To Infinity, and Beyond…

To Infinity, and Beyond…

Last night was a beautiful summer night. It was a comfortable eighty degrees filled with the rustling of leaves and chirping of crickets or cicadas and a subtle breeze blowing. The rest of the scene was not so serene; it was filled with fifteen students executing a cookout. Burgers were being flipped, beans and mac n’ cheese were being prepared, and people were running back and forth between the kitchen and the grill in a form of organized chaos. It’s fun to see everyone pitch in to make a gourmet (in our eyes, anyway) dinner and a generally fun night; those party members who were not so gifted in the culinary field ensured that all who wanted a drink had one in hand. So, we took advantage of this free, fabulous summer night to relax.
Later on, after stomachs were filled and dishes had been cleaned, all that remained in the night was to drink and make merry. So that we did. And we ended up having a discussion that I remember having in third grade, and that will probably never have a resolution. We were talking about the theory that, based on various forms of ancient astrological calendars, the world is going to end on December 21, 2012. Now just to be clear, we were not panicking about this, but really just having an academic discussion (we’d like to call it academic, although I dare say that none of us are all that well informed on the issue). This then lead us to what exactly happens, scientifically, to all of the matter of the world, which then lead us to wonder about the universe. The universe is a mysterious thing, and the conversation we had last night did not bring us any closer to wrapping our heads around it. I remember in third grade, we had to make a poster about a question that we wondered about; mine was “What if we are all just a part of something’s dream, and when it wakes up we’ll just disappear?” Last night, we ended up trying to find the answer to this question, yet again. We tried to visualize just how far away the end of the Universe might be – someone suggested that, for all we know, there’s a brick wall (like the one surrounding William and Mary) at the edge of the universe. Then someone said, “But then what is on the other side of the wall?” “What if it’s just a sea of sludge, like an endless pool of the Universe’s vomit or something?” It was a conversation that to you, must sound like it is out of a movie from the 1960′s with all of us dressed in tie-dye and flowers and peace signs, with very darkly shaded glasses, the works. But I assure you this was not the case. We didn’t even mean to have such a mind-boggling conversation. But it happened. And it was actually fun. We ended up yelling and laughing about things that we cannot even imagine to understand, and we ended up so frustrated but so happy, that it was the perfect connection to the Earth, and beyond (the Universe itself!) on this relaxing summer night.

It’s 5:00 (in the morning) somewhere…

This past week has been a different kind of week for me.
Instead of worrying about having toilet paper and clean dishes and about the
front door that does not lock properly in my house for the summer, I was
occupied with walking, feeding, and playing with two precious pups. I spent the
week dog-sitting for the Associate Director of Student Activities at William
and Mary, Anne Arseneau. I’ve known Anne for about two years now through my
positions on the Inter-Sorority Council, and she has invited me into her home
several times before – although never to live there for a week. But this week,
she entrusted me with the care of Pharis and Gidget (and her home and tomato
plants) while she went on a vacation. I have a dog at home (I miss Homer quite
a bit while I’m away in Williamsburg!),
so I jumped at the chance to spend time with dogs as well as make a few extra
dollars to use on the weekends (or to pay my rent or buy groceries, which would
be the more responsible uses for any extra money).
Sleeping in today until 7am was quite a treat, after rising
each morning between 5:00 and 5:30 last week. Pharis would come right up to my
face and start sniffing, and Gidget would start pawing on the floor before the
sun even rose. So the dogs and I would get up, get some breakfast, and go on a
walk before I came to work at the Admission Office. I arrived at work at 8am
with the other interns; most of them had only been awake for about thirty
minutes of the day, and I was almost ready for a nap! I found myself worrying
at lunch time about Pharis and Gidget, if they were okay, if they needed
anything, even though Anne reassured me that they were dogs and they would be
fine. And when I went home to them after work, they were so happy to see me.
Gidget would jump as high as she could, and Pharis would try hard (he’s
fourteen years old). The two little Jack Russell Terriers made me smile at the
end of the day. It is just nice to see someone, even just a dog, so excited to
see you. The simplest things made Pharis and Gidget happy, and I think being
around a pet can help to refresh my appreciation for the simple things in life.
I was flattered that Anne had trusted me to take care of such a source of
happiness, and as much as I might be glad to see a clock say 7:00 instead of
5:15, I’m going to miss Pharis and Gidget. Although I have a feeling that I
won’t be missing them for very long; Anne has, on occasion, been known to feed
the cooking-challenged college students…


