The Sophomore Slump

Other schools have finals week. Sarah Lawrence College, being a school for the arts, has conference week. Instead of studying hard and answering multiple choice questions on a scantron, SLC kids get to submit novels and short films and just all around put on a show. Basically, conference week is where you spend the entire semester working on an art project for each class, and then rushing to actually complete it during the last week of the semester, when it’s due. 

It’s in times like this that you don’t finish the semester; the semester finishes you.

The semester finishing me

My conference work went as follows: 

Finishing up where I’m at in the novel that I’m writing

Submitting said novel

Translating said novel into Italian

Presenting said novel in Italian

Presenting a skit with a group in Italian

Writing an essay from the perspective of an ancient Greek figure to a modern day figure

Churning out a worksheet listing everything I read, or was supposed to have read, for Ancient Greek literature

Here’s how that went:

I submitted my Ancient Greek literature worksheet and essay early, which is a first for that class. I got everything squared away with the novel, except for the translation, and then it came time to perform the skit in Italian class. In the skit I played an Italian speaking tiger who tries to pull off a bank heist, so I decided to paint my entire face into a tiger. I woke up early, made myself into a tiger, then showed up to class. Do you ever have those moments where you have an out of body look at what you’re doing with your day and you think, “how is this my life?” Well, after playing a tiger in our group project, I had to present my individual conference project, which was just me reading my novel in Italian. So there I am, reading out my novel in Italian, while painted like a tiger. 

Una tigre

Oddly, it wasn’t the first time that I’d done something like this. Earlier in the year, I showed up to Italian class dressed as Morticia Addams for Halloween. 

It’s not easy being the Lady Gaga of your class.

I was informed that presenting a class project in tiger face paint was “bad ass.” I also gained much approval from a campus security guard, the people who work in the cafeteria, and the professor in my next class. I viewed the whole thing as a weird metaphor for what it takes to do well academically at the end of the school year. 

Sophomore year sucks so much that they give it a name: the sophomore slump. Interestingly enough, your sophomore year is even more of a slump when you spend it all online. Since we all know what all work and no play did for Jack, I took my mom’s advice which is to do things that I enjoy before, after, and during my school work. In previous summers, I’d saved up my money so that I could use it in the big city, but since that was not to be this year, I decided to spend my money in Bronxville.

I stumbled upon a live jazz and blues concert at the amphitheatre and danced until the sun went down, even though there are few as uncoordinated as I.

I watched the concert with Tyler

I’ve been getting into the habit of walking to Slave to the Grind every weekend for a chai tea latte, which was what I was doing when I was ambushed by a goldendoodle puppy that might just be the embodiment of pure happiness. 

I couldn’t get a photo that wasn’t blurry because this was an energetic boy.

One weekend, Theo and I went to Dumpling and Noodle, a classic standby and Sarah Lawrence favorite, where we had- get this– dumplings, noodles, but also sake.

The next night, feeling a little bit more extroverted than usual, I went with Anahat to Wild Ginger, a Japanese restaurant we’d never been to, where we ordered green tea and vegan sushi.

Next door to Wild Ginger is Cookies N’ Cream, which- get this– serves nothing but cookies and ice cream. Assuming that the “salted caramel” ice cream flavor was, at the very least, chocolate with salted caramel, I ordered that in a red velvet cone, only to be disappointed when it was basically vanilla. I rectified the mistake a few weeks later by getting rocky road. 

It was a while before I went out on the town again. My friend Theo and I went to the Bronxville diner, the kind of place where they give you a patty melt with a pickle on the side and a chocolate shake with an overflow, and we discussed movies, because it reminds me of “When Harry Met Sally.”

Since my friend Tyler chauffeured me around the day before school ended, so that I could buy my moving boxes, I decided to repay him with dinner out. We went back to Wild Ginger, since he considers himself to be a “wild ginger.” Naturally, there was ice cream afterwards. The very next day, I brought all of my friends together on the last day of school, to Urban Hamlet, a restaurant that none of us had been to in Bronxville. 

The wild ginger at Wild Ginger

I’m not sure where the Hamlet part fits in, but the urban part definitely fits. It was one of those restaurants with dim lighting and eccentric, well-presented food, but also a bar and a baseball game on television. Naturally, there was ice cream afterwards. 

It was a great final send off for my friends Tyler, Theo, Anahat, and Valentina, before we left for summer break the next day. I woke up the next morning at 10 am and moved out of Hill House by noon, making me perhaps the only person in Hill House who left by closing time. Every single floor was filled with college students and their horrified parents, trying to shuffle every scrap out of their child’s room and then waiting for an elevator that wouldn’t stop at their floor. I jammed my way into the elevator with two parents who were having one of those nostalgic, “back in my day” chats. “Back in my day, if it didn’t fit in the trunk, it wasn’t coming with you to college.” I then proceeded to carry both my suitcases all the way across campus, lugging about one hundred pounds behind me as I reassured myself that I had the eye of the tiger and could therefore do it. 

Some last minute shots of the beauty of Bronxville

There was no food left on campus and I couldn’t partake in the food trucks because I wasn’t a senior, so I decided to get to the airport early and eat there. I then proceeded to sit around the airport for about two hours, waiting for the independent airline my mom booked a flight on to show up at the ticket counter. Frontier airline, some unheard of airline that probably has a shoddy safety record, is what I signed up for. It was at the end of the terminal with all of the other not-reputable airlines. I sat in front of that baggage check on top of my suitcase for two hours. Nearby Spirit airlines baggage check went through and checked in countless people. It was the first time that a person thought “wow, Spirit airline is looking pretty good right now.” After two hours of wallowing in my own hunger and thirst, someone showed up, I checked my bags, went through security and made it to the restaurant section. Half of them were closed, but I eventually scarfed down a slice of pizza that was about the size of my head, eating my first meal of the day at like 3pm, and feeling like a human being again.

The book I was reading while waiting for frontier had this to say about baggage claim and how awful airports are. How apropos.
The Laguardia employee making me a slice of pizza and saving my life
The end result

Once on the plane, the pilot informed us before take off, “We had some maintenance issues earlier, but we fixed them.” 

“They really didn’t need to tell us that,” the woman beside me said. 

Also, You fixed them? You fixed the whole damn plane in a few minutes? The only thing that could have given me less confidence in this airline’s competence is if I’d seen an employee putting duct tape on the wing of the plane.

In the end, the plane ride was painless and my semester was too. I didn’t die, which can also be said for both my semester and the plane ride. Now, I’m back en route to Valdosta, where I’ll spend my summer working and probably getting sunburnt. 

My arrival in Atlanta

I’ll keep you posted.

The Tragic Queen,

Raquel

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