You know you went to Springfield College if…

Despite the laments I make occasionally about the 6 years of my life I spent living in good old Springfield, MA, The College itself has a place in my heart. After all, SC afforded me the opportunities to excel athletically, academically, and in my career. I learned a lot of life lessons on Alden St, and after recently reading a tragic article that failed to capture any of the magic that exists on the shores of the Massasoit, I figured I needed to do some damage control. So here it is, a list of distinct quirks, qualities, and qualms that exists only in the lives of current and former Springfield College Students.

You know you went to Springfield College if…

1. You made friends with Joe the Egg Guy in Cheney
or whoever was working the grill during the morning period you went to breakfast. This meant forgoing the long line of clueless freshmen and sidling up to the grill with a grin as Joe flipped your 3 eggs, 2 with cheese, fried onto your plate. And if your guy wasn’t making eggs one morning, you knew it was gonna be a bad time, so you would opt for french toast sticks instead.

2. You quickly developed a special kind of hate for Yellow Cab
You probably called them once as a freshman trying to get off campus, or maybe as an upperclassman trying to go downtown, and never called again. They were late if they showed up at all, the cab smelled like feet and slim jims, and in some weird twist of fate, your driver was the same guy who is always lurking at 6 corners. Speaking of which…

3. You knew that both 6 Corners and the DM were scary
Because even though campus was pristine with perfect grass that nobody was allowed to walk on, and flowers that lined the road were replaced every 2 weeks, at either end of Alden street the neighborhoods turned a little sour. Horror stories and gunshots alike flowed into campus from these places steadily, and if you ever found yourself there accidentally, you probably scurried your way right out.

4. You went to the events for the best team on campus… Men’s Volleyball
Since we have one of the best volleyball coaches out there, and tbh our football program really wasn’t that exciting to watch, since they traditionally run a triple option offense. Our other sports are great too, don’t get me wrong, but the most well attended games were definitely MVB.

5. There was no Greek life, but everyone was fiercely faithful to their team
And you all ate together, practiced together, lived together, and celebrated together at your designated house. When ill-advised freshman would wander into your territory, whether it be “your table” at Cheney or “your townhouse” to access the backyards, you and your teammates would band together and kindly explain just how unacceptable this was.

6. Having class on the 3rd floor of Locklin was the absolute worst
It was always too hot or too cold, you were always winded when you finally got up there, and the bathrooms were weird. Not only that, but prior to the renovation, 2 people abreast did not fit on that staircase, and the metal panels always felt like they were about to slip off and slice your shins in half.

7. You were either Starbucks or Dunkin, and your choice was mutually exclusive.
Before Starbucks came to campus along with the Locklin reconstruction, Dunkin in the union was the only option, and Phyllis was good to all of us. Despite her faithful service, some have chosen to betray the magenta and orange for the ugly green siren of Starbucks. Guess which one I support.

8. You know someone who got sick from jumping in the Massasoit
You also know that body of water is Watershops Pond, not Lake Massasoit, and that jumping off either the railroad bridge or the road bridge is something of a rite of passage. Those who attended precamp, outdoor pursuits, or any outdoor adventure class had special opportunities to get involved with that dirty (literally, gross) water.

9. Downtown was a mysterious and hard to get to place
But of course you went anyway, if you were lucky enough to have someone to drive you there or get a yellow cab that actually arrived. (I realize that Uber is a thing, but it wasn’t when I was in school, so bear with me.) From Alumni Club & Sky Bar for the all night dancers to Smiths and Theos for the more laid back, popcorn oriented crowd, there was somewhere for everyone. Your opportunity to mingle with WNEC and AIC kids was ripe in these godforsaken places.

10. WNEC always has been and always will be WNEC.
They can cut the University crap anytime, and everyone knows that Paddy’s is a Springfield Bar.

11. You still have your beanie, and always will
Springfield is rich with tradition, and that included wearing a beanie for all of orientation and thereby suffering minor humiliation for a few days, but now that beanie stands as a memory of your first moments on campus and some of your first friends. You stood in solidarity with your fellow freshies in your beanie, secretly grateful that at least the tradition didn’t include wearing it until Stepping up day in the spring.

