Archive for June, 2010

Vassar Day One: 6.18.10

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

I am more or less settled in the room I will inhabit for the next five weeks.  It is quaint and old, but beautiful, in an old world sort of way.  There is a wardrobe that towers against one wall, spacious and forthcoming.  Beside me are a sturdy desk and chair, a decent bed and a small dresser.  All I need for my stay.  A fan in the window, much needed due to the rising temperature, partially obscures my view of the main building and surrounding grounds.  It is exquisite and I find that my nerves have calmed to some extent.  I have had short social encounters, but nothing resulting in any kind of impression yet.  It is all very overwhelming.

I am dressed in “smart-casual” as indicated on the itinerary for the evening.  7pm.  It is 6:30pm.  I have brushed my teeth and tidied the already tidy room multiple times.  I applied makeup, more than the usual mascara and chap stick.  I read the new Oprah magazine.  I am bored.  I cannot remember the last time I had nothing to do.  Seriously, I cannot.  It seems a distant memory that escapes my capturing it over and over in the recesses of my mind.  I cannot remember a time that I did not rush to do what I needed to do in order to care for other human beings.  In particular, my son and daughter, responding to their requests and needs.  Whether they are immediate or planning for some event in the future.

I’ve dreamt of this moment, unsure of its very existence.  Yet, I am not sure if I like this feeling of freedom.  Perhaps I must ease into it like swimming in the water.

I hear echoed voices of the other students invited to participate in the program.  I am anxious about meeting them. I am nervous that I will come across as being too old or uptight.  It is almost time to go to the reception, I lay down with my eyes closed, more importantly I allow the thoughts to stop.

Later that evening:

Dinner at the reception was surprisingly good.  After checking an over twenty-one list, I was also given a choice of red or white wine.  Nice!  At first, we mingled at our table; I began to feel at ease.  Everyone there was just as excited, apprehensive, nervous and bewildered as I was.

Eventually, someone rose and spoke.  We all introduced ourselves and the fear of why we were there hit me.  Academic boot camp.  Then the announcer said, “Please be confident in yourselves.  You are Vassar students.”  Not sure how I felt after that, but I was certainly feeling a slightly more centered.

I tried to get a chance to meet as many of my fellow students as possible, as we would be sharing this life away from our usual lives together.  I was relieved that I could get along with everyone  easily and my age was less of a concern.  I even partook in a late night walk around the 1000 acre campus with a group of girls.  The stroll produced a sneak peak at the pool in the fitness center, a newfound fear of skunk and the possibility of washing in tomato juice at some point of my stay, and the possibility of new friends.

I understand more about the envy I felt every time I saw college students in dorms on television.  There is something so delicious about the academic seclusion it provides.

School Year End

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

I remember a time when the school year end meant that the teacher pulled out the board games and crayons for drawing pictures.  We scrubbed pen marks off our desks with Comet and we talked about what we wanted to do for the summer.  There was always the feeling that we would have a happy ending to our grueling school year, field trips and testing left a faint taste in our mouths.  Cafeteria food would make way for watermelon and tomatoes picked right out of my grandmother’s garden.  It was a whimsical time, school friends bidding goodbye to become reacquainted with the children on our blocks.  We would share our  tears spilled from skinned knees and relish the first time we could spend a dollar on the ice cream truck, it’s sweet melody luring us away from sidewalk games like the pied piper.  The anticipation of block parties and barbecue made our skin tingle.

Today we have playoffs and end of the year meetings.  We have summer activities to schedule and day camps to send our children off too.  We have vacations planned and end of the year parties, for school and for every darn activity our child participated in.  We have summer to prepare for, new swim suits and sunscreen to buy.  I continue to wonder why it costs almost eight bucks a bottle!  The upcoming school year reaching from September into June to suffocate us and make us drop to our knees.  Summer is a break from the busy world we live in all year and it is in danger of extinction.  We need to perserve our summer days. The lazy summer days that never seem to end, particularly the most humid of the bunch are now cast aside.

My third grader had finals this week, she was stressed and studious trying to cram the last bit of information inside her head before school finishes.  She is not given the natural slide from school to summer.  It sometimes causes sadness when I see the tension that the idea of faster and more is better, creates.

Of course, summer will come whether we schedule its everyday or not.  I personally want nothing more than my daughter to sit on our Brooklyn stoop with an Italian ice with a friend.  Sticky goodness running down to their elbows, complaining they are bored while they count the scabs on their legs after running through the park.   School and the accompanying work a distant memory for a few months.