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Hip Penn Grandmother Sends Newspaper Clippings on How to Deal With Never-Ending Torrents of Anxiety and Depression


Photo by ijim2000 / CC0

Always trying to adjust to the times, Penn grandmother Bess Walderstein is sure that her weekly envelope of newspaper clippings to her grandson, Connor (W '20), is relevant and helpful to his life at Penn. After reading about Penn in the media and talking to her grandson about the school, Bess' clippings now mostly revolve around how to deal with never-ending torrents of anxiety and depression.

"I just want to make sure I'm doing what I can for my sweet Connor," says Bess, born Bessie Chalmowitz in the Coney Island neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York in 1935. "So I send clippings that I think will help him at school—things that deal with waking up every day with a sense of dread so overwhelming it physically prevents you from sitting up and stuff like that."

Currently a resident at La Buena Vista Retirement Community in Boca Raton, Bess scours her local papers as well as Google News for any information regarding fear, isolation, or the point where simmering rage simply turns into a sweet, buzzing numbness. "Anything to help Connor," she says.

"Just the other day I found a Yahoo News article that talked about how pathological insecurity can often manifest itself into anti-social behavior, and I just immediately thought of my Connor having a blast up at UPenn," said Bess.

"And oh, that one time there was a New York Times article about how the competition and toxicity of elite schools can often engender low self-esteem that manifests as obsessive and compulsive tendencies—oh, I just had to send it to my Conny Baby."

When asked for comment, Connor said, "It's sweet, but I was incredibly depressed back in, like, high school. I wish she'd start sending me articles about the unusually high mental illness rates in the finance industry and the emptiness of corporate achievement.