Reflections on the Rumpus: The Wild Things within All of Us

By Suzanna Bobadilla ‘13

As Max sailed away on his appropriately named boat back to a home, a mother, and a slice of delicious chocolate cake, the audience at the Harvard Alumni Association’s screening of Where the Wild Things Are rustled not their popcorn bags, but their tissues. The movie, based on Maurice Sendak’s 1963 iconic children’s book, was released on October 16, 2009 and has not only revitalized interest in Max and his wolf suit but also has allowed the public to sail away on their own journey of nostalgia to their childhoods.

Directed by Spike Jonze, Where the Wild Things Are stars the gifted Max Records as the eternally youthful and eternally angst ridden Max. As in the book, Max still throws a temper tantrum that would make even Super Nanny quake in her loafers and he still seeks refuge in a far away island, inhabited by bizarre, giant monsters—the Wild Things. However, Jonze adds a back-story to this cinematic interpretation. The audience learns of Max’s dysfunctional family: a single mother trying to get back into the dating world, a teenage sister who just cannot be bothered by her brother’s antics, and an absent father. Jonze also give his Wild Things names, voices of acclaimed actors, and most importantly personalities.

The monsters, created by a synthesis of costume, CGI, and puppetry, are representations of Sendak’s distinctive illustrations but also of us. We emphasize with Alexander’s (Paul Dano) frustration that he is overlooked by the others; we understand KW’s (Laura Ambrose) desire to escape an increasingly suffocating environment; we knowledge that like Carol (James Gandolfini) we cannot always control our tempers; and we remember those times when like Max we overestimate our capabilities and find ourselves overwhelmed by leadership positions. But as the HAA audience consisted of mostly alumni and current students, we can no longer relate to Max’s entitlement as a young child to quickly return home and experience the comfort that only a parent can provide. Following the movie, the Harvard Alumni’s Associated held a panel on the importance of Where the Wild Things Are featuring children’s literature scholar and University of Florida professor John Cech, the author of Wicked Gregory Maguire, and Harvard’s own children’s literature expert, Maria Tatar. The Voice returned to Tatar, the John L. Loeb Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures and author of Enchanted Hunters: The Power of Stories in Childhood, for further insight within the realm of children’s literature.

When we first sat down in her office, we first asked her impressions of the film. She noted, “I am impressed by how it established the power of family bonds. Those bonds captured best in silent scenes. And we also we see how everything can quickly collapse, coming down on you with the chill of the ice in Max’s snow fort. It’s with your family that you get the chance to act out, to take things out.” She praised the movie’s young star: “The expressive intensity of Max’s face when he feels abandoned reminds us of the overwhelming, explosive sadness children can feel.” But the conversation then extended beyond Sendak’s work and into how these books shape lives.

How is writing a children’s book different from writing an adult’s?

When you as an adult try to put together the emotional stew, you risk misrepresenting how children think and react.  We never get an unmediated version of the child’s mind. Someone is always in between. There are children who do write books, prodigies, but their work often shows signs of adult intervention.

How do you think children feel about adults reading books like the Harry Potter series?

[Laughs] Children are likely to protest: “Hey, that’s my real estate.” Children use books to move forward, to mature, and to discover secrets about the adult world. When adults read children’s books, they often want to go back, to recapture their childhoods. And that explains in some ways the magic of an adults and children reading together—they meet in and through the book. I’ve always loved that. I loved reading with my children and taking them to movies because we had that shared experience. But there is also a suspect side to the adult’s desire to go back—that regressive move. Adults are perched on the outside as voyeurs.  You could say that they are poaching or trespassing on the child’s real estate.

Who do you consider to be the masters of children’s literature?

J.M. Barrie [the author of Peter Pan] and Louis Carroll [the author of Alice in Wonderland] were the real innovators. They were both unusually interested with small children. You could say that they had a suspect investment in children, with the one playing pirates with boys and the other taking photographs of girls. But they also knew exactly what kinds of stories children wanted, not the ones that pointed out morals and contained messages. Maurice Sendak’s stories give us the racing energy of childhood. He takes us inside the emotional world of childhood by probing his own memories.  He is Max. The best children’s authors have great instincts, intuiting what children want in a story. There are all of these “how to write a children’s book” blueprints out there—it all seems so easy and formulaic. But few adults reflect long and hard on what it means to be a child and how you speak to them without condescending to them. As Roald Dahl put it, you want to conspire with a child against an adult.

What do you consider to be children’s literature greatest attribute?

Having talked to thousands about books, I never cease to be amazed by the bonding power of stories and the many stories about stories.  For example, if you are at a dinner party or just in general conversation and you bring up A Winter’s Tale, sparks rarely fly. Maybe one other person is really familiar with the play. But if you bring up A Secret Garden, a book that everyone seems to know, it’s magical. The other day I was at the COOP picking up a copy. The woman who located it told me about her experience with the book. How it taught her compassion and how she then read A Little Princess and wept endlessly over it. I walked over to the check-out desk and the young man there, who was about 25, told me how much he loved the book.  But adults who caught him reading it told him that it was a girl’s book and that he shouldn’t read it. These childhood books are like talismans, mantras inside of us that have an emotional charge.

Towards the end of our interview, Tatar’s eyes light up as she remarks on the seductions of reading. “Maurice Sendak told my students once how wonderful it was to ‘go to bed with a book.’  Reading is not just an intellectual experience, it also has a sensual and sensory dimension.”

For this Thanksgiving break, Where the Wild Things Are may not be the ideal movie for the kids you once babysat as it seems to be targeted towards those who have passed through once-upon-a-time in order to make to the real world in time for that meeting or class. But Harvard students may find themselves relating more to Max than they might have expected. As Gregory Maguire says, “This sense of the college rumpus, it’s palpable all around here. I’m 55 so more than 30 years later, I can still here the jungle drums as you walk through the campus in the rain.”

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Studying Abroad and the Harvard Problem

By Qichen Zhang

Along with a liberated and riotous freshman year, the abrupt wake-up call to the academic demands of college, and learning how to deal with being sexiled by a roommate, studying abroad is often considered to be a key element of the college experience. In accordance with modern western cultural values of global awareness, many college graduates who study overseas during their undergraduate years deem their time abroad as necessary to achieve a fulfilling post-secondary education.