No, unfortunately I am not blogging from Australia.
However, this is an appropriate opening because one of my best friends is
returning from a semester abroad in Sydney, Australia today. As one of my
roommates, she is an integral piece of the puzzle that is my life at William
and Mary, and she’s been missing for far too long. Don’t get me wrong – she
hasn’t been completely out of the picture. I’ve been following her around the
Land Down Under via Facebook pictures and long emails and the genius invention
that is Skype. Whenever she would upload new pictures, it would be a highlight
of my day. I got to see (vicariously) all parts of Sydney,
the Outback, Uluru, kangaroos, Melbourne,
the Gold Coast, beaches, mountains, and Aboriginal paintings, among other
things. While we were shivering in the snow in Williamsburg
this March, she was laying out and getting a sunburn in Sydney; now that its started to get
sweltering hot, she’s been enjoying a nice, cool winter. It was so much fun to
hear her talk about everything she’d done and seen. I’ve been to Australia (one
side of my family lives there), but I’ve never lived there on my own the way
that she has been for nearly five months. Nor have I ever driven there – she
took a road trip, and they drive on the other side of the road in Australia. I’m not sure
how she managed that one, but thank goodness she made it around the country in
one piece.
As a matter of fact, thank goodness all of my friends who
have been abroad for the spring have made it back in one piece. Again, don’t
get me wrong – I love travel and talking about travel – but it’s nice to have
everyone back in the USA
(meaning that they no longer have long-distance phone rates) for the summer.
Between Manchester, England,
Aix-en-Provence, France,
Semester at Sea, Antarctica, Florence, Italy, and Sevilla,
Spain, among
many other places in the world, my friends have been sprinkled across the
globe. Now, all I want is to hear everyone’s thousands of stories in person, or
as close to in person as I can get. Of course, I have my own stories from the
semester in lovely Williamsburg – those stories
don’t involve riding elephants or going on beautiful winery tours in the
countryside or snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef,
but they’ve still got their own William and Mary charm. I sort of feel like
this past semester was one crazy extended vacation, and soon enough we’ll all
be returning home. When we’re all together, William and Mary is home.

A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words

As I sit at the front desk of the Office of Undergraduate Admission on my first day of work, I cannot help but smile each time I glance to my left at a tall, narrow frame encasing eleven photographs of eleven William and Mary seniors. We are featured in our favorite spots on campus (I think most of us have multiple favorite spots, even though the nature of the word favorite implies a single spot), each with our own pose and our own blurb underneath of us explaining the significance of our photo. We are all different people, and we all chose different places on campus. Yet we all have the same giddy smile plastered across our faces in this rather epic conglomeration of snapshots. You see, the summer interns in Undergraduate Admission get to have their picture up in the lobby of the office for the next year. We get to be the face of William and Mary to the masses of people that move through the office. So we fancy ourselves pretty awesome. Are we narcissistic? I’d like to think not (although I could see how someone might get that impression when within the first five minutes of the frame hanging up we were all gathered around drooling over our wall, mirroring the giddy smiles in our pictures). I’d like to think (or really, I know) that our excitement in becoming a (now eternalized, thanks to our pictures) part of the office is actually a reflection of our general excitement about William and Mary.
We have the unique opportunity to spend our summer in Williamsburg, not taking classes in hot lecture halls nor assisting the blacksmith in Colonial Williamsburg, but having an impact on the future of William and Mary. We will be giving sweltering tours, packed information sessions, and interviews in our basement office (which we have lovingly termed The Dungeon). We are learning all there is to know about William and Mary, and then we are imparting that knowledge onto whoever will listen to us run our mouths. The eleven of us have trouble answering the question, “Why do you love William and Mary so much?” because we could go on an on with words that ultimately carry us to the conclusion that we feel like we are home. I don’t think that any of us really know what exactly to expect out of this summer, other than guaranteed fun. But I’m pretty sure that throughout, eleven giddy smiles will prevail.