Chapter Six: “Peace, Love, and Crawfish” – Page 4

Around that time, during Mardi Gras of 2000 after Y2K had come and gone, I was contacted by Rita Kirk Whillock at Southern Methodist University. She asked me if I wanted to upgrade institutions and come to SMU. Apparently, my new textbook and the Journal had made me a commodity for a true Division I research institution. And even though we had just purchased a new home in Louisiana, I entertain the recruitment by SMU. We talked several times, and the salary was easily $10,000 a year higher than Louisiana. Not to mention the fact that my wife’s salary would be $10,000 a year higher, too. So, I went on the interview and impressed the faculty at SMU to get a formal offer as an assistant professor. After arguing with Brenda for several days about a relocation to Dallas, Texas, I unilaterally made the decision that we would be moving to Dallas. Brenda was not altogether pleased. She loved her new home, and had started to make friends in Louisiana. But this was the gold ring. You can’t get much better than SMU in terms of academic reputation. I signed the contract, and we put our house up for sale. SMU paid for a moving company to gather our belongings and furniture and deliver them to Dallas. Paul Barefield as Louisiana – who had been a fan and supporter of mine for some time – wished us luck, and told me that if I ever wanted to return to Louisiana that he trusted me and valued my work ethic. We hugged and I kissed him on the cheek, and then we relocated to Dallas.

We were going to be SMU Mustangs now. The University was building a new football stadium; the buildings were all modern and pristine, the gardens and grounds were rich and green; and this was not just a top university, it was a world-class institution. I can certainly make a name for myself here. My career couldn’t be going any better, professionally speaking. But the damage McGee had done to my mind, my psyche, my emotional state – had been done. I was locked in paranoia mode. I started wondering who was out to get me next, and I was locked in a pattern, a psychological loop, of expecting harsh critical rhetoric that could threaten or harass my delicate state. Not only that, but Jim Kuipers had taught me a definite personal lesson. Be careful who you trust. I wasn’t sleeping well, and a lot of direct damage had been done to my reputation. I was manic. Smoking again. And at times, I would simply break down and cry.

But there we were. Arriving in Dallas to start a new adventure. Dallas is the birthplace of fajitas and margaritas. We loaded up on SMU memorabilia, and sign the loan for the construction of a new home in Grapevine. My mother-in-law came to us in Dallas to watch my son, and we set up our new offices and classrooms in preparation for the next school year. I had secured some summer teaching from SMU, so in June 2000 I make myself comfortable in my new office and began my teaching duties. But, psychologically, I was still on the edge after realizing how close I came to being fired without the prospect of any work. The key busted my cherry. Logically and psychologically, I was physically functioning, but my paranoid delusions had been ratcheted up to the point of no return.

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