Letters From An MBI Student – 8/28

Dear Family,

I regret anything I ever, ever said about not wanting to live at home. Every word. I know we didn’t have a lot of room, I know I complained about Babes reading books in the bathroom, I know I had too much stuff and too little space, I know we didn’t have a gorgeous library with more books than I could read in a lifetime…I know. But you know what you have that I don’t?


Here’s a sample scenario: a phone call. A personal one (you know, one of those to y’all in which I cried like a baby and pretended not to be homesick). Here are my options:

  • My room, with a very sweet roommate who does not need to hear me talk about her regardless of the nice things I say.
  • The lounge on my dorm floor, with two hallways and a front row seat for anyone who takes the elevator (which is everyone).
  • The Commons, so even the people who aren’t a student at Moody can find out how terrible the food is here when I forget my inside voice while on the phone.
  • The Plaza, where students from all three dorms, professors from their offices, and strangers walking by can hear and see me pacing erratically and or/dancing while on the phone before I realize what I’m doing.
  • Any stairwell(s), a fabulous place to be alone and allow all nineteen-some floors to hear my sniffles the minute a door is opened.
  • A practice room, so someone who is legitimately good at playing piano can hear talking instead of music. Then he/she can peer in that tiny square of glass and wonder why a non-music major is hogging a needed room.
  • The tunnels, where I can not only get lost, but share personal conversations with the strangers I can’t see around every corner. (Announcing: The CPO. Come get your mail and someone else’s drama!)
  • The only patch of grass on campus. A great place for conversation until they start that game of Ultimate Frisbee you didn’t know was happening.
  • A Chicago street, so I can forget where I’m going while talking and get side-eyed by the rest of the world who can then talk about me in a language I don’t understand. This option comes with bonus points for getting completely lost after my phone dies (something that Mr. Safety Officer told us is A Very Bad Thing).
  • The Library, which, haha, nope.

I would like a soundproof room to myself with a lock so no one can come in. It’ll need an electrical outlet for my phone and computer, of course. And preferably a kitchen, so I don’t have to leave when I get starved. And a sofa. Or just a bed. Plus a window to see stuff. And a bathroom, probably. And…snap. I just want an apartment to myself, I guess. Which won’t happen for four years, which is a terrifying, tragic, traumatic thing.

Excuse me while I go try to find someplace I can cry. It may or may not involve pretending to take a shower. Or just hanging a “no admittance” sign on my bathroom. Or coming home.

Maybe missing you (or maybe just my privacy),



Letters From An MBI Student – 8/27

Dear Family,

I didn’t find the armchair, but I found the next best thing, I think. They have two quiet places here on campus.

The first room is a place called “The Fireplace Room”. If silence were sterile, then The Fireplace Room would be the operating theater. But you know when you’re at a concert and it’s the end of the song and everyone is holding their breath to hear that last, lingering note of music before the applause starts? Now imagine sneezing, super loud and super high and super inappropriately and completely ruining the moment. That’s what every sound is like in The Fireplace Room. I feel guilty the minute I walk in, regretting every key chain and zipper pull that I didn’t notice on my backpack until now. Do I unzip it quietly, inch by inch? Or tear it off like a band-aid? When I pull out my computer and start typing, it sounds like a herd of wildebeest is suddenly stampeding across the room. I’m starting up a jackhammer every time I click my pen. Scratching my head must be nails on the chalkboard, because the guy on the couch across the room glared at me like we were going to start World War III right there in front of the fireplace.

So then I found the library. It’s four times bigger than my house, and it’s like quiet time but with books. So you can squirm and wish you were someplace else and feel guilty and all that, but you can get stuff done. Which is the important part. Unfortunately they’ve got one place with desks and a skylight, so I spend most of my time staring up at what I think may be the only patch of blue sky in Chicago.

But every once in a while I’m doing homework. So that’s good. And I may have figured out this whole syllabus thing. I’m down to only reading them twice a day, and that keeps my brain quiet and my panic satiated.

But please still send coffee. I can drink it here in the library and no one will look at me like I’m flushing a toilet.

Maybe missing you,


Letters From An MBI Student – 8/25

Dear Family,

I survived. It’s been two days of classes and I haven’t died, dropped out, lost my brain, or scaled the walls yet. But I think I may be ready to come home.

The professors are all nice, but the last 48 hours are blurrier than the world at 2 A.M. So right now they’re all named Profe, they all have three kids, they all have eight degrees, and none of them accept late work.

I hear the students talk about something called “Syllabus Shock” which I don’t understand. Does that have anything to do with reading every syllabus at least five times and still not understanding it? Or the fact that I’ve run out of highlighters to categorize the assignments and I went through three pens trying to get it all written in my planner? And said planning took longer to do than the homework assigned? And my brain still panics every time I lift the page of one of those things?

