In her weekly series, blogger Rebecca Farley lends a platform to the unheard voices on campus. This week, she spoke to the crown jewel of Columbia, Alma Mater.
Getting an interview with Alma Mater is more difficult than one thinks. She sits on Low Steps all day long, it seems, so it shouldn't be that difficult to approach the great lady for interview. But when I met with our campus icon, it had been three months and a miles-long email chain in the making. Alma doesn't send emails—she has a publicist Gerome who sends out frantic emails on her behalf ("No no no Alma is busy today but maybe in an hour if you come and bring a parasol?! Sorreee must be goinggggg! xoxox, Gerome"). Nor does she much like being interviewed, she tells me.
"I dislike people in general, I suppose." Alma flicks some pigeon poop off her knee and onto a tourist near her feet. "I'm nearly always surrounded by them."
The tourist looks around, befuddled. Alma snorts and looks at me.
"Tourists," she says, by way of explanation.
"Is there any time you get to be alone?" I ask her.
"Mmm?" Alma turns back to me. "Sorry, got distracted."
For someone who seemingly stares in one direction all day long, Alma is very unfocused. She frequently changes the topic, asking me what I think of various cultural phenomenons and generally refusing to answer my questions.
"You like Yik Yak?" she asks me. "Ah, fuck!" She jumps in her seat.
"Yeah, just the fucking owl again. She gets restless sometimes." Alma scratches at her thigh and swears under her breath. "What about Tinder? I hear a lot about Tinder."
"No, I don't use Tinder," I answer quickly. "But the owl. Are you guys friends? You and the owl?"
"Hmm? Jesus, it's cold out here." Alma shudders in her seat. "You'd think when they built me they could've given me more than just a bedsheet for clothing, right?" She leans over her armrest and looks down at my conspiratorially. "A gal gets cold out here."
At the moment, it is below 20 degrees and, to the touch, Alma is ice-cold.
"You see those lawns?" She points to the South Lawns.
I nod. The lawns right now are blanketed in a sheet of hardened snow.
"The lawns get some bullshit blankets every winter. Those white sheet things. You'd think they—you know, whoever's in charge at this place—could get me a coat or something." She adjusts her sheet on her shoulder, trying to cover more skin.
"I'm sure that could be arranged," I reassure her.
"'50 Shades of Grey'—worth seeing?"
"I haven't seen it yet," I tell her resignedly.
"Hmm. I've always hated the way Butler Library looks." She yawns and scratches at her thigh again. "You're boring me."
"Darling!" A small man wearing a leather jacket and ski goggle approaches. "Alma, it's Gerome. It's almost time for your interview with Ira Glass."
I straighten my scarf and extend my arm, excited to finally meet Alma's publicist. "I'm Rebecca, we've been in contact for—"
"Yes, yes, yes, I know, I know who you are, darling." He speaks quickly and without looking up from his iPad. "You know, I hope your five has been lovely with Alma, but she's really got to be going, places to be, people to see, chairs to sit in, you know? Not always time for a little reporter, so, you know, on your way!"
Gerome waves his hand in the vague direction of Butler. Bewildered, I mutter a goodbye to Alma and start walking down the steps.
"And send me the transcription of the interview," Gerome calls out after me. "I'll need to look it over—publicity is not easy!"
Rebecca Farley is a junior who very much wants her own publicist so he can be like NO NO NO TALKING TO REBECCA SHE IS BUSY WATCHING NETFLIX NOW COME BACK AT 2.