Back in a dorm, chance meetings, and memories of my first kiss

In our last episode, you learned that I spent the week in Storm Lake, Iowa, attending Synod School with a bunch of Presbyterians. Six hundred and thirty-nine of them, to be exact.

There is much to tell. Oh-so-much. So much that you will be receiving it in doses.

Today’s dose will cover my overall impression of the week, along with the story of my first kiss. (Trust me, in some weird way, they relate.)

We were not long into the week – I believe it was the second day – when we knew we’d return the next year… and the year after that and the year after that. I believe my exact thought was, “Where has this been all my life?!”

The people were charming, the food tantalizing, the information challenging, the activities fun. If I had any complaint, other than the extra-firm dorm bed…

dorm
It’s been a long time since I slept in a dorm. I didn’t miss it.

I’d say there was a lack of sufficient free-time to unpack all I was taking in. Keeping in mind I require more mental-unpacking time than your average human.

In hindsight, I could have found more free time. I didn’t have to attend every class — as it was, I skipped one birdwatching class on account of a sore neck. And of course I could have skipped the daily worship services and convocations.

I could have, but I didn’t want to. Their musicians were top-notch and the convocation speaker and worship leaders were some of the best I’ve seen. In particular, the evening worship leader. Her name was Shawna and she pastors a church in Chicago.

Here’s a picture of Shawna — keep in mind it’s with my phone and she moved around a lot: Shawna

Not sure if you can tell, but she has some mighty impressive arm tattoos. Also, her hair is rainbow colored.

If you’re thinking she doesn’t look very Presbyterian, you need to broaden your perspective on Presbyterians. Just sayin.

Back to the dorm room – did you happen to notice that plastic-wrapped blue cup on the one desk? They gave us those when we checked in.

cup

It was a quality cup, kept my tea warm, and the color spoke to me. Yet I stopped carrying it on the second day on account of it alerting everyone that we were first-timers. (Sneaky of them, don’t you think?)

Though there was an advantage to carrying that blue cup, as it turned out. When we walked into the dining hall for our first meal – completely overwhelmed by the noise and people (seriously, my first thought when we walked into the cafeteria: “This is my version of hell!”) – a woman waved enthusiastically, beckoning us to her table.

“Do you know her?” I asked Husband. He did not.

Her name was Carol V. and she was making it her mission to help Husband and I feel at home. (Based on the Enneagram class I took, I’d say she was a quintessential 2 — the Helper. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. More on that later.)

Meeting Carol V. turned out highly fortunate. She gave us plenty of tips for making the most of our week, as well as how to navigate the campus. Her best advice: hit the cafeteria line about 45 minutes after they open. Enough time to miss the families with kids, but before the soft-serve ice cream ran out.

She also encouraged us to not skip the evening activities, and there were plenty of them to be found. Monday night we attended a “Further Conversation with DeeDee” – the convocation speaker. (Husband told me I said something especially profound during the discussion, but I honestly have no memory of it. I think he imagined it.)

On Tuesday we attended “Music with the Stanfield Family,” (most of them musicians from the worship services), where once again we sat next to Carol V.

Carol knew everybody, even the musicians. She wrote down their names for us on a napkin.

band napkin

Halfway through the evening, Carol whispered in my ear, “I’m going to invite you to something, but please feel free to say no if it’s not your thing.”

I leaned closer, intrigued…

“There’s a small group of us who get together for wine–”

I think it was my “oOoh!” that led her to believe I was open to the idea.

It was happening the next evening, around 8 pm or so. She gave me the instructions: basement level of Smith Hall, enter by the South door. Go down the stairs and the long hallway. The room is through the big metal doors at the end.

“Keep this under wraps,” she added. “It’s not like we’re breaking rules, exactly. We just don’t want to… well… just keep it under wraps.”

The next night was the Synod School dance. We attended for about an hour and I’m proud to say I am now reasonably adequate in doing the box-step. Sometime after 9, we made our way to Smith Hall.

The building was terribly quiet, even down the long hallway. “Are you sure it was tonight?” Husband asked. (Of course I wasn’t sure. I’m never sure.)

We got to the big metal doors and heard some muffled voices on the other side. We knocked – the voices hushed. “This feels weird,” Husband said. I agreed and opened the door.

The room was apparently the college hang-out. A sign above the counter said, “The Underground” and I saw a cappuccino maker and popcorn machine. However our attention was drawn to the 15 or so people seated in a circle on our right, all wearing women’s housecoats. The kind of housecoats your grandmother probably wore.

housecoat

One of the men, a pastor from Wisconsin, said, “Don’t worry, we’re not crazy.”

(You know, when you have to say that… )

We were promised the story behind the housecoats, but first we had to select our own to wear. Those were the rules. No housecoat, no wine.

Husband looked slightly terrified, but there was wine at stake. I wasn’t backing down. I selected for him a lovely pink number with small teacups all over. For me, blue satin to bring out my eyes.

