Thursday, August 25, 2005

collateral damage

I was talking to Diane the other night about setting up a September Pious Ladies meeting. Just a light-hearted conversation.

Until she said, "What happened to your Pious Ladies web page? Carlotta and I were in North Carolina and tried to show it to our mother. But we couldn't find it. Did you take it down?"

Ooof, ouch, bang, bing, stab to the heart! While other UD employees may publish personal web pages on UD space, I have been required to take mine down.

I spent 15+ years creating Rae's Potpourri on the UD web space. Gone in an instant. I have had folks from all over the world email me about cool stuff they found on my site. The guy who asked permission to read one of my poems at his wedding. The other guy who asked if he could set one of my poems to music and record it on his CD. My cousin Antoinette, writing from out of the blue from NYC because she was googling her last name "D'Orazio" and found my tribute page to my dad. The many friends of Father Goldstein who were so happy to come across my Fr. Goldstein Files which is still the only source of online information about the charismatic, quirky OMI priest who impacted the lives of so many people with whom he came in contact. The parents who saw my Delaware Medical Journal article about Eric and wrote to tell me of their own child with thanatophoric dwarfism.

My work was good. It was useful. I cannot tell you how many people in my own department initiated wonderful conversations with me on a wide range of subjects of general human interest because my writing touched them. They found me approachable in a way they had not known until they read my writings.

A writer has to have a readership. I have been content to be only occasionally published in print because I have enjoyed a wide and satisfying readership from what I have published electronically. Yes, I could have used non-UD space from the very beginning but see... stupid me, I thought what I was publishing was of benefit to the University, I thought it was my work just as the PhD's I work with count their publications as important to the University's mission. I thought I was part of a university family, part of an institution of higher learning whose coin of the realm was the imagination, the mind, and the wondrous confections that pour from an open heart, a vivid imagination and a quick mind.

Collateral damage. Rae's Potpourri can be reconstructed elsewhere, of course. And some of the more important stuff, like the Father Goldstein Files, really ought to be because that historical record can't be gotten elsewhere.

But I haven't the heart to dig in and do the work to change the links and put it all up elsewhere. I look at the work of my heart, on which I labored with such love for so many years at night, on weekends, in the wee hours of the night, the work that was so casually dumped by the institution that I thought was my community.

I don't have the heart to reconstruct in another community the work that was created for a place I once thought of as my home away from home.

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