Tag Archives: College

Happy Campers

By: Colleen

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I am not what you would call a happy camper.  (And in fact, I take issue with that phrase.  When is it ever even used positively?  Nowhere, that’s where.  No one says, “Boy, she’s such a happy camper!”)  But, despite that, last week I just couldn’t take the city anymore, and I grabbed some friends and took to the hills, errr rolling plains, ummm, okay, well there was a lake.  C’mon, it’s Texas! We did the best we could.

It’s been a long and hot “fall” here in Texas.  Each year around September I realize that I have been secretly expecting the weather to be like it is at home, to wake up to crisp, cool mornings, and that my 6 am cross country practice will not be sticky and grossly warm.  But, it always is.  Texas is in the South, and Texas is hot, at least up until mid-to-late October.  And so, when the weather did finally clear and cool within the last two weeks here, my Northern, countrygirl nostalgia kicked in, full force.  And I just wanted to be outside.

Last week, we had a day off of school for “Fall Reading Day”, and so I proposed a camping trip to anywhere reasonably pretty and wild and full of nature.  Luckily, I have a very competent boyfriend, Joe, who did all the sensible things like look up campsites for the guys and the girls and arrange car rides, and look too good after a night of very little sleep and a lot of dirt (alright, that is not really that sensible, but hey, he pulled it off).

Joe

And so, on Thursday afternoon, the first in the caravan of cars to come set off to Cedar Hill State Park, just 30 minutes away from the UD campus.

We arrived just in time to see the sunset.

sunset two sunset clare

Expert camper and former Boy Scout, Hermes, built the fire with a little help from my good friend, Clare.

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And of course, we then realized that our tent did not have any poles to hold it up.  Although Mary and I have a one for one record of putting up tents successfully (see this post for details), I did not quite have the skills to magically pull poles out of thin air.  And so it was tarps and blankets and a night under the stars for all.

Later on, my friend Anthony arrived with his bagpipes, and as he played, we all danced around the fire, leaping over it and clapping to the inexorable sound of pipes.  There is something so compelling about bagpipes; one cannot help but to want to dance.  Life needs to be more of firelight and music and laughter and stars.

We all woke up early the next day to a gray dawn.  Anthony, who had slept on the roof of the little metal shelter at the campsite, pondered the dawn.

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And as we headed back to campus, there was the lingering smell of woodsmoke and the musty-clean scent of earth.  And for once, I truly was a happy camper.

On Wisconsin

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It has been a slow descent into the world of coffee for me over these past few years. My sister-in-law, Nicole, will tease me about the “coffee milk”, I used to drink when she first met me, as I drink down a huge cup of the lovely stuff on her living room couch. It was indeed just coffee and milk that I used to drink, the sweetness of the raw milk blending with just a dash of coffee in a mason jar mug.

And so, it was a no-brainer when I came to college: I was determined to get a job at the coffee shop on campus. I have been working at the Cappuccino Bar, or “Capp Bar” as most people fondly call it, for almost two years now, and I absolutely love it. Sometimes I feel that the smell of espresso has been soaked into my skin, under the fingernails and lingering on my palms.

One of my favorite parts of the job is creating new drinks. Everyone at the Capp Bar is encouraged to experiment, make some unique, make something your own. I have created a few drinks over the past two years, but recently I may have struck gold with the dawn of what a co-worker and I call the “On Wisconsin”. My co-worker, Christian, is also from Wisconsin, and one day, as we were ruminating on the glories and downfalls of the state, a friend suggested that we make an official drink for Wisconsin. We gladly accepted the challenge.

After much discussion, we agreed that the drink had to incorporate these two things: lots and lots of dairy and something German. Those are the two trademarks of Wisconsin, right? The fact that everyone and their grandma is at least a quarter German and probably drinks and eats a startling amount of dairy products. Thus, the “On Wisconsin” was born, a milky, German chocolate mocha cappuccino. And it’s dang good, if you ask me.

The ingredient that really makes this drink would have to be the (surprising) coconut syrup006,

paired with a pump of chocolate and a shot of espresso, and finally drowned in the creamy goodness of steamed whole milk.  And voila!

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As the snow falls gently and deep in Wisconsin, I am under the clouds of Dallas today, threatening a thunderstorm with temperatures in the 70s.  Perhaps I’m not so far from home, though, as I serve up “On Wisconsins” to these unenlightened Texans, bringing a little bit of comfort to my Mid-western soul.

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A Phone Call From Rome

by Colleen

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On Monday morning, I was woken from my slumber by a call from Rome.  I confusedly stared at my caller ID while my phone jingled and jangled.  “Rome!”, it said.  As my mind slowly unclouded on the 3rd or 4th ring, I realized that my best friend, Killian, was calling me from Rome, and immediately flipped open my phone, attempting to make my “Hello” sound less than groggy and tired.  Killian and many of my closest friends are studying on the University of Dallas’ Rome campus this semester, and I hastily programmed the campus telephone number into my phone as “Rome!” just last week.

Killian was calling to tell me the latest news, news which is by now old: that Pope Benedict is retiring.  Due to the early hour, I refused to take him seriously the first few times he told me the news.  “Ha ha, very funny, Killian.  You’re not fooling me, even if  I did just wake up,” I replied to his assertions.  Soon, though, I realized that he was not fooling around.  The gravity of the situation hit me, and I sat up in bed.

