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Posts Tagged ‘Stanford University’

This week has been interesting, to say the least. It has left me unsettled in a number of angles. Let me tell you about it.

First, you may remember that I have had a number of falls. In the last eight weeks, I have fallen four times and have had five or six near falls where I either am able to grab onto something and not fallen all of the way or someone has been nearby and has caught me. That’s a lot of falls. I had my doctor’s appointment last week and she set me up with an eye doctor. Her feeling was that I might have a vision problem that was making me lose my balance. I kind of thought she was crazy. I thought it was my medication, but I did go to the specialist. Well, it seems my primary care physican was right. I have developed “significant” cataracts in both eyes and they are obscuring my vision. I need to have them removed surgically, sooner than later. Additionally, I have diabetic hemoraging in my eyes, which we expected. But the kicker is that they also found a cyst in my right retna. It appears to be rather significant and it needs to be addressed immediately. The most likely treatment will be surgical removal. Yay. Not. I go to the retna specialist on the 16th. Wish me luck! I’m really kind of unnerved by this because the cataracts were very minor in October when I last had my eyes dilated and examined. Now they are significant. And the October exam didn’t find the cyst. So I think it is progressing, or rather growing, quite quickly. And that explains why I have been having so much trouble reading. I have over 18,000 unread emails in my inbox because I can’t read more than one or two before I have to stop. So if you’ve sent me an email in the last six months, it’s probably still unread!

Then, on Thursday my niece posted a link to an article on Facebook that caught my eye. She said something like “it’s weird to think we’ve been living next to a murderer all these years!” Yup. It caught my eye and I read the article. It was about a murder suspect that shot and killed himself as sheriff’s were knocking on his door to serve a warrant. I think that pretty much confirms he was guilty of that murder. Then I read on and was shocked by the murder. It was a cold case that I was sort of involved in back in October of 1974, when I was a freshman at Stanford University. It was a brutal murder. A very shocking murder and I was outside the Church when it happened. I’ve written about it before and about how I have had nightmares since that murder. For the last forty-four years I’ve had a nightmare that I was in the Church alone and the killer was coming after me and I couldn’t get out as I was locked inside with him. They are terrifying nightmares that have me wake up breathless and with my heart pounding. So I’m still sort of unsettled about that. And the coincidence that he would end up living right next door to my niece! What are the odds?!

On the good side, my daughter leant me her laptop charger that works with mine. Mine has been lost for months so I haven’t been able to use my laptop. I’ve been using my phone for reading and for writing so it has been very difficult. Her laptop isn’t working so she said I could keep the charger untill she gets the laptop fixed, which might be never. Yay for me. Boo for her. In any case, it will make it easier to read and write and, hopefully, I will be able to really get back to blogging. However, please forgive typos as I can’t see them easily so I can’t correct them and this Chromebook doesn’t seem to catch them with spell check. Oh well!

So here’s to the end of my nightmares, to a positive outcome with the cataracts and the cyst, and to more blogging. Yay!

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The other day, while reading this blog post, I was reminded of a similarly creepy instance with my daughter some years ago.

I was taking my three kids on a tour of my alma mater. They were enjoying the tour and seeing the places they had heard about. As we approached Memorial Church, I told them about the mosaics both outside and inside of the church and about the beautiful organ inside. My son and youngest daughter entered the building but my middle child, Tina, held back. Her face grew pale and she started to hyperventilate. I asked what was wrong and she said, “I can’t go in there. I have a feeling something really bad happened in there. I can’t go in.” She paused then added, “I think someone was killed in there. Was someone killed in there, mom? I’m right. I can tell by your face.” I guess my face had gone equally pale to hers. I answered her, “You’re right. I’ll tell you about it later.” I stayed out with her while Tony and Susie went inside.

I had not told my kids about it. I had not spoken of the events of 1974 since they had happened, certainly not in my daughter’s lifetime. But yes, she was right. It is still difficult to talk about and I will only give you the outline here as it still haunts me, and at times through the past forty plus years I have been visited by nightmares of that night and what could have been.

