» Meet Adrienne

The Weekend My Mother Convinced My Friends I’m a Bad Child

An alternative title to this post would be: “Rollins College Family Weekend, Fall 2011″

I would like to preface this post by saying that my mother, loving as she is, has a very strange sense of humour that I’ve only just now begun to appreciate. As such it should have been no surprise that she’d managed to convince most of the people living on my floor in my dorm that I treat her like an indentured labourer.

Look at her mocking me.

At Rollins, the first weekend of every November is devoted to Family Weekend, where the campus is completely open to family members to come and traipse about campus like they show in the brochures, take part in programs highlighting Rollins’ exciting academic pursuits, meet teachers and mutually complain about their wards, etc.

My mother came to clean my room.

At least that’s what she would like everyone to believe. The truth is, that this being my second year at Rollins, she was unable to come up for my Freshman year’s Family Weekend. So this November 4-6, she ensured that she would find herself to me.

To be completely fair in the retelling of events, my room was quite messy at the time of her arrival. More concerned about making it to my 8 a.m. Chemistry class than trying to find my floor, it’s hardly a surprise that a layer of veritable debris had formed on the majority of the small carpeted floor in my single room. I’d somehow managed to upend my night-table and was hanging singular socks, a scarf, and an old belt from the feet. She was so disturbed that she felt the need to immediately call my grandmother and inform her of my squalor.

You can just see the veritable mountain of stuff on the unmade bed. I am not ashamed.

Shortly after, she handed me a large chunk of chicken and kicked me out of the room so she could clean; I later found her in the bathroom desperately scrubbing at a kettle I’d forgotten I owned muttering quietly about my laziness, or some other ridiculous thing.

The next day was filled with meeting teachers and people on campus, convincing my mother I’m a relatively okay human being and – after a bout of particularly violent vacuuming – I figured I ought to feed the woman who has kept me alive thus far. Luckily enough, during Family Weekend, Rollins is nice enough to provide a luncheon on the lawn. And so she and I moseyed on down for lunch. I spared to no expense.

Burger and greens, cheeseburger and beans, makes for a very happy mommy indeed. Sorry, not my best work, but you get the gist.

And soon the unfortunate end of the weekend came, marking the end of the increased amounts of hilarity that her visit provided. It also allowed me a chance to restore my reputation and try to explain that my mother slept on the floor because she felt it helped her back. Not because I put her there. I promise. Although i suppose it doesn’t help that she did my laundry and made my bed for me while she was here…

To be fair, she made it quite nicely. Plus, who am I to deny her the pleasure?

I’m glad for Family Weekend, and it’s always good when you can see your loved ones, even if your loved ones are the ones you’ve found at college. Sometimes, when buried under research papers or wading through the lake of litter and detritus up to your ankles, you forget what it’s like. Always good to have a reminder. Especially if it comes with your favourite chicken.

Obligatory, 'we love each other picture'. But seriously Ma, if you're reading this, bring some more chicken.

 

College: Where the Free Food Balances Out Textbook Costs

On Lake Virginia

Here at Rollins, it’s been four months since the beginning of the Fall term, and Thanksgiving break and finals (also known as the bane of my existence) are quickly approaching. In that time, quite a lot has happened, and in trying to keep up with my life, writing about said life temporarily fell by the wayside. Let’s fix that, shall we, and start at the very beginning of what’s turned out to be a remarkable term.

Move-in day was heinous. The day was characterized by disturbing amounts of sweat, cursing, large containers bulging awkwardly and violently, and consistent elevator abuse. There are no pictures from that day because I would prefer if my pride remained intact, and visual evidence of me flinging a large carton of bedsheets and underwear through my door with pieces of tape attached to my face (for reasons I still don’t quite understand) is not how I’d like to be remembered on that day. However, after move-in and tearful goodbyes with my mother, the rest of the weekend was spent trying to settle down/stalk around school trying to find people from last year. And, as it tends to do, the weekend ended and Monday and the first classes of my sophomore year at Rollins arrived. In keeping with the trend I established freshman year, this term I’ve proceeded to go to class, sleep through class, fall behind in class, weep like a small child, get over myself, (attempt to) fix grades, and carry on like a semi-sane human being pursuing tertiary education. But you didn’t come here to read about students raging in the Bush Science Center; you came here to read about all the amazing events that regularly happen at Rollins that make this campus such a dynamic place to live.

I have made it my point of duty to go to as many of these happenings as possible such as the various talks by scholars brought here by the Winter Park Institute, International Education which ended this Friday; random gatherings to watch Lord of the Rings; feminist forums with students, the Guerilla Girls, and Gloria Steinem; or anything that holds the promise of free food and t-shirts (the epitome of college living, really). An event that I went to early this year, which would lead to my involvement in the Muslim Student Association (MSA) was the Eid ul Fitr celebration marking the end of Ramadan.

Dr. Mermer speaking with a Rollins student

Yes, there was free food.

No, that is not why I went.

