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Natasha B. '16

Jul 10 2016

We Made the World We’re Living In, and We Have to Make It Over

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Yesterday, Friday, was my third day working at the Atlantic. I graduated a little over a month ago, moved to Washington, D.C. a week ago, and started the fellowship on Wednesday. The city is lush, green, unfamiliar. The air is heavy with humidity and heads and hearts, this week, are heavier.

I spent yesterday in a newsroom, with the weight and force of recent murders in Minneapolis, Baton Rouge, and Dallas rushing in torrents. I spent the day scanning news sources for updates, any updates, and updating the CityLab article accordingly. I was forced not to look away. At four thirty in the afternoon, I needed to. News was not breaking so quickly anymore. I stepped away.

I wrote:

Standing in the lower courtyard of the Watergate building beneath a white ledge textured with cracks and mineral deposits from the constant dripping of water--miniature stalactites the color of salt--before a rippling turquoise pool in white concrete basin. I have been on Dallas all day. My throat is dry... read the post »

Discussion

Apr 18 2016

spring notes

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Life & Culture

spring

 

verb
1. move or jump suddenly or rapidly upward or forward
2. originate or arise from

noun
1. the season after winter and before summer, in which vegetation begins to appear, in the northern hemisphere from March to May and in the southern hemisphere from September to November
2. a resilient device, typically a helical metal coil, that can be pressed or pulled but returns to its former shape when released, used chiefly to exert constant tension or absorb movement

 

In the midst of some version of the thesis struggle described in Chris Peterson's powerful and beautiful Marathon post*, I question whether I am in fact "a resilient device," whether I will gracefully complete the rapid upward or forward jump through graduation. I wrote to a friend (oversentimentally as always--that's me! No limit!) yesterday that "spring is a tease. It's never as warm as it looks and our calendars strain under the weight of obligation. Spring is short, though--just a... read the post »

Discussion

Mar 8 2016

Report on the Status of Undergraduate Women at MIT

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Life & Culture

Less than two weeks ago, Caroline Chin and Kamilla Tekiela (both class of 2016) released a report on the status of undergraduate women at MIT, sharing and analyzing the findings from an extensive survey designed and administered in 2014. The takeaway: young women at MIT are every bit as successful as young men here (with statistically higher GPA's controlled for major, equal leadership and participation in extracurricular organizations, and higher graduation rates), but face, as all women do, difficulties and differences in experience arising from sexism.

Despite her proven competence, the average woman at MIT is less confident in her abilities than her male counterpart, is less comfortable leading class discussions, and is less likely to feel that she recieves due credit for her work outside of academics. The report also shows differences among the responses of white women, Asian women, and underrepresented minority women. Male and female students have different backgrounds... read the post »

Discussion

Feb 29 2016

The Poetics of Place

Posted in: Miscellaneous

I had lunch at Harvard today, on the stone steps of a building like any other Harvard building I’ve never been in. I sat with a dear friend and ate the blackberries and apple and cheese I brought from home, and the kids trudged past to their classes, and I wondered how I would have turned out if I’d gone to Harvard. (I think I’m glad I didn’t, I think I like the way I’ve turned out at MIT, but you always wonder).

The opportunity to cross-register at Harvard (or Wellesley, or MassArt, or the School of the Museum of Fine Arts) appealed to me when I applied here, and it must be a draw for many other people too. Yet somehow I made it to my final semester without taking any classes elsewhere. I signed up for “The Poetics of Place” at the Harvard Graduate School of Design as a last-minute remedy. From the course description I judged it right up my alley, my cup of tea, all that, as it is both a writing class and (kind of) an architecture or urbanism class. And it is my cup of tea. So I... read the post »

Discussion

Feb 2 2016

3 weeks in northern Italy

Posted in: Best of the Blogs, Miscellaneous

I spent the last three weeks in Italy through GTL, and the two before that in Santa Fe. In Santa Fe I slept on a beautiful couch carved out of wood, and I woke up every morning to the voices of my family and the smell and sizzling of hot breakfast, and coffee made for me as consolation for the early waking. There was a snowstorm. There was the walk up Canyon Road on Christmas Eve, with the farolitos and the music and everyone in hats and my cousins and my brother and my sisters and my best friend Shasta. My sister’s Bolivian mother-in-law taught me how to make batido, dark beer made richer with beaten eggs, and my uncle taught me how to start a jar of lacto-fermented sauerkraut. 

In Italy, in an overcast industrial town in the north, I taught debate to high schoolers ranging in age from sixteen to nineteen, with English vocabularies ranging from from “4:20,” (end stop) to “The last sentence of Dostoevsky’s White Nights was especially powerful—“ (commence enthusiastic discussion).... read the post »

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