Farewell my Friend

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Good Sunday morning,

It is very early and I am awake. I left town yesterday because of the yearly block party (I refuse to use it as a proper noun – pun intended). It was a wonderful day in Jim Thorpe and a beautiful day to be walking around. Early yesterday morning,s I got a call from Stephanie informing me that Peter, the life-long friend whom I have noted as of late, had passed away earlier Saturday morning, ending his battle with ALS. It is a bitter-sweet thing to say I am both relieved that he no longer needs to suffer, but I am so profoundly at a loss because someone who has been my friend since the beginning of my life, and someone even younger (albeit only a year, almost exactly), has left this earth. As I noted a few posts ago, this is a very different feeling than the feeling I had with Lydia. While losing Lydia is still part of my daily thoughts, she was 90 and had lived an amazing life. Peter was 58 years old. At one point I might have considered that old. That is undoubtably not my reality now.

When I went to see Peter three weeks ago, he noted that he never really expected to grow old. That statement caught me off guard, but I noted that he probably did not expect to have to battle such a vicious and uncaring disease as ALS. I want to talk about the memories of this most amazing, yet profoundly human, friend of mine. Our mothers were best friends all of our lives and our families did most everything together. Peter, James, and John (Biblical sounding) were the three Goede boys and Robert, Michael, and Kris (I am the Michael, not trying to state the obvious) were the Martin children. Peter’s mother was our church organist and our two father’s, Jake and Harry, pretty much ran Riverside Lutheran Church when we were small. To walk into my house and see Marge, Peter’s mother, at the kitchen table having iced tea with my mother was as common as breathing. To see our fathers working on something at church was a common as listening to Pastor Anderson or Ofstedal, our two pastors from childhood through high school preach every Sunday. If it was the 4th of July, we were at McCook Lake and the Ike’s Club to celebrate with fireworks and picnics. When I was 17 years old, Peter saved my life when I almost drown in that lake. If he had not swum across that lake, I am am quite sure I would not be writing this post and he would be joining me rather than I being one of the many who has lost him.  His older brother, John, was instrumental in really creating a strong church youth group  and that youth group was a significant part of my growing up. I remember when the famous Beatles song, “Let it Be” was the theme of our homecoming growing up. It was that song and Pete’s singing of it that got his voice noticed and began a life-long gig with the garage band, The Establishment, who were eventual inductees into the Iowa Rock -n-Roll Hall of Fame, that would in someways identify Peter for the rest of his life. Whether it was their gigs or his grandmother meticulously braiding his almost waist-length hair; whether it was traveling to another high school homecoming dance or a weekend in Spencer, Iowa, where we spent hours listening to the latest 45 trying to figure out the lyrics to “Rocky Mountain Way”, his voice was in the process of becoming legendary. Growing up I walked beans on their farm; I spent moments driving around in our cars; hanging out wherever we might decide like the Runza Drive-in on Riverside Blvd. When I left for the Marine Corps after graduation, our actual time together was significantly less than our childhood years, but eventually, I was best man in his wedding and he was the same in mine. When I ended up in seminary, Whitney, their daughter was born and I sang at her baptism. He would sing at my ordination and he sang at my sister’s funeral. Our fathers passed away within two months of each other.

Even though our lives when through a myriad of changes, there was never the need to figure out who the other one was or who they had become. I remember going to Whitney’s high school graduation reception and what he told me that day was a bit shocking, but he was even then taking a sort of inventory of his life and what had happened. Peter was an unequalled when it came to working hard and not giving up on things. In the early days of he band he would buy their PA equipment, taking out loans in his own name to make sure they had what was needed and he and Flood Music became sort of business partners. He was one of the first to get into the hardware/software/networking area and he did very well. Even when it required changing companies and learning a new gig or thing, he was up to the challenge. Yet, he was a human and sometimes the habits we learn early never leave us. There were things he battled and as with many of us, he could be his own worst enemy. I understand this malady all too well. A couple of years ago, I sent him a letter. It was a letter that I had written as I was recovering from complications of yet another surgery and a letter than reflected much as I am now. As I battled yet another serious health crisis, I called and read him the letter before I even sent it. I cried that evening as I cry now. I am now more than grateful that I took the time to write to him and to Stephanie at that time. I am glad that I took the time to visit him three weeks ago. I am grateful for the conversations we had that day and the opportunity I had to speak with Stephanie a few weeks before that. We take so much for granted.

Later today, I will spend time watching a student be inducted into the national honor society. Quite a change from the beginning of their college tenure, but what it demonstrates is someone not taking anything for granted, but realizing it takes work and that no one owes us anything. That is such a difficult lesson. There is no promise of a long life; there is no promise of success, even with hard work. Each day is a gift and coming to terms with that is something that takes most of us a long time to realize, if we ever actually come to that realization. Each time I am shocked or jolted into this reality, there is little that can be said. It is yet another forced realization. To use the word “forced” demonstrates that we are so easily lulled into complacency or a sense of expectation. We have our plans (and heaven knows we need to plan), but we have little comprehension, nor do we want it, that the line between life and death is much more tenuous than we care to consider in any regular manner or given moment. I think some of our occupations require us to do so (medical or health care workers), but generally we make our long-term plans merely believing that those things will happen. I am quite sure that neither Peter nor I expected to incur some of the things that we have in the 40 years since high school. I do think he expected to have Stephanie in his life, and I am grateful to her for being the amazing person she is. I know the last time he and I spoke he talked about how important his children were and how proud he was of them. His daughter and son, while I do not know them as well as I might wish, are certainly incredible people. They are successful, but more importantly, they are also good people. What I know my friend is that as I think about our lives, I would not be the person I am without some of the things we shared and all the ways our lives were intertwined growing up. You have taught me what true friendship is. We remained friends during your entire life. When I told you three weeks ago that I loved you, I meant that from the bottom of my heart. In spite of your fragile condition, you were as gracious as you could be and we had a nice day together. We laughed and we cried. The tears streaming down my face now are tears of relief. They are tears of sadness and also tears of graciousness, for gratefulness, that we had the opportunity for some sense of closure. I promised I would come see you as soon as school was finished for the semester, but that was not to be. Instead, I am honored and humbled for the opportunity I have had to share together with you our lives, sometimes on a daily basis, sometimes at a distance, sometime with a passage of time, but regardless it was a friendship that abided change of time, distance, jobs, and anything else that might have happened.

