Album Collection
Album Collection (Photo credit: maddenman2000)


I’ve always believed my fiance was a hottie. Yesterday, he was absolutely suh-mokin’! Let me explain.

For months…no, years…since I moved into my home, I have kept the door to the office — my “messy little secret” — closed. It is not just an eyesore; it’s a purulent wound. This morning, I gathered the courage to rip off the bandage and expose it to the air…and to Von. Respecting my wishes, he never has opened its door without my permission. Meanwhile, I have dared not enter the room without a hard-hat, goggles, rubber gloves, and gas mask.

“I’ll look in only when you’re ready for me to see it,” he assured me.

You see, for only a short while after I moved into my house was this room liveable. Soon after, it became a temporary holding tank for things until I decided where I really wanted them to go. Memorabilia, photos, old bills, books, especially, stacks of L.P.’s, provided by my radio-announcer father, Chem Terry.

“Sell them on Ebay,” some suggested.

“Tried Craigslist?” asked others.

Both, I’ll admit, are viable ideas, except these albums are not simply albums. They’re what Daddy represented: music of the 1940’s and 1950’s. According to my mother, he begged her not to sell his record collection.

Now that she is gone, I have inherited Daddy’s records. Although I bought a turntable that converts L.P.’s into MP3 files, it would still take forever to capture every single record.

Since August 2006, when I moved into the house, I was pressed for time, as I had recently started a new semester at school, so I wanted to slam-bang the whole moving process together as quickly as possible. When Sundays rolled around, I stashed boxes of stuff in the garage. Out of sight, out of mind. Troublesome mail also found its way upstairs.

“I’ll deal with this tomorrow,” I told self, dusting my hands. “Not to worry.”

But when I had to don riot gear to brave the chaotic cubbyhole at the top of the stairs, I knew I needed help. My son and grandson from Sweden were due to visit me soon. Knowing that if Tam laid eyes on that room, he would feel like putting “Mama” in a home, I took a big gulp and started tossing stuff into trash bags.

This morning, when I let Von come up and see it, I pointed out the chief concern: “skyscraper” stacks of record albums that made the room an obstacle course. It is not the first time he has tried to help me with this problem. About a year ago, we bought a dozen bankers boxes from Sam’s Club. Seemed like a good idea, but the weight of the records soon caused the boxes to collapse.

Today, at Lowe’s, my big sweetie bought me two tall, wire book-shelves and eight plastic bins large enough to hold these cherished records. Before he returned home, he assembled the shelves and helped me store the albums into bins and stack them. While I am still not finished, the room is at least liveable. All I need to turn it into a state-of-the-art office is a hot-plate for coffee, a small fridge for Cokes, a vending machine for snacks, a futon, a hot tub…..



Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

August 29, 2011

They watch me as I walk into the classroom on the first day of school.  The boys  fidget. The girls giggle. Some eyes are sparkly and eager. Others, lost and confused.

First-graders? Good guess.  Try  community-college freshmen.  Yes,  during my twenty-some years as an instructor  in a two-year college, I continue to be amazed at how  young and  naive these students  seem .  Other than the size of their clothes, the hair on their bodies, and the pitch of their voices, I’d swear I was teaching the first grade.   The second first grade.

As in the first year of elementary school,  these fledglings also have to  learn a new way of life: buying their own textbooks, developing college-level study skillls, reading hundreds of pages for the next class, and learning to type and  upload essays online.  Still,  despite the tougher  requirements heaped upon this new breed, there are  striking similarities between them and their pint-sized progenitors.

First, although both have to furnish their own school supplies, the Big Chief writing tablets and Ticonderoga pencils with number-two leads have been replaced by iPads,  laptops, and portable hard-drives. Crayolas have stepped aside for highlighters. And  book satchels have taken a back seat to backpacks.   As for lunch pails? Look on Ebay. Today’s kiddos subsist on Cokes and potato chips from the vending machines or burgers from  “Mickey D’s“.

Second, since community colleges  are also commuter colleges,  they  do not offer dormitories. Therefore, many students  still live at home.  Although  privacy policies prohibit parents from becoming  involved,  many of these newbies  still depend on Mom and Dad for emotional and financial  support.

Finally,  both groups are highly distractible.  Surrounded by television, video games, and other electronic gizmos, it is no easier task for an eighteen-year-old to concentrate than it is for an eight-year-old.  Some of my colleagues even pass around a shoe box, at the beginning of class,  into which students must toss their cell phones. Only when class is over are students and  phones reunited. Moreover, to guard against students checking their email and Facebook  during lectures, teachers can  activate  programs that block students’ computers from  the Internet.

Is this new generation of students changing the definition of college, as we’ve come to know it?  I’m turning the floor over to you. What are your observations?