Lost and Found

I lost my phone this evening. Near as I can tell, it bounced out of my pocket as I ran to cross the street.

I have been lucky with lost phones. This is the third time I’ve misplaced a phone, unknowingly, and the third time the benevolence of strangers has brought it back to me.

The guy who picked up my phone told me I should lock it. I didn’t laugh, but if I did, how would he have been able to find me to give it back?

There are more good people in this world than bad people. Yes, I risk a bad person doing bad things to me with my unlocked phone. But since I’m more worried about me losing the phone than someone stealing it, I leave it unlocked.

And trust.

My trust has been well placed, thus far at least.

I am grateful for that.

Last Week

It is the beginning of the last week before I move. Monday July 28 is moving day.

It is a bizarrely cool morning here for July, nice to sit outside with a small sweater on.

This has never been a perfect house or yard, something has always been asking for my attention. Maybe all houses are like that. But it has been a pretty house, and often a pretty yard, and I am grateful for my years here.

We had a party on Friday from my math colleagues, and a picnic Monday from my bicycling colleagues. I have been very loved by many people. In ways I have undoubtedly not appreciated. I am grateful, very grateful for that.

I am grateful to have found a missing part of myself in teaching. Grateful to the colleagues who helped me get started. Grateful to those who supported my efforts and told me I was doing a good job. It’s been a journey, and it isn’t done yet.

I am grateful for my colleague with whom I am researching. I still feel like a baby researcher, unsure of myself or my worth. Thank you for your trust and belief in me, and willingness to work with me and help me find my feet. After many situations and experiences which haven’t fit, I am grateful to be here, scared of screwing up, but using my lessons from before to try to do a better job.

I am sorry to leave this place, sorry to leave this section of my life. I know there is a new section ahead of me, and many adventures to have, but walking into the unknown is hard for me. Being lonely is hard for me. It will take time to make new friends and feel like I am secure in a new start.

I am grateful my colleagues there are planning a warm welcome — they will help me move in. That’s amazing. Thank you.

Now I need to get to some packing and sorting for today. After all, I only have about a week left.


I just had my windshield replaced. It’s had a big crack across it for about two years now. A week and a half ago, I took a weekend road trip with a friend. We drove my car, because I needed to bring a bicycle. Hers is nicer and newer, but mine is the champion for cargo capacity. I was surprised to find myself uncomfortably embarrassed by my aging vehicle and the gigantic crack.

I should have done this sooner.

Getting the windshield replaced is like getting new glasses. The world looks different, even though it is the same. You’d think you wouldn’t touch anything if you reached out toward it, and you understand how birds make those tragic mistakes flying into glass.

Everything is fresh and new and wonderful, but just for a few moments. Quickly, oh so quickly, I acclimatized to the change and what was wondrous, I ceased to notice again.

When is enough enough?

I had a phone call with our Chief Diversity Officer, and I went and had a visit with the Dean of Faculties today about why I am leaving my current university.

I feel an obligation to do this and do this well. I know nothing is going to happen because of what I say. I just hope to make it easier for the next person. But dredging up all that stuff makes me sad. I never feel like I say the right things. It was a hard day.

This evening ended with a visit to my book club. One member is in human resources, and told me that the university will never change unless I file a complaint with the EEOC or another external enforcing agency. And I can see her point and logic, but forgive me if tonight this was just too much. I’m doing my best here to try to do right by everybody, to speak my truth, to tell the right people. And this is still not enough?

Truth is I think she’s right. Truth is I’m not enthused about what is asked of me. Truth is I worry about repercussions hurting me, even though I’m soon to be gone.

Maybe that’s all just excuses for not wanting to delve into things that bother me and make me sad again.

A friend tried to remind me of all the things that have gone right lately. But I’m not in the mood for that. Tonight I give myself permission to be sad. Tomorrow is another day, with a new set of challenges. I will have to buck up for them. Tomorrow, with renewed strength, I can think about this again.

Meanwhile I am sad that I am leaving. Sad that there wasn’t a better outcome here. Sad that I didn’t have the right words to say, the magic words, to make things right. Sad to leave my home and my friends behind.

If that seems ungrateful for all the good things that I have had happen, tonight, so be it. I am truly grateful for the good things. But I am also very very sad about a lot of things too.

Change and Anxiety

Change always comes with a heap of tasks to be accomplished. I make lists, I update lists, I mark things done, but I still don’t feel in control. I’m missing something. What is it? I won’t have time to do all of that, no matter what. So let go of the expectation and do what is most important.

Leaping into the unknown is scary too … will I be happy there? Will I make friends? How will things be? I can’t know that, and so that too, to some extent, must be let go.

Consequently anxiety creeps in around the edges. Not good, since anxiety is a productivity antidote. Manage, do what you can, take medication as needed, try not to climb walls or call someone if you are. Or medication. That’s what you have it for.

How do you eat an elephant? I know, I’ve said this before. One bite at a time. The elephant carcass is looking scavenged already, as I’ve successfully sold/gotten rid of many things from the house. Started boxing yesterday. All is good. Still need to go through and get rid of more things. Use the epsilon>0 concept — doing a little is better than doing nothing. Keep moving.

I am looking forward to being moved. I am more looking forward to feeling settled and feeling like I am making friends. I am definitely looking forward to not having this task hanging over my head anymore.

One step at a time.

