Gemini Ink, the literary arts organization in downtown San Antonio, honored me with the “Award of Literary Excellence” last Thursday evening at its annual INKstravaganza. Even before the gala, I realized that fame is fleeting: one of the first announcements of the event and the honor was in the “Express-News” featuring a colored photo of me and the words, “a beloved, longtime professor and administrator at Trinity University”¦”
A week later, the announcement reappeared and this time, the photo was in black and white and the modifier, “beloved,” had disappeared. And people wonder why, at my advanced age and station, I have absolutely no problem being humble and touched by every kindness. (Who edited out the modifier, “beloved?” 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, “could handle” me, the planners invited me to “interview myself.” Why not? I’ve already lost the tag “beloved.”
One of my favorite questions I asked myself was this: “Why 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, “˜Cure for PMS? Shoot the bitch’?”
As I observed in my response, it certainly isn’t easy, and I am also a “between you and me” person in a “between you and I” world. Frankly, sometimes I realize that if I didn’t already drink, I would start.
Here’s the thing: I cherish my home and surroundings at the exquisitely beautiful Cordillera Ranch in the Hill Country. I love the windmill, the towering live oaks and the critters that wander through the property. I love the silence and the heartbreakingly beautiful night sky.
I love working at Trinity University. I cherished being a part of that community even as a young woman when the university didn’t have much money, and neither did I. 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 “” the high quality of staff, faculty and students. I love some of my colleagues, and, God help me, I even love many of my students. The beautiful, well-maintained grounds, the latest in equipment and technology, the sincere commitment to a community of scholars “” 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.
Anyone who even scans my newly published collection of essays will note that several times I quote Trinity’s “commitment to excellence.” I believe in excellence. I like excellence. I find it at Trinity University, deep in the heart of the state of Texas.
Thus, I continue to live here “” in spite of all the unenlightened. 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 “” especially much of the social and political environment, including the disturbing number of climate change deniers “” might take hope from some of my thoughts.
Anyway, Thanksgiving’s upon us. Let’s count our many, many blessings.
Coleen Grissom is a professor of English.