ellen mcbee

She's always up to something…

Rambles and Travels

on July 9, 2014

Since my last post, nothing happened!

No, of course that’s not true.  I went to my parents’ 50th anniversary party, saw a lot of people I haven’t seen in 25 years, had a birthday, took my son on his first college visit, and had a nightmare flight on the way home.

I should warn that there are some things I find really boring myself, and one of them is the minutiae of the difficulties of travel.  Let’s just say that my flight out of Nashville was delayed, so I was late getting to Dallas and missed the Santa Fe connection.  I ended up going to Albuquerque, where the agent took almost an hour to set me up with vouchers for a hotel, taxi, and shuttle to Santa Fe.  Then this morning the shuttle was booked so I had to rent a car to get my children to where my car was parked in Santa Fe.  So, I rented a car for an hour for about half the amount I paid for having a car for a week at my parents’!

I’ve been trying hard to talk about writing as a job and not as a hobby since I left Jackson.  People who’ve known me only here in Los Alamos are a bit surprised when I say that I’ve been at a writers’ conference.  I suppose I seem too practical, too grounded in the reality of routine, to be an artist.  People who’ve known me for a while or are brand-new acquaintances are interested and ask me where I blog.  Today I met the lady who is teaching my son’s drivers’ ed class and she is a writer.  We talked shop a little, and it felt natural.  Normal.  I’m starting to feel like a writer who writes.

Speaking of, make sure to check out my “The Beginning” page today.  I’ll be adding the revisions I’ve made to the original post from a few weeks ago.  I thought I’d leave the original up so that anyone who is interested can see what my process looks like.  And later I’ll be digging into Scrivener to learn how to use it.  Before I went out of town I made it halfway through the tutorial, but now I don’t remember what I learned.  Hopefully it will all come back to me as I’m working.

Taking my son back to Sewanee was enlightening.  When my husband and I were there, we weren’t exactly slumming, but it was definitely less clean, shiny, and state of the art than it is now.  Night Study in the library, which always smelled like a thousand lit cigarettes, has been replaced by a 24 hour computer lab.  Students now need their IDs to access not just the dining halls but their own rooms, where I never locked my door even one time (although it must be admitted that this was because the keys were bulky and sometimes got stuck).  The gravel paths that ate our shoes have been paved.  The dining hall is open and food is accessible all the time.  Printing is free.  95% of freshmen return for their sophomore year, which made me wonder if the University is working harder to keep them and better able to help those in financial need or if admissions are just that much more selective.

One piece that I’m glad to see still operates is that the admissions counselor talked about the network, and Sewanee as a family.  I demonstrated that myself; our tour guide was talking about being a biochemistry major and at the end of the tour I gave him my husband’s contact information.  Because it’s not just about being in school, it’s about what happens next.  Buck’s own mentors have retired and passed away and the new professors in the department don’t really know him, so they don’t put students in contact with him.

I was surprised that our tour guide didn’t talk about the honor code as a way of life, although my son said his did talk about it.  I knew a couple of people who were thrown out on honor code violations.  The honor code really was ingrained and was a large part of who we were.  And are.  Although I wonder sometimes how much of it we already held when we came to Sewanee in the first place.


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