The Orchard Personal Essay: Jordan Seman ’16

Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 12.54.01 PMJordan Seman is a currently a junior at Middlebury College in Vermont, studying Comparative Literature and Psychology. She enjoys writing poetry and short stories in her free time, both in Spanish and English. She is originally from Denver, Colorado.

submit any creative work to [email protected]

 

Rehab

One spring night, I sat next to him on a tattered couch. He was twenty, and I was barely eighteen. He wore a mustard-yellow T-shirt and I could smell his vodka-and-fruit punch breath as he sang along to a Bob Marley tune. He tap-tapped his bare feet on the sticky floor beneath us. True love that now exists is the love I can’t resist, so jam by my side. I fingered the rips in the couch. He interlaced his slender fingers with his black mop of hair. His long, arched limbs clumsily crossed over each other. He was tangled.

He spoke in languid sentences of ambiguities, mixing alcohol slurs with chirping enthusiasm. He completely ignored me, but caught me staring at him across the room when he got up to pour another drink. He carried himself with awkward ease. He curled his crooked toes as they touched the cold of the tile floor. He finally turned to me, before going to his room, and the emptiness behind his green eyes convinced me of the feeling that he was more alone than I, more lost.

I felt young that night. I hated that. He revealed his taste for philosophy, spitting out butchered Foucault and waiting for his friends’ nods of approval. I looked at my watch, as if waiting for that moment when I would finally belong there. When I could spend a night in his dirty sheets, and go to class hung-over. I was convinced that February had stolen something from me, bitter about the leftover three months of high school. I wanted the freedom of him. I wanted the still point of his dizzying mind.

Later, when we spent more time together, I yearned for the blissful ignorance that came from not knowing him. There, within those paint-chipped, stained walls, we were just kids. Our exuberance filled and refilled red solo cups. Our minds emptied of all else besides the dizziness of stale beer and overplayed lyrics. We were potent and untouchable.

But this feeling melted, like a sickly-sweet strawberry Popsicle. Near the end, which neither of us quite saw coming, I knew that he had forced maturity onto me. The maturity I felt I was so entitled to. I was wrapped in an oversized raincoat, supposedly protected by my youth but still wet with splashes from those solo cups. He left me with the same emptiness behind my eyes that I always found in his, without ever intending to.

Our relationship felt like some sort of ecstatic accident. There was something about him that made every aspect of us feel aloof, unplanned. He awakened me to a sort of passion that felt fleeting. I only saw him on weekends, when he would pick me up in an old Subaru that reeked of pungent fast food and weed, but I thought about him constantly.

He would go weeks without calling me. I felt anguish akin to someone’s hands pulling me apart like clay. But when his name finally lit up on my phone, I would ignore him. I wanted him to wait on me. If he waits for me, I thought, it means I’ve won. It was a constant game of indifference, but I was too vain to realize that it was wholly one-sided.

I intentionally sought rushes of pain, of emptiness. Then I would give in to him. I would beg my mom to let me borrow the car and drive 30 solitary minutes just to hold his hand. I sourced my own grief while he silently begged me to understand. I ignored the fact that he was always “a little too buzzed” to come pick me up. That he slept through my calls while I waited in my car outside his house. That there were empty bottles littering every surface of his bedroom. I prioritized my suffering because he protected me from his, as he slipped deeper into an abyss of blue.

He used to give me crushed restaurant mints from the bottom of his coat pocket before kissing me. Whenever I stayed the night, we would brush our teeth side-by-side in silence before crawling into bed together. I liked to taste the coolness of his tongue. We spent most of our time backtracking, discussing the same things we had dozens of times before. We watched Little Miss Sunshine three Fridays in a row.

He told me I was a “good girl.” He warned against the college lifestyle, telling me it was foolish and destructive. I rarely delved into the why. Whenever I left, he would lace his fingers through my knotted tresses and say, “It was good to see you.” I’d feel flickering warmth crawling up my body, but just squeeze his bony hand a little harder.

