Christmas 1989

Holiday greetings!

Best wishes to you as we end this decade. We’re all looking ahead to the 90’s, which will bring some graduations and perhaps an end to the game of musical bedrooms played here as children swoop back in from college just long enough to disturb our routines, tie up the washing machine and telephone, and mess up the bathrooms. I’m sure we’ll really miss that someday.

The college girls finished their semesters at UCLA and University of Dallas and went back for more in the fall, so it couldn’t have been as bad as they let on. Jenny, however, skipped the country and has spent this semester in Rome on the UD campus there. Her most recent letter says she’s tired of travel, museums and monuments and the “Hotel Eurail” where the students cheat the innkeepers out of a living wage. I hope that means she’s ready for cleaning bathrooms and doing dishes. She will no doubt bend our ears for several days when she gets back on December 14, regaling us with tales of adventures no mother should have to hear.

Cathy has been living in the slow lane the past few months due to an automobile accident in which she totaled two cars (one of them a ’67 Jaguar). Her back is still not quite right so she is forced to spend most of her time studying—she lost the summer job in the Sequoias and the school-term job at the UCLA bookstore due to physical limitations. She still parties, however, so there’s hope.

Brian may finally emerge from braces in the new year and perhaps make the Guinness Book of World Records for the patient with the longest-surviving archwire. His computer game map was published this fall in a book, and, true to form, he didn’t tell us about it. We just happened to discover the book lying about; he said it had arrived “a couple of weeks ago.” Clearly an event of monumental significance to him. He has declined to learn to drive just yet, since it’s a lot of trouble and he has friends who don’t mind picking him up. Interesting child.

David continues to flit happily through life, sampling the flowers here and there. He’s playing soccer still, in tournaments, after a creditable regular season. His academic love is still math, and at nine he shows a remarkable realism. He just informed us that there is no Santa Claus; I don’t think I came to that realization until I was at least 34 or 35. I’m not sure how we’ll get through a Christmas without somebody believing, but we could work on the dog—he’s real malleable and loves to please.

Larry is still gainfully employed, working two jobs and putting in seven days a week. I think it’s a ploy to get out of yard work, personally. He promises to cut back sometime soon, but I’ve heard that song before. He did manage a brief vacation in the summer at Mammoth, a ski resort in the eastern Sierras. We pretty much did nothing that week but swim and hike and watch movies and it was wonderful, although all too short. We also had a weekend of cross-country skiing in Yosemite in the winter (not the best of times, since David and I were getting over flu) and a weekend of camping at the beach where David leaped off an abandoned lifeguard tower and slit his eyelid open. They never let you rest, do they! Fortunately, he got the right horizontal angle so it healed without a scar.

This will be the last difficult academic year for me, with graduation scheduled for May, and then I think I’ll quit studying forever. If I had known at the outset that the M.A. would take nearly five years and countless gray hairs I’m not sure I’d have committed myself. I’m spurred on by the hope that I’ll finally be able to get out of teaching pubescent creatures controlled by raging hormones and driven by terminal silliness and into teaching somebody who cares. Now I understand why teachers travel all summer—to shake off the cynicism, paranoia and neuroses that are a part of institutional education. This year I have yet another odd set of courses I teach, including Spanish, French and ESL. I also teach ESL study skills, helping foreign students with a variety of subjects ranging from math to ancient history to life science, the blind leading the blind, so to speak. During the summer I taught an Amnesty class in addition to my regular day summer school, and was intrigued to learn what the Immigration and Naturalization Service puts people through. Most citizens would be hard put to pass the history and institutions test those students must take.

We’ve enjoyed some all-too-brief visits from friends overseas this year, and for a few mad but delightful moments entertained thoughts of hopping a plane to Rome for the holidays and then on to England. When it got to the point of actually re-mortgaging the house, selling a child or granny’s silver, we came to our senses, but it was a lovely dream while it lasted. Maybe some day...

All the best to you during the holidays and in the new year (and decade!) from all of us.