When I first got involved with Tuesday Group, it was amazing. Let's start with some background. My first year of college, I spent the first semester pretty much holed up in my room, playing the Sims and Neopets and that sort of thing. I mean, I fenced and went to AGP meetings and had a few so-so friends so I wasn't a total hermit, but I basically stayed in my room most of the time and went to bed early every night (like at 10, I hadn't grown out of my high school bed time). And then one day during the second semester activities fair, I was sitting at the fencing table. And this girl with a maniacal expression was headed straight for Minerva (my foil)... so that's how I met Jen S. who is now Jen H. but will be called Jen S. since that's who she was when this all happened. Anyway, we became friends through fencing, and one evening after practice, we were leaving and talking about being English majors and that sort of thing, and she told me about Tuesday Group and asked if I wanted to come along that night.
Wow. That's all I can say. I knew I had found my niche. That night, I met a bunch of new people, many that I'd become good friends with (like Nick and Anne and others), and it was writingtastic and stuff. That night, I walked back to my dorm with Jen S., Anne, and I think Nick who was headed in the same direction, and we were doing the "In the past" monologue from Into the Woods (something Megan and I always recited in high school), and I ended up getting back to my room at like 1 am, and my roommate demanded to know where I had been (since I think I had only returned late once before, when I was watching The Goonies across the hall in my friend Julie's room). But I was happy.
Afterwards, I started leaving my room more often, going to Tuesday Group and then Argo and actually hanging out with people, and I wasn't as much of a hermit. Sophomore year rolled around, bringing the awesomeness we all know as Ben, and that year, I joined Golem, which was still being published and full of fun stuff that students wrote. It was a good year, and both groups thrived and were fun. I think it's because both groups had solid leadership and didn't take themselves too seriously.
But then junior year was different. The writers' house moved from the red house near the library (now the AGP house) to the old Spanish house, the big white house north of the campus center, and it was more out of the way. That year, several of the people I lived with weren't involved with either of the groups. Jess D., Carolyn, Sarah S., and Jamie were involved with Golem, which was fine, and they occasionally came to Tuesday Group. But Katie S., Sean, and Darrell weren't involved. I know a few other people wanted to live in the house that year, but for some reason the people in charge of getting the house put their friends first. I mean, I almost didn't get to live there, but someone withdrew at the last moment. I think Tuesday Group really declined that year. In previous years, Emily F. ran the meetings, and all was well, but she graduated. Then Emily S. took over, and she was often busy with her comp and that sort of thing, so Tuesday Group sort of fell out of power. I don't want to say anything negative about Emily S., but I think the group would have been better off in a better leader's hands that year. A lot of the regulars had graduated, and it was hard finding new people that would actually stick around. Though we did have a good turnout that first meeting of the year. I remember when we were doing introductions, Emily S. told everyone to say their name, year, and why they wanted to make out with Ade. I still remember people's responses to that (half said it was because of the fairy wings I wore during the open house, that fateful party where Derek's roommate, Matt G., kept following me around even though I tried to make it very clear that I had a cold and would infect him with the plague). Even some of my housemates showed up. But afterwards, participation dropped, and my housemates came to Golem (which was still decent at that point), but not Tuesday Group. We also used to have events like poetry readings and such, but those eventually stopped.
I think the divide sprouted that year too. There were the Tuesday Groupers, those who had fun with writing, the Allegheny Review people, those who took it more seriously, and then Golem, which sort of combined the two. At that point, everyone was getting along, but Tuesday Group's reputation had sort of fallen by the wayside and people who took writing seriously didn't show up. I mean, I take it seriously to some extent, but I also like to have fun with it, and to me, that's what Tuesday Group was for.
We had a hard time finding people to live at the house senior year. It wouldn't have been a problem if we had a smaller house, because we definitely could have found 4 dedicated writers to live there. But since it was a huge house that could have held 8 or 9 people, finding others was a problem, and since I was in charge of getting the house that year, I finally had to resort to bugging the Argo folks to live there. Many of the people living there had been involved with the writing community to some extent, but we just barely got the house. And when I met with He-Bakken about it, he started berating Tuesday Group and saying nobody took it seriously any more and that sort of thing. I told him if he cared about the group, he could come to a meeting and see what really went on, but he insisted that he was leaving it up to the students. Bah.
Ben was a good Tuesday Group leader. The thing is, though, by that time hardly anyone came to meetings since the professors had stopped supporting us and the reputation had fallen. So we had good meetings, even if there were just a handful of us. But Golem pretty much burst into flames and died, and attempts to resurrect it were often pathetically unsuccessful. The divide had really become apparent, and it pissed me off.
After I graduated, the writers' house moved to a different house again, this time smaller and with mainly review people. Ben lived there too and ran the group, and I still went since I lived in Meadville that year. But once again, the group lacked participation, and the group kind of died off after a while. Even though it was fun while it lasted.
This year there's no writers' house. Apparently He-Bakken was livid about this, even though he provided no support the whole time, and what did he expect would happen? But apparently there's a new version of Tuesday Group up and running, only Chris S. is running it (he tried to resurrect Golem before, with little success) and not allowing anyone to have fun. I haven't been to any meetings since I'm away from Meadville, but I think this project is doomed. What was once a thriving writing community on campus is now a dying phoenix that can't seem to live for a few moments after emerging from the ashes.
What can I say? I was involved with the writing community in my years at Allegheny, and I think I did my part. I'm not much of a leader, so I avoided those positions, and I doubt the community would have thrived even if I had stepped up. I did my part. And now that I'm gone, I hope the writing community will eventually resurrect itself, only not so pathetically. But I don't think that's going to happen if Chris S. tries to run it. And the professors certainly aren't helping.
Well, the good years are over. Maybe when I finally find a decent job and move, there will be a decent local writing community I can join. And if not, well, I don't think I'd be any good at starting one, but there's always the internet where we still thrive. And let's not forget Alpha! Weeeee!
And by the way, thanks, Jen. You helped make college awesome for me. You rock.
Ack. I spent so much time typing that I'm running low on time, and I have to be somewhere in an hour. Bye!