Archive for November, 2016

Project 52 – 24 – Back to Work After Baby’s Birth

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

It’s time for Project 52, Week 24!

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24 weeks ago, on my 52nd Birthday, I decided to start Project 52 — since there are 52 weeks in a year, each week this year, I’d reflect on one year of my life. This week, I’m posting about the year I was 24, June 1988 to June 1989.

One thing that’s struck me — when I was in college, it felt like I’d waited SO LONG to ever find a boyfriend. Now, reflecting on those years, my goodness, I was SO YOUNG when I got married and had a baby! That gives me hope. Though now it feels like I’m single SO LONG since my divorce. If I do remarry some day, I suspect the time single won’t seem so long at all. Better enjoy it while it lasts!

The year I was 24 was a very hard year. But I’m going to intersperse talking about that year with pictures of my adorable baby. There were definitely compensations.

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I did still have the summer off. Josh was born in March, and Biola paid me for the complete semester (though some came from California’s Disability payments). I hadn’t planned to teach in the summer anyway, and I think I’d had my pay stretched out over the whole year.

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That reminds me that 1988 was an election year. I’d been raised that the Christian way was to vote Republican. But living in downtown Los Angeles, and now feeling very poor was influencing my thinking. I remember listening to the presidential debates, and the Democrats made a lot of sense. I think that Family Medical Leave was already an issue (though it didn’t get put into place until Bill Clinton was elected). I’d been given good maternity leave, but I couldn’t imagine what we would have done if I hadn’t. And Steve had to take vacation time to be with me and the baby. (Last year my brother got paternity leave from Intel after the birth of his daughter. What a wonderful thing!)

I remember some time in those years, Focus on the Family put out one of those “Congressional Scorecards” that were distributed in church. They rated it against people who voted for Family Medical Leave, saying it would be bad for business. Excuse me? Should the organization be called “Focus on Business”?

On top of that, having lived in the inner city for a couple years gave me a lot more sympathy for illegal aliens. Amnesty had happened under Reagan, and our church had held Citizenship classes for that, besides our English classes. I also saw hard-working people, not freeloaders.

And I did not want to put my baby in daycare. We spent a long time thinking it through and decided that Steve would quit his job as a messenger/supply clerk at Canadian Imperial Bank, and I would keep my job teaching at Biola. That way, Steve could put more time into the Pacific Brass Quintet, anyway. After a couple months, he went back part-time. I was able to put all my classes on Monday/Wednesday/Friday, and Steve worked Tuesday/Thursday, so we didn’t have to use daycare.

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About that time, they started putting a Dependent Care Tax Credit into the tax code — but that didn’t help those of us who worked less between us to take care of our baby ourselves. (The Child Tax Credit didn’t start until Clinton was elected. I think Earned Income Credit got better then, too.)

I realize now that Biola’s pay for an Instructor with a Master’s degree was terrible. Our rent was $700 per month, which was a huge percentage of our income. And we got taxed on that the same as if we lived in a cheaper place. I’m pretty sure that’s when our debt started… which lasted our entire marriage. Sigh.

Anyway, I wondered how people who didn’t have a Master’s degree managed to make ends meet (not realizing I wasn’t really getting paid at a Master’s degree rate). And what if they had to put their child in daycare?

I actually hadn’t decided who I’d vote for by election day. But when the day came, I voted after work, and by the time I went to the polls, we already knew Bush had won the election. So I voted for Dukakis as a protest. That was my first time voting for a Democrat. But I don’t believe I ever voted Republican again.

That summer, we dedicated Josh to God at First Evangelical Free Church in Los Angeles, where we’d gotten married. Even though we moved out of the city, we continued to worship there and stayed with our wonderful small group — which now had a total of four babies.

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Also that summer, my headaches started up again. This was one thing that made it a hard year. I’d lost them the last half of my pregnancy. But that summer they came back worse than ever. That was when they stopped reliably going away at night, so it was when I had my first three-day headaches. The third day of a bad headache is when I start to feel desperate.

I had friends who would go to the Emergency Room for headaches, so I tried Urgent Care. I think it was the second time I did that that I was given Demerol and Vistaril. They told me to wait in the lobby ten minutes — and five minutes later, I almost fainted. They said my heart rate dropped dramatically. They worked over me for awhile and brought me back and told me never to take those drugs again. They sent me back to my car in a wheelchair, with my headache returning! So I rather lost faith in the Emergency Room for headaches.

But I did have an adorable baby at home!

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Josh was learning to crawl!

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In the fall, I went back to work. Here are a couple of pictures from the math and computer department picnic.

My sister Wendy must have been a Computer Science minor? I’m pretty sure she was an English major, but she was at the picnic.

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And even Dr. Wu held the baby!

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While I was on maternity leave, the professors had shifted around the classes I’d be teaching. I ended up with three classes I’d never taught before, one of which I’d never even taken. (Remember my Senior year when I felt bad for dropping a math class, Operations Research? That was the very class they now had me teaching.) The only class I’d taught before, College Algebra, had a new textbook, so I still had to prepare new notes. When I said something to Dr. Thurber, the department chair about this, he said, “Oh, you can do it.” Even I didn’t realize just how incredibly hard it would be.

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So I was working Monday/Wednesday/Friday, and Steve was working Tuesday/Thursday. The trouble was, I had to try to watch Josh and clean house while preparing for class (and learning the material ahead of the class) and grading papers. When Steve watched Josh, he just tried to watch Josh.

On top of that, I’d been brought up hoping I’d get to stay home with my babies some day. Steve had not been brought up hoping for that. He wrote up something later that I really liked, when he got tired of being called “Mr. Mom.” It was titled, “Just call me Dad.”

I always felt that the intensive time with Josh was wonderful for Steve as a Dad. The first time I left to go to work, Steve asked, “What do I do?” I told him he’d figure it out — and he did. From then on, we each had our own style, and Steve didn’t look to me to figure out what to do with his kids. We never called it “babysitting” when he was with his kids. I was always proud of him as a loving and involved father. And me getting out of the way and heading off to work helped that happen.

It was also, admittedly, very nice to get out of the house, guilt-free. My baby was with their Dad. Or mostly guilt-free. One day my friend Sue Danielson came back from a trip to Canada, where she’d visited Green Gables. I was the one who’d introduced her to the Anne books. She brought me back The Blue Castle, which wasn’t available in the United States at that time. I sat in my office at Biola all afternoon and finished the whole book. Steve wasn’t real happy with me when he found out I hadn’t actually been working.

