Welcome to Notes from a Far-Flung Correspondent, which features the weekly interests and musings of Bossy’s Son, who is currently beginning his junior year at Columbia University in the City of New York.
This week: Anatomy Of A Junior Year Dorm.
Hey council! As Bossy just reported, I’ve recently moved into my new school digs. The dorm is admittedly beautiful from the outside, but its interior has suffered the general ridicule of the Columbia community — and in fact has earned the quasi-affectionate nickname PrezBo’s Projects, named after Columbia University President Lee Bollinger, whose mansion sits immediately to the rear of the dorm.
My friends and I chose into my dorm after a bout of bad luck with the Housing Lottery (a deity more vicious than Huitzilopochtli). We were all, frankly, resigned to a lesser living experience this year. But the dorms were renovated this summer, and I’m happy to report that we’re all pretty happy with our situation, especially me who landed a single room.
Which brings me to my post: I’d like to offer a six-photograph analyses of how to recognize a male junior year single.
The first stimuli you’re likely to be bombarded with when entering such a single is the barrage of eclectic posters exhibiting all manner of various characteristics and preferences. In just this one corner, for example, the posters range from political to social, from experience-based to preference-based, from posters that I chose quite deliberately (Japan, Obama) to posters that I slapped on the wall for color and variety (beer, windfarm). Naturally, these posters are taped and never hung. By junior year, these posters foster a familiar feeling and transform any prison-like set of four blank walls into a cozy symbiotic space.
The next sign that you’ve entered a junior single is the careful spatial configuration of furniture. My room is actually decently sized considering its bad lottery number, but several inconveniences — a jutting radiator, a sink, odd corners of walls — make arranging the furniture a downright nightmare. What you see before you is the careful product of hours’ worth of rearranging thanks to help from my chief architect.
What you’re looking at here is the bedside table full of student regalia I’ve accumulated throughout the years. In years past my spaces may have been barer; I might have arranged a mix of necessities and odd items next to my head. But years’ of long nights and feverish reading have clipped my spaces down to desert island necessities: fan, hot pot, Brita filter, reading lamp, coffee, mugs, alarm clock. Everything that a Columbia University junior needs to survive.
(Note also the bright window — natural light to fight the darkness of Late Night Homework Depression.)
Yes, this is a sink and medicine cabinet. Yes, it is in my dorm room, approximately two feet from my desk. And yes, this is fabulous.
This fuss may appear to be an oddity, but when you no longer have to walk all the way down a hallway to wash your face, to brush your teeth, to shave, to floss? Let’s just say it makes life’s little chores a whole lot easier. This sink, though spatially awkward, is one of the few distinguishing characteristics that indicate this is a single belonging to a junior.
This is what I alternatively refer to as the Finals Pile or Reserve Stash. True, I do spend much of my time dining outside my dorm room, but every once in a while a nuclear armageddon of papers, readings, and exams will induce a state of pseudo-hibernation. For this, I assemble a collection of emergency nourishment to carry me through, much like the classic canned food in a storm cellar.
Why is this specific to a junior single? Because I have learned several lessons about my stockpile over the years. First, that it’s crucial to buy things with a ‘healthy spin,’ no matter how gimmicky, which explains the Fiber One toaster pastries, the Clif (not Chewy) Bars, the almonds, the Kashi cereal, and others. And second, it’s better to get things in single-serving portions: at three in the morning, four pages into a twelve-page essay, certain things like self control tend to fly right out your eighth-floor window. You do the math.
Ah, the bookshelf and desk. More specifically, the junior year bookshelf and desk, which features more shelves and more space.
Sure, at this moment it’s covered with a fun mix of food and books, NYC guides and assorted papers. But again, Necessity is King, and soon the shelves will be filled with books. It’s something I look forward to; I often work in the library, but I take pride in being able to work in my room space as well. And often, this desk — if bright and organized enough — can be just the mental mediation I need.
And the birthday bottle of Grey Goose? Let’s just say that that, too, will soon find its way off the bookshelf.
MidLifeMama saysSeptember 8, 2010 at 8:48 am
My first thought is YAY for a single. My second thought is Bossy’s son must be, um, very regular. And third thought is no one I knew as a junior in college would have ever been drinking something as sophisticated as Grey Goose. Granted, I went to a dry campus, a story for another time, and Grey Goose didn’t exist in the dark ages.
WebSavvyMom saysSeptember 8, 2010 at 8:50 am
–>No fridge to keep the BEER <>> milk and bottled water cold? Is there a closet?
GrandeMocha saysSeptember 8, 2010 at 9:03 am
No posters of (almost) naked girls? Beer ads? A college student with self control? I think this is staged.
Local LIT saysSeptember 8, 2010 at 9:05 am
I love that for the most part Bossy’s on configures his room for serious study.
Amy saysSeptember 8, 2010 at 9:33 am
A second-semester-sophomore single at UMD is different from a junior single at Columbia in that it also houses and enormous ’70’s era console TV. As I recall.
Little Miss Sunshine State saysSeptember 8, 2010 at 9:37 am
My daughter’s Junior year single at University of Tropical Paradise had an actual PRIVATE BATHROOM!
Your Obama poster matches the big sticker on the back of my car!
Ami saysSeptember 8, 2010 at 9:43 am
Ah, memories. Although, in my junior year I was living off campus (a possiblity by attending a big 10 midwest school). A tiny garage that had been converted into an apartment. Those were the days, little did I know.
