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Rachel Brickman '12

Oh heyyyy welcome to my summer blog! I’m Rachel Brickman, a rising senior at Amherst originally from the very exciting suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. As a Classics major, I can do really useful things like understand this Finnish radio station or get those “amo, amas, ___” questions on the Monday crossword. Luckily, I have also completed the requirements for medical school, so I have a backup career plan if ESPN isn’t looking for a Latin-speaking commentator. During the school year I row for the crew team, give campus tours, and spend an average of five hours a day in the dining hall.

Email me at rbrickman12@amherst.edu

My friends think I look like a starfish here.
My friends think I look like a starfish here.

Rachel's Blog Entries

Getting carded and NOT CARING

Monday, August 1st 2011

HAPPY 21ST BIRTHDAY JULIE KERESZTES OMGG PARTY DANCE LAUGH WOOOO!!!

As you can imagine, the Admission Office is especially bubbly today. Giggles (aka Julie) is 21 years old today. I can comfortably say that I am more excited about this than she is. Birthdays are my favorite holidays. Clearly I would prefer to celebrate my own, but seeing as that only rolls around once a year, I have taken the liberty of evolving a serious enthusiasm for anyone’s birthday. What’s not to love about a day that involves some or all of the following:

  • Cake/ice cream/pie. Delightful both in your tummy and on your face (see Jeffrey’s blog for example video).
  • Balloons. They are aesthetically pleasing, allow for one to acquire a chipmunk voice, and act as fun boxing gloves.
  • Singing out of key. I do this anyways, but at least I’m usually not the only one singing “Happy Birthday.” 
  • Dancing. My personal favorite is the five-point star dance, developed by Chelsea Whipp ’12. One simply moves his/her hips in a motion that covers the perimeter of a star. One must do this to the beat and with a funny facial expression for full effect. It’s really become a hit on campus this summer, and probably the world by next year. Be on the lookout for Chris Brown breaking out the FPSD in his next music video.
  • Shenanigans. Take that as you will.

The social life of anyone’s junior year of college basically revolves around 21st birthdays. In my experience, 21st birthday celebrations are allowed to last for a period of ten days in order to maximize said shenanigans. For example, if your 21st falls on a Tuesday, it is entirely acceptable to party the Wednesday before through the following Friday (or Thursday through Saturday). I mean, you don’t have to…if you don’t like fun.

I’ve posted a video of Julie and I saying a quick hello.

 

Cue choreographed exit montage

Thursday, September 1st 2011

It has been a very good summer in the 413, but now it is time to say goodbye.

So long, oppressive heat and excessive partying.
‘Till next time, tan lines and frolics in summer rain showers.
Take care, Puffer’s Pond, Deerfield River, and Atlantic Ocean.
Adios, opportunities to go to bed either at 8:00 PM or 4:00 AM.
Nice meeting you, nervous prospective students and enthusiastic alumni visitors.

There are plenty of things to look forward to, however.

Hello there, Senior Bar Night (and actually being a senior when I go).
What’s up, visiting med schools and reigning as crew team captain with my best friend.
Welcome, the ability to say “this is my last *insert annual Amherst tradition here*.”
Greetings, sheepskin diploma written in Latin and the Amherst cane.
Howdy, freshmen awkwardly wearing their lanyards around their necks for a few months until they realize that they’re the only ones who do that.
OH HEY THERE FUN FUN FUN FUN.

Feel free to email me at rbrickman12@amherst.edu through September 2012 when my Amherst email will deactivate. Oh, and Biddy told me she loved my blog. That’s all the validation I need to petition for a Pulitzer. English majors, eat your hearts out. 

-Rachel Kaye Brickman
Amherst College 2012

From Diapers to Dentures

Last night, I was lying in bed trying to sort out my thoughts about my looming senior year. What do I want to do? Who do I want to be? How much time will I spend in Val? As I pondered, I came to a realization that college is, in a way, a microcosm of the human life cycle.

Freshman year: Birth - age 13

Babies and freshmen are always fascinated by everything around them because the world is new and full of possibility. They lack inhibition because they have yet to experience negative consequences and they make decisions that hurt, surprise, and amuse themselves and others. Making mistakes and (occasionally) learning from them is a regular process. Projectile vomit is just another part of life. Mommy and daddy : kids :: upperclassmen and campus police : frosh. Nothing is too serious and everything is possible to these wide-eyed newbies.

Sophomore year: Age 14 – 22

Teenagers and young adults totally know everything, as do college sophomores. They’ve been around the block, they know the drill, there’s no foolin’ them. Sass and confidence ooze from their pores and they have little or no regard for authority. It is moderately acceptable to not know what you want to do with your life.

