Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hollins gets its Science going

Oh LOOK! Still not my window! The last day of the trip to Hollins was more positive on the science front. It HAD to be more positive on the science front because all the other days had been filled with horses and creative writing. In the laundromat just down the road from Hollins we saw a sign warning about blankets with animal hair. I am not the least bit veterinary, but the only animals I know of that have blankets are horses. Have you ever heard of a goat blanket? a rabbit blanket? a chicken blanket? No, you have not. You have indeed heard of HORSE blankets. So, PPP's possible trips to the laundromat at Hollins are potentially laden with girls sneaking their horse blankets into the laundromat. Another scary thing for her to fret about.
Take a look at PPP - because her body language will tell us about her college hunt.So...happy, smiling PPP with Auntie Bootza on her 18th birthday, pre-horse farm.
And....PPP, freezing on a tour of Hollins that included nothing of interest to her. . . with random snow flying around.
If you cannot read body language of our 2nd daughter, that posture says: "Fine. Just FINE. I'm going, but I don't want to."
"And NO, you cannot take my picture."
And this says exhausted and possibly bored. PPP spent the night....with a very, very sweet creative writing major, whose assessment of the student body was "Pretty much everybody does Creative Writing here." There was a party planned for the girls visiting for the weekend. Hostess Laura offered a 'slam poetry performance' at a coffee house instead. Did they intentionally engineer this situation so that PPP would be discouraged? I have visions of girls huddled in the corner of their dorm rooms, crouched over a notebook writing poetry, in their riding boots, with hairy horse blankets piled on the floor. Don't tell. Also...coffee house? Didn't that expression end in the 60's? Don't we say 'Starbucks' now? Perhaps coffee shop?

PPP got up at dawn, and went to a chemistry class in which there were 3 people. Lunch with a chemistry professor, one of three in the whole school, confirmed that the ratio of equine creative writers to scientists is about 750:3, considering that the undergraduate enrollment is 753. Perhaps our girl will make that 4 science majors. She also met the lacrosse coach, which was a nice touch, since all we had seen was one lax goal, pushed off to the side, and a field with some faint lines. They gave us some slick recruiting papers about the strength of the science department. And they were totally awesomely nice to us both. That would be after I had a chat with the President of the University, the President of the Parents Council and the Assistant Director of Admissions. My basic premise was that we had driven really, really far, and thanks for asking us....but if they are so all up in the sciences, where exactly are the people? We met all of them the next morning. In rapid succession. Things got awfully scientific after that. Then we drove home, because of the impending first lacrosse game of PPP's season.The afternoon was warm and westward - driving home. PPP and I got pretty sleepy. But we drove fast. AFTER we left Virginia and it's militant highway police who dare to stop people in the middle of the night. Sleepy + fast = don't tell.We stopped, for coffee.We stopped for chocolate and Diet Coke, anticipating the Lenten fast upon us.And with all the stopping for coffee and Diet Coke and Green Tea, we stopped some more to relieve ourselves so we could drink some more.
10 hours 30 minutes worth of random observations from the drive home:

Things were a lot better in the morning at Hollins than they were the night before. Still, it looks better to Mom than to the potential student.
Bootza was right...every single time she told us about the mountains and their blueness.
The Blue Ridge Mountains are blue.
We appreciate the value of a women's-school education. Bleh, bleh, bleh. Not sure about the slam poetry.
Internet access is SO worth $10 a day.
Which is better? A ton of personal attention for 3 or 4 science students or a enormously competitive and peer-challenging course of study? Hmmm...can we flip a coin? Also, is there actually a job market big enough to absorb all these art history majors?

What is slam poetry? We had to phone a friend to find out. Stargazer reports that it's random and twisty and makes no sense to anyone but "the poet". Sounds like the 60's to me.

Why didn't they bribe all the bubbly fun Hollins girls to spend the weekend at school, so that it didn't look so deserted and mopey? Attracting scientists doesn't compare to parties at schools with boys.

Hollins is a really good school. And it might be a great place to go. While we were about 37 seconds from going home on Sunday night, we didn't. I''m glad, because they fell all over themselves to make PPP feel like...a science Princess. That was nice.
PPP is definitely not a creative writing/equestrian/art history major with a minor in performance music. Ruled out completely.

