Monday, May 26, 2008

Memories of Great Halls....

My pal Tal has written a beautiful and moving elegy of the ASU Seminole Twin Towers, his home during his college days, and now demolished. It made me think of the many abodes I had in college -- not as many abodes as roommates, but that's another tale for another day.

First up: University Place (August 23, 1987-September 11, 1987... eek!). I was 17 when I left home and moved into my first dorm room. Housing had messed up and somehow overbooked housing, so a number of us were quickly shuffled into two off-campus housing locations at MUSC (the medical school just down the street from C of C). University Place was a private apartment complex -- still six blocks or so from my campus and just on the edge of the rough section of town.

Now, this seems like a great setup, right? Our own APARTMENT, instead of a crappy dorm. We have our own kitchen! There is no one to monitor us!!! WOO-HOO!!! Wrong. Looking back, there were two primary reasons I hated it tremendously .... one, I was still in transition from small-town girl (and super-goody-two-shoes at that), and two, I had Roomie from Hell #1. Okay, really, she wasn't, but we were polar opposites. She was brash and very curt, whereas I was far more meek and given to great emotional displays at that time. Even that first night, the other suitemates told her to lighten up. Once she discovered I had no plans to go Greek, then I was truly persona non grata. A complete nobody in her perfect little Tri-Delt world (and to be fair, I knew lots of nice Tri-Delts; she simply wasn't one of them).

I was a thorn in the Housing Office's side for the next two weeks. I went every single day, begging to be moved. I cried. I squalled. I pleaded. Finally by September 9, I had given up and just decided I was going to have to make do. The one bright spot was that I had decided to take part in a service fraternity -- which Miss Tri-Delt promptly declared "for losers" and which my also-Greek suitemate said, "Hey, listen. Shut up. It's not for you, and that's fine. But it sounds perfect for her, so Just. Lay. Off. Got it?" (I still think fondly of her to this day, and I haven't spoken to her in 20 years).

Salvation came on September 10. Solveig from Housing called. Seems a place had opened up in one of the historic houses, and that there would eventually be a third roommate moved in, but was I interested? I told her, "I'll take it." Solveig: "But don't you at least want to go over and check it out first?" Me: "Yeah, but sign me up anyway." Solveig: "Go look first, then come by Housing." Me: "I don't care. I'm taking it, and I'm coming over to look at it."

24 Bull, Room 101: (September 11, 1987-end of Spring 1989) So I hopped on the downtown trolley as quickly as I could, went to the room, met the current tenant, and five minutes later, ran over to Housing and told Solveig once again, "I'LL TAKE IT!!!" My new roomie helped me move everything in the next evening, and I was happier than forty clams.

24 Bull was one of several historic homes that had been renovated into living quarters. It was usually limited to upperclassmen only, but because of Housing's massive screw-ups over the summer, there were several freshmen and sophomores living there. I didn't care if it had been rooms full of goldfish and I'd been asked to clean all the poop. I was taking it. The reason the houses were normally off-limits to underclassmen was that there were no real restrictions. Technically, we all had the same rules as the "real" dorms .... only there were no check-in desks. No monitors. There was a security guard who stopped by and patrolled by, but no real authority figure who checked up on you. Okay, granted at 24 Bull, our RA lived with us (but she had responsibility for our house and four others on the street). But as far as following the same rules as "real" dorms, BAH! We laughed at them.......

24 Bull #101 was my home for the next two years. And that first year -- in spite of a few things -- remains one of the most wonderful times in my college memory. There were nine of us on the first floor -- 3 in Room 101 (the third roomie moved in the first weekend of October), 2 in Room 102, 3 in Room 105, and 1 in the private "senior suite" (Room 106), which had private access. She didn't socialize much with the rest of us -- freshmen and sophomores -- but we had a large time with the 8 of us!!! We were in and out of each others' rooms like they were our own. We developed some good relationships which withstood some pretty weird things ..... such as having a kleptomaniac on our floor (which turned out to be the original occupant of our room). Stacey moved in later that spring (having had a problem with her roommate, in another of the houses up the street), and a friendship was solidified. The next year wasn't so hot. Of the original 8, only 2 of us were there the next year. The entire dynamic changed, and a new RA came along who was definitely not Dawn (the previous RA). After the end of that lousy 2nd year, I decided a change was in order. And to continue the regression from apartment to historic house, I went from house to "real" dorm. And I picked the coolest one on campus.............