Junior year: Age 23 – 64

Cue the “Oh crap, I have to be a responsible human being and figure out the future? I have to support myself and consider the impact my choices have on others and plan stuff?” mind games. Once you hit that halfway point of college, you might as well start your Pottery Barn catalog subscription and cut your hair short and sell your soul. Juniors are expected to have matured, but instead, they rebel against the idea of losing their youth and party twice as hard…but now it’s embarrassing because they’re too old to be behaving that way anymore. Juniors and middle-aged folk desperately cling to the idea of the past yet simultaneously spend every waking moment thinking about the future. This sense of limbo causes the infamous mid-life crisis. Dad buys a shiny red sports car to compensate for his bald spot; a college junior sleeps a lot and watches old episodes of Buffy to ‘find him/herself.’

Senior year: Age 65+

Seniors (both in college and in the real world) get a lot of benefits. Special events (i.e. Senior Ball, discount grocery Wednesdays) abound and everyone respects you because you’ve seen it all. After years of stumbling through awkwardness, uncertainty, and failure, seniors can finally be content with life. It is what it is. As cool as this may be, no one can deny the inherently depressing vibe of seniority. Everything is coming to an end. Very little shocks you anymore and you envy the energy and carefree nature of the youth. Nonetheless, seniors can be happy with the memories they have acquired and exploit the perks associated with having made it through the gauntlet of college/life. Because every moment is precious, you commit yourself fully to everything you do. That is a beautiful way to live.

Look out 2011-2012. I’m giving you 100%.

"Is butter a carb?"

Saturday, August 13th 2011

Today’s post is going off of a pretty solid assumption that everyone who would be reading this has seen Mean Girls. Just as Janice Ian and Damian give Cady the breakdown of the North Shore High School cafeteria, I will provide prospective students, incoming freshmen, and oblivious current students with the insider scoop on each dorm at Amherst College. This is crazy long so maybe read only a section at a time.

Disclaimer: Although I try to be relatively neutral, this is MY blog and as a result, some of my opinions may sneak their way into the comments. Students and alumni may disagree with some of this. Hope that's okay.

Freshman Housing: Situated around one majestic quad, Amherst first-years live like kings and queens in these seven buildings. Not only are the dorms (generally) beautiful, they are centrally located to Val, Merrill, Frost, and the gym. So fetch.

  • James & Stearns: These twins sit on the east side of the quad and are connected underground by a hallway of music practice rooms, the laundry room, and storage. My freshman year, James was the hot spot of shenanigans. As a result of too much fun and a few heathens (but really just one person in particular), James residents got crazy dorm damage1 that year; Stearns had a similar issue. I think this influenced Residential Life’s decision to make Stearns substance-free2 this past year. The idea of sub-free Stearns is bizarre to most upperclassmen.
  • Charles Pratt: The Aaron Samuels of Amherst dorms-everyone wants it and will fight like savage animals (on the housing questionnaire3) to get it. Chuck Pratt is arguably too large, holding around 100 students. This makes bonding and trips to the bathroom really obnoxious. It’s as if the building ate a few too many Kalteen Bars.
  • North & South: Opposite the quad from James and Stearns, these are the two oldest buildings on campus. I stayed inside South during my visit as a high school senior and have not been back inside either since. The rooms are a little smaller than most but you can bunk the beds to add space. I think North is sub-free and South was but is no longer? It’s tough to keep up with ResLife’s wild antics.
  • Williston: Poor Williston. It’s so small and average-looking on the outside, everyone forgets about it. However, it boasts a surprisingly nice interior and the small number of residents there allows for a tighter community feel.
  • Appleton: Dubbed Crappleton, people hate on my freshman dorm all the time for being the ugly duckling of the flock. Although the hallway/common room aesthetics are dismal, the rooms themselves are big and clean. The 3rd floor RC room is the largest single on campus.

The Socials: This is my jam. When I move in on August 26th, I will officially become a three-year resident of the social quad…by choice. The five socials consist of suites with private common rooms and bathrooms. Every Saturday night opens up a massive can of worms inside of the common rooms with endless dancing, sweating, screaming, and other party-related gerunds. Graduating from Amherst having not danced on a windowsill in the socials is a crime. These are the nastiest dorms on campus. These are the most fun dorms on campus. You win some, you lose some. Kevin Gnapoor seemed inconspicuous but ended up being the one of the craziest characters in Mean Girls. The same goes for the socials.

