Archive | March, 2012

Campus Life

31 Mar

winnond /

Twenty-five years ago, I was a college freshman at The Ohio State University.

Now, I am starting my first term as a lecturer at OSU.

What a difference 25 years makes, in some ways. The buildings are nicer. Gone are the ugly 1980s orange chairs in the Ohio Union. Now that orange is back again, there are new orange chairs in an au courant hue, in a completely renovated Union that’s actually a cool place to hang out. It no longer smells bad or has dark corners. The area that once held Mark Pi’s and Hardee’s now has much healthier and better-smelling food options, with natural lighting and comfortable seating. Students want to be there–a far cry from my student era at OSU.

Despite the infrastructure makeover, some things have not changed. You really can’t get much better than spring on campus. People wearing shorts and playing frisbee on the Oval. Students crossing College Avenue with zero awareness of oncoming traffic. A general sense that the future is full–of promise, adventure, prosperity, and new information.

When I looked out at the faces in my Masters seminar class in the John Glenn School, I got a little bit choked up. It seems just yesterday that I was in their shoes, looking at the world as a glass nearly, if not entirely, full. My primary goal in teaching them is to share some knowledge that can help them to drink from that glass with style and grace.

I am acutely aware that many of my professors when I was a graduate student were about the age that I am now. At the time, as is the case with all “young people,” I thought they were “old.” And now, because of the cruel laws of logic, I realize that my own dear students probably feel the same way about me. The fact that I do not feel old is immaterial.

And so it goes…I am doing my best not to use the words “why, back in my day,” “you young whippersnappers” and the like. It really puts things into perspective to know that when I was a graduate student, most of them were not yet born.

Despite this awareness, I have realized that my perspective on life has not changed very much at all since I was a young student. I am still a glass is mostly full type of person, and I honestly believe that just about anything is possible if you work hard and want it enough. Some people may think this is immature or naive. I prefer to think that it helps me to not have preconceived notions about what can and cannot be accomplished. In my new-found “campus life,” it’s refreshing to be in the company of so many like-minded souls.

The Squeeze

24 Mar

Ambro /

Don’t get me wrong: Being 44 (or “fo-fo” as I have been saying, just to make it sound better) has been great so far. I really can’t complain. My brain and body appear to still be functioning per specs.

But there are medical precautions that enter the picture upon “middle age” that make it oh-so-more interesting. My husband told me that once you hit 50 (he is much closer to it than me-HA!), you have to get an annual colonoscopy. Yes, every year. Ick.

And recently I had a little freak-out over the stupid mammogram process, which I am now supposed to be doing on a regular basis. I really despise this stuff…mainly because it forces me to think about mortality, which I really don’t want to consider.

So after having the reminder “get boobs smashed” on my to-do list for about a year, and dodging repeated questions from both my primary physician and my gynecologist about when I am going to get it done, I finally did it. Hadn’t had one done in about 10 years, which is not good, I know, but as I said I prefer to ignore these types of things.

My rationalization process goes something like this: If it’s on my to-do list I’m paying lip service to it, even if I haven’t actually done it yet. Right.

I was so proud of myself. It was really not a big deal. Except for the technician, who seemed to be about 12 years old and a bit unsure of herself.

Until my doctor’s assistant called me after a few days. “Sweetie, the doctor needs you to go back and get the mammogram re-done because they couldn’t get a good reading,” said Maxine. “They need to use a special machine on you. The doc says not to worry–it’s normal for small ladies like you.”

I always knew I was special, but this is too much. A “special machine?” What the heck. And I am now a “small lady?????”

Take heed, young women who don’t know about this:

If you fall into the category of “B wannabe,” this too will be your fate. You must cash in on your “special” status by paying a visit to the machine built for “small ladies.”

Great. I am so looking forward to this.

P.S. Because I tend to obsess about things more than necessary, of course I worried about all of this after I set up the “special machine” appointment. Sent an anxious email to my doc delivered this reassuring result: “I would tell you if something was wrong, and there isn’t anything to worry about. It’s the curse of the small woman. Now, go get smashed!” Gosh, I love my doc.

My Moriarty

13 Mar

Another in the category of: My blog, so I write what I want.

I particularly enjoy the Moriarty character in Sherlock Holmes stories (as well as the movies…Jared Harris plays it perfectly). This is a bit of reflection on Moriarty’s role, for each of us. It is also influenced by some recent reading, of Brené Brown‘s work on authenticity–I recommend it.


Everyone has their Moriarty, but not everyone knows who he is.

Dr. Moriarty is the archenemy of Sherlock Holmes, a mathematical genius who sets traps, builds bombs, and makes the world a more dangerous place for Holmes.

Moriarty would not exist without Holmes. Their struggle makes Moriarty stronger. Moriarty’s mathematical masterminding improves only because Holmes pushes him into a corner.

And in their final battle, they play a game of chess, which devolves into punching and shoving, followed by both Moriarty and Holmes falling hundreds of feet off a ledge into an enormous waterfall in the Alps–into the Reichenbach Falls. Pretty dramatic stuff.

A mind game, capped off with a sloppy boxing match and an incredible risk. What better metaphor for fighting off old (and often inaccurate) memories, shame, regrets, and remorse?

There’s a reason that villains such as Moriarty ring true: These people do exist–for all of us–in real life, as the actual cast in our own day-to-day existence, be they people, feelings, or thoughts. My Moriarty has been a distraction, a lessening of joy in my life. I am ready to get back the time I’ve wasted on this nasty character.

Sometimes I have been locked in mortal combat with something for so long, it becomes a habit–until I can find the strength in myself to no longer give it life. Trying to think my way out of it usually doesn’t work. In my case, the cerebral solution can (and has) resulted in years of making things more complex and angst-ridden than they really are. Obsession brings zero improvement. The process of letting go isn’t pretty, but it’s better than hanging on to an old arch-nemesis.

Pushing my Moriarty off the ledge requires that I go over with him–at least a part of me. Scary to let go of an old part of myself, even if I know that I no longer need or want it. It’s the ultimate renunciation of attachment. This is the rebirth process for Holmes, who survives the fall, a baptism of sorts for him.

When I make the decision to kill off my Moriarty, I am going to celebrate. As a matter of fact, there are two very specific Moriarty characters that I am pushing into the waterfall very soon. I will relish their drop into oblivion, because they have held me back from being as true to myself as I can be–from consistently being the person that I am supposed to be (insert God reference if you’d prefer).