Posts

Dr. Douglas Went to Washington

Image
About 11 months ago I went to Washington, D.C. to be a Congressional fellow. And, about one week ago I had my last day working in the U.S. Senate on Capitol Hill. Then, after I finished packing all of my belongings into my car, I drove back home to Massachusetts. So far, I have been readjusting to life on the Powwow River, doing some much needed weeding, unpacking, sorting, purging, and reorganizing, visiting friends and family, and settling into my new work office. Oh...and I have made no fewer than three trips to Hodgie's Ice Cream since I returned.

So, what does a year in Washington look like as a Congressional fellow?



Over a hundred hours spent in "training" sessions. Our first two weeks consisted of sitting in a hotel ballroom for 8-9.5 hours a day, with 170 other people, freezing our fanny off, and having different speakers hourly who educated us about Congress, Washington life, the three branches of government, the federal budget, careers post-fellowship, and more…

My Last Drive From Bridgewater

Image
On Monday night I made my last trip home from Bridgewater State University. Oh, sure. I assume that I’ll be back at some point. But, this was my final drive home as a member of the faculty. And now, I’m a former member of the faculty.
It was about this time of year in 2006 that Neil and I rented a U-Haul and drove my belongings down to Bridgewater, where I started as a new assistant professor on the tenure-track. Since we still lived in southern Maine, 120 miles from Bridgewater, I had rented a cottage in the area so that I would have somewhere to stay overnight near campus. Thus, the U-Haul had my office belongings, as well as items for the garage-converted cottage. It was incredibly hot that day, as I recall – about 100°. My step-daughter, Dorothy, was a teenager and she was home sick from her job at Funtown, with a fever. This was in the days before we had cell phones, so we didn’t know she was sick until we arrived home late that night.
Our tenants and neighbors at that time had a …

Blink-Blink...Pause...Blink

Image
Five years ago this week I penned a blog post called "Blink," in which I wrote about the fact that at that time, I had been married for 15 years. Fast forward five years to this week. On June 7, Neil and I will have been married for 20 years. In case it's not clear, that's two decades. So, this blog post title captures a bit more drama than the one before. Two decades? Blink. Blink. PAUSE. More Blinking!!




I recently wrote a blog post about noticing that I'm in my mid-40s, so I'll just say what everyone says at these times: Twenty years?How does this happen?

When I was young I once overheard my mother talking to a high school classmate. They were marveling at the passage of time since they had finished high school. I remember my mother saying, "It's only the days that are long." Indeed, that seems to be the case.

So, what does 20 years of matrimony look like? Three dwellings in two towns and two different states. Hundreds of thousands of miles dr…

A Love Letter to Drake

Image
Washington, D.C. May 26, 2017
Dear Drake:
You didn’t know it, but last summer you were about to face the hardest year of your life, because I went away to Washington. You didn’t know that I would leave, but I did. I left you in the very capable hands of Neil, who even though he would never choose to have a dog, is perfectly capable of caring for you and is only willing to do so, because he would probably do almost anything within his power for his wife.
We have been so lucky to have so much help with you this year. Nora, who, as you know, we met in puppy class in April of 2009, has taken care of you on and off since that time. This year has been no exception…well, there has been no “off” time for her. I know how much you love her and her sweet-natured golden retriever, Baxter. And, even though you routinely bully him and push him around, he is your best buddy. (But, Baxter does have his limits. Remember that time that you pushed the limit with him over and over when we were at Batti…

Confessions of a 40-Something

Image
Everyone said that coming to Washington and being a Congressional fellow would change my life. I have mentioned this many times in my blogging this year. It's true. I have made more professional contacts than I thought possible and when I return to Massachusetts in July, I'll have a new job, with a step-up in rank, at a university that is more closely aligned to my professional goals.

But, what I didn't anticipate is that coming to Washington would reinforce my age to me. Don't get me wrong, as I have blogged before, I love finally being in my 40s, but I have never been in a situation where my age has defined me so much.

Let's start with the fall, when I was beginning my fellowship. It was pretty clear to me from the get-go that the vast, vast major of fellows in my program were newly minted PhDs. Most are in their late 20s to early 30s. So, I had a few more years of experience under my belt, which I think has served me quite well here. The professional society tha…

A Year Without Murray

Image
For those of us who knew and loved Murray Straus, we have made it through a year without him. This past Saturday was the one year mark of his death. Last year I wrote about Murray, his generosity, curiosity, warmth, and all of the ways that I benefited from knowing him. I also wrote how much I adored Murray and how going to Durham without him there would never, ever, be the same.

True, that.

The events leading up to this date last year have been on my mind: having lunch with Murray weekly during the last year of his life and my daily phone calls to his administrative assistant to see if she had news on his whereabouts, his well-being, and his schedule. She was such a source of support to me. In my office at my own university, I kept her number and Murray's number next to my desk phone for easy reference. This year while I am in Washington a colleague is using my office. I left a little sticky note asking this colleague not to remove the orange piece of paper next to my phone with …

An Entire New England Garden in One Week

Image
Yes, two blog posts in just two days!

Confession - this is mostly a picture post. Confession number two - there's a little exaggeration in the title of this blog post...or maybe a lot of exaggeration: Not an entire New England garden in just one week here in Washington, but close enough. It's only May 9 and I'm seeing flowers and plants in gardens in Washington that I normally wouldn't see until late June, July, and sometimes August. I saw a sunflower plant that was three feet tall this week. The damn thing almost reached over and slapped me a "high-5!" Actually, I was so impressed, I offered to give it a "high-5." I believe that the sunflower sighed and breathed, "You must be a damned northerner." This brings me to my main realization - which is that Washington, D.C. is actually quite southern! There's a lot of debate about whether or not this is the case, but I'm not really speaking culturally, I mean geographically and in terms …