Attending Kentucky Christian College is one of my deepest regrets. I wish I could go back in time and convince myself that it would not be fun, that I would not learn what I needed to know, and that I would not find my wife there, but I did go. I went there straight out of high school. The year was 1998 and I was a fool. I didn’t know anything, but I thought I knew everything. This is a story about my two years at KCC.
It all started back in Franklin, or more specifically, Trafalgar, where we went to church. Our youth minister, Jeff Wise, graduated from KCC and invited us to attend Summer in the Son. It was fun. Really fun. We rocked out to Matthew Sweet, Prayer Chain, and Poor Old Lu in the church van, hung out with girls our age, and attended concerts at night. In the dorm rooms we’d wrestle to Starflyer 59, drink Ale 8 One, and make prank calls. In short, it was awesome.
When it came time for us to decide what college to attend I considered Indiana University and it’s Computer Science program. I visited the campus and even looked at starting an arcade to make money while I went to school there. But I also visited KCC specifically to review it as a college I might want to go to. I remember Eric Pangburn urging me not to attend. He specifically said, “Don’t come here. It’s terrible,” but I didn’t listen. I decided that I should take out a loan and go.
Within the first week we were literally told, “This is not Summer in the Son.” That should have been our first clue that things weren’t going to be as fun as we thought they were going to be. Of course, the point of college is not to have fun, but it’s also not to “not have fun”. I fully understand college’s role in helping a young person turn into an adult, learn to manage a schedule, deal with more responsibilities gradually, and ultimately prove themselves with a degree, but fun is one of them.
I remember the first week we were there when it was already obvious who would be hanging out with who. The good looking people formed the “populars”, the soccer players formed their group, the basketball players formed their group, and that left the rest of us. There were the people in bands, the people who played video games, and the people who played guitar. This was before a time when everyone had cell phones and very few people had a computer in their room. A Playstation was high tech.
We were the ones who played video games, guitar, and had a computer in our room. However, there was only dial-up Internet access at that time and you had to pay extra for dial up so the computers in our rooms were only used for word processing. My computer was a 486 that ran Windows 3.1. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it was 1998 and Windows 95 had only been out for 3 years at that point. When we needed to print something or get on the Internet we’d have to go to the computer lab.
I was dating a girl named Jessica at the time, but she was still a senior in high school. She was the first girl I ever kissed, 2 years earlier, while riding The Beast at King’s Island. She had a big impact on my life right up until I started dating my current wife. I learned a lot about her during my freshman year at KCC. We’d talk on the phone (via a landline) and I’d have to pay long-distance phone charges so we’d also write letters as she didn’t have email at the time.
I spent most of my time hanging out with Derek Eads and Brian Reid. Brian and his wife died in 2008. We’d make movies together for fun. I was the only person on campus with a video camera so people would often look at me with suspicion and there were many stories as to why I was doing what I was doing and what I was filming. I once heard that I spent 8 hours in the bushes recording people coming and going, which I found interesting. It wasn’t even that good of a story.
There was a hill behind campus filled with dead bodies. Above the graveyard was a point overlooking the Interstate that ran alongside the campus. Slightly below that in the wooded area of the hill I formed a fort. I’d go there after class to get away and have a spot of my own. I even went and bought a shovel and some flower seeds so I could plant a garden. I always wondered what the flowers looked like during the summer while I was gone and I picture the whole hillside covered with flowers today.
The first summer I worked at Michiana Christian Summer Camp in Niles, Michigan as a maintenance man. I gave my friend, Vineet a ride back in my white, Chevy Caprice Classic. The air conditioning wasn’t working well, but I didn’t think anything of it. By the end of the summer, the car caught on fire on my way to Brian Reid’s house to visit, my car got towed and impounded, and I paid $80 for a cab ride to Brian’s house. It took another $80 to get my car out of the impound lot, but I’m glad I went.
I’m not sure why I decided to go back to KCC my second year. I was in a band and there was that, but when Derek mentioned he didn’t want to go back, I convinced him to go and for that I am sorry. The school made it clear that they didn’t want us back. Despite telling them we were coming back and paying to come back, they had removed Derek and I from the school’s registrar (along with Eric Pangburn) and so we had to wait hours in line to get re-enrolled in the school. Oh and we had no dorm room.
By this time Jessica had both broken up with, started attending my school, and dating my best friend. In the meantime, a girl named Sarah started showing interest in me and we started hanging out. Her dad worked as the school’s accountant and so her family lived in town. I’d go over to her house and enjoyed hanging out with her family. She had many brothers and sisters and there was always someone there – except when their wasn’t. I remember watching The Saint with her one day, but I didn’t get it.