At Harvard, however, a different culture exists. Only a small handful of students decide to leave the gated community in Cambridge each year, most preferring to spend time abroad during the summer, oftentimes not in language immersion programs. Some have been eager to point the finger at the university’s administration, citing the authoritative discouragement the student body feels. The Office of International Programs only lists five exchange programs that Harvard itself runs with partner schools, which include the Institut d’Etudes Politiques (better known as Sciences Po) in Paris and Uppsala University in Sweden. Contrarily, the university seems to push students toward Harvard Summer School programs, many of which include research-oriented weeks abroad interspersed with cultural excursions rather than language immersion courses.

Harvard’s surprisingly small number of offerings could very well stem from lack of student interest. But it’s not completely unreasonable that people would choose not to take advantage of their international opportunities given that the Faculty of Arts and Sciences departments are notoriously stingy when it comes to accepting credit from foreign universities (or any university that’s not Harvard, for that matter). Greg Gilroy, a junior economics concentrator who chose to study in Florence, Italy through a program at the University of Minnesota, did not take a single economics class during his year in Europe. “I was not able to get any of my classes approved by the economics department.” Instead, Gilroy completed courses in Italian language, culture, and European history.

Others, however, have succeeded in petitioning for concentration credit. History and Literature concentrator Odelia Younge ’11 found her department extremely open to accepting her Spanish literature, film, and history courses from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid as part of her interdisciplinary academic track. “I am getting credit toward my concentration—despite being History and Literature in the American field,” Younge noted. Hansae Catlett ‘11, a junior studying biomedical engineering, also received a credit toward his concentration with a course in engineering design at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. Catlett added that he “also got one core knocked off.”

So why do so few students study abroad? Jessica Erickson ‘10, a Psychology concentrator who spent a year at Pontificia Universidad Católica in Santiago, Chile last year, sympathized with the common sentiment that most of her peers feel when considering a year away from the university: “I think most people feel that they are going to get behind some way or miss out on something, which is too bad since that’s not the case at all.” Anna Raginskaya ‘11, a History of Art and Architecture concentrator, also noticed this widespread trend. “I think this is because spending a semester away from Harvard at an academic institution that is not very strong may indeed be perceived as a loss,” commented Raginskaya, who is currently studying art history and finance at Universita Bocconi in Milan, Italy.

But many who forgo a semester or two to escape the cruel New England winter found themselves missing what they had initially wanted to get away from. While studying abroad, many students realize the plentiful resources Harvard offers, and the constant and notoriously Harvard-style complaining that obscures the reality of the university’s generosity in terms of funding, establishment, and general conveniences. “My perspective [of Harvard] hasn’t changed much,” Catlett said. “I still view it as an amazing place of learning and opportunity. Now, I’m just taking more advantage of those opportunities.”

Undoubtedly, students who experience life at another university abroad draw their own conclusions after comparing the advantages with those of Harvard. “I took for granted the availability of textbooks, the Coop, the amazing libraries, and computer labs,” Erickson recollected about her time at Pontificia Universidad Católica. “In Chile, I would have to wait about an hour in line to photocopy all of my reading materials every week. I missed the organization and dependability that Harvard offers.”

As far as social life goes, it’s a mixed bag. Gilroy, a member of the lacrosse team, mentioned that he missed “hanging out with teammates and Final Clubs.” Catlett had a different take, however: “I didn’t miss the redundant social scene or the long nights working on problem sets or essays.”

Younge also cited the omnipresent stress of Harvard as something she was happy to remove herself from. “Studying abroad is a lot more relaxing, that’s for sure. The environment is more laid back. I do not miss the stress that sometimes goes along with being on campus and starting classes.” Kristin Ohanian ’11, who decided to go abroad in an untraditional route by applying to an external program, Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), was quick to mention a less frenetic pace of work and life as a favorable impression of her time at the University of Amsterdam. “The libraries here closed at eight, so no Lamont all-nighters, that’s for sure!”

Perhaps the gaping hole in communication can explain why more students are not taking advantage of studying abroad. Harvard’s financial aid office offers assistance to those going abroad, sometimes more so than if they were staying on campus. According to Raginskaya’s experience with cooperating with the financial aid office,
“[they will] write you a check for any extra money you will need as dictated by your budget.” Additionally, the faculty seems to welcome the idea of pursuing academics elsewhere, allowing those who explore outside of the brick-lined confines of the Yard to come back with perhaps greater worldly wisdom. “If a student states clearly that they want to go abroad, I feel like most departments would bend over backwards to make that happen,” said Younge.

Harvard kids just have one problem to resolve. “It’s important to not fall into a trap of thinking you are the best and brightest,” said Raginskaya. “Going abroad and meeting so many new people will easily show you how many things you do not know.”

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LGBT Life at Harvard

Through the Eyes of QSA Co-Chair Marco Chan ’11

By Henry Woodward-Fisher

Harvard is not a place that puts issues of sexuality and queer identity to one side. From the dramatic abbreviation of the “BGLTSA” to the “Harvard College QSA”, to the discussions of the past spring semester surrounding gender-neutral housing and bathrooms and the abstract implementation thereof, to issues of same-sex marriage across the US, to the recent inaugural Harvard Humanist Chaplaincy’s Award for Service to Humanity given to Lieutenant Choi, a distinguished West Point graduate, Iraq veteran and Arabic linguist who was discharged under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community at Harvard seems to rank high in prominence. However, the LGBT community at Harvard is one with many different faces; to put your finger on LGBT life at Harvard is not an easy task. The Voice sets out to answer this simple question: what exactly is the current state of LGBT life at Harvard?

The Transgender Task Force is the premier group at the university aimed at confronting issues surrounding gender non-conforming individuals, creating an educational environment for all members of Harvard, and fostering a safe and welcoming atmosphere for transgender and intersex people at the university. Transgender people at Harvard, although a disappointingly indiscernible community within the College, are supported by a network of active organizations that work to further the trans and queer movement. Events are regularly held across campus to raise awareness of trans-issues and to promote equality and understanding at all levels of the university. Examples of these events are “Trans 101s”, training seminars that are held at Harvard and are available upon request. These seminars aim to make campus life and university policies more inclusive. Other groups at Harvard that represent the diversity of the LGBT community include Girlspot, for lesbian, bisexual and bicurious women; Black Out, aimed at queer black students; and QAF, a group aimed at LGBT Asians. However, by far the most visible assembly on campus–acting mostly as the umbrella for other groups–is the QSA, or Queer Students and Allies.

Whether you want to kick back and relax for that final episode of “The ‘L’ Word” in the Harvard Women’s Center, reminisce about the good old days of “Queer As Folk” at a freshman BGLT study break, discuss relevant LGBT issues in a political forum, or rent a DVD or book from the Queer Resource Center in the basement of Weld, the infrastructure is most certainly in place and does appear to be utilized. At an academic level, LGBT issues are being tackled with more force than ever before. The Women, Gender and Sexuality department, a comparatively young concentration at Harvard, has seen an explosion of popularity amongst undergraduates. The fall semester of 2008 saw the arrival of visiting professor Susan Stryker who taught a seminal class entitled “Transgender History”; the Kennedy School hosted its first annual LGBT political forum this spring.

