It’s common this time of the year for seniors to consider all the things they’re going to miss about Yale. The real world is shockingly devoid of grassy quadrangles, 3 a.m. Wenzels and outdoor concerts on spring Tuesday afternoons.
Being the contrarian that Yale has taught me to be, I’ve also recently been thinking about the things I’m not going to miss about this place. When I leave New Haven, I’ll happily say goodbye to sugar-free Red Bulls, individual study carrels and flats blackened by the Toad’s dance floor. But perhaps the single thing I will miss least about Yale is its stress.
I know — or at least have been told — that the real world is stressful, too. But, neophyte though I may be, I have this hunch I’m going to experience less anxiety during the next year than I have during the last four. Don’t get me wrong: I love Yale. If you gave me the option to return to my freshman year room come September, I’d have my shower shoes and boyfriend pillow in the trunk of my parents’ car within minutes. But for me, there’s something about this place that has always produced a specific species of unshakeable Yale stress.
For my final Bucket List installment, I thought I’d bid a stylish farewell to this strain of anxiety. With just over a week before my senior writing project was due, I walked up to the desk at the Lillian Goldman Law Library and giggled as I announced, “Um, I’m here to check out the dog.”
Monty is a Jack Russell-border terrier mix, a trained therapy dog, and over the last year he has given Handsome Dan a run for his money as most famous dog on Yale’s campus. Monty’s March 2011 arrival for a pilot program at Yale Law School was splashed across media outlets from The New York Times to Good Morning America. On Thursday, April 12, I wasn’t only relieving stress. I was meeting a Yale celebrity.
Bass Library is where I’ve always gone when I want my studying with a side of socializing. The Law Library is where I’ve always gone when I’m so anxious about finishing a paper or studying for an exam that I don’t want to see anyone I know. I hope I’ll be able to soak up some of the intensity of all those polo-clad 20-somethings by osmosis. For me, it’s only fitting that Monty lives in the Law School.
When I had signed up for my slot with the dog the previous week, a few things were made clear. I would not be allowed to walk Monty or take him outside. I would be shown to a room and given about half an hour to frolic with him. I could bring friends.
I petted Monty along with two people close both to me and to this column: Vivian Yee ’12, former editor-in-chief of the News, and Kate Lund ’12, who’s been writing on alternating weeks (and to whom I must give credit for first adding the stress dog to her bucket list). The three of us met Monty in the office of his owner, access services librarian Julian Aiken. We sat on a couch and put Monty on our laps. We fed him biscuits and yelled “Sit!” and “Down!” like versions of ourselves a decade younger would have done.
Kate called the experience “nice.” Vivian enjoyed the simple act of making Monty happy. But I found myself heading back to work in the Law School Library (yes, it was one of those days) surprised that I actually felt less stressed. Though Monty was cute, I decided it wasn’t really the dog that had cheered me up. It was the wholly random nature of the experience, the weirdness that had attracted all of those media outlets — it was so comical, so weird, so Yale.
And so, if I might offer a bit of unsolicited advice in this final installment: Underclassmen, don’t find yourself with too long of a Bucket List. My mom tells me that exercise will clear my brain and help me study better. What I’ve found this semester is that just as Yale has its own species of stress, it also has its own species of unwinding in all the strange, quirky events, engagements and activities that it uniquely offers. Explore old books and brains and stand in the corner of a dodgeball game. Find yourself a half-hour with a different variant of Monty every day.
Use Yale’s oddities to remedy its stresses. Just don’t procrastinate until second semester senior year to do so.
Zara Kessler is a senior in Ezra Stiles College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.