Saturday, September 22, 2012

Snapshot: Oh, noooo . . .

I looked out my kitchen window yesterday and took great comfort, as I always do, at the sight of the cool and leafy green woods that we call a back "yard."  Really, because our property is backed by a large parcel of common area (property that is owned "in common" by our homeowners' association), we really look out into a deeply wooded vista.  It's wonderful.

But then I noticed a horrific sight for a lover of all things summery:  a leaf -- just one -- that had begun to . . . shudder . . . turn.  People, my heart dropped just the tiniest little bit.

I really don't like autumn.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Georgia on my mind . . . .

So the girl in charge is firmly ensconced in her new digs at Emory University, on the Oxford College campus -- and you have never seen a happier girl. 

We left a day early to get her there because the drive to Atlanta takes about twelve hours.  The girl and I loaded up our rented SUV (and the girl in charge just screeched in outrage -- did you hear her? -- because I did not load one item into that vehicle; not even my purse), and we headed out.  The husband stayed behind, because the tall boy and SHE moved into their college dorms at Catholic University on the same weekend that Emory opened its doors to the girl in charge.

tangent: And people, this all happened the same week that the tall boy got out of the hospital, SHE flew into town to help take care of him, the girl in charge and I flew around town running the off-to-school errands that we had planned to run before the tall boy's lung drama re-arranged our schedule, and I finished the final vexing negotiations with the car insurance people who so cheerfully informed me that my car (crunched back in June) was a "total loss; thank you for letting us serve you." As the husband said to a friend, "for a while there, we had it coming and going."  If only the it had been Xanax . . . .

We spent the night in a hotel in Covington, Georgia, which is a booming metropolis with a Walmart right across the street from our hotel.  The next morning we rolled up to the girl in charge's new home and unloaded a whole crapload of stuff the well-thought-out and totally necessary items the girl in charge had brought from home (as an example, see froggy wastebasket above).

We met the roommate, who is adorable and sweet, and who is from a city in China near Shanghai -- so that's cool.  She kept apologizing for her "not very well English," but her English is certainly a lot weller than my Chinese.

She helped us carry the girl's stuff to their room, and they left to explore together, while I made the newly minted coed's bed.  I could get all sniffly and nostalgic about making my little girl's bed for her one last time, but who here really thinks I have made that girl's bed for her even once in the last ten years?  Oh, please.  The walls were only waiting for the necessary Harry Potter, Wicked, Doctor Who, Billy Elliot and Gashlycrumb Tinies posters to make it seem just like home.

The girl in charge and I made a swing through the college bookstore so I could collect the obligatory swag.  She was giddy with anticipation when she saw all the textbooks (we make 'em nerdy here in my house).  We both suspected that her godfather would be happy to see that this play is being taught in a political science class.

So the grand finale of Move-In Day at Emory is a "Coke Toast" as parents say goodbye to their freshmen.  Those of you who remember my love of all things Coca-Cola know how tickled I was by this custom, which stems from the fact that the vast bulk of Emory's endowment, as well as the land on which the main campus sits, comes from various corporate Coca-Cola donations.  I mean, don't even think about strolling across that campus with a Pepsi -- the girl in charge was given just the smallest bit of a fish-eye when she carried a twelve-pack of Dr. Pepper into her dorm.

After leaving my girl (sniff), I went to my dear friend Randy's house, to decompress with her and her husband Bart.  And let me just say that everyone should have a Randy and Bart to decompress with.  A delicious meal, a glass of wine, and a chance to relax and visit with these lovely people -- it was a perfect way to end a day spent saying good-bye to my beloved girl.

Friday, September 14, 2012

"I like astronauts because they are heroes."

So yesterday I had the day off, and I spent the morning watching the NASA live feed of the national memorial service for Neil Armstrong.

Those who know this family, and especially those of you who know the tall boy, know that we have been a little melancholy ever since we learned that Mr. Armstrong had died.  It is a true fact that I heard about it on the radio as I was returning from Atlanta after dropping off the girl in charge at Emory University -- and I immediately texted my boy and told him how sorry I was (am). 

Because, see -- the tall boy has loved Neil Armstrong since he found out who the great man was.  This is a letter my boy wrote to his hero when the tall boy was five years old.  He had a little help with the typing.  (NASA's Public Affairs office helped Mr. Armstrong answer his mail, and some kind soul there returned the tall boy's letter, along with a reply packet that included photographs of the crews of Apollo 11 and 13 as well as some totally cool posters.)

Since then we have visited the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, trekked to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum I don't even want to know how many times, tracked down movies and books and plays . . . .  And that was while the boy was still small enough that he had to rely on us to help him feed his space addiction.  This book, I Want to Be An Astronaut, was a gift from his first grade teacher.

These days, my tall boy is somewhat self-sufficient when it comes to sucking down any information about the space program he can inhale from the internet.  So when I check in with him on Facebook, I can be sure that I will be reading some excellent article about the merits and "freaking awesomeness" of the Mars rover Curiosity, or about a newly discovered pair of white dwarf stars -- and of course anything -- anything -- about the Apollo astronauts.

Another true fact is that immediately upon moving into his brand spanking new bedroom after our basement renovation, the tall boy put up one poster.  Just one.

As you can see from his Facebook post from August 25, the day Mr. Armstrong died, my boy can speak most eloquently about his hero himself:
Events such as this prove the inadequacy of Facebook to convey real, complex emotion. What is there to say? The man was my hero, my idol - he lived my dream. I read about him, I wrote him, I wanted - still do - to be him. The man who was our first civilian astronaut took our dream of reaching the stars and turned it into a stepping stone. The world is a cheaper place for his passing.

Monday, September 3, 2012