This weekend (since Thursday) I've been in Cleveland competing for this Adelbert-Squire scholarship, which translates to full tuition for FOUR YEARS! I have no clue if I'll get it but wow, that would be übercool. AND they are offering me grant money! I be a happy little Sondy.
I flew to Cleveland at some unholy hour on Thursday morning with my dad via Midway-Chicago. They put me up in this very nice hotel/inn called Glidden house with paper-thin walls (more on that later) with about 60 other high school seniors competing either for Adelbert-Squire or its engineering counterpart. The other students were really cool, more or less enthusiastic, and all smart. They had a reception for us Thursday night with lots of current Case students (did I mention I'm at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, where Eric Friesen goes) and quiche. It was the first time this fellow Matthew had ever had quiche! My roommate was the Rachel from Florida who had never seen snow falling before this weekend.
We had the craziest weather. It rained, hailed, snowed, thundered, lightninged, iced, froze, and the power went out. Scripps is looking really good right about now with blossoming orange trees and blue skies (well, brown-blue skies).
Friday they herded us to Tomlinson, then to another building where they had us write an essay on heroes - apparently better than last year's topic on September 11th. Then we went to discussion groups with faculty to discuss the essay and other things. My group consisted of John Walker from Ohio, Stephen Scalio (?) from Ohio, William Lokke from New Mexico, and Zarya from the Bronx, and Professor Alice Bach of women's studies. She talked a little about the gender issues that the hero question brought up since it is typically a very male archetype if you want to go into the whole Joseph Campbell/monomyth thing. Stephen and John thought it all was a little cheesy, but I enjoyed it. I wanted to talk longer with Professor Bach. After that, we all went to lunch in Tomlinson. Stephen, Zarya, and a couple others all sat together. Stephen is hilarious. He looks like a combination of Ben Fred and Will Turnbull and acts rather... I hate to say this... gay. He's an Ohio version of Simon Porzak with white hairs (!) scattered throughout his dark brown hair. He talks in this rather gay manner - "Oh, you do such-and-such? That is soooooooo wonderful darling!" Zarya and I laughed quite a bit about this. After lunch, I went over to Guilford for a faculty interview with a professor of German who did his graduate work at Berkeley in the 60's and used to eat at Manka's! He even knew where Point Reyes was. I forgot to talk about Chim Chim's during the interview, but oh well. I think it went rather swimmingly. I talked about how I liked the duality of science and humanities at Case, which is good for me, figuring I am not sure what I want to major in. I am seriously thinking History of Science and Philosophy right now, which will allow me to continue history, science, art, and thinking... but I am not entirely sure.
After the interview, Friesen picked me up. He is such a sweetie! We walked to his fraternity house, Theta Chi (pronounced theta kai) and he showed me around. It's apparently the nicest house on campus. The downstairs is all lovely and in good shape with lots of coats of arms with two daggers and a snake (Friesen wouldn't tell me what it means - "It's a secret."). The kitchen isn't as nice, but he has a whole third of the fridge to himself for baking. The house is mostly composed of double and single rooms upstairs, except for the room where Eric has lived for two years. It's a five-person room with a lot of bunks, dirty laundry, and computers. On the left side of the room when I walked in, a short Asian fellow was playing Counterstrike on the absolutely kick ass network (fiber between everywhere, gigabit, soooooooo fast!!!) and someone else was painting Warhammer 40,000 figurines (yeah Forrest and Nick Wirtz [who was kind enough to loan me Stupid White Men for this trip] - Warhammer boys extraordinaire). On the right, someone else was rebuilding his computer so everyone (including me) was giving him advice about the positioning of master and slave hard drives, Friesen was digitally mixing his next CD, and a fifth guy was just watching or using his computer. Did I mention this is the Geek Greek house?
