From serving in the military to researching in Kuwait, Landon Marchant ’20 has gathered fascinating experiences, all the while living with the most adorable pup, Malibu. I sat down with them at the Bookstore to hear more about their interests and dig up some dirt on their furry friend!
So do you mind telling me about some of your previous work in the military service before you came to the College?
I served in North Dakota on B-52 bombers as a welder and machinist. We did a lot of fun stuff, like building and refurbishing airplane parts. Some parts aren’t in production any more. We had one guy come in and say, “This is the last part we have. Can you make this change so it works better?” And we did. But then this one time, my supervisor put caster wheels on tricycles. I made a light saber, and one of my sergeants told a story about making an electric guitar! So we did a lot of cool things with metal.
What was it like serving as a person within the trans community?
I was not out when I was there, and I didn’t know anything about trans-ness other than that I was very uncomfortable with my body. I did not figure out what trans was or any kind of gender identity theories or how I could relate to the world until after I had left the service, so I served identifying as a lesbian.
What do you think was the most challenging part of your service?
I enlisted to leave where I was from, which was rural Wisconsin, and I ended up in rural North Dakota, so that was probably the worst part. I wasn’t really prepared for the long hours we worked, either. Our schedule taught me to appreciate weekends and half days when they happened!
That must have been tough! Speaking of which, I hear that you’re taking five classes this semester, including a senior seminar. How’s that been?
Oh my god. Schedule in time for sleep, and then pick which classes you want.
Good advice! What is the most interesting class you’re taking?
I’m torn because my classes fit so nicely together. I’m in a philosophy tutorial with Professor Pedroni, a free speech philosophy class with Professor Gerrard [and] an independent study in which I am conducting research with a team of doctoral candidates and masters students all across the nation. My portion of research is being overseen by Professor Rappaport from the economics department. We are doing a longitudinal phenomenological study, and my manuscript is about the career choices of trans military troops. It’s been really interesting combining that with Professor Schmidt’s [course] “Gender and Economics” as well as Professor Mitchell’s senior seminar on queer ethnographic writing. In all, I have been learning a lot of skills that I probably would not usually be learning until senior year, but they really play nicely together, even though they come from a variety of different fields.
And you took some of these ideas with you to Kuwait for spring break.
Yes. So my partner is a high school history teacher – she has her masters and is teaching internationally right now. She’s a fully-fledged, functioning human! I wanted to combine seeing her with my classwork, so I went to Kuwait, saw her, spent time doing homework by the beach and also interviewed some expats for a research project.
So it was a holiday and an academic project all in one. Okay, so the real question: We all know that Malibu is the campus celebrity sweetheart. How did your story with Malibu begin?
So Malibu is originally from a kill shelter in West Virginia. I was at an adoption event, and the trainer told me to find a puppy. I came home with what (we think) was a 2-year-old dog. Bu sat on my foot and would not move, so she came home. The trainer told me, “Landon, you brought us a cat.”
What’s the relationship between you two like?
Malibu is really smart, and she would do things as if to say, “Oh, I know how to sit. You know I know this. I’m deciding not to listen.” She takes her time – she still does – like, “I’m off duty. I’m coming … on my own schedule.” It’s been five years. Her Gotcha Day date was this week, and some of my friends sent her a doggy cake. I wouldn’t trade her for the world.
She’s adorable, but she was recently sick, right?
Yeah. She had pneumonia so badly that the first doctor thought it was a disk disease. She was just not herself. We went to three different vets, and finally we got her into Greylock, and they ran all her tests, and I left her with them over spring break. With the right medication, rest and lots of love, she made it.
There was a GoFundMe page as well.
Yeah! The bills, you know, they could have been worse. But my friend Emmie Hine [’20] was like, “You know, this dog is so loved – let’s see what kind of help we can get for Malibu because this is a lot of money.” The response – it blew me away. She’s so loved. There’s actually a really sweet picture somewhere of a student in Doddrich petting Malibu and reading to her at the same time.
Aw. What’s the funniest thing she’s done since you’ve known her?
Oh, she farts in retaliation. So if I pass gas and she’s curled up on the bed, she’s known to get up, turn around, come closer, put her butt towards me and within three to five minutes will fart back.
Oh my god. Malibu, how do you feel about this?
Malibu: [Disgusted sideways glance directed toward our general vicinity.]
LM: She’s also figured out how to open Tupperware. And the desk drawers. Other than that, she falls over all the time. She does some stupid dog stuff.
Malibu: [Gives another sideways glance towards Landon.]
LM: She works her audience.