Wesceleb: Tess Crain
The Argus: Why are you a WesCeleb?
Tess Crane: One of my housemates, with whom I live in close proximity, was just named a WesCeleb, so I think I absorbed her celebrity through osmosis.
A: Why are you a better WesCeleb?
TC: I’m a different WesCeleb, hopefully because my entire WesCeleb won’t be based on my Facebook. I’m second—so she’s better technically if you’re going to rank us.
A: You wrote a creative thesis in the English department.
TC: Yes, I did, with Amy Bloom, who has been an awesome advisor. I wrote some short stories, and now I’m done.
A: How’d that process go?
TC: It was awesome. Really hard, though. I probably wrote over 200 pages, of which 88 made it into my thesis. But I ended up with four stories, two of which I’m really happy with, two of which don’t need to see the light of day, but that’s OK.
A: Did you know what you wanted to write going in?
TC: My advisor told me to pick a place and link four stories based on place and the people in them. And then I really only had three places to choose: Maine, which is where I grew up; North Carolina, where I was born, where my family is from; and New York, where I spent the last two summers. I was a little too vitriolic towards Maine, so I rejected that, and feel like I idolize New York too much, because I haven’t lived there long enough to really resent it. With North Carolina I sort of have a connection, but I’m less biased about it, so I chose North Carolina.
A: Could you tell me more about living in Maine?
TC: I’m from Southern Maine, half an hour outside of Portland, which means I have some connection to population. I live on an old farm—47 acres, four stables, and all sorts of woods. And my town is population 1400. We don’t have a high school, so I went to high school in Portland. And neither of my parents were from Maine, so we’re outlanders, outsiders.
A: And why didn’t you write about it?
TC: Well, here’s why. There’s a good phrase from “Mainahs”: “If a cat crawls into the oven and gives birth, you don’t call the little kittens ‘muffins.’” So essentially, even if you were born in Maine, if your parents aren’t from there you aren’t a real “Mainer.” At least I’m many generations North Carolinian—even more than that, since I’m technically part Cherokee, so I’m really, really from there.
A: Having been on the Cross Country team for all four years, would you say there’s a divide between athletes and non-athletes?
TC: I think it’s less of a divide than at most schools; most people at Wesleyan don’t give a shit about athletics, and that can make being an athlete a difficult thing. It’s hard to feel as if no one else cares. You really have to do it for yourself, and after years of competing, staying in on Friday nights and stuff, it can be kind of underwhelming. You question whether it’s worth it, but at the same time, it is nice that the social atmosphere isn’t dictated by athletics, and that an academic focus can carry social weight. I’ve definitely had moments of resentment, but at the same time, I think that that actually is an advantage at Wesleyan as a whole.
A: What advice would you give to underclassmen?
TC: For me at least, having the confidence to not do everything was one of the best things that happened to me senior year. I had athletics, academics, and a social life.
If you want to sleep, you can really only dedicate yourself to two of those, because of scheduling, logistics, and emotional capacity to focus on things intensely.
After three years, I realized I could handle all of these responsibilities, but I didn’t have to. That has made my senior year one of the most balanced experiences I could have had. It doesn’t change who you are as a person or make you any less talented a person if you don’t do everything you want to do.