The Mac Weekly sat down with Sarah Kolenbrander ’18 and Mara Steinitz ’18, both history majors from Boston, Massachusetts, to talk about their friendship, capstones and some of their iconic home decor.
The Mac Weekly (TMW): When did The Wall start?
Sarah Kolenbrander (SK): Last year.
Mara Steinitz (MS): Well, it started last year, but we started planning for it first year spring.
TMW: What’s the qualification for something making it on The Wall?
SK: We or someone we know has to be in it.
MS: Or involved with it. So there are pictures of us, but also letters we sent each other when we weren’t in the same place, and just things that are about people that aren’t about us, but that we know.
TMW: Let’s start at the beginning of your friendship. How did you guys meet?
SK: Well way back when back first year fall … we were in the class and we live three miles apart back home.
MS: And Sarah was on the crew team with all of my friends in high school, but I did not know Sarah.
SK: And we get to class, and Mara wants to be friends from the get go.
MS: You know, first year, trying to make some friends.
SK: (Laughs) And I was like, this is my time to have friends from, like, Oregon and California. I’m going all out. So I was not intrigued by the girl who knew all my friends and lived three miles away.
MS: She did not want to be my friend.
SK: So then we watched Pocahontas as a class together.
MS: And I texted Sarah while we were watching.
SK: I texted you!
MS: Sorry, Sarah texted me while we were watching, deciding to be my friend and then—
SK: I cracked.
MS: We texted throughout the watching about the dynamics of the watching situation.
SK: We were fifth wheeling.
MS: It was a time. And then—
SK: We’ve been talking ever since.
TMW: Did you two live together last year also?
MS: Yes, but not sophomore year. We could not live in the same room; we would kill each other.
TMW: Did you just know right away that that wouldn’t work out?
SK: It was really awkward. Around Oct. or Nov. first year I made a comment about living together and Mara shut it down very fast.
MS: Yeah, I was like, that’s not gonna happen unless we have doors first.
TMW: What have been some of the highlights of your time together at Mac?
SK: We take a class together every semester.
MS: That’s not true.
SK: Except last semester. This year we’re taking two to make up for it. That’s led to some iconic projects.
MS: We took “Feasts and Famines” sophomore spring.
MS: Fall. Which was about consumption in 19th century British literature, and the final project involved analyzing an art piece in the context of everything we’d learned . . . Not only did we analyze the art piece, but we recreated the art piece, just the two of us. That was really iconic. We presented last and put it in our slide show.
SK: We also may have worn matching outfits while presenting.
MS: Oh that is true.
SK: She got a dress at Goodwill that was too long because of her…stature.
MS: I’m the smaller one.
SK: We cut the bottom off and turned it into a scarf for me.(Laughs)
MS: We’re currently taking Public History: African American—
SK: Life – Past, Present and Future.
MS: Yeah Sarah remembers course titles. We went to D.C. to see the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and we stayed together and pretty much just hung out with each other—as much as we love everyone else in our class—and did things like lie in our bed and watch Top Chef while everyone else went and explored the Capitol.
SK: We studied abroad. I was in Prague, she was in South Africa. Mara visited me.
MS: On my way home. It wasn’t just for the weekend.(Laughs)
MS: I work at a summer camp where I can only get snail mail for the most part, and Sarah sends me very devoted letters.
SK: I find the most absurd postcards I can.
MS: This year’s theme was postcards that are a foot by six inches rather than five by six inches.
TMW: Coming into Mac, did you want to be history majors?
MS: I wanted to be a history major.
SK: I always listed history, anthropology and American studies as my three options, but then as soon as I started taking history classes, I knew.
TMW: Do you know what you’ll do with that in the future?
SK: I really want to teach high school U.S. history.
MS: I don’t really want to do anything with history. I would say that I study history because history is the academic subject that I’m the most interested in, and that’s what I want to do . . . is like non-profit work with youth, and food is not really something you need a liberal arts education for.
TMW: At Mac you lead two of the religious orgs. How is that?
SK: It’s all fun and games until December rolls around.
MS: Yeah. Sarah’s really pro Christmas, and I’m really against Christmas, and we’re in the midst of an ongoing argument about a Christmas tree that we just keep tabling.
SK: I’m going for a Christmas bush. We haven’t lived together in the fall yet so this is our first cohabitational Christmas. It might tear us apart…We’ll be fine. We’ll get through it.
MS: Sarah joined MCF the very beginning fall our first year, but I went to Rosh Hashanah . . . and was like, this was not for me. Then, the beginning of sophomore year I was like, Sarah has this really great community through MCF, and I’d like to know some more older people and have that type of community, so I guess I’ll try out MJO and I ended up really liking it. When people ask me about why I joined MJO, I always give Sarah being part of MCF credit as to what inspired me to join religious orgs at Macalester.
