It’s All Greek To Me

My college student has officially started rush week. My husband and I have both told him that this week will be one of the most fun parts of his college years. And for him, it’s only the beginning.

Even though it’s been well over 20 years ago, I can still smell the hazy cigarette smoke and stale spilled beer throughout the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house at Mississippi State University. I was lucky enough to be invited and initiated as a “Little Sister of Minerva”, or an SAE Little Sister.

I’m convinced that Kurt Cobain copied the grunge style from the SAE’s at Mississippi State. They were way ahead of their fashion time with their long stringy hair with the occasional mullet (hey – it was the 80’s!), and disintegrating t-shirts saying “You Can’t Spell State Without SAE!”

The house was probably one of the strangest on Fraternity Row. For some reason someone thought that a very plain, two story rectangular, red brick building would look better by adding a church-like addition (minus the steeple). Nestled in with the Southern Plantation, white columned style homes of Kappa Alpha, Pike, and Kappa Sig houses, the SAE house stood out like a sore thumb. Besides the fact that the house looked like an old gas station, an eclectic mix of sofas and chairs were usually strewn out in the front yard along with the previous night’s beer bottles and empty solo cups. Are you having visions of “Animal House” yet? If so, you’re right on track.

Dancing to a live band playing “Brown Eyed Girl”, or sitting on the roof watching the sun rise (and laughing at girls trying to sneak out of the frat house in the wee hours of the morning), or the Little Sister/Big Brother Wine & Cheese party, or dressing up as a 1920’s gangster’s widow during Paddy Murphy week. These are just slivers of my fun memories.

And now my son Matthew is going through rush. I don’t care what fraternity he chooses to pledge, I just want him to pick the one that fits his personality the best. And the most important thing I hope he gets from going through rush is realizing the lifelong friends he will make. Many of the friends on my Facebook page are my SAE big brothers…and I was just a little sister! The depth of lifelong brotherhood that he will be a part of upon joining a fraternity is immeasurable.

And although I know he’s going to have fun, I hope he realizes that there are some things he should and should not do. I won’t name names here, but holding a pizza guy hostage for more pizza probably isn’t the smartest thing to ever do, but keeping beer in the coke machine? That, my dear brothers, was BRILLIANT!!!

I made the fun photo above using StoryMark. For more information, visit or download for free in the iPhone app store or Android Market.

I Look Great But You’re Losing Your Hair

I started participating triathlons after a very bad relationship breakup…the kind of relationship where I thought “Woo-Hoo!! I’m gonna marry this guy” and I started scribbling my name with his last name like a high school kid.

Annnnnd then it didn’t happen. Not only did it not happen, but I found myself completely opposite of where I pictured myself. I found myself alone. Not married, but completely ALONE.

So after a month long diet of wine, cookies, wine, ice-cream, wine and pasta, I decided to give up the carbs and get in really good shape. I thought, “That’ll show him. When we bump into each other in the future, he’s going to go “DAMNNNN. I screwed up.” At least that’s what I had hoped he’d be saying. So instead of just joining a gym, I went the extreme route…I signed up for the IronGirl triathlon, and so my training began.

Before I signed up, I don’t think I had really considered the distance that is involved in a triathlon. I hadn’t thought about the fact that I would have to swim 600 yards, then bike 18 miles, then run a 5k. Much too late, I realized that 600 yards is the equivalent to 6 football fields. 18 miles is equal to 72 times around a high school track, and a 5k would be like hiking up, down and back up Stone Mountain. And I was going to have to do this not in just a day, but in less than 2 hours.

Let’s be serious. I’m 43 years old. I’m never going to win a medal in the Olympics so I truly don’t care about my time. I’m not going to break any records except for possibly having the highest number of last place finishes in history. Immediately following the race, many of my friends will run to the timing sheets and anxiously scan their race numbers to find their time. Me? What do I care? It’s not like I’m going to put my race finish time on FaceBook. Can’t you see my status: “Finished my triathlon – came in 600th place, out of 600!!!”

My first triathlon 2007

With each race my primary goal is to not drown during the swim, not hit a pothole with my bike and end up with a massive head injury, and not to have a heart attack during the run portion. Instead I just want to finish the race and get my t-shirt confirming that I have participated in and lived through a triathlon.

Skip forward a few IronGirl tri’s and local sprint competitions, in which I didn’t come in last place by the way. I realized that it wasn’t important for me to get in shape and do these tri’s to impress someone else. It was for me. I was having a great time, getting in fantastic shape, meeting new people and finding out that I was much stronger than I ever imagined that I could be. And you know what else I found out? Having confidence can be very attractive!

And you know what I’ll say if ever I run into that old ex-boyfriend who inspired me to kick start the inner athletic goddess in me?

“Eat your heart out…and by the way, you’re losing your hair.”

My most recent triathlon 2012

Home Really Is Where Your Mom Is

Is this really happening?

I found myself standing in my son’s room today. Not in a creepy watching-him-as-he’s-sleeping kind of way. Just standing there, looking around at all of his posters tacked to the walls. I see the “Captain” stripes on his letter jacket gently strewn across the chair. Prom pictures of him and his girlfriend are stapled to the wall by his bed.

But something is different: He is leaving for college.

His Pink Floyd, Dave Matthews & Beatles posters are rolled up neatly with a rubber band keeping them safe. His guitar stand is sitting by the door and his guitar is nestled comfortably in it’s hard case. Two big brown boxes sit by the door filled with his lava lamp, some clothes, his x-box, favorite pillows and his Mac. There are no dirty boxer shorts or t-shirts tossed on the floor. There aren’t any empty Dr. Pepper cans on the bedside table. The TV is off.

And the lump that has been growing in my throat for the past three months is suddenly about to burst. He looks over at me and I realize that I’m about to lose it. I exclaim that I need to go stir the spaghetti sauce that has been simmering on the stove for the past three hours. I race down the stairs, bypassing the kitchen altogether, hoping that I can make it to my bedroom before the tears start to flow. Once the sniffles start, it’s a dead giveaway.

Where did the time go? Wasn’t it just yesterday that he couldn’t wait to ride the bus to school for his first day of kindergarten? Wasn’t it just last week that he found a hair under his armpit –( yes that was meant to be singular)? Didn’t he just grow out of the kid’s department at Abercrombie & Fitch?

Matthew’s First Day of Kindergarten

I watched him grow from a funny and animated little boy into a kind and independent man. He took care of his “mama” after his dad and I divorced, and ultimately became the “man of the house”. Over the next ten years, it was just me and him. I went to every school event – talent shows, teacher conferences, and just about every single hockey game, and of course I was always the loudest mom there. I even took him and his friends on a very memorable camping trip (they didn’t realize that I could hear them talking about Pamela Anderson’s boobs through the paper thin tent walls).

State Hockey Champs 2011

When I finally met my husband, my son carefully “gave me away” at the wedding, knowing that he would eventually be leaving for college and that I had found a wonderful husband to love and share my life with.

Why does this hurt so much? I remember being his exact same age and heading off to college. I was so excited – just as he is. I know what’s in store for him and I am filled with joy knowing he is going to have such an amazing experience. I’ve given him all of the advice about studying hard, and have even given him the speech that “I’m too young to be a grandma.” I know that this is just the beginning of the rest of his life. But as a mom it’s still a bitter pill to swallow.

So as I stand here looking around his room, the lump in my throat comes back and my eyes start to tear up again. I realize that all of his memories from his younger years are either being left behind or packed away in boxes to take with him. I hope that he knows he will take something else with him that’s even more fragile than his beloved Beatle’s Blue Album…

He’ll take his mother’s heart with him.