Friesen then walked me back down to Crawford and bought me a huge hot chocolate from the Starbucks stand nearby. He has unlimited food so it was no big deal. I thanked him and made my way up to the top floor of Crawford where they talked about academics and the various colleges of Case. The new president wants to make it the premier learning environment in the world so he is pumping insane amounts of money into the undergraduate programs, especially the humanities. They're rebuilding dorms left and right - trying to make Case on par with the Ivies. By this time is was raining cats and dogs and several people were rather cold so a group of us (Stephen, John, William, and another girl I didn't particularly care for) went to go find coffee. We went into the building that housed the Starbucks, but it was closed. We then just hung around (it's a student center of sorts with couches et al.) and talked about how glad we were that senior year was almost over then headed over to Crawford again for dinner.
You seriously call that dinner? It was a mushroom stuffed with cheese. At my table were a professor (who didn't know any of the names of the dorms even though she'd taught there for over ten years), my dad, Matthew, and his father, along with Rachel (from New York), and her mother. We finished dinner then I headed over with a slightly cold Zarya to Severance hall to hear the Cleveland Orchestra perform. The admissions people had provided us with tickets to the performance (right smack in the back row), which was lovely. Afterwards, Zarya, Rachel, and I went to go find a flutist (Rachel's big hero). Rachel was so excited that her cheeks turned pink after talking with him. We commiserated about "business casual" and went back to Glidden.
If you are going to put around 60 teenagers up in a hotel/inn, you must expect them to be social. By 11 PM, we had about six or so people in someone's room, talking, and trying to find Stephen and Matthew's hometowns on my AAA map. We were just TALKING. Then there's a knock on the door and people from the front desk bust in, saying, "you must disperse immediately or we will call the University Circle Police." Alden, from Chico, asked us, "If they've paid for our airfare, lodging, food, etc., do you think the scholarship programs will pay for our bail?" This is like bringing in the National Guard to break up a pillow fight people! We "dispersed" though Zarya, Stephen, Matthew, and I went to Stephen's room for a bit, then I went to bed.
The next morning was a Saturday sampler so I went down to Veale for speeches, acapella performances, and all sorts of propaganda from everyone from aikido to aerospace engineering to Apple Computers at Case (yes, it is possible to be a Mac user there) to Philosophy and Tae Kwon Do. I then went on a tour with Zarya, Matthew, and our two fathers. They would not stop talking! My dad finally gets to visit a college but he doesn't even pay attention on the tour. Grrr. Our dads will be announcing their engagement any week now. There was also a lecture on technology, primarily networking, at Case. The network is fast. Enough said.
I spent Saturday night in the dorms with a girl named Laura, a tennis-playing freshman who's a member of Alpha Phi (Alpha fee, because Phi comes after the vowel). I had talked with her over AOL - she received the scholarship last year and says it's a tremendous honor. However, she had to run off to her formal that evening so she spent the little time I saw of her that night trying to curl her hair without irons, doing a little makeup, and running out the door with a guy she didn't like to the sorority's dance. She came back at some ungodly early hour in the morning and went to sleep. She's a really nice person though...
Her roommate, Katherine, kicks ass. She does crew, has an awesome boyfriend, has Georgia O'Keefe paintings on the wall, and is truly nice, happy, content, and just a rather cool person (so is David, her boyfriend). The other pre-freshman staying with us was all right, though she seemed rather wide-eyed and wispy. She got into Duke; she's not that bad! David, Katherine, some friends from nearby with their pre-freshmen, and I all braved the snow to go to dinner at this little Italian hole-in-the-wall in Little Italy near Case. I have no clue how we squeezed 12 people in there but ok. We came back to the dorm where there was a "Fair Trade Coffee Fiesta" in progress. I got free hot chocolate and won a huge dark chocolate bar for answering fair trade questions correctly. Go fair trade! We went back to the dorm room, where we talked for a while, I helped Katrina with her Calculus, and we just hung out. Then people started coming in, including this girl who went to Redwood (!) and hated it, who happened to crew, along with this guy of hers. More people kept coming in and talking - all and all we must have had about eight in this dinky double at some point! It was getting to be 1AM (with daylight savings) so I told them we needed our sleep (Katrina needed to be up at 6:15 in the morning to leave) and they left. I slept pretty well, caught the shuttle to the airport at noon, and flew to Providence via Baltimore.
