10 Things We Know You Did Last Summer

1) Bluebooked at 1 a.m. the day that OCI went live.

And now you’re already complaining about the classes you were so excited about.

2) Searched for the Toad’s of whatever city you were in.

And then realized there’s no place like Toad’s.

3) Talked about what a relief it was to be in the “real world.”

It’s so nice to escape from all the pressures of having no responsibilities.

4) Actually missed Yale Dining.

You got a craving for tofu apple scramble, probably while eating a bread sandwich in your kitchen.

5) Picked up a hobby you’ve already given up.

Knitting, playing the oboe, sleeping.

6) Said “let’s Skype” to 15 different people, then never did.

It’s the summer version of “let’s get a meal sometime.”

7) Tried to avoid telling the other interns what school you went to.

But subtly implied that it was somewhere really prestigious.

8) “Found yourself ” in a foreign country.

You just love the lifestyle there so much. It’s, like, so laid back.

9) Realized your “dream job” is actually soul-crushingly boring.

This one applies only to those working in finance or consulting.

10) Killed somebody.

Just kidding. Unless you’re Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Cynthia Zarin

Cynthia Zarin is a Senior Lecturer in English and Creative Writing. She currently teaches “Profiles and Portraits” and “Writing the Contemporary Essay.” Born in 1959, she graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and received an M.F.A. degree in writing from Columbia. Her collections of poetry include “The Swordfish Tooth” (1989), “Fire Lyric” (1993), and “The Watercourse” (2002), the last of which was selected for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She has also written extensively for the New Yorker and was a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship awardee.

Writing today needs more …

Reading. Books are the best teachers. And revision. I never get anywhere until at least the third draft.

If you could meet one character from a novel, who would it be?

Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey. I love mysteries. How wonderful that someone else figures it all out!

If you could ask President Obama one question, what would it be?

Stop pandering?

You can’t live without?

Alas, I have to say it, coffee.

What is your favorite word and why?

I remember being asked that question in third grade and answering: meander. I still like it, a wandry word with the taste of mead. I don’t think I’ve ever used it — written down, that is. Too shimmery.

How do you take your coffee?

Regular, no sugar. But I’m from New York.

What’s the most difficult piece you’ve ever had to write?

Whatever comes next! In the past, probably a profile I wrote for The New Yorker about Madeleine L’Engle, who turned out to be someone other than I thought she might be. But that’s always true.

Do you have a Facebook account? Why or why not?

No. It wouldn’t occur to me.

What is your favorite memory of Yale?

With a group of students, turning a class assignment, “Twenty Questions” in English 457 (“Profiles and Portraits”) into a one-act theater piece performed at the JE Theater.

If you could go back to college now what would you do differently?

I wouldn’t worry so much about what people thought of me. Now, that was preoccupying!

What’s your favorite New Haven establishment?


The most embarrassing moment of your career was …

Interviewing a naked woman posing as Lady Godiva. She was riding a horse.

What advice do you have for Yale Students?

Find something you love and do that. Be kind. Listen.

Most importantly, why is Yale better than Harvard?

Well, well. Do we have to go there? Aren’t you all tired of that question yet?


1) “Let’s get a meal sometime!”

Let’s not.

2) “I go to school in New Haven.” That’s in Massachusetts, right?

3) “So, what are you doing this summer?”

How about we talk about it in September when you ask me how my summer went.

4) “I haven’t slept in [insert # here] [insert unit of time here]!” If unit of time is hours, don’t expect me to be impressed.

5) “There is no food in the dining hall.”

Really? None? None at all?

6) “Sorry, can’t tonight! Sillidinner with my sillisibs.”

I guess I’m eating Trumbalone.

7) snaps in conversation

Well, I guess it’s better than clapping in conversation.

8) “Excuse me, are you Jewish?”

If I’m not, can I still go on Birthright?

9) “Sorry, can’t tonight! I’ve got society.”

And it’s really secret, so don’t tell anybody.

10) “That’s why I chose —”

Stop it. Now.

– Magazine Staff

Things You Hate About Your T.A.

1) Not hot

Is a pretentious twit, doesn’t have James Franco’s winning smile.

2) Asks you to lead section next week

Wait, isn’t that, like, your job?

