Sunday, May 25, 2008

Whole Lotta Catchin' Up To Do

I apologize for the lack of updates here lately. Every time I've thought of posting something, I've felt like I really couldn't afford the time. This post, therefore, is going to be a collection of random updates and musings in no particular order at all.

On Tuesday this week, I traveled to Chicago with Leo (my outgoing director of admissions) and Jeanne (my incoming Senior Admissions Counselor). It's kind of funny to think about going to Chicago since moving here. It's still a big trip in the sense that it's a three-hour drive each way and we don't go there frequently, but it's nothing like what a trip to Chicago was when I lived in Oregon or even Kentucky. Anyway, we drove to the city to meet with Mike Dessimoz (the "z" is silent) at Roosevelt University, right downtown on Michigan Avenue. We met with Mike in a building where a key scene from The Untouchables starring Kevin Costner was filmed.

Roosevelt made the decision this year to dramatically reduce its recruitment travel and replace it with heavy use of merit scholarships and telemarketing, and Mike had agreed to share what they had learned with us. That's something I really like about this business, the way that colleagues are often willing to share their insights with others, even though we are in a competitive environment. I had never met Mike prior to Tuesday and, in fact, had never even spoken with him by phone. Last fall, we exchanged some e-mails and he agreed to spend two hours with us giving us an overview of how this year has gone.

We had selected Tuesday as the day to go to Chicago for one specific reason: So that Leo could see his beloved Cleveland Indians play the Chicago White Sox. At the box office, we asked for the best, least expensive seats available and the guy put us in section 531--the upper deck directly behind home plate. Our seats were literally three rows from the top of the stadium and I sat in the very last row for a couple of innings. The sight lines, though, were very good and we got to see a fun game with strong pitching (Contreras vs. Sabathia, a couple of homers, some errors and a couple of bases loaded situations. It was a 2-1 game most of the way until Chicago scored a couple more runs in the 8th.

We tried to do the game somewhat "on the cheap," which pointed out to me how NOT family-friendly today's major league sports venues are. I paid $21 for parking at a church by the field, $21 for the nosebleed tickets, $2 for stale peanuts outside the park, $4.50 for a soft drink, $1.50 for a stale red licorice rope and $3.25 for a hot dog that was so old its paper wrapper had actually become embedded in the bun. Multiply that by a family of four and you have an outing that costs almost $150, excluding transportation . . . and that's without trinkets for the kids. Ridiculous. And I recently took a look at Cubs tickets online . . . forget about it . . . I don't think you could find any seat for under $40 at Wrigley.

I scored twelve free tickets to the Fort Wayne Wizards game tomorrow, and plan to go with three friends and their sons. It's dollar day at the park, so it shouldn't be quite so expensive an evening.

We have a nest in the little tree right by our back porch. Since the tree is so short, we have a great view of the mama bird settled down in the nest. I'll keep you posted . . . I suspect our backyard may become a much less friendly place once the eggs hatch.

Jordan's wisdom teeth appear to be fine now--or rather, the space where his wisdom teeth used to be is fine--but he's still not up to playing the tuba, I guess. Now Jameson is having trouble with his mouth . . . his 12-year molars are trying to come through and there isn't room for them in there.

My life at work has been crazy lately, getting ready for Leo's departure, for the arrival of three new admissions staff at the start of June at TUFW, for two-and-a-half weeks out of the office for the NACCAP conference in Boston followed by vacation, etc. I have the feeling that this may be a uniquely challenging year for me. At the same time, a lively exchange of e-mails amongst a group of my colleagues reminded me this week that I am very lucky to be working at TUFW. Some of these men who I respect very much and who are very successful in the field of enrollment management were transparent enough to share pretty bluntly how frustrated and burned out they are at times. And I bet their colleges' presidents have no idea how close these valued professionals who play key roles on their campuses are to walking away from the challenges and the workload of college enrollment.

The Indy 500 was great today! I don't think I've watched that race in at least ten years but today I, ahem, had to iron a whole bunch of my shirts so the race was a good distraction while I stood at the ironing board. (Don't worry, Jeannette did a few of them for me.) Open wheel racing has held no appeal to me for a long time but going from two racing leagues to just one makes it a lot more interesting to me and today's race was very exciting. I felt bad for all the drivers who were taken out of the running by the simple bad luck of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and were hit by other competitors.

The news that Stephen Curtis Chapman's daughter, Maria, was killed on Wednesday hit Jeannette and me very hard. I think the story of this tragedy is pretty well known so I won't rehash it here but, like many people, I think we feel like we know the Chapman family through Stephen's music and videos we have watched about their own adoptions. If it was not for their decision to adopt from China, I don't think we would have MelodyJoy in our family. They set the example for our friends who set the example for us . . . and then we also received a $1500 grant from their foundation, Shaohannah's Hope, named after the first little girl they brought home from China.

Maria was five years ago and was killed when struck by an SUV driven by her teenage brother. MelodyJoy is three years old and we also have a teen driver in our family. Our hearts go out to the Chapmans and especially to their son, who clearly was very close to all four of his sisters and must be carrying a heavy burden.

A little while ago, our neighbor and friend, Lance Clark uploaded about 250 photos that he took prior to the Blackhawk Christian School Junior-Senior in April. I finally got around to downloading some of them onto my computer and here are three I especially liked of Jordan and Becca Howard, his date that night . . .

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