While reading a book recently, I discovered that there are two kinds of people. (Actually, there are numerous ways you can divide the world’s inhabitants into halves. The idea of this particular book was that by dividing everyone up into one of two camps on several questions, you could derive a fairly accurate personality type picture for an individual in question.) Anyway, there are two types of people: those who like closure and those who prefer to keep their options open. For example, some people feel uncomfortable having any decisions left unmade. Others feel unduly confined if they have to makedecisions right away and usually don’t make any until the last possible moment.
For a long time I’ve wondered why people make up their minds before they have all the facts or when I know that they are aware that circumstances are likely to change. I much prefer leaving things unsettled and unsolved till the deadline for deciding has come. That way I won
t have to change my mind. Yet now I understand that others can feel very uncomfortable unless they’ve already made a decision or constructed plans far in advance of the fact.
Anyhow, here’s a recent record of my activities.
For Christmas, my parents gave me a leather jacket, which has measurably increased my self worth, and a trip to Colorado Springs. I left and got there Christmas night, smuggling along an arsenal of fireworks in my luggage and on my person. Being out there was great, even if the weather was being uncooperatively beautiful. I get enough of that here. I wanted snow. In the meantime, I had a great time being with the Bremers, going country dancing (I got tagged and branded on my way in the bar since I was a couple months shy of twenty-one), trail riding (relaxing, since Max was riding good ol’ Studdly after freaky Flashdance proved himself too difficult to catch; that would have made the ride exciting but not relaxing), movies at the dollar theater (complete with Chinese fire drills on the way home), and get togethers with friends from the old Wings Like Eaglesdays (the first time there have been that many of us from that first year’s camp together in five years). Finally it snowed, and I got to go skiing (first time in aboutfour years). It was a blast. Max went back to the Air Force Academy quite unwillingly after his winter vacation, but Michele and I tried to make it a bit more bearable by enrolling him in the Pie of the Night Club and sneaking a different variety of pie into his dorm every evening.
While I was having a great time being out there and learning how to make a raincoat, Mom called one night and said that my grandmothe
r (her mother Dottie Staples) had a stroke while sitting at our kitchen table. We were planning on the rest of my family minus Dad picking me up in Atlanta on my return trip and then continuing on up to Highlands, NC to spend some winter time at my grandfather
s house in the mountains. Since that was now unfeasible, I stayed out at the Bremers for a longer period of time than originally intended. It turned out that my grandfather was able to pickme up later in Atlanta and drive down to Mobile. By then my grandmother had been moved out of intensive care, beyond a normal room, and was then staying at a long term hospital were she could undergo therapy. When I first visited her, the only forms of communication she possessed weresignaling yes, by extending two fingers on her left hand (her right side was totally paralyzed), and no, by making a fist. In the weeks that have followed, she’s been able to feed herself, move around in a wheelchair, learn to walk again for limited distances, and finally talk. Mom was spending almost all day at the hospital everyday before my grandmother was discharged on Tuesday. Now she’s in Benjamin’s old room (Ben’s been removed to the living room). She still has trouble getting the words that she wants out, she uses the wheelchair almost all the time except walking into the bathroom with a cane. It’s different having her here. I can’t decide whether it was more hectic when Mom was gone all the time or now that she’s home all day. If Mom leaves, Stephanie or I have to be here to watch my grandmother and helpher go to the bathroom and stuff, although she is making progress in doing things like that forherself. We’ll see.
On top of making meals, carting Ben to swim team and drum lessons, and visiting my grandmother at the hospital, I’ve been taking 19 hours this semester. Classes have been going pretty good. Well, actually more than good. It’s great. I love all the courses I’m taking this semester. At least, I did before the reality check midterms hit me with. Here’s sort of a brief description of my classes.
Introduction to Sociology. My sociology professor is a commie lib., but that’s just because he’s just a really compassionate guy (plus the fact that he’s resentful that he doesn’t get paid more than he does). I’ve been reluctant to get in any arguments with him because he seem so unsure of himself, but we have had a couple of good discussions. I’ve decided that I’m a functionalist capitalist, so if you want to label me anytime in the near future, you’ll know what terms to use.
