Keeping Secrets from Friends

Beautiful Day

Beautiful Day

Today I’ll be brief. Writing, my job, and being a mom is catching up with my hands. Like most of us, I spend a ridiculous amount of time on my cell phone and laptop. And I don’t own a dishwasher so that means I am the dishwasher. Anyway–all this to say, my right hand and wrist are starting to feel tired, like carpel tunnel weak. But no complaints from me! I’m glad to have food to dirty my dishes and fortunate enough to write a story I love. So I’ll just have to incorporate  activities that don’t involve using my hands as much. Since the day is GORGEOUS I think a walk by the lake is long over due. 🙂

Before I do that, I wanted to share. I came across a journal my RAs gave me years ago with quotes and encouraging words. Finding little gems like this as I’m packing to move makes me happy. With the rush of life it’s important to take a moment to reflect, appreciate, and smile. I get the feeling that this RA knew I needed to hear these quotes. I still do.

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Hope these encourage you too!

Onto my WIP, the sequel to The Hall Speaks #fallsemester which, if all goes as planned, will be available in September. If this is your first time stopping by, I write about college life. My first novel is a NA contemporary drama about resident assistants (RAs). In another WIP Wednesday, I shared an excerpt featuring RAs Ethan and Carly. They have a past but are friends, so Carly believes. But Ethan has a secret that would cause irrevocable damage to their friendship. This except is from Ethan’s POV. 🙂

Math: April 23, 2014 comes out to 23 lines or so from blog post 14.

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Keeping Secrets From Friends

#Ethan

“Hey, man,” Ethan greeted the tall, long-haired guy. Their big hands clasped together like cymbals, sending a sharp echo through the lobby.

Ethan could feel his smile spreading across his face. He felt relieved to have friends that weren’t doing the Res-Life thing. And Finn didn’t live on campus which made it even better. He pulled Finn into a hug, arching his back so that Finn’s feet lifted off the tile.

“Guess, I’ll leave you two alone…enjoy the bromance,” Carly teased, wheeling away toward the hallway.

Finn’s eyes followed Carly, paying special attention to her wheelchair. Then he stared at Ethan.

“I know—don’t,” Ethan mumbled, rubbing his shoulder, thinking back to that night.

“I’m not. But you and,” he made a gesture with his hand, pointing to the hallway Carly left down, “…working together. How do you—?” he asked, squinting.

Ethan looked down at his Nike’s, avoiding the question.

“You’re not going to tell her, huh?” Finn didn’t wait for a response. “I don’t blame you,” he finished, catching sight of a girl walking by.

Ethan’s jaw tightened a cue for ‘shut up’ already. He wished a delete button existed. He’d use it, slamming his fist on every detail of that night—the night Kyle crashed into Patrick’s SUV. Ending Patrick’s life and leaving Carly…crippled.

He shook his head, hating that he thought of her that way. Even more he hated knowing  that he could have protected her–protected them both.

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Always, thanks for reading! If you’d like to take part in WIPpet just go here.  Be sure to check out other WIPpets, I’ll be doing my rounds later today. I’ve missed all the stories and excerpt shared during this time.  And thank you K. L. Schwengel for hosting! Happy reading All! Stay beautiful. 🙂

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A Story to Tell

I’ve busy lately, and trying not drown in the mid-semester burnout ocean. I know,  I’m not even taking classes. However, I have two little boys so that counts as 24 credit hours at least.  And I work with students and there’s a ton going on with campus life this month and next.

The campus years are such a special time for students. As I’ve mentioned before major life decisions happen in college. During this time, one of the biggest things that students need is validation, knowing that their contributions matter and more importantly that they matter.  Without constant support it’s easy for them to indulge in self-deprecating thoughts.  And who can blame them?  Every day we are all faced with, and fighting the feelings of being less than—not enough.  I enjoy reminding young adults that they are enough, that they matter, and that their contributions are valuable.

One of the ways that has helped students see their value, (or at least the ones I’ve worked with) is by creative writing. A literary agent twitted, “Everyone has a story to tell but not everyone has the innate ability to write it.” Well, I think everyone has a story to tell and has the ability to write it the right way.

With all my business, I was able to catch a movie, Saving Mr. Banks, with a friend.  It’s the story behind the well-loved Disney classic, Mary Poppins. It’s an incredible, must see movie, for sure. Personally, I was surprised that each character in Mary Poppins represented someone in the authors’ family or something from her past. And let me say, these connections were very deep and at times sad, but beautiful. It confirmed the power of stories and how our lives and experiences tend to shape a story.  At one point in the film, Walt Disney says, “We all have our sad story. Imagine the past–how it should have been, and write it.” (not the exact quote, hopefully I didn’t butcher it too much) Because of this, I’m convinced that we all need to write more! Even the I’m-too-overwhelmed-by-classes college student should write. There’s nothing like writing what’s in our heart and seeing the proof that we are valuable as the words spill out. Because our experiences, thoughts, feelings, and beliefs matter.

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photo credit : http://allthecoloursofmylife.tumblr.com/

What Everyone Should Know About College Life

College campuses are constantly changing. Nowadays, they can look more like a vacation resort than a place to get an education. So, here are some of my thoughts on college life and things I’ve noticed. These are great points to keep in mind if you write about college students or choose to use a campus setting in your novel.

