I may be the only person who cried through the entire College Game day show this past Saturday. As the camera zoomed out over Bowman field, my heart longed for the Blue Ridges. When "Sloppy Body" made another iconic appearance, I was not crying from laughing (though that was happening mentally), I was full on ugly crying because "those are my people!" I missed the solid orange, crazy fans that for most of my life had been my Saturday tailgating companions.
Saturday evening I continued my mission of converting everyone to Clemson fans one friend at a time, by bringing my brave grad school friend to the Chicago Clemson Club viewing party. As the pre-show scrolled through Clemson staples, I tried to explain running down the hill, Howard's rock and the Esso club but words failed me.
As I have been planning my future (post grad school life), I have an obvious criteria: proximity to Clemson. I realize, something that honestly did not occur to me until my homesick laden Saturdays, that my Clemson experience is still valid. I had always felt like it was not exciting enough or not a true Clemson story because I had refused to go greek, I did not enjoy painting myself for games and I spent a whole lot of time in studio. But really guys, is there really one exemplar Clemson experience?
Advice that I wish I had known as a freshman- every college experience is in fact a college experience. It will be memorable, individual and important. It does not have to be the most popular path or the most Instagram worthy event-filled experience. It just has to be yours. The mold, that everyone tries to fit, is a mythos.
Lets throw some color theory into this already cheesy post. Orange straight out of the tube does not naturally exist nor is it Clemson Orange. There are infinite shades of orange and I believe that Solid Orange includes all of them. Mix and find your perfect level of hue, tone, and saturation so one day you can also miss and relive your Clemson experience each game day.
The ol' leather skins is back and I may be one of the most excited orange-blooded fans in this city. For me, football has remained a family tradition, even when distance separates us. Today, as the Tigers take on the war-eagle-igers, with my parents and brother there cheering them on, I begin a new tradition: The Chicago Clemson Club viewing party at the Full Shilling Public House. They will have all the necessary tailgating equipment to make this night hyped and Solid Orange- obviously sweet potato fries and Tiger Tea. So here is a throwback to my freshman year to kick off the best season. GO TIGERS! Beat Auburn!
This summer I am teaching various art classes at the Clemson Arts Center. When I decided to take the job, I realized in a logical manner that it would be new (not Camp) and so would be a learning experience. I did not realize how much, until four bubbly four year olds ran into my class room the first day. Here is a summary of the week: screaming, running, messes, stick on gemstones, and ninja masks. My kids sometimes like coloring more than anything, other times would not even pick out a piece of paper. Pretending to be puppies, complete with playing fetch with pipe cleaners and hiding under tables was an average day in my class. Lets just call it performance art. That was just week one.
Honestly, this week (week 2!) has not been much different, except different names and I am much better prepared. I have a new found patience for rhinestones stuck in the cracks of my Chacos and spilt paint-water drills. I also learned a bit more about collaboration. It is just as important and beautiful at age four as it is in university studios. Yesterday, we invented our own food like Dr. Seuss using construction paper and markers. But honestly the assignment became limitless. One girl wanted pizza, so then everyone was drawing pizza, which turned into flower pizza, plus a boot, which transformed into spaghetti with a side of green milk, maybe a bit of pink and purple ice-cream for dessert. What about PINK and PURPLE Spaghetti!? another giggled. All of which evolved into spaghetti soup on my lone boys plate. Wow what a full meal... and day. Wait. That was only 18 mins.
These two weeks in the preschool class have been exhausting, exciting and eye opening. I love watching the exploration of each one of my cuties as they learn how to use scissors and begin realizing that they too have the imagination and capabilities to do great things! My next class will be with 10 plus stars and will likely present new and different challenges.
To teach is to learn twice! -Jim Gensheer, shout out to one of my fav teachers and his favorite saying.
Yes racism is everywhere. Do not let yourself blindly believe otherwise. I understand, it is oh so easy to hide under optimism and ignorance. If you recognize a problem you must fix it, otherwise it can remain rotting in the back of the fridge with sweet bliss as you pick up the milk from the front of the fridge and sit back down on the comfy couch.