I am not sure what the schedule will be this coming week, but I know that I am headed back to see you again, sooner than I imagined. This time to be there for your children and for Stephanie and to share with all the people who loved you. As I write this, ironically, I am listening to iTunes and “Dream On” came on. Your voice and your ability to be the show person you were will always amaze me. I hope you have a wonderful stage on which you can share. I know your parents and grandmother are there to welcome you. I am glad you are no longer suffering, but I will miss knowing that you are there in Eagan. I love you, Stephanie, and I love you my friend.

Bless you.

Thanks for reading.

Michael (Peter’s friend)

P.S. I have to add that I have now heard “Let it Be,” “Stairway to Heaven,” and “Free Bird”. Thanks for the messages, my friend.

Feliz Pascua

Scan 177

Buenos días del restaurant de Bloomsburg Diner.

Me levanté un poco más tarde de lo habitual porque me quedé despierto y vi el baloncesto Wisconsin-Kentucky juego. Anoche Jerry y Julye acercó a cenar y tuvimos un tiempo maravilloso. Pronto iré a conducir a Nueva Jersey, a las afueras de la ciudad a ver a mi cuñada y a la familia y cenar con ellos. Será la primera vez que realmente he ido por ahí, así que creo que estará bien. Me recuerda a los domingos de Pascua en el pasado cuando era pastor de una parroquia. Al final de la semana Santa, con todos los servicios, siempre estaba agotado. A finales de los servicios el domingo de Pascua normalmente estaba completamente incapaz de pensar o procesar nada. . . .

It is hard to believe that another four days have gone by and I am trying to manage finishing this post again.  The week is totally out of hand. I had a pretty tough night and then had tests run again this morning.  I am honestly not sure what to expect for the CT scan and the other blood work this time around. If I am honest with myself, I know that I am managing things pretty well, but I do not feel that I am making as much progress as I would like. I am in my office until wee hours and back early, but it seems that is what the end of every semester and even more so every Spring demands. Yesterday I think I probably ripped into a student worse than I have every done before. He is such a capable and fundamentally good person, but he is, by his own admission, incredibly lazy. It has shown up in so many ways. What is so different for students now is what it cost them to fail their courses or merely choose to be average when there are 15 million undergraduates out there. It is sort of mind boggling. I did follow up with someone else on that situation, so hopefully together we can get something accomplished. It is actually a Monday and a week and a day after I began this posting and again I am languishing trying to complete it. It has been the story of my life over the last weeks and couple of months.

As noted a couple of weeks ago I went to see my friend, Peter. I got a text on Friday and I spoke with Stephanie on Saturday and the battle with ALS seems to be in the last days. This is both sad and frightening to me. It restates to me with such ferocity, “You are mortal; you are fragile; there are no promises!” It screams with a roaring definitude, “Pay attention; be gracious; make a difference!” I reminds me again of the profound mortality we face daily, with little or no recognition. As I ponder his imminent passing, my eyes once again fill with tears because I am staring headlong into the passing of a person who has been a friend and a significant part of my entire life. We have grown up like most; foolishness and a sense of immortality characterized some of our earlier shenanigans. When we were together a couple of weeks ago, we laughed and cried as we reminisced about some of those events. We spoke about what he hoped to accomplish before he passed, but I am not sure that either of us believed it might be within the next weeks. Now I feel like I am waiting for the call or the text to inform me that a childhood friend, a life-long friend, a father, an amazing musician, is no longer part of this world. It make my entire body feel like it is experiencing something outside my body.

This is one of the things that matters to me as I write this. I want to from a distance provide as much support as I can because I have a job here to accomplish. Today I think I am heading into another all-nighter. It is not my preference, but it is a necessity of my life at this point. It is what I need to do to provide my students with the feedback and information they need to manage the end of the semester as successfully as possible. It was interesting to me that today on Facebook, I was pondering the passing of another and had flown back to Wisconsin to manage that time. It was a rather cute moment because Melissa was staying at the house and keeping an eye on things and could not figure out how to unlock a door to get her pizza. I wish I could have been in the corner to see that. I am sure she is quite glad that was not the case. It was a crazy weekend because I was across the country in only three days and back. It reminds me of how life changes in so many ways, and sometime so amazingly quickly. It is only four months into the new year and already there are significant changes in my life. Most of that has been in the loss of people. I will write more about that again, but now I am thinking about the end of the year. I again have students that I have known since they were summer freshman and are now graduating. It is quite stunning if you consider the differences they have made and the growth they have gone through in this past four years. It is also a bit gratifying to see those changes.

We are now at that point where no one can procrastinate; it matters not which side of the blank stare you are on. I need to merely focus and plug away. I both dread and love this time of year. It is the time when my office is full of students and the requests for more time seem unending. This past week I had a couple of student situations that both surprised and dismayed me. I wonder how it is that some students are so recalcitrant about doing their work in a reasonable manner. I had a student this week tell me that going to the writing center (paraphrased) a ridiculous waste of his time. I was almost dumbfounded. Not so much that he thought such a think, but that he had the audacity to say such a thing in class. It is not often that I am left speechless. I was speaking with my niece at Easter time and she is a second grade teacher and she noted that even the change of respect levels at that age is noticeably different. What is it that has caused us as people who were raised to be polite have allowed our sons and daughters to be less than polite. How did it happen that we have abdicated our responsibilities as parents and put it on the back of the teachers or school system. The other day at the diner one of the regulars told me it was my job to teach my students to be better behaved. I told him I had no such obligation. He then noted that the president of the university should do more about controlling things like Block Party, which is coming soon. Again, while there might have been some jest in what he was saying there was enough of reality in those comments that I have been pondering them ever since. Since when did it become a need for me to put something about decorum and behavior in my syllabus. Really?? I could write an entire posting on that.

This past two weeks I have begun to play trivia on my phone. It is a way to relax for me and it is still something that stimulates my mind. I have learned that not having a television for the most part of 15 years has certainly had a consequence on my entertainment category. Otherwise I do quite well. I think it is because I have so many interests, but that has always been a blessing and a curse. I always say that having an interest has never been a problem, but focusing it has been.  Well, I am going to run. I do hope those who see where this post began had a great holiday and I hope your spring is going well.

Until next time.

Dr. Martin

Understanding One’s Heritage

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Hello from somewhere close to Charlotte, NC,

As seems to be normal, I am writing this as I am moving at 500 mph and sitting 30,000+ feet above the earth in the 6th row. We got out of Wilkes Barre shortly before the Vice President was arriving. I know we are close to Charlotte because we just did that “hit the brakes” in midair, so you know they are starting to slow down before hitting the runway at warp speed. I am continually amazed each time we land and they apply the brakes in such a way that it seems if we were sans seatbelt there would be no option but to be propelled forward so that we will all be in the first class section of the plane. I am on my way to the Conference on College Composition and Communication in Tampa, Florida. I am delivering a presentation on incorporating experiential learning into my upper level professional writing classes. It is interesting to me that I have been working with this concept and practicums or internships for 12 years (and before that if I include graduate school) and in the past 5 years it has really become a serious buzz word.