  • Stone: Home sweet Stone. I lived here sophomore and junior year with my three best friends. Stone hosts the annual Shamrock –n-Roll TAP4. I once sleepwalked up the stairs into another Stone suite.
  • Crossett: CROSSETT CHRISTMAS TAP IS ONE OF THE BEST NIGHTS AT AMHERST COLLEGE. Every suite in the building covers the common room walls in wrapping paper and other decorations, makes holiday-themed drinks, and commits to holding a party for the entire evening. It’s a festive evening of red and green overload, shoving through stairwells, and losing your coat.
  • Davis: White Out TAP occurs in the basement of Davis every spring. Think neon accessories, glow-in-the-dark sunglasses, and lots of techno.
  • Pond: Although it hosts no TAP, Pond is a party haven throughout the entire year. The past two years in particular included PAPs, or Pond Amherst Parties, thrown in suite 111. The eccentric and outgoing group of guys that lived there made sure that the campus was never lacking in fun or beverages. My roomies and I made a move diagonally across the social quad to live in Pond our senior year.
  • Coolidge: Historically the least social of the social dorms, I honestly have nothing to say about Coolidge.

Theme Housing: If students possess an interest in a particular language, culture, or lifestyle, they can apply to live in dorms with like-minded peers.

  • Humphries: Commonly referred to as The Zu, this is a co-op where residents are off of the Val meal plan and cook together in the dorm instead. The stereotypical Zu-dweller is a harmonica-playing hipster vegan who drinks out of mason jars. (Yes, this is a gross generalization. See the disclaimer.) Live bands will perform at The Zu sometimes, but I’ve yet to go to a single event there because it is wicked far away from everything on campus.
  • Drew: Black culture house. I went here once for a party and they had a great DJ. Nice kitchen.
  • Porter: German and Russian house. With the German department, Porter throws an Oktoberfest soiree every year.
  • Marsh: Arts house. A coffee house/poetry slam/interpretive dance thing happens here every now and then. Marsh has a huge ballroom that is great for parties and a porch ideal for grilling out.
  • Moore: La Casa, the Latino culture house, is Moore 3rd floor and the Asian culture house is Moore 4th floor. If you live on the first or second floors, you’re probably a sophomore or an unlucky junior because Moore isn’t the nicest dorm. I guess the sizeable singles make up for the peeling 1960s wallpaper.
  • Newport: French and Spanish house. Malu Dee ’11 lived here sophomore year in a room no larger than your standard walk-in closet. You can find the best kitchen on campus in the basement.
  • Valentine: Health and Wellness, aka sub-free house. For those confused readers who recall me mentioning Val as the dining hall in other posts, you are correct. The two floors above the actual food area are dorms for students who like quiet living arrangements.

Randoms: These dorms fly solo.

  • Cohan: As described by Julie Keresztes ’12, living in Cohan is like “being a character in a bad video game.” From the outside, Cohan appears to have three floors; in actuality, there are six due to common spaces in between each floor. It’s hard to describe, but trust me - it’s more confusing than Karen’s weather reports.
  • Garman: I mix up Garman and Porter in my mind all the time. I think The Option, our student-to-student resale bookstore, is in the basement. Or is that Porter?
  • Hamilton: Just as Regina George is the queen bee of North Shore, Hamilton is the mack daddy of Amherst housing. Seniors always take Hamilton first in Room Draw because it’s pristine and ideally located. The rooms are huge (the singles could be doubles and the doubles could be triples) and the ballroom is a good size for parties because it’s not awkwardly large or too cramped.
  • Chapman: I think only ten or so students live in Chapman at a time, and it’s in a weird spot across from the gym, so who really knows what goes on there. Apparently the kitchen is a nice selling point.

Taplin and Jenkins: These are sort of like the socials but are too far away from the other five to really be considered a part of the quad. They have suites for 4, 6, or 10 people.

The Triangle: Three former fraternity houses5, these dorms have recently been renovated and house mostly seniors with a few juniors and the occasional sophomore sprinkled in. The ballrooms are regularly used for sports teams’ formals and the walls in all three are paper-thin. You can hear your neighbor sneeze.

  • Hitchcock: My second home last year (miss you, class of 2011!), Hitchcock threw some great Halloween, Christmas, and Homecoming parties in the past few years. This is a very large dorm by Amherst standards and still got really crowded on Saturday nights.
  • Mayo-Smith and Seelye: I grouped these two together because they don’t usually get as much publicity as Hitchcock, although that might change this year with a fun group of seniors running the show.

Morris Pratt and Morrow: MoPratt and Morrow face each other on the quad behind the library. MoPratt is mostly sophomores, Morrow is mostly juniors. MoPratt is rumored to have once been a mental institution and is now haunted. Oh snap.

