I am a recently retired Professor of American Literature; I taught at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana, from 1981-2011. I grew up in East Texas and South Louisiana, and my family roots are deep in the cultures of both areas. I retired almost a year ago, and until April 24, 2012, was my father’s primary caregiver. Since his death, I am now beginning to discover what retirement is like.
My father worked for Sun Oil Company, and thus I was what was politely known as an oil-field brat. Less politely, people usually called us “oil-field trash.” By the time I was 5 and 1/2, when we moved to the Egan oil-field camp, I’d lived in Beaumont (TX), Humble (TX), and Sunset (LA). One of the topics I plan to explore is what oil-field camps were, and what living in them was like.
I graduated from Iota High School (1969), McNeese State University (BA, English, Dec. 1972), LSU-Baton Rouge (MA, English, Dec. 1974), and Texas A&M University (English, May 1983). I taught as a graduate assistant at LSU and TAMU. I also taught at Lamar State University from 1975-78. I taught at McNeese State University from 1981-83 as a visiting lecturer, and as faculty from 1983-2011.
I loved teaching — and still do. That someone paid me to do what I love (teach writing and literature) still amazes me. Everyone should be so fortunate. Retirement came at an opportune moment — I’d always planned to retire at 60, but hadn’t expected that I’d be the primary caregiver for my father (at least not that quickly). I spent most of my time with him, loving that I could do so. I am still taking care of business issues, of course, but now see my life becoming my own again.
I love to read, to spend time with friends and family and pets, and I love to travel. I am spending time at my own home, excited about making some repairs, adding to the garden area, and having friends over for parties again. My car is always ready to hit the road, and now I can do that. My passport is valid and is always ready for another stamp. My pets give me unconditional love and are always glad to see me when I return. My apartment in Greece is always ready for me to open it up and enjoy, and now that I am no longer bound by semesters and working, I anticipate using it at different times around the calendar.
Robert Earl Keen sings that “The road goes on forever/ And the party never ends.”
And that’s what I want to chart here, in this blog. My new life.