A Triangular Compression

Saturday, May 5, 2018

It’s been over 10 days since my last post, and I may well go another 10 days before the next post appears. There are three places that have absorbed this time: California State University, Long Beach, where I work as a professor in the Department of English; Beyond Baroque, for which I serve as a member of the Board of Trustees; and Sunrise Assisted Living, where my 96 year old mother lives right now, but will soon be living elsewhere.

As for CSULB, I will simply comment that I have been on campus at work Monday through Friday two weeks in a row. Only a very small minority of tenured faculty are on campus five days a week, and not all of them do the same amount of committee work. I will be 71 years old this year, and hope to start teaching part-time in the near future, at which point I will be freed from all committee work.

This is not my first term on the Board of Trustee on Beyond Baroque. Back in the late 1990s, when I was living in San Diego, I helped keep Beyond Baroque afloat through various interventions that included more than one instance of helping Fred Dewey get his grant applications to the post office with only 10 minutes to spare. The last minute requests (and I emphasize the plural) to do this kind of work were just part of what I did, most of which is completely invisible to those who ask me to do work now at that organization. This erasure is no different than at CSULB, where no one remembers the single most important contribution I have made in the past 12 years, despite the fact that it was indeed a turning point for the entire campus. Many others came together to make that moment happen, but I don’t think any of them had to get by on an average of four hours of sleep a night for an entire month in bringing that effort to fruition. The sacrifices of others are always negligible, once those who enjoy the benefits of power have made their requisitions.

My mother must move soon to another, less expensive facility. Although I have five siblings, three of whom live in San Diego, I am the only one of my mother’s six children who has seen her in the past year and a half. The struggle to provide adequate care for my mother’s final years has been an ongoing challenge ever since she turned 90, and very reluctantly began to acknowledge that independent living was beyond her capacity. She surrendered control over her affairs in a manner that required every effort I made to be redoubled in each successive year. I have had a brief respite since last summer, but now the burden of my responsibility has returned once again.

By mid-summer, I hope to return to posting some commentary on contemporary poetry. In the meantime, I leave you to savor the things you hope to accomplish in your own life.