Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Half Baked Texan

Sometime on or around this date - this month, anyway - exactly half my life ago, I moved to Texas. My mom and my Aunt Sally drove me down here to move me into a dorm room a thousand miles from my home so I could attend school at Southern Methodist University.

My freshman dorm room - tiny!
And my freshman roommate, Tricia.

When I was in high school and looking at colleges, for some reason I really wanted to go someplace "far away". I was interested in studying music. Within an hour of the home where I grew up, there are at least two fine universities that offer well regarded music degree programs. These would not do. First, I had spent six years traveling to one of the campuses once a week for lessons, so it seemed like I had already "gone" there. Please remember we're talking about the logic of a 16 year old girl, here. Don't get too hung up on it. Anyway, the other one - Indiana University, where lots of my friends were going - it was just too close to home for me. It was about forty-five minutes away. I don't really know why, but it wasn't going to work for me.

Work-study in the band hall.
Mickey, Don and sweet Becky, Anne

My parents entertained this notion and allowed me to explore universities far and wide. We even took vacations around visiting universities - I visited, applied and got accepted to Oberlin, Northwestern and Michigan State, to name a few. (Actually, I think I had ruled Oberlin out before applying.) And, I visited SMU on a trip to Texas because my bassoon teacher had a friend who went there once.

Photos I took of the campus my freshman year.

I fell in love with the campus. And with the idea of going to that school. It was THE ONE. I applied to several schools and waited to see what sorts of scholarships were awarded. SMU, while when you add in travel, was not the cheapest on the bottom line, did measure up quite well. They offered me several scholarships and some work study money. So, sister, I was going THERE. I started packing my bags and was ready for the adventure!

Tricia and me, at Universal Studios.
Tricia is from Florida, and we went there for spring break.

I took a potluck roommate in the co-ed "honors" dorm. My freshman roommate ended up being Tricia, my good friend to this day. I joined the marching band, mainly at the time because they offered me a scholarship to participate. I was not that interested in participating in the marching band otherwise, to be honest. But, in the long run, I'm glad I did because I have lifelong friends from that organization.

Mustang Band collage.
I played sax my freshman year and percussion the rest of the time.
The costumes were for a Pigskin Revue skit.

So, my mom and my Aunt Sally drove the thousand miles with me and moved all my stuff up three flights of stairs in Morrison hall. They got me all situated, bought me toiletries and food, and said farewell to drive back to Indiana.

More band friend photos.

These were the days before email really - well, we had one computer building on campus where you could write email to your friends at other colleges on a green screen - pretty much the only people with email were at other colleges - and you might check it twice a month or something. People still wrote letters and used the telephone. When my mom left, for the first three weeks or so of school, I was miserable. M-I-S-E-R-A-B-L-E. I would call and tell my mom I had made a terrible mistake. I hated the marching band, and I knew no other soul in several hundred miles. I felt I had made a grievous error in judgment and I wanted my mom to come back and get me. Now!!!

Sophomore dorm room.
Cathy was my roommate this year, and the rest of college.
Yes, I was in love with Harry Connick, Jr. It could have worked out for us.

But, then a funny thing happened. I couldn't go home - I was too far away - and I settled in. I made friends, started classes, began performing in the arts school and with the marching band, and I started to like it there. At my dream school. So, I stayed.

At home in Indiana while in college - that's Austin in my lap on the left.
Brother Rick in the background, brother Steve on the right.

One summer - the summer after my freshman year - I went back to Indiana and worked "down at the Lilly" in their summer intern program. Since I was a music major, that meant I worked in the mail and copy room. I met a lot of interesting people there and it was a great job for the summer. Other than that, I did not return to Indiana for even the summers in college.

Me and S in college.

Then I met a boy. From Dallas. So, when I graduated, I looked for jobs in Texas. This was because of the boy, but also because there were way more jobs in Texas than in Indiana. And, I got a job in Texas. Then I married that boy. And, as they say, the rest is history.

Meadows Wind Ensemble at Caruth.
Meadows Wind Ensemble in New Orleans - there's Marcia on the left!

So, this month, I have lived in Texas as long as I've lived in Indiana, if you don't count those months at the Lilly, which for ease, I'm not counting. This little fact doesn't seem possible to me. And, it doesn't seem possible that Texas has left the same sorts of indelible marks on my character as Indiana did in my formative years. I'm pretty sure it has not.

