Friday, February 27, 2009

Lunch Break

I’m feeling all nostalgic today. Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe it’s the fact that my friends David and Kim are getting ready to start their Appalachian Trail thru-hike this weekend. Maybe it’s the fact that I haven’t had made time to read, write, or think lately, and I’m missing that part of my life. Maybe George the Piano is channeling me. (Can pianos channel people? Can people channel people?)

So, dear friends, at least the few of you who still read this blog, I’m going to take you on a tour of places I get nostalgic about. I randomly found these online, and I don’t remember everywhere I found them. I’ll provide links to the ones I can remember.

This is a picture of Highland Coffees, my favorite coffee shop in the whole world. It’s located at the gates of LSU. I've spent many, many hours there, reading, writing, studying, and people-watching. I also fondly remember its previous location, next door to where it is now.

I also loved Middleton Library at LSU, even though it was (still is?) the ugliest building on campus. I loved the smell of it. I loved studying there. I loved being among all the thousands and thousands of books.

Come to think of it, I used to hang out at Middleton Library when I was in high school. How geeky is that? I would go there and work on papers for class and pretend I was a college student. Oh, how I loved that place.

Speaking of books, this is the sign in front of the Maple Street Book Shop in uptown New Orleans. When I was at Tulane, and when I spent May Term there my freshman year, I could often be found here, usually all caffeined-up from a several-hour reading-and-writing session at PJ’s Coffee. (I couldn’t find any good pictures from PJ’s on Maple. I still get nostalgic about that place, too.)

They had the most awesome Walker Percy section. And an amazing collection of photos of writers who had done signings there. What a neat place. I still have my "Fight the Stupids" bumper sticker that I got there. Sigh. What memories.

I don’t get nostalgic about many aspects of my freshman year at Tulane. But I do miss Maple Street.

Moving back in time a little bit, this is where I went to school from pre-Kindergarten through fourth grade: St. James Episcopal Day School. This picture is of the “church” section of the school, where we had chapel. The playground is to the right of it, and the “school” section is to the right of that. I loved that place. I get nostalgic about so many memories and people there.

It's weird how vivid those memories are. My pre-K teacher, Mrs. Phillips, used to say "Good night!" whenever she got mad (which wasn't often). I remember earnestly telling her that one should only say "good night" at night time before they go to sleep, and that it didn't make sense to say it during the day.

I'm sure she appreciated my sage advice.

After graduating from St. James, I went to Episcopal High School. It went from fifth to twelfth grade at the time, but the whole school was still called “Episcopal High.” This is a picture of Perkins Hall, which was (still is?) the main high school building. In the early 70s (I think), a tornado ripped right through the center of it. They ended up turning the ripped-through sections into upstairs and downstairs locker halls.

The school has grown a lot since then. It's now all 12 grades, plus Kindergarten and maybe pre-K, and it has more buildings and more athletic facilities and more ... of everything. And I think they lopped off "High School" from their official title. I'm back in touch with a lot of EHS friends on Facebook now. It's odd but good to be able to chat with people who remember EHS as it was, way back when, in the '80s.

This is McClung Hall, the first dorm I lived in at Mary Baldwin College. Known as the “virgin vault,” it was the one dorm on campus that allowed male overnight visitation only one weekend per semester (or something like that).

Rumor was that it was haunted. I was walking to the bathroom one night and, about halfway down the hall, got a really weird, cold, creepy feeling like I'd never had before. It was like someone was watching me, but ... it's hard to explain. It just felt like some sort of presence. So the next day I asked around if McClung was supposed to be haunted. People said yes. That freaked me out a little bit.

What a great dorm it was, though. Lots of good people were there when I was there.

The next year, I lived in a corner room in Woodson, which I thought (and still think, probably) is probably the ugliest building on campus. I'm sure I uglified it even more with my display of empty Bacardi bottles in my windowsill, which faced campus. I was so bad (or thought I was). (I was really pretty tame. I always preferred poetry and piano to partying.)

I have lots of good memories of Woodson, though. It was in Woodson that I met my best-friends-for-life, MB and Amy. We had many odd parties in our corner room at Woodson. I have pictures. Most of them are embarrassingly silly. We would dance for hours. I actually lost weight that year from all the dancing.

I also had a hammock in my room in Woodson. And a loft. It was a cool room.

I spent the next two years in Memorial. My senior year roommate was the lovely Amy, and our Resident Advisor was the lovely MB. They had just renovated Memorial a year or two before, so it was in really nice shape. It still smelled of new carpet and paint. We had the most beautiful wood floors and cool dimmer lights in all the rooms.

Yes, we were spoiled. But our parents were shelling out enough $$$ for us to go there ... so it made sense for us to be spoiled, no? It was a great dorm to live in. I loved it, loved it, loved it.

Ah, Deming Hall. This was (is?) home to all-things-fine-arts at Mary Baldwin College. I spent many hours here, since this was where the piano practice rooms were located.

There was a "permanent" art exhibit on the walls on the way to the practice room ... or at least it seemed permanent. It was awful. There was one painting of a banana being crucified. I'm serious. The other pictures were pretty silly, too, but the crucified-banana painting was the worst. I think they finally took it down after a couple of years. I was grateful.

Other fond memories from Deming: piano lessons with Riley Haws, the "History of Jazz" class with Bob Allen (and the day he showed up in some horrendous suit he'd worn back in the 60's or 70's). A not-so-fond memory: Finishing my Music Theory final exam and leaving the building in tears. A good memory: meeting my friends Kellih and Rusty in said Music Theory class.

You’d think I would have spent lots of time at the Mary Baldwin track. Nope. I was a waddly girl throughout most of college. It wasn’t until my senior year that I started eating right and exercising. Only then did I consider going near the track. I think I walked around it a couple dozen times, but no more than that.

I did throw up once in the parking lot next to the track, though. That's my main memory of being anywhere in or near the fitness facilities in college. Kellih and I had gone out to eat, and I'd had a Caesar salad. That was in 1991. I haven't had a Caesar salad since. Really.

OK, that’s enough nostalgia for today. I’m planning a “me weekend” this weekend. If the nostalgia continues (meaning, if the rain continues), maybe I’ll finally scan some old pictures and post them here.

3 comments:

  1. These are lovely, lovely places. It seems the east coast, more than the west coast, has such beautiful buildings with lovely trees. Why do you get all the trees?

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  2. What years were you at MBC? It is just not the same there... I am class of '96. This last August, I took my husband to visit the campus, and the student body is so different. Great memories in McClung and Woodson. In Woodson, I also had the corner room on the 4th floor close to the dining hall. And McClung was haunted! We thought we got enough exercise going to the mail box at Panhill center, and rarely ever visited the Physical Activity Center...
    peg rusnak hill
    peg.rusnak@gmail.com

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  3. So, when I go on my trip and I visit New Orleans, if I decided to take the St. Charles streetcar ride, how close would I get to the Maple Street Book Shop?

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