Sunday, May 16, 2010

The End of Things

At the beginning of my doctoral program in 2008, I had ideas that I sought to put in motion and see how far they traveled. I wanted (and still want to) change the world. The beginning of my doctoral studies marked the end of my time in Washington state, the end of my prison teaching experience, and the end of spending time with my grandparents and family every weekend.

At the beginning of the semester, I have energy. I want to study, I want to read, I want to write beautiful academic prose and I want to engage in fruitful discourse with students, teachers and the world in general. We do that, too. I am always surprised and pleased at how much I gain from teaching and from perpetual student-hood. I'm in the thick of things with students who are just figuring out the world and seeing what it's like to be an adult for the first time.

I like the ends of things too, sometimes more than the beginning. Change is good, or at least some change is good. This week marked the end of the semester for me at OU and OSU. I was ready for it- teaching five courses and taking a full load myself wore me out and took a toll on my relationships. I never saw anyone anymore if it wasn't related to school. I didn't get to train for the marathon this year either.

It also marked the end of my friend Cathy's journey through graduate school. She attended commencement with our advisor and was ceremoniously hooded as a doctor of education. Cathy has been my best friend for the last six or so years. I was finishing my master's degree as she began her doc program. I conned her into making cookies for the second week of class and she told her husband that I was an 18-year-old kid who knew it all. She helped me buy my house and I helped her through her program of studies. And last night was the party at my house. Her co-worker, Jackie, came over to decorate and we put up a bunch of Hawaiian decorations, put on music and made everyone wear lei's and and drink with little umbrella straws. About 30 people descended on my house, including Cathy's mother, who she flew in from Indiana. The cake was in the shape of a couple of books labeled as "The Grapes of Wrath" and "Cathy's Dissertation". There was a lime green graduation hat on top of the whole thing. It was delicious and Cathy seemed to love the whole thing. And, of course, I love to entertain. Everyone must have a good time!

Now it's over. The last of the guests had breakfast this morning and everyone is gone. The dishes are washing, the decor is back to normal and I'm contemplating the steam cleaner. I noticed that the dogs didn't eat much of their dinner. I suspect they ate everyone else's, including that adorable little girl that Rob and Olga (friends of Cathy) brought over. She was rolling around on the floor with Big and I think she probably gave him most of her dinner and cake. Of course, I suspect that most of the other guests did the same. I ate too much and drank too much and have a slight hangover this morning.

As for my family, we're coming to the end of things too. My grandpa died last September and my grandma's health is rapidly declining. She's refusing to eat or drink and only takes in about 200 calories a day. Long ago she arranged it so that when this time came, My uncle and mom would stay with her, at her house, so she could pass peacefully and without the hustle and needles associated with a hospital or nursing home. There are new beginnings too. My sister Mickie got engaged to Lester. Luke is moving his things in- slowly. He's got his popcorn popper here and Mia the pitbull mix stays here full-time. I've got a new class to teach in June and 3 classes to take. Just another step in the march towards my own graduation next year. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a nap to take and a marathon to train for.

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