Monday, February 28, 2011

Big Hair and Big Dreams

Published as a Guest Post on MMB Community, March 2011 (click HERE for the link)

It was Fall, 1987.  Our hair was big, our dreams even bigger.  Hailing from California, Oregon, Arizona and Oklahoma, seven of us crossed paths during freshman year at BYU and began rooming together sophomore year. The friendships we developed are still reverberating in our lives twenty-four years later.
Spring 1998, end of freshman year.  Seven roomies on back row. (counting from left): Norma (1), Jenn (3), Kelly (4), Debbie (6), Susie (8), Kristel (10), Jill (13)
The experience of living with other girls during college can be precarious - there are plenty of negative, even nightmarish roommate stories.  By a magnificent stroke of luck and more than a little Divine intervention, the stars aligned beautifully for the seven of us.
1988, soph year. (l-r) Susie, Jen, Kelly, Norma, Kristel, Jill (Debbie is missing from the pic but not from the story!)
Not perfectly, especially at first.  We came from different backgrounds and had different ideas about how to cook, clean, dress, put on makeup, sleep, study, shop, eat.  But our lives became intertwined, and our stories merged into hundreds of joint experiences.

Staying up all night to study or talk or eat.  Or all three.  Discovering a new half-gallon of ice cream in the freezer - the sign that one us had just kissed a boy for the first time - and interrogating the ice cream purchaser until all details were satisfactorily revealed and analyzed.  Classes, dates, hiking, family crises, vacations, a funeral - all experienced together.  Endless laughing.  Cycles synching up, which is just weird but it happens.  Dreaming about our futures. And plenty of crying when life pretty much sucked.
circa 1992 (l-r) Kristel, Jill, Kelly, Susie, Debbie, Jen, Norma

Then, of course, the inevitable goodbyes.  Missions, graduations, marriages.  Our lives took other paths, merged with other people, separated us from each other for seasons - sometimes long ones - as the stories of our lives grew more diverse and infinitely more complicated.

No matter how long it's been since I've talked to my roommates, I have known through the years that I could call any one of them and be heard, understood, and loved.  Not only do we know each others' back stories, we are part of each others' back stories.

In February, the seven of us flew & drove into SLC from Nevada, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota, Texas, & Utah to meet up at a cabin in Heber, UT for Roomiepalooza 2011.

For one long weekend, we stayed up late every night (but never all night, as age has exacted its requisite amount of energy from us).  We ate - primarily chocolate - and talked.  We talked about husbands and kids and books and vacations and kitchen remodels and lingerie and exercising which in theory leads to weight loss and going back to school and working and praying and motherhood and trying to keep our heads above water and headaches and peri-menopause.  Endless reminiscing and laughter.  Dreams realized, dreams lost.  Realities accepted and realities we are struggling mightily to change.  And because each of us has had times when our lives have pretty much sucked - on scales both large and small - plenty of crying.
Roomiepalooza, Heber 2011 (l-r) : Kristel, Debbie, Norma, Kelly, Jen, Susie, Jill
 All in the safety of friendships that began with big hair, big dreams, and a magnificent stroke of luck.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Prepare to be delighted

Major Pettigrew's Last StandMajor Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Winsome, witty, wry, wise, wonderful.  Very smart.  Comedy of manners with a romantic twist.  Set in England.  I laughed out loud repeatedly while reading it, glad that the house was empty.  Highly recommend.  Think Jane Austen in a contemporary setting. Prepare to be delighted.

View all my reviews

Monday, February 7, 2011

Your Lonely Girl

It happened again.  Another letter from one of my children.  Emma, age 8.  Type-written.

WARNING:  Do Not Open!  TOP SECRET! for Jeff and Susie

dear mom and dad,

can I please have a hamster?  I don't think the owners [meaning of our house, since we're renting] would mind.  i always have to play with boys, and Kirsten is never around.  I would clean it's cage, and clean it's poop.  Plus, we haven't had a pet in a long time.  I 100% want a hamster.

your lonely girl, Emma

First off, am I that mom I never wanted to be - the one who doesn't listen to her kids, so they feel they have to resort to written communication in order to be heard?

Secondly, the Zhu Zhu pets (complete with track) that Emma got for Christmas last year were supposed to completely wipe out any desire in her to own a real-life stinky hamster.  I want my money back.

Third,  Emma pulled out all the stops and used the word "lonely."

What's a mom to do?  Cry a little - even while recognizing that the word "lonely" could have been used purely as an emotional manipulation technique - then go to work to fix it.  I'm still figuring out how. I even know that fixing it perfectly is beyond my capabilities.  But by golly I'll try.  Because that's my job as a mom.  Plus my name was on the letter.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Mom, I Hope You Consider This

Yesterday, Rob (13) handed me an official-looking envelope addressed to me.  It even had a wax seal (we happen to own a Scentsy candle).  Keep in mind that this was the third day of no school due to a blanket of ice that covered everything.  Inside was a typed letter which read:

Dear Mom/Dad,

Hi please don't judge me on my spelling and stuff just read.  Today our community is faced with entertainment issues like what to do on a rainy day.  Well the answer is simple video games!  Now I know what your thinking right now video games are a waste of time and we already have a wii blah blah blah.  But like I said in my other presentation which you so rudely ignored I want games that don't cost 50 bucks each.  The games I'm talking about cost like $10 each.  And that is why you should let me buy a Playstation 1.  Now the key word is LET me buy one not you buy one but let me take care of all the expenses, and of course the rules apply like only a designated time on it each day.

Now as I close please don't say the following: "You don't need another video game." or "There's better technology than this."  or "NO!"  

Well I hope you consider this.


Your Son

What's a mom to do?