I'm back in San Diego, attending the American Schools of Oriental Research's (ASOR) annual meeting. Therese and I lived here in San Diego from 1993-2000, as I was working in my PhD in ancient Near Eastern history at the University of California, San Diego. Those years were, for me, the worst of times and the best of times. My daughter Kalypso was born in San Diego, and La Jolla, where we lived in graduate student housing, is one of the most beautiful locations I've ever seen. Dog beach was the coolest. We also used to go camping in the Baja in the Winter and watch the California gray whales breach the water. It was amazing. But I have some painful memories of San Diego. When I first arrived here I had to work extremely hard to get over a hurdle of perception. I rarely saw Therese as I had to work on my studies all day long. It all worked out eventually, and I got my degree, but I still harbor feelings of being cruelly mistreated. If they took the degree away from me at this point in my life, especially after Katrina, I would not enroll in a PhD program. Once was more than enough for this guy. Interestingly, I asked a colleague and a very dear friend of mine if he was happy with his life at this point, and he said he wished he would not have gone into academia. There are some depressed people in this group.
But being in San Diego is also surreal in that I am a much different person than I was in the year 2000. My life has certainly worked out different from the way I planned. I thought I would wind up at a major division one research institution. I'm overall happy with my job at Xavier, but it's not what I intended. But now the schmoozing at ASOR and the politicking, something I used to enjoy, doesn't seem fun. I know very well the people at this meeting. I've excavated with them, and my family and I lived with them at overseas research centers such as the Albright Institute in Jerusalem and the American Center of Oriental Research in Amman Jordan. There some of my best friends. But now my name has become associated with tragedy because of Katrina. I do appreciate all of my colleagues at ASOR thinking about me and my family. But I hope there is a day when Katrina is a distant memory. I think the first step will be getting back into our house. We're hoping it will be in June or July. Thankfully, Ron Tappy has decided not to excavate this summer at Zeitah, so I'll be in New Orleans anxiously waiting to get my hands on a moving truck. My theory is that I need to be there when we move in. Otherwise, I'll spend the rest of my life looking for things like can openers and scissors because Therese will put them in some illogical drawer. I wonder how crotchety I'll be when I'm 80.