My mom and Katherine Brown picked me up at Providence and drove down to her little house in Little Compton (no Big or East or West or North Compton nearby). It is a very pretty area near Quicksand Pond. We went first to her neighbor's house for the best dinner I've had in a year (stuffed cabbage, noodle soup, salad, and Indian pudding). Katherine's house is adorable, small, and cold.
The next morning we woke up early and my mom and I drove to Brandeis in Waltham. It was freezing! Apparently, last week it had almost been spring - daffodils, pansies, crocuses, and the like were blooming all over campus - but now there was a nice layer of snow.
Brandeis was conceived in the middle part of the last century by such brilliant minds such as Einstein and other cool Jews of the day, and named after Dr. Louis D. Brandeis, the first Jewish supreme court justice. Because of its young age, the campus doesn't have much going for it architecturally. We arrived and took a tour lead by a really nice junior named John. He showed us around campus, into a couple of buildings, and past a box erected by Chapel Field containing a post-baccalaureate student who had been living in said box for a couple of days. It was a statement on living conditions and in honor of art week. However, we didn't get to see any dorms. I then visited a class, but the students didn't seem that intent (several were reading Rolling Stone) but the teacher gave me some information on the philosophy classes there).
We went to the information sessions where I ran into a guy named Matthew who goes to CPS (he's a junior). There was a current student sitting in the session so my mom asked her if she'd show us her dorm room. She did - she lives with five other girls who demonstrate the diversity of Jews at Brandeis; everything from going to Rabbinical school next year to your typical secular types. We also met her fiancé who showed us the science building and the various labs. We even saw this professor, Polluck, who designs robots that propagate themselves, who was talked about during the information session. Anita Hill and several other kickass people instruct there also. However, from what I hear and have seen, the students aren't very motivated (the "Jewish Princess" syndrome) and driven like they are at MA - they don't get excited about things and go the extra mile, according to sources. However, Brandeis seems content, happy, and wonderful with a castle and a duck pond. The food is AWESOME! Brandeis has the best college food ever. They have the best variety and the best taste. I wanted to eat it all.
My mom and I then drove back to Little Compton (in the CITY, city of Compton... keep it rockin', keep it rockin'...). I fell asleep during the drive, but woke up again as it began snowing on highway 95. My mom took out her video camera and started filming the falling snow as we drove through the fluffy whiteness. We arrived at Katherine's and watched the snow accumulate to almost six inches that evening.
Something I haven't mentioned about Katherine thus far - we were to take her to prison the next day. Yes, prison. You heard me right. She was arrested last year at some point for trespassing on federal property. However, she was trying to do her part for the war on terrorism. Let me explain.
For the last 56 years, the United States has supported the School of the Americas (now the Western Hemisphere something) in Georgia. This school takes students from Latin American countries and trains them in counterinsurgency, interrogation, torture, and the like. In any conflict in the last half-century in Latin America, you can be sure to find some School of the Americas graduates causing trouble, raping women, killing aid workers and priests, and assassinating leaders. This school specifically trains its students to be terrorists. Katherine, a bunch of poor nuns, and various other conscientious people were thus down in Georgia protesting this school (peacefully) and were arrested. There is a bloody war on terrorism going on right now. Why are they arresting nuns who have taken the vow of poverty and people like Katherine? Why aren't our police actually going after violent crime? I really have no clue. Therefore, you ought to visit http://www.soaw.org to learn more about the atrocities our government supports. Stop US terrorism at home and abroad!
So Monday night, my mom and I helped Katherine get ready for prison - organizing, emailing, packing, you name it. Tuesday morning, we packed everything up and left for Connecticut. My mom dropped me off at Connecticut College then followed Katherine to Danbury to drop her off at the federal penitentiary there. I visited a class at Connecticut (a philosophy of art one) where I disagreed with almost everything the professor said, but was too scared to actually say anything). The campus was frosted with a soft coating of snow that softened the appearance of the granite buildings. I returned to the admissions "house" for the information session. Guess who I ran into there? Matthew! His mom was curious how I heard about Connecticut College. We stayed for the information session, then went on the tour, which was just us and a really nice student who bought me a cookie at the coffee shop in the art building.