Marco Chan ’11 is surely the Harvard College LGBT community go-to-man. As well as being co-chair of the Harvard QSA, he constantly pushes new boundaries within the Harvard queer community. Whether it is promoting and organizing parties, informal events, LGBT recruiting events with firms like Barclays, or defending Harvard’s stance on ROTC on national television, Chan always comes through.On this day, Chan sits in the sunny courtyard of Quincy House. He looks a little sleepy, though he says he actually feels pretty refreshed after a twenty-minute powernap. He explains a bit about his role on campus and his experiences working for the QSA.

“I got involved in the campus queer community pretty quick; pretty much right from the start. The summer before I even got in as a freshman I was actually contacted by one of the board members of what was then the BGLTSA about the opening position of a social chair and I thought, what better way to get plugged in on a campus right away?” He pauses at this point as if to search for some higher inspiration, before finally declaring, “And I ran! So I was social chair all throughout freshman year and I’ve been involved with the BGLTSA, what is now the QSA, ever since.”

Chan is waking up a bit now. Nursing a steaming mug of tea between his hands, he squints in the sunlight. When asked what exactly makes Harvard have such a positivist, supportive and how the QSA continues to support such an environment, Chan says, “I think what’s peculiar about Harvard is that it’s a place where, although not everything may be perfect, there is no shortage of people that want to make it better. I think that’s what makes it stand out for me. Through the years the QSA and many, many other people and organizations on campus have been working on things like gender-neutral housing and non-discrimination policies, so I feel like we really need to recognize what’s here today and the environment that we enjoy now hasn’t always been so. It’s been the culmination of a lot of long work, and it’s really exciting for me to be here on this campus and to keep looking at what’s good, what is going to get better, and work with everyone else to make all of those things happen.”

It’s clear that Chan understands the trajectory of the Harvard LGBT community. Of the atmosphere, Chan says that he has made many great friends here, that he has never felt unsafe or threatened. “Certainly there’s always on-going questions of inclusion and diversity, but the fact that we have these conversations and we’re having more and more of them is, I think, a good sign,” Chan says.

The LGBT student body is a visible and active contributor to Harvard’s already vibrant student life community. Fortunately, we live in a time and a place where the sight of same-sex couples holding hands on campus is not uncommon, where students can be open about their true identity along with who and what they love, and where students are free to explore LGBT issues in the classroom as well as in formal and informal social events. There lies a strong sense that great progress has been and continues to be made.

Read on for our Q&A session with Marco Chan on LGBT life at Harvard.

What area of LGBT student life at Harvard do you think requires most attention and what are those challenges?

I think there is always the ongoing challenge that, unlike other communities, the queer community is very difficult to pinpoint to one thing. There’s not one kind of monolithic experience that everyone can attest to. There’s not one way of relating to queer life and queer identity, so I think the biggest challenge by far is making sure that there’s space for everyone in the community, regardless of their interest,

regardless of their comfort, to feel included and to voice themselves, because we have people coming from so many different backgrounds.

Boston’s a city full of universities. What kind of interaction is there between Harvard and other local universities on an LGBT level?

So that’s something that we are continually working on, and it’s always been kind of on our agenda to keep working with other universities, because I believe there are over forty universities and colleges right around Greater Boston. It’s really a city made for students. The challenge of that is to work with all these numbers and to make a connection with so many different groups and so many different people. However, in terms of our social events and even in other things, like apart from parties, even things like movie screenings and some of our discussion panels and meetings – we do actually have significant attendance from other schools. Traditionally we see a bunch of people from Tufts, MIT, BU, Wellesley, Wentworth…a lot of different colleges.

Are there any upcoming events that LGBT students at Harvard should come and check out?

In terms of events that are coming up, this is actually perfect: the QSA is organizing a Queer Town Hall. It’s actually something I’m really incredibly excited about, because it’s going to be a fantastic opportunity for the entire community and all our friends to come together and sit down and say: ‘Before the QSA even starts planning anything for the coming year, before we even set out any sort of schedule or listing, what do you guys want? What is lacking? What’s great? What are you guys looking for? And how can the QSA and the community be organized and function in a way that is inclusive to you and encourages your active participation? What can we do, what are you looking for?’ So I’m really excited about the chance to sit everyone down and have a frank, candid discussion about what needs to happen.

What do you think of the dating scene at Harvard–gay or straight?

Haha. Erm…the funny thing is–I mean this is probably just my perspective on it–I prefer to date on campus versus other colleges, even though there are lots of fantastic guys and other people out there in town, just because of the time issue and I think a lot of other Harvard students feel like this too. Just the fact that you have hours and hours of class in the day, and then you have you meetings and then you everything that you want to go to like visiting speakers, House-life…it’s really hard to peel yourself away. So I guess I’ve never been in another dating situation where honestly like fifty percent of our time isn’t spent reading together or studying together in my room.

At least it’s a worthwhile way to spend time.

At least it’s worthwhile! But you know what? As with anything else at Harvard, there’s a lot of room for kind of a more intellectual connection and that’s something I really appreciate here.

As a Canadian, do you find there is a difference between being gay here and being gay back home?

There is a little bit of difference in the way that the level of political engagement and the way that people engage politically with their queer identity is a little different, because I think the frontlines of the battle for queer rights are more explicitly laid out in the States than they are in Canada. Another way is that obviously, there’s a diverse range of experiences, but I generally don’t hear nearly as, I guess, extreme circumstances as I do here.

For those 21+ students among us, tell us about the LGBT nightlife hotspots of Boston, Massachusetts or the surrounding locale.

So my favorite by far–maybe it’s just because I’m lazy–is Daedalus right across the street from Quincy House on Mt. Auburn. I live in Quincy, so I literally hop across the street and hop back home afterwards at 2am. Fantastic! Thursday nights are pretty much the established…

Gaydalus?

At Gaydalus…drinks are good, reasonably priced, and there’s a huge contingent from all the Harvard schools, not just the College. Apart from that, Guerrilla Queer Bar is always fun and the good thing about that is that you never know who is going to drop by, people from all over Greater Boston and sometimes even further afield. It’s in new places that generally aren’t usually queer-friendly social spaces that, for the night, are.

