Hi All – Have teamed up with an eclectic (and fun!) group of authors to offer tidbits and books and giveaways over the next couple of weeks and wanted to alert the interested. Here are the details/mastermind post, and happy reading out there!
I may be a bit behind, but apparently some folks are excited about a new romance site called Books + Main Bites, which focuses on excerpts and new book content spanning the romance genre. I may not stay, but I hunted around a little the last couple of days and thought I’d share for others of you who might be interested. Here’s a link! https://bookandmainbites.com/users/27573
…of a conversation with my dad at some point. He was recently asked by his undergrad university to serve on a study-abroad panel since he was one of the first students to participate in such an endeavor for St. John’s. His answer is quintessentially him and particularly salient given the current political climate imo. So because I’m a writing-nerd and way get off on things like this:
Good morning. I had earlier replied indicating that I am available on October 25, and promised to provide more information about my life since SJU and how the study of foreign language has impacted me.
I attended l’Universite de Grenoble for the entire ‘65-‘66 school year and was among the first of the original five students from SJU to study abroad. The others were Jim McKeown, Joe Messina, Gary Youso, and a young man whose name I no longer recall and who dropped out of school in France and “bummed around Europe” for the school year, not returning to SJU for our final year. Jim went to Dijon, Joe to Paris, and I believe Gary went to Paris as well. Upon our return we were to present our experiences to faculty and students, and it is from that, I believe, that a sanctioned study-abroad program was developed. It was, as I now recall, my intention to teach French, and as a senior at SJU did some tutoring of seminary students seeking a post-graduate degree that required a foreign language – and quickly finding out that I did not have the DNA to be a good teacher! Instead I went into a management training position with a retail chain for two years, then began law school, working at the same time as a law clerk, an investigator for a law firm, and an insurance adjuster. Upon completion of law school I took a position with a Minneapolis law firm where I gained immediate trial experience, and left there after two years to take over a retiring lawyer’s practice in west central Minnesota where I remained until retirement. I served for approximately 30 years as a county attorney, and for the past 14 years have worked part time as a child support magistrate for the State of Minnesota, hearing cases in our Seventh Judicial District from Moorhead to St. Cloud.
The experience of studying in France for a year was truly life-changing for me. As a product of a rural upbringing and a very small high school, everything was a broadening event, from experiencing the resentment of Americans (think Viet Nam) in Europe to being classmates with the children of business tycoons and ambassadors and the famous. And I would be remiss, if not misleading, if I did not disclose that two years of college French did not make me conversant in the language, a fact that became painfully apparent upon disembarking the ship in Le Havre knowing no one and having no prearranged place to stay or live. But one learns quickly when necessary. Almost all of the friends developed over the course of that year were Spanish-speaking, from Spain and Central and South America, and communicating was accomplished through a combination of charades, French and Spanish. The people themselves, the history embodied in the country of France, the polyglots encountered, the politics, the prejudices, and, of course, the food and the wine were all new at the time but the impressions if not the choices have remained with me to this day.
The impact of learning French and studying abroad on my life and career is immeasurable, not by any specific application or accomplishment on my part or for reasons of economics, but in my willingness to accept other cultures, other foods, other opinions that differ from my own (a part of the Benedictine values??); and perhaps even a way of thinking. My wife and I have traveled to France over 20 times and have made friends there, as well as from around the world. As a lawyer and judicial officer, the study and learning of French has helped me to better understand, appreciate, and use our own language. And literature seems best read in the language in which it was written.
Here is another bit of information to ponder: After WWII France wished to distance itself somewhat from the USA and established La Francophonie, which brings together all of the countries that speak French, not necessarily as the native language but where it is spoken by most educated people, a total of 56 countries. Put another way, and as pointed out to me by a friend from the Canary Islands with whom I studied in Grenoble, anyone who speaks French, English and Spanish can travel to and communicate in almost every country of the entire world.
Thank you for allowing me to reflect on this matter. It has been a very, very pleasant voyage of the mind.
Lyndon L. Kratochwill
SJU Class of ‘67
**Spoiler Alert (albeit a small one)**
A few of you who’ve read Updrift have reached out to ask about the knit-up to Dana & Will Fletcher’s storyline. This was cut (understandably) from the final manuscript, but I figured I could kerplop it here for the curious. This would have occurred in part three:
“I’m not willing to give it all up to sell flowers on a street corner,” Dana mused to her husband.
“Me neither,” he agreed. “But we can make a shift. I have some ideas. One of them will work.”
In a scenario that should have been baffling but was not, Dana and Will found themselves installed in a hammock on a back porch overlooking the sea. They had no idea how they’d come to be there, but they’d grown comfortable with their new reality, which revolved around a series of semi-sedated, disjointed experiences. They were alone for once, although, somehow, the heavy, soothing presence of their watery friends still enveloped them.
Will had his arms around his wife, and they were nestled together like lovers, Dana’s head on his shoulder, her hand on his chest, their legs an intimate tangle. He felt centered and confident for the first time literally in years, and he was determined to find a way to extend the situation to their life beyond this place. He, too, was optimistic things would work out well. As if to confirm, a warm breeze, carrying promise and hope, caressed them. They both smiled in response.
“That singing really is marvelous,” Dana commented, sighing. Will nodded in agreement. The singing, like the felt-but-not-seen presence of… all those people they’d been with, had been a constant subtext to their lives in this new place, alternately acting as a balm, a stimulant and, most often, a distraction. Each commented how they were unable to feel concern for their responsibilities back home.