He felt most comfortable in silence, I knew. It was a superficial kind of wordlessness that we shared. It wasn’t grown from the ease of knowing each other, but from the pure weight of the hole he was drowning in, the one I felt scared to dig him out of. We often sat together as saturated, fuzzy movie scenes played on the TV. He’d pull softly at the downy white hairs on my arms. At commercial breaks, we would exchange weak giggles. He’d move his face close to mine, and soon enough I would be under him, enveloped in his cigarette smell and his breathing.

He was my first, but I never told him that. That summer evening, we sat at a red light in customary quiet. It was late. Music played at low volume from the radio, a man’s voice. It was a song I liked, The Airborne Toxic Event, and my mute lips mouthed the lyrics. The curl of your bodies like two perfect circles entwined/ And you feel hopeless, and homeless, and lost in the haze of the wine. The light changed from red to green and I suddenly felt his damp hand on mine on the center console, a hint towards his hands on my hips and breasts in his dark room later on. I was cripplingly nervous. I shivered in my green sundress. I shivered again out of it.

Later that summer, I saw Alex for the last time in the backseat of his car. Our tangled limbs touched and I was reminded of that first night, watching his slinky movements from the tattered couch. I shifted into him like a misplaced key and felt the same sense of loneliness that I always thought I could still in him. When we finished, he dropped me off and was gone. The engine sputtered out of the driveway, headlights exposing me for a final flicker of a moment. I saw him look at me. The floating dust in that yellow beam of light mingled with the mustard of his T-shirt, the old cream slippers he wore as he trudged across the tile floor. A strand of my sandy hair between his slender fingers. The piss-yellow beer in the bottom of his cup. It was one of the only times I felt bare enough for him to know me.

Two weeks went by without a word from him. I went into protective mode. On a sweltering Sunday he texted me nine words. I’m leaving tomorrow. Not sure when I’ll be back. I responded: I’ll see you after. I thought I had won. I knew that it was over. I cried but felt ambiguously relieved.

I didn’t see him again. I went to college. I took a philosophy class, experienced a hangover, belonged. He became a shaking shadow. I didn’t miss him, but I also knew that he didn’t miss me. I thought it cruel.

And then three weeks ago his name popped up in my inbox. It was the first time he had contacted me since leaving for rehab almost three years ago, the only message I had received since those nine words. You were the last link to any sort of light in my world, and I am forever grateful for that. You deserve better than what I gave you. You deserve someone who’s emotionally available and open and honest. I hope you know that.

I did know that, but it was still nice to hear him say it.

Screening: An American Ascent

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This Wednesday, April 22nd in Dana Auditorium there will be a screening of the documentary film An American Ascent, a film that chronicles the thrilling journey of the first full African-American expedition team to attempt to summit Mt. Denali, the tallest peak in North America. The group sets out with the goal of leaving a legacy that paves the way for young people of color to explore the outdoors and change the face of the outdoors. Through the journey of these 13 amazing individuals, the film captures the deeply rooted connections of privilege, gender, and the continued fight for civil rights in and out of the mountains. Below is the trailer for the film:

https://vimeo.com/102678492

When: Wednesday, April 22
Where: Dana Auditorium
Time: 7-8:30pm

Just a Regular Day!

No-More-Weed

4/20 at Middlebury College:

8:30 am: Roll out of bed, partake in some “scones” for breakfast at Proc.

9:05 am: Get completely smoked by an exam

10:00 am: Watch some Netflix to decompress.

12:30 pm: Wait in line for approximately a ½ hour for some Atwater munchies

1:20 pm: Eat alone

1:57 pm: Get back in line for thirds

2:15 pm: Wander back home

4:20 pm: Hit the books

4:35 pm: Remember that there was probably an Otters show that you missed (doh!)

4:40 pm: Realize that it was actually yesterday and that you missed it by a mile (phew!)

6:30 pm: Miss a call from your mom

8:00 pm: Listen to some dank tunes while you get ready for bed.

8:45 pm: Get to bed at a reasonable hour, maybe do some pleasure reading. Rest easy knowing that you lived yet another day above the influence.