I do remember it was a beautiful and vital piece of sanity restoration. I was extremely stressed out.

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And working full-time, but not at work every day, was hard for other people to understand. Someone at church said, “I heard you’re only working Monday/Wednesday/Friday,” and she asked me to take her English class on a Tuesday one week. Ridiculously, I agreed — one time. Another time, I did some babysitting for a friend on my “day off.” I learned that year that I needed to say NO to things like that. It was taking every spare minute to prepare for all those classes.

I’m sure there was also some postpartum depression going on. And those headaches. I don’t think I ever took sick leave for a headache — I don’t think I would have gotten paid. But at least I had every other day “off.” It didn’t make it easy to do the work at home, though.

But my baby was wonderful and learned to climb the stairs.

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That year was the one time I remember that, in a fight, I told Steve, “I hate you.” I did apologize. I did many many more times say, “I love you,” but eighteen years later, Steve informed me that three times in our marriage, I’d said those words. Sigh. That was the only time I remember doing it, and I also remember that I was an emotional wreck.

[I definitely wish I hadn’t ever said those words. But I don’t actually think it made a good excuse for having an affair.]

But the pictures mainly show happy times. Josh’s first Christmas was quite adorable. Steve was super busy leading up to Christmas with the Pacific Brass Quintet. They recorded another album for Nordstrom’s. If we hadn’t lived in California, he would have made a living wage. But if we hadn’t lived in California, there wouldn’t have been so many malls to perform in.

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Josh still had almost as much fun with the box things came in. This was the box for the London Fog raincoat Steve bought me at Nordstrom’s, which I still wear.

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This pony to ride on lasted our kids for years, too.

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After Christmas at home, we went to Phoenix. Here’s Josh with Aunt Stephanie.

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I thought it was really funny to check the size of our Carry-on Baggage.

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These are at Becky’s house for Jason’s second birthday in January:

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Here’s our small group! By now the Rauseos had moved to Maryland. We’ve got Art (wife RuthAnn taking the picture?), then Tom and Audrey (expecting Jonathan soon), then me, then Jeannette, and then Claudia and Fernando.

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I love this one of Josh with Gramp E.

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And more fun:

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And Kathe and Joe came to visit — with their dog!

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This one, we had fun with the heights:

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Around February, Josh learned to walk: (That was back in the days of walkers. Josh had enjoyed the walker since they were about six months old. This baby liked to stand!)

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And was always fun to hold:

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Josh was pretty obsessed with switches. We used to put the rocking chair and a barricade of sofa cushions at the foot of the steps, for safety. The chair itself was an attraction.

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When I needed to go to the bathroom, I’d move the cushion barricade and use the bathroom at the top of the stairs. When I’d come out, Josh would be halfway up the stairs. The compulsion to climb was irresistible. But one time, I came out to discover Josh had gone down the stairs and was frantically turning the stereo knobs. They jumped a foot high when I came down! I was very impressed that Josh had calculated I’d be busy for awhile! This picture was taken at a different time, when Josh used a toy to achieve the goal.

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And more of the switches compulsion:

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Based on the pictures, there were numerous trips to see Gram E. and Gramp E. Here’s at the Phoenix Zoo:

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Feeding the dog, Sonny:

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And this one shows just how much Josh and Gramp E. enjoyed one another:

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Darlene came to visit. I think she’d moved to the East Coast by then, rooming with Kathe’s Mom. When she first left, she told us it would only be for a year. Right, Dar!

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In this picture, I think I was babysitting Jason. I tried the, “Let’s pretend we’re sleeping!” game. It apparently didn’t work for long, alas!

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Sometime in there I started selling Discovery Toys. I was hoping to find a way to quit teaching! I ended up buying all the toys for Josh. Josh was very good at puzzles from an early age.

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And by June, Josh had started the cute trick of memorizing books and saying the last word on each page. The Tom and Pippo books were favorites.

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Sometime around the end of the year I was 24, my sister Wendy graduated from Biola. And I marched in the graduation with the professors, getting to wear my Master’s hood again. Here are all my sisters but the youngest, and Jason in front looking a little perplexed. It’s me, Becky, Wendy, Abby, and Marcy.

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Because we were having such a hard time, in 1989, Steve started researching other possibilities. He auditioned with a brass quintet in Seattle, a symphony orchestra in Ohio, and an Air Force Band in Virginia. Changes were coming….

Project 52 – 23 and Becoming a Mother

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

It’s time for Project 52, Week 23!

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23 weeks ago, on my 52nd birthday, I decided to start Project 52 — for this year, I’m reflecting each week on one year of my life.

Last week, I covered the year I was 22 and got married. That year ended, and this one began on my 23rd birthday, June 14, 1987, when I walked in graduation to get my Master of Arts degree in Pure Mathematics from UCLA.

That summer, my friend Jill got married — and I got pregnant! (No, those two things weren’t actually related.)

[Now, I have to gripe here a little that I was made to feel a bit of an idiot for getting pregnant so quickly after marriage. Can I just say that birth control is not 100% effective, okay? I did see a doctor to get put on the pill — and was told that for women who get migraines, going on the pill gives her a higher chance of having a stroke. I listened to her and stayed off the pill — and I’m glad I did. 25 years later, I was having an irregular cycle, and a gynecologist wanted to put me on the pill. I mentioned this I’d been told so many years before. The new gynecologist said that’s not an issue any more, because the pill has a lower dose of hormones now. Well, I took it without incident for a few months, but then let my prescription run out. In the few weeks I was off it, I had a neck injury, a vertebral artery dissection. Only I didn’t know it. I just knew I had a bad headache that wouldn’t go away, centered in my neck. But the day after I went back on the pill, I did, in fact, have a stroke.

All that is to say that using less reliable methods of birth control when we were young was actually a very good choice.]

We were still living in downtown Los Angeles. I was working at Biola, teaching Math and Computer Science classes. Steve was working as a messenger and supply clerk at Canadian Imperial Bank — and getting busier and busier performing with the Pacific Brass Quintet. I believe that was the first year they got a deal with Nordstrom and recorded a Christmas album, “A Nordstrom Noel,” which was sold in Nordstrom stores. They performed in Nordstrom stores all over southern California (as well as other malls and shopping centers), especially during the Christmas season. (When Steve later joined the Air Force and got the day after Thanksgiving off, it was such luxury!)

