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MIT student blogger Abby H. '20

symptoms of nostalgia by Abby H. '20

emo-posting

It’s the time of year when the blogs get a little wistful. I attribute it to a few factors.

  1. The sun goes down at 4 pm. It’s cold, so you want to spend all the time you can indoors where it’s warm. This makes you sleepy.
  2. Freshman fall feels like the most socially important semester of your MIT experience, and it’s coming to an end. Sophomore fall is notoriously academically difficult because you’re adjusting your expectations of yourself post-PNR, and the end feels really far away. Junior fall is stressful, maybe because you’re doubting everything you did in the first two years, or maybe because you’re “locked in” to your path and desperately need to find a job or something productive to do over the summer. Senior fall is exhausting because the end is in sight and you’re actively making decisions about what you’re going to do after you leave.
  3. You haven’t been home in a while, and you miss it (or just the stuff that you associate it with).

Personally, all that time spent inside with people and Vietnam War-era radiators predisposes me to avoidable illnesses. This year it’s a sinus infection that’s made it difficult to keep my eyes open. Around this time last year, I went to MIT Medical with some kind of GI-related dehydration that caused me to miss an exam in this class, and they gave me 2 L of IV saline. This was confusing to me because someone of my size would typically only have a total blood volume of 3.1-3.3 L. That was a fun way to spend birthday 21.

Personally, senior fall has gone by too fast for me to have any kind of meaningful reflections about it. I spent most of it stressing out about the next closest due date, unsure how I was going to finish grad apps01 now that I'm done with these, I can stop complaining and Post by 12/1 if I had other stuff due before then. The adage about “time flies when you’re having fun” could be sort of Occam’s razored into “time flies.”02 feat. Frenship. This is a terrible inside joke for people who went to MIT at the time of SpringFest 2017 Now I have even more deadlines to work on: a pset due Thursday, a paper due Monday, a video project due Tuesday, an exam on Tuesday, and a Twine project due Wednesday. No finals, though, so I can go home early.

Personally, I miss being at home because it reminds me of childhood.03 I wanted to link a classic tweet here but thought it might be a bit much to post a tweet that starts with 'You kill yourself,' so I'll just quote it in the annotations: 'YOU KILL YOURSELF AND IMMEDIATELY WAKE UP AS A CHILD ON YOUR PARENTS BED. YOU’VE BEEN ASLEEP FOR HALF AN HOUR. THE SUN IS SHINING.' There’s usually food in the house, laundry doesn’t cost $2.50, and I can take long showers. I can watch cable TV on an actual TV. My car is in the driveway, and I can go anywhere. My old stuff is there, and I’m going to go through it in a couple of years to clear some space.

 

In coping with all of the above and the threat and promise of an uncertain future,04 feels bad to use this phrase when it probably better applies to much less privileged people who take bigger risks than I do, considering the uncertain future I'm talking about is grad school and whatever comes after that, but when you're in your twenties everything feels big and scary I’ve subconsciously picked up a few habits that take me back to the past.

Here are my symptoms of nostalgia.

  1. Disposable cameras and physical photos. I got my first camera around 2003 or 2004. It was a cheap little plastic thing that took 35mm film from a plastic canister. I used it to take pictures of things in San Diego when I went to visit my grandmother and cousins. Those pictures were terribly exposed and composed, but they’re still out there somewhere. I like the physicality, the lack of instant gratification. You don’t know what the picture is going to look like until you get it developed, and you can’t just go back and delete the bad ones. I got a disposable camera for Christmas last year, took a lot of pictures, and got it developed over the summer. It was incredibly satisfying. I sent the developed pictures to my friends as postcards (see #2).
  2. Postcards and snail mail. It feels nice to get a postcard in the mail, so I’ve started to send people postcards. I bought a couple sheets of Ellsworth Kelly stamps, but my favorite stamps so far have been the commemorative fiftieth anniversary Woodstock ones. They’ll be put to good use on the thank you cards I’m sending to the people who wrote me letters of recommendation for grad school.