It only took us 10.5 hours to get home, rather than the anticipated 12. I cannot fathom how fast we must have driven because we stopped every hour.
PPP does not eat gas station hot dogs. Just...no. There's another place that she really likes a lot.
A whole lot. Anybody can read THAT body language.
We're listening. We really are.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Still Looking - or How PPP spent her 18th Birthday

Still looking at colleges. What? That's not February, nor is it Virginia? Right on all accounts.
It's Rhodes. But about now, they are all starting to look kind of alike.

In Virginia at Hollins, it's neither home, nor beautiful November. It's the middle of winter and roughly 47 degrees colder tonight than when we left home. Not roughly, EXACTLY. Anyway, everytime the heater ROARS to life in this hotel, it wakes me up. And every time I wake up, it's still not my window. And we're still looking at this college.

Thank you Hotel Roanoke, I love your gorgeous restoration, and the fact that I have to pay to park about 7 blocks away, and that the maid stared at me when I got another tiny bar of soap. Also thanks for letting me stay in your hotel on POINTS, because BigD has spent so many nights in your sister hotels. PPP is particularly incensed that we have to pay for internet access. Internet access at any time or place is a GOD GIVEN RIGHT, as any self-respecting 18 year old will tell you. This trip, it's worth $10/day.

Saturday, PPP and I made an early trip out in search of a laundromat, and washed her jeans. That is the way we celebrate a birthday in our family - we go to the laundromat.

We took a sneak peak at Hollins. Early on Saturday morning, not a creature was stirring. Shades drawn, silent, deserted. Not even the horses were evident. Hollins has a big EQUINE program. Just ask them.
Auntie Bootza arrived, fresh from DC (call it DC, that's what locals call it - DC), we went and found lunch, and discovered that Roanoke is all retro-hippy, and has a 'thriving art scene' and 'niche-y galleries and art hot spots.' Bootza gets all excited about that stuff and used to live here, so that was fun. However, Wal-Mart is Wal-Mart where ever you are.

Also, back to Hollins. Saturday afternoon, still not a creature stirring. Well maybe a couple of creatures. Someone had let some horses out, though they were inside a fence and wearing coats. A picture would be nice here, but I cannot find the little cord - here yesterday, gone today.

For us with no equine savvy, it was a relief that the horses were behind a fence. For all the talk about the EQUINE program, we were concerned about the horses roaming free in the Quad, and wondered exactly how they kept the campus clean, what with all the horses. So...good to know - no free roaming horses and someone was actually ON CAMPUS this weekend.

We tooled around town, until we were through. We walked the many frigid blocks after parking, to find that yet again, the Hotel Roanoke had rolled the red carpet out for us.
I guess they rolled the red carpet out to make up for how cold it is when the parking is a mile away. Also, the internet thing.

Sunday was the BIG DAY. First, we had to re-shop for some warmer clothes. Target is Target where ever you are.College shopping involves maps, tours with student guides walking backwards, bottled water and Starbucks. One must consider what they tell you, in their slick brochures and DVDs and cool little recruiting tools, then find actual evidence that what they have said does indeed exist. On paper, every college is the perfect place to learn. I know that isn't Hollins, it's Rhodes - remember the whole 'camera/cord' issue?

PPP wants to study science and is afraid of horses. Hollins has a huge EQUINE program and one of very few Creative Writing majors in the country. We knew this much. BUT.... according to the Admissions reps who are attentive and effective, they also have a thriving pre-med program, a swim team that is growing, and a lacrosse team that is not overly vicious. They also claim that there are lots and lots of appropriate inter-collegiate activities including young men, and a thriving social life on campus. (which explains the totally deserted campus on the weekend? I guess the social-ness must thrive elsewhere)

They want PPP. In fact they want her enough to invite her to compete for a big honorary scholarship. So we came. Seriously, I really, really didn't MAKE her come.

Today - speeches and panels: The student panel consisted of 2 art history majors and 2 creative writing majors - all of them pretty excited about the downtown Roanoke gallery scene, and the business of art. We learned that they have a big HORSE barn. And championship horsewomen. Also, lots of studio art, theater and creative writing. It snowed while we were walking the campus tour. S. N. O. W.For easy reference, this is what home looks like now. In the flurries, our college tour guide never made it to the science building, though we did hear about Siberia, the parking lot for freshmen. We saw the outside of the theater, the art studio, and the grass quad that nobody can walk on except seniors.
Things we did not see: Science building. Labs. Students who were not musicians, writers, photographers, art historians. Teachers. Anything to do with lax or swimimng. Siberia.