When I called my Mom to tell her I was pregnant, she started telling me about how the month before she’d thought she was pregnant and was so disappointed when she was mistaken. 6 weeks later, she called and told me she was pregnant. I burst into tears.

If you don’t understand how painful it was for me to have my mother pregnant with her 13th child the same time I was pregnant with my first, I’ll just say, trust me, it was horribly painful. I had many dreams while I was pregnant that the baby was really my Mom’s baby. But I am happy to say that after my baby was born, those dreams stopped entirely. But I didn’t go visit my parents while my mother and I were both pregnant.

But we did go visit Steve’s parents in Phoenix that Christmas. They were all ready to be doting grandparents.

Here’s at our house before we went to Phoenix. I was cutely round at this point. It took a long time for me to show with that first baby. Those maternity jeans I’m wearing in this picture were size 4. (They’re maternity jeans, but I don’t think I could fit into them now!)

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Our anniversary was in January, so we went to Big Bear and stayed at Knickerbocker Mansion.

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More frolicking in the snow together!

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On the actual day of our anniversary, Steve’s sister came by with a friend named Don Argus who was an architect and we all went to see a Frank Lloyd Wright House in the Los Angeles area.

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Though that night, Steve took me to a wonderful dinner show with singers.

We were both pretty scared about becoming parents, but I remember that time as very happy. I completely lost my headaches during the last half of that pregnancy. I thought I was cured. I later read in Oliver Sacks’ book Migraine that this is common (and, oddly, the last half, not the last trimester) in a first pregnancy. (And indeed it didn’t happen with my second.) It was glorious while it lasted. And definitely saved me more pain than a mere 12 hours of labor. (This also did not work in my second pregnancy.)

We were so young and in love!

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I didn’t get much bigger than this:

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The church ladies threw me a baby shower. We were still attending First Evangelical Free Church of Los Angeles.

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Speaking of church, I almost forgot to mention that before we even got married, Doris and Steve Rauseo invited us to join a couples’ small group. It started up after we got married, and that way we had (slightly) older couples walking the journey with us. The group was Doris & Steve Rauseo, Audrey & Tom deRivera, Claudia & Fernando Calderon, and Sheri & Hank Winkenwerder. That group got us off to a good start as a couple. I often wished we’d had a group like that after we left Los Angeles, but I didn’t find another one until after our marriage had ended. When we were part of that group was when Steve and I talked the most with each other about spiritual things, I’m afraid.

Anyway, Claudia was expecting a baby the day before me, and Sheri was due a month before. I was due on March 31st. But Claudia had the baby in the middle of February, with Sheri having her baby a few days later.

March 31st was Easter — so I’d planned to teach until Easter break. But after an ultrasound, the doctor moved my due date up to March 24. So we planned for my last day teaching to be March 18. Then the other professors would take over my classes.

There was no real precedent at Biola for an instructor to take maternity leave. I knew that staff got 4 weeks before and 6 weeks after. Well, like I said, I worked up until March 18 — and then Biola paid me full salary (minus what I got for disability — so I ended up with full salary) for the rest of the semester. I had the summer off before I had to go back to work, so I ended up with six months with my baby.

I know I gave tests that week before I handed over my classes, and I must have graded them before I left Biola, because I don’t remember grading them later. However, I do remember that I hadn’t done *any* nesting, and hadn’t even done the week’s laundry. But on Saturday, March 19, on Steve’s parents anniversary, my water broke and we headed to the hospital.

I figured if Josh had come sooner, I could have quit teaching sooner, and if Josh had come later, I could have gotten a little bit ready for their arrival. But no, Josh was even at birth wrapping their grandparents around their little finger.

[This brings up some awkward language. So far, in Project 52, I’ve been calling my friends by the names they had at the time. Childhood friends get their maiden names until they get married. Kathy got her original spelling until she changed it to Kathe. Well, more than a year ago, my firstborn Josh changed their name to Jade and told me that she is and always has been female.

No, I did not see this coming. But I firmly believe that no one knows better than Jade what is true about herself. And — once I think about it, it does make sense. Though I would believe her even if it didn’t make sense to me, because I’m not the authority here. Jade was an extremely sweet child. Now, I also believe firmly that boys can be and are very sweet. But, well, she says she’s female, and it does make sense.

So — I’m going to call my firstborn child by the name we knew her by at that time, Josh. But I’m going to try to use the pronoun “they” in all its forms so as to avoid using the word “he” which we thought applied to her. Does that make any sense? If it gets hard to follow, I’m sorry.]

At 11:25 pm on March 19, 1988, Joshua Steven Karl Eklund was born.

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I think I got to stay in the hospital a couple days, but then we brought our baby home, to a house unprepared.

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In those days you had to prove you had a car seat for your baby and knew how to use it before they’d let you go home. Josh was so tiny!

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We had moved from Los Angeles to a 2-bedroom apartment in Whittier not long before Josh was born. The baby’s room wasn’t ready yet. I was going to get it ready after I quit teaching and went on maternity leave. My friend Ruth loaned us a cradle, which was just right for our tiny baby.

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In those days, taking a picture inside always meant using a flash. I remember when Steve took this picture, because it woke Josh up — and Steve took it right before he had to leave for a brass quintet gig. There aren’t too many pictures of Josh sleeping after this one!

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Josh was born with bright eyes. The uncharitable called them bug eyes. I’m convinced their eyes were unusually developed for an infant, and the world was just so interesting!

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On March 31, Easter Sunday, instead of being born, Josh had their first visit to church. Steve was performing with the brass quintet in an Easter service at another church. Steve’s parents and sister had come to see the baby.

Steve’s parents decided to be called Gram E. and Gramp E. (E for Eklund), and they were doting grandparents indeed. Since my own parents were busy with their own new baby (their 13th child, Melanie, was born on April 30, 1988.) — it did my heart so much good to see Gram E. and Gramp E. love on Josh.

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We had lots of visitors. Here’s where Doris and Sheri from my small group came and brought their babies. Doris had ended up getting a jump on the rest of us by adopting a baby, with a lot less than 9 months warning.

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And I so remember when Josh started really intentionally smiling. It was the day they turned six weeks old — after sleeping through the night the very first time. I woke up at something like 7:00 am and hadn’t heard from Josh and was afraid they were dead! But soon I heard little waking-up noises, and I felt so rested and wonderful after a *whole night* of sleep. Apparently Josh felt wonderful, too, because after eating, Josh treated me to smile after smile! I tell you, that was one of the happiest moments of my life. Well-rested and my baby was smiling at me! Heaven!