As the story goes, two of the women present (and another who passed away, Marjorie) have been attending Synod School since the early 90s. They didn’t know each other at the time, neither did they realize they’d be sleeping in a dorm and using a bathroom down the hall. Without planning, they all wound up at WalMart and bought the same grandma-inspired housecoats. Hilarity ensued. They bonded.

The wine party was Marjorie’s idea. Ever since she passed away, they continued their parties in housecoats. Additional ones purchased for husbands and newcomers.

“To Marjorie!” someone shouted.

“To Marjorie!” the group returned, raising their glasses.

Several toasts later, one of the men brought up that we had missed their opening sharing time. (On account of me being a slow learner on the box-step.) The man was wondering, were we willing to tell our first kiss stories?

“Our first kiss with each other or my first kiss ever?” I asked.

Husband said, “You mean I wasn’t your first?”

“We’re gonna assume your mother kissed you first. We’re talking about your first kiss with a boy.”

Another added, “Or girl. We won’t judge.”

“But what kind of kiss?” I insisted. “There are kisses that are forced upon us and kisses we welcome.”

(This is an important distinction, it must be said. The tale of my first kiss belongs less at a wine party than to a #MeToo discussion.)

It was agreed: a welcomed kiss is a much better tale. And so it is.

“This is a bit embarrassing to admit,” I began, “but it was my first year of college.”

“Mine too!” exclaimed Carol V. (We shared a moment.)

“I was at a roller skating rink.” I said.

“Oooooh,” the group intoned.

“I met a boy. His name was Drew.”

“Ohhh, Drew!”

“He was French!”

“Ooooohhh, French!”

“But was the kiss French?” a man asked.

“Eventually!”

The conversation began to drift, but the man was insistent: “Wait, I need more details! Did the kiss happen mid-skate? How did this play out?”

“Oh, no, it happened at the dorm. He drove me home.”

“Oh, at the dorm!”

“Wait! Was it in the car or was it–”

I deflected all other questions with a toast: “To Drew!”

“To Drew!”

Indeed, let us all raise a glass to Drew. The sweet, gentle boy who taught me how to trust again.

The world could use more Drews. (And more Presbyterians, too.)

Stay tuned until next week, when we’ll cover more on our Synod School experience. Such as our birdwatching class, where we learned about geese and men in funny hats and how a stiff neck is never your friend.

Three Word Challenge in Text: My Thematic Response Using Untoward Reasoning

A few weeks ago, a certain blogger by the name of Brian of Bonnywood issued a challenge. He’d give me three words, and I’d write a story with said words.

Seemed easy at the time. Then I saw the words: Thematic, Untoward, and Reasoning.

I’m sure you’re as shocked as I am. I mean, I don’t know what I did to the guy, but clearly he had it in for me.

What’s more — now get this — he added, “And I challenge you even further by suggesting that a recipe and/or Norwegian kinfolk be involved in some way… ”

Honestly!

I decided I needed to have a chat with the guy. I sent him a text:

Brian 1

Brian 2

Brian 2 and a half

Brian 3Brian 4

Two hours later…

Brian 5Brian 6Brian 7Brian 8Brian 9

You can read about Brian’s challenge here.

(Hint: he’ll accept your response in text.)

Party Planning for Friendly Anti-Socialites

Note: What follows is something I published two years ago. I’m rerunning it because a) We really did have a party this last weekend so it totally fits, and b) because of said party, the story I intended to publish isn’t ready. So until it is, I hope you enjoy this:

We had our annual holiday get-together last weekend, where something like 25 to 200 people stopped by our house to partake in food, drink, and stimulating conversation.

Diners in a restaurant, talking

Twenty-five is the more likely number, but it’s all a matter of perspective. A very social, extroverted person might have looked at our gathering and thought, “My, what a charming little party this is.” While a more private, introverted person might have thought, “GAHHH!!!”

Regular readers of this blog know I lean more toward the latter than the former, and are no doubt wondering why I agree to these parties. Truth be told, in the days leading up to these events, I wonder it myself. But the fact is, I enjoy them.

I especially enjoy them when they’re over.

Also, I think we introverts owe it to society to show how parties should be done. Because from the parties I’ve thrown and the parties I’ve attended, I’ve come to one inescapable conclusion: Introverts throw better parties.

That is because – as with all things – we overthink them.

