My twin sister Mandi came down to Hendrix to visit this past weekend, during her college's mid-semester break. She took the Amtrak from St. Louis to Little Rock, provoking many of the same emotions as my STL-to-LR ride did. The train was late and crowded, and it was scheduled to arrive at 3 a.m. on Friday. Since I still don't have a car, I had to rope another one of my wonderful and generous friends into an hour or two of driving during the middle of the night.
Surprisingly, my friend Kent -- who had a test the next morning at 9 -- volunteered cheerfully. But when Mandi's train got delayed and wasn't expected in until past 9, he had to back out. And that is when a true Hendrix miracle began. Two-thirds of the way through calling every single person in my cell phone's contact list, I dialed Rachel's number.
Now, I didn't really know Rachel terribly well. We had met in the Murphy House and become acquaintances through our habit of late-night Burrow snacking. We had only exchanged phone numbers the night before. But dear, dear Rachel answered my rather desperate phone call that Friday morning and said, "Sure. Yeah, I can drive you to Little Rock." (Choirs of angels spontaneously began to sing.)
This all could have been solved if Mandi had just come to Hendrix. She's a sophomore at Earlham College (basically, a Quaker version of Hendrix set in Indiana) and she studies linguistics. She's known she wanted to study linguistics since about our freshman year of high school. And -- you guessed it -- Hendrix doesn't have a linguistics program. (I tried to convince her to sacrifice her dreams to follow me everywhere I go, but somehow that wasn't very convincing.)
Now we're limited to phone calls, e-mails, and visits about once a semester if we're lucky. But I wouldn't leave Hendrix and she wouldn't leave Earlham. There are lots of parallels between the two colleges and their respective towns, Conway and Richmond. My cute local coffee shop is called Something Brewing; hers is Sacred Grounds. I get my disgusting late-night meals at Waffle House; she does the same at Steak'n'Shake. Conway has about 50,000 residents, whereas Richmond has about 40,000. (That's just enough of a difference, by the way, for Conway to provide a Wal-Mart AND a Target.)
I'm sure I could have been happy at Earlham, and Mandi could have been happy here. That's a truth of the college admissions process that is often overlooked: there are many different colleges at which you could prosper and be happy. There can be several right answers, but often one feels the "rightest". Here are the top reasons I figured I'd be happiest at Hendrix:
- An orientation program designed to help me meet lots of the other freshman, in a drug- and alcohol-free environment.
- Close enough to a major metropolis to have easy access to malls, cultural activities, and plane/bus/train transport.
- Far enough from a major metropolis to allow me to focus on my studies.
- Genuinely good cafeteria food, with lots of options.
- A student body drawn from across the country and the world.
- A low student-to-teacher ratio, and a small college size.
- A wet campus. When I'm of legal drinking age, I'll want to be able to keep a bottle of wine in my fridge without breaking the college's rules.
- Scholarships and financial aid that made college affordable for my family. (That was an especially important aspect, since I do have a twin sister also studying.)
- A residential campus with lots of (free!) activities going on throughout the day and in the evening.
- The amazing Hendrix-Murphy Foundation for language and literature, which provides internship stipends and travel grants, as well as bringing renowned authors and poets to campus. As a writer, that program was essential in my decision to come to Hendrix. The Marshall T. Steel Center for Religion and Philosophy, the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, and many other programs on campus offer opportunities of similar magnitude to other majors.
- And, of course, the Odyssey program! I almost certainly wouldn't have written a novel or started blogging without the incentive of receiving Odyssey credit. Now, both of those experiences (and my Hendrix-in-London participation) are recorded forever on an Odyssey experiential transcript that will be sent out along with my academic transcript.
Knowing what I do now, I'd also add:
- A fat endowment.
- Affiliation with the International Student Exchange Programs (ISEP), as well as coordinating many of its own study abroad programs.
- A plethora of student worker jobs, ranging from flipping burgers in the Burrow to assisting an admissions counselor.
- Lots of Mexican restaurants!
- Southern hospitality, and accent. (I've started saying y'all and yes, ma'am -- it's very exciting.)
- People who are sweet enough to drive near-strangers to railroad stations 45 minutes away.
The only thing Hendrix is missing is my sister! But she surely has a pro-Earlham list almost as long as this one.
Tonight is Hendrix's formal dance, aptly known as the Winter Formal. I've fixed my hair, painted my toenails, and put on my make-up. That's also exactly what my friend Ben is doing right now.
Ben and his friend Clare are cross-dressing for tonight's dance. Although not widely practiced, cross-dressing is widely accepted on the Hendrix campus, which is known for its openness and acceptance.
With that in mind, I'd like to share with you the story of a 15-year-old boy in California who was gunned down in his English class last Tuesday for dressing "effeminately," according to the Los Angeles Times. The alleged killer was a 14-year-old, who is being held on $770,000 bond.
