Martha Crosby

A seagull cried out high in the sky, three long plaintive notes, adjusted its wings slightly, and swooped down to land on one of the large, angular, dark brown rocks that kept the winter seas from washing up over the railroad tracks.It preened its beak on its gray feathers as if sharpening a knife.The foul odor of rotting fish wafted up from the shore.Please give me the courtesy of telling me why you have concluded I am a subhuman, I said.Dolores marched on in silence, the sea on our left, the lagoon down a short hill to our right.She stopped and turned on me.Your error is to think you can change the shrunken world in which we live.Your idea for a course that would enlighten the masses failed utterly.If only I could show you how lost in illusions you are.Plato lived near a sea very much like the Puget Sound.He had some noteworthy observations, like his claim that we live in a cave making it impossible to see things as they are.You look at the Thompson Hall of Science and imagine an English Gothic temple filled with Pythagorean scientists pursuing ultimate truth.Those are the shadows in your cave.If you desire clear vision, rip off the ivy and paint it the black and brown camouflage of military aircraft.That’s what takes place in your revered Thompson Hall.The Defense Department owns American science.Seeing reality as it is disappoints us, yes.I was a witch’s brew of hurt and confusion.How had my closest colleague come to think so little of me?When I returned home I called Ron VanEnkevort, chair of the Mathematics Department, and set up a meeting.I didn’t want to put it off even one day.The main thing was it had to happen soon.The stress that had been building up inside me was breaking down my health.I had been deteriorating for weeks.My legs, even in warm weather, felt cold as icicles.They twitched spasmodically.I had no idea what was taking place.It felt as if worms were under my skin eating my calves, which caused them to squirm and shake.I bought woolen long johns and bulky winter pants.Vincent de Paul’s I found an old fireman’s coat, its cloth thick enough to deflect falling walls.But even on the warmest days, I shivered inside my heap of clothing.We met on the fifth floor of Thompson Hall, in the room where two to three dozen professors from the natural sciences and mathematics gathered every weekday at ten for their morning coffee.But as it was Saturday, the room was empty.Ron was casually dressed in jeans and a red plaid shirt.Though he glanced at my strange clothes, he avoided addressing my condition.I didn’t know what to say, so I began with an apology for applying for the trustees’ course, which he had been against.I knew that once I got that off my chest my health would improve.He received my apologies without any rancor for my stubbornness.He said he was delighted I was embracing the department in this new way.It was what he had been hoping for.He would set up a night course that I would teach out at McChord Air Force Base the next semester.He explained how this was a huge opportunity in that the air force would pay the tuition of any airmen who wanted some training as they transitioned to civilian life.If the course went well, if they were satisfied with what they got from me, we would be guaranteed a continuous stream of new students.Someone was hanging a large gauze blanket between me and the world.I noticed that I lost some of his words.Ron had begun talking about one of the most important features of having a professorship at the University of Puget Sound, the generous retirement program.He wanted to help me set up my financial future.He noticed that I had elected an annuity, when experience showed it made much better sense at my age to take the risk and invest in equities.He said he understood how a young professor might want to proceed with great caution, but if I took his advice he was virtually certain my fund would grow quickly and I could retire in my fifties.As he spoke, I drifted like a cloud even though I did not move from my chair.I stared straight down 15th Street, which headed west to the Puget Sound and beyond that to the great ocean that connected the coffee room to the round planet.It came without words.Naturally, inevitably, there would be an infinite number of dreams that rose and died.It made no sense to dwell on those.I felt addressed by the journey itself.This was my destiny, sitting here with Ron VanEnkevort, his face a mask of concern.All that matters are the students, he said.He spoke of the parents who put out significant funds to bring their children to the University of Puget Sound, that we as professors needed to remember them.Our appointments were not for research but for students.When he confessed that his primary motivation was to help the students have families of their own, admiration swelled in my heart, for Ron personally, for all the dedicated professors.He closed our meeting by saying that, contrary to how it might appear at times, he did support my intellectual interests.He offered me leadership of the Math Club, which met Friday afternoons and which he had been running for several years.He said this could be a wonderful setting for my ideas combining science and philosophy.We shook hands with tight grips.His smile expressed both relief and happiness.Besides my gratitude for his help, I too was deeply relieved.We had made things right by getting to a new and simple understanding of my responsibilities.Surely my health problems would soon be a distant memory.

Martha Crosby's job listings

No jobs found.