Tag Archives: college

A Taste of Independence

I think the first time I felt independent was when I finally got my driver’s license. It took me a while to go to the DMV to actually get it because I was so afraid I would fail. When I finally did take my road test, the guy with the clipboard in the passenger seat did not help. He wanted me to pretend that I was parking going downward on a hill when we were actually heading up a hill. When I moved the wheels the wrong way, at least he didn’t mark it against me!

The first summer I had my driver’s license, my aunt let me borrow her silver Cadillac. My sister, cousin and I bounced into the car. We were going to the movies. As we drove, our arms loosely draped out of the open windows, we turned the radio up and sang along at the top of our voices.

Highway to the Danger Zone.

We were going to see the best summer movie EVER.

I feel the need…the need for speed!

That’s right. We were going to see Top Gun.

While the silver Cadillac didn’t accelerate using g-forces, that sense of freedom on a warm summer night was exhilarating. Sometimes being the oldest child in the family is awesome!

Sometimes, though, being the oldest child is also scary. I was the first to go away to college. I loved being away from home…and hated it. Those first few months were really hard. It was before cell phones and email, so I had to call my family collect. Will you accept the charges?

I don’t remember why, but I guess I thought I had to be independent and I held off calling my parents for 9 weeks. I was busy after all, hanging out with my new friends 24 hours a day, taking classes, doing homework, and going to the student union. We did send real letters to each other (you can read some of them here). When I finally heard my mom and dad’s voice on the phone, however, I remember feeling so happy and yet missed them so much that I burst into tears!

Independence; sometimes exhilarating, sometimes heartbreaking.

When do you remember feeling independent?

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A Sensory View of Writing

A Sensory View of Writing

That summer, the girl sitting next to me wore a “Frankie Say Relax” shirt quite often. We both sat behind large, green electric typewriters, learning how to touch type. If we made mistakes, we had self-correcting tape which left an obvious white mark on our papers. Learning how to type was very frustrating; it was much easier to just pick up a pen and WRITE.

Just a couple of years later I headed to college, my typing skills much improved. I was the proud owner of a slick Smith-Corona typewriter. It still left white correction marks on my paper, but the keyboard typed much more smoothly than the green clunker in that high school classroom did. That typewriter helped me hand in many papers on time; that typewriter helped my GPA. In just a couple of years typewriters became outdated, and I spent time in the computer lab using WordPerfect for my papers.

There’s something about getting the words down on paper; something about typing on a keyboard and seeing those black squiggles on a white background.

Later on, about a year after I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was in a funk. I needed to climb out of my cancer-brought-on depression, so I went back to basics. I bought a journal and began to write a gratitude journal. This writing was not for a teacher; no grades would be assigned–I just wrote. Writing was hard at first. Finding things to be grateful for was more difficult than I imagined. Sometimes it was that bowl of ice cream I ate or a phone call from a friend. But the more I wrote, the more I kept on writing. My journals filled up with daily events.

The funny thing was, when my life became happier, I stopped writing. I was dating my husband, and my journals stop just about the time we were engaged. I had a wedding to plan, and a new job to find. I was so happy, but none of that happiness made it into my journal.

It wasn’t until I discovered the world of blogging that I began to write regularly again. This time, the tick-tapping of my fingertips was on my very own laptop. Back in college, I never dreamed I would own my very own computer…much less a computer that I could literally fit on my lap! Once again, I fell in love with filling up that white space with black squiggles.

So why in the world would I go back to pencil and paper?

Writing with a pencil is different than writing with a pen or a keyboard. The pencil makes a scritch-scratch noise as it writes. I feel the ragged friction as the tip presses across the paper. It is second nature to turn the pencil around and erase a mistake almost as soon as I make it. I can draw arrows, circle, underline. Writing with a pencil takes longer than typing does. It is more laborious, which makes the words more precious.

I also did something last week that I haven’t done since college; I wrote notes in a book. In a strange way, writing those notes made me feel more of a connection with the author; it was almost as though I was communicating with him. Communications he will never see, of course, but writing down my thoughts as I read made my reading a little more meaningful.

I love to write, not necessarily because I am filling up the page with words worth reading. It’s more a matter of the senses; seeing black on white; hearing the click-clack of the keyboard or feeling the scritch-scratch of the pencil; seeing paragraphs form and then having a sense of accomplishment.