I am now on my second flight and got a couple of people contacted and some emails and messages as well as an important telephone call managed during the 45 minute layover. As I got on the second plane, the number of academics on this plane is outrageous. In the row in front of me, behind me, and with me are probably 90% filled by people headed to Cs. It is actually my first time at Cs; I had submitted things back in graduate school, but I was never accepted. I am quite enamored with the opportunity to present there, and somehow going to Tampa after the winter we have had is simple a bonus at this point. It will be a bit of a whirlwind of a trip, but I do plan to get some work done in my room. I will have a lot of things I want to work on yet tonight after arriving, but I am reminded of one of my MTU mentors? She would present two or three conference papers at a conference and be writing them while she was there, and she could write circles around me anyday, anytime.

Yesterday I ordered another version (language) of Rosetta Stone. I ordered the software in Irish. I spoke with one of my colleagues and he noted there is a Strong movement to revive the language,so I might have jumped aboard the train at the best time possible. I have noted issues of my heritage at other times as I have blogged and I must offer some appreciation for the Galans as they have really influenced my focus on issues of culture and heritage. It is interesting how their family considers that heritage differently, mostly  generationally, but I do not think they are unique in that generational response. It was interesting to me that questions of opportunity showed up on Facebook again from some of the other non-Caucasian students in the past day. It brings to the fore another significant question. What do the terms equality, justice, or opportunity mean? Who decides? What do these terms imply? Again, to whom? And how are those terms defined, by concept or action? Those questions are all for another blog post I think.

Where and when did the idea of becoming an American mean that someone was required to give up or discard their national ethnic heritage? I know that each generation has struggled at times to fulfill the dream of coming to this country and find acceptance. I have enough historical study in my background to know that even my own heritage, one of primarily Irish and Norwegian, struggled to find acceptance in this country. I actually want to do a bit of study on this before I write more here, so I think I will take a break from this post. The break has gotten longer than I anticipated. It is a week or more later, but managing all the pieces seems to be bit crazy. I am actually back in the Midwest at the moment, but it is for not much longer than that. I have come back to visit my life-long friend, Peter. It will be an emotional, but important day. Visiting him, a person who knows my background as well as anyone, is another example my heritage. What is our identity? Who are we and how do we become that person? It is somewhat ironic that this is something I asked my students all the time. Understanding exactly who we are and what that means requires critical thought. It requires us to be honest with ourselves and sometimes that is difficult. It forces us to look into the mirror and in the manner of speaking to leave herself naked and vulnerable. In our nakedness we are unprotected, but I believe we can be cleansed. It is in our vulnerability that we can finally be honest and rid ourselves of our flaws. Cleansed and remade we can move forward with hope and confidence. To some, this sounds perhaps a bit maudlin or idealistic. It is anything but that. To be honest with ourselves and take stock of who we are is tremendously difficult. It requires that we meet our flaws, our failings, our foibles. To know that I’m going to see my friend, my lifelong friend, for probably the last time is shocking to me at this moment. Once again I’m forced to face my mortality. . . . I got to spend 5 hours with Peter yesterday and, out of fairness to him, I will not say much about the progression of his struggle with ALS. I will say while I was not surprised by what I experienced, the reality of seeing him in person was terrifically painful. I am grateful for every minute we spent together. It is shocking to see someone I have known my entire memorable existence in the throes of losing his life. Again, the stories we were able to share go back to our elementary years and throughout most of our growing up. The time into our early 20s was a transforming time for both of us and we went our separate ways because of geography, but somehow we always managed to reconnect and appreciate that history.

Heritage is history; it helps create an identity and offers an opportunity for us to reflect on who we have become, but also how we have become that person. One of the things I have often wondered is how much DNA has a part in our history. We hear stories of those who have been adopted or removed from a family and yet there are uncanny similarities between the removed and their biological roots. I have found some ironic similarities between my biological father, with whom I have spent less than probably a total of 72 hours with my entire life after the age of two. He was in the Marine Corps (as was I), but I never knew that. I know that he went to college at one point and did extremely well. He studied English and Spanish and it is eerily similar that I have become an English professor and have such an interest in languages in general (and I am working on Spanish pretty diligently as I write this). I know he was married twice as was I. I know he traveled a bit as have I. Those are the things I know and while I have never really tried to find out  much else, I think it is a bit komisch or raro for us to have such an overlap. One of the most important things for me in my heritage is to understand what I value and from where those values have come. Some of it is certainly the consequence of an upbringing and the geographical places that have influenced me. It is a bit strange that I have seemed to gravitate toward a particular element or nationality of my rather mixed ethnicity. I know that I have Norwegian, Welsh, English, German, some Native American, and finally Irish. It is the Irish upon which I want to focus. I am not entirely sure I can place a finger upon why that is, I merely know it is. I think it has to do with some of my melancholy nature. I think it is perhaps because it is the particular trait or background that has been traced furthest from the present. Perhaps it is because I have a sense that what I might find there might help me understand myself. I am not sure I have yet figured it all out. Some might question why I think I need to do so, but others will not find that need surprising in the least. I think perhaps some of it is because I have often felt like I had to fight and work tremendously hard for whatever I have achieved, and I would not I am not upset by that because those lessons have served me well. I think it is perhaps because I feel it is that particularly part of my background that has caused me to always see that one needs to pick one’s self up and refuse to quit regardless the situation.

