarrassing to admit the extent to which “Gilmore Girls” influenced my teenage years. (Admit it, there’s a whole generation of us who thought Rory Gilmore was the ultimate role model). The show was at least partly, kind of, sort of responsible for my decision to leave Mexico and apply to colleges in the northeastern United States. (No Yale for me, but I’ve always thought that Rory would have loved Wellesley.) I identified deeply with Rory: I loved books and reading, I wanted to be a journalist and writer, and I may or may not have had an awkward Jess-Dean situation in high school. We also had similar personalities. Rory was shy, awkward, and a textbook introvert but (unlike me) most of the time she owned it. Her awkwardness translated into a certain appeal: part intelligent, part endearing, part un-reined wit. My own temperament was something I thought about a lot through my high school years. (We all have an allotted amount of angst in our lives and you can bet I used all of mine up during high school.) I loved spending time alone, but in my small Mexican town a proclivity for solitude was not an admirable trait. I cannot count the number of times I was pity-invited to join a table at lunch because I was sitting on a bench reading my book by myself—mysterious behavior. (But seriously though, my close friends had a different lunch period and I just really, really wanted to know what happened next to Francie Nolan.) Well, lucky for me, this past summer was the summer of the introvert. Articles on introverts flooded the Internet as writers set out to glorify all of those adorable quirks that characterize this personality type. As Slate’s Katy Waldman pointed out, “it’s great to be an introvert in 2013!” And just in case we had any questions, both BuzzFeed and Huffington
Post gave us the self-diagnosis in pieces like “31 Unmistakable Signs That You’re an Introvert.” Any and all self-doubt I may have felt in high school just had to melt away in that parade of compliments and reassurance. Or not. Few of these pieces went out of their way to disentangle the definition of introvert from that of shyness. Just the course of six seasons, she settles to clarify, being an introvert does not into herself and the finale shows her necessarily mean that you’re shy. Shyness confident, successful, and about to implies social anxiety. Introvert describes embark on an exciting career as a people who rely on bouts of alone time journalist. But though the later to recharge. Extroverts, on the other years of the show certainly gave hand, feed off of interactions with other insight into the challenges of people. But as someone who is shy and an thriving in the high pressures introvert, I’ve always felt I got the wrong of an elite college (the end of the stick. Introverts may be the episodes where Rory loses Internet’s unsung heroes, but someone her confidence and drops has yet to make the case for shyness as a out of Yale are particularly standalone idiosyncrasy (there’s always painful to watch), “Gilmore Girls” ceased to center 2014?). Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been on Rory’s eccentricities a lone wolf. I love being surrounded by and this particular inner friends, but prolonged interactions with challenge. Rory Gilmore large groups of people frazzle and exhaust is, after all, a TV character, me. Shyness, however, isn’t something albeit a majestically scripted that I can deal with by shutting my door one, and so she promptly grew or turning off my phone. It spreads to all out of the limitations of her aspects of my life. Class participation is a temperament as she began to biggie; I’m a senior but more often than enter the adult world. It’s important to note that not it still terrifies me. The whole “fake it ‘till you make it” philosophy helps, but in real life, the process is not speaking up, taking up some space—it intuitive or straightforward. doesn’t come easily to me. I’m not always Changing, growing up, it a happy camper. I’ll say it: sometimes it doesn’t always come naturally; sometimes it consists of a moment sucks. But oy with the poodles already! I of self-awareness and the series love it when the Internet lauds my flaws of deliberate efforts that follow. just as much as anyone, but honestly, all I’ve learned we can’t fast-forward of those efforts to recast introverts as the through it. I’ve had a harder time hidden gems of society feel almost exactly stopping myself from dwelling on it. like those lunchtime pity-invites: wellMariana Zepeda ’14 (mzepeda@wellesley. meaning but sort of patronizing. Rory managed to grow out of her edu) is aiming for a Logan Huntzberger own shyness during her Yale years. Over situation. cou nter point / september 2013 page 13
ARTS & CULTURE
an unexpected path
believe in the immortality of the human soul. Please know that I’m no bible thumper or missionary or even a Christian. I believe in the immortal soul, but not in the traditional Christian way. I don’t believe that the soul is sorted like a Hogwart’s first year to one of several options: heaven, hell, purgatory (depending on what you believe). I believe that the soul is endless and eternal and takes many human forms. Spoiler alert: I believe in reincarnation. I wasn’t raised anything. My mom is an
