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The Baylor Move

What a whirlwind the past two months have been.  Greer and I moved out of our apartment at Fort Drum, drove my Mini to Waco, Texas (we were in a blizzard for the first two days of the drive), spent nearly three weeks at home for the holidays (and had our first married and thus two-family Christmas), had two going away parties for Greer, flew back to Fort Drum to await his deployment, got stuck in a total whiteout blizzard, I flew to Texas to start my new job at Baylor, arrived to find that all four brakes on my car had completely rusted out because of all the salted roads during various snows, spent two days stuck in Dallas while they were getting fixed, finally made it to Waco to move in, then Greer flew to Afghanistan (via Germany and Kyrgyzstan) and began his yearlong deployment.  Whew.  We are both finally beginning to regain our strength and are able to assess the situations with our new jobs and living arrangements.  I live in a nice Baylor-owned apartment in Waco, and Greer shares a sea container with another JAG behind an enormous wall of sandbags.

I am the inaugural President's Fellow at Baylor, and it has been a fun challenge to see what my responsibilities will be.  Ken Starr has encouraged me to use this almost like a post-doc (although in my case it's a post-masters pre-doc) where I can make use of any resources at the university to do my own research.  I have a lovely office in the President's Office, and do a little work here and there on little projects for Ken.  I can spend the majority of my time working with professors in the Honors College and Great Texts department working as research assistants for them, teaching in their classes, and getting help with my own work.  I get to have a library orientation next week so I can learn everything Baylor has in its collections - they have all the Browning letters here, so I am going to see if I can come up with a project on Robert Browning and Dante so I have an excuse to look at them.

I have done a lot of soul searching in the past few months about whether I really want to begin another 5 year degree program and commit my life to the professoriate.  There are many downsides, and having a real paying job for which I am already adequately qualified often seems more simple.  But today I had a meeting with Ralph Wood, who is a fixture at Baylor, and it cleared up any doubts in my mind.  He has been teaching at Baylor for about 40 years in the English department, and he works a lot on the Inklings and on Flannery O'Connor.  His office is on the 6th floor of the tallest building on campus up it a little tower that looks out for miles over the flat Texas landscape.  It's a long and narrow room covered, covered, covered in books.  There is a narrow second story that lines the entire room to house a whole extra floor of books.  When we got into his office he walked me through the major sections of books in the room, and I teared up as he listed things like the American South, Reformation Theology, the Inklings, Chesterton, Patristics, English poetry, Church history, etc.  He loved his books so much, and I loved thinking of all the hours he has spent alone with them in that room.

He invited me to speak with him because he is teaching Chaucer later this semester and wanted to see if I had any insight on which of the Tales he should have the students read.  We walked out with an abbreviated syllabus and with plans for me to take over his class for much of the month of April, as well as a few bonus classes in their Dante unit in February.  I was absolutely glowing.  It's a real live Great Texts class, exactly what I want to teach someday, and I have the students all to myself for six full sessions this term.  This is just the best.

Comments

  1. Glad to hear you made it TX safely. I can't wait to hear how the teaching goes, Catherine. What an opportunity! Enjoy it, friend.

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    2. It was then not by chance that you came again into my life today, as before on the speeding train taking you South, away from Scotland for the long journey that you now have a path set clear on. Not by chance that as you are separated from your loved one far across the sea, I also struggle with that reality at this time. Not by chance that our Gods, though different in nature, bring us the inner peace and resolve to embrace the opportunity of this challenge to realise those long simmering desires, those dreams and eternal goals that will never depart us. Unlikely soul mates, but not by chance.

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