Over the past weeks I have thought about the past year and how much has changed. At this point last year, I was in the last part of trying to write my tenure application for its first review and I was terrifically stressed. It was a difficult time and there seemed to be more than I could handle, but it got accomplished. There was a trip for Lydia and somehow she managed to pull through. There was finishing up a amazing year and learning much about another culture and family. There was the change in diet and health that has had significant consequences in how I have managed my life for almost a year. Today, a major part of the reason I came to Bloomsburg was approved at the university curriculum committee and hopefully a second piece will be ready for approval in the next week or so. That is the revision of the minor, the addition of two classes and the hope that a certificate will be approved before the end of the semester. It has taken 5 1/2  years of work, but it is accomplished. I am grateful to Dr. Dan Riordan, my former colleague and mentor. He continues to serve as a mentor and friend to me and I could not me more fortunate. I am grateful to my colleague, now assistant department chair, and amazing friend, Dr. Mark Decker for his insight and support before I even got to Bloomsburg and the vision he had. Finally, I am grateful to my colleagues in the English Department here at Bloomsburg University for their insistence that we create an interdisciplinary program and a program that would support the department as well as add to it. Both my former chair, Dr. S. Michael McCully, and my present chair, Dr. Tina Entminger, have been supportive beyond measure. There is still more on the horizon, but the cooperation of many people at a number of levels have made this growth possible. I think all of this is part of my heritage also. It is always interesting to reflect on how things occur and all the components necessary to make something happen. Two years ago when I thought I had some things figured out, I found out that was not the case. It took more time, more conversations, and more thought and investment to get to this point. It simply took patience and time. That might be the most important lesson I learned in all of this. What I also learned is that I have the skills to get something accomplished and bring to reality something that was a concept at best when I arrived.

Lydia, I hope you can see this is why I had to leave Menomonie the summer of 2009. I know that was a traumatic change for you (it was for me too). When I think of people back there I need to thank for this, what I know is there are numerous for a variety of reasons. I need to thank Erica Mathieson who was willing to live in the little house and try to manage Lydia and the things Lydia did that were difficult both generally and sometime very personally. I need to thank Tom and Elaine Lacksonen, who are still dear to me for all they have done over these years. I need to thank Nathan and Theresa Langton and Caddie and Maggie for all the time and effort they have put into helping care for Lydia and the house during the last 6 years. I am grateful to Amy Fichter and Charles Vandermuelen for their friendship and the gift they are in my life and how they are always there to support me whenever I find my way to Menomonie. I am feeling relieved and even a bit exhausted as it is now 10:30 and I am still in my office. I think I might go home for a bit of a nap and then be back bright and early. There is still grading and there is Spanish to work on. It has been a bit since I have posted, but it might actually make it to press tonight. Next week I will be back for some tests, but I am hoping that I have turned a corner in a positive direction. I think there are things that need to be considered here also, but I am headed to Jim Thorpe over the weekend to ask some questions. In the meanwhile, it is back to work or maybe to sleep for a nap and then back to work. It took two weeks to get this done, but thanks for waiting.

Thanks for reading.

Michael, Dr. Martin, adopted person, colleague, friend, surrogate parent, and any other subjectivity I can imagine (Thanks to Dr. Patty Sotirin for that reading I had to do on Anthony Giddens).

Creating Closure

Grace at Celtic Woman

Good Morning from Pennsylvania, from the Upper Sanctum, from an airport, from Fog and Flame,

I have been working on this blog for more than three weeks, but there have been so many things on my plate that it got pushed off the stove. As I write this part, I am here in Menomonie, having been here since last Wednesday evening. My life is been a whirlwind of emotions since arriving. The burial of George and Lydia, the memorial gathering for Lydia this past Saturday, and actually realizing that my time in Menomonie, and the actual need to be here, has come to a close, forces me to admit that the significant chapter in my life will soon be closed in some ways. My time here in Wisconsin was the longest time that I had spent in any one place since graduating from high school over 40 years ago. I will actually surpass that later this year in Bloomsburg. In spite of that, Menomonie and Wisconsin will always, in some aspect, be my home. It was the home of my predecessors, my ancestors. The memories and the time both professionally and personally shaped many of the things that I now hold valuable. Lydia taught me what it meant to give, at least in giving as far as resources. While I have always been a giving person as far as time and energy, it was in the giving of resources that she changed my life and I have worked to change the lives of others. That is my lasting legacy to you Lydia, to give as you did. I also need to listen to you more carefully as you used to admonish me to be careful in my giving.

The cascading emotions that I’ve gone through in the past week as I walked the places we had walked together, be the hallways of COH or Lammers grocery store, while they memories were joyful the emotions were sad and I cried. Anyone who would’ve seen me in the grocery store the other day would have come to the conclusion that I probably had significant problems. I’m staying away from fast food, but I had to go to Burger King last night because it’s the first place you and I had ever eaten together. I could see you clear as day wrapping up the remaining fries for “the little ones”. If you were watching us, as I’m sure you are, I’m pretty sure you know we are overwhelmed trying to imagine the best way to manage your estate. I know that Nate and I have very different concerns and different needs. I’m glad that you chose to give the house to him. I’ve been fortunate to have people in the little house. As I walked around the property in your yard I could see you with your broom. I was pleased when people told me that I have kept the property up in a way that you would’ve been proud. I’m not totally convinced of that as far as the yard, but then again it is winter.

Last evening I said my goodbyes to a variety of people they all asked if I would be coming back. There’s still stuff to do and I have to pack some things to move to Pennsylvania now, so the last part of May I will be in the house. However I know that will be the last time. Thank you for sharing such a magnificent place with me. Thank you for sharing such an astounding life with me; thank you for allowing me to share my life with you. When I have spoken with people these last days, the thing I heard repeatedly was how we took care of each other. I don’t know that I saw it as taking care of you, but rather we cared about each other and we grew to love each other. I know that you became a parent, a mother, to me as I told you that last night. When you whispered to me ” I know.”, the last words you spoke to me, I knew that hearing as your last words as such an affirmation was an unequaled gift to me. After the trip in May and the completion of gathering my belongings, a chapter of my life, a paramount portion of my life, will be completed. There will no longer be either a responsibility or requirement for me to return; yet, I cannot imagine never visiting there again. There are fond memories of people and events. What I have realized this past week is it is not about the things, in spite of some of their stunning beauty, it is about people and the memories created.

It is almost the end of spring break when I realized I’ve pretty much gone through the motions for the last three months. I’ve gotten done what is absolutely necessary and yet not even that’s true. What I’m realizing is that losing Lydia has affected me more than I knew. Even though I’ve been 1000 miles away for the past six years, part of my heart was still Menomonie. That too has had consequences. I have realized that from time to time.The other day someone wrote a post of the following meme: “you know how deeply you loved by how deeply you grieve.” Last night I went to see Celtic Woman for the third time. While I greatly enjoyed each concert I have attended, last night was special. First, I was able to go with Grace, who was kind enough to step in and use my second ticket. We had a wonderful time. Second, the concert itself was phenomenal. There was more Irish and Gaelic than previous concerts;  there was more dancing. Two of the three main primaries, I had seen or heard before. The newest member, Mairead Carlin, at least to me, was sensational. The two men dancing astounded me. Somehow it’s apropos that I went to see them only a few days before St. Patrick’s Day. It is still one of my deep desires to travel to Ireland and if I could make it happen when they were there performing and see them in concert there, that might just complete my bucket list. A year ago I was writing about culture and ethnic background. I wrote that blog sitting in the Fog and Flame, and ironically I plan to spend a good part of the day there today. It is time for me to get more disciplined more focused and to make some tough decisions. Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak with a former colleague and she pushed me to think about things in ways I’m generally unwilling to do so. She was insightful, honest, and helpful. What is it that allows us to feel fulfilled, to feel accomplished,  or as I noted before, to be content. You might note that the first two of the previous list were to feel, the last one was to be.I do not want to feel content, I want to be content. I believe it is so much more than just checking things off or completing a bucket list. I believed to be truly content would allow someone to be truly happy. Through my conversation yesterday, I’ve been awakened or realized once again that maybe giving does not automatically create or equal happiness. There is more to understand. I am in the Fog and Flame now and I am editing and proofreading before posting. There is a concept; it is something I preach, but need to practice.

