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MIT student blogger Yan Z. '12

Ruminations and room-inations by Yan Z. '12

Written on the anniversary of one year ago.

The past year in retrospect is a telescoping compression of proper time, collapsed into a high-speed parody of months that used to stretch ahead like infinite corridors. A year ago: I tried/ditched required orientation events that turned out to be either unrequired or just plain disorienting, suffered the raw heat of August sunlight during Susan Hockfield’s forehead-burning welcome speech, and stockpiled free sandwiches as if mankind would tomorrow lose the ability to put food between slices of bread. “Year” becomes a travesty of pigeonholing the mess of time spilling between then and now, where I sit in my cardboard box-strewn dorm room typing in wrist-straining postures that echo contours of a white squarish sofa without legs. It has no legs because I found it one year ago in a dark alley, lying as if it’d been mugged by a gang of unrepentant hardwood tables in a bad neighborhood unreformed by Ikea.

(Alright, so I stretched the imagery a bit to claim the first Google search hit for “unreformed by Ikea.” My goal for the upcoming academic year is to expand into as much unexplored Google search territory as possible without becoming so incomprehensible that I sound like James Joyce editing Wikipedia. Think of it as like Manifest Destiny for my blog.)

Anyway, the fact that I’ve used a legless couch as a bed and a chair as a desk in the past 2 days is a reliable sign that my standards for dorm room furniture have become practically nonexistent after one year at MIT. I’ve also quit using alarm clocks, blankets, desk lamps, flat sheets, television, radios, lined paper, and vegetables*. Life changes fast. My excuse for mentioning this is nothing more poetic than the fact that I slept 1 hour and 50 minutes last night, and, furthermore, I strongly believe that there is wasabi powder in my eye. The latter conviction is so compelling that I am trying to finish this blog entry as fast as I can so that I can spend the next hour blinking furiously.

*Just kidding, mom.

I leave you with an exhibition of Roomstalker Haiku, hereby defined as the trans-media art of secretly taking photographs of other people’s rooms while they’re moving in/out and posting them on the Internet with captions written in haiku form. It might not be hot territory as far as unclaimed Google search hits go, but I’m probably in denial already anyway.

Part I: Random Hall

Freshman year double
Color of photoshopped seas
Walls made me thirsty.


(My room last year)

Knock, knock. Who’s there? Orange.
Orange who? Orange you sure that “orange”
Isn’t two syllables?


(Jing ’10’s room, across the hall from mine)

My room seeks company
Of polysyllabic friends.
Refrigerator.


(My room for Fall ’09)

Part II: pika

Refraction mural
Want to ask Pink Floyd, why is
The prism opaque?

This room makes the worst
Maze ever. It’d be nicer
If the walls were maize.

Jessica’s hovel
Looks like Harvard Square bookstore
Just add bad coffee.

Who cares if the walls
Appear to be mattresses?
Look, it’s a skylight!

I once owned some pants
A worthy match for these walls.
I was six months old.

15 responses to “Ruminations and room-inations”

  1. Karl says:

    Results 1 – 1 of 1 for “James Joyce editing Wikipedia”. (0.12 seconds)

  2. The first paragraph definitely made me think “James Joyce”… Yet “unreformed by Ikea” is pristine Google territory, so it served its purpose. smile

    The colors in your photographs are so yummy! Jing 10’s room looks like a papaya on a blue plate. (Incidentally, what are the grids for? Are they just a pattern on the wall, or was there/will there be something else?)

  3. nathan '13 says:

    very nice! This was informative, because I’ve yet to step inside Random…

  4. Eno says:

    I was bummed that on my campus tour we never saw a dorm room, and this post made me sure I’d love housing at MIT. Very cool.

  5. Abby says:

    Goodness, I can’t believe you’re sleeping on that couch. Given its origins, it probably has rabies, the poor thing. I’m glad you got it off the streets and into a productive environment.
    I enjoyed your haikus (I think “orange” has one syllable on this side of the pond, and two elsewhere.)
    See you soon.

  6. Anonymous says:

    you spelled “refrigerator” wrong :0

    unless you did it on purpose…

  7. Piper '12 says:

    Where was… the food…?

    @Nathan – Make sure you check out all the dorms, including Random smile

  8. BD outsider says:

    I keep forgetting, what’s the policy on painting rooms in Random? Do you have to repaint your room when you move out? Or can you create a big mess on the wall and leave it for the next occupant to cleanup?

  9. Yan says:

    @ Natalia:

    As far as I know, the silver spray-painted grids are just ornamentation. They complement the orange beautifully.

    @ Abby:

    No wonder I started foaming at the mouth soon after I got up. Didn’t remember brushing my teeth.

    @ BD:

    Nope, you don’t have to repaint in Random. Luckily, most residents who paint their rooms do a nice job of it.

    @ Anonymous:

    It was on purpose. It was so much on purpose that I’m going to go fix it now.

  10. SHAW GUY says:

    So u would rather hav a room made of inetible corn? 0.o lol

  11. Su ('14?) says:

    “I once owned some pants
    A worthy match for these walls.
    I was six months old.”
    HAHAHA!!! :D
    I love the dorms – they have character lol! They’re much better than all the boring photos I’ve seen of other college dorms.
    Thanks for this post smile

  12. gabytza says:

    can anyone give me a link for the fee waiver application?
    is this one good? http://www.nacacnet.org/CareerDevelopment/Resources/Documents/AppFeeWaiver09.pdf

  13. Any plan on installing the MIDAS instant party system =D ?

  14. ayse says:

    oh my god, this rooms are fascinating and really orginal!!!
    =) i am jealous about it XD and i had really profitable tips about desinging my room! thanks for entry.