Ben Trachtenberg, Yale

Ben Trachtenberg, Yale

A weeklong electronic journal.
Oct. 10 1997 3:30 AM

Ben Trachtenberg, Yale

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       I had my 9:30 math class again today. I would complain about getting up so early on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, but my first class on Tuesdays and Thursdays starts at 9. I had known that I would have a math midterm eventually, but I was shocked to learn this morning that it will be next Friday.
       Over a leisurely breakfast of my sugar cereal du jour, I read in the Yale Daily News that Jonathan Spence, a Yale professor of Chinese history, recently declared a new book about an Italian's 13th-century trip to China to be a fraud. I remember hearing about the book a while ago, and it amuses me that it turned out to be an elaborate hoax.
       Today's literature lecture concerned The Bacchae, a play by the Greek tragedian Euripides. I don't like The Bacchae as much as Sophocles' Antigone. The inevitable doom resulting from Antigone's and Creon's clash of obstinate wills seems more relevant to the human experience than Euripides' divinely guided story line.
       I returned to my room from lunch intending either to read Plato or to complete my weekly math problem-set (my problem-set is due every Friday, and my humanities papers are due on three Fridays out of four). Unfortunately I fell asleep holding Republic. I got a little math done before meeting my girlfriend for dinner.
       I battled Calculus in Vector Spaces, my textbook, for another hour after dinner, but I had to stop at 8. Wednesday night is Movie Night in the Lair (my suite, LA12, has been called "The Lair" for years. If the 2 is replaced with an "R," the name reads LA1R), and tonight we showed Independence Day. We started early so that people could attend the Ezra Stiles' Naples night, which started at 10 (Naples is a local pizza place known for underage drinking). I annoyed the small crowd by occasionally stopping the film to check the Orioles' progress. (They won 3-0.)
       After the movie, I went to my girlfriend's room, where we discussed how long it takes to truly know someone, our memories of kindergarten, and the Yale language requirement (two years of class or the equivalent). When I came back to my room, I saw the results of Naples night: Two girls, one more drunk than the other, were chatting with a guy in my common room. Soon, the drunker girl vomited, mostly into a trash can.

Ben Trachtenberg is a freshman at Yale University.

(Note: Earlier this semester, the "Yale Five" announced that, in defiance of school policy, they were refusing to live in the campus dormitories because living in co-ed quarters violated their Orthodox Jewish beliefs. Last week, an MIT freshman died of alcohol poisoning at a fraternity party after having consumed about 16 drinks. Have our nation's elite colleges become hotbeds of binge drinking and sexual abandon? SLATE's diarists this week tell us what life at these top schools is really like.)