For the past almost four and a half years, which is just under a fifth of my life so far, I have lived in Random Hall, MIT’s smallest and nerdiest dorm. Right now I am in Florida for winter break, and as often happens when I am not in a place, I am deeply missing Random and my friends who also live there.
Random Hall cannot be described easily, especially because I’ve only ever lived on one floor, and on that floor I’ve only ever lived in one room. There isn’t a typical Randomite and there isn’t a typical Friday night. However, on an evening that was a Friday night, a very old one, back in early September, I punted coding and sleep and ran around the building to document what everyone was up to. One of my favorite things about living in Random Hall is that when I want to be alone, which is often, I can escape into my room or a quiet place and when I don’t want to be alone, which is also often, I can always find somebody else awake to hang out with. The only time when everyone seems to be asleep is 8 am on a Sunday.
I started out on BMF, the all-female floor I live on. Irina O. ‘15 and Luisa B. ‘16 made brownies and meringues, which is a happily common occurrence. The kitchen is plastered with inspirational Ryan Gosling posters composed by me and by Lucia L. ‘17. The tradition started with Luisa: she started putting them up over the sink to encourage us to wash our dishes, and that’s worked better than anything else so far.
By the time I took the pictures, that evening’s denizens of BMF kitchen had moved to BMF lounge. Irina and Luisa (on the couch) and Rosa M. ‘16 and Phillip H. ‘15 (on the beanbag) were watching a movie that I think was Princess Bride.
I went down the hall to Clam kitchen, which either didn’t want to be photographed or I was too socially awkward to ask (probably the latter). Clam went to see Grease. They also said something about disabling a touchpad.
Up the stairs from Clam, a group in Bonfire lounge was watching Mean Girls. This seems to happen a lot lately, probably because Mean Girls is an amazing film.
I didn’t want to watch Mean Girls so I went downstairs two floors to Loop, the other all-female floor. Cecilia C. ‘16 was browsing the Internet. Bianca H. ‘15 was making a pavlova (a giant meringue) for Loop’s floor dinner the next day. Bianca was also making the floor plans for Career Fair, which she helped organize this year.
In Loop lounge, Bruna M. ‘15 and Alan ‘14 were trying to draw out Nimky. Jessica H. ‘18 was working on 18.02 and biology p-sets in her 2-room (“Oh, this is Friday”). The bean sprouts are Jessica’s; the cactus is Alex L. ‘18’s. Alex was in the lounge, building a Fibonacci state machine for 6.01 next to a disassembled puzzle.
One floor down is Destiny, one of our two remaining all-male floors (The other is Foo, also on the first floor, which houses only three undergrads. Pecker went coed within recent memory and Clam went coed this year.) and one of my favorite places, which that evening was unusually quiet. Destiny is the source of some interesting legends, a few of which I will hopefully share with you someday. Destiny is also where I found Cory my sophomore year, after Snake Eyes convinced me to hang out there more often, and where I spent most of my sophomore, junior, and senior years. That Friday evening, James H. ‘16 (the one menacing the camera with a nerf gun (who happens to once have been one of my 6.005 team members)), was playing video games (for class!) and reviewing other people’s work, reading stories people have written and looking at resumes. Alex G. ‘15 was also playing video games (not for class).
For some reason I then wound up on the fourth floor (Destiny is on the first floor), looking down through the pulley in the 282-side stairwell, spanning Destiny, Loop, Clam, and Bonfire (in order by height). I don’t actually know who built it, and I haven’t had reason to use it yet, but it’s been a source of great novelty and entertainment since it appeared earlier this semester.
Here is the newly renovated desk, in Foo lounge on the floor Foo, on the first floor of the 290 side of the building. Desk is where I get most of my homework done. That evening it was occupied by Jacobi V. ‘15, valiant deskworker, and Molly K. ‘15, keeping him company. They had just gotten back from seeing Grease. Molly was reading a textbook. Jacobi was watching YouTube, bored at desk, and something about TotalBiscuit.
I followed Molly up a floor to Black Hole, where I chilled in the corridor outside Black Hole lounge for a bit with Molly, cat Mordecai, Eli D. ‘15, Jenny R. ‘15, and Paul W. ‘12. Eli was working on 6.828, operating systems! (with an exclamation mark). A lot of my friends were in 6.828 this past semester, which I think is brave. (Eli hoped to go from “Not knowing how a computer works at all to actually understanding, hopefully, after this class.”) I then spent good while talking with Paul about 6.005, the software engineering class I TAed this semester and was at that moment just starting to TA.
The occupants of Black Hole kitchen, meanwhile, were
- “not doing anything,”
- “the most boring people in the world,”
- “not talking about anything,”
- “not lactation or iocane powder,”
- “or Europeans who think you can buy weapons at Walmart.”
They had with them cookies and white chocolate fudge and a cleverly hidden baby seal club, which as far as I’m aware has never been occupied in and has never contained clubbing seals of any age. I also ran into Susan S. ‘15, who was working on a GM meeting for an upcoming Guild game, which was to be an original fantasy strongly modeled after Bronze Age China, and she was also working on physics homework.
I then returned to Black Hole lounge, where I got stuck until around 4 am. Mordecai ate someone’s homework, or at least ripped it to smaller pieces than it was in before. I talked with friends (I forgot with whom, but I think it was Isaac G. ‘17) about politics and other horrible things. Meanwhile Will K. ‘15 told us happy penguin facts. Will, Molly S. ‘16, and Ryuga H. ‘18 worked through a Rubik’s cube, a huge cuddle pile behind them. At some point I finally went to bed. I never made it upstairs to Pecker.
This is what I come home to in the evening. I get to tool in BMF kitchen surrounded by some of my best friends. Someone is often making cookies and someone is often on Pecker playing piano, the music filtering down the stairwell to us. This is my community: my small corner of MIT and a big reason I love it here.