An early start to a final year

The Thinker is back in front of Meyer Library, renovations to the bookstore and post office have been completed. This year I’m an orientation volunteer. Orientation volunteer work consists mainly of tasks such as setting up table and chairs, stuffing packets for freshmen, and serving as extra hands at events. There are a lot of volunteers so the work is easy and goes quickly. I enjoy the opportunity to be on campus early, getting errands done and reconnecting with old friends.

Everything we do now is more thoughtful, touched by awareness that we are on the cusp of being college graduates. Thursday night, soon after I arrived, I went for dinner to a restaurant called Thai City with Ying and the rest of the Lantana staff, except for PHE Maureen who is interviewing for med school. Getting into one of the FA’s cars after dinner, I recognized a couple walking toward us as Paddy and Laura and waved hello. Soon after, I learned that Lissa Shih, having finished her psychology major, has chosen to remain in Taiwan and return only to graduate. Nancy Alvarez, her prospective roommate for this year, is sharing her two-room double with a transfer who hails from Hiroshima, Japan. From pictures around the room, Nancy and I deducted that she is a blonde white girl, but disagreed as to the identity of the young male often pictured alone with her–I thought it evident that this was her boyfriend, while Nancy held that it might be her brother. Denise Woo reported that rather than accept her poor housing assignment, she obtained a studio off-campus.

Early arrival also gives me more time to take advantage of programs at the career development center. Everyone has been getting interviews through the career center. None of drives yet, but it hasn’t been a problem – which is good, because learning to drive and getting a car would be hard to schedule. So far, all of my interviews have been on campus. Jia and Fei have had interviews off-campus, but public transportation in the area is pretty good, and good friends are available to provide rides when needed. Jia once caught a ride with another student interviewing with the same company. Ying will be interviewing this year, but since an interview is a big privilege for a medical school candidate, she will have transportation provided.

Friday is the biggest orientation-volunteering day. I took pictures in the morning, helped with the parents’ lunch, sat at an information table during convocation, and helped clean up after convocation and the parents’ dinner.

While I was picking up empty boxes after the parents’ lunch I was excited to help answer a question for the most famous freshman of the year, Ben Savage. He wanted to know if I knew of a good place to eat around here. I recognized him from the name on his tag; I’ve heard it mentioned a few times during orientation. I told him that the dining halls weren’t bad, but he said they were closed. A fellow orientation volunteer gave him information on Tressider dining. She’s a fan of his show and expressed her excitement at the opportunity to talk with “Corey.”

Saturday the big project is the New Student Party. I helped with set up, clean up and checking bags to make sure that no one brought in alcohol. One a break, as I was walking towards my room, I saw John and Wendy walking together in the opposite direction. They waved. When I came to pass Huat Chye’s room he was closing a window. I called up, “Do you keep your window open all the time?” He reported that, hard as it may be to believe from outside (where it was a bit chilly) it was not cold indoors.

I mentioned I had just seen his roommate and Wendy walking out together. He reported that the three of them had just had dinner together; John was driving Wendy home. I expressed disappointment; I’d thought they were out for a party. But Huat Chye said Wendy was not in a fun situation; somehow she pressed the wrong button and is no longer guaranteed housing. If “walking-on” to housing failed the next day, she would have to find alternative housing to move from her current residence at her parents’ house.

Saturday was Huat Chye’s first free day. He had spent it unpacking, and he had unpacking planned for the rest of the evening, along with e-mailing his advisees to remind them of a Sunday meeting. I suggested that he might visit them. But, he said the walk to Florence Moore is too long, and he still doesn’t have a functional bike.

I mentioned I had an 11 o’clock shift as bouncer at the New Student Party and invited him to join; he was uninterested. He asked whether I had heard from my drawmates and I told him I hadn’t. I asked him if he had heard from any of them. He said that Fei wrote to say she would come Sunday or Monday, but he didn’t know which day she’d finally chosen.

As I shaded my eyes from the porch light, trying to see him, he asked me if I’d seen his room yet. I had not, so he invited me up. I noticed the room was arranged the same way as Fei’s. Maybe they both left their furniture in the original position? Huat Chye agreed it was the same arrangement, but claimed to have less decoration than Fei had. I told him he needed only to pin up a scarf to match Fei. He’d also need a lamp, he said.

I looked around John’s room too, which is about complete but lacks John’s futon. Then Huat Chye showed me pictures from his trip to Hong Kong and Beijing this past summer. He said there are interesting ones and uninteresting ones. The first ones he showed me featured him; I said, “Those must be the interesting ones, since they have you in them!” That was intended facetiously, but for some reason he asked me if I had been communicating with Fei.

I said, “Not much, in fact I’ve been having difficulty communicating with her.” He asked what I meant, and I tried to describe the difficulty. I would say something she didn’t understand and she would get mad at me, or she would say something I didn’t understand and—she would get mad at me again. He asked why. I didn’t know how to answer but asked him if he could help by giving me a suggestion. None was provided. I asked him if he had never had communication problems himself, but he had no answer for this, either.