It was my freshman year, the second Saturday night of the school year, with lots of parties going on as people got to know each other in the dorms. I had left the party at my dorm to walk around campus with one of the boys from a neighboring dorm who had been showing some interest in me. We walked all over and about midnight, we found ourselves in the Inner Quad. He had been a little too aggressive for my likes so I distracted him by saying we should go into the church. We walked to the church and tried the door but it was locked. We tried the other doors. No luck, but we did hear some noises  from inside and expected to have someone come open the door from the inside but no one did so we left. Behind the church, he  got very pushy and we got in a fight and I walked back to the dorm alone. The next day I went home to do laundry (my parents lived a half hour away from campus) and heard on the news about a brutal murder inside of Memorial Church; a murder of a young woman who was the new bride of a sophomore student. They had gotten in an argument and she had left to cool off, ending up in Memorial Church where she was murdered then her body violated and left near the altar. When security went to unlock the church the next morning, they found one of the doors to be unlocked then found the body.

When I got back to the dorm on Sunday evening, the police had been there and had left instructions for me to call them back. Their extensive questioning had come across my name and that of the boy I had been with the previous night as people that had been unaccounted for during the probably time of the murder. I spoke to them by phone and they basically wanted me to verify my companion’s statement. I was able to do that as well as give them some more information that he had left out, including the noises from inside the church and the time and a person sleeping on a bench in the quad near the church. I guess I had been a little more observant than he had. The police said that the noises we had heard inside the church the previous night were “the right noises” and that the killer(s) was (were) probably still in there when we were trying to get in.

And to think I had also walked back to the dorm alone after getting in a fight with the guy I was out walking with. I found it ironic that the Arlis Perry  fought with her husband and walked to the church and never left alive. I got in an argument with my companion and left the church alone and lived to tell. Arlis was 19 and just a few months older than I.

So yes, something horrible did happen inside of the most beautiful church I have ever been inside of. And I had been on the other side of the door. But I had never told my kids, or anyone else since it happened in 1974, yet she picked up on the negative vibes of the place and the still unsolved murder of Arlis Perry. It really freaked me out that my daughter, had picked up on that twenty years later.

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I know I posted doors from Stanford University last week so I hesitate to post more doors from the same place but these are beautiful doors and completely different from last week’s. These doors lead into Memorial Church (lovingly called Mem Chu) on the Stanford campus and are made of bronze.  There are three sets of exterior doors (and three of interior doors) at the front of the church.  The three sets are almost identical, except that the middle (main) entrance is wider than the other two sets.  It is a non-denominational church and always has been.  In fact, it was the first non-denominational church on the west coast when it was first dedicated in 1903.  I plan on doing an entire post on the church itself so I won’t go into much more detail.  You can read about it here and here.

One of the two main doors (double doors) that lead into the church.  They open outward and only one is ever open (or at least that I can remember over the past 40 years).

One of the two main doors (double doors) that lead into the church. They open outward and only one is ever open (or at least that I can remember over the past 40 years).

The set of double doors to the left of the middle/main doors.  This is what the middle ones would look like if they were closed.

The set of double doors to the left of the middle/main doors. This is what the middle ones would look like if they were closed.

And from the inside looking out.

And from the inside looking out.

And a peek at the exterior of Memorial Church.

And a peek at the exterior of Memorial Church on a crazy crowded day last week.

For more door photos, go over to Norm 2.0 for Thursday Doors, a weekly feature and blog hop.  His post today is here.

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Note: For part one, click here.

…My escape route emerged like an early Christmas present.

