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Struggle, hope, and rebar


  • Jim,

    I’m very glad to have you around. I apologize for not returning your message earlier. I’ve been very busy lately. Some of my work has been good, a lot of it a pain in the ass.

    To answer your question: I have not been at ironwork lately, but not because I don’t want to. When construction slowed down a few years back, I started teaching history and Western Civilization at Johnson Community College during the school year and working iron in the summer. Being back in the academic environment, I got back into writing my dissertation and decided to finish my doctorate.
    Believe me, there’s no more nose-grinding work than finishing a book-length academic work. I missed working last summer due to researching and writing this stupid dissertation. I busted my ass. I wanted it completed so I could work iron this summer.
    I thought I had it. But like all things academic, it just keeps going on and on and on. I went to the graduation ceremony in May, which should have been the last of it. Unfortunately, I still have revisions ahead and it looks like this summer is fucking blown, blown, blown.
    The saddest part of it all is that Clarkson is doing the bridge rehab on I-35 right through my neighborhood. There is nothing more cruel than having to drive under that fucker every day and not be up there–welding, rebar, whatever. I go to sleep at night wishing I was up there on the third shift.
    The good news is that my eleven-year-old son had a three-week break after school. I used the time to finish my second book and get it off to the University of Nebraska Press for publication in the Spring. I had worked on it on and off throughout the last year. But I never really had a time when I could go through it from start to finish and consider it as a single piece. Instead, it was a chapter here, a few paragraphs here, so I’m happy to have had the time. It was good work, too, far better and soul fulfilling than academic work. I look forward to seeing it on the shelves.
    I want the dissertation completed and degree in hand by January. That way, I can teach and get myself ready–welding certs, safety updates, new piss test, etc. Then, I can put together some steel next summer.
    After that, who knows. I’ll be looking for a professor job and working with the union. Academic jobs are had to come by these days, nearly impossible. I might just wind up doing what makes me happiest: writing, teaching, and building bridges in the summertime. We’ll see.
    I’d love to hear about how your ironworker career is moving along. The last I saw you, you were working with Genco. Are you still there? Still a rodbuster? What about family?
    I look forward to catching up.
    Patrick

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