Good morning from San Francisco,
It is not quite 6:00 a.m. here in the Bay Area, but I am awake ( my internal clock is still three hours later and on East coast time. I wanted to go to a chocolate and wine function last night, but I promised Marco I would be in bed before it began and I kept my promise. So I slept about 9 or 10 hours. I think that is the longest I have been in bed and sleeping with being ill in probably 10 years or more. Last evening a former student who was initially in my Composition I and Ii classes the second year I taught at Stout, ended up with a Major in Technical Communication, worked in the writing center and now has a Masters in Rhetoric and is teaching college, happened to be in town this weekend. So we had dinner together and then spent another hour just chatting. Tasha, the student and now I could call her a colleague, told me on the phone this past week, as we were setting this chance dinner up, that I was the closest thing to a father she had. She told me that she had to do this because she needed to see in person that I am doing okay.
Once someone told me if your profoundly affect four or five people in your entire life you have been successful. First of all, that raises questions for me (you should not be surprised); the initial question would be what constitutes profound? The second question refers to the issue of whether or not the issue of technology affects that single digit number. I enjoyed going to presentations this morning and I am glad that my sense of needing a backup stuck with me in my preparation for the presentation at the OSCLG Conference. I needed all of it this morning, including my mini-projector. Having a tablet did not work with the standard projectors. Because I had a small room I was able to get the sound to work for the space, but it was not optimal.
It is now about 4:00 p.m. PDT and I am back to my room. I got a quick trip to the ER at UCSF, and three bags of fluids later, I think I am okay. I am frustrated with my body, but I am currently resting in my in my hotel room. I have been doing what seems reasonable considering all the things on my plate, but I seem to be losing the battle at moments. It was also embarrassing that I did not have enough strength to stand up at one point or that my legs hurt so badly, they affected my mobility. I did manage it as gracefully as possible, but it still confounds me that my body is so fickle at times. Along with that I was managing two or three issues that are important in PA while being here in CA. it just was a poignant reminder that life never stops and there are always issues to manage at any moment. I was asked by my mentor from graduate school about the fact that there were 5 or 6 people at this conference from Bloomsburg. I was the only one from English; the rest were from Comm Studies, but it was once again a reminder of just how multi-disciplinary what I did at Michigan Tech really was. It prepared me in so many areas and ways for my life after graduate school. I need to speak with Patty about one of my students yet tonight. I am hoping that she would end up there too. In fact, having both Drs. Sotirin and Bergvall here will be helpful for what I can take back to Maria. That will be a dinner conversation I think as I am having dinner with the three of my mentors who are here. I am also grateful that Dr. Shoos, a third mentor is here. She is kind, elegant and brilliant.
I was thinking about the fact that they are seeing what I have accomplished with what I received from them and I had that same opportunity last evening, seeing, first hand what Tasha did what what she learned, at least in part, from me. It is interesting to me that even that first semester I saw this opportunity and possibility in her. Her work in class and her work at the writing center prepared her well. It was fun to speak about things that happened back then and hear her perspective on it now. She referred to me as her Dr. Larch and as her father. What an amazing compliment to receive. It is at times like these that one realizes that they do make some difference, if even in a small way. Tasha would probably argue that it is not a small way but she has so much life left to live. For me it is much like the Deckers; little did I know that he would become my colleague both In Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. In fact, it is ironic that I am writing about this in San Francisco because the last time I was here I was interviewing for the position at Bloomsburg University. Things always seem to come full circle. Regardless of what happens there’s always a connection to what is happening in our lives previously. I think that is the case for most people, but they take little time to reflect and realize it. As I consider the last 12 years of my life, I realize that going to Stout was much more about Lydia than a position at the university. That is not to say that my position at Stout was unimportant. It did much to prepare me for being at Bloomsburg. There is a small group of students from Stout who still stay in contact with me. Most of them seem to be quite successful in their current positions. What I learned in working with them has prepared me for what I do here at Bloomsburg. If there is a difference, it is I think I’m better at it now. Dr.. Bergvall, one of the people, who is here with me at OSCLG and her husband, were wonderful in their attention focused on helping students prepare to be professionals.. This is the first time I’ve ever tried to work with a student at a conference. While It did not turn out exactly like I expected, I am very glad that I worked with this possibility. Helping a student understand both the academics and the application of what they are learning is central to what it means to claim your education. Anyone who is taking my class, any class from me, knows that I want them to claim this education they are receiving to make it there own. For me the most important thing I learned this conference was how technology permeates our thoughts or actions, our lives. It has fundamentally changed the communicative process. As is always the case, a conference rejuvenates me. It helps me think more clearly, more passionately, more completely or deeply. Is it moments like these that I wish I was at an R-1. But I’m not sure I am actually smart enough for that, and it would take me out of the classroom more than I wish to be taken out.
I am forced to wonder what my present experiences will do for the future and for the people with whom I am currently working. Up until now I always thought it would be around to see it. Now I’m not so sure. That’s why trips to the emergency room and other medical dilemmas that are part of my life seen more troublesome to me now. It’s not the pain nor the inconvenience, it is that I am forced to deal with my temporality. I’m forced to ask myself the question, “have you been successful?” The last eight weeks has forced me to reconsider, at least in some cases, where It seems my influence has been more negative than positive and that pains me deeply. On the other hand, many positive things have also happened like weekly dinners with two seniors and helping them prepare for graduate school; working with another student who has asked me to be her honors mentor, or being both a mentor and surrogate parent to roommates who are both in the minor. I am always honored and amazed when parents tell me how much they appreciate what I have done for their sons and daughters. Ultimately, in the end, I’m not sure what the final tally will be (and more importantly, it is not about keeping score). I am reminded of the phrase from the Lutheran Occasional Services Book (I have actually noted it before): “well done good and faithful servant.” My humanity often gets in the way of my faithful service. For that I can only ask for forgiveness. What I know is I have been blessed, By things in my past that now affect my present, I am capable of seeing that gift. Yes, and so it is, more than I often realize, my past experiences have present ramifications.
Thanks for reading,