Eli and I are sitting in a big lecture hall at MIT, waiting for the official information session. We’ve been reading through the orange brochure they hand out: “The Exploration Equation,” and have gleaned all kinds of fun facts about MIT. There’s a glass blowing studio here (something Eli’s wanted to do forever if only he had the time), a world-class nanotechnology lab, one long hallway that connects many of the campus buildings—called the Infinite Corridor. There’s a science fiction library with 90% of the science fiction titles ever published in English. And a corridor in Building 56 spotlights the greatest hacks—or pranks—engineered by MIT students—including disassembling and reassembling a police car on top of a very high dome at the top of a campus building—all in one night.
8:30 AM: Eli has now been sleeping for more than 12 hours. Remarkable! I’ve been up for an hour, editing the manuscript I brought with me. I, too, have fallen behind in my homework. Since I got off the airplane, I’ve barely looked at any of the work I hoped to do here.
Today, Eli has a date to meet Thomas Lipoma, an MIT junior from Santa Cruz. We were given Thomas’s contact info by Eli’s college counselor in Santa Cruz, and Thomas has generously offered to meet Eli at 1:00 on Easter Sunday.
Eli has wanted to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since he was 13 when we attended an international origami conference in New York City. Another of the world’s foremost folders, Erik Demaine, is a brilliant, young math professor at MIT. ... [Continue Reading]
Eli hit a wall last night. It was after midnight. He’d been sitting in the bathroom, talking with his girlfriend, Ashley, on the phone for an hour or so. I’d been catching up on episodes of Grey’s Anatomy on Hulu on my laptop. Our hosts had long since gone to bed. I’d been nagging Eli to get off the phone. I could hear his side of the conversation through the walls and it was keeping me awake. I wanted to go to sleep, but I also wanted the two of them to be able to talk—this will be the longest the two of them have been separated since they started dating, a year and a half ago.
When Eli finally came to bed, he was in a panic over the homework that was piling up during this trip. “I’ll never get into all these colleges we’re visiting if I flunk all my APs. Do you ... [Continue Reading]
Friday night....Eli and I are holed up at Diane and Paula’s house is Melrose, a suburb of Boston. Diane and I were friends as babies and went to Sunday school together in first grade. It's a great bonus of this trip to see old friends along the way. Diane and I just made a stir-fry with brown rice. I’m SO happy to eat some real, simple, home-cooked food instead of another meal in a restaurant. It’s 8 PM and I’m already in my flannel PJs with my teeth brushed. Today Eli and I both slept in-me, till 9:30 and he, until 11:00. We started the day relaxed, but then got lost trying to find Brown. Apparently there are two different places in Providence that share the address 45 Prospect Street. We picked the wrong one. I got a little testy with Eli, and he did with me, for the first time this ... [Continue Reading]
8:45 AM: It’s morning in Connecticut. Eli’s taking a very long shower to wake himself up. While he's been in the shower, I checked all my email and got caught up on Facebook. Eli’s sitting in on a class this morning at Wesleyan called “Inside Nazi Germany: 1933-1945.” He chose it in lieu of some techy or mathematical thing. “I don’t just want to sit in on math classes,” he said. “I like history, too.”
His leaning so far is definitely a school with a strong math and science department in a liberal arts setting.
I’m happy we’re just going to one school today. We spend the whole day here and then drive to Providence tonight. Brown isn’t in session; they’re on spring break, so Eli can’t sit in on classes there and the info session isn’t until ... [Continue Reading]
8:15 AM: I’m sitting in a common room at Swarthmore. It’s early. No one is around. Eli is sitting in on a calculus class—his first experience of a college class aside from our local community college, Cabrillo. The admissions tour isn’t for an hour and a half. Right now, everything is locked up tight.
On the morning news on the way over, we heard about possible flooding in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, the aftermath of yesterday’s storm. The National Guard is on standby. Sandbags are being stockpiled. We may be in for more of an adventure than we thought.
I’m sitting alone in a carpeted lounge on a comfortable, tasteful couch. There’s a baby grand piano in the corner and oil paintings of past Swarthmore presidents on the walls. ... [Continue Reading]
Today was a freezing, rainy downpour of a day in New York. Eli and I got up, packed, dropped our suitcases off in the storage room of the hotel and then hiked over to 50th Street to take the #1 train up to Columbia. We had one umbrella between us, not a very big one at that. Eli was wearing sneakers; I was wearing ugs. I had a wool coat and he had a “water resistant” jacket that didn’t bear up so well in the rain.
On the way to the 116th subway stop, dedicated to Columbia, I said to Eli, “I’m so glad we did this together. I had so much fun in New York.”
“I did, too,” he said. "This was the most fun I've had in all of high school so far."
“I really enjoyed it, too. Thanks for letting me come along.”
We have a fifteen-minute break between dinner at the Olive Garden (spaghetti and meatballs, eggplant parmesan, lasagna, garlic bread sticks and salad) and leaving for Next to Normal, our last show on Broadway on our last night in New York City, followed by a midnight trip up to the top of the Empire State Building.
The adults are tired. The chaperones drank two bottles of wine at dinner tonight—we all agreed it was the last night and we deserved it—and as we sipped, we grumbled about the midnight trip through four layers of security to see NYC skyline from the top of the Empire State. But the kids are excited.
I, at least, had a nap today. I’m packed and ready for our departure tomorrow, up for one more Broadway show and whatever adventures ... [Continue Reading]
Stomach flu has struck. One girl was down, throwing up all day yesterday. This morning it’s another. How many more will drop like flies? It’s raining out. This morning the kids are performing at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, eating lunch at Whole Foods and then heading to my favorite place in New York City, the Museum of Natural History. I feel as if I grew up in that Museum, staring up at the huge brontosaurus, t-rex, and triceratops bones. But I volunteered to stay back with the sick girl this morning. I don’t know her yet, but I guess this will be my opportunity. How hard to be violently ill on a school trip, in a strange city, stuck vomiting in a hotel room. I’ll do my best to keep her comfortable.
What I really want to do is go back to sleep.
I didn’t think chaperoning 24 teenagers could be so much fun. Some of it is the crisp, cold air and lots of walking and riding subways in New York City. Some of it was just the pleasures of the day. We went uptown near Columbia University to the neighborhood where the Heritage Music Festival would be held. We had reservations at a little hole in the wall Southern restaurant where our group filled the whole place. We were the only customers for lunch. We feasted on a buffet of fried chicken, fried catfish, ribs, black eyed peas and dirty rice, collard greens, cornbread, macaroni and cheese and even a token salad! For dessert, there was a choice of the best sweet potato pie I’ve had in years and peach cobbler. And after we ate all of that—by far the best food of the ... [Continue Reading]