I’m glad I managed to go though, because there I would meet two  people who have since become fast friends of mine.

From left: Mahjabeen Rafiuddin, Sumayyah and Ruqayyah Ali

Mahjabeen works in Chase Hall with the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the all-encompassing office that manages the cultural organizations on campus such as MSA, the Caribbean Student Association, and many others.

Events like these provide an opportunity to learn about another person’s cultural practices and meet people with different beliefs than yourself. Since that day I’ve spent a lot of time with the Alis, and we are currently planning a Bollywood movie marathon that I am seriously looking forward to.

More pictures of the event below:

Mahjabeen having a grand ol' time

Deep in conversation

 

Somewhere There is a Lake Filled with Glitter (a story in pictures).

On September 24,  I joined a sorority.

Local sorority Non Compis Mentis, to be precise. The welcoming celebrations on Fall semester Bid Day.

Since then, the rest of the term was heavily punctuated with bouts of community service, hilarity, and surprising amounts of daisies, flamingos, and glitter. Have you ever tried to wash that out of an afro? The glitter I mean, not the flamingos. Gosh could you imagine washing flamingos out of an afro? I imagine that it would not be a feat one attempts casually. But before I bore you with lengthy tales of my triumphs over shiny particles intent on lodging themselves to my scalp – they’re sneaky, those sparkly bastards -  I’d like to tell you all about one of several service outings I’ve been on with the organization.

On October 1, along with several other NCM girls and a number of Rollins students, I went to Prairie Lake for an organized restoration effort. After leaving campus and arriving at the lake, there was quite a bit of paperwork to be filled out. You know. To make sure we don’t sue or anything if someone accidentally lops off one of their toes.

Jokes aside, the forms were to ensure that all the officials on site would have all the necessary information if we did hurt ourselves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were not the only volunteers that day and the crowd waited patiently for instructions, preparing well for a long day in the sun.

Seonag, an NCM sister, spraying her arms with sunscreen and bug spray.

 

The group of volunteers gathered around one of the facilitators/coordinators of the service event.

As we moved in closer, we could hear her telling us why restorations such as this one are so pertinent. Far beyond any need for aesthetics, the lake restoration is more than just beautification as we would spend the day removing invasive species that had virtually colonised the lake front, replacing them with local plants.

Holding a map of Prairie Lake, she tells us about what we'll be doing for the day. Unfortunately, I've forgotten her name since that day, but she stressed the significance of the work we'd be doing.

The volunteers would be divided into groups to work at different sites around the lake. And with that, we were whisked off to the lakefront to begin our eager assault on the colonisers. Due to the number of NCM members that came, our entire group claimed one site.

Suki rushing from the bus enthusiastic to start playing in the mud.

After meeting with the on-site advisors so that we understood which plants we were removing, backing and dumping the garbage. With a final warning to watch out for snakes, we began waging war on the unsuspecting foreign species.

And war it was.

TJ hauling a stubborn branch from its roots.

Emily utilising the ever popular stealth methods against the enemy and removing large clumps of weeds.

I have no pictures of how the lake looked previously, but you can take it on my word that it was improved by our efforts. The day was long, the air punctuated with the sound of shovels hacking at wooden roots, muttered curses, plastic garbage bags rippling in the wind. We, like all the volunteers, were relentless. Finally, after hours of work, the beheading of one unfortunate snake, and the discovery of a crayfish, earthworm, and a rotten watermelon, we had cleared the lakefront. After bagging all the discarded plants, we then had to replace them with local species.

 

There were a lot of plants that needed to be removed. This is the amount that was trashed before we ran out of bags.

 

Shannon burrowing the stalk of a native species into the lake's muddy bottom

 

As you can tell, we're all very excited about the plants remaining upright.

I have no pictures of the rotten watermelon or the unfortunate snake; I suppose he died with his dignity – albeit, not his head – intact. With one last appraising look around, we were finished, and returned back to where we’d set out from to enjoy the complimentary pizza and a discussion of the day’s work. I enjoy days like this, the sense of teamwork and accomplishment that goes along with it. Never mind that one bit of dirt that somehow lodged itself behind your ear, it’s not really about that. Unless of course that bit of dirt is a leech then I see how that might be somewhat of a problem. In any case, there’s always something satisfying about looking back on your day feeling as if you’ve done something useful.

The end of the day; group discussion with the JUMP facilitators that brought us.

The Thunderous Roar of a Well-Placed Comma

Sometime after the beginning of the school year I start questioning myself and everything around me. ‘It’s the first day of class, how the hell do I have a paper due today?’ ‘What is this questionable lunch meat on my sandwich?’ The questions persist everyday and I’m left wondering why I’m in school if it’s such an uphill struggle. To be honest, it doesn’t help waking up for an 8 o’ clock class and the sun’s still down.

If the sun can't decide if it's up or down, I think I should be able to go back to bed.

So when I’m dragging my unruly body up the many stairs in the Bush science building along with the rest of the herd I like to think about my summer adventures.