SK: I go to Shabbat. A lot.
MS: Sarah really is—
SK: —a big Shabbat fan—
MS: A very enthusiastic Shabbat participant.
SK: Sometimes I’m a little too enthusiastic.
MS: I got in trouble at our last matriarch meeting for times I giggle with Sarah during Shabbat.
SK: Mara’s the honorary Jew of MCF. Everyone knows who Mara is; she shows up at a lot of things.
MS: They don’t know what to do with me. It’s a great time.
TMW: You’re like one unit sometimes, it seems. Does that affect your life in a negative way at times or is it just all fun?(Laughs)
SK: That’s a nice way of putting it. Mara got a boyfriend sophomore year and it like really threw us off for a while.
MS: Yeah it took a solid year for Sarah and Russell [Fillmore-Brady ’18] to really be friends and my life to come back. There was some serious tension but now we’re really on great terms. We call ourselves the Household when we include Russell and the House when it’s just us.
SK: We have a group chat . . . We haven’t fought in a long time.
MS: Yeah, but it’s not December yet, so . . .(Laughs)
MS: We know it’s coming.
SK: December could be tumultuous.
TMW: You have a lot of fun decor in the house. Do you want to talk about that?
SK**: So this is one of my favorite pieces. We’re a big fan of Shutterfly, and Shutterfly does this great thing that once you order pictures from them they email you on a daily basis with all the latest deals. They had one with a free 16×20 inch photo.
MS: They just give away free stuff all the time, I don’t know how they’re a sustainable business.
SK: We have so much free Shutterfly stuff in our house, it’s ridiculous. We didn’t realize how big 16×20 really was.
MS: Pretty big.
SK: Huge. So we took a photo at Springfest and we ordered it, and we were at Goodwill before school started and just happened to find a frame that fit it. We think it’s kind of classy until you realize what it is, and then it just becomes funny.
MS: Then it’s like, wow, that’s Mara and Sarah very large on their wall.(Laughs)
MS: And then we have this tapestry that Sarah actually bought sophomore year but it’s really applicable to both of us because it’s this kind of boutique map of Boston which is where we’re from. My house is on it, Sarah’s house isn’t.
SK: Not bitter.
MS: It’s fine. So that’s a reminder of home.
SK: And then we have our men. This is a personal favorite. We’ve wanted this calendar—it’s the Warwick Rowers calendar—at one point we joked about getting the calendar but it became very real very fast. We already ordered the 2018. A little bitter because they abandoned the rowing theme so now it’s less tasteful.
TMW: Do you do anything else at Mac?
MS: (shakes head)
SK: I work in the archives. My boss told me to give the archives a shoutout. Go archives! It’s a lot of—
MS: Putting stuff in folders—
SK: Shivering. No, it’s a lot of “Grandma Jean passed away, can you find any pictures of her?” … I’m a little worried that over the years I’ve unearthed some dark family secrets.
TMW: Do you have any traditions?
MS: On Wednesdays we take turns making dinner. Tonight I made homemade Spaghetti-Os.
SK: They were so good. It’s better than the pea soup that I’ve failed at…
MS: True fact. So we make dinner, and we also drink wine and we whine about our weeks.
SK: We wine and whine.
TMW: Do you have any embarrassing stories?(Whispering and laughter)
SK: There have got to be some jointly embarrassing stories. We do embarrassing things
MS: All the time.
SK: At least half of our existence at Macalester is embarrassing.
MS: We sent you an email for you to put us in the Senior Spotlight, which I would argue is completely. legitimate, but others might argue that it was an embarrassing moment.
TMW: Anything else the Mac community should know about you?
MS: We haven’t talked about the CC! So there are two chairs above the salad bar on the side by the bathrooms facing each other, and when we’re not in class, that’s where we are. So if you ever need to find one of us, that’s where we’ll be.
SK: The best part is that it’s been that way for four years…. You learn so much sitting above Cafe Mac.
MS: Is there anything else we want to say? Come to our capstone.
SK: We have a shared G-Cal. It’s called “Smara’s Beefalo” because I love bison, Mara loves cattle and if you crossbreed bison and cattle, you get a beefalo. Smara is Sarah and Mara.
MS: Our capstones are on December 11. You should come see ‘em. We talk about really interesting things in history.
SK: I talk about the public history of museums and slavery and Mara talks about—
MS: I talk about Jewish women, food and respectability.
SK: And we’ll be shotgunning beers afterwards. It’ll probably be a sight. (Laughs)
SK: Catch us at the top of the CC.