Posts Tagged ‘new scholastic year’

Yes, this is going to be a kvetchy post. The “in my day, there was one payphone and one on-campus phone per hall and we all managed to survive” kind of post. If this seems too alien, go play at Target for the next few minutes…they will have more than enough STUFF to make the first semester of college more about consuming objects than about acquiring knowledge and learning to self-actualize.

Here’s what got packed on a typical late August day when I was in college:

Clothing, shoes, bedding, books, pens, pencils, ink, a few gewgaws, some weather-appropriate outerwear…..a back pillow, an extra lamp, a 32K Tandy 100 laptop, miniature disk drive and a dot-matrix printer.

Oh, and an indestructible philodendron known as “That Damn Plant”.

That was it. I didn’t think this way of living was especially spartan. Most of the time, my heart was in the classrooms, not my dorm room.

One year, I did share a room with someone who liked color coordination in general and the color lavender in particular, so we had a rug, pretty curtains, and a few other niceties. Another year I shared a room with someone who was very fond of movie posters, which meant that occasionally Harrison Ford would detach from the wall and fall on me. I just found that irritating and inconvenient; I realize many other women would have had a different opinion; some have told me so at length.

By the time I got to graduate school, where I lived in a small attic apartment, I’d acquired a few more things to put on walls [mostly free posters from library conferences], and several dozen yards of Christmas lights to brighten the low ceiling. Friends would send bits of shiny wrapping paper, and that would go up on the walls, too.

Apparently, left to my own devices, I create a small jackdaw’s nest of paperwork, writing implements, and small sparkly objects. [ I’m very lucky to have found a similarly inclined spouse.]

I don’t know what my current students do, left to their own devices. But I hope that they can focus on the essentials, and not on the decor — many of them, I know, are working multiple jobs in order to get themselves through school. They shouldn’t be burdened with “needing” the perfect objects in order to impress complete strangers.

Then again, how many of us preferred the frosting to the cake when we were younger?

Musical cue: “Back to College”, Act II, Avenue Q

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