I recently — and quite manically — cleaned the house I live in with four other girls. We’ve come into a living pattern where we live comfortably for a week or two before realizing the Cheetos Paws bags and empty bottles of alcohol are not going to disappear. Cleaning, for me, has always been a way to organize the equally messy space of my thoughts as well as the physical house itself, making it a win-win situation. I had to get rid of three plants in the house — all of them mine. As I picked them up, I watched as the dried leaves fell onto the table.
I felt like a cliché. The college grad who faces a crisis over her own personal fulfillment, so she wants to leave the country and start a life abroad — but is too scared of societal pressures and whatever conditioned ideas of success she has, so she stays. I’ve thought of these recurring thoughts and the idea that people don’t understand me, or no one knows how I feel. But the feelings of misunderstanding, isolation, longing and restlessness — they’re not new. People have felt these emotions over and over, by those who have lived hundreds of years before and those who will come after.
The exhibition read The Ballad of Sexual Dependency. Nan Goldin, an American artist most known for her photography, took over 700 photographs of her own most intimate moments of love and loss. Some of her subjects experience pleasure and pain from ecstasy and drug use, some dance and spend time with family and others suffer from domestic violence or AIDS. The visual diary shows humans’ need to connect, especially through struggle and pain. In my favorite photograph, a man sits at the edge of a bed smoking a cigarette while a woman lies in the background.
The word “snowflake” is used to identify a person who has an inflated sense of uniqueness — a person with too many emotions and an inability to deal with opposing opinions. It has become a politicized insult by the political right to insult the left. Those targeted as “snowflakes” are seen as fragile, weak, easily offended and desperate for “trigger warnings” and safe spaces. While frequently used to insinuate and insult, it has been increasingly common for Trump protestors to hold up signs that say, “Damn right we’re snowflakes and winter is coming.”
College students seek emotional health by demanding protection from words and ideas they don’t like, suggests an article in The Atlantic, which is actually detrimental for their education and mental health. The authors warn against trigger warnings and restricting speech because students must learn to live in a world that has a plethora of potential offenses.
The first time I was in Hong Kong, I dragged my feet the entire time. I remember a photo of my 13-year-old self wearing an orange rain jacket and pigtails. I look miserable. Maybe it was the humidity that upset me, or I was jet-lagged and wanted to sleep. I still can’t understand why someone that age who had the opportunity to travel to Asia could look so unhappy.
We had four hours on the road before we had to officially call ourselves final semester seniors. The road was a safe haven — if you didn’t look at the hills of snow everywhere, spindly trees and the depressingly gray sky. Still, we were safe. “Would your freshman year self have thought you would be where you are now?”
I let that question linger in the car for a while my friend and I both thought about it. I could feel that we were both rewinding ourselves back to the first day we stepped into our respective dorms. Me, sweaty and wearing my sister’s striped T-shirt.
Sometimes I’m scared to write certain pieces, because if I do, I’ll fall into some downward spiral after shifting through my memories, and this article isn’t supposed to be my attempt to pull myself from some depth, but one that hopes to understand? Find hope? I don’t really know yet. I’ve been thinking about pain a lot. About how every individual carries their own burden and as much as we try to relieve the pain of others, there’s not always a way to.
Since recess time and cafeteria lunches, studying abroad had always been the dream. It was something of the future. It was living in a new city and traveling on weekends. It wasn’t school, it was abroad. When it was actually time for me to apply, I petitioned the College of Arts & Sciences to allow me to go to Thailand (my three semesters of Italian would be useless in Chiang Mai).
I spent over an hour waiting at the stage. It was mid-day and the sun was raging. But I was at Firefly Music Festival and the reason I had come in the first place was to see BØRNS perform. So there was no option but to wait. It was an experience that validated everything I had already thought about his music.
While my professor unpackaged the books and distributed them around the room, I felt as if I was actually witnessing a part of history; as if this was something I would look back on years from now and say, that was me he handed a copy to. That was my professor. Prof. Andrew Moisey, art history and visual studies, recently published The American Fraternity. This photobook places photos that Moisey took in an unnamed fraternity at the University of California, Berkeley, in the early 2000’s next to text that comes from a 60-year-old ritual manual that was found on the fraternity’s floor. Starting in 2000, Moisey documented his younger brother’s involvement in the fraternity, from initiation rituals to drunken parties to an untimely funeral.