The girls went to 'spend the night on campus' (which was slowly re-populating) while Hollins entertained the parents at a lovely reception at the home of the President of the University - lovely home, lovely food, lovely President. Since I am the parent, I got to go be lovely. Every parent I talked to had a daughter coming to study creative writing. Three are bringing their horses along with them. Their own personal horses.

Coincidentally, I had 3 separate conversations too: with the Chair of the Parent Council, with the Assistant Director of Admission and last but not least, with the lovely President of the University about the sciences- as in do they teach science here, or just write creatively about it? Also, do they have labs here, or just barns? I mean seriously, they surely could have told us this information on the phone, prior to the drive and missing 2 days of school.

I don't know that there's a more homesick hour of the day than Sunday evening. It was always for me, and I went to college about 15 minutes from home. When BigB was far away, he and I BOTH got homesick on Sunday night, and I was AT HOME.
Tonight, as the sun was going down and homesick rose in my throat, PPP and I stood in a cold hall, amidst a lot of very talented creative writers/horsewomen. We have had a frigid tour, heard effusive presentations about art history and creative writing, and discovered that out of all the classes available for her to visit tomorrow, only 2 were sciences, Organic and Inorganic Chemistry, at the same time. We have seen one lacrosse goal, and determined that they have a pool. The swim coach wrote her a note with a cell phone number.

PPP wondered aloud "Is there anyone here like me?"

It's well after midnight, and I am wondering the same thing.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

This is not my window! I woke up at my 'regular time' of way too early anyway. Even though the sun is coming up on Roanoke, Virginia. At this time, it's still dark in my bedroom at home, some 20,031 miles to the west. Pretty Pretty Princess is on the hunt for college. This particular weekend, Mom and PPP are on a road trip. The road to Hollins for an interview is circuitous. Why, might you ask, would we go hundreds of miles out of the way? Or, as BigD said, "What the hell? You're adding 5 hours." Why indeed?
Hello, my lovely. Pshheeh! Why would we add 5 hours? (Don't tell, we SPENT 4:35 hours there, which means we added way more than 5 hours.)
Most of the day looked like this.
We stopped at no small number of drive-through's in search of an elusive GOOD cup of coffee. Note: there are no readily avabilable Starbucks or Kinko's on that route. This lady talked to somebody for a solid 7 minutes, waiting for change, which was all $1 bills. We made a total of 3 full on U-turns, and got stuck in a traffic standstill at Chattanooga, and flat out lost navigating the poorly marked detours in Knoville, but found our way thanks to a policeman we found beneath an underpass in a sketchy part of town. Not before we a significant dent in another side trip to Lexington; then I realized that it was Lexington, Kentucky the signs were pointing us to, not Lexington, Virgina.
This was PPP's daytime picture of danger. Mirrors were busted out. DANGEROUS for the weaving in and out of traffic.
Her NIGHTIME version of dangerous was when we passed Mr. Nice State Trooper at 11:50 p.m., going....well, fast. More dangerous when we saw the blue lights. MEMO: Despite popular belief, you CAN get pulled over for going way too fast in the middle of the night. I think he anticipated a car full of crazy drunk guys, or maybe a car full of illicit substances hurtling through Virginia at 21 miles over the speed limit. He got a mom and PPP, who quickly said "It's my birthday in 10 minutes. You aren't going to give me a ticket on my 18th birthday, are you?" He was about 10 minutes on the other side of his 18th birthday, and somehow that all worked in her favor. WARNING: That's what she got, instead of reckless driving, which indeed would have been a bad way to start the birthday.
We got here late. My contacts were dry, and it is a full 20 degrees colder than it was when we left home. I'm sure the Hotel Roanoke didn't roll out the red carpet just for us, but it sure felt like it. Game on, Hollins.
First, we're going to find the laundromat, though.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Valentine Wedding - Like a Box of Chocolates