It’s a lot of reading. A LOT of reading. Pages and pages and I’m sure I’ll read all this stuff better at home, right? I haven’t found the MBI-equivalent of that nice red armchair we have, so I have a good excuse. Poor studying environment, or something clinical like that.

Except I have class again tomorrow and I don’t have time to come home. I have to go read 25 more pages and pretend that I understand it. Please send coffee.

Maybe missing you,

And that armchair,


Letters From An MBI Student – 8/23

Dear Family,

I survived Chorale Retreat! There was no “Kumbaya”, but we did have a campfire, so I was halfway right. I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to say about the retreat, because some of it is…secret? Sacred? Special? I can’t say much, so here are only a few things:

  1. Those people are seriously weird. Ask me about baby food in five years when I can’t get kicked out of Chorale for telling you.
  2. They’re crazy good singers. Except when they’re not? They can go way off pitch sometimes, but they’re super enthusiastic about it, so it sort of makes up for it.
  3. They really care about the newbies. Like me. Which I initially chalked up to weirdness but really need to attribute to Christ. It’s cool.

So that’s all I can say about Chorale. My lips are sealed, except when I’m singing and gasping for air.

On our way back I got to see Lakeshore Drive for the first time. It’s a little less spectacular when seen from a school bus when you really, really, really need to pee, but it was pretty, I think. I’m really not sure; I think the only thing I cared about at that point was how often we braked or went over a bump in the road.

Tonight is “Vespers.” Before you ask, I have no clue what it is. All I know is that I’ll see those crazy Chorale people again, and I think that’s going to be okay. They may be strange, but isn’t that what they call all Christians? We’re too strange for this world (I’m paraphrasing).

Hope you still love me even when I get weirder, because I think this Chorale thing is contagious. You’ll have to let me know when I see you again.

Maybe missing you,


Letters From An MBI Student – 8/21

Dear Family,

Okay, I lied. There are too many people. They just keep showing up, and my brain has decided it has a capacity for about twenty names, let alone any majors. This girl I had already met sat down next to me and said “Hi, twin!” I did that apologetic grin I’m perfecting and asked her what her name was. It’s the same as mine. Oops. Does this mean I’m going to start forgetting my own name now? Possibly.

I auditioned for Chorale today. It was terrible. Except the existing members were friendly and willing to run through the audition hymn beforehand. And the chorale director was really enthusiastic and gave criticism without making us cry. And I auditioned with people just as nervous as I was. And I think I stayed (mostly) on key. And…okay, so maybe it wasn’t terrible? I guess not, because I got in. I have no idea what I’ve gotten myself into. Does this make me a music geek? Don’t answer that, please.

We leave for a retreat tomorrow. What is that? I think I’m more nervous about that than the audtion. We’re probably going to hold hands around a ceremonial fire and sing “Kumbaya” in perfect pitch. I’m in trouble; I don’t even know “Kumbaya!”

Retreat means I can’t come home for chocolate this weekend. Is that okay? I don’t have a CPO box (they call it SEE-POE and someone said it’s the loneliest place on campus) but you can send it to me when I get it. Maybe then I’ll have some consolation gift to give after forgetting the name of everyone on my dorm floor (again).

Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten your names. How hard can it be to remember “Mom” and “Dad”?

Maybe missing you,


Letters From An MBI Student – 8/20

Dear Family,

I arrived! But you know that. You know that because you stared at all the stuff I loaded in the van and asked me if I’d told my roommate that I was bringing so much. You also stared when we found out that we needed to take two cars. Yes, Mom, I know I can come back and pick up things I’ve forgotten, but I want to pretend that I don’t have that option. This is a grand adventure and I don’t need my family anymore, remember?

Although, while I’m writing, I should make sure to thank you for all that help. I forgot how much I hate putting sheets on a bunkbed. Thank you for not laughing when I banged my head on the light. Or the door. Or the dresser. You’ll be pleased to know that I only did it twice this morning. Progress, Mom.

Thanks for the food, too. I don’t even care that not giving me any chocolate was your way of making sure I come home to visit. I put the food on my bookshelf, because who needs books? I made coffee this morning, too. It was a little bitter, but maybe that’s because it was before 7 A.M. and my brain wasn’t ready read the directions. When the directions say “two scoops”, it’s not a big deal that I did a “rounded scoops”, is it? I also may have forgotten to count.

The campus is tiny, but there aren’t many people, so that’s cool. I’m off for my freshman orientation class so I can meet everyone else who I hope is as terrified as I am. Actually, I’m not sure if I hope that. Is it better to meet someone like you to make you feel better, or meet someone more confident who can…possibly make you feel very, very foolish. Never mind, I don’t think I want to meet anyone.

Except I’ve had a whole pot of astonishingly strong coffee and I am definitely not falling asleep. Wish me luck. I think I’ll come home next weekend to get that chocolate.

Maybe missing you,