Gemini Ink, the literary arts organization in downtown San Antonio, honored me with the â€œAward of Literary Excellenceâ€ last Thursday evening at its annual INKstravaganza. Â Â Even before the gala, I realized that fame is fleeting: one of the first announcements of the event and the honor was in the â€œExpress-Newsâ€ featuring a colored photo of me and the words, Â â€œa beloved, longtime professor and administrator at Trinity Universityâ€¦â€
A week later, the announcement reappeared and this time, the photo was in black and white and the modifier, â€œbeloved,â€ had disappeared. Â And people wonder why, at my advanced age and station, I have absolutely no problem being humble and touched by every kindness. Â (Who edited out the modifier, â€œbeloved?â€ I try not to care.)
At past Gemini Ink galas, I have often been asked to conduct interviews with the visiting author/honoree, so, this time, desperate to find someone who, as the director, Sheila Black, put it, â€œcould handleâ€ me, the planners invited me to â€œinterview myself.â€ Â Why not? Â Iâ€™ve already lost the tag â€œbeloved.â€
One of my favorite questions I asked myself was this: Â â€œWhy do you continue to live in Texas where you have to deal with the likes of Rick Perry and Ted Cruz, as well as men wearing t-shirts that read on the back, â€˜Cure for PMS? Â Shoot the bitchâ€™?â€
As I observed in my response, it certainly isnâ€™t easy, and I am also a Â â€œbetween you and meâ€ person in a â€œbetween you and Iâ€ world. Â Frankly, sometimes I realize that if I didnâ€™t already drink, I would start.
Hereâ€™s the thing: Â I cherish my home and surroundings at the exquisitely beautiful Cordillera Ranch in the Hill Country. Â I love the windmill, the towering live oaks and the critters that wander through the property. Â I love the silence and the heartbreakingly beautiful night sky.
I love working at Trinity University. Â I cherished being a part of that community Â even as a young woman when the university didnâ€™t have much money, and neither did I. Â I recall those days when we all got a call from Derwood Hawthorne, the business manager, asking that we not cash or deposit our paychecks until after the weekend.
I love the priorities and values of Trinity â€” the high quality of staff, faculty and students. Â I love some of my colleagues, and, God help me, I even love many of my students. Â Â The beautiful, well-maintained grounds, the latest in equipment and technology, the sincere commitment to a community of scholars â€” all this matters to me.
I love having been associated with and grown from association with the likes of Jim Laurie, Bruce Thomas and Ronald Calgaard who built the university I have served so long and love so much. Â
Anyone who even scans my newly published collection of essays will note that several times I quote Trinityâ€™s â€œcommitment to excellence.â€ Â I believe in excellence. Â I like excellence. Â I find it at Trinity University, deep in the heart of the state of Texas.
Thus, I continue to live here â€” in spite of all the unenlightened. Â I try to challenge all those who make the mistake or have the misfortune of crossing my enlightened, liberated path.
I hope occasional readers of this column, many of whom also struggle to cope with some aspects of Texas life â€” especially much of the social and political environment, including the disturbing number of climate change deniers â€” might take hope from some of my thoughts. Â
Anyway, Thanksgivingâ€™s upon us. Â Letâ€™s count our many, many blessings.