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“I wish I could go back to college…”

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The College Reunion, (KOL ij) (re YOON yun) n.

–          When college alumni gather at their former university around an anniversary of their graduation.

“Life was so simple back then…”

Me! Class of 1987

I had accepted the fact that it has been a quarter of a century since I graduated (shudder), but nevertheless registered for and recently attended my 25th college reunion.  I initially balked at paying that much money to sleep in a twin bedded 150 sq.ft. room and eat the lousy cafeteria food, but then I remembered that the fee included wine and reconsidered (upon financial review, the Reunion Committee might reconsider that one!).

Something about a campus makes us feel young again.  As is often the case, alumni will make like they’re 19 again and realize after the first night of reunion reveling that indeed, they are not.  Of course I had made arrangements to meet up with friends with whom I’ve kept in touch for all these years.  For us the years that had passed meant fatigue and the need for a bathroom found us long before a hangover did, and for whom the loud band music prevented any comprehensible conversation (oh my God, I really do sound just like my parents).  I was also able to find some people with whom I’d lost touch but the passage of time passed and our absence from campus was like nothing.  There were those on whom 25 years had played a cruel joke and those for whom 25 years had only made them look better  (may their plastic wine cups be filled with my spit).  I didn’t realize how much I had missed them all.

“What would I give to go back and live in a dorm with a meal plan again!”

Libe Slope

Alumni came from 21 different countries and48 states for this one weekend during which we laughed, we ate and we inhaled our shared affiliation with this place.  Every single time I looked up at that clock tower, I got all choked up.  Of course, that may be due to my recurring nightmares of the 480 foot walk up a 20% grade hill to classes at 0800 on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays, but also because that tower presided over my 4 years here, reminding me every 15 minutes of just how late I really was.  That tower has presided over someone just like me for over 143 years.

“I need an academic advisor to point the way!”

How ironic that I spent the weekend commiserating with old friends about the loss of our short term memories, while we took great delight in reminding each other of dozens of incidents we’d been deliberately trying to forget, or at the very least denying categorically .

Of course, there are certainly a number of things that I do not miss at all and for which the passage of 25 years has not erased any of their offensiveness.  Those all-nighters.  The loans.  The laundromats.  And  communal bathrooms.  Ughhhh! Communal bathrooms.

Now that Facebook has taken it over the world, do we really need to attend a college reunion?  In person?  I mean with 800 million users, most of my friends are among them, and certainly a good number of my friends from college too.  On the one hand, Facebook proved indispensible during the weeks preceding Reunion.  Without even leaving my house, I lurked, I scoured photos of spouses and kids, I marveled in professional accomplishments and envied vacation destinations, comparing them all to my own.  I scrutinized the expansion of upper arms and the depth of crow’s feet, and compared them to my own.

On the other hand, nothing can replace the feeling of a good belly laugh and an ever-faithful hug.  Facebook can never replace the real Facetime, old school-style!

I am now fully re-loaded with souvenir t-shirts and coffee mugs, but will see you in 2017, friends.  Until then, there’s always Facebook.

“But if I were to go back to college;
Think what a loser I’d be
I’d walk through the quad,
And think “Oh my God…”
“These kids are so much younger than me.”


Author’s note:   song lyrics from “I wish I could go back to college” – Avenue Q 

The Twelve Days of Pumpkin

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Inspired by Stu Mills of CBC Ottawa Radio One, who has vowed to air a pumpkin story daily until Halloween, I’ve decided to [try and] write my own little segment of the Twelve Days of Pumpkin.  I shall endeavour not to post too many pumpkin pie recipes, but make no promises!

Here goes:

***

On the Twelfth Day of Pumpkin …

The Twelfth Day of Pumpkin happened to fall on my Dinner Club tonight with my lady friends (“Mom!  They’re called gal pals, now!” says my daughter).  Though we might meet more often by happenstance, we plan, organize, negotiate, swindle and bribe so that we can meet for dinner for sure every other month.  Since September 2004, we have been gathering to eat, drink and be scary.  Over those seven years, the menus have varied almost as much as the hairstyles.  Our members have fluctuated far less.