I was always getting called to the office for Student Body business or some club function.  At times, when the office staff was short-handed, I would be called in to help run the switchboard, which I had done since my sophomore year.  One day, about two weeks after the Junior Miss Pageant,   I was called in to see Mr. Cordova in the office.  It didn’t seem like a big deal to me so I went to the front office to see the Assistant Principal in charge of Student Affairs, which in my case meant my Student Body job.   I liked Manny Cordova.  He was one of my “pals” at school, although I didn’t know him as well as I knew some of the other administrators and teachers with whom I had positive relationships.  Manny Cordova’s  office door was always open and he always said the kindest and most appropriate things to me.  He was the only Latino administrator at the school and as such, he was often the only one who understood me and my family and the cultural aspects surrounding us.

I walked into the outer office and Mr. Cordova stood there with five or six other students, all Juniors.  I was the last one there and they were waiting for me.  He told us all, “I know this is short notice but I have a couple of recruiters from Stanford University in my office.  They want to talk to our best students and you’re it.  They’ll talk to you all together then to each of you separately.  I’ve already given them your transcripts so just go in and listen and ask questions.”

The others started to walk into his office but I hung back waiting to talk to Mr. Cordova.  “Mr. C, I’m a Senior.  This is a waste of time.  It’s too late for me to apply.  Besides, they only want really smart people there and it’s too expensive.  My family doesn’t have the money for Stanford.  I don’t want to talk to them.”

“Go listen to them.  Please.  As a favor to me.  It’s not too late.  The deadline is January 5.  That gives you the Christmas break to fill out the application.  Your counselor and I will help you, even over the break.  And as for money, haven’t you ever heard of scholarships?”

I shook my head.  I didn’t want to waste my time.  Mr. Cordova persisted. I couldn’t believe it.  He was usually so easy going but now he was actually kind of strong arming me!  “Come on.  I’ll make a deal with you.  I know you don’t like P.E.  If you go in and talk to the recruiters, I’ll give you a pass so you can get out of P.E. for the rest of the week.  Deal?  That’s three days of no P.E.  Okay?”

“Okay.  You’ve got a deal!  I’ll go in but I’m telling you, it’s a waste of time.”

Within half an hour, the recruiters, who were both current Stanford students, had called the Admissions Office at Stanford and the January 5th deadline to turn in the admissions application had been extended to February 15th and the fifty dollar application fee had been waived.  I still wasn’t sure it was worth my time and effort but I did take the application packet home.  I did not really intend to apply but I had promised Mr. Cordova that I would take it home and look it over. That evening my mother saw the application materials on my bed with all of my books and homework.  She asked me what I had to do to apply and if it cost any money to apply.  I answered her questions.  She said she wanted me to apply.  In fact, she said, I had to apply.  She wanted me to have the opportunity to go to Stanford.  We lived in San Jose, a half hour away from Stanford and we had often driven on to the campus in the past, admiring the buildings and the beauty of the school site.  My mother said she had always dreamed of one of her children going to Stanford.  If I got in, we would somehow find a way for me to go.  Even if she had to sell the house, she would find a way for me to go.  She made me promise to fill it out.

My escape path pursued me and in April of 1974, I got the two most important pieces of mail.  One, the welcome to the Stanford Class of 1978 and the second telling me I had been awarded a full scholarship that would cover 100% of the tuition for my four years.

And escape I did.

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arturo islas Arturo Islas, click on photo to get to Arturo Islas Page

“Every one of you has inside of you the power to catch fire.Right now, with your writing, you are simmering.But at some point in your life, at least one time, you will catch fire.My hope is that you will do it some time during this course.”

We listened to his hushed, gentle, captivating voice as he spoke to us, becoming almost inaudible, when he spoke the phrase “catch fire.”We had been brought together on that hot day in late September of 1975, in the basement of Casa Zapata, the Chicano theme house, to take a course in Chicano Writing from Arturo Islas, the first Chicano in the United States to earn a Ph.D. in English and who would, later that year, become the first tenured Chicano professor at Stanford University.

Arturo’s teaching in the English Department was legendary and his Chicano Writing course was so popular that students dreamed of getting in then feared that they’d fall short of Arturo’s expectations once they got in.The class, taught only one quarter per year, had a maximum enrollment of ten students. (more…)

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