1)   College is Weird and Stress Inducing.

Let me begin with a quote from a  student:

“college is so weird like you give people a bunch of money to provide a service that just stresses you out and makes you poor so that hopefully one day they give you a piece of paper that says you’re qualified to earn all of that money back this is too much i need a drink” –Brandon

Stressed and under pressure–that’s everyone, especially college students. Even before the semester begins it’s not uncommon to find students studying, preparing so they can get ahead.  So when you’re on campus and students walk in front of your car like it’s invisible, give them a break.  They are overworked and not getting paid at all.

“College kids literally don’t care about walking in the way of cars at school because we’re like “hit me i don’t care pay my tuition.” – Christina  

2)   The Best Food in Town.

Virginia Tech Dining

Virginia Tech Dining

Seriously, it’s no mystery college kids gain weight. Restaurants love being close to campus, it’s guaranteed business. Some the best places I’ve eaten have been these little hole-in-the-wall diners near my school. Also, the food on campus is not too shabby. At Virginia Tech, you can pick out your own Lobster and order filet mignon.  They even have their own campus ice cream shop and bakery. And the quality is pretty five-star!

3)   Neutral Living Space

Live with Opposite Sex

Live with the Opposite Sex

Co-ed rooms –yep, guys are girls can share a room. Heck, they can share the same bed if they want, all by choice, of course.  Many schools are providing gender neutral housing assignments. I image parents to have the biggest issue with this one. 🙂

4)   Free stuff

Free is Neat

Free is Neat

It never fails.  Each time I’m meeting with a student on campus free stuff is available, they are just handing it out as you walk by. Anything from pens, cups, t-shirts, hats, food, even computer software. Surprisingly many students don’t care. So much free stuff and so little space to put them, I guess. And there’s a such thing as having too many t-shirts. Believe me, I know!

5)   Puppies and Babies Pretty Much Get The Same Reaction From Students

puppy and baby

It’s one of the best things to witness, seeing the stressed out faces soften anytime a baby or puppy is around.  It’s as if babies and puppies help remind students that there is life outside of the institutional bubble. I had my baby while I was still living/working on campus and everywhere I took my son, everyone wanted to see him or hold him. Bring him to various campus events completely changed the atmosphere. I heard less profanity, saw more smiles, got more attention from strangers.  Very similar reaction my co-worker got when she’d bring her puppy. 🙂

6)   Entertainment Weekly

Dave Matthews Band

Dave Matthews Band

Since I’m originally from Charlottesville, I had to find a way to include Dave Matthews. He performed at UVA all the time and generously donated money to the school. But most colleges have concerts, plays and other forms of entertainment. And they are not just for the students. Many of these performances and events are open to the public. Universities are a big businesses– everyone is a potential customer, so inviting the community on campus actually helps revenue. Date-night on campus isn’t so bad with great food and concerts at a reasonable cost!

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Photo Source:

http://knightnews.com

http://bostinno.streetwise.co

http://social.virginia.edu

http://www.babble.com

Stuck: Personal Rights vs. Public Safety

A few weeks back me and my hubby attended a Mental Health seminar held at the University of Maryland. We work with college students, and mental health is a continual problem on campuses everywhere. So we are constantly seeking advice because we love our students. The seminar was informative, for sure, but I left with more questions.

I’m going to take you back to my Hall Director days. And what I’m about to share my make you feel uncomfortable. But that’s not my intentions.

One of my RAs called me because her resident was banging her head against the wall. I was in my pajamas so I slide on my staff jacket over it. I didn’t have to go far, just down the hallway. When I got there, the resident was still hitting her head against the wall and she was bleeding. Even though I had worked in residence life for five years, handled several situations, I was still a little scared. She assured me she was fine—just stressed. Somehow I got the resident to calm down and to promise me that she wouldn’t hurt herself. It was 4am-ish, and I honestly wasn’t sure if I was making the right decision in leaving this resident alone. But she told me she wasn’t suicidal, and I wanted to believe her.

When I got back to my little apartment, I didn’t bother to wake my husband. He looked so peaceful, I, on the other hand, couldn’t sleep. All I thought about was that resident and if she’d be dead in the morning. I prayed that I had made the right decision. I called her two hours later, she was okay and a little shocked about my concern.

On college campuses, situations like this happens more than anyone would like to admit. Most schools want prospective students (really parents) to believe they’ve creative some Utopian environment that will foster academic growth and personal development. And I believe many practitioners really work hard to do just that. But here’s the deal, let’s drop off thousands of 18-21 year olds, give them a ton of work and remind them that their future success depends on it,  make them live with each other, encourage self-discovery, and there are bound to be a few mental melt-downs.

At times I felt lost confronting situations because students weren’t required to self-disclose. I never knew which students struggles with mental health unless they told me. So I spent many years treating symptoms because the cause was a privacy right that each student had—and still have to this day. I respect this right, I do. I just wonder can a right to privacy compromise public safety? For me, it’s a hard question to answer. Mental health is one of the themes in my book. I hope it will spark discussion that helps lead to a solution.