It’s Alumni Weekend! I’m in Chicago for a few days to commune with my brethren – other nostalgic University of Chicago alumni. I arrived in Hyde Park this afternoon in the middle of a downpour and thought, how lovely! Maybe it’s all the travel this month; maybe it’s my frustrations with the University of Michigan. Whatever the cause(s), I’m happy to be here.
I spent a little over an hour reading Lucy Suchman’s new book – Human-Machine Reconfigurations – in the 4th floor stacks of the Reg (that’s the Regenstein Library to the rest of you). The smell was familiar. The strange turnings on and off of large banks of lighting were familiar. The odd look I got from a student I passed on my way out was familiar. She looked confused, and I’m sure it’s because I was in the stacks for only an hour. Only the weak leave the Reg so soon after their arrivals. The library was teeming with Maroons studying for finals and writing final papers. I’m willing to bet that the average size of the studying-Maroon book stack is a good two times as tall as the studying Michigan undergrad. I see a lot of UMich undergrads in the UGLi, and they don’t seem to carry around nearly as many tomes as the Maroons. The cute peeps in their glasses and rumpled hair with giant stacks of literature and criticism got my blood pumping, that’s for sure. The Reg during finals is like the Red Light District for nerds. Hot!
Why did I leave so soon, you wonder? Well, two reasons really. One is that the wireless network in the stacks is soooo sloooooow. I had to borrow credentials from a current student just to get access, and I wasn’t able to get Travelocity to load in any reasonable amount of time. So, I guess it’ll be another few hours until I can obsess over the price of flights from Detroit to Newark. The real reason I left though is that I was craving Jimmy’s French fries. Leaving the library for French fries may not make much sense to those of you not familiar with the culinary wonders of Hyde Park. Every one else, rest assured, the fries at Jimmy’s are as good as you remember them. I had a gooey grilled cheese (no pickle) and a small order of fries, and it was like I’d traveled six years back in time. I’m holding down the fort in the non-smoking room. I don’t know why more people don’t sit in here; it has the windows and is smoke-free. There’s even a Crown Royal mirror on the wall. What’s not to love?
Tomorrow I’ll be in meetings all day with the University’s admissions staff and other Alumni Schools Committee volunteers. We read anonymized applications in preparation for our mock admissions committee exercises tomorrow. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t get in to the College now, and I’m more sure than ever that my high school did not adequately prepare me for an elite undergraduate education. I’ll likely ruminate on that more later.
Now, it’s back to The Onion. I’d forgotten that one can pick up the Onion and the Reader in the vestibule of the Reynolds Club (Chicago’s student union). Just another thing I liked better about the RC than I do the Michigan Union. Ah. Nostalgia.