By Randy Thoms
CALM BEFORE THE STORM
In the beginning, long ago, I wanted to be an Astronomer, Aerospace engineer or Architect. All the big “A” careers it seems, yet I found myself studying Secondary Education. Then the plan was to be a teacher for 9-months out of the year and pursue “architecture” by renovating houses the other 3-months of the year. After graduating from Tennessee Technological University, I started my plan, however, the first taste of being self-employed was sweet. I pursued my interest in “architecture” rather than teaching, by starting my own home renovation business. The year was 1993.
Being an environmental conscious builder was an easy sell for my clients, from energy savings to lower waste removal fees to refunds from the local scrap yards. “Anybody driving to a jobsite in a ’68 VW Bus had to be a tree hugger, right?” I would reuse any building materials, bring working usable items to the local Habit for Humanity center, and recycle metal and cardboard….lots of cardboard! After years of “designing” kitchens, baths, decks and being in constant demand, I have learned the practical side of building and design, yet I still wanted to move to the next level. I needed a change, however that change came at a different level than one might expect……a wife, a kid and a new car, but still in business. The year was 2003.
During those years, my wife was getting her PhD., while pregnant with our first kid, a son, and showed me you can make it, if you hard work. So, since 2010, I have been a stay-at-home dad for our second kid, a daughter, born in the Fall of 2010 and an architecture student taking classes to get me into the Masters program. The classes all seemed fun and surreal at the same time. In a sense they did not mean anything, I was not going to get a degree in Architectural Studies, just going through the motions to get into grad school. Yes, they were getting me prepared for the rigors’ of the Master program, but they did not meet a final end.
Now that our first studio is over, Summer ARC 550, do I have what it takes to push through 15 hours of coursework this Fall of Graduate study, much less another 15 in the Spring and 6 in the Summer? Did I mention we have two dogs as well? The past summer course, 6 hrs, was a Regional Design Studio and “electro shock therapy” of how to ramble your way through research and thesis writing (300 word article précis due on the first day in the first two hours of class!!). It seemed to go fast and slow at the same time. After weeks of pure research and writing, there was a burst of creativity, (about a week) followed by weeks of redesign, rewriting, revising and all the other “re” words that can explain, do over!
So here we are, sitting in studio, alone, 9 am, on a Tuesday, waiting for the Storm to start next week. My classmates are on a site field trip for a week in Chicago and Grand Rapids, getting lost, taking pictures and hitting a bar or two, or three, or … (well you get the idea), unfortunately the hurricane is gaining strength. Yes I am reading (Anz). Yes I am outlying (Baysinger). Yes I am researching (Heckman). Yes I am model building (McDonald & Turnipseed). Therefore, with my wife’s help and some sleepless nights, let the games begin!