Monday, November 29, 2004


Like the corner of my mind. I don't think my mind has a corner. I've seen a human brain outside of a skull before, and there are no corners in one. Although, I found out that if you remove a brain and don't put it into a bag to keep it's shape before it is put in preservative, then it just becomes a pile of mush. Hope no one is eating.

Anyhow, in my boredom (things are slow again), I went and reread my friend Amy's columns in her archives. This article in particular caught my mind today, and started me down the path to reminiscence.

My four years in the KH overlapped Amy's in three of them (she was there a year before I moved in, and I was there a year after she left). Those four years in the house were probably the most interesting, challenging, and wonderful ones of my life.

My first year in the house was kind of blah for me personally. There was a lot of tension in the house, though, over things that had happened in the past. As I was the only new resident that year, I was the only one not directly involved in the situations, though I knew about them. The tension was sometimes difficult to take, as both "sides" tried to get me to support them, though given the nature of the problems, there was really only one choice I could make in that regard.

That year I supported my roommate as she became Catholic, broke my foot walking down the men's wing stairs after going up to look at some quasi-pornographic pictures left by one of my housemates on a chalkboard after Thanksgiving break, learned that it is possible to hang a softball glove from a hanger in the closet, discovered that I'm horrible at golf, and found that it is in fact possible to spend literally an entire weekend sitting on the couch and watching TV.

My second year in the house was probably the worst year for me (well, except for the last year, but that's another story). I just never found a niche that year. There were a lot of "cool" people in the house that year - the artsy type, but not in a good way (read: elitist). They had alcohol in the house, which broke one of the cardinal rules (I don't know if Amy knew that or not, so if you read this, it may be a surprise), and they broke other rules left and right. Now, I'm not little miss law and order (though that is a good TV show), but having respect for your housemates when you live in community is important.

That was also the year my dad got sick, and I decided to keep it from everyone but Amy and Ty (and Renee, but she didn't live in the house). In retrospect, that was probably a big mistake. I probably would have been a lot more sane if people knew what I was struggling with. But I hated people feeling sorry for me, and I hated when people were kind out of sypathy more than out of genuine feeling. Plus, I've had too many experiences in my life where I've been told, explicitly or implicitly, that people don't want to be burdened with my problems. It was easier to keep it inside.

That year, I met Joe (who I will write about next year) - which was an experience in and of itself - and became a fairly liberal apologist for the Catholic Church (to balance out Jim and Stefan's Mother Angelica like opinions - they are both priests now {shudder}). I learned that one should never take three lit classes in one semester while also taking Spanish comp. and doing a practicum. I found out (the hard way) how important it is to check the oil in your car before going on a trip and not to ignore the oil light on the dashboard. I discovered that working retail is not for me.

I cooked a meal for 60 people all by myself on College Student Sunday at the church because my cook group mates decided to go see Wayne's World instead of doing any prep work the night before. Do you have any idea how much cheese you need to shred to make pizza for 60 people?

My roommate got pregnant that spring. I vomited the morning after she told me with sympathy morning sickness (and as a bonus, it delayed a Shakespeare test I wasn't prepared for by one day - didn't help much).

My first senior year was probably the best year in the house. It wasn't without tension - the presidential election of 1992 saw to that. But we really came together as a community right from the start.

That year, I overcame one of my most major fears and jumped off a cliff on our opening retreat (I was attached to a zip line, of course), despite the fact that I was still recovering from when I ran myself over with a van at camp (have I written about that? If not, I must sometime.). I never could have done that if I hadn't been comfortable with those people.

Despite the arguments over dishes left laying (or lying) in the kitchen, we really did help each other with chores and the like. We were a diverse group, but it worked.

That year, we pulled a classic practical joke on my roommate, B. B was a really lovely person, but she was tremendously gullible and naive. She believed just about everything anyone told her, a fact that we were all sensitive to when it mattered. She was also the worst driver known to man. It took her 10 minutes to park her car when all she had to do was pull into a parking space. Picturing her parallel parking still makes me cringe.

Anyway, one afternoon, Todd and I were watching TV in the living room. There was really nothing interesting on, so we mostly stared out the picture window instead. We saw B coming home from student teaching, and watched her try to parallel park in front of a building across the street. It literally took her 20 minutes (yes, we timed her). As she was crossing the street, Todd asked me, "Want to have some fun?" and when I agreed, he said to follow his lead. When B came in the house, he gave her an incredulous look and said, "B! I can't believe you did that!"

She looked confused (not an uncommon sight), and asked, "Did what?"

"Parked there! It's illegal!"

"No it's not. There's no yellow line."

"Yeah, it is. Tell her, Sheryl."

Thinking fast, I said, "Don't you know that it's illegal to park in front of law firms?"

"What?" was her reply.

"Yeah," I said. "It's illegal to park in front of law firms in case the police have to bring accused criminals to meet with their attorneys." Now first of all, the firm across the street handled civil law cases. Secondly, anyone with an ounce of common sense would never belive that crock of...well. But this was B we're talking about, and I could see on her face she was starting to believe me.

We went back and forth for a couple more minutes, telling her she had to go out and move her car, when Joe came in. Thinking quickly, Todd said, "Joe, tell B that it's illegal to park in front of a law firm."

Joe, always one to pick up on teasing and practical jokes immediately agreed and insisted that Brenda go out and move her car for her own sake.

Well, that must have been enough to sway her doubts, because she started to head out the door. I, of course, softie that I am, let her off the hook before she actually moved the car. Still, it was good for a laugh.

That was also the year my dad died. He passed away in April, four days after Easter. I don't know how I would have survived without my housemates. The supported me when I had no one else to do so (other than my mom, of course). They offered to type my senior thesis so I could get in turned in on time since I was missing time for the funeral (they couldn't because I was editing as I typed, but it was a generous offer). They took care of all my house and chapel obligations that weekend. When I came back, the distracted me when I needed it, left me alone when I wanted to be left alone, and were just generally there for me. That's what community was all about.

My last year in the house was a nightmare to put it lightly. We got a new female director that year, M, who rubbed me the wrong way right from the start. She said some hurtful things to Ty about me on our retreat the first day of the year. She didn't know I heard. I don't feel like going into detail about that right now, though I will at some point. Suffice it to say, that year, the motto of the KH was "dysfuctions R us."

I really became who I am today during my Gannon years, and I can thank the Kirk House for a big part of that. God was truly good in leading me to that place at that point in time.

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