Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Grandparents and College privilege

Life has been crazy the past few weeks, we have had a lot to celebrate.  Mother's day, birthdays, anniversary, cousins graduating, travel for work.  All those things that make life fun.

I wasn't quite done with talking about my second fall semester at Purdue.  That was an eventful time, too, and I haven't talked about half of it.  Some of this is about my grandparents, and some are about not fitting in.

My grandparents 50th wedding anniversary.  I missed half the celebration, because as a member of the band (even just an equipment lugger), I was required to be at all games, and we were playing Notre Dame at home that weekend.  So my father-in-law brought us back to Indy Saturday after the game was over.  He stayed with his family, I stayed in the hotel room with mine, and we were able to catch the family breakfast on Sunday morning.

(Unfortunately, I didn't have the skill to be selected for the smaller band that sent on the road to Notre Dame.  When I lived in South Bend, my folks were working three jobs each just to keep the family afloat, I didn't try to get tickets to a game.  Mostly, my friend would plan the times to hang out so that we could avoid game traffic.)

Truth be told, they had been together about 60 years.  Grandpa first saw Grandma through the door to the library, if I remember correctly.  He had been held back a year, due to a cyst on his hip that required surgery, but now it was his senior year, and she was a freshman at Oaklandon High School.

They courted on and off for ten years.  Grandma's sisters convinced her to tell him that she was going to become a nun.  I gather Grandma was the main caregiver for her father, and it was after he died that they finally could marry.  My aunt worked on writing the family history while they were still with us.

Grandma's first cancer diagnosis.  She was 74, so my reading says at this age it's generally considered environmental rather than hereditary.  But I still couldn't help fearing that I was seeing my own future.  I cried on Brian's shoulder.  She had surgery, and they were satisfied enough to not do radiation or chemotherapy, so I guess it ended up a lot simpler than I feared.

College desks.  One of the worst part of college, for me, was the **** desks.  I'm left-handed.  In junior high and my high schools, the desks were large enough that even though they were clearly designed for right-hander's, I never felt like I had to torque my body to write.

Many of the college desks, some the very old wooden kind, and others the NEW, large lecture hall style, were ~6x8 inch boards fastened to the right side of the desk.  Sometimes, the newer lecture halls would have a column of left-hand desks along the aisle.  Sometimes, the standalone desks would have one seat for a lefty, or one table in the back of the room.

The worst part would be sitting for a test.  Exams were often held in a different location from the regular lectures, so I didn't always know what I'd be facing.  So I'd walk into a room for an exam, to find that there are no desks for me.  The whole test has to be taken with my back twisted uncomfortably so that my hand could reach the paper on the only solid surface available to me.

Restrooms.  Probably not a common topic.  I mentioned majoring in Electrical Engineering.  This meant that a lot of my classes were in the old Electrical Engineering building (as opposed to the newer Materials Science & Electrical Engineering building).  A lot of the engineering buildings were, well, old.  While there would be a men's restroom on every floor, often the women's restrooms would be on every other floor.  Sometimes, they were very clearly converted from men's rooms.  Finding the ladies rooms in the Electrical Engineering building was sometimes an adventure, up stairs and around corners.