It is now three weeks since I have posted and what I realize is that life is unpredictable regardless how much we might plan. I’m quite sure that she did not plan her life to end quite as it did. I can actually imagine that she would’ve been content to go to the garage and turn on the car as she had threatened to do and she fallen off the roof. Again, I feel compelled to consider the letter someone sent arguing that she should’ve been allowed to live in her house until her last days. How do I allow that to happen when the consequence was likely would’ve been more tragic than being in a place where the caregivers actually cared for her and loved her? I know with all my heart that I did the best for her I could because I promised to do so. It’s only three weeks from now that Lydia would’ve been at COH for four years. So much as happened in that time; and there were a myriad of things to attend to both around the property and in her immediate care. Again, in both cases, I worked to do the best I could to keep the promise made almost 8 years ago sitting at Perkins one morning eating breakfast. There are still things I must do to complete all that’s been asked, all that was promised. Some of those who have known her for years told me that I had done really well and II had done an outstanding job of providing care for her. While their words are meaningful, and I am certainly grateful, ultimately, what matters is what she thought. I think they are summed up in the last night I saw her living. As I cried on her shoulder and I told her she had become my mother all of the sudden she began to rub the back of my head, and as I looked into amazing blue eyes one last time she whispered softly, “I know.” Those two words are perhaps the most amazing gifts I’ve ever been given.

Last night during the concert they sang the song I most appreciate about immigrants and those people coming to this country to make a life for themselves. It is actually one of my favorite Celtic Woman songs, “Isle of Tears,”  and as the music began before the lyrics (and I am not quite sure of the name of the instrument which creates a sort of a mournful oboe tone – it is called Uilleann Pipes) I told Grace that I dedicated this song to Lydia. I’m hoping I might find a YouTube video of it and I will post it at the end of this blog. While I’ve had to start over my life from time to time, it was not when I was 15 or 17 or to come to a new country and learn a new language. When I generally take time to ponder and think about what Lydia accomplished, I am more and more astounded by this amazing little woman (4’10” and 90 pounds). From time to time I complain about such minor things in comparison. It is interesting to me that the persons who become closest of my life are those persons who understand their heritage, live and celebrate that heritage, and understand the complexity of our diversity. What I’ve realized again is how little I know how much there is yet to learn. And learn is what I want to do. I want to learn languages;  I want to learn the culture; I want to learn what’s important to them and to me. To understand the differences and appreciate those differences. I want to help people realize through my own actions that reaching out to those we meet bridges gaps, provides understanding and opportunity, and makes our lives better.  While there is much more I could write I need to focus on some work and I should get something posted as it is been too long. Lydia I will continue to work diligently to complete the things I promised. Grace thank you for going to the concert with me last night. To all of you who continue to read this blog and follow me I’m grateful for each of you.

I will actually share two videos with you. This YouTube video I created of the University of Wisconsin-Stout remembering Lydia, an amazing educator, a phenomenal intellect, and a woman who changed by life. I miss you, Lydia. The second video is the video of the song I dedicated to you last night as I listened to the concert.

Michael (Dr. Martin)

Tartar de Entender

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Bueno temprano en mañana,

I am going to attempt with both what I know and some translator- assistance to write this first part in Spanish. I am back working on my language acquisition skills diligently, so this is good work for me to do. At the end of my poly-lingual writing I will provide a synoptic translation. Clasifiqué papeles y blogs ayer por la tarde y luego trabajé en el español durante casi siete horas anoche. Volví a casa anoche y me quedé el bastante mucho tiempo para fijar algo para comer. Entonces cepillé mis dientes y me í a la cama. Ahora, cuando parece ser típico, estoy despierto en 3:30 por la mañana. Hablé con mi mejor amigo y su esposa anoche en el teléfono. Era maravilloso alcanzarlos, pero esto era también una palmada áspera de la realidad. Como usted sabe, si usted ha estado leyendo mi blog, Lydia, las mujeres asombrosas que se hicieron mi madre, han fallecido en los pocos meses pasados. También he experimentado el paso de otros en mi vida cuando esto pareció el camino muy temprano para tales cosas de pasar, un hermano, una hermana, hasta una abuela, y una madre adoptada. En tres de aquellos casos yo era en los mis años 20 o años 30. El paso de mi hermana era también demasiado temprano, pero había cosas que contribuyeron a su paso en los sus años 50 que hacen su muerte más comprensible. Ella era el primer contemporáneo faces. Quizás es debido a mi propia batalla y bocacalle 60 este año que la mirada, aunque de una distancia, mi mejor amigo comience a perder su batalla contra ALS más rápidamente es tan difícil para mí. Quizás es porque me encuentro todavía llorar por Lydia en momentos. Quizás es porque la realidad dura de ningunas promesas en la vida mira fijamente mí en la cara. fallecer cuando mi propio paso o mortalidad parecen más probables.

It took me about 45 minutes to write that paragraph, but it was good exercise. For those of you who cannot read or understand Spanish, I spoke about my last day and the opportunity I had to speak with my best friend and his wife (I have noted in other posts on Facebook or elsewhere, perhaps in blogs that he is losing his battle to ALS). I noted that I have lost people to early before their time, often relatives. While some of that was in my 20s and 30s, losing my life-long friend now seems to be a very tough reality check. I realize that we all have a limited time, but this one is so unfair to me in so many ways. I noted that perhaps it is because I’m turning 60 that watching Peter losing his battle to this terrible disease it’s been so hard. Perhaps, in part, it’s because Lydia just passed away and that still causes me to cry at times. Regardless it forces me to face my mortality, which is something that I’ve been doing on a regular basis this past year. That is a somewhat close paraphrase of my Spanish entry.