3) Two words: reading responses

Five words: I didn’t do the reading!

4) No laptops in section

But J.Crew has a 50 percent off sale — I mean, I want to take copious notes.

5) Reminds you of your depressing future post-Yale

That is, if I don’t get that consulting job.

6) Thinks the section asshole’s comments are deeply insightful

Can’t you see he’s just a slightly better bullshitter than the rest of us?

7) Terrible office hours

4:15-4:32 p.m. on Prospect Street.

8) Is hot …

But refuses to take you to GPSCY.

9) Only reads paper drafts turned in two weeks in advance

And when I actually manage to send it in on time, he replies, “This looks good.”

10) Calls on you when you’re not raising your hand

I still didn’t do the reading.

-Magazine Staff

Langdon Hammer ’80 GRD ’89

Langdon Hammer ’80 GRD ’89 has reviewed poetry for the New York Times and The American Scholar, in addition to editing “Hart Crane: Complete Poetry and Selected Letters.” He earned both his B.A. and PhD in English from Yale and currently teaches the popular lecture “Daily Themes” and the seminar “The World of James Merrill.” He is now working on a biography of the poet James Merrill.

Writing today needs more …

Time. There’s a Slow Food movement. Why not a Slow Writing movement? Not that we ought to go back to typewriters and longhand. But electronic writing in its many forms is about speed — speed of composition, publication, reading, response; and writing that is worth rereading, which is also to say worth writing, takes time. “First thought, best thought.” Maybe, but not the best writing.

If you could ask President Obama one question, what would it be?

“What happened, man?”

The last thing you ate/drank was …

A $1 coffee from Atticus.

If you could meet one character from a novel, who would it be?

Gregor Samsa, Kafka’s man-sized beetle.

What is the most difficult piece you’ve ever had to write?

The first chapter of my PhD dissertation. Talk about “Slow Writing”! I kept erasing it (I was using a pencil). Every writer needs permission to write, a base of authority that you can only get — paradoxically — by writing. Or to change metaphors: it’s the problem of the train that has to lay its own track. Things got easier for me, as they do for most writers who persist. Yet you never get out of that problem altogether. You just get better at laying down track.

If you could go to college right now, what would you do differently?

Go to all the home hockey games.

How do you take your coffee?

Early and often.

What is your favorite word and why?

“Still.” Five letters you can use to speak of time, space, and intensity, to insist or to allay. Shakespeare understood its spell: “What you do still betters what is done … Move still, still so, and own no other function.” There’s instilling and distilling. To say nothing about Grandpa’s still-out back. But ask me that tomorrow and I’ll have another answer.

Do you have a Facebook account? Why or why not?

I do, and I don’t know why.

The most embarrassing moment of your career was …

I’m pretty sure it hasn’t happened yet. Tell me that it won’t be this interview.

What is your favorite Yale memory?

That’s tough, because a lot of my memories are Yale memories. But how about this: Geoffrey Hartman and Paul De Man taking turns reading “Ode on a Grecian Urn” for two hours in front of (gasping) freshmen on the first day of the spring semester, 1977.

Most importantly, why is Yale better than Harvard?

Cole Porter wrote our fight song.

Apology to Sister

Props are used in

rituals and

jokes. Hers was a mango.

Each time she peeled us

one, she’d say the only messless

place to eat the fruit

was sitting naked in the bathtub.

Naked but we didn’t know it,

two peeled mangos bathing

in the park’s summer-heated

fountain. That day our clothes walked

off with some stranger, we got home okay,

but realized in the elevator,

too blushed to fight over the button up.

We shared the mango but fought

for the pit, who could shave the last

or most meat off

with their teeth. When we split sodas

the one who took the last

sip was accused of drinking the

whole thing.

I’m sorry, I thought I found a new way to sit shiva

but I can’t import the ritual

or the memories as fruit.

I’ve taken all our mangoes

& locked myself in the bathroom.

Don’t bother me,

I’m not proper

till I’ve finished them.

Be patient, I’m peeling

careful not to waste the fruit.

I’m sorry I’m not taking

visitors. I’m running

the tub with mango juice

thicker than water.

I need something

to cover up

my shoulders.

I’m ridiculous?

