Posts Tagged With: Chapman University

Ends and Beginnings

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This week has been a transition week.  Brian is taking a job right across the street from our house, starting next Monday.  Which meant, of course, that I had to drive down to Orange County (where he’s working now) and help him pack up his office.  Too much stuff for the train.  He had it mostly done when I arrived.  So we packed everything in the car and went to dinner at Taco Adobe, my favorite place in the world.

Taco Adobe is a little hole-in-the-wall Mexican food place sandwiched on a back street between two dumpy car repair yards.  There’s a derelict burger joint across the street.  But you can sit in the bright restaurant or under the blooming bougainvillea on their patio and have the tastiest meal.  They’re the first place that taught me I actually DO like enchiladas; it’s red sauce I don’t like.  They have amazing rice and tasty black beans, and their salsa is unrivaled.  Taco Adobe is one of the things I miss most about Chapman.  The other things being Leatherby Library (and it’s interlibrary loan amazingness), the way they used to pipe Christmas music through the campus speakers during break, and all of the awesome history professors.

It’s definitely the close of a huge chapter in our lives now that Brian will be gone.  There was a time when I spent more hours at Chapman (by far) than I ever did at home, between dropping Brian off at work in the mornings and staying late for ASL club meetings at night.  The campus is different now, with the Musco Center all finished, the DMAC up and running, and a new museum and all.  But it still feels the same.  It still feels like home, I realized last night as we walked to the car in the dark with the buildings shining around us.

My guess is that it probably will always feel that way.  And it definitely won’t be our last time on campus.  If nothing else we’ll see everyone at the Animation Show of Shows, and maybe at other screenings, and things like homecoming. But with Brian leaving, it feels like more the end of an era than my graduation day did.

I’m excited for the future, though.  I feel like I’ve gotten the best present in the world in the form of more Brian around the house.  He has gained back 4 hours a day in commuting time, and I think it’s going to change his life in ways he can’t even imagine yet.  There are Masters Degrees in the cards, and lots of Redlands goodness to explore.  Things are looking up.

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Elie Wiesel: A Memory

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I feel the need to write something about Elie Wiesel’s death.  It struck me pretty hard, and I’ve been sitting on the feelings because they seemed untamable into words until I had a little distance from them.  But I think I can do it now.

I met Elie Wiesel a few times.  He had a standing relationship with Chapman where he would come and give talks at their Holocaust center, before doing a big campus shindig in front of anyone who could fit in the auditorium.  I saw him at the big event a few times.  But the meeting that I think of most is this one: My professor was asked to interview him for the campus shindig, so he asked if we could get a few moments with Dr. Wiesel privately as a class.  There were fifteen of us in the group.

It changed my life.

It’s hard to say how, except that it unleashed a bravery in me that I didn’t know I possessed.  And he did it so quietly, too.

We went to a fancy room in the library that was small, with wide windows in one wall and desks set like a U.  In the corner was a stand of cookies and coffee, and we all clutched our cups nervously, sitting up straighter than we usually did, adjusting our collars or skirts since we all dressed up for the occasion.

He wasn’t at all formal, just incredibly kind.  We sat in the sunlit room while he told us of the night he went back to his family home, the one where they lived before the camp.  His father had planted a gold watch by a tree so the family could come back after the war and claim it again.  Dr. Wiesel had not been back for 50 years, but he dug into the earth and the watch was there.  He held it up to the moonlight, thought of his father for a moment, and then buried it back in the ground.  It seemed to belong there, he said.

He talked of walking the corridors of Buchenwald alone, asking for a moment to himself at an anniversary event, and of how he didn’t feel the terror there anymore.  In every breath he spoke a brilliant truth, it was all things I perhaps knew but didn’t have the words for, or knew but hadn’t looked at from that side.  I think the whole room fell in love that day.  We would have done anything for this grinning, gentle man with the wild hair.

At the end of it all, he charged us with a task.  As humans and scholars, as the next generation, we were to bear witness.

I knew that he meant the atrocities that are committed in the name of progress, but I also know that he meant everything.  The joys, the sorrows, the living.  Bear witness to life, because there is sorrow and heartbreak and wonder there that is important too, among the injustice and savagery.  All of it is worthy of proclamation, perhaps even needful of it.  All of it is holy.

He was so full of life himself, and so easy with bearing his own witness by the time I met him.  I knew his charge would be something I would take up and try to fulfill.  And through the writing, I have tried to do it as best I can.  That meeting changed me, changed my writing, made me feel brave about relating my experiences, mundane though they are in comparison.

He wouldn’t have remembered me.  I’m certain of it.  I was one face in a sea of fifteen that class period, and he probably met many more classes that day alone.  I didn’t raise my hand to speak or ask questions because I was so enraptured by the answers that I wanted to savor them.

Perhaps it even matters more that way, that I was one of a crowd to him.  That he had enough trust in us to share, and enough love for us to give us a task without knowing our individual stories.  It makes me wonder how many others are like me, who were changed in an instant without him even knowing.  It was a gift he offered with ease.

