Archive for July, 2010

Birth of a Writer

I LOVE to write. It fulfills my curiosity. It lets me share in other people’s lives and tell their stories. It helps me organize my thoughts, which are often racing and random.

I also love to find and share great writing. My favorite pieces are anecdotal – stories that suck you into a place in time, a room, a conversation, a life lesson.

So I wanted to share a great piece of writing…from my son.

Anthony is a college student, and he took an English Comp class this summer. Let’s just say that when he started this class, he didn’t love writing as much as I do. But I think he’s coming around…

This is his descriptive paper. I know I am his mom, but I swear I’m not being biased. This is great writing.

You will see this place. You will smell this place. And you probably will think twice the next time you consider pushing an elevator button in a college dorm. I know I will.


What We Learned in Scranton Hall

Five floors up, the adventure unfolded. Countless memories were made and life lessons were learned. Scranton Hall was her name— mother to all who stayed—she was always there.

Startin' shit in Scranton Hall

Startin' shit in Scranton Hall

Getting to a room was never easy.

Option A: five grueling flights of steps that were always a pigsty, always alive. The smell of cigarettes swirled up the stairwell, combining with the spoiled milk someone thought would be funny to pour everywhere. You had to be careful taking this five-story trek. Water balloons, spit, and other disgusting, unmentionable objects were known to fly down the winding stairwell like heat-seeking missiles looking for targets. That’s only the walk up; you haven’t yet arrived at a room.

Option B: dual elevators that were slow as sloths, crawling up and down floors both day and night. Many suffered steep consequences for choosing to step into these claustrophobic boxes. You HAD to look down upon entering, just to be sure you didn’t step in someone’s pee. It was popular to urinate in the elevators—on the buttons, on the floor, on the walls. It was like being stuck in a cesspool of spit, piss, garbage and mold.

As one might guess, option A was the best, safest way of making your way to 5th Floor Scranton.

When you arrived, you had to push your way through kitchen-like doors to the L-shaped hall. These two wings combined housed more than 50 testosterone-driven young men, unfamiliar and immature. Combined we would be considered a riot, barreling through the streets unable to be stopped. Reckless and young, we stuck together like super glue. Our insane new family ranged in age from 18 to 26 and each of us was unique. We had a Latin king, a Gotti, a fairy flute- player, a wannabe, a frat rat, a hippie, a Zelda gamer, a Harry Potter imposter and a host of party animals.

5th Floor Antics in Scranton Hall

5th Floor Antics in Scranton Hall

Every night we boasted out-of-control extracurricular activities. Drinking, smoking, and psychedelics—whatever you wanted was yours. When the sun went down in the west, it rose in Scranton Hall. We were young adults without any worries. We found that, bouncing from floor to floor, we could collaborate on a whole new level most of us never knew. It was the natural feeling of freedom that drove us all wild. We were our own bosses.

Freedom had us on such a high that it felt like invincibility. Soon we found out that this was a fantasy. Two weeks into our first semester, the 5th floor residents gathered in the hall for a lecture from Indiana’s finest. Water balloons “accidently” fell down the stairwell and created a gigantic hole in the wall. We were warned that the damages and trouble we caused would cost us. But the petty threat didn’t faze us. In fact, one of the 5th “floorians” actually played the NWA song “F#*% Tha Police,” and we thought it was hilarious.

The sight and smell of the 5th floor bathrooms will be forever burned into my brain like molten cast iron touching bare skin. Showering in sandals for a year for fear of stepping in piss or other grotesque liquids was bad enough. But far worse, every Saturday morning it looked like a nuclear bomb went off in that bathroom, creating the most atrocious scene on campus. Wasted morons staggered in late and took out their evening’s anger or disappointment on that bathroom. They emptied trash cans on the floor, dressed stalls with paper towels and toilet paper, and never, ever, flushed a toilet. The sinks were carpeted in human hair, so brushing your teeth to get last night’s terrible taste out of your mouth was never a treat. Someone was so mortified upon entering the Saturday-morning 5th floor bathroom that he ran out and vomited in the hallway. True story.

All in all, Mother Scranton was a jump-off point for rowdy teens getting their first taste of freedom. Whether you went up or down was your choice.


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