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Ride The Tiger

"I broke myself putting on a Thanksgiving dinner but I liked it"

21.11.23 11:03pm

This weekend, I ran putzgiving, an alumni event on our hall that happens every year before Thanksgiving. We spend two days in the kitchen in a mad dash to produce all the food, and then 80-120 alumni from the past 30 years of Putz / Second West / Pi Tau Zeta (our floor in our dorm) descend upon the assembled meal.

It's an amazing event - it was our first year off-campus (since our dorm is being renovated, more on that in the future), and the turnout was great, though less than I'd budgeted groceries for (@lili please reimburse me). We couldn't bring back old classics like the ”functional moving beer tap and keg installed behind a fire extinguisher and switched on by a hidden button in the ceiling", but the pig was roasted for a solid day beforehand on a homemade grill and the afterparties were sufficiently lit.

This isn't a post about Putzgiving, although I might sprinkle in photos. It's a post about how I felt about doing putzgiving, and how I felt while doing it, and what I like about that specific state of mind.

My job, as the one putzgiving bitch, was circumspect - I had to arrange food, the event, and everything else. Most of the groceries I had bought in one giant Costco run with Joseph, a grad student who works on prosthetic controls and musical instruments. However, recipes had changed last-minute and I knew I wouldn't keep on top of it all. I had to run to acquire all the herbs, groceries, and packed up the fridge on Saturday night. I moved the speaker downstairs and started blasting techno. Some people came and cooked, and the kitchen began to fill up.

Two alumni in the area offered to host afterparties after our landlord said no alcohol at the event - in the end, this was a _good thing_, and I don't think anyone really missed alcohol. The conversations with alumni may even have improved because of it. It’s not extremely contrarian in the modern US to say “alcohol unnecessary evil”, but certainly is at home in the UK.

On Sunday, I woke up at 7am, having had approx. 2hr30 of sleep from the last night's festivities. I ran downstairs, poured a cup of tea and put the ribs in the oven to slow cook. I had to keep drinking caffeine throughout the day, which may have added to the ensuing mental state.

As people streamed in to cook, and problems started piling up with the venue, recipes were missing ingredients, people didn't know where stuff was, and the third Celsius started to hit, I got on my bike. I had to go to the store to get Parmesan, and chicken. When I was leaving the store, I had to turn around and go right back in, because someone had texted they needed green peppers and Celery. Someone texted we needed caution tape for the stairs, and to tell the alumni about the pig grill, and needed bigger pots. I had to email out, and follow up, and keep going.

Stress is an interesting thing. It's unhealthy, that's for sure (one of the most correlated Alzheimer’s risk factors, which is something I’m perpetually terrified of). It's not unenjoyable, either. Maybe that's masochistic - at MIT, you must learn a Stockholm syndrome for pressure in order to not blow up. For me at least, it was great fun. I spent something like 4 hours running around stores yesterday, and biked something like 10 miles at top speed back and forth. I was dehydrated and tired and doing everything at once, and it felt like the whole world was crashing around me - and I actually *really enjoyed it*. At some point on the nth trip across the bridge, it hit me that sometimes it's fun to ride the tiger.

I got up that day knowing that I didn't really need to think or plan - I had already done all that. What I needed to do was deliver the event, which involved solving immediate problems as fast as I could. I was able to totally zone in, and work really hard. The biking was a great help - I was expending cardio energy, but it felt like on something meaningful.

I get into this state fairly often, pushing for some self-inflicted deadline or responsiblity. It's a little self-destructive, to throw your all at something, to mess yourself up biochemically until you're literally running on sheer willpower, but the feeling that comes with actually delivering the event is unmatched.

I tamed the tiger, and Putzgiving was good.