I bought a new blazer before the trip, and bought a bag to transport it on the plane. Naturally, my bag got squished by a piece of luggage in the overhead bin and there are visible wrinkles on one sleeve of the blazer. Oh well, I tried.
I checked a bag (for a $25 fee) because I wanted to keep the garment bag on the plane with me. When I retrieved it in Salt Lake City, I barely recognized it. It was dusty and beat-up looking, and seemed smaller than almost all of the other bags.
Then it occurred to me that my husband (then partner) and I had bought this and another piece of luggage on sale at Macy's in Atlanta in 1997 before I went on a trip to Phoenix to a music theory conference. Right after my return from that trip, we adopted our two cats. Now Misty is gone and this piece of luggage looks as if its best days are behind it.
That was a different era, and reminders are piling up that my material connections to that time are fading fast. There is no bright new future to look forward to, as we seem to have thought there was at that time. It was a time of discovery and adventure and fun, and of building toward a future of fuller participation in the American middle class. It was a time of moving from a period of apprenticeship toward a period of professional activity. Now it is a matter of trying to hold steady, and of preparing for an inevitable downhill slide.
In the department at my university, curricular reforms are being discussed. Each area is being pressured by the dean to "give up something." That is, credit hours must be reduced in a desperate attempt to attract more students. This means that activity in each area must be even more limited than it is now, even though the outcomes (to use a trendy administrative term) are often far from impressive. So, basically, we are being pressured to commit to becoming even worse than we are now, and to sell it as something that is innovative and inviting.