Chemistry 101. On our first test in Chemistry, I got the third highest grade in a class of about forty, and I got a B. Chemistry has been a doozy, even though I got 98 on my midterm (only because it was out of a possible 111 points). I’ve been listening to The Origin of Species (abridged) by Charles Darwin and A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking and some other essays by him on tape. It’s great because, while I was finding the result of a positron emission in Chemistry, I was learning what a positron IS from Hawking. Chemistry lab is pretty fun (although I’m breaking a cardinal rule by wearing contact lenses). We’ve done all sorts of chemical reactions with a penny, found the chemical composition of unknownsolutions by performing tests on them, and put together models of molecules. It’s cool. What chemistry lab should be, except, alas, with no explosions. Unfortunately, my lab partner and I were unaware that our first lab report was to be turned in, and the professor lost our second lab report. We have to do BOTH make up labs which stinks, even though it is kind of fun playing with chemicals.
Studies in the Mission and Message of Jesus. Religion is okay. We’re going through the synoptic gospels. It’s as if the class is just a big Bible study. As academic as my professor was last semester, this one is exceedingly conservative, a real fundamentalist. I like it. The other day he made the statement that angels have emotions. I asked him after class what scripture he could use to back that claim up. The next class period, he had a list of references for me.
English 202. English, as ever, is cool, even though Nathan, the guy we brought to Colorado last summer, isn’t in there like he has been for the last three semesters. We did some William Faulkner, Billy Budd by Herman Melville, and The Death of Ivan Ilyich. I just finished reading The Metamorphosis by Frank Kafka. It’s about a guy who wakes up one morning to find he has become a big, brown beetle. Dr. Allums is trying to persuade me to become an English major. Actually, double major. I told him, yeah right.
Philosophy, Theology, and Literature. Philosophy is fun. It’s a discussion class, so that usually makes it interesting. We studied the Orestia and Who Needs God? by Harold Kushner (he wrote When Bad Things Happen to Good People). We were going to read a book called Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, but the administration made Dr. Mashburn pull it in the middle of the semester. He also removed Beloved from our required reading list. He says that he doesn’t agree with a lot of the stuff in these books and doesn’t expect us to either but that they contain some issues that must be addressed. Now I guess we’ll have to do it on our own.
History and Politics of Modern Russia. This class is great. Right now we’re at studying Stalin. One day I stayed after and another student and I talked with the instructor (a 44 year old woman from Russia) for over an hour and a half! It was great. She expressed the difficulty it is for her to adjust to a new way of thinking after years of believing that socialism was the best way. It’s fascinating to gain her perspective and understand why people accepted communism for so long. We only have midterm exam, our final, and class participation to determine the grade, so I was a bit nervous during my midterm test. But once I picked up my pencil and started writing an essay on the October revolution and the civil war following it, the story flowed on for almost three pages of notebook paper. Hopefully, she’ll like what I wrote for the essay and all the questions. I didn’t have a clue for the bonus (three contributors to the Silver Age), so I just made up some names. She said spelling didn’t count, so maybe I came close.
I just got my midterm grades in the mail. All A’s! That was quite a relief after what I’ve been through in Chemistry.
People keep asking me, “Political science? What are you going to do with a political science major? Become a politician?”
And I say, “I hope not.”
Yet now it looks as if my hopes are about to be dashed. I’m running for vice president of the Junior Class. It’s the sophomore class right now, but the election is for next semester. Cris Hyatt, the first person I met on campus, was vice president this year and became really frustrated with it. I encouraged her to run for president, but she didn’t want to. It took up too much time, and she seemed to be the only interested in talkin
~g about the business at hand at student government meetings. I am just about the only person who shows up for sophomore class meetings (including class officers), and that’s only if I find out about them. During the last one, I suggested that we have class meetings on days that we don
t have chapel (and therefore almost everyone is free) at 11:00. Cris talked to a guy about it who accosted me in the library the next day and tried to talk me into running for office. I told him that I was reluctant to since I lived so far away off campus. He said the Student Government Association needed commuters on it and I would be great at it. Like the crow who was flattered by the fox into singing and thereby letting the piece of cheese in her mouth drop to the forest floor, I squawked. I met Cris a while later and asked her about running. A girl named Robyn was sitting next to her. Cris said that Robyn could run with us.
“No way,” said Robin. “You’ll just make me do all the hard work like phone people.”
“Hey,” I said looking at Cris, “That’s not a bad idea.”
So Cris is running for president, I’m running for vice president, and Robyn for secretary/treasurer (we’re not really sure why there
s a position called treasurer; there isn’t any money involved). So far we’re running unopposed. That seems to be typical. Sometimes they even have to appoint officers. I still don’t even really know who the officers are. But now I’m running, and I won’t have many free Tuesday nights next year. Hopefully. I keep telling myself that it looks good on a resume.