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And this one I feel slightly guilty about. Josh would sometimes get stuck in the startle reflex. Here’s a full-on Startle. They couldn’t get themself out of this. And instead of picking them up and comforting them, I got my camera and took their picture. (But so cute!)

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In May, Josh had their first plane ride when we went to Phoenix for Stephanie’s wedding to Bruce Stockhouse.

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With Gram E at Stephanie’s wedding:

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And I’ll finish with a few more smiles from those early months:

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Here’s Josh with Aunt Wendy:

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And so I became a mother — of a brilliant and bright-eyed child who was already intent on finding out what the world was all about.

Project 52 – 22 – Mission, Marriage, and a Master’s in Math

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

It’s time for Project 52, Week 22!

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22 weeks ago, on my 52nd birthday, I decided to start Project 52 — for this year, I’m reflecting each week on one year of my life.

Last week I covered my only full year in grad school at UCLA. I started the year in a PhD program in Math, but figured out by the end of the year that I’d rather get out with a Master’s. I also got engaged to be married to Steve Eklund.

This week I’m covering the year I was 22, from June 1986 to June 1987. Without a summer job, 1986 was the ideal year to go on a summer mission. I’d already decided to go before Steve asked me to marry him, and when he proposed, he told me I should still go.

The mission I went with was Door of Hope International. I’d long been interested in the work they did bringing Bibles to Christians behind the Iron Curtain, ever since a representative had spoken during a chapel at Brethren High School. I went to their headquarters in Austria, in the village of Spittal an der Drau, for six weeks and did office work and some computer programming for them. Different groups came through, getting ready for trips smuggling Bibles in custom-built RVs. For the six weeks, I’d walk to the post office every day, sending letters to Steve and hoping for some back. (They came in clumps.)

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I fell in love with Austria. And the German language. And, well, everything about it.

This is Goldeck, the mountain behind the house where I was staying:

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Here is a monastery at nearby Millstatter See. We had Apfel Strudel at a café by the lake.

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And the lake:

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Another day, we hiked by the Drau:

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We often went to the castle in the village, Schloss Portia. The castle grounds were a lovely park.

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But what I really really wanted to do while I was there was take the cable car up to the top of the mountain behind the house. (I watched this cable car every day.) I wanted to hike down. Wouldn’t that be a perfect hike? Downhill all the way!

I did get a couple of fellow-travelers to go to the top with me, but they had no interest in hiking down. I’d have to come back some day! But here’s the ride up the mountain:

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There’s a station in the middle where you change cable cars. This is past that.

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From this picture, you can see the village of Spittal an der Drau and, behind the ridge, the lake called Millstatter See.

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On top, there was a hang-gliding competition going on. Those hang gliders were the only people I envied up there.

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It was amazing. I walked around.

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Found a quiet place where I could belt out “The hills are alive…”

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And could even hear cowbells.

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The ride down was beautiful, too.

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An incredible day, though I left with such a longing in my heart to come back some day and take the cable car up and hike down.

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I finished up the trip with an excursion. These guys took me to Beograd, Yugoslavia, on their way to smuggle Bibles into Romania.

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Here’s the Danube seen from a fortress in Beograd:

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They dropped me off in Budapest. Now, back in Los Angeles, for a few months my housemates had taken in a woman from Hungary named Kiri. Her sister Popi and her mother lived in Budapest. Popi was a professional tour guide who wanted to start leading tours in English. So I got my own personal guided tour of Budapest! As well as wonderful hospitality.

Popi’s in the middle here, with her mother on the right. On the left is a friend who hung out with us, whose name I don’t remember now. She didn’t speak English, but we all had a lovely time together.

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Just the girls:

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She showed me all the sights in Budapest. I especially noted St. Stephen, the first king of Hungary, because I was missing my own Steve so much.

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On my whole trip, I became a big fan of European ice cream. In my letters to Steve, I’d tell him about each wonderful ice cream discovery. Then I told him that I’d gained 50 pounds, and was somewhat offended when he believed me. (At the time, I could eat anything and didn’t gain weight. It was nice while it lasted.)

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This is on a ferry on the Danube, with the Parliament building behind me.

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This was on an island in the middle of the Danube.

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And this was there as well.

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That night we played cards. This you can do even if you don’t speak the same language! Lots of laughing.

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And we also went to a café and then messed around at the castle overlooking the city.

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A little more sight-seeing the next day before going back on the train to Austria and then home.

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I got back in time to be in my friend Jennifer’s wedding. She modeled her dress at the wedding shower.

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In September, my Grandma Hatch passed away. I was actually in the room with her when she died. My parents had moved her to a hospital in Long Beach, and I was visiting when she passed away. All but one of my Dad’s siblings made it to the funeral.

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Here are the cousins who were there (by no means all the Hatch cousins). No, I can’t quite identify everyone in this picture.

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And here’s my immediate family, with Becky’s husband Dave, and my husband-to-be Steve included. Becky is pregnant with Jason in the picture, the first grandchild.

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Then I went back to school at UCLA for one last quarter in my Math Master’s program.

Meanwhile, Steve had kind of a rough time finding a place after he graduated, but eventually he got an apartment in downtown L.A. and got an office job at Payless Pet Supplies, where my roommate Karen worked. Unfortunately, it was a not-well-run small business, where the paychecks would often bounce. He finally quit just before we got married — but then found a job as a Messenger/Supply Clerk at Canadian Imperial Bank downtown. On the side, he performed with the Pacific Brass Quintet. They played in malls, especially at Christmas time, and gradually developed a good business.

At the end of the quarter, when I’d finished my coursework, I re-took my Analysis Qualifying Exam (having passed the Algebra Qualifying Exam). I did not pass! I’d try again in May.

And once classes finished, it was time for wedding showers!

Ruth threw me one.

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With high school friends at Ruth’s house:

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This is at Becky’s house:

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And for Christmas, we went to Steve’s parents’ house in Phoenix, and they threw us a shower.

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I forgot to mention that on June 7, 1986, two of my housemates, Audrey and Joan, got married (each to a different man) in a double wedding. So we got new housemates — a married couple with a 3-year-old daughter moved in, Randy and Suzanne, and their daughter Sarah.

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Here’s Sarah with my stuffed animal collection.

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Then on January 3, 1987, I married my best friend.