This past summer I moved onto a historically black street in Clemson, South Carolina. It is very close to the predominantly white Clemson University. I loved the house and the location. I loved the sweet woman who sold the house to me after her mother passed away. The house had always been in her family, built by her father in the 1950s. Wow that is history, but that is also culture, roots and hardwork that when you really think about it is hard to imagine. Her father had provided for her family, built a house and put down roots in a neighborhood when his family would not have been allowed to enroll at the University down the street.
I live next door to the old "black school" otherwise none as the elementary school for colored children. A building that represented both segregation and hope for an education and something better, prominently placed at the top of the hill and the street. I now work at the building next store, which has been converted into a shared space for Clemson Arts Center, the Clemson African American History museum and the Clemson Child Development center. Somehow, years later, the building still seems to represent the same two things.
A couple nights ago, Sunday night to be exact (three nights after the Charleston shooting), I was woken up by loud, hard knocks on my front door. I was terrified because of the unknown. I rolled over looked at my clock and saw the 2:30 am. Who the heck could be at my door at that ridiculous hour? Why? My first thought was that maybe one of my elderly neighbors needed help. Then my mass media fed fear thought about that I was alone with no means to defend myself from a drunk frat boy on the loose. I grabbed my phone to call 911 just in case, as I went to answer the front door.
Flashlights in and out of my windows. Heads. Bodies.
"This is the Clemson Police Department" screamed one of the heads.
I answered the door.
My heart was racing.
I was told that there had been reports of a gunshot noise in the area (the night before I had heard fireworks). They had seen my screen door open (it always is) and decided to check my house. The policeman, noticeably loosening up and becoming more friendly, asked why I was out of breath. I told them they had scared me. The policeman apologized.
At the same time I saw someone who had been checking my bushes come back to the door after they saw it was just me, a little white female.
They left, pulling out of my driveway and unblocking the road, realizing it was an unnecessary blockade.
As I lay in my bed, willing myself to fall back asleep, I could not help thinking about how the police on a report of a noise decided to go door to door on my street waking people up, inconsiderately making a rucus. There are kids on my street! They sell Girl Scout cookies! Back at home, in my white suburban, upper class neighborhood, this would not have happened. My front door with its pretty wreath and monogrammed knocker would not have been pounded down in the middle of the night because the screen door was open.
I guess the police did not get the memo that a white girl lived here now. But you know what?! that should not have mattered. The police were keeping us safe but they were also less respectful because of the history of my street.
That was not the first time I witnessed subtle yet existent racism concerning my new address.
I may not know you yet but I do know you are about to embark on the best summer of your life, rather its your first time inside the gates or your tenth. You are so lucky to get to spend sunny days with full hearts learning and growing with beautiful souls. You are so lucky that Sunday is cookie night and every smiley-fry day is a holiday. You are so lucky that you get to help an oldie be a princess again with the right attitude and tiara. You are so lucky that every moment is a reason to be goofy and silly. Who needs to be in the "real" world anyways?
Please love and care for each camper that walks in, especially the ones who do not appear or act lovable. You will find that your heart is bottomless. You can keep pouring out love and forgiveness and kindness over and over again. This bottomless well is fed by your campers. Your energy to plan the best activities comes from their laughter and excitement. Your energy to wake up at three a.m. to take a camper to the restroom comes from their hugs. Your energy to remain enthusiastic all the time, even when things do not go as planned comes from their bravery to try something new. Lastly, do not be afraid, hold the camp butterflies at ease, your campers will show you what to do and they will lead you every step of the way.
Love and hugs,
in denial camp counselor
For the past five days I have been in New Orleans, Louisiana with the Clemson Wesley Foundation, working in the blistering NOLA heat. When I first decided to go on the trip my main decisive factor was that the city was on my bucket list and Wesley trips are usually fun. This is sad to admit post-trip because of the silly, self-centered nature of the reasons; the bright side is that they made me commit to working hard for a great purpose. Last week was definitely no typical first week of summer!