There are many things I could have done this summer. I could have travelled across the wild untamed moors of the Irish countryside, the vast greenness of the landscape spreading out before me, lost in the Celtic romance of it all. I could have gotten henna tattoos in Morocco before going off to perform my civic duty with some community service. I could even have returned home, having not seen Jamaica for over a year now. But no, I did not do any of those things. I was not blinded by any vast expanse of green, drowned with the scent of clovers and shamrocks. There were no Moroccan henna tattoos (although I did use henna to dye my hair) and unfortunately, no community service or civic duty fulfilled.  I did not indulge in any extravagant beach parties, have an authentic beef patty or get yelled at by one of the many irate homeless men that are characteristic of my island. No, instead, my summer was punctuated by two momentous events.

This summer I outran a thunderstorm and edited a book. One of these is more exciting than the other. Obviously I mean the book.

Most may be of the opinion that the book editing is the less significant event, lacking the tumult and din that often accompanies a thunderstorm, not to mention the fear that one may soon be hit by lightning. Yet, throughout my work, I have found this to be severely untrue. I received the job as a result of my work-study agreement with one of Rollins’ teachers, working for her during the summer and for the rest of the academic year. She would send me various articles (and a book!) she’d written so that I could edit and format them. While doing this work, I learned quite a bit about myself. I learned very quickly that the thesaurus may be the inanimate love of my life, second only to the semicolon, and we’ve become very close this summer.

Webster and I are very happy, thank you very much.

I’ve also realized that any amount of work done on computers may be interrupted by uncontrollable bouts of playing solitaire (or Sims 3, or Portal. Minesweeper too.), and I learned that I have a deep well of self-control that was utilised in not playing computer games on paid time. But while every completed piece of work awarded me some satisfaction, the mental agitation during a new venture was sudden and surprising. Here was the opportunity to try something I’d wanted to do for a long time, but I was very aware of my own capabilities and limitations. Failure appeared to be the only option, but I’d already agreed to the job, so there was no choice but to stop staring at the text splayed across the screen and figure out what the hell to do about the erroneous quotation marks and comma. Somehow, every comma, every colon, every underlined and bolded text seemed a personal challenge. With each correction made, a red line indicating change while using Word’s ‘track changes’ feature appeared and the challenge was promptly slapped across the face and defeated. I had won, I was master of comma and question mark, bold, italics, and underline my unwilling serfs; I had conquered and no slight of font size, irregular spacing, or unfinished sentence would escape me again.

All those red lines? That's me winning.

Unfortunately, the thunderstorm did not arrive in the form of a punctual email, but was instead the product of Florida’s ever-confusing climate, and its resolution, while a happy one, was significantly less momentous.

One humid evening, my mother and I decided to take a walk around the neighbourhood, get out of the house, get some fresh air. It’s important to note, and I am not ashamed to say it, that on holiday breaks, when I don’t have to leave the house, I am every bit a hermit as a hibernating polar bear. It follows then, that I haven’t the slightest idea what my neighbourhood looks like. And so, on this fateful evening, the air heavy and thick, my mother and I promptly got lost. No immediate danger presented itself as most of our neighbours are elderly, concerned only with the bloom of their orchids and their strange collection of mismatched lawn ornaments. However, the quiet night air was soon broken by the loud and sudden atmospheric explosion that marked the beginning of one of Florida’s sudden downpours. Lightning clawed its way across the darkly clouded sky above us. We both reflected briefly on my mother’s cell phone, my metal glasses frames and the metal permanent retainers in my mouth; we didn’t bother to think about if we were actually conductive. We sped up. The neighbourhood proved itself a veritable maze and several times we found ourselves in the same dead end, staring at the same large ceramic lions perched on one inhabitant’s lawn. As the lightning grew, each flash brightening the street for a few moments, and the thunderous bass shaking the sky and the earth increased, we found our veranda, hurrying inside as the clouds wrung themselves of their moisture, narrowly escaping a thorough drenching and electrocution.

Admittedly, the events are quite different in nature, and I could have told you about my ventures in the world of bread-baking (I lead a very homely, cozy life, apparently. To be fair, it was quite beautiful strawberry banana bread, if I do say so myself.).

The strawberries kind of look like a squid's suckers...

But for me, both events were adventures in and of themselves, important and similar. With every new article I was sent, there came the slow and steady thundering of the possibility of something going horribly and magnificently wrong as I make corrections. The violent atmospheric disruptions that altered an otherwise quiet evening are reflected in my mental state, usually calm and unperturbed. Whole paragraphs morph before me as fingers move like lightning across the overwhelmed keyboard, the rapid tapping of keys matched only by the torrential gunfire of windswept rain against windows. So no, I didn’t go to Ireland, I didn’t go surfing in Hawaii, belly-dancing in Morocco, or hunt down a beef patty in my Motherland. I roamed around my neighbourhood, I baked bread and I worried over commas and margins. These are my summer adventures, and I am very grateful for them.

Especially since I have 3 papers due and an upcoming exam…