It is the end of August 2001; I have spent the past year teaching English in Paraguay for six months followed by three months of travel with my mother in Egypt and Europe, in the era before 9/11. My summer as a waitress at the Olive Garden was still only a few days behind me before my mother and I departed to Kalamazoo, Michigan so I could participate in the LandSea Pre-orientation program at Kalamazoo College. It is at a BBQ for out of state students, hosted by someone from the Admissions Office, where I have the pleasure of meeting fellow 2005 classmate Joana Olson for the first time. We talked about life in Maine, where I grew up and Texas where she was from, my mom and her dad talking pleasantly. Later we sit next to each other on the bus ride up to Killarney Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada, where the program once took place and where we would end up being when the twin towers fell.
Back on campus I am in Andy Mozina’s first-year seminar class reading The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison and Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, discussing them with Steven Yeun who would later star as Glenn Rhee on the hit TV show The Walking Dead and the Netflix original Okja, one of my favorite releases this year. Sarah Lindley taught a course in Object Investigation and it helped deepen my understanding of materials and the artistic process, along with the smell of an old fashioned black and white photography studio and lectures by Richard Koenig all of which would inspire me to later attend graduate school for my M.F.A.-Studio Art, at Mills College in Oakland, California where I have now lived for over 12 years. Oakland is where I meet other Kalamazoo College graduates such as my husband’s White Crain Silat Kung Fu instructor, Laura Mazolla or Dia Penning who is also a fan of my favorite children’s Bay Area Hip Hop Group, Alphabet Rockers.
I hope what you read now stays with you for years to come as it has in courses like Women, Gender and Sexuality by Amy Elman, Amy Smith and Kiran Cunningham which are still some of the most memorable. The Price of Motherhood by Ann Crittenden gave me no illusions about the difficulty of raising a child, an adventure I began over a year ago and that continues to challenge and amaze me. Less than a month ago I was able to attend Joana Olson’s wedding, where her college roommate of four years, Caycee Sledge, gave a wonderful toast as the maid of honor and reminded me of the time and adventures shared at Kalamazoo College.