September 2004

My place


After taking a red-eye to Boston, with a stop-over in Atlanta, my dad and I arrived on Wednesday, September 1st, the week of the Labor Day weekend, with all our luggage (mostly mine — Dad’s is the small carry-on on the left) at my new home for the next year.

We chose to take the red-eye so that we would arrive during the day with enough time for me to walk across campus to the housing office — and then clear across campus in the other direction to make arrangements and pick up the key to the front door.


My place

My front door is on the right side of the center awning. There’s a beautiful big tree that provides shade for almost the whole day, which will be welcome when the weather’s hot (we have no air conditioning).

Holden Green


I’m in a Harvard affiliated housing complex of ten buildings called Holden Green (upper right corner of map), located about 5 blocks from the Design School, the Graduate School of Design, or “GSD” (center of the map), where I’m told that practically all of my time for the next four years will be spent.

On the map above, my building is the third from the left on the bottom row of Holden Green (upper right corner).

The photograph above is a view of the main building (right center building of the complex on the map); my building is to the right of the photo.

There seems to be quite a few nice families with young children so the surroundings are quite safe and pleasant.

Empty room

We arrived to find that when they say “unfurnished” they mean “unfurnished.” There was nothing to sit on except these stairs for the first few days.

Dad and I had to rush around right away to buy a shower curtain and rings, soap, towels, two air mattresses, two sleeping bags, two pillows, two pillowcases, dishes, utensils, teapot, wastebaskets, etc., just so that we could survive the first night or two. It was a good thing Dad rented a car, otherwise it would have been impossible to get what we needed within a reasonable time.

Dumpster chair

After a few days, my roommate’s furniture started arriving from Sears and IKEA, so we had a couple of folding chairs and a bed to sit on and a couple of end tables.

One day, when we were taking turns staying home waiting for expected deliveries, I was on my way back when I spotted a chair next to the dumpster. I told Dad to take a look at it and he agreed that it looked in pretty good condition, so he carried it in to the living room. Then we had at least one comfortable chair to sit on. This was before the end tables arrived so we were using a cardboard box as a table.

Boxes arrived

The day after Labor Day, my packages arrived and I felt like I was finally beginning to “move in” seriously. Also, my DVDs came so it was beginning to feel a lot more like home.

Harvard Square

Dad and I did quite a bit of walking, which is the easiest way to get around Cambridge. This is Harvard Square, where there’s a train stop (on the right behind the man with the blue shirt) at the southwest corner of Harvard Yard, the main part of the campus. The building in the center is Lehman Hall, containing Dudley House and the Center for Lifelong Learning; it’s on the southwest corner of Harvard Yard.

Driving is confusing because of the many one-way streets in an illogical layout, the strange timing of pedestrian crossing signals, the many “squares” (where two or usually more roads intersect, although none of are actually “square”) around which the town is organized, and the fact that you can’t park anywhere on the street (even briefly) unless you have a parking permit.

This apparently means that if we had decided to drive across country in a truck filled with my belongings we wouldn’t have been able to park it to unload it, or park it on the street before we could return it. As it is the rental car didn’t come with a permit so we wouldn’t have been able to park it anywhere were it not for a very nice neighbor who lent us his visitor permit and told me how to apply for my own.

I called City Hall and found out that they required two items as proof that I lived there. They suggested utility bills, etc., but of course I wouldn’t have any of those for another month. Then they suggested that I mail myself two postcards and bring those in, which I did.

Near the end of Dad’s visit we walked to City Hall and got a visitor permit, which will be useful the next time somebody comes to visit me by car.

Peet's Coffee

After discovering on my first trip (for orientation in April) that there’s a very nice Peet’s Coffee (above) and a Trader Joe’s, I thought, “I could live here.”

West gate

Dad walked around campus in the morning and I walked around in the afternoon (the day I found the chair by the dumpster). This is the gate on the west side of Harvard Yard, the main part of campus.

Harvard Yard

Statue of 3 Lies

Views of Harvard Yard, showing the “Statue of Three Lies,” a statue of John Harvard. The inscription on the base says that he founded Harvard on a specific date. John Harvard wasn’t the founder, it wasn’t founded on the date chiseled into the base, and the likeness isn’t of John Harvard — thus, the “three lies.”

Nevertheless, the statue is a popular photo opportunity for visitors.

Memorial Church

Memorial Church in Harvard Yard, where I attended Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services given by Harvard Hillel. During the Jewish holidays, Memorial Church is referred to as “Memshul.”

Memorial Hall

Memorial Hall (not the same as Memorial Church above), a beautiful building with a dining hall and auditorium across the street from the Graduate School of Design.

Tanner Fountain

Tanner Fountain, in front of the Science building and across the street from the north gate of Harvard Yard (above center).