Monday, December 14, 2009

Founding Fridays is a privilege, not a right

(This is a picture of my favorite fellow American Studies majors, minus E., who was taking the picture, by the portrait of George Berkeley. If you don't know Berkeley, I'm not surprised, but he played a significant role in our History of the American Identity last spring term. Photo taken when we were at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. this past summer.)

Last week was a rawther stressful one considering all the work I needed to complete and the three things that got me through it were my roommate, coffee and my fellow American Studies majors.

Well, some of them. There are 15 of us total, but I am particularly close to four of them (my three fellow seniors plus a junior) and they really did keep me going. A definite perk of gchat is when you're on at 3 a.m. and you pop back to the screen only to see three familiar names also on, even if one was "busy" (lies, Matt).

We had our DPN Christmas "party" on Sunday evening (there were only seven of us there, I don't know if it is a party if half the honorary doesn't show up), but it was still so excellent ending it with the four favorites. K. and E. read their American Studies-inspired poems (see below for mine), M. read from Lewis' "The Weight of Glory" and D. listened (I'm still waiting for your couplet--no excuses!).

I feel I should caveat that I like the other majors tremendously, particularly two other juniors I am getting to know a lot better this semester. I've known these four the longest, however, and we've had the most classes together, not to mention most of us were in D.C. together this summer at various internships.

The AS major is small, but very solid. A lot of people get scared off by the requirements or they want to only do two of the three parts of the major (some combination of English/ History/ Political Science, but not all three). AS is not for everyone and I would never pretend to say that it is the best major (although I do say so below); like all majors, this is the one that fits us best. (There is a reason I am not a Physics or Accounting major.) So here we stand on campus, little, proud and fiercely loyal. I do not think we would be friends if we were all not American Studies majors, but we've become close and I am blessed daily at how they inspire me. I very much value their friendship and fellowship.

Anyways, here is an e-mail I sent to that select part of the DPN honorary, whom I knew needed a pep talk to keep them (us) going into the wee hours of the morning all last week.

(For those unawares, "Founding Friday" was named after our Founding of the American Republic class, which we are all in, and the day of the week we set aside for bonding. Dogwoodian refers to Russell Kirk (who helped found the AS major at Hillsdale) and his love of the Dogwood tree, which we as an honorary planted last spring for our adviser and his family. Dogwoods are significant because they are supposedly the type of tree Jesus was nailed to, but technically there is no proof of that, more legend. They are also apparently the honorary's tree and thus, we call ourselves "Dogwoodians.")

I wanted to share this little insight into my life because they are so important to me; I hope you enjoy it:

My fellow Dogwoodians,

When we're old and gray, we'll have DPN reunions and tell our grandkids we're going to Founding Fridays (no bingo for me!):

"Oh grandpa/ grandma," they'll say, "what are Founding Fridays?"
"Well, little Joe/ Sally," we'll say, "They were a time when a few members of Delta Pi Nu would get together to talk about the good, the true and the beautiful."
"The what?"
"The higher things in life!" shout we.
"Oooh, ahhh," replies all the underage drinkers.

So what am I saying? Beer is the highest good at this point in our career? It is both good, true and beautiful to behold. Mostly, that is; there are some other great things too, like virtue and Christendom and Republican forms of government and argyle socks. Tonight most of us (to the best of my knowledge) are pulling yet another graveyard shift (minus Katherine--she did that last week for the first and last time ever and for that, we commend you). My friends, my fellow American Studies majors: the few, the proud. To tweek from Shakespeare's Henry V--

From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of Dogwoodians;
For he to-day that studies his brains with me
Shall be my friend

Tonight we have to push through. We have to prove our prowess to why American Studies majors are the best dang students on campus, if not alarmingly alcohol-inclined. I've been listening to Christmas music, Scottish reels and Irish drinking songs all week, so I think you can imagine my mindset at this point. Too bad after the two papers I need to finish for tomorrow, I'll have another one and a thesis before I can dive into exams. Ho, ho, ho and a bottle of whiskey--an American Studies life for me!

So let's write till our fingers grow weak and our head gets dizzy and the clock blinks (can that really be the time?) because an entire week of graveyards shifts is as close to an absolute truth as we're going to realize at this hour. We'll look back on these days and laugh at the ridiculous amount of work we completed. And for what?! Two words: Founding Fridays.

Yes, it is for drinking in the later afternoon on Fridays throughout the semester that we work our way through the week. The fellowship we have keeps us going and going and going. Again, I know that's only partial to our reasoning and drive to excel, but for the sake of argument, let's make it the whole. :) Anyways, I hope this pep talk gave you the extra gumption y'all need to push through the rest of the night. And remember this: it is worth it.

Best of luck to Matt and Katherine tomorrow on your theses defense!! we'll be pulling for you :)

(that's MISS Delta Pi Nu Social Chair to you!)

I got positive feedback giving me the affirmative on late-night inspiration, so that is always lovely to hear. I also wrote a poem and will only share it because it is so silly and this seems the appropriate venue since I am loving on the DPN-ers right now:

In this holiday season of humble thanks and good cheer,
I offer up te deums for those noble souls
to whom I hold dear
to my Dogwoodian heart, like the Birzers and the late Russell Kirk,
Delta Pi Nu, T.S. Eliot and the great Edmund Burke!

Back to Frost essay--almost done, but writing something non-academic always helps me focus my mind after periods of immense focus. Start of exam week-eek! and versing myself in country things...

Oh, and Rachel? You told me before I left D.C. that I needed to keep updating so that you would be "in" on my life since I'm horrible at calling people and we (sadly) shan't be having kitchen conversations any more (that whole Hillsdale-D.C. distance thing). I thus dedicate this most likely unnecessarily long blog post to you-- I hope it livens up your Monday work day!

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