Claim to Fame? With the help of Writers House(s) past, I have wined and dined—but mostly abused—famous authors by giving Paul Auster food poisoning and cramming seven-foot tall Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mark Strand into a Wien single. I spend my Wednesdays studying medieval manuscripts in the RBML in Butler.
Where are you going? To become an Anglo-Saxonist and poet. No, really. People get paid to become such things.
Three things you learned at Columbia:
“Back in my day…” There was no good coffee on campus, and the Hungarian sold fewer cakes. Would it be too pretentious to say that “I have known them all already, known them all: / Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, / I have measured out my life with coffee spoons”? Probably, but hey, I’m over-caffeinated and have been thinking a lot about Eliot and his alma mater lately.
Justify your existence in 30 words or less: I am making a career out of a deep love of poetry and dead languages—and mostly poetry in dead languages.
Is the War on Fun over? Who won? Any war stories? Sometimes I think we let ourselves get too bogged down with work and resumé building, and we forget how lucky we are. Columbia is an incredible university, and I have always been overjoyed to be part of it. As for the War on Fun, I think you can do just about anything you want as long as you go about doing it respectfully. I may or may not have seen a number of students sharing a bottle of wine on the steps in recent weeks…
Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? Life has many difficult decisions, but a friend once gave up cheese for Lent. You know what she didn’t give up?
Advice for the class of 2016: Remember that you are not entitled to anything but that you can and should apply for whatever interests you. Take every opportunity you can to travel and make every effort to study abroad. Shop at Fairway, go to the Varsity Show, and read the campus literary magazines! More importantly, go to office hours early and often. Many Columbia professors are not only brilliant but also kind and truly invested in their students. That being said, seek out someone truly amazing for Lit Hum and CC, and take some of Columbia’s most touted courses (History of the City of NY and James Shapiro’s Shakespeare lectures come to mind). Finally, don’t forget to clean up after yourself and say hello to the guards.
Any regrets? I unwittingly rented a summer apartment from a porn star, who used a fake name in all of our correspondence and refused to sign a lease, but on the positive side, I got to spend a summer in the city and worked for an incredible professor. Sure, Columbia and NYC offer an absurd number of amazing events, people, and classes, and I wish I could have experienced all of them, but I have no regrets about the things I’ve chosen. The past four years have been everything I could have wished for, and I will miss you all!