“It’s not just that it’s Iowa,”
she says
and talks about her son in college
there, and his girlfriend who loves him
who is from a small town in Iowa
who wants to live there always.
“It could be anywhere.”
“Yes,” I say.
“I mean,” she says,
“it’s just that I want his dreams
to be bigger than he is.”
“Yes, ” I say
and realize that once the impossible
was off the table
the possible, the probable
the actual
became smaller
and smaller.



This month, I’ve been working on my graduation dossier, compiling all the courses and projects I’ve done, and writing reflective analysis. A formality, I guess, because I’ve completed everything satisfactorily. But it would be nice to be able to speak coherently about all of it when I go before the grad committee later this spring. Seems best to begin with Thank Yous, so here’s the first page of my dossier.


I owe a debt of gratitude to everyone listed here, which I can only hope to repay going forward. Thank you to the College of Continuing Education for offering the (soon-to-be-defunct) Program in Individualized Learning. I doubt I’d have come back to the University of Minnesota to finish my degree without this program. I’m particularly grateful and honored to be the recipient of a CCE Osher Reentry Scholarship for my final semester.

Mom and Dad: I couldn’t have done this without the support of my parents. I broke their hearts when I dropped out of college. I know this, not because they told me, but because they were very careful not to. Both of my parents have been terrific role models, quietly letting me know that I can do what I set out to do and everything will turn out all right. Mom and Dad… thank you.

My kids: Caroline, Paul and Suzanne, you beat me to the finish line with your Bachelor degrees. John, I’m a little ahead of you. I’m grateful for your support, your adjustment to appearing in my writing (with your real names, no less) and the fact that you’ve all turned out to be fine human beings, as much in spite of my efforts as a parent as because of them. Thanks, to each of you.

My partner: Dick, I appreciate that a man who worked as hard as you did for your degrees wasn’t scared off by a college drop-out. Thank you for your help with my biology course, and everything else. Now we can share a UM Alumni membership and an AARP membership.

My advisers: JoAnn Hanson of the College of Continuing Education has encouraged and guided me from the first day I called to ask about PIL. She helped me craft my “creative” writing into a coherent academic plan. Thank you, JoAnn.  Robert L. Brown, Jr. of the Department of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature was a favorite English instructor one of my first semesters at the University of Minnesota lo, those many years ago. He signed on unhesitatingly, enthusiastically, kindly, 30 years later when I came back to finish.  Thank you, Robin. Mary Logue reviewed my Graduation Dossier. She shepherded me through a Fiction writing class in the U’s MFA program, and in the process, taught me more about writing, and about teaching, than I’m likely to learn anywhere else.  Thank you, Mary.

My Project evaluators: Alison McGhee, Randy Moore, Ed Hessler, Rachel Gabriel, Meg Low.
Scholars every one, and as importantly, they helped me see future writing material embedded in the projects they evaluated. Thank you.

My friends are enormously patient when I hibernate to write, supply me with coffee and wine therapy when needed, and have cheered me on to finish my degree. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And thank you to my teachers everywhere, every day. You don’t know who you are, but I do. Eventually.

Judy Budreau