Backpack and a B & B

Day 30 prompt for #reverbbroads11 is: If you could go on a trip regardless of cost, where would you go and what would you see? (from Dana)

I am cheating a little in the fact that my husband and I have our dream trip in mind. While reading a Backpacker magazine, Brent came upon several hiking routes through Wales. That enough was to peak my interest, but here’s the fun part. You stay at bed and breakfast inns along the way, and they shuttle your backpack to the next B & B while you hike the day. They call it the Welsh version of hut-to-hut hiking.

Hiking along the coast of the Irish Sea, B&Bs, and a few pubs along the way? Sign me up.

Mix Tape

#Reverbbroads11 prompt for Day 29: What was the soundtrack of your year? Of your life? Which songs most strongly represent the various eras of your life? What songs were playing for the most crucial, formative moments of your life? Or, if the chronological approach doesn’t work for you, which songs best capture the different facets of your life? (Childhood, Love Life, Adulthood, Loss, Growth, Career, Happiness, Sadness, etc.)  Please elaborate. (from Bethany/Katie)

This is probably the most difficult post for me to do. I like too many songs. I fall in love with too many lyrics. But let me see if I can pull together an appropriate mix tape (yeah, I’m going to admit to sitting by the radio during the Top 40 to record popular songs). Let’s see if I can do this…

1. Best Friends by Frances England: Much of my childhood involved my best friend, Kelly Jones. I did everything with her. Every New Year’s Eve, I am reminded of how many sleepovers we had at each other’s houses to watch the ball drop.

2. Bad Day by Barenaked Ladies: My parents divorced when I was 10, and this song pretty much sums up my mood during that time.

3. Day by Day from Godspell: This covers most of high school. First, I was in show choir with friends I have to this day, and I loved (and still love) Broadway. Second, this was also when I was a born again Christian, and my faith was a guiding force. And third, it was high school, and we were all just trying to get through it.

4. Power of Two by the Indigo Girls: College. It’s where I met Brent. It’s where I took a lot of road trips with Brent and our close circle of friends. It was a time when “five miles out of the city limit we’re singing…”

5. I Alone by Live: This covers much of the years between college graduation and moving back to Michigan. Long distance relationships sucked, and this song’s angst worked for that. Although, I met some incredibly wonderful friends during that time that kept my life rocking.

6. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Jewel: I couldn’t resist, and I was happy to take Brent’s name when we were married. If you saw my Christmas photos from this year, you know I’ve had fun with it. (Also, this is one of my favorite versions of the song.)

7. Welcome to This World by Renee & Jeremy: This is where I really get into the children’s music, since this is where my first daughter enters the picture. She was a surprise in the fact that I was dead-set that I was going to have boys (since I had 4 brothers, and many boy cousins). She has surprised me every day since and has treated “each moment like a prize.”

8. Family Tree by Frances England: We grew by one. And she was quite the one, and has been a stubborn, hilarious, and precocious additional “branch to our family tree.” It also really summarizes what an amazing big sister my oldest has been.

9. Fast Train to Grandma’s by Frances England: Yes, I really like Frances England, but this song also really reminds me of my wonderful grandmother, Gramma Mimsy or Grimsy, whom we lost in 2009. She was an over the river and through the woods grandma, since she lived in upstate NY. She was always so much fun.

9. Jungle Gym by Jack Johnson: There hasn’t been a weather-accommodating weekend in our life with kids that has not included a trip to the playground. A penny for each “Can we go to a park?” would make me wealthy. (Also, Jack is one of the best concerts I have been to.)

10. Firework by Katy Perry: I do enjoy the lyrics to this song, since they seem to encapsulate my hopes for my girls. But mostly, I chose this song because my youngest asks for it to be played three or fours time in one 15 minute commute to daycare.

I could go on and on, but I will just hop back on iTunes and think about all the ones I should have included.

