Life is really just one big story, and no one seems to understand this more than Bianca Giaever ’12.5.
Giaever is an independent scholar at Middlebury with a self-designed major: narrative studies.
“I’m basically majoring in stories,” said Giaever. “I could hear my dad rolling his eyes on the other side of the phone when I told him because it sounds like its not real, which it isn’t because I invented it.”
Giaever has always been interested in stories, but it was in high school that she really fell in love with the idea of them.
“My junior year of high school I became really close with this boy who had brain cancer,” said Giaever. “I wrote a long article on him telling his story. I got to know someone really well and get to tell his story in a great way. I love people and observing people. Ever since then I’ve been interested in journalism, and stories are the liberal arts version of journalism.”
When Giaever says stories though, she is not talking about J.K. Rowling’s or J.R. Tolkien’s tales of wizards and rings.
“I definitely like non-fiction,” Giaever said. “Fiction doesn’t interest me at all. Fantasy especially. I’m all about non-fiction. I have to be able to believe it. I guess I’m pretty cynical. If there’s flying dragons I can’t get into it.”
Giaever takes classes in as many of the departments as she can that fit into her narrative studies major, including “Cultural Geography, Myth and Contemporary Culture and Writing and Performing Monologues.”
“It’s the history of stories from myth to video games,” said Giaever of her major.
“I try to take classes with the best teachers and I feel I’ve been able to do that,” said Giaever. “I really think I’ve been able to have a lot of freedom. You can do whatever you want here if you try hard enough.”
It seems obvious that someone this interested in stories would be a member of the Middlebury Moth. But Giaever admits that she has stage fright, so she has not told any stories of her own yet.
“I’ve been hosting,” Giaever said. “Getting people to tell stories and getting to know people around campus.”
That is not to say that Giaever does not have a story to tell. For one thing, Giaever spent her semester before matriculating at Middlebury in Peru and Ecuador.
“I let out all the nervous energy I had from trying to get As all through high school,” said Giaever. “I basically unwound for six months.”
And Giaever has just embarked on another journey that is sure to be story-worthy. She is taking her semester abroad in Delhi, Dakar and Buenos Aires.
“It’s a semester abroad for people who can’t decide where to go,” said Giaever. “I’m studying cities. I’m going to try and fit the trip into my major if I can. Also, I’m very honored to be a campus character even when I’m not on campus.”
When she is at Middlebury, Giaever has a pet toad named Linus who is sure to be good for at least a few stories.
“I’m going to miss him a lot when I’m gone,” said Giaever. “I got him last fall from a friend of mine, and he’s really been there for me through the good and the bad. It’s also a good way to get people to come over.”
More than her major or her toad, Giaever thinks her hair may be her most distinctive feature.
“I used to have pretty tangled hair,” said Giaever, “but I’ve gotten that under control. It reflects the state of my life how well I’m able to brush it.”
There is also the story that Giaever would tell for the Moth if she could muster the courage: the story about the giant carrot that resides in her family’s backyard.
“It’s a 24-foot long plastic carrot,” said Giaever. “It was at my mom’s work and she needed to get it out quickly. She works for a condo building and the residents were not having it. My dad really wanted the carrot. He’s an engineer so he went with his engineer friends and got it with a crane. He took all the measurements and figured that he could push it through the doors if he split it in two. And now it’s sort of stuck in my backyard.
“Right when my boyfriend got to my house my mom enlisted him to move the carrot from the backyard to the driveway for no reason. It’s like our family pet. We talk about it lovingly, show guests, dinner conversations are always about what to do with the giant carrot. It’s like a beacon for the neighborhood or some sort of landmark.”
Now that is a story.
“I’m obsessed with stories,” said Giaever. “I love them.”