ex-Catholic, so that was out. I wasn’t Jewish, either, even though most of our friends were and we celebrated all the holidays. I wasn’t a Christian. I had rejected Christianity in middle school when a friend took me to her evangelical church. The pastor spent an hour regaling the reality of hell, and asserting that people like me—and everyone whom I loved—had a one-way ticket to damnation. But I’ve never identified as an atheist either, and I don’t really get the term “agnostic.” I have always admired and envied the
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peace that religion brings. I had heard how accepting Christ brings joy, meaning, and serenity. But I still grappled with my faith. I didn’t understand how the belief in eternal damnation and sin could bring anyone peace. And when I looked at our society, I wasn’t sure it appeared that peaceful. Why, if the vast majority of Americans believe in heaven (about 76%), is the fear of death so prominent in our culture? Why has modern medicine extended life far beyond our natural limits, causing populations to
Original Art / Clara Smith ‘17
BY MADELINE FURLONG
rise? Why does a huge market ranging from cosmetics to cars to plastic surgery profit off of our obsession with youth? And why does the loss of a loved one cause decades of emotional trauma when so many of us believe they are in a “better place?” A high school psychology teacher told me that the Tibetan Book of the Dead could cure anyone of their fear of death. Four years later I picked up not this book, but another one which would change my life. It was called Many Lives, Many Masters by Dr. Brian Weiss. The book was recommended to me by a friend who casually remarked, to my very great surprise, that of course he believed in reincarnation. As if that was a typical American thing to believe. My curiosity got the better of me, even though I assured him that I would never ever believe in reincarnation. Many Lives, Many Masters is a case study of Dr. Weiss’ patient, Catherine. In order to heal Catherine’s overwhelming anxieties, phobias, and depression, Dr. Weiss used traditional psychotherapy methods on her for 18 months. When her symptoms still had not abated, they agreed to try hypnosis, a state of focused concentration, to recall repressed childhood memories. What Catherine recalled revealed much more, however. She recalled dozens of past lives that stretched centuries, even millennia, some of which revealed the causes of her symptoms. She began to improve almost immediately at a record pace. Neither Dr. Weiss nor Catherine believed in reincarnation until they began these unexpected regressions (the term for re-experiencing earlier memories through hypnosis). I devoured Many Lives and have read two more of Dr. Weiss’ books. The stories are mind-blowing, surprisingly convincing, and many offer almost incontrovertible proof that reincarnation is real. Dr. Weiss has regressed thousands of patients since he met Catherine in the ‘80s, and some of their stories are unnerving and inspiring. Some have found the graves of their pastlife selves. Others have found records of their past-life selves in death certificates or immigration records. Family members have separately recalled shared past-lives, individually confirming details of the other’s regression that they could have had no other way of knowing. Some have spoken
in languages that they do not speak in this life. Catherine herself spoke to Dr. Weiss of tragedies in his own life that she could not have known without the influence of more highly evolved “spirits.” The regression case studies are incredible and hard to believe if you haven’t read the book. But they’re not really the point. As much as I love reading them, what my new spirituality has brought me is much more important. The main takeaway for me has been two things: that love is the only thing that really matters, and that we will never truly lose the people we love. Reincarnation is not a punishment. Karma exists, but it is not punitive. We are put back on this earth to learn from our mistakes and to grow into better people. Killing and violence and hate are universally wrong, and they cause trauma which can last centuries. Many patients of past-life regression are given a chance to reflect on what they learned from each life in the “in-between” space they experience after a death and before their next life. If they have lived through a turbulent time, their message is always the same: killing is wrong. Violence breeds nothing but misery. The only thing that really matters is love. Equally as important to me is knowing that the people we love never leave us. Those who mean the most to us in this life are not with us by coincidence. There is strong clinical evidence that these people have been with us before in a past life. They can take many forms: our current siblings could have been our children. Our current mentors could have been our parents. And our current lovers could have been our lover many times before. This, if anything, has cured me the most of my fear of death. I now know without a doubt that I have lived with my mother, father, brother, sister, and many others in previous lives. The instant connection and deep love we feel for certain others is a sign that this may not be the first life in which they have crossed our paths. It will not stop the immense grief I’ll feel if and when I lose someone, but I’m hopeful that it will help me heal in time and have a happy life. I’m a skeptic, and I still find it hard to believe. But I’m always surprised by how many people are willing to consider this