I dream about THEME weddings. If YOU were getting married on Valentine's Day, what would you do? You know, to carry out your Valentine theme? De-lish bridesmaid's dresses that look like cupcakes? Chocolate brown satin with a big red silky sash. Like a heart-shaped box of Valentine candy. Only poufier.Would you put your Junior Bridesmaids in the opposite or reverse or whatever you call it? Red satin cupcake dresses with big chocolate brown bows. Just like the heart boxes of candy.Everybody wants to take pictures on wedding day. However, not everyone is ready to be photographed, and if I were the lady smack in the middle of that picture?...Just sayin.'Especially when one has a lipstick-red Valentine-ish wedding cake with chocolate brown flowers pressed on to the very red cake. With a chocolate faux snake winding its way across the top. I don't think that's actually supposed to be a chocolate snake. I think further adjustments were made. Snake on cake? Not so much, even for Valentines Day.
Red tablecloths over white. Chocolate scented candles, perhaps? Red satin dresses with brown satin sashes, brown satin dresses with red satin bows. Nothing says wedding like satin and big petticoats. "Strapless" could come close.
The bouquets? Luscious Valentine ruby red roses with lacy white hydrangeas. A virtual doily-and-heart-valentine bouquet. Virtually. The men wore red vests and ties with their tuxes. Big lip-smacking red roses for bouts. Not these delicate luminescent fuh-reeeee-sha. BO-RING! Remember the theme! This is a full-onValentine's Day wedding.

Valentine's Wedding....like a box of chocolates! I knew you'd do that whole chocolate and red roses theme thing! Love was in the air.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Matrimonial Editorial

A few weeks ago, and a lifetime ago it seems, Chilly and his Lovely Bride were the Rock-Stars of the Week at their wedding. The announcement was in our local newspaper. I wrote, Chilly edited, and it was pretty terse. It actually worked well, because the pictures pretty much tell the tale :those two are just flat crazy about each other.

Back, back, back in the day the announcements went into exquisite detail about everything - fabric, flower, music, parties, doodlie, doodlie, doo. Not so much anymore, at least not in our paper. I wrote us a real old-school wedding announcement, with my comments. Just between us. Don't tell.

Special to the old-school wedding newspaper....

