Shell Shocked

College hoopla. All last week. After all getting word about which colleges they all got into (or didn’t), my son and all his friends (many kids I’ve known since kindergarten) are all kind of sitting back now – away from the web sites where they’ve been scanning for their names – and restructuring their lives in their heads. Very few got their first-choice schools, or even any school they’d been picturing for the last several months. All the schools were so impacted, and students in the top 5-10% of their class weren’t getting their first picks (or sometimes even their second or third), or weren’t even getting into the California University system where they thought they’d be. Their visions are all shifting: from palm trees to pines, from private to public, from living at home to being away, from being away to living at home. … They all look a little shell-shocked.

And while the kids all stare off into space, trying to wrap their heads around schools they hadn’t pictured, Moms and Dads are freaking out over the money. Most of us haven’t gotten Financial Aid letters yet, so we’re all looking at sticker prices: $12,000/year tuition, plus $12,000 room and board. Or $24,000 tuition, plus $8,000 room and board. Or $30,000 tuition, plus $12,000 room and board. The shell-shocked looks go both ways, for sure. …

Once the dust settles, we’ll all come up with a plan. Ricky got: University of Oregon (yes); UCLA (no); UC Davis (no); UC Santa Barbara (waitlist). All those honors classes, AP tests, all-nighters and exams started to become meaningless when he was turned down by his favorite schools. This seems to be the month of shock and awe, followed by some decisions by the end of the month, when deposits have to be put down.

In the meantime, I’ll be staring at Nathan’s army men set up across my dining table, still feeling a little shell-shocked. …

3 for Thursday: 3 Great Things That Happened When You Were 20

Okay, let’s extend the age range a bit — 18-22. What are 3 great experiences you had (or trips you took, or people you met)?

We’re in the throes of college acceptances here in the Sanchez home (along with disappointments), and I keep trying to say that those years are what you make them, no matter where you are. You never know where your joys will come from!

The Story of J.R.

I received a heavy, 11×14  package the other day and smiled when I saw the return address: “Jimmee P.,” it said. From Washington.

Jimmee P. has gone by many names in my lifetime — J.R., then James, then back to J.R., then Jim, then Jimmee P. — and he’s had about as many personalities to go with each name. Strangest thing is, he hardly remembers any of them.

I met him as J.R., in high school, when Superman was introducing to me to all his friends in our early days of dating. Even though Superman and I came from the same circles of friends, pretty much, he had this other group of three friends that was separate: J.R. among them. These were friends he’d made in football his freshman year, and he spent many summer days with them after football practice, goofing off with impromptu tackle games, spending time competing with the bench press in the weight room, learning to shoot BB guns, and ditching class — when class started — to sneak off and see movies like Rambo and anything with Arnold Swartzenegger in it. These guys had testosterone soaring through their veins.

When Superman and I started dating, though, there wasn’t much place for me in this small band of friends, and he hung out with them less and less. Although I met them, they tended to treat me as somewhat of a foreign creature. They would look at me as if I were some delicate gecko in a terrarium — one wrong move and I’d flee. So they rarely spoke on the few occasions Superman and I would stop and chat with them — only smiled politely and made small talk (very small) — and when Superman and I would leave, they’d all look relieved. Continue reading

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