fall semester by Amber V. '24
in the form of those modern poem books you buy for $15 at Urban Outfitters
some events are slightly out of order
I was not really looking at the stars til later
honor me, honor me, honor me.
Do you remember in spring
how your body wasn’t your own,
because MIT could not afford you sleep or solitude
and you were desperate for sun.
there was nothing to eat that wasn’t smothered in grease
never will I force myself to
live that way again.
Or so I said.
I feel like I have not run in days
like I haven’t slept
I feel like someone else
honor me, honor me
My body won’t stop begging
I think it is too soon to be counting the months.
I think of spring and what I learned, what knowledge I gained, and I can show you pictures of the muscles I have not sustained, and I drew a bunch of skeletal structures, glued pipes together.
I can code a bit in Fusion now.
I still do not know Python.
I guess I understand how vectors move in polar coordinates
and Six of Crows was good
and anyway there was a pandemic
this semester will be different
this semester will not be so empty,
with nothing happening at all except a lot of work and wasted effort.
This all will feel more real some day. I just do not know when.
I wrote about a month ago. I did a sub-par essay.
I sat here for two hours, thinking of characters,
but that doesn’t do all that it used to,
when I was taking them out every day.
Now I worry that it’s been too long, that I’m getting something wrong.
That the love interest does not fill his own space the way I want him to.
(though come to think of it that particular character never has.
I’m always re-writing him
fixing his opening lines)
“How are you doing?”
I keep trying to think of something to say
that isn’t the same tired refrain
of me listing the number of espresso shots I’ve had that day
or the hours of sleep;
one too many,
the other never enough.
it’s not that I don’t encounter creative work
I have every opportunity to blog
more that I don’t have the wherewithall
to think of words that are good
my insights could be deeper
my lines could actually rhyme
if I were writing this in summer.
I always used to study alone, write alone.
But psets aren’t structured to be done alone. And I am not built to spend so many hours hunched over work in the dark of my room. Better to do it in good company.
This is one thing I love. One thing I have done properly.
every evening finds me in the lounge of Putz,
legs curled below me on the big red sofa,
surrounded by friends. I’m
intermittently to the free food table,
or the kitchen
or just to the other lounge
to see if anyone’s around
willing to be distracted.
We strung a hammock from the ceiling
me balancing on someone’s shoulders
to tie the knots.
A course 6 sophomore bakes chocolate chip cookies after each of his midterms.
I share no classes with him so it’s always a surprise
when somebody says ‘cookies’ and the hall swarms
to the kitchen
I say hello to everyone who passes by
so much that I’ve pavloved many of them into doing the same
when I come in
you are here
you are seen.
I had a fight
and sulked a lot
and realized that everything before had mostly been good
and that there are people who listen to your drama
even when it’s mostly petty
and they’ve heard you hash it out like seventeen times
I was walking back through the Infinite with a friend of mine, Jordan P. ‘24. It was just after 1 am. We’d gone to all-you-can-eat sushi for three hours, then gone back and churned out a pset. The pset was for 18.03, differential equations, and it was easier than usual. We checked it between each other and felt confident about the answers.
Sunday night: the Infinite was empty. We were promising each other that next semester we’d take fewer classes. No more than three technicals, she said. Three? I said. I’m a HASS major, mate, I wanna take just two. Instead I’ll take Harvard classes. (Jordan has good reviews of her Harvard class). Next semester I will not take six classes!
we were talking about how we did not know the basement tunnels, despite living in EC, because we didn’t have time to get lost. Not in the grand sense of the word, either, just that we didn’t have time to walk down the wrong basement hallway on the way to class, couldn’t squeeze an extra five minutes of wiggle room in to account for mistakes.
We should put in our schedules, she said, noon to 1: wander. But not tonight. Because tonight we still had work to do.
I like how full every day is. I don’t believe in rest.
but I wish that at the end I had done more things I care about
more making metal shot glasses and earrings and Princess Leia costumes
more essays on Chicano plug for 21H.270, Latinx In the Age of Empire, lovely class
(or just more time to comprehend
the 30-page articles
I always start
and rarely finish)
more editing the chapter
my creative writing prof left such nice comments on
more sitting on the fire escape
legs dangling above the void
insulting the stars in Boston
telling Jordan that in the desert they’re much brighter
you can see whole constellations
from the middle of the city.
in the desert
it never gets so cold
there is a certain camaraderie to finishing a pset together at 3 am
and walking down the hallway
dead-beat and exhausted
arms over each other’s shoulders.
My friend was juggling more than me,
more classes and more life
we’d listened to each other’s problems earlier in the evening
and now we wanted nothing more
I keep a list in chalk above my desk
grouped haphazardly by date
each date above a cloud of names
of every person I’ve connected with that day
scrawled so messily that you can only make out the first letter,
the swoop of an M or an S or the scribble that looks very little like G.
I started it when I felt lonely
and I look back on it when I need to remember
that there are lots of lovely people here.
writ large on Wednesday, a very kind soul who stayed up two hours to help a friend and me with 2.001
and the friend, who I meet each week the night before the pset is due,
who I wish I could see more often—
some day, when we have time —
and the people I had dinner with,
the people in the lounge,
the classmate who texted me “are you okay?”
when I came to class thirty minutes late with dark shadows beneath my eyes.
thanks for checking on me
I am tired,
but I am fine.
How are you?
Sometimes I feel like I’m changing so quickly
like I’m somebody different
doing things I’d never done before;
and at the same time like I’m me,
the me I was always gunning toward,
and it’s almost embarrassing that it took so long to get here.
I sent my little sister a picture
of me on the metal claw of a bulldozer
to which she texted:
‘ur like, thriving rn.
u have weird jackets.
and big metal things to climb on.
and sciency shit.’
I grinned at the phone
thought of typing out a list of complaints:
the work I hadn’t done yet
the sleep I was missing
but she, too, has deadlines.
thank u thank u
I told her how the jacket smelled like machining oil
since I wore it to a makerspace
where I made a costume bra out of aluminum and chain.
It was easier than I’d expected
to bend metal in my hands
like the wire in my jewelry, only bigger;
to mark in Sharpie where to cut it down
and pass it through the band saw
like the scroll saw dragons I’d cut out in middle school, only louder;
to bore holes and thus distribute tension
and arrange all the chains.
It’s not quite the same process
as weaving together good words
but all the same I’d made something.
anyway how are u?
what music are you listening to now?
(is almost beginning
and the semester’s almost done).