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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

If Admissions blogs were honest

<rleton’s student bloggers are, of course, delightful, witty and often insightful. But I think it’s important to pause and think about the letters to home unsent.

Sophie Marinos: Sophomore. On Academic Suspension. Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio.

I’m sitting in a computer lab on the fourth floor of the Cleveland State library, looking at a seagull, getting more agitated by the second. The seagull is perched on a spire on a church across the street. Behind the church are treetops and more rooftops and a rusty water tower, and beyond them I see the lake, which is gray today.
I don’t care. I’m only staring out the window because there’s a voice in my head saying, “Let’s never go back,” and I have to keep telling myself that it’s just the view, Cleveland’s East Side beats Limon Puddles. But it’s too late. This place is making me hate what I’m supposed to love about Carleton.

Five minutes ago, a random CSU student came in and sat down at the computer next to me. We haven’t acknowledged each other’s presence, and we probably won’t. It’s glorious. How could I possibly explain to her what it’s like not to be a number?

Mac Davies: Junior Econ/Political Science major. Hometown: Boston, Mass.

College waited two years to happen, nothing and then everything. A week into this – yeah, I’m giving it a pronoun already, because Natalie is acting like a creep and I’m looking at double comps and LSATs and summer internships – Dad had already done two by junior year but hell, everything moves slower away from the coasts, I want to explain, wondering why it sounds like an excuse.

He doesn’t know. This is Carleton. Eight people asked me how I was doing today. How am I? Seriously? No one is that nice. You didn’t come here because you love people and learning and snow. We filled out the same application, and chances are we both sold out somewhere along the line. The only difference between us and those pricks at Amherst who “think they’re better than everyone”… They have the balls to admit it.

You’re not nice; you’re terrified. Stop smiling at me. It’s making me retarded, and now I’m terrified too, because I feel like Algernon. Law school is two years away and we’re playing Quidditch.

Natalie Wells: Junior English major. Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas.

Carleton night life. Watching nerds drink until they can brave social interaction. Watching interesting people drink until they forget they go here. The Sayles Dance, the greatest spectacle of all, watching them come together.

This is the third night I’ve tried to write something. The first two nights I gave up. Now my roommate is sick and there’s another party tomorrow and I’m stuck here in the middle of it, the middle of the term, unoccupied, unshowered, searching for the right words.

It’s just not enough. I have not been sincere in weeks. The way things are going, there’s no reason for me to remember how, except for this stupid cursor and its question I cannot answer.

Paul O’Keefe: Sophomore Math major. Hometown: Beaver Creek, Mont.

I am in 2A. I am hungover. I do not want to be here. How did this happen?

I should just stop doing all this work. You do it, you get a mediocre grade, and they reward you with more work. When it’s finally over, you go to grad school, where you do even more. Then, if you’re lucky, you become a professor, where on top of your work you have to deal with kids who are hungover and do not want to be there.

Liz Yamashita: Freshman. Hometown: Fresno, Calif.

I am fifteen years old and trying to learn the second movement of the Moonlight Sonata. I do not know that three years later, I still won’t have it perfect, own it.

The notes just won’t fall into place. They rush and scatter, and land like bricks. It sounds decent, but anyone who’s heard it done right knows that it is not what Beethoven intended. My piano teacher Jackie, for one.“You have to practice your arpeggios legato, and confidently. I mean, your forte is a mezzo piano.”


“Let me show you.”

She takes the bench and, as far as I can tell, attempts to break the piano.

“It’s the thumb,” she says.

The Russians got it down to a science, Jackie is telling me. It’s all in the release – you have to let the weight of the entire hand find the bottom of the key, and then come off clean and transfer all of it to the next note in line.
It haunts anyone who puts finger to ivory. It is the piano equivalent to what blues legend Robert Johnson, as the story goes, sold his soul to the devil for.


At this point, you might be wondering if this is at all related to my life at Carleton, and mentally suggesting that I go out and socialize instead of sitting here discussing piano technique. But it’s the only way I can explain this crude improvisation I’ve called college for the past three months. Because when I talk to people – something is still soft, hesitant. It’s hard, I want them to see, and I have been trying, but straw just won’t spin into gold and my hands are tired, goddangit.

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