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Here I am ahead of time with my sisters, Becky, Wendy, Abby, and Marcy. I had a hard time deciding who would be matron of honor, since I’d been maid of honor twice. Then it turned out that Becky was pregnant and expecting a baby two weeks after my wedding day — so I decided to ask Kathe to be my matron of honor and asked Becky to read Scripture in the service.

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Here are the bridesmaids. Across the back, I’ve got Coral and Colleen, who were my Biola roommates, and were candlelighters. Then Ruth, Darlene, and Jennifer from high school, Jill from Biola, my sister Wendy, and Steve’s sister Stephanie. In front is Kathe, friend since elementary school, and flower girls Abby and Marcy. I had two sets of flower girls and ringbearers, a dark-haired pair, Abby and Peter, and a blonde pair, Marcy and Robert.

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We got ready in the house where I was living, and walked half a block to the church. It was a very happy day.

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Here are Robert and Marcy in action.

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Since we met in the Chorale and Steve was a music major, we had friends doing the music, including a brass ensemble. My good friends Debby Scott and Debbie Olson sang. We also sang the hymns “O, the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus,” “Take My Life, and Let It Be Consecrated, Lord, to Thee,” and “Be Thou My Vision.” Pastor Doug Moore married us.

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And so the two became one. And, YES, I keep repeating this, but it was a very happy marriage for a very long time. I still don’t regret that decision.

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Here’s my whole family of origin at the wedding.

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Here are my housemates Tammy and Karen, who helped at the reception.

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And this picture of my brothers always cracks me up.

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We spent our wedding night at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. The next day, we drove up to Yosemite, and we ended up driving into Yosemite Valley in a blizzard. My first time riding with Steve driving in a snowstorm — and he always got me there safely.

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That blizzard filled the valley with snow — and then we had sunny, beautiful weather all week.

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Of course, as a southern California girl, I was pretty excited by snow. This was our first snowman we built together.

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And we made snow angels.

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We even took a snowshoeing class.

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We were off to a wonderful start.

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On the way home, only about 15 minutes from home, traffic on the Harbor Freeway came to a sudden stop. Steve stopped on time — but a drunk driver a few cars behind us didn’t and rammed a line of cars into each other, including us into the car in front of us. And that driver was uninsured. (Good thing we had uninsured motorist coverage.)

I got whiplash and didn’t want to leave it untreated this time, so we went to the doctor Steve had found in the phone book when he needed a blood test. Well, that doctor turned out to be an ambulance chaser, and had a lawyer on call. He had us come in for “treatments” twice a week — basically heating pads.

It did feel good — but the “pain and suffering” determination (and the doctor took a third and the lawyer took a third) ended up paying for our wedding, and my student loans. I felt slightly guilty about it — but since my insurance company wanted to triple my insurance when I got married, I didn’t feel too guilty, and after that we switched to a cheaper insurance company.

A few weeks later, on January 22, my first nephew, Jason, was born. I had a baby shower for Becky in our apartment downtown. Here’s Jason with my sister Marcy.

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And in February, I started teaching back at Biola! That first semester after I got married, it was a temporary position, but I taught full-time in the Math and Computer Science departments. In my spare time, I studied and studied and studied for my Analysis Qualifying Exam. And third time’s the charm — this time I passed with the highest score.

And so, on my 23rd birthday, June 14, 1987, I received my Master of Arts in Pure Mathematics from UCLA!

I liked having a hood!

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My parents and my sister Wendy (and Steve) came to my graduation.

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And whew! That was a big year!

Project 52 – 21 and a Grad Student!

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

It’s time for Project 52, Week 21!

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21 weeks ago, on my 52nd Birthday, I decided to start Project 52 — for this year, I’m reflecting each week on one year of my life. (I can’t believe how quickly my years in school have gone by!)

Last time, Week 20, I had just finished my undergraduate years at Biola University, and I was dating Steve Eklund, who was a year behind me at Biola.

I’m writing this during Election night 2016 (and am very distracted), which reminded me that last week I forgot to mention that 1984, when I was 20, was the first time I voted in a Presidential election. I voted for Ronald Reagan. I was still very conservative (as I was raised). That was the first time I voted for a Republican for President, and also the last time. And that year I was 21 was the year the seeds of liberal thinking got started.

I also realized last week that I forgot to talk about how Steve and I used to hide pennies for each other to make our days. That was from an Annie Dillard quote, and I remembered that fun this week.

That summer, I moved into the houseful of girls on Biola Avenue, the same one I’d lived in the summer before, and roomed with Jeannette Sadler again. I had been accepted to a PhD program in Math at UCLA, but UCLA didn’t start until the very end of September, so I spent the summer continuing to work for Biola University Computer Services. In fact, they gave me a big raise when I graduated. (That annoyed me a little bit, because I was doing the same work.)

That summer, I remember I paid off my student bill and was able to get my diploma. But, you say, didn’t you have a full tuition scholarship? Yes I did, and another $2000 scholarship through my Dad’s work, but there was still about $900 to pay for living in the dorm, and I paid it myself — finishing that summer, when I was working full-time.

Here I am in my office:

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(I’m rather proud that I paid the majority of my tuition and fees at Biola. Between a half-tuition scholarship the first three years, a full-tuition scholarship the last year, a four-year scholarship of $2000 each year, paying the remainder myself the last year, living on-campus the first year, and paying $5000 in student loans after graduating. My parents did pay a whole lot, but I still took care of most of it.)

The picture above is celebrating my 21st birthday at my parents’ house. Here’s another. I have enjoyed reading to kids for a very long time.

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And the day after my birthday, my roommate Coral got married! I was one of the bridesmaids.

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Finally, as September ended, I started at UCLA! I moved into a house in downtown L.A. with five other girls, mostly from Biola. Audrey and Joan and Tammy, I’d known from Biola. Karen was my new roommate, and she’d gone to UCLA as an undergrad. Robin was the other housemate.

The house was near USC, so I still had a commute to UCLA. It was a block down the street from First Evangelical Church of Los Angeles, which Steve and I started attending. Remember how I’d been attending Christian schools since 3rd grade, so didn’t have any non-Christian friends? Well, one of the great things about First EV Free LA was that it had a vibrant, growing Spanish-speaking congregation — people who were coming to Christ and whose lives were being dramatically changed. There was also an English congregation, which was, honestly, dwindling — mostly people who had been attending the church since before white folks moved out of the inner city.