The Hopeless Romantic

#Reverbbroads11 prompt for Day 28:Do you consider yourself a romantic person? Do you prefer fancy dinners, roses and chocolate romantic, or are you more non-traditional? What’s the most romantic thing you have ever done for a loved one or had done for you? (from Kassie)

Hmm, let me answer this prompt by explaining my last Mother’s Day gift. My husband and I don’t exchange Christmas presents. We tend to look for things we both want for the house, or places we want to go, or just a simple date night. When it comes to Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and birthdays, we tend to have a little fun – read: go overboard.

So, this past May, for Mother’s Day, when my husband was hinting that he needed ideas, I told him.

Me: What I would love, more than anything, is to have my Jeep reeeeeaaally cleaned. Cleaned out, washed, detailed, the works.

My husband: Really?

Me: Seriously. I’m in that car so much, and it’s driving me nuts –  and I don’t want to do it.

My husband: OK.

So, if by romantic you mean please-do-the-stuff-that-I-don’t-want-to-do, then yes, I am romantic. If you mean those sweet nothings and rose petals and candlelight dinners, then no, I’m just hopeless.


If These Wall Hangings Could Talk

#Reverbbroads11 prompt for Day 27: What does your office/home/bedroom tell others about you? (from Kristen)

Quilt from my last RA staff

Let me tell you what pieces of my office are not me: the lack of windows and the cinder block walls, standard issue for many college campus buildings. Additionally, the fluorescent lighting has not been used during my occupation. I opt for several lamps, instead, which many find calming. It’s cozy for sure.

When I went into my office today, I snapped a few photos of the things that drew my attention the most quickly, and when I look at them together now, I see that they are all pieces that were from my students. There is a quilt from my last residence hall student staff. It contains inside jokes that would take me too long to tell, and truly, you had to be there.

From another student staff, I have a “Today, I Feel…” sign, since I told them all how much I loved their expressions. I remember that they named our staff after the group popular at the time, N*SYNC. However, my crew was named N*Staff. They were the staff members that wanted to dress up in themes for staff meetings, wrote end of semester raps, and introduced me to Harry Potter books.

I have my ALLY and Safe Space signs from my very first position in student affairs. It has about three layers of lamination on it to try to keep it in one piece. I have notes from various students and fellow student affairs professionals.

My bookshelf, in addition to being lined with student affairs textbooks from grad school, also hold the various gifts that many of my students from Korea have brought me as thank-yous. They were all so kind to tell me the stories behind the fans, or symbols, or clothing.

One of my incredibly talented Creative Advertising students was president of the Advertising Association while he was on campus. I loved the posters Jack Muldowney designed for their group’s various events. When the year was done, I asked him for copies of his posters, which he graciously provided me. Since I didn’t have wall space to frame and hang them all, and since I couldn’t choose just a few that I liked about the others, I made a collage of all of the posters. It’s colorful and makes me smile every time I walk into my office.

I love being surrounded by my students. I am constantly amazed at the talent they demonstrate, the wit that they share, and the mountains they climb to get to graduation. My office keeps reminders of them and their special place in my heart nearby, and when it’s time, I will pack up all of these little pieces of my career and take them to the next place.

Clicks and Cups

#Reverbbroads11 prompt for Day 26: Write about the things you collect, include photos, tell why these items are cherished by you. (from Catie)

Ok, I have two collections, neither of which consumes my house or my budget, but they have become a hobby over the years.

One for the Road

First, my husband has grown accustom to the consistent request that I make when we are on vacations. If we are travelling, and happen upon a college or university campus, I want to stop. I want to see the campus, get a feel for the place.

I am partial to smaller schools.

I think this probably puts me inline with many other student affairs professionals (or it just makes me an uber higher education nerd).  If I can find a campus store open, I will buy a travel mug. I am not sure when I started this practice.

When we were in the Finger Lakes areas in New York for a friend’s wedding, We passed a tiny little campus that used the (then) new VW bugs in bright yellow as their campus fleet (of five vehicles). I can’t remember the name of the school, and it’s killing me. I just remember that they didn’t have anyone on campus, and no bookstore to be found. But from any campus that had an open campus store, I will purchase a travel mug. I cannot find all of our mugs right now since they are scattered among cars, offices, and home, so I cannot guesstimate the number.