Here's an excerpt from a San Francisco Chronicle story:
Several classmates have said King would wear feminine attire, making him an unpopular figure with other boys at his campus.
King sometimes came to school wearing makeup and high heels, said eighth-grader Nicholas Cortez, 14.
Another eighth-grader, Michael Sweeney, said King's appearance was "freaking the guys out," the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.
"He would come to school in high-heeled boots, makeup, jewelry and painted nails - the whole thing," Sweeney told the Times.
Have you heard this story?
The New York Times, which wrote multiple stories about the City Hall shooting in my town, has yet to mention the shocking California story. I just thought I'd help get the word out. For the best short summary, click here: Boy, 14, charged with murder, hate crime. For the fullest coverage I've found, click here: Oxnard residents are deeply shaken by boy's fatal shooting.
Share it with your friends, talk about it with your parents, and -- for everyone's sake -- practice and preach tolerance.
In the wake of the shooting at Virginia Tech last year, Hendrix decided it was imperative to create an effective emergency warning system for Hendrix students and faculty. In addition to reviewing the existing plans, such as phone calling trees, Hendrix implemented the H-Alert system. By signing up for H-Alert, students ensure they will be sent e-mails and text messages as soon as word breaks of any campus emergency.
The system has been in place all year, but it was first tested last Tuesday to warn students that a wave of strong thunderstorms would be passing through Conway. Now, with the tragedy at Northern Illinois University, we are reminded of the importance of the system.
The Communications office, which is in charge of updating the college's emergency plan, sent out an e-mail this afternoon reminding any students who have not yet done so to register for the system. Subscribing to the system is free and voluntary, but Hendrix hopes for 100 percent student participation.
I'd love to tell you about all the wonderful things I did at Hendrix last weekend, but I didn't stay in Conway. I took the Amtrak back to my hometown of Kirkwood, Missouri.
You all may have heard of Kirkwood in the news recently. It's a nice little suburban town outside St. Louis, population: 27,000. The Kirkwood City Council meeting last Thursday was interrupted by a citizen with two guns, who proceeded to kill five attendees and injure two more. The gunman's actions were based on a complex history of interactions with the Council. That history is actually best explained on Wikipedia.
With my town in such pandemonium, it seemed like a good time to go home and see family, to try to understand what happened. On Thursday night I bought a round-trip Amtrak ticket from Little Rock to St. Louis. The times were inconvenient: leaving Little Rock at midnight Friday, getting back into Little Rock at 3:10 a.m. on Sunday. Since I don't have my own car, I had to rely on my amazing friends Julia, Ashley, and Amanda to take time out of their partying/sleeping schedules to take me to and from the station. In fact, the return train was two hours late, leaving Amanda and Ashley with about two and a half hours of sleep that night. That's what Hendrix friends do for each other. Wow.
I also appreciate the people around campus who expressed concern for my town, including staff members. Thanks, guys.
After literally weeks of anticipation, my friends and I finally made an octopus-shaped cake on Sunday night. Combining the power of my friend Matt's ancient family cake recipe and my friend Katie's brand new octopus cake pan with the power of the oven in our friend Michael's nearby apartment, we created this beauty.
Tentacle-tastic, no? It got pretty crispy on the outside, but inside it was fluffy and delicious. I got to eat part of the tentacle on the right. Mmm. I'm also still a tad sick, coughing and stuff, so I wasn't allowed to help bake it. That's my kind of cooking!
The octopus cake was a tasty end to a satisfying weekend. A rundown:
- Group dinner at the Pasta House
- Girl talk time with some friends back in my room
- Extended coed conversation about bowel movements (it was a scientific conversation -- don't judge)
- Party in Martin Hall
- Long shopping trip in Little Rock with two of my bestest friends. I'm making a trip to New York in late February, so I needed something to wear to a nice dinner. I swear, I tried on about fifty dresses. End product: a classy, modest black satin dress that somehow makes me look tall. Who knew that was possible?
- Dinner at Pei Wei in Little Rock
- *FREE* concert on campus. James "Blood" Ulmer and his band played a rocking show. His sound has been described as "the missing link between Jimi Hendrix and Wes Montgomery on one hand, between P-Funk and Mississippi Fred McDowell on the other." We stayed around and got to meet the band afterwards. My friend Julia's dad was DYING of jealousy.
- Stop by the Burrow to visit Deedee, one of my favorite cafeteria ladies. When I got back to Hendrix, she was one of the people I was most excited to see.
- Watch 15 minutes of Saturday Night Live and complain about how bad it is.
- Watch The Godfather, Part II, with friends.
- Homework time!
- Superbowl watching party in the Burrow
And, of course,
My weekend probably should have been spent doing a tad more homework, but a balance will be established soon. But not today. Today I'm watching the election coverage all night long.