College Lodge, Room 608: (Fall 1989-end of Spring 1991) Let me backtrack a little. When I lived at 24 Bull, we were under the auspices of the College Inn. The Inn (as it was known) was an old motel that the College had purchased many years prior and turned into a dorm. It was a dump -- but a dump with character. If you moved into the Inn, you never wanted to leave. And indeed, there were some who were 4-year-residents at the Inn. But they paved Paradise and literally put up a Parking Lot (I think they called it "S" Lot). The Lodge was similar -- a high-rise hotel with an incredibly small parking deck that the College had turned into dorm space.

Like the Inn, the Lodge was also legendary. While not quite inspiring the same loyalty as the Inn had, it was nonetheless a great place to live -- if for one reason and one reason only: private bathrooms. See, at 24 Bull, we shared a hall bath. You try coordinating 9 girls and their bathroom time. That first year worked great, with no arguing. That second year... not so well. We made a schedule of who would take morning showers and evening showers. It was that crazy. But in the Lodge, there would only be two of us sharing that bathroom. And those bathrooms had tubs -- perfect for lolling (it was showers only at every other dorm). The only other possibly cooler dorm on campus was Rutledge Rivers -- apartment-style dorms with a living room, and those were impossible to get into unless you just got lucky.

Oh, the Lodge, how I miss thee sometimes. You were a dump but by God, you were my dump!! I had the corner room facing the back of Maybank Hall and the side of the Simons Art Center, on the top floor. It was truly almost heaven. And for a time, there were 5 rooms in a row all filled with fraternity connections, plus other frat people in the Lodge. There were also classmates, coworkers, etc. It was the coolest place on earth. And especially that first year -- when Roy was our RD. Roy was the coolest grad student RD who ever lived. Roy appreciated that we were students, young and eager to test our limits. During our dorm meetings, I lost count of the number of times I heard, "Now, come inspection time, I can check every place except your closet. We cannot go into your closet no matter what. And not saying I'm looking but if you have something you need to hide, remember: I can't check your closet."

Unfortunately, the next year, Roy had gotten his Master's, moved on, and we got a new RD who was as uptight and rules-heavy as Roy had been easygoing. When he mentioned the closet rule, he sounded almost disappointed that he couldn't check the closets. I swear, part of me wondered if he would have been happier in the military, doing quarter-bounce checks on cots. However, I'll give credit where it is due; he got me a visitor's pass for a friend who came for a during-the-week visit, when he didn't have to (technically, I was supposed to give a week's notice). Plus I had some other very serious stuff going on in my life.

At the end of that Spring '91 semester, I was tired of school and tired of dorm life. I decided apartment living was the way to go. So I put my name on "roommate wanted" at the Housing Office, and let it go from there.

Had I known how things that semester were going to go, I should have stayed home and never gone back!!! But that too is another tale for another day.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Gearing up for the Race....

Breast cancer is a cause near and dear to my heart. I lost a great-aunt to complications from breast cancer back in the late 70s. I also lost a very dear friend from high school just a couple of years ago. On the flip side, my dad's sister is a 17-year-plus survivor.

Early detection saves lives. It really is that simple.

A little further about the high school friend. Long-time readers already know the story. Tee was like a sister to me in those days. But our early adult lives veered in different directions -- she was a wife and stay-at-home mom, while I was "career girl" (such as it was). We started only keeping in touch if we ran into each other (or ran into the parents) in the grocery store or Wal-Mart.