“It hasn’t been done in 800 or so years!” Killian exclaimed.  It struck me that this truly is a momentous event in church history  and it is amazing that all of us are alive to witness it, especially all of my friends who will  be there to watch and wait in the courtyard outside of the Vatican at the end of this month, searching the sky for traces of white smoke.  The future is uncertain, but the church is not.  It will always be here.  And, from Killian’s phone call, I was reminded of those I miss in Rome, They may not be  physically be near me, but I know they are with me in spirit, and I with them.  Apparently, I can’t get away from them making me miss out on sleep, even a continent away!

 

Italian Dreams and Dallas Streets

by Colleen

On Saturday, I called home for an update.  I miss the goings-on of our big family in our big, rambling farmhouse while down here in Dallas, and calling and skyping home is one of my favorite things to do on a lazy Saturday morning.  To my surprise, I found out that it is still winter back home, complete with 16 degree high temperatures and a foot of snow.  The sunny, 65 degree weather outside my window had fooled me into thinking it was March or even April, and classes already seem to be interminable.

Despite the glorious weather, this semester has been off to an uncharacteristic start.  Many of my closest friends are away across the ocean this semester, studying on the University of Dallas’ Rome campus, and while seeing gorgeous pictures of them traipsing across Italy on Facebook is fun, I’d much rather they were still living down the hall from me.  In an attempt to become more cultured and not just sit in front of our computer screens, scrolling through pictures, a few of my friends from here (who are also never going to Rome) and I decided to get out into Dallas and attend a concert last Sunday night.

After a frantic day of studying, my friends Joe, Monica, and I headed out to the light rail station in the Dallas dusk, ready for some music and time away from campus.  We alighted at Mockingbird station, and wandered around looking for a place to eat that was nowhere even close to cafeteria food.  We found what we were looking for at Izmir’s Market and Deli.  The Iranian man behind the counter was charming  the falafal was fresh and flavorful, and for just a moment, we could pretend we weren’t in Dallas, TX.  Satisfied, we headed to the concert, and spent the night enveloped in the music of the Punch Brothers, a folksy, Mumford and Sons-esque band that filled the Granada Theater with glorious sound.

We headed back to campus that night content and tired, our minds, not lost in contemplation of the streets of Rome, but centered on the present here and now, which suddenly seemed a lot less lonely.

Punch Brothers

Leaving the Little Ones

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by Colleen

Every time I leave home, there are two things that I know I will miss: my family and the land.  Missing my family is the obvious one.  I especially miss my little siblings, Clare and James.  Growing up, we were “the little kids”, a trio of troublemakers, covered in mud and smiles most of the time (when we weren’t fighting over what show to watch on PBS or who got the front seat).  Raphael was the big brother who was fun, deigning to play with monopoly with us for hours or tag, but when he decided that he was too grown up for all that, we were left to our little group of three.  (Note: Raph really isn’t very grown up still, but he refuses to play Monopoly.)

Little Raphie

As I leave home, one of the worst things is to say good-bye to Clare and James.  I attempted to hug James before heading out the door, and he shouted. “No me tocas!”  And wriggled and elbowed his way out of my arms.  Typical.   Clare on the other hand, the professed hug hater, gave me a long and hard hug.  I hate the fact that they are left at home, growing up and doing all the things I used to do with them, without me.  One of my greatest joys over break was going to James’ basketball games. The ride to and from the game with Clare in our musty, rattling van is something I’ve always loved.  And watching my little brother charge up the court really makes me the proudest I’ve ever been.  James happened to get injured in one of the games I went to this break, and I was so mad.  I was just so angry that some bug loaf hurt him.  I was ready to charge out and kick him in the shins til he cried-and that is not a normal Colleen emotion.  James and I are tight, alright?

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Everything changes.  My little siblings are growing up, my older siblings’ families are expanding, and me?  Well, the love for my family is growing, even as the distance between us does, too.

Little Sister

When You Take Away a Girl’s Piano…

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by Colleen

Once again, ’tis the season!  No, not THAT season-Finals Season!  And oh how festive and joyful the University of Dallas campus is.  I see people out at all hours, cavorting on the mall, and laughing in the library.  Oh wait, make that crying from lack of sleep.

Luckily, I have a fairly easy finals schedule this semester, and so I’m not going to be complaining about school.  Nope, I’m complaining about something else.

I moseyed on down the lounge in my dorm last week for a spot of piano playing only to find this:

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What? What?!  I was incensed.  I was enraged.  I was very, VERY annoyed.  C’mon, people.  Throughout the two weeks I have now been suffering from piano withdrawals.  I’ll look up from studying French and think, “Hey, PIANO! Yeah, I’m gonna go play!” only to suffer the extreme disappointment of not being able to.  I feel like I’m missing a limb.

My thought and feeling progression goes a little  something like this:

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Really?

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REALLY?

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FINE THEN.  I’ll just go watch youtube videos and melt my brain into mush.

Finals, I can handle.  This indignity-no.

Back in the Saddle

by Colleen

Howdy, “y’all”!  Okay it still feels too wrong to use that phrase, despite the fact this will be my second year at the University of Dallas in good ole Texas.  Yes, I’m back in the land of heat, papers, books, and college.  Despite the difference in climate and surroundings, I find that I’m up to the same things.

Before leaving home, Mary took me on a trail ride at Gabriel and Aurora’s place out in the middle of nowhere.  Turns out that the middle of nowhere is the best place for wandering about on horses for hours on end.  It’d been a few years since I’d been in the saddle, and I was so happy to be back at it, even if just for an afternoon.

I missed riding, so on a late night adventure out in Dallas with my friends, I found a good enough alternative:

This little guy just one of the mustangs of Las Colinas.  These sculptures had many signs surrounding them thanking passers-by for not climbing on the statures.  I wasn’t climbing- I was riding.