Exactly one year ago, on Pi Day, Caroline Castleman and Sarah Deneher of the Nassau Weekly ventured into uncharted waters: they spent twenty-four hours in Frist Campus Center, a hub of student life, depravity, and culture placed inconspicuously in the middle of Princeton University’s campus. The event, The Big Hoe to pay tribute to Princeton’s illustrious “Frist hoes”*
* Frist hoe: (noun) When you walk into Frist you undoubtedly see this person. They might even live there. They brave the noisy clamor of Late Meal to study, and they live off Boxed Water and pre-packaged chicken tenders. The Big Hoe is dedicated to those who fit this description. We love, respect, and admire you. We see you.
On Pi Day one year later, we, two innocent freshmen, made the decision to follow in Caroline and Sarah’s footsteps. Our task was a superhuman one, and we set out to discover exactly what 24 hours in Frist would do to the human psyche. Our feat began at 10 pm on Wednesday, March 13, and ended at 9:59 pm Thursday, March 14.
In the following article, you’ll vicariously experience our time in Frist through our stream-of-consciousness entries, written over the course of the 24 hours. Take this with a grain of salt: the FDA does not recommend that people spend 24 hours in the campus center. However, with knowledge comes power, and we believe this knowledge must be shared.
For reference, I’m Anika, and I write in Italics!
Hey, I’m Juju! And I write in plain text.
Hour Zero: The Trauma Commences
Anika: 52 minutes in. We made a Triller. My emotions have been running high. Not very many people are here. Our Big-Hoe-Predecessors came to visit us. They chirped some words of wisdom, but furthermore, they made me contemplate this: why am I here? What I am doing? What led to this? What choices have I made?
One of my biggest concerns is as follows: I sleep 10-12 hours a night. I spend a significant amount of my time outdoors. If anyone is, I’m not sure that I, Anika Khakoo, am made for the Frist lifestyle. We’ll see how this goes.
Andrew’s wearing overalls
Staying in Frist takes some balls.
We have Snapple, we have “water”
My parents would not be proud of their daughter.
Neither Anika nor I
Has an understanding why
We have agreed to this endeavor
But we’re here, and stuck, forever.
Hour One: Lines lines lines
This hour, my friend Susan Liu employed us to be her visual arts thesis slaves in exchange for snacks. It’s funny––the fearful pressure to get through the 24 hours has dissipated. I am happy to be here. If I wasn’t a Frist hoe before, I think I am one now. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll venture Frist once again after this.
Our line drawings are rather tawdry
(with Michael, Adam, Susan and Audrey).
And yet we are having fun
Which surprises everyone.
Among all this, I still suspect
That when it’s done, this dumb project
Will birth in me a love of Frist
If something like that can really exist.
Hour Two: Wandering
It’s 12:26 at night. There are officially 3 other people on the Late Meal floor. We’re eating, we’re talking, we’re drinking. And all of our friends are here! I’m having fun thus far.
My friendship with Juju has reached new heights.
Hour Three: Hot Dog Rejujuvenation
Our friends have largely departed. I feel pretty dazed and I’ve also had way too much fun which has shocked me and I also think that I have reached a level of such flippancy that I am cavalier (Andrew’s word) in the face of any and all judgment from exterior beings. That certainly makes for a good time.
But I digress, as I am now diving into the deep waters of philosophical inquiry. Who are these sullen souls who sit in silence (how’s that alliteration for ya?) in the Frist gallery at 1:15 am? There’s a cute guy sitting alone in a green jacket before me, and he looks oddly relaxed and zen, and I don’t understand why someone would choose to be here now. I mean, unless that someone is us.
Around 12:30, I crashed. I came to the sudden realization that I need 8-10 hours of sleep a night, so to do 24 hours in Frist is truly testing my moral being. Once again I wonder, “Why am I here?” I just Facetimed my father––he gave me some motivation. His words of wisdom: Don’t do anything stupid. There are 12 people in Frist or so right now.
It is 1:32 am. Right as I got rejuvenated from a particularly scrumptious hot dog, Juju lost her Jujuice. She lost her jujubilation. But, as she quotes, she’s “here to stay.”
In other news, tomorrow is Juju’s 20th birthday. Her hours of youth are waning. What better way to ring in adulthood, I suppose, than with 24 hours of recklessness?
Hour Four: Existential
Anika is severely disgruntled that the USG student lounge’s lights do not fully turn off. Save the environment, folks. I am tired. I might have too much adrenaline to actually sleep but I am tired. What else happened? Well, I went around the midnight snack area asking random people why they were in Frist at this ungodly hour. Also I realized that I am turning 20 in less than 24 hours and that is just a hell of a lot to take in. But this is honestly not the worst way to spend my last hours as a teenager. Wow. 20. I will never be a teenager again. I’m already nostalgic for my youth, as it seems to slip away with every passing moment. But now I’m going to put a greasy sheet of coconut face mask onto my visage, so that’s that.
We fitfully and shamelessly slept in a public place between 3:30am and 6:30am.