On a fine warm evening in mid-winter,
which caused us to sweat all day, the Lovely Bride, daughter of two doting parents, married Chilly, son of two more doting parents. Doting bridal parents began the festivities last spring with a gala cocktail reception in the garden of their home, to introduce Chilly and the whole Chilly entourage to their dearest friends. Also, just to celebrate at home.
The very closest associates, friends and family of the Bride and Chilly and the whole Ginormous Chilly family-entourage were personally invited to join the wedding festivities during the winter holidays. The Spencerian script invitation on a pearl white deckle-edged card was enclosed in a french, silver filigree-tissue lined envelope, ordered from the above genius Paper-Doll. Biker-Mom, the mother of the bride, on the phone, me and Paper-Doll doing the design. Do you think I would take Biker mom, my bff, into that overstimulating little space? No, this was a phone-a-friend occasion.Each invitation was hand calligraphied, then stuffed, then stamped, then checked, then each and every one had to be licked. Yummy.Guests entered the candlelit foyer of the church . . .Ok, this was technically before we lit the candles.... before being escorted to their seats.Groomsmen, brothers, cousins, friends, neighbors of the bride and groom attended the groom. Apparently they were using their "phone-a-friend lifeline" too. Their ties were not the fake pre-tied kind, but were hand-tied silk, tied by a professional bow-tier just hours before the pictures started, and that was early in their day, my friends.They wore boutinierre's of some little white and green flower that I cannot remember the name of. (PPP says "Is it FUH-REEEEE- sha? Yes, in fact it is. Freesia. She's good.). And I ask for these bouts almost every time. By name. It's a good thing the flower guy knows what I'm talking about. And boy, he does know exactly what I'm talking about - from start to finish, every time. The Garden District genius-guys created a double squared candelit arch, adorned with fresh white flowers. I was absolutely obsessed with the arch being squared off, not oval, and I am so, so glad. Just saying.The guys who created that magic actually BUILT structures to hold up all the flowers, and then lighted them to make it even more stunning. One of them wears a full-on tool belt with a power drill. I love these flower guys. The bride carried a boquet of white parrot tulips and. . .. . . enormous fresh lilies adorned the pews enveloping the sanctuary in the aroma of spring. The flowers were overwhelmingly beautiful. Also, smelled really good. Eau -du - matrimoniee. Add candles. Lots. Candles = magic.
The bride was attended by her closest friends, who celebrated at a bridesmaid's luncheon, one of a whirl of parties honoring the bride. The bridesmaids wore Aegean blue taffeta dresses which were painstakingly ironed - with ruched bodices and ballroom skirts. So, the backstory on the dresses? OMG. In late summer we ordered some OTHER dresses from LOW'S and after a million phone calls, they finally told us on November 21 that the original dresses had never been ordered. I was alerted to this while in the midst of a college visit with PPP, receiving frantic text and phone brrrrppps from Bride and MOB in quick succession. This could be a serialized newspaper story called "Disasters in Wedding Planning" but it's not! It's called "Triumphs of calm problem-solving!" My calm and confident bride found herself some dresses from Saks Fifth Avenue, I tracked down the girls and their sizes, with a big help from the MATRON of Honor, a newlywed herself. VOILA, within days my able assistants were modeling the new dresses in the bride's bedroom over the Thanksgiving holiday. I mean seriously, that's a quick turnaround, from no dresses to 9 dresses! So, if you are looking for wedding planning hints, let me just say, LOWS - at your own risk. Universally agreed, the new dresses ROCKED. The old dresses? Don't know, because Low's didn't order them. The bride's hair and make-up was done by Quitman. That's Quitman, putting on the fierce make-up. Wait, is that someone ironing? Quitman was also in charge of flooofin' up the hair. Lovely Bride wore her hair in a bundle of cascading curls to highlight the fingertip veil of silk illusion. Also the bridesmaids, every last one of them, got curled and floofed up. And the mothers. Also, grandmothers. Quitman brought a helper for all that hair. Mother of Chilly got poufy, for sure. Not poufy. Poufy. Not poufy.
The MOB wore....OK stop right here! Biker Mom ironed all afternoon with curlers in her hair. Keep your eye on the left hand.I think she ironed every single bridesmaid dress. Once she QUIT ironing.... The mother-of-the-Bride wore a navy silk tulle strapless gown with bolero actually, this started out as a sort of aubergine color dress, but there were so many flaws in that aubergine fabric that her personal stylist ordered this great navy blue swirly dress with sparklies all up in the Cinderella skirt. And it was SO not black. Navy. And that furry little shrug-like bunny affair? Lovely Bride wore it at some point, before she got way too hot - MOB got it from E-Bay, just for the occasion. Mr. and Mrs. Chilly's future children will enjoy playing dress up with that little shrug.The mother of the groom ... did not wear beige. She wore red and she wore it triumphantly. Also, it helps to bring along an ironer. A professional ironer, who does a sort of ironing dance. Someone with an advanced degree in ironing. Like an ironing doctor. One might say an M.I. It got scary in there...between the floofing of the hair and the makeup and the manic - ironing. SCARY. GOOD scary, but still scary.Professional photography service, including bridal portrait in the home of the doting parents, was provided by Trey Clark. Starting on Christmas Eve, when somehow, someway we got hair, make-up, dress and photographer together with the bride, and took a portrait, in her home. 17 phone calls, 24 text messages. On Christmas Eve. Consider that. On Christmas Eve.Semi-professional photography provided by every parent, aunt, uncle and cousin, with Trey watching behind. Totally amateur photography provided by me. So, I don't rock in everything.
Video by Jamie Hill. I love it when the wedding party tells me that they had no idea that the videographer was even there. Not sure how you can miss the big tripod in the back of the church, but whatever. It was a pretty wild day. I meant to say that it was an wildly exciting day. I think.A gala reception followed, and a good time was had by all. Chilly threw his bride around the dance floor like a dancing fool. I took no pictures of that part. Trust, me though. They danced all night. And then they left.

After a honeymoon in Mexico, during which they turned off their cell phones and did not communicate with anyone including their parents, one of whom believed that they must be sick and stranded in some wayward Mexican emergency room They weren't. Sick that is. They were just HONEYMOONING - a sign that they applied some sound married decision making to the whole honeymoon concept.
Mr. and Mrs. Chilly will live in Atlanta . . . and go back to being normal people. (That's Chilly eating cheese. That's what normal people do.) Nobody tell Big Lar this part, but the Mother of Chilly emailed me this week to verify a charge, noting that she "threw her credit card at everybody all weekend long." I thought I gave her a lanyard to tether that card to herself. Scary, I tell you.

Their parents are still recovering.