I met with Jackie Pineda ’12 early Friday morning on the first floor of the Freshman Palace – Mission Park. It was bizarrely quiet for a building stuffed with first-years. Jackie quickly broke the silence, regaling me with a hurricane of details about her life.
So you’re from Texas. The other day, the governor threatened to secede from the U.S. – would you be in favor of that?
Yes. We’d make the best country ever.
I feel like historically you’ve all thought that.
My mom actually worked for the state legislature and said there are always some old, crusty people in Texas government, tucked away somewhere, that still want to see Texas secede.
Rumor has it you’re in King Lear.
Yes! My production right now is King Lear, directed by Julian Mesri ’09; it’s going to be a very interesting production.
Yeah, very! There are zombies and a lot of instances of male shirtlessness. And if that doesn’t get people going then I don’t know what will.
Agreed. Are you playing one of the zombies?
Yes. I am. I don’t want to give too much away but it’s going to be very special and intense. They’ll be like nothing you’ve ever seen before.
People have been spreading rumors about someone’s shirtlessness – Drax’s [Jonathan Draxton ’12]?
Oh my God. [Laughs.] In a completely platonic way, let me just say that the entire theater is going to, I don’t know what, ahem – when he takes his shirt off. They may all fall to their knees in reverence. My director, Julian Mesri, kind of has, even sort of, a little boy crush on him.
A god among men?
Totally. He plays the king so there’s also that aura that surrounds – him of authority. Some people really like that. No, but Drax is amazing, he’s a real sweetheart, he’s going to make an awesome King Lear.
Well, back to you, do you have an obsession with plants?
Ahh, I love plants. Ever since I was a little kid. I would eat dandelions in the back yard.
How did that work out?
My mom called poison control because she didn’t know they were edible. But now, I’m in Professor Joan Edwards’ botany class and if it’s not the best class I’ve taken, it’s definitely one of the top two. I go out into the field and bring back samples. I’m actually growing a few.
How many have you eaten so far?
Two. Wintergreen and blackbirch. You can nibble on the twigs and they have wintergreen oil in them.
Do you have any plants of your own now?
Yeah, I’m growing some Tussilago farfara, family asteraceae – it’s related to dandelions. It’s a noxious weed in Massachusetts, it grows along ditches, but it’s a beautiful little dandelion-like flower and I’m growing it from a root in my room. So far it’s going well.
Do you perchance live in a botanical garden?
Eh, yeah, I have the samples of the plants that died; I mount them on my wall.
Oooh, that’s kinda dark.
Yeah! Like hunting trophies or something. The ones that are still kind of fresh, like cuttings, I put in water, and the ones that I picked with roots I will put in a little pot of soil.
Sounds very organized. Are you an organized person?
No! My room is a disaster area. With plants.
Must smell interesting. Well, back to Texas, any bits of Texan culture stick with you?
I twirl. I’m one of the only two people at Williams that twirls. In the Northeast, they don’t do that. Basically you have a three-foot-long metal pole that’s weighted at both ends with bits of rubber and you throw it twenty feet up into the air, spin a few times underneath it, catch it again. Standard trick. I could kill a man.
Kill a man?
Almost did a few times. We march next to the band and I hit a trumpet player. It was only once and it was my first year doing it.
So it wasn’t on purpose.
I’m not gonna say. But there is another twirler there, Chelsea Luttrell ’11, who twirls with the band. We actually twirled with them for Homecoming, on short notice. That was fun; we actually got to be x-wing fighters in the band’s death star formation. It was part of the show originally, but there was only going to be one twirler, Chelsea, but she was like, “Jackie, you can twirl! Come here!” It’s good to know there’s at least one other twirler here; it’s real big in the South.
What else from the South have you brought to Williams?
My love of Mexican food, specifically Tex Mex. Every bit of Tex Mex or Mexican food I’ve had here has been horrible.
And people ask what’s so bad about it and I’m like, it’s not Tex Mex. But, you know, everybody favors their own kind of pizza or barbeque from their area.
Are you from Houston? Austin? Dallas? San Antonio
I was originally from Austin and in my heart I bleed orange, hook ’em horns, but I moved to Waco. When I tell people I’m from Waco they don’t know where it is, but if they recognize it, they’re like, “Oh gosh! That’s the place with the bombing and the tornadoes!”
Have you ever seen a tornado?
Very scary. Like I said, my mom worked for the government when I was a little kid and I remember looking out the window of my nursery place and seeing funnels – tornadoes touching down in Austin. They said one was going down toward the capitol where my mom was. I didn’t want my mom to be ripped apart like the house in The Wizard of Oz. But she was fine. It’s one of my earliest memories. Hiding in a closet and every once in a while going over to the window to peek and see if my mom was okay. But it’s nice up here. I don’t think there are too many tornadoes in Massachusetts.
I don’t think so.