    the woodstock stamp and a couple of ellsworth kelly stamps

    so cute

  3. Paying with cash. This one is hard to do in a place like Cambridge where paying with cash is a hassle. If I go to sit-down restaurants, I try to pay the tab with a card but tip in cash. I’ve heard that some waiters like that better.
  4. Analog time-telling. As a Luddite at a tech school,05 She's Not Like Other Girls I resent a lot of the stuff my peers get really excited about. One of these stuffs is the Apple Watch. I don’t get it. However, I’m tired of having to check my phone for the time. So I’m getting an analog wristwatch. Truly timeless.
  5. Early-mid-00s media consumption. Been watching a lot of My Name is Earl and listening to the first Interpol album. The second one might be the result of finally finishing Lizzy Goodman’s Meet Me in the Bathroom, a book I’ve been trying to finish for like a year and just got around to finishing this summer. I highly recommend, especially if you like the Strokes.

    the book meet me in the bathroom lying on the sand at the beach

    from my beach goth trip to watsonville, california in august 2019

  6. Chewing gum. There’s something in my blogger bio about how I’m always chewing gum. This is because in high school, I was always chewing gum. Then again, in high school, I also never wore my hair in any kind of style that wasn’t a ponytail.06 energy can be transferred but not destroyed: this idiosyncrasy has most likely re-manifested as another form of restriction, like how I only wear black shoes now I quickly realized that hair is a nice way to keep your face warm in the winter, but the gum-chewing did come to an end. Until a few weeks ago, when I started it up again. It gives my mouth something to do while I nervously chip away at assignments.
  7. Wants and desires. I really want a holographic07 I recently learned that a holograph is a document written in the author's own handwriting, which is strange because I associate 'holographic' with those holo Pokemon cards sticker kit for Christmas. There’s an IAP class at MIT where you can learn how to make holograms, but I am not sure that I will be back on campus in time to start that. I want grilled cheese and cinnamon rolls from a tube and the least nutritious kind of chicken noodle soup, no carrots. I want to watch The Master of Disguise on DVD and not think about my phone. I want to ride a bike for the first time in years. Maybe I can get some of this done over break.

As an elder blogger, it’s weird to think that some of the people reading this won’t have the shared knowledge to understand why I crave these things.

But soon enough, you’ll be here too! Give it a few years! You’ll be smiling, listening to “Party Rock Anthem” and looking at old Vines, remembering a simpler time.

 

P. S. — To all the regular action applicants procrastinating on their essays by reading blog posts, GET TO WORK. And to all the early action applicants waiting for their decisions, KEEP IT UP (the waiting). Time is passing ever so quickly.

  1. now that I'm done with these, I can stop complaining and Post back to text
  2. feat. Frenship. This is a terrible inside joke for people who went to MIT at the time of SpringFest 2017 back to text
  3. I wanted to link a classic tweet here but thought it might be a bit much to post a tweet that starts with 'You kill yourself,' so I'll just quote it in the annotations: 'YOU KILL YOURSELF AND IMMEDIATELY WAKE UP AS A CHILD ON YOUR PARENTS BED. YOU’VE BEEN ASLEEP FOR HALF AN HOUR. THE SUN IS SHINING. back to text
  4. feels bad to use this phrase when it probably better applies to much less privileged people who take bigger risks than I do, considering the uncertain future I'm talking about is grad school and whatever comes after that, but when you're in your twenties everything feels big and scary back to text
  5. She's Not Like Other Girls back to text
  6. energy can be transferred but not destroyed: this idiosyncrasy has most likely re-manifested as another form of restriction, like how I only wear black shoes now back to text
  7. I recently learned that a holograph is a document written in the author's own handwriting, which is strange because I associate 'holographic' with those holo Pokemon cards back to text