12. You had fierce pride for your freshman year dorm, and every subsequent dorm
Everyone knows that Gulick Hall was the worst, but also the best, because even though the rooms were small and windows reminiscent of those in a prison, you were the only one of your friends who could navigate the 3 wings and split level floors like a boss. After freshman year, everything was fair game, though the L rooms in Lakeside and corner rooms in Inty (and middle rooms pre hurricane!) Were all coveted. When it came to the battle between senior suites and townhouses, your choice was based on 3 factors: Number of friends (8, or not 8) willingness to rage (townhouses always raged a little bit harder, especially if you lived on the backyard side) then clean the next morning,  and lotto number. Wherever you ended up, you loved your room, roommates, and senior year!

13. You have mixed feelings about the Arch
And possibly some other new additions to campus, like that daggun four-faced Seth Thomas street clock in front of Cheney that sports the IIII instead of IV. The arch is nice to those who don’t know how annoying it is (e.g. prospective parents, the general community, probably everyone but me).

14. You know all about the important parts of Springfield
such as Bueno y Sano on Sumner Ave, Hot Table, Peppas Pizza all you can eat Tuesdays, and Wong Wok with their per person scorpion bowls (yeah) for food icons. As for places to go, Forest Park and East Campus provided nice respite from the city and college life, while midtown downtown provided plenty of cultural experiences such as the BBall hall of fame, Dr. Seuss & Quadrangle Museums, Crown Fried Chicken, and the PVTA.

15. Above all, you’ll have good things to say about where you spent some important years of your life.
Sure, Spfldcol has its downfalls (traffic, potholes, crime, winter weather, lack of parking! How did I not talk about parking? I hate Campus Parking!). But it also has its upsides (being able to fall asleep to the sound of sirens, making friends with dorm security, getting sad when dorm security betrays your friendship and calls public safety on you and your not-so-sneaky friend with a backpack).

In all seriousness, SC is a place to look back on fondly when some of those quirks that used to irk us all start to fade away. The location right in the Pioneer Valley is pretty beautiful once you get outside city limits, and the people you meet there are generally pretty great. Even though I’ve moved on from the Pride, I’ll always bleed Mar

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Catastrophic Cupcake Conundrum

Among all the wild and crazy inconsistencies of life, at least one thing is sure. I love food, and all of the joy and excitement that comes along with it. I have aspirations in the kitchen, though that may not be immediately apparent if you happen to walk into my apartment while I’m in the middle of a “cooking project”. You will find me, covered in flour and ponytail askew, apron splattered with various colors and textures, whirling around the kitchen like a thoroughly delighted madwoman. The kitchen itself will be slightly smoky, and music that is mildly irritating to the untrained ear will be pumping and shaking the mountain of dishes precariously balancing in the sink, while a pot maliciously boils over on the stove. My culinary workspace is, in a word, chaotic. I do manage to produce some delicious treats, but the post-apocalyptic war zone of a counter top is not always worth it.

While I’ve got the basics down, and can prepare meals for one or two with decent variety, there are some dishes which I have not managed to tackle successfully. Most recently, I have gotten into a few scuffles with some cupcake recipes. When it comes to baking, I’m pretty well equipped to prepare a decent batch of moist, fluffy mini cakes that are so small it’s ok to eat 2, or 7. I know how to frost them with the little swirl on top, how to sift and mix ingredients to keep the integrity of the flavors and textures. What I really can’t handle is altitude. Baking at altitude is a whole different beast, the likes of which I’ve never seen in my home on the east coast, 320 ft above sea level. Since moving to the mountains, I have made floppy cupcakes, fluffy cupcakes that sink, and cupcakes that don’t rise and are thick as bricks. I have made rock solid brownies, cookies that spread over the entire baking sheet, and I won’t even go into detail about the scone incident. I have made everything but the decent, round, delicious cupcake that came to me so easily back east. I’m living at about 4,800 feet, and apparently that is all it takes to wreak havoc on my culinary hobby.

