Podunk Meets Paradise

Musings from Central Idaho

Archive for the tag “college”

What Now?

We dropped Odd Number off at Boise State University last week, initiating a new era in family life. So far, that era is distinguished by the number of times people have asked us about ENS, or Empty Nest Syndrome. empty nest

Nothing that ends with Syndrome is ever good, so naturally I’m resistant to the phrase. If our house is indeed a nest, Iron Chef and I are still in it, as is our cat — the Worst Hippopotamus. Not to mention the fact that Her Royal Highness (now a college junior) uses the nest as a combination flophouse/storage shed in between her wilderness river trips. That behavior actually does feel like a syndrome.

Empty Nest or no, there is no doubt that having both kids in college will create a new dynamic. On one of the rare occasions this summer when all four of us sat down to dinner, the conversation was lively and fun. Odd soon peeled off to carouse with his friends, and it didn’t take Her Highness long to get a better offer, so they excused themselves and left us alone on the deck. Chef looked at me with what one might perceive as terror, and said, “What now?”

We both laughed hysterically after he said it, like you do before you ride one of those rides at the amusement park that simulates an elevator falling 40 floors.

elevator fallI’m mostly nervous because I’ve been using the children as human shields from some basic responsibilities. Like, “I’m sure I’ll dust more when I don’t have all this child rearing to do.” It’s been 4 days since we left Odd Number in southern Idaho and this now feels like a lie.

But maybe I really will be more thoughtful about birthdays, and clipping the cat’s nails, and not abandoning my blog for months on end. What now? Let’s just wait and see.

 

 

Room for Growth

We’re in Missoula for Her Royal Highness’s freshman orientation at University of Montana. We are clearly part of a generation of New Age Parenting, because I, too, am attending Families of Freshmen Orientation for 2.5 f—ing days. Here was my parents’ orientation: “Here is where your kid lives now, and here is a bill you can pay. Any questions? No? Well, consider yourself oriented.” Now, not so much. But that’s not what I’m really reporting. Fortunately, the college has the good sense to separate Families of Freshmen from the real incoming Freshmen themselves. So, we check HRH into the dorm room that will serve as her lodging for a few days and her primary dwelling for the upcoming school year. “It’s like the cells in Orange is the New Black!” HRH recoiled upon seeing the cinder block enclosure.

Orange is the New Black, campus style.

Orange is the New Black, campus style.

I concurred that the accommodations were, in fact, austere. I went to check myself in to the Missoula downtown Holiday Inn. It is a complete wonder that I am not sponsored by Holiday Inn because thanks to Iron Chef, I am completely a Preferred Member. This is very meaningful because when I check in, I get asked if because of my loyalty (which involves paying a home mortgage worth of visits), I would like a) water, b) $2 off a $10 drink, or c) a bejillion points for a point system I don’t understand. I always choose points because I understand the other two choices and they are not that preferential. But sometimes, at least theoretically, Preferred Members get insider perks. I experienced this one time in Billings, Montana, when the front desk randomly gave me salt and vinegar potato chips, which happen to be my favorite. That was cool. In Missoula on this stay, my Preferred Member status earned me a wink and an upgrade to the mega king suite.

Karma is good.

Karma is good.

To be clear, when I’m traveling with the rest of my family and/or half of the girls and/or boys’ hockey team, we do not get the upgrade. But when I am a solo unit, Holiday Inn cannot provide me with enough square footage. Is it a coincidence that HRH is sleeping in the equivalent of a packrat trap? Only if you are godless.

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