The Hill: Along with Marsh, these dorms (also converted frat houses) are on a hill that is in a pretty far corner of campus. Their substantial common spaces would make The hill a bumpin’ party spot if everyone weren’t too lazy to walk all the way there.

  • Plimpton and Tyler: Rented out to Hampshire College for the past year or two, no one has heard much about The Hill for a while. Recently renovated and reopened to Amherst students, a lot of sophomores will be there this year and I think they’re looking to reestablish the fun reputation The Hill once had.

Waldorf-Astoria and Plaza: These are trailers. This is not a joke. They were built as ‘temporary’ housing when the school was renovating a bunch of dorms. I think they’ve been around for six or so years at this point. The rooms are big but the location is undesirable. Did I mention they are trailers? At least the school had a sense of humor in naming them.

King and Weiland: Oh baby, I love King and Weiland. They look like hotels on the inside. Perks: big singles, lots of desk space and storage, really beautiful common spaces. Drawbacks: on the corner of campus, usually taken by thesis writers so generally lacking in fun activities. My freshman year, Weiland threw some of the best parties Amherst has seen. King and Weiland can be cast as Gretchen Weiners: well-groomed and slightly neurotic.

1When something in a dorm gets messed up to a point where it costs the school money to fix it (i.e. broken chairs, holes in the walls) and they don’t have specific culprits to charge, the cost of repair is divvied up amongst all of the residents of that building equally. Those $0.50 fees add up.
2
All freshman dorms are technically substance-free, meaning alcohol is prohibited in those buildings. If those living there wish to drink, they have to go elsewhere on campus. Students who don’t drink at all and want to live with others who lead similar lifestyles can choose to live in a sub-free dorm. These dorms are usually quieter and cleaner.
3
The summer before you arrive on campus as a freshman, you fill out a survey that asks about your living habits so ResLife can hand-pick your ideal roommate. They have a space for additional comments and a lot of people request Charles Pratt, although I don’t think it makes a difference.
4
TAP=The Amherst Party. The Social Council throws a TAP every month or so. TAPs are school-sponsored so they have rules and stuff.
5Amherst abolished Greek life in the early 1980's. The old frat houses are now beautiful dorms.

Desk.

Wednesday, July 20th 2011

First and foremost, let me wish Gregor Mendel, the father of modern genetics and pea connoisseur, a very happy 189th birthday. Nerds rejoice.

 Today’s blog is going to be structured around a little game that I just made up called Desk. Basically, I’m going to use objects on and around the desk I am currently perched at to inspire tangents related to Amherst. Let’s begin.

 1.     My Amherst travel coffee mug. Despite our purple and white propaganda, this school is very green. (Bad joke, I know. Give me a break, it’s 9:30AM.) Two years ago, Amherst gave travel mugs to all students, free of charge. This was in response to Dining Services realizing that the students were using an absurd amount of paper cups to take coffee and cereal out of the dining hall. In our ongoing efforts to be as sustainable and eco-friendly as possible, they eliminated the paper cups and went to reusable plastic. As you can see from the worn-off lettering, I use this baby on the reg.

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2.     Cup o’ pens. Prospective students ask a lot about laptops versus manual note taking in class. From what I can tell, the vast majority of Lord Jeffs are transcribing the profound words of their professors by hand. Laptops for the slow writers are completely fine though.

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3.     Melissa. My tiny little friend hails from Beijing, China. The Amherst student population is about ten percent international, representing over 50 foreign countries. I love hearing about the different life experiences of my friends and seeing how their native culture influences their education and perspectives.

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4.     Pathetic miniature fan on the air conditioning unit. Although I am uncomfortably freezing my curls off in the Admissions Office, these chilly hours at work are a treat. None of the dorms at Amherst are air-conditioned, so anytime that I’m in my dorm room this summer, I have two fans pointed directly on me at all times. During the school year it’s no problem at all because we don’t start classes until September, so the weather is already becoming mild.

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5.     F4. My current computer background. Miss you tons.

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Email me at rbrickman12@amherst.edu with topics for the blog and I will do as you command.

-RB

Friday, 3:40PM. The interns are ready for the weekend!

Friday afternoon in the Admissions Office. Can you tell we're excited for the weekendddd?!?
For whatever reason, this is the song we've been singing all day. Happy Weekend, everyone. Get weird.
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Ain't that America?