I don’t have many pictures from that year, but here’s one of my roommate, Karen:

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And here are Joan and her fiancé, Dan:

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Starting at UCLA was a little overwhelming. Though I never minded being the minority, there were only five women in the incoming grad school class of 120. Most of those were Master’s students, not PhD students like me. I had a teaching assistantship. The first quarter, I taught homework help sessions and graded papers. But I got good reviews, since I was a native-born English speaker, so the rest of the quarters, I got to actually teach a College Algebra class of about 20 students, with some supervision.

My very first college class had a mentally unbalanced girl who would start laughing uncontrollably during class, as well as an older guy with narcolepsy who’d start snoring. Remember that I looked about 13 years old (maybe 15 by now). There were a couple times that my students told the girl to be quiet. She also got an F — didn’t write answers on her tests. I didn’t feel good about that — but that was the worst situation I ever had in all my years of teaching math — my very first class. Though I find it interesting that I remember some of the other students in that class especially well, because they were kind to me in that awkward situation.

But the worst part of that year was that I was getting daily headaches. I finally saw a doctor at UCLA, but they pretty much just said, “stress.” This was before any of the triptans had been approved, and nothing worked. I was taking 8 or 9 Excedrin every day.

(I should add that I was taking quite a lot of Excedrin my last year at Biola, too, but now it was starting to affect my life and I felt like I couldn’t think straight.)

Somewhere along the way — I think it was after my second quarter — I decided to “settle for” my Master’s instead of staying in the PhD program. The thing was: What do you do with a PhD in Math? You pretty much better plan to teach — and I didn’t think I wanted to teach.

Also, to get a PhD, I’d need to pass three wicked hard qualifying exams and a language exam (two language exams? I don’t remember.) and then work on a dissertation. People were there who’d been in the PhD program for seven years. They were at school at all hours.

To get a Master’s, I’d only need to pass two qualifying exams and take enough classes. That was it. I was even able to finish the class load after only a year and a quarter.

So — I was feeling lots of pressure. I was trying to spend time with Steve, who was still at Biola. Here I am talking on the phone, probably to Steve:

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There was also some pressure, because I got to live in that house, with only $100 monthly rent, to do some work with the church English classes. That was how they reached out to the neighborhood, and why the church was growing so rapidly — they ran English classes and citizenship classes. The pastor, Doug Moore, was a wonderful man, bilingual, who’d grown up in Chile as a missionary kid. I was used to intellectual, academic sermons. Pastor Doug preached from the heart, and lives were changing.

But I didn’t speak Spanish, and I was trying to learn graduate-level mathematics. And teach math courses. And pass my qualifying exams.

And that first round of qualifying exams, in June 1986 — they told me I failed them both.

Mind you, the Master’s level exams were over undergraduate material. One was on Abstract Algebra, and the other Analysis. However — I talked with an advisor about my answers — and talked them into more points on the Algebra exam. I’d done it correctly, just not the way they’d planned for the problem to be solved. So I did pass the Algebra exam.

But the big event of the year I was 21 happened on April 6, 1985, when Steve Eklund asked me to marry him.

It was the day of his Senior Recital. (Did I mention that he was a tuba major?) After the recital, we went out to eat at A & V’s Pizza with my parents and his parents. And Steve hadn’t done it yet, so he asked me to go out of the room — and there in the parking lot behind the store, he asked me to marry him and I said yes!

He’d bought me a ring, but it was too big — It fell off as soon as I put my hand down! But we got it sized. Our parents had all known it was up. (He had asked my Dad for my hand.) And they were happy, and Steve’s parents always made me feel welcome and loved.

So that was the year I was 21. It was one of the hardest years yet, but had some wonderful moments. Make no mistake about it, I was very much in love. I was a lot more interested in being a wife than in being a doctor of mathematics.

Oh, and that brings me to my officemate, Thomas Haller, from Zürich, Switzerland. (He always called me Miss Hatch, but I didn’t take the hint and just called him Thomas.) When I tried to explain that I’d decided to settle for my Master’s, he said, in his thick accent, “So, you want an easy life, Miss Hatch?”

I protested that wasn’t it at all, that I had just figured out I didn’t want to devote my life to mathematics — but that always did feel a bit of a failure.

(Thomas is the one I used to quote years later when I was grading papers, to make myself laugh. One day I was there during his office hours, and he was patiently explaining concepts to the undergrads. When they left, he said to me, “What they do not realize is that they are too stupid to understand.” I laughed so hard — No matter how much we thought it, the American teaching assistants would not have said that.)

Well, I feel like tonight’s post is disjointed — because I’m currently horrified and saddened by how the present-day election is turning out. On the bright side, 31 years ago I got through daily headaches before Imitrex was available. So maybe I can get through this.

Project 52 – Out of my Teens, Silly, and In Love

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

It’s time for Project 52 – Week 20!

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20 weeks ago, on my 52nd Birthday, I decided to reflect each week on one year of my life for the next year. I’m having lots of fun doing it, and it has amazed me how quickly my childhood went by! And now I’ve finished reflecting on my teens. This year I’m going to reflect on the year I was 20 years old — June 1984 to June 1985. It was the year I was a Senior at Biola University.

Being a Senior in college wasn’t as liberating as being a Senior in high school. In high school, I felt more overshadowed by my older siblings, but really didn’t in college, even though they also went to Biola. Since we had different majors, we didn’t have the same classes, and since Biola was a bigger place than Brethren High School, not too many people who knew me knew my sister or brother.

But being a Senior was still great!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I ended my junior year having realized I just fell for Steve Eklund. And we went out to lunch because I won a sort-of bet. Then he headed home to Phoenix. Instead of moving back to my parents’ house, this summer I moved into a house on Biola Avenue with five other girls. I shared a room with Jeannette Sadler, just for the summer. I walked every day to campus and worked full time at Computer Services. (It was renamed from Data Systems.) Becky still worked there, too, so I still got to spend time with her, even though she’d graduated and was married.

And — I see by my journal that Steve called me on my birthday! That was exciting. And he wrote me letters that summer!

That summer I went to Disneyland three times. The first time was with Elizabeth Daniels, my friend from Chorale and the dorm, and with Jeff Petersen, my Math Brother (a fellow math major). I don’t remember why the three of us went, because I hadn’t remembered that Jeff and Elizabeth were friends — I think I was the link. Maybe Jeff wanted to take me to Disneyland and I had a day with Elizabeth and she was about to leave for good? (She just graduated, I believe.) I don’t know how it happened, but I’m quite sure Jeff drove us and we had a really great time.

