A Year in Retrospect: Fall Semester 2006

May 27, 2007 § 1 Comment

 The Fall 2006 semester was the most nightmarish semester in my college career, with many episodes of near mental-insanity that I would rather forget. I took 21 credit hours (12 of which were chemistry credits, 4 biochemistry), volunteered at the Shrine as a lector and Extraordinary Minister, worked 10+ hours per week as a chemistry teaching assistant, was the Treasurer and VP for Phi Sigma Tau, commuted, spent time with friends and family, and dealt with everyday problems. One particularly sad moment came when my hero Steve Irwin died in a freak accident.But good prevailed, and I do have several happy memories. Most come from my time with family and friends rather than from my time at school.

Beginning the second Friday of September, the School of Philosophy hosted the Fall Lecture Series, this year on “Augustine and Augustinianism”. I never missed one: how I could I miss my only social time during the week? Philosophy Q&A sessions after lectures are the most exciting sporting events! The CUA faculty is absolutely lethal. The play-by-play is fun: “Uh-oh here goes Dr. Vorwerk with Plotinus. That lecturer is dead now.” “Oooooo watch Dr. Gorman smash him with a perfectly aimed question.” “Violation of the PNC!!!! Violation of the PNC!!!!*” “HA!” :::dancing victoriously and barefoot on the hill outside of Life Cycle:::

[* PNC = The Principle of Non-Contradiction. To violate it is a philosophical mortal sin, along with begging the question and infinite regress.]

Also in September, Kenny and I went on a splendid hiking trip with Fr. Mark, our fairly new associate pastor, in the Blue Ridge Mountains along Skyline Drive. We stayed overnight at my grandparents’ Farm and got started really early in the morning. After a delightful hike filled with several games of “In my Grandma’s Suitcase…”, the rosary, plenty of chat and serious discussion, and picnic lunch complete with fig newtons, Fr. Mark drove us back to the Farm in his *sweet* Scion and headed back to St. Mary’s himself.

We celebrated Mr. Dr. Brewer’s 50th birthday in October. I planned a Halloween-themed (his favorite holiday) surprise party that was well-attended by the faculty (thank you!) and students and I think much enjoyed by all. Dr. Brewer was so surprised! Erin devised the brilliant gift idea of a scrapbook, and we each designed a page to include in the book. I think he was quite touched.

The Fall semester also saw my father’s stint as a lawyer at the White House, which means plenty of awesome tours! Daddy was generous enough to allow me to bring friends through: The Brewer family, Danny, Dr. White, Rob, Donny, Paul and Brandon, Fr. Baer, Kevin Kimtis, Alys and Catherine, and Fr. Mark. Those were memories to last a lifetime: the Brewer boys giving me a whole new perspective on the West Wing (a mischeivous and exciting one!), petting Barney the President’s terrier, Rob finding out that I read books about clocks for fun, throwing shoes from the top floor of the spiral staircase in the OEOB, and getting teased by Fr. Mark for my interest in “the most attractive world leader”, Tony Blair.

I spent so much time in the chemistry building during the Fall semester that I think I have to mention Friday afternoons in Maloney. They are so cozy! If Mr. Dr. Brewer is doing research, Mrs. Dr. Brewer is making popcorn, and Dr. Kovach is grading biochemistry tests, all is right in the world. J One day I came around a corner in the hallway just as Mrs. Brewer was kindly telling Dr. Kovach and Dr. Knazev about how “Genna used to have horrible teeth but they straightened themselves out”. I was immediately stopped and a demonstration of my smile was demanded. A tad awkward, I must admit!

The monthly philosophy potluck dinners, my favorite Philosophy Club activity, were a big hit. The School of Philosophy faculty was very supportive: Drs. McKay and Zaborowski came once, Msgr. Wippel came several times, and Drs. White and Doolan never missed one. Usually we had between five and eight of my fellow philosophy students in attendance (hey – “there is a twenty-five student attendance cap”!). The one rule that I laid down from the beginning: NO PHILOSOPHY DISCUSSIONS. This rule was violated only twice. First, Dr. Doolan and Msgr. Wippel got into a heated argument over the second argument for the existence of God, and second when Daniela and Dr. White had a heated argument over Gadamer. My brilliant solution to breaking up such arguments: “Dessert, anyone?” (Some of Kevin’s *delicious* goodies!)

The rest of my memories from this semester are moments rather than general events. There are six of them:

The first came during Mommy, Kenny and I’s visit to Philadelphia to see Steven at St. Charles Borromeo during Family Weekend. Kenny and I were standing around in the foyer waiting for Steven to come get us and give us a tour of the seminary. A little bored, I started taking photos of the big marble statue of St. Charles. A minute or so later, a familiar voice behind me asked if I liked the décor. I turned around (and I supposed I cried out in delight) and saw Steven there looking inspiring in his cassock. It was the first time I’d seen him since he entered. After a big hug, Steven gave us a beautiful tour and we went out to dinner with him and his entire family nearby.

My second memory is of feeling my spirits soar as I closed my eyes, sitting in the upper balcony of the gorgeous Meyerhoff, listening to the BSO play Mozart’s Requiem Mass. The Requiem is my favorite piece of music by my favorite composer, and listening to it live was one of the top five things on my list of fifty that I wanted to do before I die. It was wonderful; I just so happened to hear on the Baltimore Classical Radio Station that the Requiem was going to play at the Meyerhoff, and I called immediately to see if there were any student tickets left. Thank God there were!

The third was meeting Fr. Mark and his friends for lunch. So much philosophy humor (especially Thomist humor) was thrown around I was kept in stitches the entire time. Afterwards, I gave Father a tour of Maloney. I am thankful for such supportive friends who are interested in what I am doing.

My fourth memory was very quick – it is being thrown into a leaf pile (a rather *wet* one) by my cousins when I arrived at the Farm for Thanksgiving. Steven offered me a gentle helping hand to pull me out and pull the leaves off of my back and out of my hair. The whole thing is a bit symbolic for me: symbolic of my cousins’ caring and determination to make me loosen up, forget the books, and enjoy myself a little.

The fifth was being taken out for lunch at Colonel Brooks’ Tavern by the Brewers on the very last day of the Fall semester. It was so much fun! The Brewers picked me up and drove me over to the restaurant, we had a delightful and relaxed lunch (with plenty of joking about my now-famous reaction of an”hour-and-a-half of tears” to Dr. Brewer’s infamous Inorganic final exam).

Finally, my sixth memory of the semester was trimming the Christmas tree with Fr. Mark and Kenny at St. Mary’s rectory. We had lots of ornaments and garlands, and carefully organized a definite plan of attack. Of course, first we had to discuss with Fr. Mark whether it was better to (a) decorate in mishmash fashion or (b) coordinate the ornaments. In the end, well, we decided to do a mixture of both. Msgr. Hughes drifted in and out, giving wonderful advice on where to place different pieces.

Anyway, so that was my Fall semester. My deepest gratitude is due to many, but I will save my thanks for the end of my post about the Spring.

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