Tuesday, July 5th 2011

My body hates me. How did I choose to celebrate Independence Day? I ate a lot of crap food. Granted, that’s what most Americans do on July 4th, but I still feel like a chump. Rather than go into detail about each delectable treat, I’ll focus on the one snack from yesterday that I had never enjoyed before. I’m talking about GoBerry, people. This is what’s up:

  • GoBerry is a frozen yogurt shop that started in Northampton and has now added a location in Amherst, right between Amherst Cinema and Amherst Coffee. +1 for location.
  • In the true spirit of the Pioneer Valley, GoBerry almost exclusively uses ingredients from the surrounding areas, e.g. our friendly neighborhood cows produce the milk for the fro-yo, the fresh blueberries and other fruits grew under the mild Massachusetts sun, etc. +1 for supporting local farmers.
  • You have five options for serving size: kiddie, small, medium, large, and a pint. I'm a solid eater and the small was a challenge. +1 for value.
  • Oh yeah, and it’s wicked tasty. +327981236.

In between feeding times, SummerAmherst1 went to a parade in town, which consisted of a car or truck from every police station and fire department in Hampshire County rolling by with sirens blaring and tossing Tootsie Rolls at the children. There were also two bagpipe groups, my personal favorite. The day concluded with a fireworks show at UMass and me falling asleep before midnight. All in all, it was a great day.

Before the holiday weekend, the Admissions Office had a bittersweet conclusion to the week. On Wednesday and Thursday, we said goodbye to Christina and Kat, the 2010-2011 Green Deans2. However, this grief was balanced by the welcoming of Tyler and Becky, the 2011-2012 Greenies. With X-tina and KittyKat gone, there is sure to be less boy band-esque dancing and Special K consumption around the office, but we the interns support them in their new lives as fancy adults. Miss you guys. Love and hugs. This one’s for you two: curly-haired Justin!

1Although it is a small, friendly school, Amherst has a slight drawback in that the students can be complacent in mixing up friend groups. I wouldn’t say it’s intentional at all, but it happens. Hands-down, my favorite things about being on campus this summer is my completely random friend group that we have named SummerAmherst. We’re an Amherst viewbook of social diversity, representing countless sports teams, majors, interests, etc. Some of them I knew freshman year and gradually drifted from, others I just met a month ago. We party, we go to dinner, we have fun. Good times.

2Amherst is a magnetic vortex of sunshine, puppies,3 and cupcakes that one hates to leave after only four years. To alleviate the pain, many of the departments and offices here have coveted one-year positions called Green Deans (They are ‘Green’ in the sense that they are new, blooming, etc.). In the Admissions Office for example, Green Deans conduct information sessions, read applications, manage the tour guides, blah blah blah. It’s a sweet gig.

3I'm sticking with the Oxford comma.

Over and out,
Rocky

Biddy...so hot right now.

Wednesday, June 15th 2011

BIDDYYYYY. Biddy fever has swept the Admissions office. (In case you’ve been away from Facebook or Twitter for the past 22 hours, yesterday Amherst announced that Dr. Carolyn “Biddy”  Martin will be the 19th president of our delightful college.) I’ve got Biddy on the brain. Even if I wanted to stop being excited, the occasional shouts of “BIDDY” in the hallways keeps my endorphins and Biddy blood pumpin’. Why is Biddy such a big deal, you ask? Well, there are the obvious facts that she is our first female president, loves diversity and opportunity as much as any good Lord Jeff, and is highly lauded for her work in higher education. That’s wonderful, but let’s not forget how bodacious Biddy is in general. She loves sports, can do the dougie, and the students at her former institution, U. of Wisconsin-Madison, found it necessary to organize a flash mob for her birthday. I’m wicked pumped to meet her at her welcome meeting/picnic tomorrow. What should be the approach for my introduction? Handshake? Hug? Fist bump?

Students are so riled up about Biddy, there is a party in her honor this weekend. It won’t be long until Biddy becomes a verb, like Google. “A+! I totally Biddied that exam.” “Let’s head to that party and Biddy all night.” Last night, a group of us played trivia in the area and our team name was “Biddy’s Buddies.” Some call this enthusiasm creepy; I call it supportive.

That all being said, I’m still depressed about losing T-money/T-pain/Tizzle Mizzle/The Big T, aka Tony Marx. He revolutionized Amherst’s policies and obtained legitimate celebrity status, both on campus and in the world of academia. We appreciate everything you did, Tony, and are excited for you to bring your talents to the NYPL. Rock on, dude.

 Peace, Love, and Biddy.

EDIT: Met Biddy, love her, shook her hand. Fireworks shot from her fingertips. She's so wonderful! Everything she said in her speech was genuine and charming. I also got my five seconds of fame during her welcoming reception. Watch the entire thing here, and look for my question at about 35 minutes.

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