Goodbye Austin

There’s the little house on Woodward Street, the first house I owned. Small and just perfect for me. I miss you, little house, and I miss the little fantasy of growing old in you. Goodbye little house.

There’s Amy’s Ice Cream. I’ve never been the biggest ice cream fan, but I was glad to take someone who truly enjoyed you there, for this last time. Goodbye Amy’s.

There’s the friend’s house where so often I’ve stayed when I’ve come to visit. A cousin recently moved in to the guest room. I was so glad to have dinner there one last time, and to see everyone. I know the friends will keep in touch, but goodbye to the visits. I will have many fond memories of you. The times we had Salt Lick for dinner, the times we’ve cooked. The movies we’ve watched (even that one that none of us liked!). Even the times, like last night, when I got overwhelmed by my allergies to the cats, achoo, achoo. I hope you know how grateful I have been for the hospitality, for the friendship, for all of the memories. Goodbye, goodbye.

There’s the Town Lake Trail. How many times did I run that 4 mile loop from First Street to the Mopac bridge, and back again? Not recently, but there were years of getting out there at 6:30 in the morning to meet friends to run. I remember the time we saw a hot air balloon skimming just above the water, and we were afraid the people would fall in and we’d have to rescue them in the winter cold. Walking down to the Trail of Lights. Spotting poison ivy next to the trail. Finally renting a kayak on Town Lake, a thing I meant to do some day for years, and have done several times in the past years. Biking around you today, and seeing the new boardwalk — connectivity. Such a jewel for the City of Austin. I am sure it took political effort and willpower to get that built, but, like always, the most valuable part of the trail is the last piece built that connects it all together. Goodbye Town Lake Trail.

Barton Springs Pool. Rarely visited when I lived here. Not the best place for swimming laps, we were always going somewhere else for that. But your water is amazing and cold as blazes, just as everyone says. You get out and are cool for a long while afterwards, even walking or biking in the sun. And so pretty, this piece of Austin. You can do back dives and back flips off the pool, even though I didn’t today. It is so cold, so cold, in that diving area. Goodbye Barton Springs Pool.

One last trip to REI, one last trip to Title Nine Sports, but I’ll find you again in Seattle. Central Market on the other hand, the original one, only in Texas for you. I remember when you were built in 1994, and I remember too, the little table that overlooked the market. I came early and camped up there at least twice on Christmas Eve to see all the crazy overwhelmed shoppers below in the long long lines. It was such fun to sit upstairs, above it all, watching everyone’s last minute preparations in peace. The Sunday morning trips to the South Lamar store, with a newspaper, hoping that today might be the day that I’d end up in a conversation with the man that would become the love of my life. It never happened; rarely did I talk to anyone else. I still liked having my breakfast and reading the paper and enjoying being there. Goodbye Central Market.

All the friends I have here, made in graduate school, and afterwards. Martial arts friends, and bicycling advocates, those I went to school with or worked with. Lunches and dinners after martial arts class, brunches at Austin Diner. You don’t lose people in the same way you lose places, since you can still keep in touch. I will miss you too, especially those I see most often often. Maybe some of you will take a trip to Seattle and we can meet up. I am sure I will be back. At least on occasion. Goodbye friends, I wish I got to see all of you on this last trip.

Learned Behavior

I was talking to a friend the other day about family, and about the trainwreck that is my immediate family. I don’t know if some of the siblings talk to each other, but I know a lot of us don’t. I’m not even sorry about that, at least not any more. I feel like I tried. I know some of the what went wrong and how, but I am also sure I don’t get all of it. One thing I know is that I don’t have to stay in the middle of this mess and let it keep hurting me. I have an obligation to do what I can for Dad, as best I can, until he passes, which means some limited interaction with the others, as required. Then it is time to move on.

I wonder sometimes what my parents and my Dad’s first wife were thinking. Surely you don’t go into it thinking you are going to have kids that are never going to care to speak to each other again when they grow up. I can remember my mother trying to micromanage my relationship with my younger brother. It never worked. She never stopped. I know she’s a lot of the reason for tension with the older kids, and with very good reason.

One thing I do know is that you cannot create relationships for other people. You can, if you are the authority figure, create an environment in which healthy relationships are possible. You do this by creating a community of respect for individuals and differences. You do this by leading by example. You do this by respecting and valuing the other members of the family or community, and trusting them, by and large, to figure things out and do what’s right. To want to do what’s right.

You have to love and respect yourself, with all your flaws and weaknesses. Everyone has these. If you can’t love your vulnerable, imperfect self, you will have a hard time teaching anyone else to love themselves. And if you don’t love yourself, it is mighty difficult to love someone else.

I wonder sometimes how it is for my siblings’ kids. I think it is better and healthier than it was for us, and I hope they have better relationships between siblings and cousins than I have had.

I am often sad that I never had a family. Sometimes a small voice whispers that maybe it is a good thing, looking at the past. Mostly I believe that it just is — nothing I chose, nothing I had real power over, a sign, if anything, of a changing world where often our values and what we want and expect for ourselves hasn’t quite caught up with modern day reality. Sometimes a louder voice whispers that if I had the chance, I could have done it, not perfect, but with a lot of right.

My realistic voice says to take this lesson into my classroom and my relationships with others. Love myself, create the environment where healthy relationships are possible. And hold on for the ride, because you never know what will happen next, who will come into your life. Give love freely, and accept it gratefully. You never know how people will change you, if you leave yourself open to love and change.