Perhaps it’s because my latest tests with the doctor were less than ideal. What I know is we have very little sense of what or when our life is completed, or do we? I think there must always be a sense of “but wait, I have more I want to accomplish.” Stephanie wrote to me that I needed to be prepared for a significant difference even speaking on the phone. I know when I go to see him in a couple weeks it will be terrifically difficult. Not because Peter will make it so, but because I will need to literally face the reality that the time my best friend has left on this earth is extremely limited. I’m forced to stare at the harshness of a disease that suffocates the host body. All the ice bucket challenges in the world cannot help him, and while I was asked to do the challenge, I chose to give the money instead. As I got off the phone last night once again I am finding myself in tears. I have spoke at times of justice; where’s the justice in this? Is there even a small measurable way that one can find justice or fairness, when it is likely that Peter will not see his daughter married at the end of the summer? While I struggled to let Lydia go, she was 90. She had lived in amazing life. Is there a reasonable time for one to die? The very question is fraught with absurdity, but I’m forced to admit that even in this case with Peter, at some point as his body leaves him helpless, his death will be compassionate. Mostly for him because of the dreadful consequences of ALS. In a bittersweet way I might even see some measure of compassion or relief for Stephanie, Whitney, and Dane. But search as I hard as I am able, I can find nothing fair or just and the reality that a 58-year-old man is having his very life taken away from him breath by breath, labored movement by movement is brutal beyond words. I think of my former colleague, David Tank, and I still vividly see the picture of him crying as he pushed his wife’s casket down the aisle of the church after she lost her battle with the same horrendous disease. That image in my mind is still one of the most touching things I have ever witnessed. Peter was my best man and I was his. He sang at my ordination. I sang at his daughter’s baptism. Those are some of our intertwining moments. There is an entire tapestry of events that we have shared.

I know the clichés of life and our feeble attempts to make sense of the nonsensical. As I struggled to find the right words and make some sense of my own feelings, it is perhaps now that the words of Sr. Galán provide some comfort. For they are the words that I said to Peter and Stephanie last night. I know there’s not much I can do from 1000 miles away. In fact there’s little more I could do if I were next-door. I could visit more often and I could spend more time, but I’m forced to realize of the giftedness time is. I’m forced to admit that I’ve been able to have a best friend for over 55 years. A friend, who which in spite of any distance or periods of not actually speaking because of space and life, always knew who I was as I knew him. Perhaps one of the most important things I have done was to sit down and actually write him a letter and his birthday two and a half years ago. I remember speaking to him on the phone one night and crying. I praise God for that call and that letter. I told them both last night again how much I love them. José, perhaps you’re right, it’s all we have. I guess that raises another question. If it is all we have why are we so conditional in giving it? Is it because we’re fragile or is it because people don’t know what to do with it? Somehow Dan Fogelberg is in my thoughts again. I will probably embed another video of one of his songs at the end of this post. “The heart is too heavy and fragile to hold and I am afraid I might break it.” Yet, this is whereI find myself struggling to understand what you mean, José. How can my heart be big enough to love all the people? For me to love someone means they have dramatically changed my life. It is not something that happens automatically. Perhaps it should; perhaps I’m just incapable. For me to love someone means not only have they found their way into my heart (and perhaps my house), but I have made myself vulnerable, and not just a little bit (I do not do things a little bit), but in a way that they have enormous power. Ideally, they don’t use it in a malicious way and even when we are hurt, sometimes it is not their intent, but our fragility. As my father used to say, “the people we love the most can hurt us the worst.” As I told you last week I’m still trying to wrap my head around all of this. Perhaps we’ll have a chance to talk again this evening as Melissa has once again surprised me and we will all be together. Perhaps by the time you come, you will have read this and I have no doubt you will have things to say. I always appreciate your thoughts and the passion of your insights. I am always thinking about what you say more than you might ever know. Cuando Melissa a menudo me da miradas de la consternación o hace rodar sus ojos en la exasperación, usted sabe que siempre considero cosas y trato de tener sentido de ellos, pero realmente no pienso que cualquiera de ustedes es que diferente.

Is now after 5:00 a.m. and a couple hours of sleep still seem like a good plan. I would like to be at my office by 8:00 or 8:30 at the latest. I have a lot of my plate for the weekend and perhaps going to dinner and chatting tonight will be a nice distraction from other things that I need to accomplish. This past week was quite productive. The certificate and the minor revision are onto the last level of approval. The concentration is not far behind. If I can get those things done by the end of the academic year and I can hand someone a diploma, I think I will feel like I’ve completed all I need to do. Anything beyond that is an extra gift. Tal vez el punto es este: no hay ningún entendimiento, allí sólo hace. Y es importante hacer todo lo posible podemos.

Off to sleep; thanks for reading.

Dr. Martin

Lucha de Probabilidades

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Buenas Días,

I had an excellent day today in spite of the fact that I got to by office by 7:15 a.m. and it is 9:15 p.m. and I am still here. I do plan to leave shortly, though I might try to be back at 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning. While tomorrow is supposed to be a day where I am not on campus, I currently have 5 meetings, so I think I will be here for quite a while. Fortunately, they do not begin too early, though I do have a 7:30 meeting at the diner, so I will be up one way or the other. Today I went to my Spanish class and have gotten it scheduled so I can be there both class periods. It was really enjoyable, and while I felt a bit rusty on some things, other things I had learned on my own came back pretty quickly. What I noticed today is that when I was called on my pronunciation was pretty strong. That was a good feeling and I think someone, who regularly kicked me on some things, might have even been slightly impressed.

While I have been working on some important things and made some major life changes to manage some of those things, I have found out how fragile I am and how much I need to be really disciplined in what I am doing. My latest trip for testing revealed that the stress of the holidays and beyond, and the travel, probably did not serve me well. I think my failure to manage my diet as well as I had been doing also was a contributing factor. That being said, now I have to redouble my efforts. It is something I can do. I think we are always playing the odds on things. Sometimes intentionally and other times unaware. I am always stunned when I see people who really seem to take their fitness seriously and then I see them smoking cigarettes, for instance. It is times like that I realize that the addiction to nicotine must be exactly that. I cannot imagine that someone honestly wants to affect their body in such a negative way when working so hard in other ways to maintain or enhance it. Yet there are other ways I believe we harm ourselves because of the lifestyle we either feel compelled (perhaps almost in a VD way) to lead or because we merely do it without thinking. Because I started the semester in such a dismal condition, I have felt like I have been playing catch up from the outset of the semester. From more than a week before the semester began until late last week, the number of times I have been in bed before 9:00 p.m. is probably greater in that month than the entire previous year. It is what I had to do merely to maintain and make it through my classes.