Following Dana’s meeting with Xanthe in the cathedral, she and Will had reunited amid her floating, dancing companions, as she’d asked. Her revelations, thankfully, did not require any retelling, as it appeared their separate psychological reviews brought each of them to the exact same conclusions.
“We should start our own business,” Will suggested. “Something small and manageable, where we could use our skills but avoid the responsibilities of a larger organization.”
Dana agreed. “Something on our own. Do you have anything in particular in mind?”
“Actually, I do,” he said with a touch of pride. “If we have a child, it would be nice to be close to family, both for our son or daughter and for us. My family is gone, so that leaves your sister.”
“So, what could we do in Childress, or Griffins Bay?” Dana mused.
“How do you feel about opening a bakery?” he asked.
Dana laughed, what a delightful, absurd idea, to move from health care information management to bread baking. “I love it,” she replied. “Who’s going to bakery school, you or me?”
“What the hell. Let’s both go,” he grinned. “Actually, I thought we could approach that Wilkes girl, Sylvia? I wonder if she’d be interested in running it day-to-day. She’s certainly talented, and isn’t she already through culinary training?”
Dana nodded. It could work. She began thinking through potential marketing initiatives, years of conditioning overriding the diversionary tactics of their hypnotic friends. But while one part of her mind was busy thinking of promotional programs, another started to think about the underlying reason they were turning their careers upside down in the first place.
“You know, I’m not sure I can conceive,” she confessed, regret filling her as she considered the possibility (likelihood?) of not being able to have a baby. “I’m 43 years old, Will.”
“Fine. We’ll adopt,” Will said, unphased. His enthusiasm for following whatever path they needed to cheered Dana, and she relaxed into optimism again. One way or another, they would have a child. She could count on it.
Some combination of the breeze and singing around them caused their level of consciousness to begin receding, although Dana still had the presence of mind to marvel at the fresh life that had been somehow been breathed into them, both individually and as a couple. She couldn’t believe her good luck. “I love you, Will,” she said, nuzzling his neck, her eyes closed with gratitude.
“I love you, too, honey,” Will replied. He brushed his cheek against her hair, and then turned toward her, running his hand from her waist to her back inside her shirt. She tilted her face to him as he drew her to his chest and leaned in to kiss her. He smiled to himself at how easy it felt to be doing this, bemusement shining in his eyes as he looked at his wife. It did not make sense that they should be so resurrected, each of them and within the marriage, but he was sure they were saved. And whether it was this magical place or divine intervention or shear, dumb luck, he didn’t care to examine the why of it too carefully. Even if it should not be, he wanted nothing to disrupt this healing.
Tenderly – and, in each of their opinions, miraculously – Will and Dana talked and loved together as they had not for many years, now able to reaffirm their marriage as if nothing had ever interfered. Ensconced in their silent, protected retreat, they resolved their wants and desires, establishing a vital, common vision for their future. In the morning, they would emerge rested, reunited, and able to re-embark on a life together that both of them wanted.
Outside, several sirens snuck away toward the water, patting each other on the backs and handing out discreet high-fives as they tiptoed off. Dana and Will’s gratitude flowed freely around them, touching everyone who had facilitated their rejuvenation. For nearly all of them, this thanks was adequate compensation for their troubles; only Lydia and Bridget were a little disappointed, and even they were mostly happy. Mostly.
My former colleague, author Mary Fan, is Chinese American, more academically accomplished than most people you and I will ever know, has a killer sense of humor; and perhaps most importantly, has a gift for explicating complex issues so you are enthusiastic rather than defensive when you think about them.
Case in point her recent post on her own blog, which was so thoughtful and worthwhile, I gotta share it with y’all. Here ’tis: 10 Bizarre Ways
Success is the ability to move from one failure to the next with enthusiasm.
– Winston Churchhill
Most people give up just when they’re about to achieve success. They quit on the one yard line. They give up at the last minute of the game, one foot from a winning touchdown.
– Ross Perot
Every single peak performing human being, every single high achieving man or woman, has been a person who has thrown off the natural tendency to play it safe and stay within the comfort zone, and has continually tried to exceed their previous levels of accomplishment, has continually moved forward into the risk zone, to try something more and bigger and better and more important. Every single accomplishment in the history of man, has come from men and women who have had the courage to take the risks, to step out even though they had no guarantee or assurance of success…
In studying the lives and stories of the most outstanding men and women of all of history, we find that every single one of them has been a great failure. People do not understand the importance of failure in achievement. The fact is that it is impossible to succeed without failing, that failure is an indispensable prerequisite for success, and that all great success is proceeded by great failure. Every single person who has tried to accomplish something outside the ordinary has suffered setback and obstacle and defeat and adversity and disappointment and heartache over and over again as they have moved toward their goal. There is no record of anybody ever having achieved any kind of success without having failed over and over again. The only difference is that the winners continually pick themselves up and carry on knowing that ultimate success is inevitable as long as they keep on going on.
– Brian Tracy
So, I found a scriptwriter from my earlier post, “Coming Soon?,” and thanks to all who called to voice their enthusiasm for that project! I may even have roped in a producer…
Anyway, in chatting with John (yes, the Johnny Cal, and I absolutely feel like I’m talking to a Mario Puzo character when I’m with him) said he’s been thinking about my role in this production and how we should represent me when he’s talking with potential associates. I’ve had no ideas on this front – I’m just introducing him to folks I know and am gratified to see someone chasing such a cool dream. I’m not really doing much, but he assures me I’m needed and, consequently, has decided to call me his dramaturg. !!!
And here I thought Captain Kirk had killed all those off. Apparently not. I’d better go look up what that is.