When I heard she'd been diagnosed, I was floored. And I had no idea how to approach her or all those years we'd gone without being part of each others' lives. So I took the chicken approach -- I did nothing. No flowers, no card, no nothing. I didn't know what to say, so I didn't say anything.

I prayed -- I prayed for her. I put her name in our prayer book at church. I thought of her often. But it wasn't enough. Tee passed away just a few weeks short of turning 37. She left behind two teenage kids and a husband, plus parents who were now burying yet another child (her brother had died a few years earlier).

I was angry -- mostly at myself, but I was also truly angry at cancer. I hate cancer of all kinds to begin with, but having the family connections to the disease really make me hate breast cancer. This made me want to do something about it. I could never bring my friend back, and it's hard for me to forgive myself for not doing more when she was alive. I have to do what I can now.

This is my 2nd year to take part in the Upstate SC Race for the Cure. Last year, my walk time in the 5K was 1:06:34. I intend this year to come in at under an hour. And for the 2nd year, I'm the team captain for our corporate team. And I am on the race committee as "Sleep-In For The Cure" coordinator.

If you are so inclined, I would love to have you assist me with a donation. You can do it online by going to my RFTC fundraising page; you will receive an e-mail confirmation and tax receipt immediately. No amount is too small -- I promise -- and every dollar is greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Departing from my usual MO....

I'm not the type to wear my faith on my sleeve. For me, it's intensely personal and private -- even though I strongly believe in the value of a faith community. But I was stricken tonight by the number of prayer needs that friends of mine have posted on various messageboards, mostly prayers for healing. I was absolutely dumbfounded by the magnitude of the medical needs -- people fighting cancer, a little girl who lives with a rare form of epilepsy, someone whose brother is receiving a transplant (and the family who so graciously gave the gift of life in the midst of death), someone else whose relative was in an awful car accident ..... the list goes on.

I think no matter what our professed faith is, the need to tap into some power beyond our own is important. And I am humbled and awed by the sense of my prayers reaching into God's ears and into His merciful sacred heart. So for all those who have asked my prayers, I offer this:

Kind, loving, and merciful God, I come before you tonight -- thankful for the many gifts and blessings you have bestowed. I come to you, source of all that is good, seeking special favors for those I love -- and for those near and dear to their hearts.

So many are battling life-threatening medical issues; please heal them, and hold their families up through these difficult moments. Grant them a special measure of grace, strength in trials, and a heart full of gratitude.

So many are in need of other miracles; please provide all their needs, and if it be your will, maybe a couple of the small wants.

So many are overwhelmed by the burdens of life; grant them peace of mind and strength of spirit to handle what they can, and the grace of surrendering the rest to you.

So many are without even the basic necessities which I so easily take for granted; provide them with food, clothing, warm and dry shelter, a living wage, companionship, and strength for each day's labor.

I pray that you comfort the afflicted, tenderly receive the dying, open our hearts to the wonder of life, and help us all to thank and praise you for every gift you send our way.

In Christ's name, amen.

Friday, May 16, 2008

I am alive.

I have just been snowed under the last few days. Enough so that I've sworn I need a wife more than a husband. I need someone to just come in and organize my life and my space and my head to be able to do everything more easily and more clearly.

But, I guess I'd have to do that myself anyway -- develop a system I can live with.

Back to me. Ugh.

Monday, May 05, 2008

A very happy anniversary!

This past Saturday marked one year since Maddox came bounding into our lives. And for the life of me, I cannot imagine (nor do I want to) life without him. It had been nearly 20 years since I'd owned a pet. I'm older and wiser than I was then, and smarter about what to do. And of course, it's always trial and error.

It's been an interesting year -- obedience training and retraining (and occasionally re-retraining!). Stomach upsets, e. coli, and hypothyroidism. But much love, sweet kissies, and the occasional walking injury, usually caused by the hot pursuit of a squirrel.

I wouldn't trade this year for anything!

I love you, buddy!