Project 52 – Seventeen Going on Thirteen!

It’s time for Project 52 – Week 17!


17 Weeks ago, on my 52nd Birthday, I decided to start Project 52 — for 52 weeks, I’m going to reflect each week on one year of my life. I’m having lots of fun remembering and reflecting on where I’ve been — laying out one year each week.

It’s fun to give each year equal weight. As I’ve lived them, it seems like each year gets shorter!

I realized after I posted last week that I forgot to mention that the 11th child in our family, Robert, was born September 18, 1980 — at the beginning of my Senior year. I’m not sure all that this forgetting signifies. Maybe I was starting to be less excited about my Mom having kids so often? It also may not be a coincidence that there are no pictures of me during my Senior year of high school in our family photo album. But a new baby was born that year.

Anyway, there also weren’t many pictures of me taken my Freshman year of college. The summer before college, I did work at McDonalds, walking distance from our house, walking down the street and through the park. I still did not get my driver’s license that year, believe it or not.

I went to Biola University — the same place my older brother and sister went. I had played with ideas of applying to Cal Tech or Point Loma or Seattle Pacific College or somewhere on the East Coast. But when it came down to it, I applied to Biola and I lived at home.

None of my friends from Brethren went to Biola. Darlene and Jennifer went to Point Loma. (Though Darlene went to my church when she was in the area.) I think Ruth already got her own flower shop that year. Some friends did go to local schools like Cal State Long Beach and Long Beach City College.

I did have Rick and Becky at Biola, and Becky’s friend Jeryl, and even T.C.G.I.H.A.C.O. (though I got over that crush early in the year and became good friends with him). But I was a Math major and a Freshman, and none of them were, so I didn’t have the same classes.

So, that first year of Biola was a year of making new friends! I was a commuter without a driver’s license. Most often I got rides with Becky, but sometimes Rick and sometimes my Mom. But the big event that shaped my years at Biola happened right away — I was accepted into the Biola Chorale!

The Biola Chorale is their elite by-audition-only choir. That year, there were only 4 Freshmen in the Chorale, so I felt very lucky to make it! I will never forget the morning I found out I had made it. They were posting the list after Chapel. At chapel, being new, I met another new girl (though she was a transfer student and a bit older than me) named Elizabeth Daniels. It turned out that she had also auditioned for Chorale, so we went to look at the list together — and both got in!

I think that was also the first meeting of Chorale. Mr. Wiebe (the director) said that the group was so good that year (so few new people), we were strong enough singers that he had a seating arrangement *not* in vocal sections, but boy-girl-boy-girl. I was sitting next to Jeff Kreeger, one of the most handsome guys I’d ever met! (He had a girlfriend I soon learned. But very intimidating for a 17-year-old Freshman to sit next to!) And when he opened his mouth, he had one of the most meltingly beautiful tenor voices I’d ever heard. Fortunately, he was super nice, and so was Brian Adams on the other side of me. They passed out music in an intricate arrangement of “Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart.” I barely made a sound and was just so afraid they’d figure out I didn’t belong there at ALL! Well, Brian leaned over and told me, “You should know we sing this song every year, so everyone else already knows it.” That really did help!

Fortunately, we had a piano at home, and I spent a *lot* of time going over my parts. Oh, and my brother Rick was also in Chorale that year — though sitting pretty far away from me. But he drove me to some Chorale things.

I also met Jill Mammano that year, as a fellow commuter student.

I was a Math major, but since I’d taken AP Calculus AB, they gave me one semester of credit for Calculus. But they didn’t offer second semester Calculus fall semester, so I had to sit out a semester. I did take Intro to Computer Science that semester with Dr. Woo and met some people who I’d later learn were my fellow math majors. People like Jeff Petersen and Kevin Penner, who later became my dear friends. But also in that class I met Colleen Jenks, who’d be my roommate the following year. She changed from a Math major to an English major after that semester, but I knew she was a kindred spirit when she let me rest in her room one day and I saw she had the Anne of Green Gables books on her shelf.

Of course, in Chorale I made many friends — Elizabeth Daniels (already mentioned), Debby Scott, Debbie Olson, and many others. It was an instant social group as well as a group that made wonderful music. Not being a music major, I didn’t have any illusions that mine was one of the better voices — it definitely wasn’t — but it was so wonderful to get to sing with so many beautiful voices. The Chorale had bonding social events at the start of the year like a trip to Yosemite and then many concerts. Our tour that year was to northern California.

But one of the biggest events of the year happened in January, when Kathe married Joe Barsotti in Virginia — and they bought me a ticket to come out and visit and be Kathe’s Maid of Honor! (I should add that Kathe is a year older than me, so she was 18.)

It was the first time I’d ever been on an airplane. And since I was born in Washington, DC, I was extra excited to get to see Washington, DC.

I had a wonderful week with Kathe before her wedding! It turns out I did take pictures during that trip.

Here’s Happy Kathe:


This was the Rehearsal Dinner:


And the reception:


Second semester, the big event was that I got to be in Biola’s production of The Sound of Music!