My most recent failure was a St. Patrick’s Day Adventure, where I attempted to make Mint Chocolate Cupcakes with a green minty buttercream frosting. The frosting was phenom; the perfect shade of green with a hint of butter and a dash of peppermint that lingered after the sweet taste of vanilla dissipated. I had even purchased York peppermint patties with which i planned to garnish. Foolish me. The cake batter was thin, but fellow bakers of the internet assured readers that the thinness guaranteed moisture. I suppose they were right- the cakes came out so moist, and the flavor was fantastic! The shape, however, resembled that of a wet, chocolatey blanket draped haphazardly over a muffin tin. I couldn’t pull them out of the pan. Channeling my inner Rhian (An old college roommate of mine who was an expert at all ball shaped desserts- cake balls, oreo balls, you name it, she probably crushed it, mixed it with frosting, and dipped it in chocolate) I did as she did, and made Mint Chocolate Cake balls, mixing my lovely frosting with the cake failures and dipping them in bittersweet chocolate to cut the sweetness. I served them up after consuming an embarrassing amount of homemade Potato & leek soup, corned beef, and cabbage at the Livingston house where friends meet and gather, and didn’t tell anyone of the rollercoaster ride those cake balls had been the night before.

I’m not posting pictures, because it’s too embarrassing. No, Instead I will tell you that IF you ever find yourself baking at altitude, google it first, dear readers. Research it well, and have a backup plan. I am soon to be heading on a journey to finding the perfect solution to my catastrophic cupcake conundrum, much to the dismay of my roommate, I’m sure. I will be baking small batches with various tweaks until I master the perfect Bozeman cupcake. Updates to come.

We Live in a Beautiful World

It’s March, and so begins my 9th month living here in Beautiful Bozeman, MT. My new home, much like virtually any other location, has flaws, if you’re really looking. The housing market for renters is dismal at best, traffic feels like you’re in a city of 100,000 instead of 45,000, Glass isn’t recyclable, and nobody knows how to parallel park. On a very fundamental level, there are some issues that need to be taken care of here.

On the other hand, my city has many resources that most others don’t. In regard to city planning, some projects were done right, such as creating fairly pedestrian friendly and very bike friendly roads and sidewalks. The public library is LEED certified and a fantastic resource for citizens and guests of all ages. The main street downtown is historic and quaint, and reserved mostly for privately owned local businesses, yet we have access to some big box stores if we drive down 19th, though given the traffic situation that may not be in anyone’s best interest.

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Taken in Downtown Bozeman early October

The area is a nature lovers utopia as well (The surrounding area isn’t called Paradise Valley for nothing). We are encompassed by national forests and mountain ranges that yield a majestic view from anywhere in town any time of day and are easily accessible for the hardy spirits who partake in outdoor activities. There are rivers and streams that dawdle through the city in the late summer and fall months, and roar in the spring when the snow melt begins, only to settle down enough in high summer for floaters and fishermen alike.

The community itself is vivacious and jubilant; at any given time someone is celebrating something, music is almost always floating out of some hole in the wall or another, and you can always stop in to imbibe somewhere, as beverages of all types are in no shortage here. Coffee, cocktails, milkshakes, brews, wine, and even bubble tea have their place in Downtown Bozeman. It’s a pretty great place to be.

So why is it that amid all of this greatness, natural and man made, we continue to complain about the difficulty of everyday life? How does a low phone battery elicit irritation, when it’s providing an opportunity to look up and around instead of down? People spend more time looking at a 4 inch screen than a 20 mile long mountain range, and hear more text alerts than the actual twittering of magpies and waxwings. The sound of a new Instagram notification is more alluring than the subdued silence after new snowfall, and a “Stunning performance on American Idol: You Won’t Believe Your Ears!” is more awe inspiring than Laney Lou & the Bird Dogs fiddling up a storm for couples twirling across an impromptu sidewalk-turned-dance floor. Too often it seems we make mountains out of molehills in our lives, and the real mountains sit in dignified, unremembered silence, waiting patiently for us to look up and acknowledge their constant, comfortable presence.

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Boiling River after Sunset in Yellowstone National Park

As daylight is once again reaching into time the winter night claimed as its own, I think it’s time to stop hibernating in my apartment binge watching Canadian TV shows and eating Spaghettios. It’s time to mosey on over to the library after work, have a coffee and enjoy the presence of humanity. It’s time to hike up into the snowy, muddy hills and catch a glimpse of the ground squirrels; a nuisance yet also an irreplaceable piece of the landscape. Don’t take for granted the beauty of what surrounds you if you only take a second to stretch up your neck and look. Technology will, presumably, always be here, and I promise the “Top 10 Things That Can Kill You” Aren’t as deadly as never truly knowing what there is beyond your screen.