As we write this by the light of an exit sign, it has been three days since our bedrooms became extensions of the arctic tundra, five days since Mitchell Breitbart ’15 has washed his hair, and seemingly innumerable days since we have come home to the comforting embrace of warm rice. You may wonder: are we living in a post-apocalyptic nightmare? No. We, the residents of Milham House, are simply the most fervent devotees of this year’s “Do It In The Dark” competition. You may know us from the email you received a few days ago about overly enthusiastic participants who turned down their heat so much that their pipes froze; we know us from the hours we have spent in darkness, huddled under blankets and crying frozen tears.
How did this depraved tragedy begin? We wanted to increase our devotion to the environment and sure, we could have just turned off a few lights like everyone else. But, as Ron Swanson says, ※why half-ass two things when you can whole-ass one thing?§ Thus, we decided to push our energy-saving to the limit.
The night of Feb 23. Milham. The rice cooker steamed, the oven blazed, and the stove was on – all four rings. Light shone in every corner of our beautiful house. But the house, soon followed by the mood, darkened once we received word that we were included in the energy competition.Suddenly, screams emanating from the third floor penetrated the frigid night air; Amanda Walker ’15 had awoken, and like the kraken, she was out for vengeance. She and Alex Guo ’15 patrolled the house, unplugging everything in sight and turning off all heaters. Simmon Kim ’15 wept, cradling his cast-iron skillet in one hand and the last morsels of warm rice in the other. Breitbart began to draft a seminal document that might soon replace the Constitution, The Milham Energy Manifesto.
The Manifesto laid down our hopes, our beliefs, and our desires. From nine individuals, a single entity was forged, united by one dream. From sleeping in other houses to eating bushels of Paresky bananas, we have pushed both boundaries and frozen pipes. We turned off every light, charged our phones and computers in libraries, and unplugged all appliances, even the washer and dryer. Warmth became a luxury; all heaters were set to zero. Facilities thought there was trouble in the house because its temperature had dropped so low, but they were wrong: there was only determination.
After a miserable night, freezing to death in the worst winter in the history of the world, tempers and tensions rose. We resorted to hiding in the library for warmth as doubts began to emerge. We were strong, but were we this strong? In the deepest nook of Schow, Emma Martucci ’15 began to plot a mutiny. This unrest forced us to schedule an internal referendum on whether or not to continue, but thankfully the imperial order of Amy Johns, director of the Zilkha Center, quashed the unrest by granting us heat. Apparently we froze the pipes. Apparently they weren’t as dedicated as we were.
Cutting almost 50 percent of our energy usage was no easy feat. Guo carried every meal in a small tupperware container to Eco Café’s microwave. Claire Lidston ’15 was placed in a box, and for only $1.39 in postage, shipped off to California. Martucci cried in Schow. Denise Park ’15 hibernated 16 hours a day. Walker built herself a shack in the woods with nothing but a plank and two nails. We are still anxiously awaiting her return. Our desperation for rice became so great that we resorted tooking it in nefarious locales. We still have no idea where Breitbart and Kim went that fateful eve, but they returned with shady expressions and an even shadier pot of warm rice, full to the brim with a luxury we hadn’t seen in days.
The rare visitor to our icy abode scoffed, “This is way too serious.” They might have been right, but what is truly right? Saving energy. When one unnamed visitor reached for the light, Guo deftly defended the bulb’s integrity. It would not have mattered anyway, as we had removed the light days earlier. But the point was made: Milham was not to be trifled with.
As the days went on, our energy consumption continued to plummet. We became accustomed to living without light, without cooked food, without hope. In the competition’s waning hours, the campus was on edge. Would Milham, the brave underdog, emerge victorious? Or would it be Woodbridge, the mighty favorite? A shocking update: we did not win. Regardless, we will rest easy in our restored warmth knowing we did our best to follow through on our Manifesto’s stated tenets: saving the world and winning the competition’s prize, the joy of playing with countless puppies.