 

PSYCH!

HAPPY HOLIDAZE!!!

Calling All Underclassmen! Get Your New ID at the Box Office

middlebury_logo_detail   vs.     Middlebury_seal

Tonight marks the official death of the former Middlebury logo, and we must lay to rest our old ID cards to embrace the new.  Make sure to stop by the Box Office today or tomorrow to change out your ID which will be rendered useless by the gods on high by sun-up tomorrow. Word has it the new one’s are pretty sweet minus the logo.  But for real, if you’re a senior feb or younger, and you want to get into your dorm tomorrow, pick up a new ID.

Emergency 1A: A Play Interpreted Two Ways

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Opening this weekend in the Hepburn Zoo is the experimental theatre piece, Emergency 1A. Senior thesis work in directing of Melissa MacDonald ’15, the concept behind this show is such: two different casts (Cast 1 and Cast A) have developed their own interpretation and production of the same text (a thoughtfully selected section of the work, Fewer Emergencies, by Martin Crimp), completely separately. The piece gives the audience the unique chance to directly witness the strong manner in which performers influence what they are performing. Each version runs around 35-minutes and will be shown back-to-back with no intermission (so full run time is a little over an hour).

Tickets are available through the Box Office  and the show times are as follows:

Thursday 4/23: 8PM ~ Friday 4/24: 8PM and 10PM ~ Saturday 4/25: 8PM

Rumor has it this show has a pretty stacked cast and crew (check out the poster above, designed by Andrew Goulet ’16), and a striking set that was featured on the somewhat famous Instagram account of Chelsea Melone ’15.

Jeffrey Alexander “Cultural Trauma, Social Solidarity, and Moral Responsibility: Reactions to the Holocaust and other Modern Mass Murders”

JeffreyAlexanderToday at 4:30 in Axinn 229 acclaimed sociologist Jeffrey Alexander, Co-Director of the Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale, will be presenting his research on cultural reactions to mass murders and the Holocaust. Alexander is perhaps best known for his work on the 2008 and 2012 Obama campaigns and political performance, and has made significant contributions to the fields of theory, culture, and politics. For those of us soc. nerds out there, this is a big deal event, a must see talk that has appeal that transcends the discipline. For those without a background in sociology, the talks promises to provide a deeper under-standing of how we have come to understand event like the Holocaust from one of the great social thinkers of our time. Make sure to get there early, the Axinn 229 will be packed.

When: Today, 4/20 at 4:30 PM
Where: Axinn 229
Cost: Nope

T-Pain: Observations and Reflections

t-pain-booking-infoAfter reflecting on the weekend with some friends and eavesdropping on a good deal of Proctor convos, I believe that most of us who attended the T-Pain concert found it to be, well, hilarious. Did we have fun? We think so… The middbeat staff has compiled some observations from Saturday night to quell your nerves if you’re still thinking something along the lines of “WTF just happened??”

1. Immediate disappearance of friends upon entering. Walking into Kenyon basically ensures separation from whomever you’re with unless you physically hold onto each other. Upon seeing friends later on in the night, deep in the middle of the crowd… “oh fuck no, not going in there.”

2. That was randomly kind of violent! I think I saw a girl drop to the floor, but she seemed okay. All for moshing, but even more for my personal space!

3. Not really ever seeing T-Pain. Huh???? He was definitely there but it truly didn’t seem to matter… They could have been playing throwbacks over a speaker and I would not have known the difference. No offense to T-Pain’s stage presence, I just legitimately wasn’t watching.

4. General confusion as to who T-Pain actually was. One middbeat writer reported a fellow student shouting “we want T-Pain” while T-Pain was on stage. Maybe the lack of top hat?

5. Why were there so many people on stage? And why were they all wearing Middlebury t-shirts? Campus pride or just sort of weird?

6. Did he go out after? Nahh…. (This question/answer seem to be based on the seemingly common assumption that T-Pain is in his 40s. He’s actually like 29 I think, so that’s just funny.)