Now I am working to catch up and get ahead of things. I actually feel like I have more on my plate right now than I did last spring when I was starting to prepare for tenure. That is a bit frightening and disconcerting. . . .  Welcome to Friday. I have been in front of people most of the day and it is Wisconsin cold out, so that is my day. I did not make it in here as early as I wanted, but I have been productive nonetheless. I have worked on tutoring an ESL student who works tremendously hard at learning and mastering English. It is actually fun to think about why things work they way they do. Today I got a picture (or actually a poster) that is being hung up around campus for the faculty union. It is the picture that you are seeing at the beginning of the post. It is a bit surreal, and it was also taken before I lost some significant weight, so I look like a fat toad, sad as that is.

I have been working on this post for a week and I’m still not done. I guess that explains how my week has gone. I am not sure the coming week or two will be any better. What I am realizing is that the odds I have been battling in more areas than most realize have taken their toll on me more than I wish to admit. While I have gotten things accomplished, the sum total have not been enough. I am reminded of one of my father’s saying, ” The faster I go, the behinder (sic) I get.” That seems to be the story of my life. However, some of it is of my own making, I am not merely a victim here. I am a bit frustrated with the insinuation, especially by one who should know better, that somehow we only work 17 hours (though it was noted as contracted) per week. I am reminded of another conversation in which it was noted that if we teach in the summer or do summer work related to publishing or other things, it was our choice. Again, it is my interpretation, there seemed to be no appreciation or belief that some of those decision felt more obligatory than optional because of things like tenure or promotion. I think of how sometimes it seems we are squeezed by both sides. The local paper, as they feel obliged to do yearly, printed all of our salaries in the local Sunday paper. Again with little explanation of how those salaries are determined or what work went into the degrees to earn those salaries. So now some people, as I expected, comment in the local paper that only our salaries are the reason for increased tuition. Then the administration notes we are contracted not even part time. So between the two extremes, it seems we are vilified. So I try to focus on two things: first, I hope to support my colleagues. Second, I work hard to support my students. Those are the two groups that really are affected by what I do or don’t do. I know when I hear something positive about my teaching that means more to me than just about anything. When I was awarded an outstanding teaching award at my previous institution that was probably one of the best things that happened in all six years. I know that the great majority of my colleagues work tremendously hard. Parece que estamos a menudo en combate contra las probabilidades o simplemente un siglo XXI versus de Sísifo.

Well, I think it is time to head to school. I have sat at the diner for more than an hour. Somehow I have again misplaced my office keys. I am not sure if I left them in my office on Friday or they are in my jacket at the dry cleaners. I did not hang them up and so I am afraid it will be a day or two yet again before they reappear, as magically as they disappeared. I have a great deal of grading to manage, but just keep plugging (all outside the 17 hours). Perhaps our Snyder Amendment papers need to go to more people on campus. I was looking back at my blog from a year ago. It is a bit boggling to see what was accomplished in the past year. The changes that occur are always merely part of our daily lives, but when you look back at them collectively, they seem so much more monumental. I have learned so much about myself during this year. I think it is that learning that helps me be more comfortable with the decisions I have made and where I am at this point. . . .

Good morning, it is yet another day and about 4:28 a.m. and I am still in my office. I will admit to an hour nap on my floor about 12:30, but otherwise I have been working steadily and getting things accomplished. It will be a long day as I have things pretty much straight through from 7:00-4:30 today, but I will make it through. I am actually feeling pretty reasonable at the moment. That is actually the reason I am typing on this and hoping to finally get it posted before the morning hits (or the normal morning). It is yet another case of understanding the obstacles to accomplishing what needs to be done. I always struggle with how much to respond to students’ work. I could merely put in grades, but that is not going to help their writing. There is so much more. I do have to figure something out, but I believe that the only way to become a better writer is to write. If I assign it then I need to look at it carefully and try to respond in a way that is effective for the student and yet efficient for me in the bigger picture. I am not sure I have ever learned how to do that. I am sure I am not the only English (or any language for that matter) professor who feels the pain of this dilemma. It is interesting how each step of the way, from graduate school to getting that position to getting tenure to . . .  you always think it has to be easier on the other side, and then you find out it is not really that much different. The papers are still there and they require as much work. I actually enjoy teaching composition and seeing the light actually go on. I love when a student who did not like writing suddenly decides it is not that horrific after all. I am excited when a student comes to the realization that writing has value. I feel accomplished when someone sees that the passion I have for what I do is actually inspiring and the result is their wanting to work more diligently. It is pretty simple to make me happy. Just do your work.

As we are into the fifth week of the semester already, I think I might be able for the first time to see that I can get on top of all the things that are out there. I might have to put in a couple more days like this one, but it will pay off. So in the meanwhile, I will keep working on all the things that are necessary for later in the day. I hope that wherever you are and from wherever you might be reading this that whatever odds you are facing, you know that the battle is worth it. There is so much that matters in the world in which we are living, working, and existing. In some ways it is always a gamble. With that thought in mind, I will leave you with one of my favorite artists (amazing that he has been gone for over 7 years). His narrative style and amazing instrumentals were something I so appreciated and still do. Thanks for listening to one of my favorite songs of Mr. Fogelberg. Ironic that I found it in two languages.

Thanks as always for reading.

Dr. Martin

Grace and Dignity on Either Side of the Tracks

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Good morning,

It is almost Wisconsin-cold here in the Upper Susquehanna Valley this morning, but it is still nonetheless manageable. I got up extremely early to deal with some issues and will be on the road again before the day is out. It is now Friday evening and I am back in Gettysburg. Driving about 500 miles today has taken it’s toll on me. Sometimes I’m rather astounded that I used to think road trips were fun. I did stop on the way back because I needed to take a break. I got something to eat and also took a nap at a rest stop. Some of the morning events reminded me of how little I know about some things. While I generally like to believe that I am someone well-informed that was not the case this morning.