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(Man)Love is in the Air

By John Paul Jones

Call me a hopeless romantic, but I am a fan of the bromance. Shakespeare’s Veronese Valentine and Proteus, in their loving pursuits of Silvia and Julia, are one of my favorite examples of a bromance. They’re both heterosexual. They’re both deeply in love—not with each other—and they pass countless hours talking about their beloveds and making life plans. But they’re really just friends, so what’s the big deal?

This kind of close, nonsexual friendship between two men has existed, I’m sure, throughout human history. Only recently, however, has it been christened with a hint of homoeroticism. The obvious combination of “brother” and “romance” sometimes provokes a quick denial of homosexuality: “Yeah, we’re bros—no homo.” It’s fine for bros to be really close (or even to have pet names), but don’t expect them to hang out with self-proclaimed “Gay Pimp” Jonny McGovern.

In a broader context, the bromance also elicits more than $100 million worldwide at the theater. The stoner flick Pineapple Express, in which Seth Rogen and James Franco play Mary Jane’s bromancing lovers, is one of the recent signs that bromances have become acceptable in mainstream media—and therefore, in the youth culture that both creates and emulates those media.

Depicting the bromance is a rather daring move, especially given the homophobic attitudes that pervade much of our culture. It’s even more daring to live it. Forget actors whose allegedly gay orientations constantly serve as gossip rag fodder: millions of college-age men are involved in bromances. At Harvard, the phenomenon is similar. One pair might play hockey together; maybe another met in Justice section. Regardless of how they came together, they’re close friends, they’re emotionally supportive—or sometimes needy—and they’re not planning to break up anytime soon.

Perhaps what keeps these pairs together is a long, twisted precedent of defined male sexuality. Especially in American society, many men strive to live up to gender roles, no matter how contrived they are—a phenomenon paralleled in fiction. In Hollywood, male leads almost invariably play heterosexual characters with clearly defined sexual values. James Bond, for example, the classic embodiment of masculinity, never fails to save the world and land the prettiest woman around; Superman, a more demure character, poetically and silently falls in love with Lois Lane. So far, no bros on the side.

Enter Brokeback Mountain, a tale of two closeted lovers who both embrace gender norms out of necessity and violate them out of love. The blockbuster success of this film helped bring homosexual relationships into public attention, and the film certainly did not follow the precedent set by queer cinema. Brokeback Mountain earned a mainstream audience—not a uniformly queer one.

What does that have to do with the bromance? In our society, the idea of two men being close enough friends to seem like lovers is, well, a bit progressive. Our hockey players and Justice enrollees are not looking to be identified as gay; frankly, most probably aren’t gay. Nor are Dale Denton (Rogen) and Saul Silver (Franco). By carrying on their bromance, however, real bromancers open themselves up to the possibility that outsiders will misunderstand their relationship. Implicit in the modern bromance, then, is an acknowledgment of homosexuality. This acknowledgement is the reason for phrases like “no homo.”

Maybe I’m giving undue credit, but I see a certain value in this acknowledgement of homosexuality. At its core, the bromance has some homoerotic elements. Does this combination of acknowledgement and homoeroticism constitute acceptance? No, but especially for people who strive to be politically correct, it is socially expedient to show tolerance of queer orientations.

Translation: “We’re not gay, but we’re not going to change our behavior for fear of being called gay.”

I’m not saying that Dale Denton and Saul Silver are on the front lines of queer rights activism. (On the other hand, out and proud actor Neil Patrick Harris is notorious for his bromancing characters.) But this cute cultural phenomenon that validates sincere affection between two men is one example of how queerness is starting to gain visibility. Two unrelated men can now publicly express affection, and plenty of people won’t think twice about it. This tendency toward acceptance of male-male affection is a sign that, to some extent, gay relationships are becoming normalized. Of course, that says little for America’s often stagnant disregard for transgender rights, same-sex adoption, and a host of other queer rights issues. It also doesn’t remedy the fact that the queer “community” still fights a troubling misconception that its members are all rich, white, gay men. Still, the definition of an abnormal relationship might be narrowing just a little bit thanks to the bromance.

So thank you, bromancers, for your pseudo-homosexual expressions. I’d love to see you more actively involved in advocacy for queer rights, but I realize that it can be difficult for an accidental pioneer.

In any case, I love you, men—no homo.

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Mike Einziger: The Incubus Guitarist & Harvard Student

By Alisha Ramos

Mike Einziger leisurely strolls into our meeting ten minutes late. Before his arrival, I constantly glance at my phone to check the time. I nervously go over my e-mails to make sure I’m not in the wrong place. And I’m not – Mike Einziger, the Incubus guitarist and a Harvard student, is just late. As I walk up to greet him, I’m a bit taken aback – his smaller stature is not what I had anticipated. I have naively expected something else – he is, after all, an international rock star. Perhaps a mohawk? Or the Jewfro he sports on the photo of his Wikipedia page? Or a tattoo on his arm? Something even remotely badass? No. My search for some symbol of status seems to be in vain as I quickly scan him over once more.

We are seated in a quiet corner of Bombay Club, by windows overlooking the bustling evening streets below. The restaurant is nearly empty, and I can’t help but notice the intimacy of the atmosphere. The restaurant was his pick – I suggested Café Pamplona in our earlier exchange via email, until he convinced me that Pamplona would be “really loud” for an interview and suggested Bombay. “My treat if you’d wanna eat,” the email read.

Einziger seemed to be a pretty cool guy even before I met him. He might even pass as a little nerdy. See him on the street, and you’d never be able to tell he’s playing in an idolized band that has seen multi-platinum sales and does gigs in front of thousands of fans. He seems like just another student rushing off to finish a problem-set. Einziger is a LA dude in every sense of the phrase. His clothes seem a smidge out of place amidst the dreary-hued, heavy winter coats and scarves of the local Cantabrigians and diners around us; he wears a royal blue zip-up hoodie with a simple plaid collared shirt underneath. Some tufts of his mouse-brown hair are askew. He seems completely and utterly at ease.

Our two hour chat over chicken tikka curry, samosas, and naan – all of which shared between us – leaves me with the feeling that we could easily become buddies. He is currently a “special grad student” at Harvard University, and is enrolled entirely in undergraduate courses. “There’s so much here,” he says. “The most difficult part is figuring out where you’re going to focus your attention.” During his time at Harvard, Einziger tells me he’s focused mainly on composition and music theory. “But,” he adds, “I’m also very passionate about the sciences. It’s been a huge passion of mine.”