You forgot the story

of grandma’s favorite joke!

This ritual is about memory,

going back

over it and placing you

where you belong.

Listening for Summer’s Hot, Dry Karaoke

Giggles germinate and grow like goose grass

in between my synaptic gaps, neurons now a hunk

of handicapped hash brown yap. Inside, I can’t

think. Inside, the smell of juniper vibrates within

my joints until July joins June in a kiss; trapped until

the cicadas kreek!kreek! summer’s hot, dry karaoke.

When I finally lie with my legs in the light, the loudest


the sound of my mind melting over lime stone to mix

with rusty mud. Outside, nestled beneath mesquite,

napping near palo verde, nose in the ocotillo: outside

open sky open lungs open: I can’t breathe out.

Pretentious Summer Internships

1) Rick Santorum’s political campaign The frothy mixture of family values and violating the separation of church and state that is the product of trying to get into politics.

2) CERN: European Organization for Nuclear Research When you enter the Large Hadron Collider, the fate of the world is in your hands. Please don’t blow us up.

3) The New York Times 202 York is drooling over this one. But it’s not pretentious, it’s making the world a better place!

4) Bain & Company Consulting Follow in Mitt’s hallowed footsteps. This internship is yours to lose — like South Carolina.

5) Congressional internships This one gets a nine percent approval rating. For people who enjoy working for douchebags but don’t like finance.

6) Google Sign away all of your ideas. Especially for Google Doodles.

7) Goldman Sachs Occupy the one percent. No, just kidding, you’re doing it because you’re really interested in investment banking. You don’t even know how much the job pays, honestly.

8) The State Department The only way to make an EP&E major more pretentious. Just be careful about that background check.

9) Anything in China Like our economy really needs any more sabotaging. Why do you hate Amurrica?

10) The Yale Farm Where the hipsters flock like sheep. Ah, the sweet, tantalizing aroma of organic carrots.

– Magazine Staff

J.D. McClatchy

J.D. McClatchy is the author of three collections of essays, six books of poems, and 13 libretti. Winner of the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, he has served as the institute’s president since 2009. McClatchy has taught at Princ- eton, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, and Yale, where he is editor of the Yale Review.

You can’t live without …

Music — though my tastes are rather highbrow. Opera is a passion, and the moment before the Met’s gold curtain parts — well, that moment is my drug of choice. I should add that my favorite singer is Ella Fitzgerald.

Writing today needs more …


If you could ask President Obama one question, what would it be?

“Why have you made your re-election so difficult?”

The last thing you ate/drank was …

A stingingly cold martini.

If you could meet one character from a novel, who would it be?

Julien Sorel. (And if I could meet an author, it would be Tolstoy. Better yet, if I could sleep with an author, on the theory that I could thereby learn more about his imagina- tion, it would be John Keats.)

What is the most difficult piece you’ve ever had to write?

Whatever poem I am working on at the moment always seems the most difficult, because I am never sure I know where I should be going to get to the right ending. Right now, I seem halfway through a poem about a collection of hands I have assembled over the years — little reproductions, or things chopped from statues. A few months ago, I held my mother’s hand, a few hours after she had died. I want to link these, and right now that seems difficult.

If you could go to college right now, what would you do differently?

I never had sex while I was in college.

How do you take your coffee?

Every morning I have a double espresso with a dol- lop of half and half.

Do you have a Facebook account? Why or why not?

No. There are too many ways already for strangers to contact me about things I have no interest in. Why add another? Finding solitude … is there an account for that I can sign up for?

The most embarrassing moment of your career was …

Finalists for the Los Angeles Times Book Award are asked to schlep out to LA and sit in the audi- ence while some stooge announces the winners in various categories. Some years ago, I made the effort because I was certain my book would win. It didn’t, and watching the winner flounce to the stage — the author of a much inferior book, but she was a woman with women judges in the majority — galled me. At least I learned never to show up at such an occasion ever again.

What advice do you have for Yale students?

They already know what’s best — discipline, curios- ity, an unrelenting devotion to excellence, and a strong moral conscience.

Most importantly, why is Yale better than Harvard?

Harvard has always gloated about the sense of privilege it confers. Yale is proud of the sense of responsibility it instills.