March 19, 2000
So much has happened. I've enjoyed teaching my dispute resolution students a great deal. More than I expected and more than I hoped. I'm still not sure what my favorite age group to teach is, having taught just about every group from nursery age children through an older men's group that included two department chairs at MSU (Midwestern State University in case you are wondering "which MSU").
Allison, Jessica and Courtney's babysitter, had her wedding. Heather was a bridesmaid (the youngest by about ten years). It was trip full of memories back to Wichita Falls.
I've been reading some finance texts. Forgot that "Money and Banking" was part of that group -- that was my favorite class the year I took it. Also the class where I learned that class evaluations are not as secret as promised. (My professor came up and almost hugged me in the hall, he had gotten tenure on the strength of my evaluation of the way he taught the class and was overjoyed with me. I was rather chilled to realize how non-confidential the reviews were.) Mark is right, the basics of finance are some of the cleanest logic that is out there. Who knows, I might yet get back on track for a Ph.D. to go with my J.D. That is an old goal of mine.
Heather donated all of her hair to "locks of love," a group that makes wigs for cancer survivors. She looks different with only a pixie cut. Rachel still looks too much like Robin (a healthy Robin, but still much too much like her).
So much, and so little I've saved in my journals (in print or on-line).
March 22, 2000
I was on site doing some consulting and someone asked how many children Win and I have had. I told them we had two at home. I still don't know how to avoid having a conversation complete derailed by explaining that we have had five children, it just happens that three of them are dead. Two children at home is truthful.
I sure love my children. Watching To Kill A Mockingbird really drove that home.
I'm LDS (Mormon). I've had job offers withdrawn because of that. I've been refused service and meals. I've been excluded from groups and associations. Missouri's standing executive order to use deadly force against any Mormon found in the state (commonly known as "the extermination order") was repealed in my lifetime. The Idaho State Constitution was amended to allow Mormons to legally vote in Idaho after I finished college.
But I pass as "normal" everywhere I go. No one fails to give me pain medication because of my skin color (half the time a white person is given pain medication a black person is allowed to have it. 50% of the time a white would get pain medication, a black is denied it). No one tries to charge me more than list when I buy a car (a black woman attempting to buy a car, will, on the average, end up paying more than the sticker price). What I have experienced is nothing like what others in our society have experienced.
I find that very sobering.
I read a talk by Adhemar Damiani. It is titled Serving the Lord, but it is about how righteousness and faith do not prevent trial or suffering. As the parable goes, the storms come upon both the house built on the sand and the house built on the rock. Building on the rock of Christ doesn't cause the storms not to come (at least according the Gospel of Matthew and the words of Jesus Christ). The talk fits well in parallel with Hebrews, Chapters 11 and 12.
March 23, 2000
I published an article in Wings of Hope, an inspirational, grief recovery related periodical. Their url is http://firstname.lastname@example.org (for real! That @ is not a typo!). They have some nice on-line content as well.
April 23, 2000, Easter
The following is a hypertext version of an essay published under the Other Stories part of First Person at The Chronicle of Higher Education. It caught some of my feelings.
Date: 04/21/2000 8:42:38 AM Central Daylight Time
About twelve years ago I decided that I would get back on track towards an academic career. I began to publish several articles in my field every year. I started doing a little teaching here and there and renewed contacts and connections. A few years into my preparation, and after one misstep (a letter inviting me to an interview was received by someone else who showed up for my interview) I was on track. While academic jobs in general are always tight, my area of focus was hot, there was a dearth of people available for the newly opening positions, and I was relatively young.
Then things fell apart. I buried three children over a five year period (details at adrr.com/living/), and though I kept publishing, I was unable to follow-up on the job search and ended up turning down several interviews. When the interview I really wanted came up, the chance to teach at an institution where I would replace an outgoing professor who had created what was then a top ten program, I was otherwise committed. Since the search committee had called me to ask for a resume before the search was announced and had called to set me for an interview before they got to the other applicants ... I felt like I was telling St. Peter I couldn't enter into Heaven.
Now I'm "old (in my mid-forties)." The new positions are all filled and the area has gone from hot to mundane. I'm teaching as an adjunct in a graduate program that shows some real promise (it is probably one of the ten best in the country right now), and that has some great students, but I'm locked into the local area until my wife finishes graduate school. She is by far more important to me than anyone or anything else.
