The Road to Farley

The Road to Farley

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Breakfast Club

I'm not referring to an '80s John Hughes movie starring Emilio Estevez and Molly Ringwald. This is my 21st century version of regular Saturday or Sunday morning breakfasts with two phenomenal women. We'll call them Liz and Katie.

We started our breakfast tradition several years ago. In fact, I don't even remember when, or how it came to be a regular event. Our breakfast gatherings are probably somewhere between the trendy breakfasts Carrie Bradshaw and her crew had on Sex and the City and the Golden Girls sitting around their kitchen table. We represent three decades: 30s, 40s, and 50s.

I cherish these breakfasts. When work or family obligations take me away on consecutive weekends, I feel kind of empty and incomplete. We laugh. We cry. We simultaneously complain about and defend our siblings. We solve the world's problems if only "more people thought like we did." Imagine two hours of free therapy with eggs.

Most often you will find us at Perkins. Well, except for the time when the property manager in the group realized she had once evicted one of the waitresses. We had to temporarily find a new breakfast spot lest the waitress recognize her former property manager and spit on our food.

Phenomenal women -- that's Liz and Katie. When Liz finished her dissertation, she gave an acknowledgement to her breakfast crew. It made both Katie and me cry. If you hear me longing on a Tuesday that I wish it was the weekend, it's very possible that I'm just ready for breakfast.

'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Excerpt from the poem "Phenomenal Woman" by Maya Angelou.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Freshman Year + 30

The students moved back to Iowa City last week. As a full time resident, I admit that I relish the few weeks of summer when we are mostly student-less and the Ped Mall is filled with "old people" or young families on a Friday night. 

Thirty years ago, I was a wide-eyed, self-conscious freshman moving into Burge Hall. I have no idea how 30 years can go by so quickly. When I think about that first year of college -- it's frightening. As the first person in my family to go to college, I had no clue what to expect or any role models. 

Here are just a few of the revelations I had during my first year: 
  • I had no idea I had to *buy* my textbooks. I went through the first 10 days of classes without books, until I finally figured it out I had to go buy them. 
  • I thought Burge Hall was *so far* from downtown that I couldn't believe people expected me to walk that far every day. 
  • College was filled with the *smart kids* from every school. Suddenly, I didn't feel so smart anymore, and I realized that my high school wasn't that challenging. Or, maybe, I just didn't apply myself. Hmmm...
  • City girls (i.e., Chicago) were so much more sophisticated than us dumpy little farm girls.
  • Three girls in one small dorm room was, at times, painful. Especially when one of the girls had an older boyfriend. (He was 24, and creepy...what was he doing dating an 18 year old anyway?)
  • Every social situation was awkward. Well, jungle juice or cheap beer seemed to loosen them up a little bit. 

I would never want to go back to the angst of my freshman year, but my memories are not all bad. So, to the freshman class, and particularly the new inhabitants of 2328 Burge -- hang in there, it just gets better from here.  

Sunday, August 8, 2010


I was inspired by corn this weekend. Lush, bountiful, verdant corn stretching sometimes as far as the eye could see into the horizon. Driving through the Iowa countryside, I sensed what must have inspired Grant Wood years ago, the endless rolling hills...and corn. As I drove in silence, I was transported to my childhood, running through the cornfields with our Collie, dwarfed by the tall cornstalks and their tassles pointing to the endless blue sky and warm sun. If I listen hard enough, I can hear the sounds of the country, the locusts, crickets, and birds. Then, I see myself sitting in the backyard at dusk, fresh from a bath, in my cotton pajamas watching the fireflies dart in and out of the corn.

For a few moments, I have escaped the noise of life. It is just me, alone in my car, and corn. I am reminded how simple and good life can be.