Wednesday, July 07, 2004
The McCarthy Collection at the University of Illinois Library
While digging through the box where I keep all of our wedding memorabilia, looking for colorful bits I could glue into the new album, I came across my high school stuff, including two letters signed by Lynn Martin (who was my congresswoman at the time, later Sec. of Labor, I think) congratulating me on my various academic successes. Apparently I was awarded the Robert C. Byrd scholarship, something I'd forgotten all about. As I recall, I got the money just in my freshman year, but when I looked it up just now, it should have been renewable for four years. I also found letters from my state representative, who gushed that I shouldn't hesitate to contact him if I ever need anything. I should call him now and freak him out.
My conclusion, after going through my high school and adult-life mementos, is that I have had a pretty dull existence. The things I've saved have a lot of meaning to me personally (although much of it rapidly loses meaning over time - I mean, does it really matter that I placed third in state in precalc at the Illinois Math Competition?) but to anyone else it would just be fairly boring junk. When I'm a famous biologist or writer, and museums and libraries are vying for the chance to keep my collected papers in their archives, they're going to be sadly disappointed when they see what I have for them. We went to the Einstein exhibit at the Field Museum earlier in the year, and saw many of his notes and writings and photos. Did he think his own stuff was dull and worthless, too?
I found the essay I wrote in English 101 at Alma, an essay that was published in the Alma Morning Sun (I wasn't special; all of our essays were published). I had interviewed a former Alma professor and baseball coach, a gentleman who has since passed away. He and his wife were lovely and we had a very enjoyable chat, despite the fact that I was shy and nervous the whole time. Interviewing people is definitely *not* my forte. Anyway, I read the essay and was rather appalled by my trite phrases and run-on sentences. I thought I was a better writer than that, even at 18, and had a strong urge to edit the piece and send it back to the Morning Sun with an apology to Professor Skinner for not doing a better job the first time around.