What have you written lately?


Words Cannot Express {Simple Moment, Bigger Picture}

I have heard through the grapevine that a college acquaintance of mine has started the journey; the healing path toward remission from breast cancer. On a mutual friend’s Facebook wall, she wrote about leg hair. That’s right; LEG HAIR! I remember telling others that while my head was bald, I still had to shave my legs. GAH! But eventually, the chemo made even that stubborn leg hair fall out.

I am grateful for the healing I received.
For the hair brushing my cheeks.
For the hair bristling on my legs.
(Yes, I am even grateful for the need to shave!)
I am grateful for the doctors I continue to see.
For the words I heard just this month, “Your labs look fine.”
I am grateful, so grateful, for the forty-two years God has given me;
For my husband and daughters; there are not words enough to express my love for them.
But yet, in the pit of me, a ball of fear reigns, like a tightly wound ball of yarn.
Panic’s claws threaten to unravel the ball; to pick at it; to make it–and me–come undone.
Fear’s tendrils weave through my body, threatening to stop me in my tracks.
With God’s help, those tendrils of fear dissolve. Words cannot express His love for me.
He gently winds that fear back up into a ball and weaves the fear away.
He was with me through my diagnosis and healing;
He will be with me at the end.
Fear has no hold on me.
He is with us now.
And I am thankful.

Bigger Picture Moments this month are all about Gratitude. Visit Sarah at This Heavenly Life  for more thoughts about thankfulness.

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Choir Tour!

When I was young, traveling meant driving in the family’s large, four-door brown Oldsmobile. We had assigned seats to prevent fighting among us four kids. My spot was behind Dad, the driver. My baby sister sat next to me, and my older little sister sat behind Mom. My baby brother sat in the middle up front, between Dad and Mom, where he couldn’t get into any trouble.

When I was older, traveling meant riding in a coach bus with a group of peers.

During two of my university’s spring breaks in early March, I traveled with the Concert Choir on tour. Mornings were taken up with driving, playing Euchre to pass the time, and trying to avoid the bathroom at the back of the bus. Afternoons were spent rehearsing, and when evening came, we performed our concerts. It seemed to me that the temperature of the churches during the afternoon rehearsals was usually chilly; I suppose the heat was set low to save on heating costs.

Before our concerts, we would don our choir robes. Girls were required to wear dresses, black ballet slippers and pantyhose under those robes. We filed out into the chancel of the church, took our places on the risers, and kept our eyes on our baton wielding, white-goateed conductor. The wide, open space of the church would have warmed up for the evening, and at times was a little too warm. We were all in fear of fainting on those narrow risers, and consciously kept our knees unlocked. The joy of singing filled us all as our voices filled the sanctuary with warm tones and interweaving harmonies.

After the concerts, it was time to meet our hosts for the night. We would pair up with our roommates and our hosts would drive us to their homes for a place to sleep. The good hosts would stay up and talk with us, feed us, and show us to our room. Sometimes (and we grumbled about this) we weren’t given anything to eat before we were shown to our beds. Sometimes we received a little something as a memento of our visit. For the most part, our hosts were generous and kind.

On the days that our next destination was close by and we didn’t need to drive much, we were able to sight see. We were given strict orders to return to the bus by a certain time, and then we were set free. I remember wandering around downtown Boston with a few of my friends. We shopped in historical Quincy Market, but being poor college students didn’t allow us to buy much. We began to search for a place to eat lunch. Somehow we stumbled upon a small doorway which opened to a narrow staircase. At the top of the stairs was a very small Italian restaurant with tables covered in white tablecloths. We seemed to be the only customers, and weren’t sure that the place was even open. But then out from the kitchen came a bustling large woman with an Italian accent. She showed us to a table, took our orders, and went back into the kitchen to prepare our meals. When my plate arrived, it was filled to the brim with piles of thick, homemade fettuccine smothered with the creamiest, most wonderful alfredo sauce I have ever eaten. For years afterward, at every Italian restaurant I ordered the fettuccine alfredo, hoping to find some as delicious as that homemade entree I was served that day in Boston. Nothing has come close!

During my two tours with the choir, I was able to see Niagara Falls, New York City, Washington, D.C., Colonial Williamsburg, and Monticello. I had so much fun traveling with friends and seeing new places; however, even traveling gets old.