Einziger explains that he wants to learn more about physics and biology. “I’ve always been fascinated from a cosmological perspective. What the hell are we doing here?” This is the part where Einziger becomes intensely passionate. His eyes seem to glimmer. You can see the triggers going off in his mind, one inquisitive thought clicking after another as he attempts to explain what he means by these words. “We take a lot of things for granted. I mean, we’re floating on a rock in a massive aquarium. We have no idea about a lot of things, but we’re learning a significant amount of information at a crazy rate,” he says. He says that studying the sciences has changed his “perception of the normal world.”

“How’s your food?” he asks, perhaps concerned about the frantic manner in which I take down notes, neglecting the delicious chicken tikka on the table. One can’t help but feel the contagious fervor with which Einziger speaks when he discusses evolution or physics. We launch into a long philosophical discussion on the origins mankind, during most of which I prefer to listen to his views and ask him for elaborations.

I interrupt to ask what he wants to do with all this knowledge. Einziger pauses to think. I offer if it’s purely for his own benefit. Einziger dons a wry smile and answers, “Everything we do is for our own benefit. But that’s a whole other philosophical discussion I won’t get into right now!” The question seems to stump him, as he finally replies with, “I don’t know.” One thing is becomes evident to me – Einziger loves learning for learning, attempting to piece together as what he sees as this great and marvelous puzzle of life and the universe.

The experience of being a student once more stands out as a stark contrast to Einziger’s rock star days. Although he undoubtedly had enjoyed and continues to enjoy being in the band, he confesses, “there are still sacrifices.” The often tumultuous culture of being a part of such a wildly popular band with a huge fan base seems to have taken a toll on Einziger’s social experience. “I mean…we pay people to keep people away from us,” he says.

He goes onto explain the surreal feeling of being “caged in” and blocked off from the rowdy crowd at concerts. “It’s kind of an isolating experience,” he reflects, a hint of regret in his voice. He expresses though, that his time at Harvard has allowed him to become “reimmersed into the regular world.” Here, Einziger feels that he is “just another student.” He admits that although he is a bit of an antisocial, he has “taken a great effort to get to know people” and has already made some “really great friends here.”

Einziger’s schedule for the spring semester aptly coincides with his two biggest obsessions – music and science. He is currently enrolled in Science A-41 (The Einstein Revolution), Music 51 (Music Theory), and Music 5 (Intermediate Composition). He is also pursuing an independent study with a visiting composer. “Every week I listen to a piece of music that’s assigned. The pieces are vastly different. We analyze them, pick them apart, and write response pieces to them.” Einziger tells me one of his favorite movies growing up was Fantasia; he listens to pieces from the movie like “The Rite of Spring” by Stravinsky and says he gets to “pick it apart and analyze that, and it’s amazing.”

He enthusiastically describes the professor, Richard Baldwin, as an “amazing guy.” The course is a great experience in composing music for Einziger. “I’ve never really read or notated music before.” He also adds that he purposefully tries to away from computers which often do the work for you. He firmly believes that composing music sans computer “really makes visualizing the music a necessity.”

Einziger has also had a hand at composing an entire orchestral performance. After undergoing an operation in March of 2007 for Carpal tunnel syndrome, he used the time off from his guitar to complete a side project, ‘end.>vacuum’. ‘End.>vacuum’ is described on its website as “a realization in nine movements; a jagged uneven collection of mind shattering musical theories.” The video on the website reflects Einziger’s science-and-music-oriented psyche: there are images of the cosmos, swirling galaxies, the large hadron collider, and the launch of a rocket ship. There’s a clip of him in which he poses some seemingly profound questions: “Is a note still a note if no one’s there to hear it?”

After meeting with Einziger, I can’t help but think that the video (and perhaps the performance itself) seems to be an accurate, eerie glimpse or snapshot of Einziger’s own mind. He singlehandedly composed the entire orchestral work; it also included a visual component that corresponded to the music. The project was a one-time-only show, performed in August in Los Angeles.

Besides being a full time Harvard student, it is clear that Einziger is still, in his core and essence, a part of the band and seldom forgets it. He reveals that Incubus is putting out a “greatest hits” record in May. At first, he waves this little bit of information away. “It’s a contractual thing. Just an obligation we have to fulfill.” He pauses a moment, and reconsiders. “But when I look back on it now, a lot of the music I discovered when I was younger was found through ‘greatest hits’ albums!” He reflects on the meaning of the band having a “greatest hits” album at all, and appreciates the legacy the band is leaving behind and creating still. “It was really fun putting [the album] together.”

We share a laugh as he says that most “greatest hits” albums only contain one or two songs which people can recognize. “We actually have a legit ‘greatest hits’ album.” Einziger refers to the fact that Incubus has produced a slew of number one hit singles, including “Drive”, “Megalomaniac”, “Anna Molly”, and “Love Hurts,” just to name a few.

Surely, being a musical genius and international rock star would make him a “shoe-in” at the admissions office. But he assures me that this was not the case. “[The admissions office] was very cool to me, but they were clear that being in a rock band doesn’t get you in.” Einziger initially became interested in Harvard through a current undergrad, who is a “very good friend” of his. Last year, the two planned to co-write an article about evolution, and wanted to interview a professor at Brown, an expert on the matter. Einziger planned to spend a day at Harvard and then visit Brown to conduct the interview, but plans fell through.

Through happenstance, Einziger found himself meeting instead with Thomas Kelly, a music professor at Harvard. The two instantly connected, much to Einziger’s surprise. “He’s a classical music scholar…I’m in a rock band. I didn’t know he would have any interest in talking to me.” The two shared “a really great discussion about music” and soon Einziger was being encouraged to apply to Harvard.

Upon receiving the acceptance letter, “I did a happy dance,” he recalls with a grin. He also remembers with amusement the delight his parents expressed when they received the news. “Selling eleven million records doesn’t impress my parents that much, but going to Harvard does!” When asked why he chose Harvard instead of a conservatory, Einziger replies matter-of-factly. “The music department is amazing here. The professors are incredible. Students are amazing. I have the luxury of meeting all these people…it’s overwhelming to be a musician and come here.” I share with him my own story of acceptance to Harvard, and the constant realization of how lucky I am to be here.

“Me too!” Einziger replies with zeal. “I feel like it’s really a privilege.” Einziger dropped out of high school as a teen to play with his own band; attending Harvard seems to be a sort of reawakening for him. “I value education in a different way than when I was younger. I never enjoyed school when I was younger,” he confesses. He continues to describe his rebellious high school years. “I was very nonconformist. But at a certain point, being a nonconformist makes you conformist,” he laughs. He shares with me his wonder at the amazing amount of resources Harvard offers its students, and the tremendous amount of support he has received so far. “It took me a while to figure out that there are people out there who want to help you do whatever you want to do in life.”

