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This website is now published on my mobileme account. Any opinions expressed, however, are totally my responsibility.

The original website was published through the courtesy of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Jim Andris, Sept. 17, 2003.

Christmas 81

Thanksgiving Day, 1981

Dear Friend:

I've just cleaned up from Thanksgiving dinner, the guests have gone home, and I feel very happy. Yet this hasn't been an easy year. It has also been a year of changes for my family.

On January 10 my grandmother died. she was 90 years old. I loved that old soul. and yet I felt ok about her death. I mean that I just felt that it was probably time for her to go, and that she was at peace, finally, after a sometimes troubled life.

I completed a year as Chairperson of the Gay Academic Union in March, and felt very much like I had helped the organization to get back on its feet. We had socials, a picnic in June, and even Masters and Johnson spoke with us. We're still not without our problems, but I'm on a task force now to iron these out.

Early in the spring I was enjoying my new responsibilities as Coordinator of first quarter secondary student teaching and living in St. Louis. I had made a New Year's resolution—no more heartbreak in 1981—and it was a good thing, because my resolve was severely tested. I was riding my "new" used yellow racer bike all over the city, when BANG! I got hepatitis B on April 19.

I was in bed for three weeks and off for two more. I just didn't finish the last six weeks of Spring Quarter. Fortunately, people pitched in and helped. Richard, Kathy, Wayne, Judy, Dixie and Brenda, Gil all pitched in around the house, and Rudy, Chuck, and Pete at work. Many others called. I was really sick, but I got closer to God, and I got a chance to think and read, which was wonderful. and I found out how many people loved me. Many, many. I'm such a rich man in the love department!

My sister had a little boy in May—Thomas James ("TJ") Smith. That makes three. It's neat to have a namesake. They are members of a church now, and a much closer family.

I sort of struggled through the first part of the summer, and then the third trial struck. I began having gout attacks, one right after the other, and a couple virtually incapacitating. i was a bit concerned but pretty brave about it. I just felt I was being really tested, and I had to go on. I did manage to teach my courses, just barely.

In the middle of all this, my 25th High School Class Reunion was held. I was determined to go, and was glad I did. four out of six of the old gang were there—Willard Lutz, Dee McFarland, Myra (Hausman) Kendall, and their spouses (about 50 people showed up). We had a social Friday night and a Dinner-Dance. People hadn't changed much in personality, but there sure was variation in the looks!!

I found a chiropractor and he recommended a doctor, and between the two of them, I have been fine for the last two months. I have had to take some strong medication, but that seems to be slacking off now.

Hooray! One good piece of news. I manged to go to California for the first two weeks of September. I had a wonderful visit with Mariam Edgar for a week at Santa Monica Beach, and saw old friend Myra for the 2nd time this year. Mariam has landed a position on the Mike Douglas Show. Also my mom and dad were out at Whittier with my brother and his family, who were just preparing to move back to Marietta, Ohio. They made the trip in a caravan of a camper, U-Haul, and two cars. It's a trip they won't soon repeat.

Oh, yes, in the middle of August, just when I was preparing to go to California, my car was wrecked by someone making an illegal left turn! $1600 damage, and other things were going wrong. But it was all paid for by insurance (even the chiropractor bills), and I ended up buying a new 1981 Rabbit Diesel that gets 49 MPG all round driving. So I guess that was for a purpose too!

Well, now we're up to Fall, and things have really been looking up. You know, honestly, I'll be glad to say bye-bye to 1981 (as long as I get to see 1982). I assumed my new role as Executive Secretary of the School of Education. That puts me on all the important committees and (with the Policy and Goals Committee) in a policy making position. There has also been some conflict with the administration over the selection of our new dean, and I have been in the middle of that. Very interesting, though, and actually kind of fun. but SIUE is in severe financial straits!!

And guess what. Yep, more crap. It almost gets funny! I came home one day to find my dining room wall and my bathroom and hall ceiling destroyed from water damage. But that too has a happy ending. My landlord, bless his heart, got everything repaired and REPAINTED within three weeks. so everything was all fixed up and very beautiful for the holidays. And Willard Lutz (that I saw this summer) and old computer-expert-California-pal Tom Manuel were here for a couple of weekends too.

What's coming up? With luck, my 2nd sabbatical will be approved for next Fall, and I'd like to travel, write a book, and learn how to program my Apple II in machine language. I'll be teaching a core course in the doctoral program this Winter. I'll continue to enjoy my life, my home, my job, my friends, my hobbies, and my relationship to God, which has made all this happiness in the face of trials possible. May you find the peace that I have found!

Jim Andris