Here are Elizabeth and Jeff on the Teacups:

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Here I am with Jeff:

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I bought myself a Winnie-the-Pooh on that trip!

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And one more of Elizabeth and Jeff and a friend:

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That would have been early in the summer.

Then, according to my journal it was June 28, 1984, Steve came back to L.A. to visit!

I’m not sure where he stayed, but he specifically came to see me — and my friend Debby Scott. Yes, that Debby Scott, the same dear friend who had become the girlfriend of the last two guys I had a crush on. Now a new guy I had a crush on was coming to see me and her.

I don’t remember what we did that day. Some driving around with Debby. Steve did spend more time at my place and we went to get Debby and then drove around and he went back to the house where I was living. And we talked of cabbages and kings and I had a wonderful time — but I was still terrified inside that I was going to get a broken heart.

In the evening, he was invited to a party at his friend Anne’s house. She was the same band friend he’d brought with him when I’d invited him to my open house in the dorm. He invited me to go to the party with him. But I remembered how I felt about Anne coming to my open house, and I declined. Besides, I seem to remember that I had a migraine.

He did call me later from the party. Which, now, makes me wonder why I was so scared about getting my heart broken. But as far as I could tell, he came to California to see three girls, and I was only one of the three. Besides, I was now getting where I just assumed that if I fell for a guy, he was going to like Debby Scott better!

Anyway, it was lovely and solidified in my mind that I really liked this guy. He continued to write to me that summer. And I continued to have a wonderful summer.

The next trip to Disneyland was a double date. The one picture I took on that trip is at the top of this post. The date was with a guy named Louie.

Louie was one of those guys who was plenty nice, but I thought of him as “too nice” (which doesn’t seem fair, but there it is). Anyway, he asked me on a double date, which I wasn’t real thrilled about doing, but figured it would be fun — then the double date was with the one guy at Biola that I actively loathed. (I actually don’t really remember why. Just that I really didn’t like him.) And he brought a high school student as his date.

So I didn’t have the greatest time in the world — didn’t really feel in my element, but Disneyland’s always fun, and we ate at The Blue Bayou in the Pirates of the Caribbean.

(Later that fall the guy I didn’t like asked me out in the cafeteria when other people were around. I really didn’t like it when guys did that, because it’s hard to say No. But you can be very sure I did say No!)

Then the super-duper wonderful trip to Disneyland was later in the summer with the S.I.K.s!

The S.I.K. Club had been formed the year before with my sister, Batty Becky, and me, Silly Sondy, and the Mammano sisters Jolly Jill and Jovial Gina. Our theme was Joy and our method was feeling free to be Silly. We made a calendar full of silly holidays for August, so I’m sure the trip happened in August on Disney Day.

Here are Becky, Jill, and Gina at the entrance to the park:

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We’re inside! With the Matterhorn behind them:

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We tried to get pictures with characters. Here I am with Gina, Jill, and a Little Pig:

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Becky, Gina, and Jill are trying to pull out the Sword in the Stone:

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One of the really fun parts of that trip was that every time we heard Snow White’s wishing well start singing… “I’m wishing….”

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… we’d all sing along, in Snow White voices.

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Here are Gina and Jill in the row ahead of us on Big Thunder Railroad:

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After a snack:

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With Splash Mountain behind us:

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And with Brer Bear:

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And then, after a wonderful and silly summer, school started again. I was back in Sigma Chi dorm with Coral Nightingale. Here’s Coral with her boyfriend Jo:

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But I went back to the dorm early, since I was working full-time on campus anyway. And once Steve got back we did hang out together a little bit. And — I asked him to go hiking with me.

You see, in the Student Handbook every year, there was a list of local hikes. One of the hikes was on Palos Verdes peninsula, right near my parents’ house. (Or at least closer to my parents’ house than it was to Biola.) I’d long thought it would be fun to go try that out, but hadn’t found anyone else interested. Well, Steve had a car. I suggested it to him as something fun to do (Somehow I managed this without feeling like I was being too forward. It was NOT a date.) — and he agreed.

I do remember that something like the day before we went to Palos Verdes, we were hanging out at La Mirada Park, and I got really frustrated inside that we were doing all these things together, but he didn’t seem to be “interested” in me.

But I took a deep breath and had my quiet time and decided, the next day, that I wasn’t going to ruin it by wanting what I didn’t have, but to just enjoy the moment.

And it worked. We had an incredibly good time hiking by the ocean. In the first place, it’s amazing what’s hidden there at the bottom of a cliff. You have to hike over some rocks, but it’s secluded from the crowded beach. There were some old rusting cars that had gone over the cliff in spots! But mostly it was rocks and sand and cool stuff. There was one little cove full of pebbles where the waves would go out with a huge rolling sound as all the pebbles tumbled back toward the water.

The beach was full of flotsam and jetsam. At one point, we found a square piece of wood, just the size of Steve’s hand. He got the idea to carve a message on it. So he started gouging into it the words SEND HELP, with SEND above HELP.

When he’d started writing SEND, he noticed those were his initials. Which got me to notice that the letters downward were my initials. (S. H.) So here’s what he carved:

S.E.N D
H.E L P

Of course whoever received the message would know who was asking, since it had our initials.

Then he ran out on the rocks that led out toward the ocean and threw it with all his might.

While he was running out, it looked like he was walking on the water. The sun was shining on the water and it was a lovely day, and I didn’t have my camera, but I snapped a mental picture in my mind and can still see it in my mind. It was a perfect moment.

After that, every now and then we’d say to each other, “Help is on the way!”

Oh! I just remembered — that was the first time we read Oscar Wilde fairy tales to each other.

Steve had brought a little paperback book of Oscar Wilde fairy tales, “The Selfish Giant and other stories,” and we stopped at various places in our hike and he read me some of the stories.

Like I said, a perfect day.

And most of the time I was able to thoroughly enjoy it and not be sad that he wasn’t my boyfriend already.

So then classes started. I was no longer in Chorale. Though my schedule ended up being so full, for the first time I dropped a math class — Operations Research, the very class that was happening during the time Chorale met. (I felt horribly guilty dropping a class. But with the load I had plus working, it was a good choice. Though the particular class I dropped did come back to haunt me years later.)

