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The Divot in My Shin That Taught Me to Say No

Apr 04, 2093

My friend Eileen Curley posted this photo of this shirt June 2015. It prompted this story from the Spring semester of 1993 at Grinnell College. I wrote:

It is a kick to see this shirt and also a slight kick in the gut.

I became the Hall Social Coordinator for Haines Hall second semester my *first* year.

Note: HSC meant you organized study breaks and often a campus-wide dance party at the 80's-mall-like venue of Harris Center.

Partly because I thought it was a cool role I could be creative with, partly because I never clicked w my first two roommates in our triple (they were best buds). Moving into the single dorm room was enticing.

Note: Grinnell had the 2nd hardest workload in the US at the time, after MIT. No first-generation, first-year student should have had the number of campus jobs I had.

All of the Friday and Saturday dates for a Harris Center dance party were already booked.

I stupidly planned the "Haines Hall Vegetaball" on a Wednesday night.

Too young to know it was Bar night.

Note: Grinnell had very different M/W/F schedules versus Tu/Thurs ones. The latter were often three hour blocks for science labs or art classes. Many, many upperclassmen would not schedule Tues/Thurs morning classes that complemented their Wednesday night at the Bar. 

I also stupidly thought we needed shirts for this party. I was the kids who drew most of the shirts in high school. Haines party shirts were not uncommon.

The shirt: 

Nearly no one came.

I was out a lot of money on the shirts.

I think the RA took some mercy on me. I do remember making and selling monster cookies to make up the costs. I seriously doubt I paid him back fully. 

I got so fried that semester that I had a couple accidents due to being so exhausted and out of it.

I whacked my head on the stainless steel shelf above tray break down (TBD) station in Quad and ✨saw stars✨.

Note: TBD was my favorite position at the dining hall. I think I did it all 4 years, long after my financial-aid work study was required. You worked with one other person. When a rack filled with dirty dishes, you wheeled the rack back to the counter. You and your partner each took a side and removed each tray, threw away any non-food garbage and large food items. Next, you scraped the remaining food goo into a moving river of water into the garbage disposal. Meanwhile, glasses went into racks on a shelf above my head, silverware into another rack. Then I loaded the dishes into the Hobart dishwasher. 

It was messy, stinky work, but I liked working with one partner. I worked with a handful of men I got along well with. Didn't have to "people." A shift went quickly and I moved a lot. 

One Sunday, I took some time to see Room with a View at Harris. Harris was a big empty gym where the dance party happened, a small theater, and a game room.

Heading back to South Campus (where I lived), after the movie, I stepped up and over the concrete bench.

Note: There was zero reason I couldn't simply walk around the concrete bench. But I never did. In the beeline from the Harris exit and my dorm room was the bench. 

My Birkenstock slipped and I landed face first in the landscaping rocks.

Again, I saw stars✨. and bent my glasses.

Note: Birkenstocks seemed to be required footwear at Grinnell circa 1992. When I got accepted early admission, I bought a pair. FAR more than I had ever spent on shoes.

It wasn't until I got up and started walking that I realized I had caught my left shin on the edge of the bench on the way down.

I still have the scar and I think of it as a reminder to never get that stressed again.

I am in a much happier place in my life, but I am about that stressed right now and I have a bunch of shitty health things showing up.

Thankful I have 4+ days vacation in MN with J, friends and family this weekend.

And that is the story of the disco-dancing carrot shirt. 

Aren't you glad you asked? 

Wait, you didn't? 

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