Incubus plans to go on tour all summer. He mentions they will play at the Boston Comcast Center in July, and is “trying to figure out a way so that Harvard students can get in for free.” He even reveals to me that Brandon Boyd, the vocalist of Incubus, is visiting him soon, and that the duo wants to “play somewhere really random” at Harvard, for the students. When asked where, Einziger gives a vague answer as they haven’t yet finalized plans. “Like in the stacks at the library or something. Just something really random.”

On top of this “top secret” mission for an impromptu concert, Einziger has found yet another way to contribute to the Harvard community in the future. He is composing music for a play called “Quartet” by Heiner Muller. The play will be will be performed by Harvard students.

The engaging experience at Harvard has inspired him to agree to teach a class during J-term next winter, titled “Modern Song-writing.” The class has yet to be planned, but he is excited about the opportunity. “I didn’t come here planning to teach, but I was asked to. I can’t think of anything cooler to do, to be able to teach at Harvard! The students are so inspiring. People are so smart here.” These are words may come off as cliché, but hearing them from Einziger makes you believe he sincerely means it.

He frequently reiterates how incredible the students are, along with the remarkable things they have accomplished. After all, he takes classes with us every day, struggles through problem sets, and chats with people every chance he gets. When asked about the experience of taking undergraduate courses, he admits, “There’s a bit of an age gap between me and the undergrads.” He reflects on the transition from being in the band to being a student again. “I’ve been doing what I’ve done for a living for such a long time. It feels good to be working my brain in a different way.”

His elaborate plans for the future are not just musical. Just as end.>vacuum was a testament to Einziger’s fascination with music, science, and the bonds which they share, his next project seems to be of the same nature. “I’ll be working on a documentary project for BBC over the next six months. It’ll be like Planet Earth, but about the solar system.” Einziger will compose music for the documentary which will correspond with its visuals. “It fits right in with my love for science and music!” he declares with a smile. The project is still in its “developmental stages” but looks very promising, considering the fact that BBC’s Planet Earth was such a phenomenal success.

My dinner with Einziger has drawn to a close, and I appreciate his candidness and open mind. He seemed like a friend, someone I could talk to about normal things like the crappy weather. When asked what he dislikes the most about Harvard, he answers with, “It’s fucking freezing here.” Yet the most enjoyable part in speaking with Einziger is having a stimulating discussion and genuine exchange of ideas. We cover everything from evolution to morality to Plato to homosexuality to the afterlife and more.

We agree on some things and disagree on others. Our conversation soon tapers off into banter about intellectual design and creationism. He promises me to email me a documentary about intellectual design (he did), and asks to chat with me again.

I see him now as more than just a face in a band. Perhaps the only big difference between Einziger and the typical Harvard student is his sincere and un-jaded appreciation for the university and its people. “It’s a shame not everyone in the world gets to experience it,” he says. Mike Einziger may be a rock star, but he also sees himself as just another student. He wants to be your friend.

He wants to share his story, his thoughts, his mind – but most of all, he wants to hear your story too, and learn from it. “Looking forward to another chat with you,” reads an email he sends me later that week. I have yet to respond (damn you, midterms and papers), but I can already sense our next meeting will be just as enjoyable.

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Joel Derfner: The Gayest Person Ever

By Henry Woodward-Fisher

Joel Derfner ‘95 is not your conventional Harvard graduate. After fleeing the South as soon as he possibly could, he received a B.A. in Linguistics from Harvard. A year after he graduated, his thesis on the Abkhaz language was shown to be completely wrong, as the word he had been translating as “who” turned out to be not a noun but a verb. Realizing that linguistics was not his métier, he moved to New York to get an M.F.A. in musical theater writing from the Tisch School of the Arts. He subsequently became the author of the acclaimed book Gay Haiku and more recently, Swish: My Quest to Become the Gayest Person Ever and What Ended Up Happening Instead. Thus, it seems there still lies hope for those of us who seem super-glued to a career path. We thank Derfner for losing linguistics so he could write lines like these, from Gay Haiku:

My seventh birthday; I weep at Barbie’s Dream House. How could you not know?

Derfner’s opening words to an over-the-phone interview are not surprising. “I’m alright, I’m sitting here. I’m knitting a wallet,” he states matter-of-factly. “It seems to be going fairly easily so far—it’s lavender.”Elton John offers a very witty foreword to Swish; this foreword is quite clearly a feature that stands out to any gay man–in fact, to anyone–regardless of sexuality.

How did you actually manage to get a foreword by Elton John?

The book came out and it wasn’t doing as well people hoped it would, and Random House was going to sell the paperback rights – y’know, it was just bad. Then I got an email that said: “Dear Joel, I’ve been asked by Sir Elton John to contact you, because he read your book and absolutely loved it and would love to talk with you! What’s your phone number?” and I was like – “Yeah right!” It was signed: “So and so, personal hairdresser to Elton John.” And I was like, can you be serious? Just ridiculous. So I couldn’t sleep in the middle of the night, and I thought–what if he really means it? So I sent in my number and the next day Elton John called me and gushed about my book, and said he’d be happy to help in anyway he could.

The road to becoming the gayest man ever is surely one lined with many fruits. However, there must be both advantages and disadvantages; how compatible would such a lifestyle be with the Harvard environment?

Well, I think it’s essentially compatible with the Harvard lifestyle in that it’s a quest to be better than everybody else, to be more excellent than everyone else. That’s what Harvard students do right? The story in the book about me having lunch with my editor and him saying, “Oh, you could write a book about that,” is completely true. Most of the book is completely true; I mean, not the bit about how I committed hara- kiri – shockingly, the blades were very dull.

I ask how the book would have turned out if it was called Swish: My Quest to Become the Gayest Harvard Man Ever?

Probably the same, because I’m really obnoxious and name drop Harvard like twenty times in the book. Which I really didn’t wanna do…okay, let me think about the question that you’re actually asking. I don’t think my personality was formed enough yet, not that my personality is formed now! You can ask my boyfriend and my therapist. I don’t think I was mature enough when I was at Harvard to be able to focus like that. The book basically looks at all these stereotypes of gay men, and it’s obvious there’s some truth in that, but it’s not like you wake up one morning and you’re like, “Oh I’m gay, I guess I have to develop an interest in aerobics.” However, when I was 18, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was interested in everything.

Post-university life and life in college are two very different experiences. How do you feel this transition translates between being out as gay at Harvard and following graduation?