Tenor saxophone section of the Mustang Band, freshman year.

But, I'm sure it has to some degree. I mean, I am not equipped for, or really even remember really what a Midwestern winter is like. But, I have also not, after this many years, acclimated to a Texas summer. I've gotten used to the drawls and the hair and the plasticity of the place where I live and at times long for the down home, no nonsense style of the place where I grew up. I visit there as often as I can and soak it in as well as savor moments with all my Indiana family.

I have no idea what this "group" was.
Mustang Band friends during Pigskin Revue.

I've also, however, gotten used to and love living in a big city, with the culture, shopping, restaurants and general availability a big city offers. I've come to love and appreciate the entrepreneurial business environment, the larger than life personas and the can-do attitude - the gravitas - Texans exude from their pores. I love the three seasons that are not summer. And I have lots of friends and my in-law family here. And, of course, ahem, S lives here too. And I still love that Texas boy!

Another grouping of band friends at Pigskin.

So, I guess that makes me a half baked Texan. I'll never be a real Texan, because, as any Texan will tell you, I'm not from here. I don't really fit in, and as I've said before, that's OK with me too. Half baked is good enough. I'll savor the half-and-half point this year brings and reflect on it often, I'm sure. Time flies, doesn't it? Boy, does it. Time flies.

Me, Cathy, Tricia, Marcia, sophomore year.

So, this half baked Texan will see you again, right here, tomorrow. Happy Tuesday.


  1. Thanks for a sneak look at the past. Always entertaining.

  2. Wow, I loved taking this "trip" with you. Brought back many memories of both tears those first three weeks and of many happy visits.

  3. Love it. I, too, was/am a large Harry Connick Jr. fan. Not ashamed to admit it. I pity our poor orchestras when they put him on the Pops circuit, someday...


  4. Ha! I knew Mickey and think I have a photo of him looking very much like that! (the one with his hands on his face in mock surprise). I was in the upper quad for the fall semester of 90 and he was on my floor, with Mindy Paige Davis of Trading Spaces and Broadway fame--loved her in Sweet Charity! Lost touch once I moved to UNT. Are you still in touch with him?


  5. Left a comment on facebook, but wanted to add that I want to apologize to the extent my hard ass self had anything to do with you hating the Mustang Band at the beginning. I don't remember anything specific, but, well, you know, I yelled a lot.

  6. Great post. Great pictures. I don't have any from frosh year.

    BTW, you are a Texan. A lot of "Texans" are transplants. As they say, "I may not be from Texas, but I got here as fast as I could."


  7. Love this. Nice memories and you are at least 60% southern now, for sure. I had however forgotten about that 'nice' gold dress and blond wig. thank god it was a wig!


  8. You SOOOOO fit in and we love you! You can't help where you were born - bless your heart! :-) I'm so glad you came to SMU and stayed in Texas!

  9. Thank you all for your wonderful comments! Making me smile...

  10. i really do love this. except for my hair. and glasses. yikes. but still, loved the retrospective and feel honored to be included. i remember we had a lot of fun that year we were at smu at the same time.

  11. I had forgotten the percussion role you played. I would naturally say that you are still 100% Hoosier.

  12. Fun!! Love the one of us with Jon!!!!


  13. oh, and I wish I could get that small again LOL.


  14. Wow, what a time warp! Thanks for posting these photos, they brought back good memories --


  15. Isn't it amazing how the second 18 years seems to have gone by so much faster than the first 18 years. Wow, I feel old just saying it! Continued happiness to you in your Texas home.


  16. I can't believe that it has been that long. We are really glad you decided to come to SMU so that you could be a part of our family. I can't imagine our family without YOU!! We love you very much.


  17. Thank you for sharing this. I love it!!!


  18. So much of this sounds familiar, except I was from Kansas, and not about to go to KU or K State, my dream school (Duke) didn't quite come through with the scholarships like SMU did, and, well, once I was here I never did doubt my decision to go to SMU. There are plenty of us non-"Dallas chicks" that make this a great place to be.


  19. Oh, and how weird is it that I had a dream with Andra in it last night?


  20. oh what memories!  mostly of crying ;) i also have pictures of you and lori with that harry connick poster in the background... and just look at you now!  and to think you were only 2 yrs old when i first met you.... *sigh*
    love to you and s


  21. You are blessed with many friends and beautiful memories.



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