I am in mourning.  The world has lost a brilliant man.  If you want to honor his memory with me, consider bearing witness  to some truth in your life.  I know he would be pleased if you did.

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A Week of Miscellany

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Oh man, I’m feeling like I have nothing to write about today.  Which is probably false.  It’s just been such a whirlwind of a week that I’m looking forward to snuggling on the couch with Anydots, eating leftovers, and watching cooking documentaries on Netflix until I inevitable pass out at 8:00 pm.

This week, I:

  • Played DnD on a school night (on Wednesday)
  • Went to see Community Voices at Chapman on Thursday (6 30-minute documentaries made by students, and SO GOOD. The Casa Theresa one had me laughing and crying, but the rest were amazing too.  Only the Cochlear one made me mad – SO INNACURATE)
  • Had the weirdest meditation experience on Friday in which I felt both lectured to and appreciated, for some reason.
  • Celebrated my grandfather’s 90th birthday on Saturday by going to a fancy lunch at Panda Inn and then eating mass quantities of pie at his house after.
  • Celebrated my amazing mother on Mother’s Day by cooking her Eggs Benedict (with Belinis) and then taking her to a movie.

So perhaps it’s no surprise that couch-potato me is a little frazzled.

On another note, for the first time EVER I am only 1 book ahead on my Goodreads reading challenge.  Last year I was perpetually 7 books ahead.  This year, I’ve been clocking in at about 3.  I’m claiming that it’s because I’ve been reading a bunch of non-fiction lately and those always take me longer.  But yikes!  I might swap out documentaries for a good book instead tonight.

I also want to mention, for anyone who is female and has unpublished stuff lying around, Half Of The World is running a literary contest for which the ultimate prize is $50,000.  No restrictions on genre, but it must be a screenplay, short story, novel, written in English It also has to feature a well-rounded female protagonist.  I mean, you might as well, right?  There’s no cost to enter.  Go check it out! https://halftheworld.media/

Categories: Life, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Voces Novae!

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This is a VERY quick post just to say that today I’m a published writer!  My Senior Thesis – a 44 page research project on Deaf films made between 1913 and 1920 – was just published in Chapman’s online history journal, Voces Novae.  I basically argue that although the films were made to preserve Sign Language, they also inadvertently preserved Deaf Culture.  If you’re into that sort of thing, or just want to ogle my name a little, here’s the link: http://journals.chapman.edu/ojs/index.php/VocesNovae/issue/current.  I’M SUPER EXCITED ABOUT IT!!  (If you couldn’t already tell…)

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The Magic Of Interlibrary Loan

Chapman revoked my library card last week.  It’s because I’m not a student there anymore, and not because of the late fees I’ve paid every semester.  No really.  I promise.  I always return things eventually, and I always pay.  They like kids like me.  They’re making money off of my inability to keep dates straight, and I get to read amazing things.  It works for both of us.  Or it worked for both of us.

I’ve been forlorn about not having access anymore.  Interlibrary loan is my favorite thing in the entire world.  The Chapman Interlibrary Loan people are some of the best around, and they can get ANYTHING.  When I was writing my senior thesis, the man behind the marble front counter handed me a crumbling something between two duct taped sheets of cardboard.

“For library use only,” he said.  “You can’t take it out.” 

“Can I copy it, if I need to?” I asked. 

“Yeah, no problem.”

I went to the collection of armchairs on the second floor.  Wide windows look out on the piazza below where water pools between four square pillars.  I sank into a chair and lifted a corner of the cover.  It was about the size of a half sheet of paper, a yellowed pamphlet about the importance of sign language written in 1914 by the National Association of the Deaf.  It was not a copy.  It was the actual pamphlet.  I almost cried.  It was just so beautiful.  I still have the black and white duplicates I made in a brown, faux leather binder at home.

“I once got an actual 18th century French field manual through Interlibrary Loan,” said the dedicated History librarian when I told him about it. 

This is in addition to all the amazing books the library always has.  I’ve worked my way through the large section they have on Deaf culture, all the books on the American Puritans, and cut a swath through the vast Young Adult section.  They have the entire collection of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, and I keep thinking I need to read them all.  It seems that whatever my latest obsession becomes, they have the books to support the habit. 

All is not completely lost.  I found out from a newsletter that I can get a special alumni library card.  I did a little dance sitting at my work computer when I found out.  It takes seven days for my card to travel through the mail, after I fill out the form and upload a head shot.  I pulled up the website immediately, and clicked through to the privileges an Alumni card gives.  Interlibrary Loan is not one of those things. 

I get it.  That department has enough to do, tracking down obscure copies of primary source material for the people who are actually studying or working there.  I’m disappointed, though.  As wonderful as their library is, I can’t order up snippets of the past and pick them up two weeks later.   I can’t touch the pages people touched hundreds of years ago.  I will never again take a duct taped sleeve of cardboard from the hands of the person at the front desk and uncover more than I thought was possible.   

It’s enough to make a girl want to get a Master’s Degree.

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