Saturday, November 5, 2011


as an RA, i know when i can swing a hall program and when i can't.

a good hall program: community service. that won't draw anybody.

a passable hall program: pizza party with brick decorating. that'll get the whole hall if you say there's pizza.

my hall program for november, well, that wasn't going to fly. but i decided to do it anyway.

mitchell hall decided it was going to make november an all-hall, and they were proposing something slightly insane.


so the first question that must be answered is this: what on earth is box-out? now that box-out is over, i'm still pretty sure that three quarters of my small campus still doesn't know.

box-out is exactly what it sounds like: putting a box outside. it's a homelessness awareness activity. for an entire night, can you sleep outside in a cardboard box? in november? in michigan?

honestly, those goes with my laziness. i didn't particularly want to plan a hall program in november, and morgan told me that other RAs were more than welcome to join mitchell. so i thought, what the heck, why not join them? sleeping in a box sounds like fun. to me, anyway. i find a lot of things that are terrifying to be fun and a lot of things that are fun to be terrifying.

welcome to my life.

to help the homeless (because honestly, sleeping outside in a box isn't going to do jack squat), the cost to get in and sleep in your box was a can of food or two dollars. i appealed to my hall and got minimal response. this was to be expected. finally, two days before the actual date, i got three girls who said they'd give it a try. so i went out and bought them each a can of kidney beans for their admittance and hoped that they would show up.

two of them did. hall program, in the eyes of the handbook, was successful.

but this isn't even about whether i got my residents to come and if we raised homelessness awareness on campus, this is about the adventure and awesomeness that was box-out.

the first hour was spent shoving boxes into ruth's van bertha. we had so many boxes it was startling. six of us made three trips from the mitchell basement up to the parking lot where jacob spend a decent amount of time wiggling them in. we were afraid to open the doors and the trunk.

ruth then trundled bertha over to the chapel lawn while garrett, chelsea, and jacob and i struggled with all of our blankets, pillows, and the rest of the boxes. three feet from gelston, the gigantic box that we'd thrown all of our stuff into split in half. chelsea was slightly distressed as she had claimed that box for sleeping.

we then spent another half hour unloading all of the boxes into a gigantic pile and getting the speakers to function. we had a gigantic can on cinder blocks for a fire, but security wouldn't let us light it by ourselves. our wood pile to keep the fire going seemed pretty sufficient. the key word in that sentence is seemed.

before i move on, it is time to address my apparel.

emily was wearing:

1. leggings.
2. sweatpants.
3. cami.
4. long sleeved shirt.
5. sweatshirt.
6. swim team jacket.
7. hobo gloves.
8. ACSD hat.
9. fuzzy socks.

once the sun set, oh lord, did it get chilly. lucky for me, i still had one more coat to put on, and jacob and i had supplied two blankets and a pillow for our meager little box that we were sharing.

when the clock chimed seven, we began to construct our new homes for the night. because of the temperature, we agreed to go inside at two, but that didn't put a damper on our suddenly homeless spirits. we had tape, paint, other various things for decorations, and of course, plenty of boxes.

we set to work.

jacob and i quickly found the biggest and most stable box. it was perfectly square and probably about four feet by four feet. we secured it with tape, found a teeny box, and stuck that on top as the chimney. jacob made a small sign that said "for gabe" (his actually homeless friend in kalamazoo) and then we set to work decorating. jacob painted on windows and i painted the house and the chimney yellow. by this time it was definitely getting dark and the only light we had was the bonfire and a measley street lamp that lit up the path to the chapel. i'm pretty sure that in daylight, our box looked mightly ugly. but in the fiery darkness, our box felt awesome.

it looked even more awesome when jacob laid down the blankets and pillows and stuck his tea and my vitamin water inside. home sweet home.

the middle part of my story is not that exciting. we stood around the fire all bundled up with our little box city behind us, listening to music. we told stories and laughed and made ourselves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. we learned facts about homelessness that were shocking and scary. we disproved myths about homelessness. we had some residents come and build boxes, we had some say hi and eat our food. we were cold bundled up kids proud of our cardboard houses.

then jacob and i decided it was time for bed.

so remember when i said our box was four by four?

i am not four feet tall. i am five foot nine.

jacob is not four feet tall. he is six foot four.

but somehow, both us of managed to squeeze together in this ridiculous perfect curled up position with the blanket over us. could we move? absolutely not. we were comfortable? maybe for the first ten minutes. we were warm?


we spent a good three hours curled up in that box together. we attempted to sleep and did a pretty decent job. we made terrible jokes about how this was our first house. we lamented that the chimney didn't have a hole, so our frozen breath couldn't furl out of it like smoke. we were happy and warm and in terrible leg pain, cramped in that teeny box.

we stayed in that box until one in the morning. by the time that we emerged into the freezing twenty-seven degree weather, the fire was almost out and all of the other boxes had been torn down and used to fuel the fire during the last hour of the program. we had definitely run straight through that firewood.

i feel like this blog should have a good conclusion. i feel like this blog wasn't quite that great. maybe i was supposed to tie in some awesome life lesson like i did when we played the game of life, but honestly what i gathered was this.

1. you can have a lot of fun spreading awareness for things.
2. sleeping in a cardboard box in twenty-seven degree weather sucks.

so i'm just going to end this blog with some pictures for your enjoyment.




our box. equipped with the chimney.
 yes. we both fit in that box, closed it up, and slept. :)

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