I'll just come right out and say that this post is going to be very subtly related to Olin. But the subtly Olin theme holds an importance which I daresay amounts to fundamental in this radical new school we've got going here.
What I'm talking about is Carpe Diem. I'll leave the introduction to the more ritualistic aspects of the idea to professor Rob Martello, local champion of Carpe. Chances are you've heard this common Latin phrase before. "Seize the day," it tells us. Plenty of gag variations exist out there too- frankly I'm not that interested in them. Fully ignoring any of this dilution by overuse, the soul of Carpe Diem lives at Olin. What is Carpe Diem? It's the get up and go, the throw yourself at something new, the "Sometimes you just gotta do something," * "live life to the fullest" ** attitude. Don't wait, live today. That's what I'm talking about.
Now on to my tale of St. Patty's day last.
Friday morning, I sat in my swivelly desk chair perusing the CORe Digest, weekly publication speaking of wondrous upcoming events and tidbits of info, news flashes from off-campus and on. I think my favorite part of this particular digest was the calendar for the next week: Only the words "spring" and "break" for the next 8 days. Ah, how I crave the precious downtime, the change of pace, the lack of incoming assignments and delay of due dates... But something caught my eye. A very short advertisement: "Student Work at Family Party." Idly curious, I scrolled to the brief description.
Two students needed to help at family party on Saturday evening, March 17th, in Needham. 7:30 to 12:30, 10$/hr + tip. Please call (ph #)
You know, I don't have any plans for this Saturday, this 2nd night of spring break. And now that I think about it, I haven't had a positive cash flow for months. (Although some Olin students maintain on or off campus jobs, I've never found the time- there are too many extra-curriculars I can't live without.) And you know, I really like meeting people, random people even. Who knows who I might meet at a St. Patrick's Day party in Olin's home town? It would be lots of fun spend a night having that ever-common conversation along the lines of "Olin? I think I've heard of that... Really exciting new school right? Yeah. What's it like there?" Yeah, I think I could dig working a party for my evening's entertainment.
So I called. But before I did, I needed an accomplice. Someone equally adept at conversationalizing with strangers. Someone who enjoys putting in some effort to help someone out, someone who understands that the effort will probably pay off in the advertised "+tip." Possibly even someone I've traveled with and who has spent lots of time side-by-side with me, washing dishes. 2 calls later, I had my friend. The infamous " Jef One F "- fit the bill to a "T", or in this case to a single f. Jef was in. So I called the party hosts, with all their party-assistance needs ready to put on the bargaining table. They were delighted to hear a response, and that was that. "See you tomorrow at 7:30." And off we went.
This party far exceeded my expectations. First off, you had to admire these folks for their Irish authenticity. They were for real- they were the kind of Irish that keep the shamrock dish towels out all the time. Their walls were painted green. They were seriously Irish- and serious about hosting a sweet party for family, friends, and neighbors. And Jef One F and I were there to make it run smooth, keep the dishes clean, the trash picked up, the delicious food passing from hand to mouth, and of course the beer and wine glasses full for many a merry making guest.
Frankly, we were overachievers. The two of us would circle the spacious lower level of this elegant old suburban domicile, eyes darting from counter to table to mantlepiece searching for an abandoned mug, a forgotten soup bowl, a disheveled napkin. We probably startled the first few guests with our eagerness to take their coats, wanting to feel useful. But we took ample time to relax as well, introducing our selves and our background to the many aunts, uncles, children, and neighbors of our hosts. The whole crowd was bedecked in their St. Patty's green- from sublty mint-striped dress shirts to full plaid kilts. The party-goers were mellow, as assured us by our hosts. They ate well, and drank better. Two musicians arrived and played Celtic folk tunes on the fiddle and guitar. The lot of us sang and clapped and stomped along. I let myself linger between drying bowls and emptying trash to watch the fiddler swing his torso side to side. His hips, though planted in his seat, seemed not to inhibit the dancing of his upper half. The party swayed and coursed and swelled to merry fullness, lasting a solid 5 hours.
Twas the height of all festivity, and at the end, Jef One F and I made our last push to tidy all the dishes and wipe the counters and clear the massing bottles and beercaps and leftover soda bread and Irish stew and the remnants of the most apply apple crisp I've ever tasted. Our hosts took pity on our meager college student diet and pushed tupperware after tupperware of their delectable leftovers towards us. We thanked our new friends as they thanked us, over and over until it was silly. They recommended us to host-hopeful neighbors, and perhaps we may start a racket in this borough for our 2-man party clean up service. They pushed payment into our palms, and bid us goodnight.
We left beaming, befriended, our job well done and our customers very satisfied. Social skills and wallets bolstered, we trundled off into the night in my beat up pickup. A right cheery St. Patty's it was that night, and we never for a second questioned our decision to spend our night at someone else's party, lending a hand.
Henceforth, when I hear opportunity in the wind, or hear a muttered "carpe...", or Jef One F turns to me and says "Double Bennett, Let's make this happen," I'll remember this Saturdy the 17th of March: a day well seized.
*, **: Thanks to Ben Salinas and Ana Karimi for their responses to my question:
"One sentence or less: What does Carpe Diem mean to you?"
I'll welcome your responses below.