A Fond Farewell
by Doug McQuiston
Editor’s Note: While we ran Diane Hartman’s "farewell" article last month, it seems only fitting for a Docket member to have the last word.
Sometimes it seems like yesterday. Other times, it seems so long ago that it happened in a different lifetime. I first met Diane Hartman in 1986. I was teaching nights at the Denver Paralegal Institute, and Diane was in my Legal Research and Writing class. I knew Diane as a journalist with a long and varied career in print journalism, and public relations. I already knew she had immense talent as a writer, and I learned more from her than she from me in that class.
Diane wasted no time recruiting me for The Docket. I knew about The Docket and read it, but hadn’t thought about actually writing for it. I came to one of the wacky monthly Docket meetings
Now, 19 years and many essays later, I find that after a long and rewarding career with the Bar Association, Diane is busting out and hitting the open road. I find myself wishing I was right behind her. But then, with the panic that comes with knowing I am left behind, I wonder how the "Docketeers" will ever function without her. She has served as our Muse, our conscience, and our Den Mother for so long I can’t shake the feeling that we’re being orphaned.
Of course, I am happy for Diane. The prospect of having time on your hands to travel, explore, and seek fulfillment free of the daily grind of work is something you tend to envy more the longer you work. As I transition into Geezer-lawyer status, I find myself looking back longingly on the "good old days" when the practice of law was more fun. Through all of the ups and downs of my legal career, though, The Docket has been there to provide comic relief.
I knew that under Diane’s leadership, we would always find in The Docket a monthly refuge, an outlet for venting our non-lawyerly thoughts. I have learned more about good writing from Diane and my years here than in all the years of my practice. My legal writing has been transformed by the writing I have done for this silly little monthly.
Time passes relentlessly. Over the years, through many "assistant editors," Diane Hartman has been the Constant. At our meetings, she was always able to redirect our hyperactive, stream-of-consciousness rants into at least enough structure that a good article might pop out eventually. It seemed effortless, but looking back, I know how much work it took to corral us. From the "April Fools" issues to coffee-tastings, bar reviews, and even my occasional forays into Valentine’s Day essays, Diane was a steady, but never heavy, hand.
During my two stints as Docket Committee "Chair," I indulged the fantasy that I was finally in charge. I was the Capo non tutti Capi. In my first term, I actually brought in a written agenda. Several of the Docketeers fell so short of breath from hysterical laughter I almost called 911. I soon discovered what some of the longer-term inmates already knew. We only thought we were running the asylum.
But now what? What does a wacky group like this do without our Muse? Yeah, we know — Diane was much more than Docket Editor-in-Chief. She ran Communications for the entire Colorado and Denver Bar Associations. She was a Big Cheese. People knew her. She got the best table at the Palm. (Well, maybe not.) But to us here at The Docket, she was, and always will be, Our Diane.
It took Diane 20 years to try to domesticate the Docketeers, and she never really finished. I fear it will take mere moments for us to degenerate into the rabble we have always longed to be. The new Communications Director (whoever that might be) might venture into our meetings armed with Chuck Turner’s warnings about us, but [s]he will not be prepared. It might get ugly. Somehow, though, we’ll muddle through.
Though our politics were never in sync, Diane was always the yin to my yang here at The Docket. I don’t quite know how I’ll do here without her. There is a Gaelic expression that seems to fit our "writing friendship" over the years: ánam cára. It means "my soul’s friend." Although Diane probably never truly understood me, she always "got" me and what I tried to write, even when no one else did. So long, friend.