Hour Nine (time- 7:15am): SUNRISE
Wow. I feel horrible, like a mixture of hungover and jetlagged (after a bumpy red-eye). I don’t think I got to sleep until at least 3:30. Woke up at 6:30 from an alarm that the overly-ambitious 3am version of myself had set. We forced ourselves up and went upstairs to McGraw to watch the sunrise (a pitiful attempt at a sunrise, if you ask me. Classic New Jersey).
My head hurts, and my throat has never been this sore in my life. The room was also surprisingly cold?? Odd. While I wanted to go back to sleep, Juju urged me to get up so we could see the sunrise, which was at 7:10. We watched it from one of the bay windows in McGraw, and surprisingly, there was something beautiful about watching the sunrise over Terrace, albeit through a window in Frist. Definitely one of the more tender moments thus far.
Also, looking back at some of the stuff I wrote late last night (early this morning, in other words), I realize that I become rather pretentious when I’m delirious with exhaustion. Seriously, who uses the word “visage”?!
Another point of food for thought: Is Chris Umanzor, 2019 USG Class President, a vampire? We saw him walking outside of the USG lounge at 6:40 a.m., when the last time we had seen him was 3 a.m. in the same place. He doesn’t seem to sleep, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him outside, he has dazzling white teeth, and he’s way too nice. Something doesn’t add up. This superhuman being needs sleep too. Someone, please explain.
Hours Ten & Eleven: Trash
Not much happened between 7:30 and 9:30. Anika took a nap and Juju discovered a rotten banana in her bag. Then we drank a lot of tea and began to feel like partial humans once again.
Hour Twelve (10:15 am): Discomfort
Is an airplane.
It makes you
With invading the personal space
Of other people.
You make friends
With the people sitting near you
Maybe you don’t.
Food is served
In plastic trays
The coffee is watery.
The air is stale,
Of the hours.
Is an airplane.
Your spirit soar
Among the clouds
Of dust and coffee grounds,
You must descend to earth.
Hour Thirteen: Ambivalence
We’ve been chilling in the Frist gallery for the past two hours. It’s pretty relaxing here–I’m starting to see the appeal. And it’s a nice mix of students, faculty, and staff that one doesn’t get regularly in a dining hall. However, my Frist omelette was severely shoddy compared with one from Whitman or RoMa.
I just ate a waffle for breakfast from the Frist grill, which is more breakfast than I usually eat, so for that, I’m happy.
Random people have started to come up to us, saying “Oooh, are you guys the people spending 24 hours in Frist?!” Yup, we’re those idiots. I guess we’re somewhat infamous now.
I understand why one would choose to be a Frist hoe. I can even see I, myself, becoming a Frist hoe, or at least a Frist thot. I mean, if you were stranded in an apocalypse, you could live here for a while. Frist has EVERYTHING. Food, bathrooms, study spaces, places to sleep. My newfound hoe-age is making me happy. I am content!
Time just slips away here, like you’re in a vortex of serenity where your responsibilities just can’t touch you. Maybe that’s why people spend such an absurd amount of time in Frist– the force of your own procrastination is strengthened by the surrounding irresponsibility of everyone else. Frist does not make for efficient studying, but it does nurture a more compassionate, humane approach to Princeton’s rampant high-achieving mentality. And if you want to sleep, you’ll always have the rock-hard couches in the USG student lounge to take a nap. Take our word for it.
(10 minutes later)
I hate Frist. I hate the indoors. Of all days, it’s 65 degrees and sunny today. There’s a woman outside wearing a tank top and a skirt. There are dogs running around on Frist lawn. The sun is shining bright. This could be the cure to my seasonal affective disorder. And yet? We’re trapped in here.
To experience the sunshine without breaking our self-imposed rules. We’ve been having Andrew open the door for us so we can feel the breeze and sun. But alas, the sun is an addictive drug, indeed. If you have too much of it, you get hooked. I’ll admit, at one point I tried to run.
Some people are just weaker than others, you know?
Hour Fourteen: Anthropology
Juju: The lunch rush has begun, and our friends are periodically stopping by. It’s bizarre that we’re just blending in with the crowd at this point, rather than being the grizzled weirdos hunched alone by Witherspoon’s before it opens. The uninformed observer wouldn’t understand the trial and tribulation that has led us to this moment. They’re just more interested in their mac & cheese.
Lots of our friends have rolled through. Then they also overtly mocked us by sitting outside on the patio. Good times. We identified the anthropological entities in Late Meal of Frannon in the left-hand corner of the Frist Gallery (facing toward the cafeteria), Friger Inn by the windows on the right, and Frindependent sitting upstairs by Cafe Viv.
Hour Fifteen: Frist Is a Muse
It’s a weird feeling to let go of myself and my own goals and desires and dissolve into Frist, becoming a part of the microcosm and functioning only as Frist requires me to function. To lose my agency and become an agent of… Nah, I’m gonna stop right there. Also, this has gotten ridiculous–people are literally frolicking in the sunshine on the Frist lawn, while we stare in yearning through the glass. They’re throwing frisbees, sunbathing, smiling, laughing, and breathing fresh air. Cruel fate is truly testing our willpower. And some of us (*cough cough Anika*) have a rather limited supply of self-control.
