Sunday, July 20, 2008

Mark's Life in Review, July 08 Installment

I am a mix of deep satisfaction and deep dissatisfaction. This makes me a high-functioning whiner? or a confident troubled person? or human? or....?

Very deeply satisfied...that Jonathan is heading into his senior year at University of Washington, is learning Cambodian, talks with me and Dawn and Beth, is looking into grad school.

Deeply unsatisfied that Alzheimer's is a condition no one, including the specialist docs, can tell you how it will go, other than that it will gradually--at some pace or other--get more and more dismal, but how, in what order, requiring what when, they can't say. And so Dawn's mom...

Very deeply satisfied that Beth has graduated, has graduated from the #2 public high school in the country, has graduated #2 in her class, is accepted and going to Washington University in St. Louis, has received about 90% funding, and has saved some money to take with her, is interested in Africa.

Deeply unsatisfied that Dawn and I can't--don't?--have more of a mid-range, if not long-range, plan for What's Next: mostly due to the uncertainties attending our caretaking situation.

Very deeply satisfied that Dawn swallowed her numerous objections and accepted the biggest gift her fan club has given her in a while, namely a twelve-day trip to Spain to walk the Camino del Santiago. She went, she really got there (emotionally) while she was there, and it is sticking with her. Additionally, Beth went with her, and then zipped up to England to see my sister and brother-in-law, and longtime LGBC friends Connie and Ted.

Unsatisfied that Dawn and God haven't gotten fully together yet on what the overriding call on her life for the second act of our life dramedy is going to be.

Deeply satisfied that I got the permanent position as professor of philosophy and religion at El Centro College late this past spring.

Deeply satisfied with teaching intro philosophy, ethics, world religions, social and political philosophy, ancient philosophy, modern philosophy, contemporary philosophy, and other courses in various terms.

Satisfied with building and running a program: offering more sections of more courses, hiring adjuncts, developing a major, developing student interest and enthusiasm, etc.

Deeply unsatisfied with the halting state of my writing. Working very hard to blame it on others; that's not going well.

Deeply satisfied with the aggressive state of my reading. Have read the Ramayana, the great Hindu epic, in a (500-page!) "abridgement"; read Plato's Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Meno, Symposium, and Republic; reading Aristotle's Metaphysics and Kierkegaard's Training in Christianity and Habermas's Between Naturalism and Religion.

Deeply satisfied with extended family relations, although not fully satisfied with how much (little) I'm myself putting into them: our relations with Dawn's aunts and uncle and cousins, and with my Mom's family, are good. Our relations with Dawn's sisters and the two brothers-in-law are very good. My sisters and their husbands are really really good to us and to our kids; I'd like to be better to them. I'm not sure we're seeing my folks often enough, but the relationship is good and I at least do get up there every six or so weeks. The Thameses had their biennial family reunion in New Orleans, no less, this summer, and that was lots of fun. In addition to the touristy stuff--Preservation Hall, the Ursuline Convent, breakfast at Cafe du Monde, the McIlhenny family's tabasco factory in New Iberia, etc.--the family time was really good, and several relationships were renewed or deepened.

Bittersweet is the most adult taste, I'm told; and certainly one should be able to feel both joy and grief fully, even when they're right next to each other. I'm not so sure that living in the tension not only of obedience and temptation, but of satisfaction and dissatisfaction, is very mature, even though I think it probably is quite characteristic of many adult lives. It is of mine right now, anyway.