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APOV

True North

Mar. 22, 2012—I am a lucky girl. With the minor exception of once wishing I looked like Julie Christie, I have never wanted to be anyone but me. The best part is that I know why I am this way: I was raised by my Granny Jo. In 1966, when my own mother was finally declared “mentally...

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Wayfarer on a Dusty Road

Sep. 6, 2011—Looking back, I wonder whether we should have been in class that morning. It was just before lunch, and I had already missed a few that semester—classes, never lunch—as, unfortunately, my first midterm grades attested. From our residence in Dyer Hall, the path to food at Sarratt took me and my friend Gaines right by...

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How to Fake a Book Report

Apr. 15, 2011—Mrs. Quarles was about the best teacher there was in East Tennessee—patient and demanding while teaching us how to take apart sentences and examine their symmetries, which I really did enjoy doing. She was a tough lady, but I knew she loved me, and she knew I loved her class. We all did. And she...

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Of Time and the Clock Tower

Dec. 6, 2010—“I’d really like to go up into the Kirkland clock tower,” I said. It was last November, and I was having brunch with Charlie Taylor, a director of regional gifts in Vanderbilt’s Division of Development and Alumni Relations, in sunny southern California, where I live. Charlie makes periodic visits to the West Coast to touch...

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How I Played the Game

Aug. 22, 2010—My Vanderbilt University education has been such a blessing to me for four decades that I’ve never really been able to put it into words. But I had lots of opportunities to reflect about it last October when my wife, Carla, and I attended my 40-year reunion. It was a great weekend on campus, except...

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A Wrinkle in Time

Apr. 7, 2010—We were going to be late for supper. That thought was uppermost in my mind as I prodded the members of my group to conclude their purchases in the One Stop Market, a grocery store in Port-au-Prince, so we could arrive at our nearby guesthouse in time for the evening meal. It was a Tuesday...

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See You at Kilimanjaro

Nov. 23, 2009—Dear Allison, It’s been a few weeks since we last wrote, and now we really have no need for letters. You are the ever-present friend. I am here in Slidell, La., at your old church with your family and friends, doing what I feared most after hearing the news that Thursday morning: giving a eulogy...

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Against All Odds

Aug. 5, 2009—“Welcome to Germany. Just three weeks until you’ll be in Bosnia,” I was told by my battalion’s personnel sergeant upon my 1993 arrival in Frankfurt. I never imagined then how my longing to experience the adventures of transformational Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) would lead me through the dense complexities of nation building and the...

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Green Planet Blues

Mar. 16, 2009—  “Gripes, kudos, inspired ideas for future stories? Put ’em here,” read the Vanderbilt Magazine voluntary subscription card I received in the mail last year. Having long fancied myself an enlightened environmentalist with a throbbing social consciousness, I wondered whether the Vanderbilt I attended had evolved along with me. At my Vandy, which wasn’t even...

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Dirty Dozen

Oct. 31, 2008—“You must be Catholic.” It’s the most common reaction I hear when someone finds out I’m the youngest of 12 children. (And they’re right—we’re Catholic, raised by the Sisters of Mercy.) The next most common reactions: “Your parents did know what causes pregnancy, didn’t they?” (I guess so—but, really, I try not to dwell on...

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Mortar Fire and Ice Cream

Jul. 13, 2008—COURTESY OF MICHAEL WOODARD. When the Black Hawk helicopter I was flying landed at the American base near Al Qayyarah in early October 2005, ending my role in Operation Iraqi Freedom, it came as welcome relief from the maddening pace of the previous 12 months. Naively, I had believed that this deployment would have little...

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Lord of the Pointy Ears

Mar. 12, 2008—Outfitters to Wookiees and Warlocks: Paul Bielaczyc, BS’02, MS’04 (standing), and his brother, Michael, only use their special powers for good, helping solve the age-old problem of what to wear to your next Renaissance festival or science fiction convention. The brothers create ogre masks, elf ears, faun pants, fangs, wounds, swords and more. Photo by...

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