Seven years ago, I was a mother three young children.  I’d move mountains to make sure I didn’t miss this dinner (which really means I’d work extra hard to find a competent sitter but my definition of ‘competent’ relaxed as my options waned!).  My kids today are much more self-sufficient, but I am no less reliant on this group of women.  The mountains we move are less likely due to childcare issues but rather due to other commitments and responsibilities.  Yet somehow we all still manage to pull it off.  Somehow this gathering has remained a priority for all of us.  I can honestly say the unconditional support of this group of women has helped me parent through the carefree friendships of pre-school to the complicated relationships of high school.  I doubt our sagas are over.

Though the first few gatherings were fraught with high Martha-like menu expectations, we have occasionally succumbed to take-out.  I won’t say we don’t care what we prepare or eat, but as the years have passed, what we eat takes on less importance as with whom we eat!

Now.  Lest you thought I had completely steered off tangent, tonight’s meal was finished off with a delicous pumpkin cheesecake with a ginger crust.  AND … I snapped this quick shot of our adorable table décor for your pumpkin pleasure.

Transfer of Ownership

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Transfer of Ownership is a term typically reserved for used cars, computers and occasionally land and homes.  As of this past weekend, however, I can also now use this expression to include clothes.  I attended my very first clothing swap.  If you’ve never attended a clothing swap, it is quite simple:  it is an organized event for which several adult women gather to exchange clothes they own but no longer want.  My first clothing swap was a small, intimate affair with 5-6 women.  I admit my personal donations to this exchange were less than generous and somewhat out-dated but they were in good condition and free of any stains or obvious repair.  All our donations were required to be delivered a few days ahead of time and upon arrival, and I could see why!  My hostess’s living and dining rooms had been transformed into a women’s shop complete with dedicated sections for bottoms, tops, dresses, shoes and handbags.  Evening wear and business suits hung invitingly from her fireplace mantle while sweaters and tops intermingled on her dining room table.  Everything was free for the taking and her son created helpful signs directing “shoppers” to the nearby designated fitting rooms (the office, powder room and master bedroom!).

For me, the experience was vaguely reminiscent of my high school visits to my older and more fashion-savvy sister in university in the Big City.  Prior to a big night out with her and her friends, I drank beer and was invited to rifle through her closet looking for something a little more hip and stylish to wear.  Instead of the beer that pre-toxed our college nights out, for this event our hostess offered us Mohitos with fresh mint or a refreshing glass of wine while we poured over the stock… decidedly more chic.

I have to say that it was a very gratifying way to shop, aside from the obvious benefits of coming away with scads of clothing for which I paid not a cent!  I didn’t have to cash in my RRSPs for a new skirt nor did any bored, disgruntled sales clerks snarl at me while shopping.  Rather than buying clothes from a warehouse sale advertising designer labels that, upon arrival, are suspiciously cut away causing me to question their source and worry that SWAT teams would soon swarm the place, I acquired several brand name piece and several not-so-brand name pieces from close friends (who may have bought them from warehouse sales of questionable origin, but that’s another matter!). In fact, I know I acquired clothing that was well cared for by its previous owners.  Unlike typical Boxing Day sales at the mall, this clothing exchange was void of frenzied bloodthirstiness and I needed only once to inform a friend that she was rifling through my “try on” pile just a touch too expectantly!

I am the proud new owner of several pairs of pants, short and skirts not to mention some darling and daring dresses.  The bonus being that if I or any of my friends angst that the gorgeous dress just given away might have had one more good wear out of it, we know exactly where it now lives and can take it out for another spin any time.

As we left with our shopping bags full, we vowed we’d do it again – in fact – before the next season required another wardrobe adjustment!

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