As I observed and listened to what went on I realized how difficult things are for so many people. It forced me to reflect again on what I believe is the ever widening gap between those who have things and those who do not; the difference between those who worked hard to try to get something only to lose it and those who seem to get things with little or no work. It was actually part of the conversation I had this morning. Furthermore, and I should not be surprised, it is showing up in my little corner of the world as the university has decided to change how tuition will be charged and subsequently be collected. One can be sure that students were not included in the decision and, for the most part neither were faculty. What I understand is some were given the “opportunity” to attend a meeting on the Friday of Thanksgiving break. Otherwise, as a whole we were not given much notice either. From what we can tell the board of governors has decided that students can make up any budget shortfall. I could say much more about this decision and the process, but I will refrain, at least for the moment. At Bloomsburg this reduces the forecasted deficit, which seemed a bit sketchy to begin with from 1o million to about 3 million. I am waiting to get some final figures. What this will do to students, to programs, and to the state system does not appear to have been part of the decision-making process. The absurdity of it, at least at this moment, is beyond my comprehension. It will price many low income students and families out of the market, again widening the gap between those who can afford college and those who cannot.

The title of this blog posting is actually a quote from a story I heard this morning on NPR. It was a story about a children’s book and about a boy on a bus. The little boy with his Nanna lamented the things that he did not have, while his Nanna tried to help him focus more carefully on the things that he did have. I am generally not inclined to buy children’s books, but I might have to get this one. The author and illustrator, both Californians, wrote about things they experienced growing up. As I have noted in blogs past, I did not always have what I wanted but not once can I remember not having what I needed. I was actually very fortunate. As I consider the events of today, I am reminded about how decisions are made and so many people have little to no voice in those decisions. I know that I will be attending some meetings this week and into the semester. While I am not sure if anything can be done to reverse the university’s plan, I, for one, will go on the record to say it is unjust and not very well reasoned.

However, as I noted, I should not be surprised. Reflecting on some of the news stories over the last two weeks and the decision of the Koch brothers to spend almost one billion dollars on the next election, I need some assistance. Someone help me understand how that is democracy. Someone explain to me how buying an election creates trust in our system, in the people, or in the elected government. I cannot see it. It is manipulation. I cannot imagine the founders of this country believing that this would be what they hoped or believed could happen to their grand experiment. In fact, I heard the most fascinating address or lecture tonight about the state of politics in Pennsylvania. The bottom line in that address was basically that no one elected in the legislature needed anyone else nor did they feel beholden to them. Even though we were the only state to not re-elect an incumbent Republican governor, The election of Governor Wolfe was actually vote against the former Governor Tom Corbett and not vote for the Democrat. Our esteemed and knowledgeable speaker went on to note that the legislature is both the most Republican and polarized it has been in the last half century. It was actually a very fascinating and frightening address. Perhaps the last important point that directly affects those of us in higher education is that while the electorate wants something done to fund education that is mostly at the K-12 level. The entire thing was quite depressing when I think about it carefully.

That actually brings brings me to my point or focus in this post. A few years ago there was a somewhat vocal, but short-lived group of protests against the so-called one-percent-ers. While the initial argument was against so few having so much wealth, the protests were not focused entirely on that and too many others, in my opinion, jumped on the proverbial bandwagon; the consequence ended up with the initial message about unfairness or injustice becoming diluted. As the one-percenters unabashedly try to buy the next election, as a board of governors decides to put a burden, one created by an ex-governor, who took $90 million from higher education during his four years ~ something supported by the legislature ~  on the backs of students, the opportunity for many students to be educated within the Commonwealth becomes more unobtainable because of rising costs. The plethora of other consequences or fall-out from this decision is exponentially troubling, but I will leave that for another time. While there are certainly cases of the stereotypic millennial entitlement, there are many other students who work so desperately hard to take advantage of the opportunity to be educated. I know this to be the truth because I see it daily. In spite of the debt they must take on to receive an undergraduate education, many students work hard both in their classes and in extracurricular jobs, hoping to eventually graduate and make a difference in their lives. I think of some students I know quite well, ones who are prime examples of this. Paying meticulous attention to everything that concerns their education and working tremendously hard with such myopic focus, they actually miss some things they should not. However, I’m not sure it is possible to see the consequence of those actions at times. Even though I have felt the sequela of that perceived demand, and its aftermath, I guess if I step back, just maybe, I can understand why. Perhaps the sophistic elegance and grace used at times is more necessary than I’ve been willing to realize. I still don’t like it, but perhaps, at moments, I can at least comprehend it’s necessity.

While I am certainly not extraordinarily wealthy, I have to admit that I have a few worries. I have worked hard with 14 years in college, but I’ve also been fortunate. Without the care of many over the years, I would not be where I am. What I’ve tried to do is to give to others and return the good fortune that I have been blessed to receive. I grew up in a part of town or we were called river rats. It was a blue-collar and and certainly one of the poor sections of town. As I previously noted there were times growing up but I’m sure my parents struggle mightily to even give us necessities. But the people on my block and in my neighborhood worked hard. They asked for little, if anything, and they live their lives with grace and dignity. There is the saying about growing up on the wrong side of the tracks. I’m not sure I was on the wrong side, but, on the other hand, I’m not sure I was on the right side. Maybe I grew up actually on the tracks . What I am realizing is maybe it was to being on the tracks that forced me to keep moving. Because logically, if one stays in that place, the outcome would be to get run over, not a particularly wise not pleasant outcome.

When I realize that we all have our story, and no two are the same, I’m compelled to believe that each story has value. To fail to believe in the value of the other is to lose sight of the founding principles of democracy. When we fail to treat others with grace and dignity, we fail them, but more significantly we fail ourselves. This past week, in my Foundations class, we spoke about the value of each person’s language and what they bring to class. We talked about the difference between standard and nonstandard language. The language someone brings with them helps them understand who they are. It creates an identity. One of the many things that I am tasked to do is to move that language into academe. To help the student claim his or her place as someone hoping to become a scholar. Sometimes that’s a tall order. But more importantly I can only assist I cannot make someone do it. I know this from my own experience. I’ve also watched someone over the past year work tremendously hard to overcome previous choices. It is something they have done on their own. Most of the time, it has been a joy to watch.

Perhaps it’s because I still feel I am on the tracks at times that I work so hard to help others move from one place to the next. Well I’m not sure that I do it with all that much grace I do try to do it with dignity. That is all I can do. So it is almost 4:00 a.m. Perhaps I can go back to sleep. . . . I did sleep, but as is often the case I needed to go back, edit, proofread and then work on this some more. I am always amazed by what I find in my writing, especially when it is done at some early hour of the morning. What I see, not surprisingly, is even at that time, my brain goes faster than either my voice or my fingers. I miss things. I make illogical jumps. It is now Monday and I am facing student conferences, grading, revisions, and other things. Then there is the life outside of here that always seems to disappear. It is time to get organized yet again. So I am off to do just that.
As always thank you for reading.

Dr. Martin