Some of the pictures have no one in them at all. I said, “If you don’t have anyone in them you might as well buy the postcard!” He remarked that Fei has a similar opinion. But I think pictures are generally held to be more valuable with people in them.

There were also shots of Huat Chye and his coworkers, most of whom he was not very fond of, apparently. Plus, there were shots of Huat Chye touring, Huat Chye wearing a floppy hat, Huat Chye ballroom dancing in a park. Evidently ballroom dancing in parks is a common morning practice in the place he lived.

After we’d done with the pictures a voice called from the path outside—lo and behold, it was Huat Chye’s ex-drawmates, together. He invited them up. It was time for me to head off to my shift, and I did so, pausing to invite Sze Yao and Li to join the party, which was scheduled to end at 12:30.

After the party was over I went very directly to bed, as I had agreed to meet Nancy Alvarez for a hike through the foothills this Sunday morning. I set my alarm but was nonetheless lulled back into sleep and only really awoke at her knock.

We took a scenic route to the foothills, past a stream through some woody area. At the foothills we discovered new regulations. Walking is now restricted to paved paths. There are guards posted at the entrances, handing out cards listing the new rules; there are also now prohibitions against dogs, picnicking, biking, skateboarding and skating allowed, and the hills are closed at night.

They claim that this is for environmental reclamation but I thought something “bad” might have happened there. Or, perhaps something bad happened in a similar location and the university is trying to forestall liability risks, as is the case with the new alcohol policy motivated by MIT being found responsible for the death of a student from alcohol abuse.

After our walk in the foothills, we stopped by Tressider Express. Nancy was thirsty, and she kindly shared with me energy bars and treated me to chocolate milk. She showed me a vegetable-and-flower farm, just beyond the cornfields where I worked in last summer, and a field of horses. Then we went to Stanford’s first Catholic mass of the year, in Old Union Courtyard. I was Eucharistic Minister, and ran out of wine. Good size crowd this year!

After church, Nancy showed me some fig trees. We picked some figs and ate them; then she was off to the library to work on a portion of her honor’s thesis.

I ran move-in errands, greeted arriving friends Fei, Jia, and Ying, and had dinner before my Orientation Volunteer duty at Flicks started at 9:30. Our first responsibility as volunteers was to seize toilet paper and food from patrons as they entered the theater. Traditionally, there are paper fights at Flicks, but we work avoid these so cleanup is as easy as possible. I was so good at this that one of the regular Flicks staff invited me to join them for Flicks the rest of the year. Our next responsibility as volunteers was to cheer during the movie to help establish ambiance. I had more trouble with this part!

Afterward, returned to my room, visited Jia and Fei and asked them if they had anything fun for me to take to Ying, who was going to sleep out for a class. That is, she planned to spend the night in the class building’s lobby to make sure she got a place on that class’ sign-up sheet.

While I was in Fei’s room Huat Chye visited her, for the second time that evening by Fei’s report. He had a gift for her. He recommended taking cookies and milk to Ying. I handed him the pomegranate Fei had given me to take to Ying and went downstairs to get some cookies set out in the lobby for arriving residents. Got some other sorts of snacks from Jia. I took these things to Ying, along with a sleeping bag.

Tuesday, Jia had the idea to go running at 7:30 this morning; I awoke a little after that time and rushed to get dressed, only to find her still sleeping and intending to continue sleeping. So I jogged Campus Drive loop by myself. Walking into the dorm afterward, I ran into Nancy, who was heading out for a walk. I joined her; we went to the lake. Went to see the treehouse out there, but someone was sleeping in it – we saw their sleeping bag.

Afterward, we checked the dining hall hours at Tressider and then Nancy treated me to breakfast at Stern, since I wasn’t carrying my card. We ran into Steve Doane there. He is a junior, from San Diego too. He wants to work in the third world after graduation.

Following breakfast, I went to OV duties, taking a picture in front of the president’s house. For lunch, I joined Jia, Huat Chye, Fei, and Jing at a grad student event. Jia and Huat Chye are going to be master’s students at Stanford next year. In the afternoon, I worked as an OV at an event where local businesses give out free food, shirts, mugs etc to students (principally new students). Took a break for an hour and then went back for clean up.

Following dinner at Manzanita, I joined Jia for another jog around Campus Drive. Jing was with us for a while but turned back on account of not considering herself in good practice at running.

Later in the evening there was an ice cream social at Lantana. After the social, my drawmates all visited in Jia’s room so she could share snacks that she’d brought from China. Ying laughed really hard when Jia brought out a special treat from her refrigerator, and it turned out to be very like Otter Pops. But it was not quite the same; Jia’s treat was more jelly-like.

First day of classes tomorrow! My first is at 8 am. After classes, I will get my books and print my resume to apply for recruiting services and jobs on the job listings. I will also look at graduate student funding, just to keep my options open.

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