Life is a Bowl of Starbursts

Rebecca Beardsall

A glass dish of colorfully-wrapped starburst candies.
In class this morning, while discussing Mark Doty’s Still Life with Oysters and Lemon we were asked to think about an object, write about it, and relate it to a person. I spent the morning describing a wreath pin that my mom used to wear around the holidays. As a child I longed for December so I could look at all her holiday pins. I would line them all up on her bed turning each one over and developing a story to go with each little scene or object. My mom had pins for every season, but there was something magical about the Christmas and winter pins. Pins were my mother’s signature, what she used to make her mark on the day. I love that she used such a small item to share her personality with the world. I can still picture that golden wreath with red and green gems and the bell in the middle. This is the one pin I always associate with my mother. There is only one other pin I can remember, and that is a leather pin with flowers painted in the center. I bought this pin for my mother when I was in Belfast. I sent it back to her from Northern Ireland and told her that while buying it there was a bomb scare and we had to leave the mall. Not the best message to send to a mother when her eighteen year old daughter is in a foreign country, but I didn’t think about that. I thought it was exciting.

As I walked out of class, I reflected on the piece I wrote about my mother and her pin. I sipped my coffee and walked by the Fisher Fountain in Red Square and wondered what object I could think about, write about, and relate to Extended Education. Several objects flipped through my mind, but I settled on a square glass dish and its colorful contents, Starbursts. This dish sits in an office on the second floor. It is carried into meetings, and raided throughout the day. The glass dish, transparent, displays a range of colors and flavors. Each hand that reaches into the dish seeks out favorites – lemon, orange, strawberry, and cherry. The dish is often placed on the table to ease the blow of a difficult meeting or as a celebration for a job well done. It is also a little sweet pick-me up after a long, stressful day.

What I love most about this glass dish of candy is how it is shared by all the people in Extended Education. Everyone knows where it is and knows that they can just pop by the office and announce, “I’m just here for a Starburst.”  It also finds itself in various meetings whether it is the directors meeting or a program creative brainstorm meeting. As we work together as a team, the table is decorated with Starburst wrapper confetti. The candy provides a level of playfulness within the serious nature of our work. This is what I think about with Extended Education. We work hard, and have a lot on our plates as we strive to serve the University, but we also like to have fun and enjoy laughing together.

Rebecca Beardsall