It’s no different. For me, it’s no different. I live in New York, I live in a gay city, I work in gay fields, everyone I know is gay, everyone related to everyone I know is gay. [laughter] People actually have to come out to me as straight! Like the aerobics instructor, I asked him out and he was like, “Actually, I’m, erm, straight.” “What? Er, what are you doing here?” So for me there really was no difference between being gay at Harvard. Though if I remember correctly, I was one of two out students when we got there.

What do you think is the most fabulous to come out to your friends and family?

Oh my God! The most fabulous way? It would involve feathers, the Weather Girls’ ‘It’s Raining Men’, and lots and lots of fake diamonds. I mean…do people have to come out anymore?

Some people do still actually have to come out.

Oh they do? Well, I came out to my parents when I was fifteen. They may very well be the only people, they and a few other people, that I ever came out to. Otherwise it was just obvious. I mean, come on!

For some people, though, it’s not all that obvious. The defined coming-out experience is still a prevailing model. What are the best ways to deal with issues such as self-insecurities and coming-out related anxieties?

Medication, and then eating and then exercise. But, really medication is all you need. Whatever anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication works for you. I think so much of that is caused by deeper anxieties, insecurities and self-loathing that really have nothing to do with what our bodies actually look like, if you can just take drugs until you stop hating yourself.

It sounds like a resolved situation then. What about dating experiences at Harvard?

There were truly none. I don’t know if it’s different now, but nobody really dated. We were all too driven.

What do you think are the actual chances of finding your husband- or wife-to-be in this way?

“Oh, we met in a bathroom stall in Lamont!” is not what you really want to tell your grandchildren. Unless, erm, maybe it is. I think online is terrific for sex. It’s sort of guaranteed, people aren’t flakes and maybe at Harvard they could be. In New York, they’re basically not. However, it is entirely possible: I met my boyfriend, now of seven years, online. There were about four seconds when there were gay social networking sites that weren’t about sex, and it was on one of those sites that I met Mike; if we were in Iowa we would be fiancées.

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Saturday Night at Harvard

**The Upfront DisclaimerDid you take Literature and Sexuality this past fall? Remember the creative thought paper assignment in which you could create your very own piece of fiction in the writing style of Chad Kultgen (never heard of him? Look him up. He’s awesome)? This is it. That is to say that it is absolutely not based on any particular person or circumstance. All similarities are accidental (and maybe hilarious).

Live from Harvard, it’s Saturday Night

By: A Harvard Gal

It’s only 10pm and the bitches across the hall are already sloppy. They’re shouting about some hot TF and kissing each other on the mouth just because they can. It kind of turns me on, actually. I’ll probably bang one (if not both) of them tonight. Their tits are pretty saggy and they’re running their mouths about yesterday’s physics midterm, but maybe after a couple of more rounds of pong, they’ll shut the hell up about their classes. The slightly overweight blonde bitch walks over to me and nearly sloshes her nasty mix of cheap vodka and diet coke on my crew team rugby shirt. She’s come way too close to assaulting a fine Brooks Brothers piece just now.

“Oops! At least I didn’t hit you! Um, so I’m Lacey. You live in Thayer, right? I think I’ve seen you in the common room or something.”

“No, I’m a senior in Quincy. My name is Tom.” Her tits wag back and forth as she nods her head up and down like I’m the most interesting person on the whole fucking planet.

“Oh wow! Maybe we’re in Chem section together? I feel like I’ve seen you before, right? You’re in Chem 20, right? That last lecture was like, so boring, right?”

I want this conversation to be over, now. Either we’re going to fuck in a couple of hours, or it’s time to cut my losses and find another bitch who talks less. Actually, I’d fuck Lacey and finish all over her Chem notes because honestly, I don’t give a shit if she passes next week’s midterm or not. I say something or other to her just because I have to, but my has shifted to the hot redhead that just walked in. She’s definitely in my section; I only know because I spend an hour every Tuesday wondering whether the carpet matches the drapes instead of listening to the TF. I don’t know her name because I don’t really care what it is. I’ve never fucked a ginger before, but I imagine it would be something like fucking a fox. They look pretty much the same and I’ve always gotten the impression that red-heads are extra fiery and spunky.

Fat blonde bitch senses my disinterest and tells me that she’s going to “check on a friend.” She’s probably here alone. I don’t give a shit that she’s about to just walk away (actually, it’s a sigh of relief), but I wish she would just say it. A Harvard girl will never tell you what she actually wants though, unless it’s an internship, that is. Half an hour later, I’m walking out of the party with ginger-fox with my hand on her ass, feeling for a panty line. There isn’t one. In another fifteen minutes, we’re back in my room she’s taken her shirt off. Her tits look good. Unlike a lot of girls here, she apparently cares what she looks like when she walks out of her dorm. I want to tell her to wear lower cut shirts to section but at this point, as long as I keep quiet, I’m in. She looks at me like she wants to fuck right now and opens her mouth.

“This isn’t going to turn into a relationship. I’m just looking for a good time tonight and possibly a study partner and review guide for our midterm.”

“Fine by me.”If nothing else, she’ll be a good story for post-practice boathouse talk tomorrow.

I can’t stop staring at her flaming red hair as I fuck her. I mean, redheaded-ness is a recessive phenotype, so I’m basically fucking a mutant. I consider spraying all over her head to put the fire out. I’m fucking her pretty hard, but she keeps trying to give me suggestions, like every other Harvard bitch who thinks she’s the smartest thing on this campus. After a good hour of pounding, I roll over on my side to recuperate as ginger-fox goes into the bathroom to wash her hair. I still don’t know what her name is. I still don’t care. Not to get all philosophical or anything, but I know that she’s just the same as any other female at this school: slightly above average attractiveness, visibly neurotic, and a self-serving, Bain or McKinsey aspiring bitch above all else.

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The Beginning of the End: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One

It’s here: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One. Tickets to the show’s midnight premiere and opening days have been sold out across Boston for weeks now and theatres are stockpiled with crates of popcorn and boxes of Raisinettes for the coming influx of fans. It’s the premier of premiers, the beginning of the end. The seventh and final installment of Rowling’s wildly popular series has been split into two full length movies, ostensibly in order to avoid eliminating any details of the story (although it’s unlikely that any of the producers or actors frowned upon the chance to make double the profit from one book). This first installment will take us up to the middle of the novel; we’ll begin the search for Voldemort’s horcruxes… but then what? The credits will roll and we will be stranded until the 15th of July, 2011, the release date of Part Two. Questions will be left unanswered, critics will rush back to their novels to check the accuracy of scene representations, and fans will be left to ruminate over what they’ve seen and speculate about what is to come. The decision of whether or not to split the novel into two movies is truly a double edged sword (or a double tipped wand?). On the one hand, to represent the entire book in one film would require a lot of plot editing and scene cutting, but split into two installments, we must rely on patience to pass the time between Parts One and Two. With access to a time turner, we would be able to eliminate the waiting period between the two final films but alas, muggle technology is drastically inferior to that of the wizarding world.

