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Volume 3, Issue 4                                    University of Houston

Ignoring things don't necessarily make them go away

Margaret Mitchell

Last weekend, my son and I went to a birthday party attended by 10-year-old boys. Fun.

It's interesting being around other kids and seeing the differences in not only the kids themselves, but the way each has been raised. In the particular part of East Texas where the party was held, there is a tremendous focus on material things. It's amazing, but horrifying, to meet kids with their own DVD players and cellular phones. These kids aren't in college or high school -- they're in elementary school.

My son has gotten many compliments over the years because of his sophistication, and I'm convinced a lot of that is the result of the traveling we do. We travel quite a bit to lots of different places, and as anyone who travels knows, we have to learn to expect the unexpected: delays, lost luggage, different ways of dealing with things, different food, different dialects and languages, etc. You learn to deal with whoever and whatever is thrown at you.

But most importantly, you learn that the world is indeed larger than what exists on your own street, neighborhood or town, or even what you watch on television. In life, you learn by doing, not by being handed everything you think you want. Ah, the philosophical side is just the thing to try to take my mind off the flip side of a vacation.

To me, the most eagerly anticipated part of any trip is walking in the door to scope out the house and see if anything has been stolen. I like breathing a sigh of relief when I find that everything is still exactly where I left it. Not only is the TV exactly where it was when I left, so are all of the unfinished projects. This year, I did myself a favor and hid the piles so at least I wouldn't see them the second I walked in -- later, later, later.

But there is new stuff in addition to the old stuff that still needs to be done. Laundry, for example. It never ceases to amaze me how large the stacks of laundry are. I look at the stack of dirty clothes and wonder how all of that stuff fit into the suitcase it just came out of.

Actually, I'd rather deal with laundry than with the mound of paper that has been accumulating since the day I left. There is always so much mail, and most of it is either junk or people wanting more money from me (after I've just spent all I had).

More distressing to me than the mail is the stack of newspapers and magazines I keep stepping on because the pile got so big it collapsed. I am one of these people who feels guilty about receiving reading material but not reading it. I just don't feel like I can get rid of it without at least looking at it, but I don't have time to look at it now or in the near future, so I guess I'll just put it in a box and shove it in a corner.

I'll get around to it sometime. Right now, I have more important things to do. Like labeling photos.

Several years ago, I made the decision to label each and every photograph I take, noting the date and place and who is in each photo. I am one of those poor souls with piles of old black and white photographs of people I don't know. Are they relatives? Friends of relatives?

There are no identifying marks on most of these photos, and I can't throw them away, because what if one is of my great-great-great-great grandma? Unfortunately, anyone who would have any clue about who these people are isn't alive. So at least when I die, all the information will be there on my photos, and nobody after me will have to go through what I've been through. 

So the party's over. Gone is the snow, the skiing, the jacuzzis, the Olympic bobsled ride, the ribs from Tony Roma's, the homemade eggnog and, most important, the maid service. In a few days, I'll be back to the old schedule of classes, reading and exams. One nice thing about this is that I am finally a senior -- there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I just pray to God that it's not a train.

Mitchell, a senior political science major, can be reached at

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