The unwinnable battle…

I’m actually a little ashamed of myself right now.

Just got into a bit of a… umm… contentious phone conversation. Someone was trying to convey some information to me, was doing it with what I perceived as a robust amount of attitude, and was not at all pleased when my hackles went up and asserted that I didn’t appreciate the ‘tude. She accused me of fabricating her adversarial nature (which I really don’t think I did) and implied that her department would stop fulfilling their role in the matter being discussed (which would be simply unacceptable).

And while I do think that technically I was in the right, I’m angry and ashamed at myself because this is just another example of me fighting a battle that I didn’t need to fight. Could have ignored her passive-or-not-so-much aggressivity and been the bigger man.

Instead, I ignored the better angels of my nature and got down in the dirt and the mud. Makes me feel low. Common. Like a dick.

Why do I need to be so confrontational all the time? Why am I always on the lookout for any perceived slight, no matter how small? Why can’t I be more relaxed, more level headed?

Why am I so ready to fight the world?


If you Google the words “Joanna Rae Plummer”, you’ll get nine hits.

The quotes are important, because that will force Google to look for all three of those words in exactly that order. Otherwise, you’ll get lots of unrelated fooferaw that isn’t germane to the here and now.

Anyway, nine hits.

Doesn’t seem like a lot for 32 years of life. Especially when you remember the spark, the joy, the aliveness that she carried around with her every day. Seems even less when you realize that of those nine, one or two are out of date phone book listings, a couple are obituaries of grandparents that mention her name, and the direct references are either her obituary or news articles about the trial.

So in today’s online, all-information-available-all-the-time world, you can’t really learn all that much about my cousin Jo, except for some details about how and when she died.

What am I thankful for this Thanksgiving? I’m thankful for the twenty five years I had with her, and for a lifetime of memories that I will carry with me. I’m grateful for her wits and her humor, for her skill at showing me worlds that I didn’t even know existed. For instilling, deep within me, a sense of wonder.

There are things in this world that can never be indexed, collated, related, or queried by the internet. They live within us.

Joanna Rae Plummer – Jo – was killed nine years ago tomorrow – November 24th, 2002, a victim of domestic violence.

I’d give anything in the world to have her back. But since that isn’t the way the universe works, I choose to be thankful for all the time we shared and all the memories she left me with. They are a gift of limitless value.

May we all live our lives in such a way that we might give a similar gift to those we love.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

PresConf 2011: Thouhts from a Delta Aircraft

I’ve been sitting on a plane today for what seems like much longer than I’ve been flying. I’m currently in plane #3 of my two leg Chicago to Buffalo flight.

“How’s that?”, you ask. Mechanical failures.

Weather delays I can deal with, because weather is inherently unpredictable. But, and maybe I’m a cynic, mechanical issues just make me think that someone somewhere wasn’t doing their job.

At this point, I have little chance of making it to Buffalo before the opening keynote of this year’s National Preservation Conference. This is unfortunate, because I love those sorts of things. They really focus you in on what’s important and set the stage for the next few days.

In any case, I’m looking forward to seeing colleagues and friends, to discussing and thinking about the present and future of historic preservation, and making the connections – intellectual, emotional, and real world – that will carry me through the next year.