The daily Hendrix Today e-mail is one of my favorite aspects of Hendrix life. It's sent out every morning to all enrolled students to inform them of the day's activities. It also includes the daily lunch menu, as well as a list of what's been lost and found on campus recently.
For you to get a full idea of what goes on at Hendrix every day, I'm providing your with a portion of today's Hendrix Today. This doesn't even include more informal events, such as the student-run Super Tuesday watch parties going on at the French House and in Hardin Hall. Or the Mardi Gras celebrations going on around campus.
I'm including the full text describing each activity, so you know exactly what we get. Don't bother reading all of it; this is for your skimming pleasure.
Everyone is invited to Tuesday Talks. A weekly luncheon sponsored by the Hendrix Lilly and Chaplains Office that takes place in Hulen Ballroom every Tuesday from noon – 1 p.m. Each week a faculty or staff member (occasionally a special guest) will answer the question, “what is my calling or vocation and how do I know?” All students, faculty, and staff are invited to the lunch. It is for people with a meal plan. If you do not have a meal plan, the cost is only $1. Today’s speaker will be Jennifer Penner.
"Hendrix Psychology Major as Scientist-Practitioner: A Case Study"
Dr. Art Gillaspy, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Central Arkansas, will present this topic and also discuss the graduate program at UCA. Sponsored by the Hendrix Psychology Department and the Psychology Club. Today at 11:10 a.m. in DW Reynolds Room 8.
Habitat for Humanity Spring Break Trip
Still don't have Spring Break plans? Bring your friends and join Habitat for Humanity for a road trip to a nearby state to build a home for a family in need. It's cheap- probably $75 to $100 per person. There will be a quick meeting tonight at 8 p.m. in Mills 101 to sign up, vote on the location, and discuss important information for those who are interested. If you can't make it tonight and are still interested in going, email Heather at -----@hendrix.edu. It'll be a blast!
Foreign Film Series: Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others)
Tonight at 7 p.m., Murphy Seminar Room. Das Leben der Anderen focuses on the horrifying and sometimes unintentionally funny system of observation in East Berlin in 1984. Captain Gerd Wiesler’s assignment to observe celebrated writer and actress couple, Georg Dreyman and Christa-Maria Sieland, appears simple until he gains further insight into their lives. Wiesler’s gradual disillusionment is traced as his fascination with the couple leads to further complications and plot twists. (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Germany, 2006, 137 min.) Refreshments will be served.
Pericles Super Tuesday Watch Party
Watch the results on a big screen at 8 p.m. tonight in the Burrow with friends and enjoy free pizza and drinks on behalf of Project Pericles.
Undergraduate Research Opportunity Meeting
If you are interested in getting involved in biological research this summer or the next academic year, please plan on attending this meeting today at 6 p.m. in DW Reynolds 10. At this meeting you will learn about on-campus and off-campus research opportunities.
To Learn or Not to Learn
‘To Learn or Not to Learn’ (You mean I’ve got a choice?) Come discover and discuss your optimal ways of learning at this workshop sponsored by Academic Support Services! Bring your curiosity and a pencil to DW Reynolds 10 today at 4:10 p.m. If you have questions, call Julie Brown at 505.2954.
Bonhoeffer House Community Meal
Want to know more about the Bonhoeffer House? Interested in community-based Christian living? Join the Bonhoeffer House in a vegetarian meal tonight at 6 p.m. in Stella. They will discuss living in the Bonhoeffer House and answer any questions you may have about it. This is free and open to all.
Prospective Students on Campus Today
The Office of Admissions would like to invite anyone to join prospective students for lunch today to eat, chat, or just say hey in the cafeteria. They will be meeting at 12:30 p.m. and just in case you might know someone from the area, the students are: Monica Sitzer from Weiner, AR and Lauren Ricci from Needham, MA.
Today at 4:15 p.m. in the prayer room. This event lasts 10 minutes and is open to everyone. It is a non-denomination service.
Last Chance! Sign up for Favorite Poem Reading
Join other Hendrix students, faculty, and staff who will share their favorite poems that explore possible worlds and other worlds in a “Favorite Poem Reading” that will be held in the Murphy house at 6 p.m. on February 12. Please submit your name, the poem you’ve chosen, and a sentence or two about why it’s your favorite by 4 p.m. on Wednesday. Email your submissions or any questions to Morgan Ford, ------@hendrix.edu.
Orientation Peer Leader Applications Due Wednesday
It's your last chance to submit your application for Orientation 2008 Peer Leader. Applications are due this Wednesday. However, the Orientation (OR) Leader applications will be available beginning Monday, Feb. 11. Please go to http://www.hendrix.edu/orientation to get more information about these positions.
I'll also give a shout-out here to the bi-weekly Table Talk brochures that are available in the cafeteria. A student produced publication, the Table Talk is an even cooler, funnier way to know what's going on around campus. There's way too much going on every day to do all of it, but these brochures at least let me know exactly what I'm missing.