It's safe to say that my first first year of graduate school was not all sunshine and butterflies. Not by a long shot. But there were some moments of genuine delight and many of them occurred thanks to one particular club on campus that I (thankfully) found early on. This was where I found people who saw the world just a little differently and who I felt like myself around. These people felt like home in a sea of fear and confusion and for that I am grateful.
I believe so much in this home for the dreamers and change-makers that I decided to run for the executive board. I wanted so badly to help keep this place alive for other students to find a home in that I swallowed my nerves and submitted my nomination.
The nerves came because I do not have a great track record when it comes to elected positions. In the 7th grade I ran for Treasurer of my middle school and the night before my big speech, my cat (who at the time I readily identified as my best friend) was hit by a car and died. I was devastated. But I got up on stage with my speech crumpled in my sweaty little hand and did my best. I didn't win. I found out later that someone circulated a rumor that my cat hadn't really died and I just told people that for pity votes. Middle school girls can be cruel.
For those who know me in real life (and not just the internet) it might alarm you to hear that as a little kid I was actually painfully shy (I know). But somewhere towards the end of middle school, I found my voice. This didn't mean that I always knew how or when to use it (although, as usual, there's some gendered stuff in here that I'll unpack another day). I think I hit peak "opinionated" at some point in college and I've been mellowing out ever since. For many years I was just a bit of an acquired taste. I was often appointed to positions by teachers (especially if some kind of social justice was involved - law & order wasn't just a great TV show but a rule to live by) but rarely elected by popular vote. Now that I'm an adult (!) I have enough self-awareness (on most days) to listen more and talk less, something I have been practicing diligently at graduate school (and am successful at, on most days).
The good news is that this particular election went my way and I had my very own Sally Field moment and now the real work begins. But before it did we had a lovely brunch with the outgoing and incoming club executives and obviously the occasion called for a jello mold.
I took what I already had in my apartment - a box of raspberry Jell-O, fresh strawberries, and a bottle of lime Perrier - to make something fizzy and easy and required just the right amount of effort for a grad student. I used only half the total water prescribed and replaced the cold water with the Perrier, stirring in the sliced strawberries once it had gelled a bit in the fridge.
Et voilà! An attractive and fitting addition to any brunch.