My reasons were like so manys' who go for voluntourism experiences (aka a mission oriented vacation, key word vacation). Once I got the hammer in my hand and saw the wasteland before me, I realized this adventure was much more than an instagrammable moment. We worked for three days building the exterior walls for 10 new houses we were doing the grunt work to prep for the Build-a-thon, a push to build 10 houses in 10 days to commemorate the anniversary of hurricane Katrina. It has been ten years and the city still has visible scars, the neighborhood we were in in particular was still barren.
I love building walls because it is something I can visualize and understand, plus it is the support that the roof stands on. The walls and then the roof come together to shelter and protect a family, there is nothing more special than that. It is amazing how some wooden studs, some installation and a bit of dry wall can block out the elements to create a comfortable space for a family to live and love.
My favorite part of the week was meeting one of the future owners. She was overjoyed, and pouring out thankfulness and humility. She had earned it though! working 350 hours on 8 other houses so that she too could one day turn the key and enter a home of her own. There is nothing more special than that.
You can see pictures and track the progress on the New Orleans Habitat for Humanity Facebook page.
After countless nights of welding, I finally finished my first sculpture project ever. I installed it outside the Clemson Gunnin Library.
Out in the open wisdom calls aloud,
Teri Frame is a ceramic and performance artist. She works with clay directly on the body to explore human beauty related to race, gender, age and disability.
I was very excited and honored to see both a demonstration and artist lecture on Monday. Her working method is very interesting because of its tactile quality, craft and relation to the human body. And then on top of that, her concepts speak of human binaries that have been present throughout history and are still present today. I am drawn to her work because of the performance element that is intriguing for any type of viewer, not necessarily an artist. Once the viewers are drawn in they can begin to explore the concept, what she is really doing.
You are my Sunshine my only Sunshine
This weekend I went Home, to my favorite camp by the lake. I was reunited with best friends. Friday morning, pre-Camp, I was not sure how this weekend would go, except that Sunshine would be there. It should be to no surprise that the weekend was beautiful, not because of the weather, but because of the moments with my best friend. I have missed her since she left after the first week of the summer and have been counting the days until the reunion.
Sunshine's mommy brought up a tough question: "Will I be at Camp after I graduate?" Just the thought brings a hollow lowing to my chest. I can not see ever leaving Camp and my Sunshine. It would be too sad and empty. Would anyone else understand her like I do? Who will help her with her socks and brush her hair? Who can I intensely do the bunny hop with?
Life continues to quickly pass on by like a long continuous run of chaînés. I do not know what tomorrow brings, but my memories of Sunshine will be there.
Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes
This weekend I had the chance to really put my quote of the month into action. A chapter closed in my life on Friday and so Saturday I was challenged to turn a new page and start exploring the next chapter. I had been in this chapter for a while so the new one was quiet scary. It looked like a giant question mark blocking my view of everything beyond.
Many of you may have guessed that I do not often act on a whim. It is written all over my writing, my face and my actions. Going along with not being swayed by whim, I also do things for the main reason that "that is what I always do."So this weekend... *drum roll please*.. I skipped the Clemson football game!!
Instead of going to the game, sweating a lot and getting sunburned, I went to the beautiful downtown Greenville with two of my greatest friends. I will be honest, I was worried I would miss out on something game related. But I didn't! Or maybe I did and just don't know? but either way, my day trip to Greenville was superb! I caught up with my mature-graduated-friend, and had fun laughing away with present-roommate-friend. We ate lunch at the Trappe Door, ate gelato at Luna Rosa, window shopped and walked around Falls Park. All of which I highly recommend to anyone who may be visiting Greenville in the future. The beautiful thing about this weekend was that it was unplanned and care free, I was able to focus on that moment and the people I was with.
On a completely unrelated note, I really enjoy welding! I am very scared of fire and loud noises so I did not think that sculpture was going to be for me. Learning a craft that is typically thought of a man's skill is ironic and rewarding as a female. Each time I get a seam strong and perfect, it reminds me that Yes, I can do this! So maybe they are related, going on adventures and overcoming fears. They both are a sign of personal strength and perseverance.