Say Cheese!

My Aunt Diane's Yashica Mat 124 circa 1970

My other collection is of cameras. All kinds of cameras. My oldest one is a negative developer from the early 1900s, I believe, and my earliest one (that I don’t currently use) is a 1970s Kodak Polaroid that my grandparents pulled out at every family holiday.

I think it started with my Aunt Diane’s Yashica. It’s the type that you look down into the lens to see the picture in front of you. She did some amazing shots with it, and I like to think about it in her hands. She had an incredibly analytical mind from what my family tells me, but I like to think of her creativity, as well.

The other cameras, I acquired from flea markets and garage sales. People found them in their attics and passed them along. I have to do more research on each one (after the dissertation), but I like having them on display, along side the black and white photography I have accumulated over the years. Many of them in their original boxes or camera bags. They have character, just like my turn of the century house, and my 1938 Old Town Otca canoe. I like things with character.

The Yashica still works, although I haven’t used it myself. I’m actually hoping for a new camera for my birthday next year…but a new-fangled digital SLR with a lot of bells and whistles. I still love black and white photography, but I don’t think I have to hand crank the film or work in a dark room to appreciate it. However, I will always appreciate these (and the several still in boxes). It’s fun to see all that history.


#Reverbroads post for today: If someone made a board game of your life, what would it look like? What pieces would you need to play? (from Jessica)

My life, like many of yours, is never the same from day to day. With a three and seven year old and working with college students, the rules change everyday for me. Just when I think I have figured out that she likes ranch dip with her chicken nuggets, she switches to ketchup. Just when I think I have mastered a system involving student records, the entire system is overhauled and I am left holding the CTRL key.

So when I think of a game that doesn’t really make sense, the characters are ever-evolving, and rules are thrown out the window, well, then my life would be a board game variation of Calvinball. Fans of the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes are well aware of Calvinball.

In my board game version of Calvinball, the pieces would include a smartphone, a permission slip from school, and my Jeep Liberty. The next time played, pieces would include my English Setter, laptop, and a half eaten bagel. The next time might include…well, you get the picture.

Rules might include: Fussing can only be completed during the eating of breakfast. Right before a paper is due for your doctorate, one of the kids will get sick. You must respond to all 120 emails, or an upset parent penalty will be issued. Laughter is only permitted if the cat gets stuck in a shopping bag.

The fun part is, the rules change. You can create a new rule right in the middle of play.The only true rule to the game is that it must be played differently each time.

Calvinball has its own theme song:

Other kids’ games are all such a bore!
They’ve gotta have rules and they gotta keep score!
Calvinball is better by far!
It’s never the same! It’s always bizarre!
You don’t need a team or a referee!
You know that it’s great, ’cause it’s named after me!

I regularly come up with theme songs, and this would be a rule I would implement on a varying basis. Today, it was a parody of “I Will Survive” after braving the aisles of Target for a last minute supply. Yep, I would rock at Calvinball.


Day 21 of #reverbbroads11, and today’s prompt is: If you returned (or went, if you’ve never been) to college to study anything you want, what would you major in, and why? (from Matt)

Without intending to, I answered this question in my first #reverbbroads11 post. And twenty days later, I still agree that I would have gone with Economics. It feeds everything. It drives so many decisions, and I wish I had a better handle on it. As a college administrator, I regularly check out what EC courses are offered each semester, since I am tempted to audit the course.

However, I am with Emily on this one. I am trying to revise/edit/FINISH this dissertation thingey. It’s been a huge part of my life for too long. Neither of my children know her mommy as a non-student. When I finish that, I am going to enjoy reading a journal article for the sake of reading a journal article, not for its ultimate value to my conceptual framework. Or maybe I will just do a Sudoku.