7. Most people I saw were very very intoxicated….

8. Curiosity regarding where he ate/spent the night. If he rolled up to Tourterelle would they have been like ‘oh Mr. Pain, lovely to have you!!’ or could he have gone unnoticed?

9. Generally, he played a great set. No funny business with new music or anything like that. We got the good ole classic hits. Not that he played any song really in its entirety. Probably something to do with the fact that he’s just featured on many songs. Pretty funny. Still, I lost my shit when Good Life came on.

10. I’m on a Boat????? No?????

Democratic Party Strategist Donna Brazile to Speak Tuesday

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Veteran Democratic Party strategist, author, and political commentator Donna Brazile will be coming to Mead Chapel tomorrow at 7 PM.  Brazile has been a powerful force in politics since the 1976 when she became the first African-American to manage a presidential campaign, and has worked on every presidential campaign since.  Currently, she sits as the Vice Chair of Voter Registration and Participation at the Democratic National Committee, in addition to sitting on the board of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.  And with presidential season already heating up, we can expect to see more and more of her on CNN and ABC.  Needless to say, it’s a pretty big deal to have Brazile on campus this week, so middbeat caught up with some of the organizers from the MCAB Speakers Committee to get the low down on the event.  Big thanks to Ian Rhee ’15 and Nick Orr ’15 for their help organizing the event.

middbeat: Donna Brazile seems like a great choice for a speaker, especially now that presidential candidates for 2016 are starting to fill up the news.  Could you elaborate on why you all chose her to come speak?

Ian Rhee ’15: When evaluating potential speakers, our committee really focused on finding individuals who could offer valuable insights on a relevant topic. With the Presidential election around the corner, we felt that bringing Ms. Brazile, the current Vice-Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee and former campaign manager for Al Gore in 2000, was a logical choice. Additionally, we believe Ms. Brazile possesses not only the ​professional credentials, but also the charisma to really connect and engage with students on our campus.

I know there was a symposium hosted by the American Enterprise Institute earlier this semester on similar topics.  What are some of the topics you’re expecting/hoping she’ll address in her talk?

Ms. Brazile will be giving a talk titled, “Political Outlook — A Comprehensive Picture of What’s Going on in Washington.” She will discuss the current political climate in Washington, as well as her experiences as an African American woman in politics. We believe her talk will interest a wide variety of students and we are extremely excited to see her at Middlebury!

You guys have brought a lot of great speakers this year.  Could you give us a little retrospective on the other speakers this year?  Are there any central themes that the speakers committee has tried to address in it choices?

I think a common misconception is that the MCAB Speakers Committee is behind many of the speakers you see at Middlebury. While the committee does invite “big speakers” like Donna Brazile and Mary Robinson (UN High Commissioner and former President of Ireland), most of the smaller speakers you see around campus are the result of hardworking and passionate student organizations. Our committee merely funds these fantastic events in the hopes of stimulating an atmosphere of academic curiosity and personal development.

This year alone we’ve teamed with student orgs to bring over twenty different speakers to campus. A few of these speakers include:

– Tom Szaky — CEO of TerraCycle Inc.

– Rosie Molinary — author and self-empowerment coach

– Dean Obedullah —  Award winning comedian

– Roger White — artist and art critic

– Ta-Nehisi Coates — Senior editor for The Atlantic.    ​

What are the details on the event?  Where and when?  Do we need tickets?

Tuesday, April 21st at 7:00pm in Mead Chapel. This is not a ticketed event and admission is free to the public!

Any final thoughts or information you’d like to share?

As of right now there looks to be enough time for Q&A so please come with questions!

 

D. Scott w/ Ola “Life is Good”

D. Scott (Dwayne Scott ’17) and Ola Fadairo ’15 are opening up for T-Pain tomorrow, and have released a new track “Life Is Good” in anticipation for the event.  The song’s an upbeat hip-hop take on “little things we take for granted in life; we should be thankful for them” says Scott. Make sure to check out the track above or here, and get to Kenyon earlier for D. Scott and Ola.