Step Up

2011/08/02

I grew up in the quintessential American family: Mom, Dad, and two kids. Since my family was small, a large home was not necessary. We had a typical one-story brick ranch that many families had in the ‘70s. Where am I headed? It is none other than Let’s Blog Off, where participants are asked to name what they wanted as a child.

There were many items I wanted growing up. As I sifted through childhood memories, I kept coming back to one thing: a house with stairs. I know that sounds silly, but it is the truth.

My four cousins always had a two-story home, simply because they had a larger family. We would play in the stairwell. When Cousin Meg and I did not want to clean, we would place items on the stairs instead of putting them away properly. Meg and Jake taught me how to slide down the banister. (See picture below for the culprits.) Of course, we would get in trouble, but we had so much fun.

I pretended my bedroom had stairs by setting up sofa cushions next to Mom’s card table. I climbed up and down until my mother caught me sitting on top of the card table. She asked me what I was doing. I told her I wanted a house with stairs like Meg and Jake. Mom was not impressed with my engineering marvel because she proceeded to demolish my stairwell and spank me. I was forbidden from the card table for a long time afterwards.

Recently we were all together again. Meg and I shared childhood memories. I told her I was jealous of her because she had a house with stairs. She laughed at me. She said that she like my house because the bathroom was never very far away. I guess this proves the old saying, “The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence.”

Becky & David’s Wedding – June 2006

From L to R: Chris, Meg, Me, Becky, David G., David D., Jess, Leslie, Jake


We’re Not Paying for It

2011/03/15

Most of us think of advice as words of wisdom.  Advice should be more than words, it should be something that is meaningful and sticks with you for the rest of your life.  The best advice I received wasn’t advice per say, but it taught me a life lesson.

I was 19 years old and wanted to be a civil engineer.  At the time, Miami did not have a true engineering school, so I applied to the University of Kentucky (UK).  When I received my acceptance letter to UK, my parents could not understand what I was saying because I was running around like a maniac.  After becoming coherent, I showed my mother the acceptance letter.  She told me this: “It’s not Miami, so we’re not paying for it.”

I was devastated.  How could my parents do this to me?  How could they crush my dream of becoming the greatest female civil engineer?  I mean, isn’t it the parents’ responsibility to pay for their child’s education?

Since I am a tad strong-willed, I decided that I wasn’t going to let my parents stop me.  Come hell or high water, I was going to find a way to pay for the exorbitant out-of-state tuition.  I legally declared independence from my parents, which made me eligible for a great deal of financial aid.

Later that year, UK announced that it was raising out-of-state tuition by $1000.  I could no longer afford to attend the school, so I transferred to my family’s beloved Miami and became a paper science & engineering major.  I thought my parents would pay my tuition since it was Miami.  They didn’t.  I was jealous of my friends because they didn’t have to worry about money.  All they had to do was call Mommy & Daddy.  I did not have that luxury.

Nearly 20 years later, I can honestly say that was the best thing my mother could have ever done for me.  I was forced to fend for myself without the safety net known as Mom & Dad.  Being on my own at such an early age taught me responsibility.  I learned I could support myself without anyone’s help and live to tell about it.

Advice.  We all give it; we all receive it.  I am glad I decided to be on the receiving end of Mom’s advice.


Love and Honor

2011/03/01

My fellow Miamians will know that ‘love and honor’ is the first line of the university’s fight song.  Love and honor is more than words to my alma mater’s fight song; it is what I want my legacy to be.  This brings us to today’s edition of Let’s BlogOff, in which we attempt to describe our individual legacy.

I try to live my life by The Golden Rule – “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.”  I can think of no better way to be remembered as honorable.  Below are a few examples from my life.

  • While helping someone drop an engine into a car, I fell off a milk crate and ended up with a 4″ gash on my left calf.  This person rescued me during a snow storm, when I had a flat tire.
  • Working 15 hours one day to complete testing for a customer who wanted results the following day.  One of the electronics engineers spent an entire day giving me a plant tour because I wanted to better understand the customer’s processes.
  • Taking a friend to the airport at 4:00 AM.  He listened to my problems for nearly two hours the previous evening without complaining.
  • Staying up until 2:00 AM for three days straight helping a friend move.  When my ex paid me a not-so-pleasant visit a month later, my friend was the first person I called and encouraged me to contact police.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not nice to people just to get something in return.  I assist people because I care, and it makes me feel worthwhile.

Love and honor are basic needs of life.  They are what most of us strive for.  I can think of nothing more than ask to be remembered as a loving and honorable person.