I'm conflicted about the adjunct position. I find that I love to teach even more than I did when I was younger. On the other hand, I wonder if I would be better off if I did not remind myself of everything else I buried with my daughters. It would be nice if it led somewhere, but one of the strong points of the program is a very strong focus on bringing in people who are at the top of their ability to teach specific classes and skills -- something that has severely limited the number of full-time faculty positions while making for a superior learning experience for our students. So, even with perfect student evaluations and a program director who likes me a great deal, I don't see the adjunct position leading to anything more than teaching a class every semester.
I'm still publishing, still presenting at seminars. I'll do that even if I quit teaching. But I'm wondering if I love teaching too much to be able to be happy with life if I always have just one foot in paradise, though ideally I can find some position that merges teaching and law. Time will tell, but after more than a decade, I'm re-evaluating my life and my life's goals one more time. What have I missed, what has happened that I'm unaware of, but that I've missed, and what direction do I need to go?
Easter Sunday is always hard. People talk about the dead and about death and loss. Poor Heather. They asked if anyone in the audience had known a baby who died? A toddler? A child in Primary? At that point she burst into tears and fled the meeting. I realize they want to make death real to the audience, in order to make the resurrection more meaningful, but it can be hard on those to whom death is real.
I've had a lot of thoughts and as I get older, doors keep closing. I was seeking some angst over the things that might have been, but never worked out, and I realized that in comparison to burying my daughters the other things don't matter.
And, on balance, I enjoyed Easter this year.
April 30, 2000
A friend's comment:
It has been an amazing discovery...to be able to hear good news...or no news and to able to know it all may change tomorrow but to be able to bask in the beauty of the moment. So...if you enjoy what you are doing...no matter how unsettled everything is around you...you will do well.
This reminds me of my good friends....my daughter's literal second family...who moved to San Francisco. They tried and tried to sell their house. It fell through again and again. And when they did sell it...they could not manage to find a house in the area. He was in the Bishopric...he gave his all. He became discouraged. So they rented trying to stay here. Well, after a year, the job situation unexpectedly panned out in San Francisco and they were able to pick up and leave in a matter of weeks. After all the house hunting here, he found one house outside of SF that had not been sold in a newer development and bought it on a 30 day escrow. It seemed as if they just evaporated it all happened so quickly. It was a tremendous loss for us...but I had sensed for some time that they were just not going to be able to find a situation here because they were to be THERE.
Anyway....the moral is....sometimes the Lord puts up all kinds of roadblocks because the destination is further down the road and not quite ready for us. I have no doubt that when your boat does come in...its going to be the Queen Mary.
Well, enough metaphors. All I know...from looking in from the outside...is that you are picking up a tremendous amount of rather esoteric knowledge and experience...and its going to be used in some way for something. So you wait...and wait....which brings me back to my newfound skill: enjoying the MOMENT while I wait. You have to stay put until Win graduates....so if there is something waiting for you out there I guarantee you you are NOT going to be allowed to get too comfortable where you are. Reminds me of the commentaries on Alma by Catherine Thomas where she talks about that little unsettled feeling in the gospel of "its not enough" [that is often confused with "I must not be good enough or I would be happy"] that keeps us MOVING.
May 23, 2000
We finally ordered Robin's marker. While I regret having to order it, I do not resent paying the company that has handled the markers for my girls. They have done such good work, and are so poor. I hope that when I need a marker for myself, someone as kind and as competent will do the work.
June 3, 2000
My in-laws are visiting. It is nice to have them out to Texas without a funeral to attend. We have a number of various relatives coming by as well, and friends to go with the family. Birthday parties and other things, a busy day.
Last week we went to Omaha, Nebraska to visit my brother. That went well. I sure love the kid. His wife and children are just gems. But then the whole family, from my parents to my wife, all like his wife and kids. I got to thinking that we need to have all the cousins over to our house for the summer (at least for visits). My brother's youngest son sure reminds me of him at a younger age.
Karen, the consultant that helps us at work (she cleans up our books and trains staff for us) sure has been kind. She mentioned just how many people that I know really like me. Sure was encouraging. Work was so hectic.
July 3, 2000
July 6th of this year would have been Robin's third birthday. A benchmark of sorts. I miss her. Seems like forever since she died, yet it hasn't even been three years yet. I took some time off from work -- expanding the July 4th holiday a little here and there, to play with Rachel and think. Guess I've done a lot of that, yet so little.
July 13, 2000
I'm finding this year's anniversaries harder than last year's. I need to do a real entry and will, just not yet. My health care dispute resolution class is going very well -- I've a great class. Frankly, I'm amazed at the great students I've had at SMU. Both my arbitration class students and my health care DR class students have been well prepared, literate and just the greatest. I also work with some great people whom I am pleased to know. Ah, I'm just not ready for a real entry.
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