Kathy saysSeptember 8, 2010 at 9:59 am
My daughter’s dorm room is essentially the same, except no sink and cinder block walls. It’s going to require some creative decorating!
Corey James saysSeptember 8, 2010 at 10:08 am
Ahhh…college daze. It’s been 16 years since I graduated college, and it looks like it’s the same now as it was then. Bulk boxes of trail mix bars, water filter, desk lamp and of course, the bottle of vodka on the shelf.
heidig saysSeptember 8, 2010 at 10:50 am
My daughter’s junior year dorm room consists of a suite (2 bedrooms – one triple/one double) that is shared with 4 other young women (just try to imagine the STUFF!). The good thing is that they also have their own toilet room, shower room and a sink/vanity. I can assure you my college dorm room did NOT look like theirs.
Meg at the Members Lounge saysSeptember 8, 2010 at 10:58 am
Bossy’s son, you are totally sophistiqué with your new dorm room and Grey Goose!
Zak saysSeptember 8, 2010 at 11:19 am
Awesome. Good luck, Bossy’s son, although I don’t think you’ll need it.
BossysMom saysSeptember 8, 2010 at 12:18 pm
And a wet towel over the radiator when it gets hot will be my donation, along with the 8×10 glossy of me that will go on your bookcase.
Kelly, The Glass Dragonfly saysSeptember 8, 2010 at 1:33 pm
My daughter’s junior and senior (current) years accommodations consist of a triple room at the sorority house. Tight quarters, but cute dormers and unique layouts!! She wouldn’t be caught with “Grey Goose” in her room…she would keep it somewhere else!
Ginger saysSeptember 8, 2010 at 2:02 pm
Thank you BOSSYs son for the male junior year single tour and tutorial. (excellent ~and funny~ job, btw!) My vote is to have a revisit post of the male junior year single in … um… let’s say … about 2 months time OR just after the Grey Goose goes missing.
Ginger saysSeptember 8, 2010 at 2:12 pm
P.S. Is it just me or does BOSSYs son get better looking each new time we see him?
The Domestic Goddess saysSeptember 8, 2010 at 4:14 pm
I bet that Grey Goose is gone this weekend.
amber star saysSeptember 8, 2010 at 8:01 pm
hate to post this on your son’s thing, but there was just a terrible bunch of tornados in Dallas. Thought you would want to call your friend. couldn’t get twitter to work.
Bridget saysSeptember 8, 2010 at 8:29 pm
So far junior year looks like fun!
linda saysSeptember 8, 2010 at 10:13 pm
excellent blog. thoroughly enjoyed it!
Dobes saysSeptember 9, 2010 at 1:25 am
See that poster above your sink? The Van Gogh? You have to be careful about hanging that – it’s magic. Years ago, I lived in your neighborhood, at the corner of 110th and Amsterdam. I had 3 pieces of art on my wall – a painting of a Vermont winter, done by my grandmother, and hung to represent her favorite setting; an enlarged photograph of a woman alone on a beach, chosen by my mother to represent her favorite place; and, finally, a larger version of your poster, chosen to represent me, and my wish to be a writer in Europe rather than a New York lawyer. And then, eight years ago, voila! Europe, writing – I stepped into the poster and I can’t get out! Although, whether I want to is another story….. 🙂
Have a great junior year!
BossysMom saysSeptember 9, 2010 at 12:06 pm
Happy Birthday. Love you Madly.
Reeb saysSeptember 9, 2010 at 1:28 pm
Noting that on extolling the benefits of The Sink (“you no longer have to walk all the way down a hallway to wash your face, to brush your teeth, to shave, to floss”) you delicately didn’t mention having to walk all the way down the hall to pee. That would be a benefit I would appreciate. Then just rinse the bowl a little. So practical.
Also, I appreciate the slightly-rumpled bed look and the shirt slung over the chair in the bed photo; so we wouldn’t think this was totally staged. I agree with Ginger: send us a candid photo in 2 months.
Nice room. congrats on the single. My nephew is appreciating having a single for his senior year.
Reeb saysSeptember 9, 2010 at 1:29 pm
Happy birthday, by the way. On behalf of The Council.
Niki in Baltimore saysSeptember 10, 2010 at 5:37 pm
That is neater than i think any of my dorm rooms ever were. Wait, i think that might be cleaner than my apartment now.
A sink in your room is the greatest idea ever.
If you like Grey Goose, try Vox. It’s a lot smoother and has a bitching bottle.
Amy saysSeptember 10, 2010 at 10:38 pm
Dear Bossy’s Son:
1. You need a fucking hot pot. How do you live?
2. Bonus points for the Grey Goose… Minus points for not freaking knowing that Kamchatcha is like half the price and equal in taste.
3. PS. I am still jealous that Bossy describes “the delightful one” as such, when my own in-laws prefer to ignore me completely. After eight years. True story.
David saysSeptember 29, 2010 at 2:09 pm
Although Reeb already touched on this (this is what I get for neglecting this blog), in my Junior year, I too had a single room with a sink in it, and I will wager $100 that you will not make it to the end of the year, if not the semester, without using that sink as an impromptu urinal. Best thing about the room.
V saysOctober 14, 2010 at 2:33 pm
Has the far-flung correspondent been flung so far he has forgotten how to type?