Sometimes I sit and think, and other times I just sit. I think that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 15 or so hours. Sitting. This actually isn’t that bad. Once again, I feel the great outdoors calling again. I miss air that hasn’t been recycled hundreds of times. I have a 10-page short story to write for my creative writing class, but I’m lacking inspiration. Hopefully, some time in Frist will change that. I mean, there’s inspiration at every corner, right? Frist is my muse.
An additional note- T-1 hour to late meal. This is big.
Hour Sixteen: Dawgs
This hour, I realized that there was an emotional support dog study break! I’ve never felt quite so happy. One of the negative points of this which I feel like I must note, however, is the Juju Lane does not like dogs. I ventured this one on my own.
That is gross revisionist history. I explicitly stated that I adore my own dog but do not feel compelled to stroke some stranger’s animal. They’re cute and fluffy but I don’t need to rub my face in them. It’s called dignity.
Her exact words were, “dirty canine.” I’m mad.
I’m just living my truth.
HOUR SIXTEEN POEM
Anika is such a fake.
I knew that her resolve would break.
She has now stooped to self-respect
And wears a necklace ‘round her neck.
She changed into going-out clothes
And my deep fury swiftly grows.
“It’s not my fault, I just look good”
(I have a sweatshirt with a hood.)
Compared to her now I’m like a hag
And frankly she is such a drag.
I am just seriously pissed–
It’s not a fashion show. It’s Frist.
For context, I changed into nicer clothes. I think Juju is overreacting. I’d like to point out that I did nothing wrong. I gathered several clothing items and placed them into a bag, which I took with me. I decided that I wanted to dress nicely. If you’re going to be in Frist for 24 hours, you might as well come to be seen. And that’s what I’m doing.
Hour Seventeen (starting 3pm): Betrayal
We played ping pong, and it was glorious. It was filled with profound exuberance and competition.
I cheated. I don’t know why I did it. Maybe I was feeling adventurous? Maybe I was suffocated? Maybe it was because I’VE BEEN IN FRIST FOR 18 HOURS. I don’t feel bad. I just feel a little guilty. I needed to get out. I needed to. People were lounging on the patio, there were dogs running by. A moment of freedom was worth the eternal shame.
OH MY GOD ANIKA JUST STEPPED OUTSIDE OF FRIST AND CHEATED HERSELF OF EVERYTHING THAT SHE HAS WORKED FOR. SHE IS A TRAITOR AND I HAVE LOST RESPECT FOR HER. Quite honestly, I think she was just mad that she lost in ping pong. Drama queen.
Hours Eighteen & Nineteen
We were too busy getting acquainted with each other’s souls to write entries (see below for context).
Hour Twenty (starting at 6 pm): Tender
Juju and I just spent the last two hours doing the New York Times’ 36 Questions to Fall in Love. I learnt things about Juju that I hadn’t known, but furthermore, I genuinely told her things which I haven’t expressed to anyone at Princeton yet. If anything comes out of this Frist endeavor, I hope it’s a strengthened friendship.
Frankly I’m fully in love with Anika at this point. The last task was to stare into the other person’s eyes for two full minutes. Anika has beautiful brown eyes. It also felt like the perfect culmination of the many (twenty and counting) hours we’ve spent in such close contact so far. We would FULLY recommend that anyone do this – it would be especially fascinating to do it with someone you didn’t know that well.
I can’t believe we’re nearing the end of this experience. Even though we have a full four hours left, I’m already kind of nostalgic. This has been bizarrely, concerningly fun.
Update: 36 Questions has unseated the sunrise for our most tender Frist moment.
Hour Twenty-Three and 45 Minutes
We’re almost FREE. Just 15 minutes left!!!! It feels like we’ve been in this building for weeks. We are going straight to the Street.
I’m going to miss this place.
Frist verbatims (a running section)
“Oh my God it’s Pi Day”
“Stop being so chill, I’m freaking the hell out”
“No, you can’t replace home fries with fresh strawberries for free”
*Pulls craft beer out of New Yorker tote bag in the middle of the Frist gallery*
“It’s the stuff coming in from Mexico– I’m getting the real thing.”
“You have to make up for crippling self-doubt by being artificially egotistical.”
“You’d think Deconstructing Gender would be a really easy course for a computer scientist, because it’s just binary stuff”
REFLECTIONS A MONTH LATER
Juju: It’s weird. I’ve actually spent so much more time in Frist on average since The Big Hoe 2.0, compared to previously. Anika and I agree that we would (shockingly?!) not be totally unwilling to do it all again!
I now have a lingering nostalgia for the dirty crevices of the campus center, and it will always have a special place in my (low standards) heart. Frist is a space of love and connection. Trust me– I swear on Boxed Water.
Anika: Occasionally, Juju and I will glance at each other from across the room, and just know that we’ve been through something most haven’t. Looking back on it, The Big Hoe 2.0 was a lot like Outdoor Action. You hate it for the majority of the time you’re experiencing it, and you feel like you might die. But afterwards, you kind of miss spending that much time in one space with the same person. You miss bonding over your collective suffering. You miss not taking showers. And you would do it again.