The role I hoped for was Liesl, of course. Since I actually was 17 years old, I thought I could perfectly play “16, Going on 17.” Well, the part I got was Louisa, the 13-year-old. And, yes, I looked 13 years old. (I put my hair into ponytails, and that was all it took.)

It turned out to be hugely fun. Louisa only has 9 lines, but she is in fully half the songs and is on stage for half the scenes. She even has solo lines such as, “I flit, I float, I fleetly flee, I fly.”

Rick was a Drama major by that time, and he was Assistant Stage Manager for that production, so he gave me rides to many of the rehearsals.

At one point, Rick tried to arrange a game of Diplomacy that he was moderating. He let me play, and the rest were a bunch of guys. I think the game petered out, but some time around that time I met Dan Daniels at the music building. He wasn’t a music major, but had been talking with his roommate Mark Oglesby who played the organ and Mark’s girlfriend Coral Nightingale — who was later to become my roommate. Anyway, one night while I was waiting for my ride, I got to talking with Dan, who had been in the Diplomacy game. We had a great conversation, and I fell hard for him.

Dan never did fall for me back. But he remained a good friend. And especially notable was a day at the end of the year after I pulled my very first all-nighter.

It was because of a term paper. I stayed up to write it and type it — and ended up staying up all night. I think that was the paper on Jane Austen. I’d had plenty of time to write it — and I ended up using the time to read all her novels. Then I wrote the paper the night before — and finished typing it just before we needed to leave to go to Biola.

Well, I had a Calculus test that morning.

I mentioned that I only got one semester credit for AP Calculus? Well, most of second semester Calculus was stuff I’d learned in high school — and had studied super hard in order to pass the AP Test. So I knew it very well. (The only new thing was infinite sums and infinite series, which we hadn’t gotten to at the time of this test.)

But that test — after staying up all night — was by far the hardest math test I’ve ever taken. I went over and over and over the problems. I just couldn’t think straight! I did end up getting a 90 on the test — but that was the lowest score I’d ever gotten on a math test up to that time. And I didn’t know I managed even that at the time.

After the test, I think it was Jeff Petersen who said something like, “I bet that wasn’t any trouble for you!” — and I burst into tears!

So, yeah, I was a basket case! I turned in the paper in English class. But I still had to wait around until Becky was done so I could go home. And that was where Dan Daniels proved to be a True Friend. I called him up. He heard the distress in my voice, and he came to the food place in the Student Union, and he recited a chapter from Winnie-the-Pooh from the Expotition to the North Pole where Tigger bounces Eeyore into the water!

It was exactly the right response. Though it did make me fall all the harder for him. (I mean, how perfect is that? He recited Winnie-the-Pooh! From memory!) But above all, it was kind. By that time, he may have known I had a crush on him — but he was willing to come out and cheer me up anyway.

(I will insert right here that Dan went on to marry young and last I heard had 9 kids. I’m happy for him. But I’m so, so, so glad that he didn’t fall for me back and didn’t marry me. I’ve spent enough of my life taking care of lots of kids. But anyway, he was a wonderful friend to me that day.)

Oh, another thing that happened my Freshman year was that my GPA already got messed up, which was a relief. I had a 1-credit P.E. class and got a B. So in college I never ever was trying to maintain a 4.0.

I had English 101 Criticism & Composition with Mr. MacDougall — who my brother and sister had recommended. I also got an A- in that class. (Same effect on GPA as a B in a 1-unit class.) I thought that my scores must have been beaten by Betsy Bauman. I found out years later that she’d gotten a B in that class, so my A- must have been the highest score. Which seems like overly hard grading, but he was a great teacher.

And that’s all I can think of to say about my Freshman year at Biola. Except that some time during that year I begged and begged — and my parents eventually agreed to let me move into the dorm my Sophomore year, and I was going to room with Colleen Jenks!

6 Responses to “Project 52 – Seventeen Going on Thirteen!”

  1. Brian Adams says:

    Such fun to read. I will alway remember you as Louisa AND as Sarah Sylvia Cynthia Stout in 3rd Half. Wonderful memories that have shaped us all into who we are now. Keep blogging. This is a great idea. Too bad the year doesn’t have 59 weeks, if it did, I’d probably join you!

  2. Thank you, Sondy, for the pics of Kathe’s wedding. I haven’t seen them in years. Now I have them saved to my computer. Blessings. PDM

  3. Lorinda says:

    Your title snagged me and your narrative kept me reading to the end.
    All these “yearly” reminiscings could be edited together into an autobiography/memoir…
    I don’t know the people or places and yet you are able to hold my interest.

  4. Administrator says:

    I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Funny — I got no comments at all until Week 17, so I’d started just writing for myself. I’m glad you enjoyed it! It sure means a lot to think through each year.

  5. Administrator says:

    Oh that’s neat! It meant so much when she and Joe paid for me to go out and be in her wedding!

  6. Administrator says:

    Chorale meant so much to me at Biola! And I do always remember how NICE you were to that little 17-year-old Freshman who was assigned to sit next to you and was completely overwhelmed by the beautiful sounds coming out of everyone else’s mouths! It sure did help when you told me that everyone else knew that song!

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