I didn’t understand that when a girl chooses to spend time exclusively with you that she may like you more than you realize. Maybe I was clouded by the fact that her ex-boyfriend still hung around or that we never kissed, but I should have been tipped off when she gave me a mix-tape and a card before I left for Fall break that year. Despite those early warning signs, I went home, kissed someone else, and happily reported to her about it when I got back. She promptly told me we were over, but for me it had never began.
There were other girls at KCC I both liked and hung out with, but they always (not a metaphor) had boyfriends back home. Jenny was from Michigan near Niles. She never came back after her first year, but I visited her once over the summer. Nikki was from Lexington, Kentucky. I visited her in the summer of 2000 with Ben. Her boyfriend and her dad were both in Amway. I bought her an engagement ring, but Anya, who I also liked and who was from Ukraine convinced me not to ask her to marry me. I didn’t.
We had chapel every Tuesday and Thursday and most people also went to church on Sundays in town. One day I went out looking for something and stopped at the local radio station for directions. That’s when I met Jim Phillips, who worked at the radio station. He lived on Jim Phillips Blvd and went to First Church of Christ. When the school refused to give our band a spot to practice, Jim helped Shog get a practice location in the basement. He was the a good friend those two years I was on campus at KCC.
I didn’t always go to class, but when I did it wasn’t really worth it, with a few exceptions. I learned the value of a calendar to free your use of time. This was pre-GTD and it was my first introduction into time management. I learned that just because you teach at a Christian college, doesn’t mean that you’re a Christian. I learned that I liked literature (movies and writing mostly) and disliked accounting. It was a good thing I was a business major, right? Hence my exit.
I remember doing a Shog show in the last semester of my last year at KCC. We were playing in the parking lot outside of the cafeteria during dinner. The sun was setting and I was singing, “We all want to be free to choose our destiny. I want to get out of this place,” which are lyrics from one of our last and best songs, Thirty-Six Cents. I knew at that moment that I wouldn’t be back and things would never be the same. Derek an our bass player left for Ball State, I went to Milligan College, and the guitar players went home.
There were two state parks near Grayson, Kentucky where the college was located. Each had a lake. Most of the time we’d go out to Grayson Lake, which had several rock outcroppings that made for great cliff jumping. One was called “Sex Rock”. I took Anya there one day and we had a sort of picnic without the food. It was early in the spring and the sun was shining, but not enough to give you a tan. We sat alone and I was alone. She was not mine to have. She was my friend and I liked her.
One night in December our first year, Jessica and her friend, Jodi, came down to KCC to visit. They knew they were both going to go to KCC the next year so it was more just to get a taste of what it was like to go to KCC rather than make a decision whether or not to go (don’t go!). We all ended up going out to Grayson lake. We sang, “Lean on Me” in the car and swang on the swings in the playground. I remember it was unusually warm for a December night. It was fun – one of the few times.
After Just One Week at KCC
It seems, its always the crazy times you find, you’ll wake up and realize it takes, more than your saline eyes to make things right. -“Crazy Times” by Jars of Clay
It started off pretty good – college that is. This implies that my week went downhill from there. Not necessarily, but it did get worse from time to time. Let me explain.
The first day was great. I woke up at 5:00 AM in Franklin, Indiana and was on campus in Grayson, Kentucky by 11:30 AM after only a 45 minute traffic holdup in Louisville. I ate lunch and boy was it good (a hint of what was to come). After that I moved in, but did not get unpacked and registered. I heard from my mom that registration was very nice compared to hers at Central Missouri State University. I wouldn’t know. That was my first.
You know the drill. I fixed my room and got scared of the upperclassmen who moved in shortly after us. Although once I realized they were mostly all nice people with a freshman disposition, I was less stressed out. Speaking of stress, classes were about to start.
My first class was Activity 1, which equals gym class. We went over the syllabus then got out a half-hour early. I’m thinking, “If all my classes are like this, then college going to be great!” My hopes were dashed when I got to Composition 101 and the professor informed us of the many papers we would be doing that semester.
The next set of classes was not different. They all went over their various syllabi and none actually started class except for History of Civilization. This put that class on my bad side and so far it hasn’t redeemed itself.
Life in Grayson is great I’m sure, but I don’t know how to squeeze the fun out of it yet so I spend a lot of time in the McKenzie Student Life Center. I checked my Internet email account that I couldn’t check until September 1st, I played wallyball, and I even got to play pool.
All in all college has been good. The food is good, the people are good, but the homework is not. Hopefully College 101 can help me better adapt to doing the work associated with college. Thank you KCC. -Erich Stauffer, September, 1998