I’d been getting asked out a lot my Junior year. But that fall, it slowed down. I strongly suspect I had stopped putting out “available” vibes. But I did have one last date with someone who wasn’t Steve. Calvin Dyck, a violin major, asked me to go to a concert at the music building.

Now, I had been so burned in the past every time I really fell for someone, I fully expected to see Steve there, with a date. That just felt like what would certainly happen. Well, Steve was there — but he was not with a date. And I didn’t feel like it was fair to Calvin that he’d brought me, but I was thinking about Steve. I also didn’t like it that I couldn’t really talk with Steve after the concert like I wanted to.

So I decided that I really shouldn’t go on any more dates for awhile. It wasn’t fair to them. But very soon after that, it was a moot point.

On Friday the 13th in October 1984, I went to my friend Karla’s house nearby in La Mirada, I think to look at pictures she’d taken of Israel. I think Steve gave me a ride to her house on the way somewhere else — and then he showed up later to take me home. And Sam, his roommate, was with him.

Well, we dropped Sam off at his dorm, but at my dorm, Steve asked me if I wanted to go for a walk. And we walked behind the dorm and under the road to La Mirada Creek Park. It’s a narrow park with bridges going over a creek. And there’s a little bit of woods on the other end of it.

And somewhere along the way, Steve asked if I was cold and said we should walk very close together and put his arm around me. And I was laughing inside because all through high school I’d tried to get guys’ jackets by being cold and it finally worked. But no, mostly I was crazy happy because he put his arm around me!!!

The next day, Saturday, October 14, 1984, we went on our first real date. It was a double date with Sam — and Debby Scott. But I wasn’t even a bit scared of Steve knowing Debby now.

Sam drove, and Steve and I sat in the back. There was a point somewhere in the evening when Sam saw us holding hands in back and did a huge double-take but didn’t say anything to us.

We went to Datilo’s for dinner — a wonderful little place in Whittier where you could watch them make pasta that was right next to a used bookstore. After dinner and browsing in the bookstore, we went to see the movie Roxanne starring Steve Martin.

And yes! We were finally a couple.

Not too long after that, guys on Steve and Sam’s dorm floor got a lead on the Biola Egg. This was a giant concrete egg that various groups tried to control. I got to go with them the night they snagged it and took pictures. They didn’t have it long enough to paint their own logo on it.

(Oh, and the day before we started dating, there was a “Flattops for Jesus” fund-raiser for missions. One of my friends dared Steve to get his head shaved and offered $20 — so he got his head shaved. I decided I really did like him, because I started dating him in spite of this. He really did look better with longer hair.)

Anyway, here we are with the Biola Egg:

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Here’s Sam:

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And Steve and me. Yep, we were in love:

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1984_11photobooth652So, it’s kind of funny, but I don’t remember as many details once I started dating Steve. I did visit his family in Phoenix that Christmas — because my family went to Phoenix to see my Grandma.

We read more Oscar Wilde fairy tales to each other. That summer I’d joined Book-of-the-Month Club, and the book that convinced me you could tell a book was good by the description came — Momo, by Michael Ende. When I’d read a little bit of the book, I became convinced it would be a good one to read aloud, so Steve and I began reading it aloud to each other, alternating chapters. I remember that we were almost finished when it was Finals Week. We thought we didn’t have time — and then we had to do it anyway. Because Momo is a book about Time Thieves who convince people to frantically save time — and then steal it. Which is why when you are always in a hurry you actually have less time.

Spring semester, we took a Bible class together. I think it was the one on Eschatology. Anyway, each year at Biola, I’d only had one term paper per year — but that year there were something like six papers in that class alone, and I had papers in two other classes (even a math class!), so I had eight papers that last year. Now I’d done all-nighters with my previous year’s papers. But that was a bit much with so many. But for the Bible class papers, I typed Steve’s for him as well — typing both our papers on the computers at my work place.

So we did some almost all-nighters at the Computer Center. A lot more friendly than doing it by myself, even if it took longer with the extra typing. We did manage to get work done.

That was also the year I did a paper on the Fibonacci Numbers and Steve did a Music paper on the same thing — relating to the Music of the Spheres or some such. We did research together.

I should say here that I remember a lot of that time as frustrating. We were saving sex for marriage, and it was a lot harder than I thought it would be before I’d ever had a boyfriend! (Funny thing about that.) I do remember times when I thought if only we weren’t Biola students and all our friends Christians, because no one else would think anything was wrong if we went ahead and had sex. But I had to be honest with myself that it would really mess up my relationship with God.

Fortunately, we were both on board with that. I don’t think we could have pulled it off otherwise. But when one was weak, the other would slow things down. And we tried not to be Tired and Alone.

I thought at the time that saving sex for marriage would mean I’d know I had a husband with self-control and wouldn’t ever have to worry about him having an affair. It was a nice theory. But anyway, I’m happy we did that, and it was a good solid start to our relationship.

And I want to say some of the things I liked about Steve. At Biola, I didn’t have to worry about whether a guy was a Christian or not. (You had to fill out a statement of faith to apply.) When I first met Steve, I’d often want to eat dinner together on Sunday nights, and he finally told me that he fasted on Sundays. That was one of several quiet ways he tried to serve God without parading it.

Here’s a picture from Easter 1985. We spent it with my family.

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I don’t know what we’re all looking at, but Becky was there, too.

And in May 1985, I graduated from Biola University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematical Sciences.

1985_06-graduation-marching

I wore Mickey Mouse sunglasses.

1985_06-graduation-mickey-mouse-glasses

My parents and Abby came. Abby seems happy that I let her try the sunglasses.

1985_06-graduation-mom-dad-abby

Here’s Steve, me, Jill, and Jeff. Jeff graduated that day, too, but must have already taken off his cap and gown.

1985_06-graduation-with-steve-jill-jeff

And with Steve:

1985_06-graduation-with-steve

And so, I graduated!

I had spent the last couple months applying to grad school. I’d been tempted by schools on the East Coast, but when it came right down to it, I was scared to go so far, and didn’t really want to leave Steve on the West Coast. (He still had a year left at Biola.) I ended up applying to PhD programs (That’s normal for Math majors) at Cal Tech, USC, and all the UC campuses. I had an interview at Cal Tech and did not do well and did not get accepted. I did get accepted to all the others — and chose UCLA.

So graduation felt a little anticlimactic. I’d be working at Biola University Data Systems one more summer — then back to school again.

All in all, it was a lovely and very silly year.