Little Wolf On Campus

(Disclaimer: This title, while playing off the cliche “big wolf on campus,” is really intended to play off the brilliant but short-lived Fox Family show “Big Wolf on Campus.” However, the only connection between this and the show–despite my devoted, sometimes obsessive love of Halloween–is the play on the title. Werewolves will not come up anywhere in this blog, besides here. No Brandon Quinn, either. Sorry.)

It took me about a month and a half, and a couple of hours, but I’d finally exhausted my options.

My wallet was feeling pretty light. My coffee addiction was starting to eat everything in its sight–more or less literally–and the lack of outlets at the Starbucks in Union Square1 had begun to eat up all my battery.

It was time for me to go to the library.

Not just any library, to be precise. The New School Library. A library that was just minutes away from one of my most favorite, most frequented parts of Manhattan. A library in which I’d been briefly back in March, when I was on a very quick tour.

While exploring, my guide had accidentally set off an alarm. She and our group of four had awkwardly fled the premises. I recalled feeling embarrassed for her–I could easily see that happening to me as a tour guide, just when I was feeling the most sure about myself.

That was pretty much the extent of my experience at The New School Library.

So as my Macbook laptop charge amount seemed to leak percentage faster than my wallet has been leaking money, the crowd in the coffee shop began to grow and grow. It was an inverse relationship, spurred into existence due to the fact that a Saturday thunderstorm was under way.

I had to make a decision. I Googled The New School library’s Saturday hours.

Earlier that day, I had had my first voluntary Saturday seminar with a fabulous 78 year-old writer who basically talked for 2 1/2 hours about writing and surrealism and life. It was fascinating, and wonderful to be surrounded by people who also found it fascinating on a Saturday afternoon. So I was feeling fabulous, naturally, being all “truly devoted” to my chosen art form (pft).

Earlier that week, I’d decided to attend a fitness class that I am/will be in the future (i.e. loans) paying for. It was HIIT, a class I remembered signing people up for when I worked at UNC’s Campus Rec over the last three years, which I believe stands for High Intensity Interval Training. HIIT was one of the specialty fitness classes that had cost money for students at UNC–so I hadn’t done it. But here, it’s  “free,” so I figured, why not?2

Both of these things were telling me I had so many resources at my fingertips. I might as well reap their benefits for the next three years.

Add this to the fact that upon Googling what else I’m entitled to as a grad student, I learned that I am automatically given $150 in printing money–something that I was definitely not informed of earlier–and I needed to print out my first writing assignment.

With all of these facts in mind, I set out with my pathetic 15-something-percent charged laptop, walked a couple blocks, and found myself at the library.

Which is kind of intimidating, considering my old stomping grounds. My drink of choice at UNC was Davis Library–particularly during my first 2 1/2 years at UNC (before I discovered the Health Sciences Library and the Starbucks in the hospital). And my Carolina comrades can understand where I’m coming from when I say that my standards for libraries after Davis Library are pretty low in a materialistic sense. Let’s be honest: Even though Davis is “the graduate student library,” it’s kind of in crappy condition.

But I still have a fond spot for good ole Davis. Let me travel down memory lane (er, four months back) and revisit the things that made Davis so special…

1) How only one door (I believe it was the right?) opened, and so you always had to go through that one. Correct me if I’m wrong.

2) How awesome and great it (sort of) looked from the outside, with big comfy chairs facing the large glass windows and the looks of people really engrossed in their work (i.e. Facebook, Tinder)…

3)…and then you went inside, and that illusion was completely shattered. But you stayed, because of its homeliness…

4)…but also because the elevators took you about three days to get to the fourth floor. I mean, really.

4) The smell of the stacks on the floors 6 & up.

5) The weird little lockers that people must have stored their things in at one point in time–maybe the sixties–but now just seems fitting for stray body parts or dead Carolina squirrels.

I could go on, but I realize my “fondness” may be hard to understand for non-Carolina students. So I digress.

The New School Library is luxurious, new, shiny, bright. You go through one set of heavy, working doors to go into another set of heavy, working doors and there are security guards and turnstiles, like you’re going on the subway. A really fancy subway with six floors and then some–some of which are undergraduate dorms.

Except the turnstiles don’t turn–they’re the new and improved turnstiles, the ones for which you have to swipe your ID on a black strip that then goes green in order for its little metal arms to open, welcoming you into its luxurious, new, shiny atmosphere.

That’s how it should go.

On my first day in, I tried to get a look at the person going in before me, studying the technique like I was about to go pole vaulting for the first time–the position of the ID, how high you hold it, face up or face down?–but that person moved so fast that I missed it. I probably could have figured it out, but not wanting to spend even ten seconds looking like a freshman and wanting to hurry up and get my assignment done, I skipped any solo attempts and walked to the security desk (as if that made me look even less like a freshman).

“Can you help me?” I asked. He didn’t respond; he did it and handed it to me. I think they were watching football.

It took me up to about when I was going up in the luxurious, new, shiny elevator to realize that I hadn’t really watched him do it. So I still wasn’t sure how to get in. It was a problem for another day.

The next day I was somehow able to get in with no difficulty, but then getting out was a problem. The door through which I’d gone Saturday, the one that went directly out of the lobby instead of making me go back through the dreaded hi-tech turnstiles,  was inexplicably locked. I walked to another set of doors. Locked.

“You can’t go out that way,” said a black guy happening to see my confusion, wearing the same expressionless look that the security guard had worn the previous day. (And, just to note, I’m pretty sure that same security guard was there that day, too, but he hadn’t bothered to tell me the news that the brother told me.)

“So…where can I go out?” I asked, trying to hide my agitation. I just wanted to get out of there. Fast. I’d already unsuccessfully tried two sets of doors and felt like everyone was staring at me like a lost child.

He said plainly, “Through the way you came in,” nodding at something behind me, and kept moving.

I turned. He had indicated the turnstiles. The luxurious, new, shiny turnstiles that led to the two sets of heavy, working doors (i.e. the main doors to the building) and out onto hustling, bustling 5th ave.

I complied with the rules. And as I waited for the little metal arms of the turnstile to sense my movement so they’d open up and let me out, I also sensed that I still had so, so very much to learn.



1My only explanation for this terrible inconvenience is so that people like me won’t stay there for longer than an unplugged Macbook charger using their free Wi-Fi will allow. So, basically, the same reason why places blast their air conditioning.
2The answer to this question of “why not” came up whenever I sat down; whenever I stood up after long amounts of time; whenever I tried to reach for anything that was two inches away from me; whenever I went up stairs; whenever I went down stairs; whenever I stood will; whenever I breathed, etc. I wasn’t un-sore until about a day before the second session of class rolled around. It was a lot easier, though.

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2 thoughts on “Little Wolf On Campus

  1. […] Harris Teeter. The comforting Davis Library to my confusing New School library. The $1.00 Rice-A-Roni to my $1.70 Rice-A-Ron. The fresh air to my cramped city air. How I miss […]


  2. […] into new social situations–going up on stage to introduce a poet at a reading or frequenting a new and scary library, for instance. You’d think that with all of my experience behind a counter greeting hundreds […]


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