theory. Ask around: many more people than you think have had spiritual experiences that they can’t explain. Some have been able to navigate blind through cities in which they have never visited. Others have had supernatural experiences with a loved one who has passed. Still others have an uncanny ability to predict the future. A friend of mine has a brother who at a very young age grieved inconsolably for grandparents that didn’t exist in his current life, insisting he had recently left them. Once you are aware of it, your spiritual abilities can grow. It has happened to me. I have noticed that I am more likely to know what will happen next or what people will say before they say it since I started reading these books. I certainly don’t mean to preach. I hate when someone tries to force his or her religion on me. But I don’t see this as a religion. I still don’t know if I’m Christian or Jewish or something else entirely. Belief in reincarnation, or even simply in our own spirituality and power to heal, does not eliminate the belief in any other religion. Most of the major religions teach or have taught reincarnation. Reincarnation was taught by some Christian theologians until the sixth century, a chaplain here at Wellesley told me. Regardless, many religions that believe in the immortal soul also teach the same lessons of love, forgiveness, charity, and faith. Heaven, nirvana, eternal bliss—it all seems the same to me. A peaceful eternity is the end goal of most major religions. Why would it make a difference if it took us many lifetimes to get there, not just one? I truly don’t mean to preach, and I definitely am not trying to change your religion or faith. This is my spiritual path, not necessarily anyone else’s. If I’m the only one to walk it then I am happy to walk alone, because it has finally brought me the peace I have been searching for—a peace I may have been searching for through many lifetimes and thousands of years.
Madeline Furlong ’14 (mfurlong@wellesley. edu) was probably a hot-headed knight in a past life.
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50 THINGS TO DO AT WELLESLEY BEFORE YOU GRADUATE A REVISION
1. Find a favorite secret spot. Perhaps it’ll be by the lake; perhaps it’ll be in your res hall; perhaps it’ll be in the library. But find it. 2. Become best friends with one professor. Share smiles at department parties. 3. Attend a frat party as a first year, be disappointed, come back to your room with your new first year friends, and spend the rest of the night chatting about films and books over whiskey and cigarettes. 4. Walk around the lake by yourself. 5. Check out all the books in Clapp on one subject and bury yourself in reading. 6. Get a drastic haircut. 7. Become an essential part of an organization. 8. Visit the arboretum at night. 9. Submit something to a publication. 10. Sit in all the chairs in Clapp. 11. See a film in Collins Cinema. 12. Request a song for the Guild of Carillonneurs to play on the bells. 13. Attend a lecture on a subject completely unrelated to your major at which they serve food you don’t like. 14. Have ice cream in the Ville with a friend. 15. Stay in Wellesley for a weekend. 16. Attend a poetry reading. 17. Have a drink at the Pub. 18. Fulfill a Wellesley cliché for a moment. Revel in it. 19. Get to know Wellesley by bicycle. 20. Have a Wellesley little/big sib who wasn’t assigned to you. 21. Drink wine in the French House. 22. Study in the Wellesley Free Library. 23. Get coffee at El Table. 24. Get nachos at Café Hoop. 25. Listen to records at the WZLY station. 26. Visit the Davis Museum. 27. Jump into the lake, clothed or otherwise. 28. Host a prospective student. 29. See the campus from the top of Galen Stone Tower. 30. Cheer on the Boston Marathon. Make an ironic sign. 31. Study in the English Department library. 32. Have a ridiculously highbrow dining hall conversation filled with academic jargon. 34. Name your room. 35. Sunbathe on Severance Green while listening to the carillon. 36. Sled down Severance Green in the snow. 37. Go to an a cappella concert. 38. Attend a Shakespeare Society production. 39. Be on a first-name basis with a dining hall staffer. 40. Go canoeing on the lake. 41. Start a handwritten-letter-based correspondence with a friend at another school. 42. Pitch a tent somewhere green; spend a night there. 43. Not check your email for a day. 44. Read a book completely unrelated to your major/career
aspirations. 45. Have a favorite plant in the Greenhouse. 46. Guess, correctly, who the Wellesley students are at South Station/Logan. 47. Make s’mores at the fire pit. 48. Fall in love with something beautiful and pursue it. 49. Take a course in something you know nothing about. 50. Fall asleep in the library.