How an Extrovert Throws a Party:
  • Sets up event on social media, tells friends to invite anyone they left out
  • Gets on with life until day of party
  • Buys food and drinks on day of party
  • Welcomes guests at door
  • Enjoys party
How an Introvert Throws a Party:
  • Carefully reviews calendar and selects a day with least amount of personal conflicts, in which the moon and stars have aligned to give the best chance of success for a social event
  • Looks over guest list; crosses out names, adds names, mostly crosses out names
  • Researches several sites for recipes and decorating ideas
  • Checks out party planning books at library, as well as several cookbooks
  • Creates a menu, revises menu daily until hour before party
  • Walks through home, imagines party in real time, considers main areas of gathering, best flow from one area to another; moves furniture several times until right balance is achieved
  • Plans music for evening, selects song list with care
  • Night before party wakes up several times thinking, “Did I remember to–” but of course they remembered to. They remembered all things
  • Drinks glass of wine before guests arrive, or other calming beverage of choice
  • During party, remains in kitchen for majority of evening, replenishing dishes that don’t need replenishing, providing safe haven for fellow introverts requiring no small talk
  • After party, collapses on sofa and reviews evening, replays every moment, wonders how it could have gone better; pledges not to repeat event for a very long time
  • Makes notes and plan of improvement for next event

I know other introverted party planners include pets at their soirees and I certainly appreciate them at any party I attend. But the sad fact is, phobias do exist and not everyone enjoys a cold nose at their crotch. Therefore I keep my furry friends safely hidden away.

That being said, I came up with a brilliant idea that I’m anxious to set up for any future parties: the Introvert’s Party Room for Rest and Recuperation.

Back when vinyls were all that, there was a huge record store in downtown Phoenix that had a separate room for classical music fans. It was great. When you walked in, all other sound was blocked out and you only heard classical. If memory serves right, there was always an aroma of leather and pipe tobacco. I was 15 years old and had no interest in classical music, but I seriously loved that room.

What I want is a similar room for overwhelmed party guests. The room must be easily accessible from the main area so they can slip in or out without detection. There will be comfy chairs, plenty of books and writing materials, a couple laptops with free wi-fi, and a dog.

White dog next to person with laptop

Once the introvert was fully recovered, they could return to the party in progress.

Or not. No pressure.

Doesn’t that sound great? I’m going to get to work on that real soon. It may involve buying a new house, but dang it I’m determined.

If only because I’m the one in dire need of it. 😉

At this point my original article segued seamlessly into a recipe. In my early posts I did this quite a bit, as it was my shtick. I’m not sure why I quit the shtick. I was probably distracted by something shiny. In any case, I’ve got a recipe for you today.

Two for One Cookies

  • Servings: 4 to 5 dozen cookies
  • Difficulty: no sweat
  • Print

This is a recipe I came across in an old tattered cookbook with no cover, so I'm afraid I can't credit it properly. It's great for a party as it allows you to offer a variety of cookies without baking all day.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter (softened)
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten well
  • 2¾ cups flour
  • 2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Add-ins (see below)

Directions

Mix together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside. Cream together sugar and butter. Add eggs and blend well. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well.

At this point, shape the dough into a ball and divide in half. For each half, choose one of the following options:

  1. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, roll into balls and dip in a cinnamon/sugar mixture to make Snickerdoodles
  2. Add 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, roll into balls, flatten slightly and press an almond in the center to make Chinese Almond cookies
  3. Add one teaspoon either lemon or orange zest, can also add 1/2 cup dried fruit and/or nuts, roll into balls and flatten slightly, sprinkle with sugar
  4. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 cup chocolate chips, 1/2 cup coconut and 1/3 cup chopped nuts, drop by rounded teaspoon onto cookie sheet
  5. Create your own option!

Place dough 2 inches apart on cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees until lightly golden brown. Let stand a minute before removing from cookie sheet.

What Sort of Old Lady Will I Be?

There are few guarantees in this world, but one thing we can be sure of: as long as we keep living, we’ll keep getting older. Which means one day I’ll be an old lady.

So I’ve been wondering. What sort of old lady will I be?

As it so happens, I’ve known several old ladies in my lifetime. And for the most part, I’ve had some great role models.

Oh sure, there are always a few cranks in the bunch. (My first blog post listed the worst traits of Old Ladyism.) But in general, and in all sincerity, I’d say the women I’ve met have been real gems.

There are three in particular I wish to emulate. Here, in brief, are their stories. Remember, these are real people. Only their names have been changed Continue reading “What Sort of Old Lady Will I Be?”

IWD: Like A Bra, You Support Me

corinne-kutz-157291In case you haven’t heard, today is International Women’s Day.

I hear there are places where women didn’t show up for work and one person told me they heard of a school that had to close for the day. (I haven’t verified that, just thought it was interesting.)

Where I work, we all showed up. Because that’s what we do. (We need the money.)

Not that we neglected the day. One lovely coworker/friend (who has her own blog HERE), emailed some facts on IWD with the following graphic: Continue reading “IWD: Like A Bra, You Support Me”

Breakfast at the Sunrise Cafe

sunrise cafeShould you ever find yourself near the Sunrise Cafe in Boardman, Oregon, I recommend their Breakfast Sandwich for $3.25.

One heck of a deal.

And if it’s Saturday morning, you might run into Harry, Karen, Steve and Bob. They meet there for coffee.

Last Saturday, they discussed politics, salmon, dogs, and Steve’s ability to turn off TVs by looking at them. Continue reading “Breakfast at the Sunrise Cafe”