The release of Part One is truly the beginning of the end of an era. Many of us dove into the series when the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, (which incidentally, is titled Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, in England and in every other English-speaking nation) was published in 1997 and have followed the novels and movies right into the 21st century. The Harry Potter series is an icon of the time and a true classic of the fiction genre. Once Part Two, or the final film, airs, the saga will, in a sense, come to a close. Personally, I am glad that book 7 has been split into two movies; I would like to postpone Harry’s end for as long as possible. But before declaring that it’s all over, I’ll ask why the final movie should bring an end to the phenomenon? Like with any classic work of fiction or film, the Harry Potter will be read and watched over and over, even after we have memorized lengthy passages and are able to recite entire scenes by heart. We may even read these stories to our children; it would be folly not to introduce them to the wizarding world. The films will retain as long as cinema exists; they are box office hits and instant classics. The era of creation is coming to an end, but Harry Potter will retain as a symbol of the times and popular culture. Rowling’s books can be found in the children’s section of book stores, but they are devoured by readers of all ages; many people who started the series as children are finishing it as adults. We will not watch the films with hopes of plot twists and scandals, for they are based directly on Rowling’s novels (any deviation from which elicits complaints and objections), but they are fantastic in their production and these final installments will be breathtaking and exhilarating due to the amount of passion and effort poured into each scene.

For now anyway, muggles are preparing for the release of Part One. House flags are being unfurled, robes shaken out, glasses re-taped, and Hogwarts apparel donned. The Harvard Horntails, our very own quidditch team, is planning a celebration for the big day. They’ll be advertising and recruiting for the team at the showing, while sporting their jerseys and official quidditch broomsticks. It’s well known that Harvard is basically a muggle-admitting prototype of Hogwarts; if you’re skeptical, just look around Annenberg Hall. Consequently, Harvard students should celebrate the coming of the new movie. Don your robe and embrace your love of the wizarding world while drinking a glass of pumpkin juice; break out the Harry Potter trivia game and show your roommates who the real expert is. Brush up on minor characters and magical jargon in order to make your Potter-based conversations even more impressive (or nerdy). The wizards are coming, the end is approaching, and the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One is your ticket and excuse to remind yourself and your friends why magic is so amazing.

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Day in the Life of a Tourist

We’ve all seen them. They come in droves from all ends of the globe speaking everything from English to French to Italian to Chinese. Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow can stop them; weekdays and weekends, they carry on. With the amount of tourists that visit campus every day, Harvard can feel like more of a roadside attraction or tourist hotspot than a center of learning. There’s no denying that Harvard is an elite institution with a beautifully antique campus, but seriously, this is a school. Not Disney World. However, many people think that these tourists are on vacation. Not so. Exploring Harvard’s campus is serious business that must be planned and regimented. A possible itinerary would read as follows.

5:00am – Wake up. It’s Harvard day. My twelve year old will be here soon enough. Eyes on the prize.

8:30am – Arrival at campus after a long, long car ride. If little Suzie doesn’t stop tainting her brain with the frivolous pop music on her iPod, she’ll never get in. Unacceptable. Now, to find a parking space.

9:00am – This parking garage is going to cost a fortune by the end of the day, but no expense is too great in the face of Harvard. Speaking of which… it would be blasphemous to walk onto Harvard’s campus without being donned in crimson; plainclothes are so touristy. Must buy paraphernalia!

9:30am – Honestly, is there anything classier than sporting a Harvard sweatshirt to keep out the chill coupled with a Harvard baseball cap to keep the UV rays at bay? Didn’t think so. This is the look of success. It’s tour-time; Harvard Unofficial Tours… well, their shirts say Harvard on them. They must be legit.

9:50am – So.Much.History. This is nice, but how does my child get in? Can’t we take a peek in the admissions office? And why aren’t we visiting any dorm rooms? Or classrooms? Or libraries? Harvard is so secretive!

10:30am – Tour completed. We must return to the statue and the lucky foot of John Harvard. Touch touch touch. *Picture* Old building! *Picture*People studying on the lawn! *Picture*Massive library! *Picture* Student with a hamper… Harvard laundry! *Picture*

11:00am-5:00pm – This is it; the mothership. Annenberg Hall. Must enter. The door says no trespassing, but I’m sure it’s fine to go in just for one little peek. Woah. *Picture* This place is straight out of Harry Potter. *Picture* Why is that man pointing at us and yelling? *Picture* SCRAMBLE!

5:01pm – Exhaustion. But dammit, in six years, I will return as the parent of a 2016.

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Day in the Life of a Dorm Crew Worker

In the quest employment here at Harvard, Dorm Crew probably rests at the bottom of any job-hunter’s list. Dorm Crew workers are either elusive like ghosts, the only record of their presence a yellow slip of paper on a mirror, or they arrive during uncomfortably… personal times. Let’s be serious though, how many of us would clean our in-suite bathrooms on our own? Exactly. Let’s take a second to appreciate those of us who show no fear towards toilets and shower drains.

12:00pm – Anotha’ day anotha’ dolla’. Dorm Crew pride. This is the most intense of all jobs on campus; Crimson Callers are pansies. Room one for the day… and it belongs to a pack of females. Perfect.

12:05pm. Is this a dorm room or the dwelling of a hoarder? Seriously it looks like the backstage area of a Broadway show in here. Dear residents, based on my observations of your primping materials, I’ll bet you’re all single. The mermaid-teal eye shadow pallet appears to be a favorite. But I’m not here to judge. Girls keep it (fairly) classy, and I appreciate not having to deal with a post-rager disaster zone, so thanks for that. One suggestion though… bi-weekly removal of hair from the shower drain is not okay. Gross.

12:55pm – Time to bounce. With a friendly notice on the now impeccably streak-free mirror, my work here is done. I am the phantom of cleanliness. CUSTODIAL PRIDE.

1:05pm – Room two. Male. I definitely just interrupted some… “self-bonding” time. Well, this is sufficiently awkward.

1:10pm – What in creation am I mopping right now? This bathroom is a petri dish of weekend excitement. Why is the bathroom serving as the storehouse for a beer funnel?! Sanitation fail and definite party attendance deterrent.

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