Summer Style

2010/12/21

If money were no object, what is the perfect gift?  This question was posed as a part of the Let’s Blog Off series.  Surprise.  This was easy to answer.

A true nurturer, Mom continuously puts others before herself.  She has been through so much pain within the last three years, I feel sorry for her.

Mom has vacationed in the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan since she was young and always loved Mackinac Island.  Since she is constantly around for support, I would make her Mackinac Island dream come true and buy her a summer cottage.

Mom’s other wish is to own a BMW Z4.  She has a 328i, but goes gaga over the Z4 whenever she sees one.  If she has a summer home, she might as well have a summer car.

I could list the endless projects for the house as perfect gifts for me, but that is egotistical on my part.  Being unemployed for the last 12 months has taught me that I can live without material possessions.  I have learned to be happy with what I have.  (Although a deck for the back yard would be quite nice.)

<— my back yard (Note: The white chairs are history.)

My best wishes to everyone for a joyous holiday season! 🙂


A Time for Healing

2010/11/16

When I saw the Let’s Blog Off topic of Thanksgiving memories, I must be honest when I say I wasn’t too pleased.  I decided to forge ahead (this is therapy, you know) and participate anyway.  Maybe someone will finally understand why I am not a fan of the holiday.

There are a couple of warnings.  First, this is in no way a ploy to get sympathy.  Like I said, this is my way of (hopefully) getting someone to understand me.  Secondly, these experiences do not make me the proverbial crazy.  They are a part of who I am.

1996 – I was single and pregnant, much to the chagrin of my parents.  I just finished college and didn’t have a decent job.  The baby deserved a better life than what I could provide at that time, so I decided to put the baby up for adoption.  The baby’s birthday?  Wednesday, 27 November 1996, the day before Thanksgiving.

Fast forward to 1997.  My phone rang around 7:30PM on 20 November 1997.  It was my mother telling me that my grandfather passed away from a stroke.  This was quite unexpected.  Grandpa had not been sick and showed no symptoms of any illness.  Ironically, my paternal grandfather passed away this same day back in 1971.

Ten years later, a similar situation.  My mother called me around 11:00AM on Thanksgiving 2007 (22 November).  She stated that EMTs were working on my father.  I threw on a clean pair of jeans and jumped into the car.  Don’t ask me how I made it to the hospital because I don’t know.  All I know is that the usual one hour trip to my parents’ town took half that time.  I walked into the ER and saw my mother in the condolence room.  I knew it wasn’t good news.  She said that Dad didn’t make it.  He passed while I was on the road from a massive heart attack.  And guess who had to call and tell my brother in NYC?  Me.

Thanksgiving should be a joyous time, but for me it isn’t.  It is a time of reflection and healing.  I think this year I will sit back and have a glass or two of chardonnay and celebrate the lives of those that I have lost.  I know Dad would approve.


What Gen Y Has Taught Me

2010/10/22

I have always been a pessimist.  It is my form of protection.  So seven years ago, when I returned to Miami University in Oxford, OH, I was a bit nervous.  I didn’t think I had much in common with some 20-something, since I had already been in the real world.

The first year and a half at Miami was the worst.  The only time I left my apartment was to go to class.  I didn’t socialize with anyone.  If I was awake, I was either studying or in class.  The defining moment came when a classmate asked me what I had done to “screw up my life” to be in college at my age.  I was livid.  How dare this person question me!

My anger lasted nearly seven years.  Whenever I would have an exchange with a Gen Y-er, I immediately dismissed the person and didn’t even consider his or her point of view.  I thought they were all spoiled brats, like the person who asked me the question.  There was a point when I didn’t even want to talk to Gen Y.

What changed?  Following a fellow Miamian on Twitter.  Tyler Durbin’s website – GenYJourney.com – is a website for the Gen Y generation to discuss life & career advice with each other.  Mr. Durbin occasionally tweets links with job search advice.  I must say that was skeptical at first, but some of the articles do have some very valid points.

The more I read, the more I began to think that maybe all Gen Y-ers aren’t as clueless & spoiled as I had originally thought.  If a recent college graduate can write such insightful work that applies to other generations, then maybe they do have a clue.  (The piece on making the most of career fairs is particularly intuitive.)

Gen Y also taught me to relax and have fun.  After my classmate made that comment, I went out for a few drinks.  As I sat at the table by myself, I watched other students interacting with each other.  They appeared to be having so much fun.  ‘Why can’t I have fun like that?’ I thought.  Then it occurred to me that I needed to let my guard down & relax a bit.  I did so and spent four hours talking to someone I met that evening.

Other generations should follow my lead.  Give Gen Y a chance.  They just might surprise you.