It’s late on a Monday night. I rush down the dark stairs to the basement of Main Hall and pull open the door to Bob’s Underground Café. The wail of a trombone echoes from down the entryway, the piano and bass comp cool through the changes to “So What,” and each slap of the high hat matches my footfall.
The transition from small farms and backyard gardens to centralized agriculture has distanced us from our food. We no longer know who grows our food or how they grow it. This, in turn, distances us from our environment and community. Large-scale monocultures leave our soils vulnerable to erosion and let chemicals leach into our groundwater. Our reliance on prepared foods from grocery stores instead of whole foods from local farms weakens our local economy and our community’s health. This food system is unsustainable and harmful.
My armpits dripped with the stinkiest of all sweats: that of the “I’m-really-stressedout” variety. My heart raced, and I struggled in vain to fight back tears. Here I was, the day before Thanksgiving break during first year, intent on finishing a paper due the next day. My pink and purple folder containing all the meticulously edited drafts of said paper had gone missing.
Take Back the Night is an event focused on collectively speaking out against — amongst many other social problems — rape, sexual violence, domestic violence, violence against children, and violence against women. Across the country, Take Back the Night rallies are made up of candlelight vigils, empowerment marches, and sexual assault survivor testimonials, as well as other forms of solidarity and protest.
I am not a theatre person by any stretch of the imagination. I have terrible stage fright, I cannot memorize lines whatsoever, and once, I even threw up while giving a presentation in front of my high school class. So when my friend begged me to go to the kickoff meeting of Grinnell Monologues during my second year, I thought, “Okay, I’ll go to make her feel more comfortable about being there, but no way am I going to have any part in this performance nonsense.”
Let me tell you a little about Titular Head, Grinnell’s own homegrown film festival. Now don’t get the wrong impression. We’re not sophisticated filmmakers. We don’t watch in silence and clap politely at the end. And we definitely don’t submit the movies on time.
I had been studying for my chemistry final for three days straight. I was sick from the winter cold, and had lost the notebook with all my notes. I was so stressed and over-caffeinated, I realized that if I didn’t take a break, I’d go crazy.
Boy, did I feel stupid that chilly October day during my senior year of high school, sitting in the Career Development Office with two fellow classmates. Across the table, a very professional-looking Grinnell admission rep (completely at ease, unlike my heart-pounding self) chatted to us all about that small college in the cornfield state I’d never before visited.
And that feeling of stupidity wasn’t really put to ease by the fact that I was costumed for the day in an 18th-century frilly flannel nightgown purchased straight from the Felicity collection at American Girl.
With more than 100 students crowded around the television, mouths dropping open, eyes fixated on the single small screen, one would imagine we were watching the Super Bowl or the season finale of House or Lost, not two men vying to be the next president of the United States.