On the last tour I went on, at the last church we sang at, I was in for a surprise. When I saw my host for the night, I burst into tears of exhaustion and joy…my aunt and cousin had come to take me to their house! For some reason (my poor sense of geography) I didn’t realize our last stop on the tour was close to my aunt and uncle’s house. After spending so much time on the road, what a relief it was to stay in a familiar house with my beloved family!

After ten days of traveling, rehearsing, and singing, I was ready to go home, but being a part of those two choir tours was a wonderful experience. It could very well be the reason that I feel eager to travel when I hear my husband announce, “Road Trip!”

I am guest hosting “My Young Adult Years,” a project to record my youth, over at Mommy’s Piggy Tales today. This is the third post out of six.  

Cousins and Friends: College Years

I am guest hosting “My Young Adult Years,” a project to record my youth, over at Mommy’s Piggy Tales today. This is the post I wrote about Friends and Fellowship. Please visit Mommy’s Piggy Tales to link up your own story of Your Young Adult Years!

A flashback of college life

Last Saturday, I attended an early childhood education conference at a local community college. After a continental breakfast, we needed to attend a variety of workshops. As I wandered through the maze of hallways, looking at my yellow sheet with room numbers listed on it, I felt like it was the first day of classes again. I have a reoccurring dream where I’m late for a class but I can’t find the room. I felt like my dream was coming to life! (You’d think a conference involving teachers would have included a map of the building in our materials!) I finally found the room I was supposed to be in. I followed my habit from years of taking classes…I found a desk in the back. It was a small desk, with a teeny tiny desk top that flipped up and down. I thought about this project – My Young Adult Years. All week, I was working on this post about college, and here I was, back on a college campus again!

Friends were everything

Freshman year, my roommate and I started out as strangers. She was so homesick that she would quietly cry every night. I didn’t think I was homesick, but the first time I called home I bawled my eyes out. Even though Peggy and I started as strangers, we soon became fast friends. We soon met other girls in our dorm, and we formed friendships that would last all four years of college. Together we vowed we would remain GDIs (Gosh Darned Independents, to put it nicely). We scorned rush week, sororities, and all that being Greek entailed. Sophomore year, some of our friends changed their minds and joined a sorority, but they still remained very active in our group. We felt so grown up as we threw birthday parties for each other, studied through the night together, and of course, went to church together on Sunday mornings. I’m a pastor’s kid, and as a result, I wasn’t always accepted by my classmates in junior high and high school. At Valparaiso University, I met many other pastor’s kids. It was a perfect fit.

This small, Midwestern university was also where various aunts, cousins, and even my mom had gone. At one time, five of us cousins were attending the university at the same time. So even as I was fighting homesickness, I still had family members close by.

My major was what, again?

Remember what my major was? I was an elementary education major, but from the activities I was involved in, you might have guessed I was a music major. As I mentioned last week, I sang in Concert Choir. I also joined a group named “Perfect Harmony.” We were a support group for the music fraternity on campus. We would attend concerts and musicals that the fraternity members were involved in. We would attend parties at their frat house. Okay, so the parties weren’t really for support, but more for fun!

YIKES! I never liked this picture of me, but it shows off our Perfect Harmony sweatshirts.
That’s my cousin on the right. She was taking a medication where wearing contacts wasn’t possible. She suffered through the year having to wear glasses.

Senior year I was unable to be part of Concert Choir due to my student teaching, and I joined a small choir named “Dayspring.” We sang contemporary music at the small, Wednesday night church services. Once, my student teaching carpool partner and I sang a duet together – Amy Grant’s “El Shaddai.” El Shaddai, El-Elyon na Adonai, Age to age You`re still the same, By the power of the name. El Shaddai, El Shaddai, Erkahmka na Adonai, We will praise and lift You high, El Shaddai.

Graduation came, and we all scattered to various locations around the country due to employment, to marriage, or to the pursuit of a higher degree. I rarely travel back to that wonderful place, and I have lost touch with many of my old friends. Remembering those college friends and the great times we had always brings a smile to my face.

Three cousins graduated from VU in 1991.
Here is our family celebration!

I’ve recently reconnected with some college friends on Facebook, and I’ve enjoyed seeing what my old friends are up to! There are still some friends I would love to reconnect with some day.

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