Who Am I? Fall 2013

Red Rock and Giorgio Armani

In the fifth grade, my father came to my class on “Professionals Day.” Mindy Rosenblum asked him the best thing about his job, and he said, “Freedom.” For more than a decade, I thought it was an odd answer. Freedom? Don’t you want money? Dare I say, fame? Enterprises far more glamorous than academe courted my father, a social scientist with serious number-crunching skillz. Time and again, he chose the life of a professor in a small college town, and his freedom.

I more than “like” my job. I love my job. And now I understand freedom.

This is an autumn of freedom. Freedom from a spring filled with Gatsby hoopla. Freedom from my book project—an eight-year run of researching, writing, rewriting and then rewriting again. Freedom from a major public history project that has me popping Tums and herding cats. Freedom from visitors, from unrelenting heat, and from 14,000 “fix-its” in my house.

Freedom to finish two projects: 1. Finally, I will edit and send out articles that I am writing with my very patient graduate students. One is on implementing historic preservation and sustainability into public history courses. The second is on the appropriation of Navajo patterns by the American textile industry in the 1940s and 1950s. Love that.

2. I will disassemble a collection of couture clothing owned by a grande dame of the West Coast. Some pieces will go to museums, others to high-end vintage dealers. Maybe some will come home with me. As for the grande dame, she is still gorgeous and sharp as a tack. She keeps me laughing with life advice such as “Never go to lunch with anyone who is not as smart as you,” and “Go out with an Italian, but marry a Jew.” Too late. I married an Irishman.