The Christian Grad Fellowship
As September rolled into October, Ben started grad school and I started my senior year of college. We compared schedules. Mondays and Fridays we could carpool, we decided.
But then he added a caveat. “I’ll be staying at school a little later this Monday,” he said. “I’m going to a Christian Grad Fellowship meeting from five to six.”
He also mentioned that there would be free pizza. I don’t remember when in the conversation this occurred. “I’ll just come too,” I said. “No one will know I’m not a grad student. Besides, I’m older than you.”
My class ran past 5 so I was late, but there was still plenty of pizza by the time I arrived. I got a couple slices and sat down by Ben. Across the table I saw one of my teachers from the year before. He must be the faculty adviser.
I tried to remember if I’d cried in his office.
I tried to remember if I’d corrected him in class, and if so, how rude I’d been about it.
“Let’s go around the room,” he was saying. “say what your name is, and what your field of study is, and a random fact about yourself.”
Oh great. Now everyone was going to know that I didn’t actually belong.
Ben introduced himself, and then it was my turn. “Sorry, but I’m just an undergrad who’s here stealing your pizza,” I confessed. “But my brother Ben came and I figured that since I’m older than him, surely I could come too.”
People laughed, and I realized that no one cared that I was an undergrad, or if they did they were too nice to say so.
I went to all the meetings after that.
What a terrible, terrible election season.
I watched the internet slowly divide like an amoeba into two echo chambers where everybody yelled and nobody listened. If you yelled into the wrong echo chamber there was an explosion and a rapid unfriending and the internet divided a little bit more.
I made the decision to do the right thing in real life and refuse to yell online. If God tells me to blog about a particular issue, I will, but I’m committed, for now, to listen.
I think the division bothered me more than the president, though, because I felt like the president was a direct result of the division. And any terrible things he might do could never be solved if everyone yelled and yelled and yelled as though that was the mark of true morality.
I go to the beach when I need to calm my soul, and the weekend after the election was no exception.
The whole CGF crowd went. We did all the things…splashing in the waves, browsing a used bookstore, eating clam chowder, watching for whales, roasting hot dogs on the beach, finding critters in the tide pools…and no one mentioned the election. Not even once.
Amos Turns 100
“Who’s doing the most interesting thing over Thanksgiving weekend?” My teacher asked the way teachers do, as though we have a life an no homework. But for once I had the best answer.
“I’m going to my grandpa’s 100’th birthday party.”
“Really! What’s your grandpa’s name?”
“Amos. What a great old-man name.”
We flew in Friday, and drove to the rental house where the various Yoder relations were staying for the weekend. It was right on a lake, obviously, being Minnesota. There was snow and a sunset and it was really quite breathtaking.
Saturday was Grandpa’s 100th birthday.
It was a great weekend. I love my family.
Of course I had to write a term paper. I tried to simultaneously write a term paper and have a good old chat with the Yoders. It didn’t work out so well.
But I survived.
The mice got worse and worse, in that old farmhouse.
I got home from my Thanksgiving trip and worked on my term paper at the kitchen table. Mice scuttled under the stove. One dashed across the floor and under the sink.
“It’s okay,” I thought. “At least they’re not upstairs.”
Darrel and Simone, my landlords, wanted to move into the farmhouse when my term ended. Ashlie, my roommate, had already moved out. I was going to move back in with my parents, but wanted to savor my last few nights of going to sleep and waking up exactly when I wished, without being bothered by noisy family members.
That evening, in my room, I saw a mouse run under my bedroom door, look at me with round black eyes, and dart out again.
I shoved a rug under my door.
I went to sleep but kept being woken by a rustling in my trash can. I sat up and turned on the light. I’d spilled a bunch of peanuts a few weeks prior, and I’d swept up all the ones I could reach and dumped them in my trash can. Now, there was a hole chewed in the trash bag, and mouse turds inside.
I set the trash can outside my bedroom door, and tried to go back to sleep.
Rustle rustle. Something was running around under my bed, grabbing the peanuts I hadn’t been able to reach with my broom.
“That’s it,” I decided, and I put on my bathrobe and got in my car and moved home a week early.
My school vacation was a month and two days. So that was a nice and slightly boring break.
I didn’t do anything fancy New Year’s Eve, just hung out with my friend Elaine and drank sparkling cider and argued about who the best guy in Lord of the Rings is.
I also caught a bad cold at the end of the year that stretched on and on for three weeks, but at that point I’d been healthy for half a year so I couldn’t complain too heavily.
Now, at the end of my recap, I feel as though I should give some philosophical insight into what I learned in 2016. Hmm. What did I learn in 2016?
I learned that nonfiction how-to type books are just like textbooks, in that there is no reason to read the whole thing. Just read the first paragraph of every chapter and/or the first line of every paragraph, and everything that’s titled “conclusion,” and you will have read the entire gist of the book.
You’re welcome, for that insight. Now go have a fantastic 2017.