What Mary Knew

It’s Happy Hour. Not the Happy Hour of years past, but Luci and I have developed our own five o’ clock rhythm lately, while Timmy is at basketball practice. Luci sits in her high chair in the kitchen, while I make dinner and serve her bits of small food, a few pieces at a time,…

Then & Now

Then It’s me, three bags and a violin, and climb the three floors to my new apartment downtown at the end of a hot summer day. I’ve taken three trains today, from Austria to my new home in Southwestern Germany. This morning, my new boss told me that I wouldn’t be teaching the classes I’d planned…

Gluten & Gatsby

‘Tis the night before “school Valentine’s Day”–known by everyone else as Friday, or to the superstitious as Friday the 13th–and I’m baking cookies. Everyone, it seems, needs cookies tomorrow. There are some for my sixth period class, a tiny collection of eight students who managed to hold the best debate on whether Gatsby truly loved…

The Learn’d Astronomer

When I heard the learn’d astronomer, When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me, When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them, When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room, How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick, Till…

Leaving The Woods

“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand… Our life is like a German Confederacy, made up of petty states, with its boundary forever fluctuating, so that even a German cannot tell you how it is bounded at any moment.” Henry David Thoreau, Walden…

The Curriculum of Disappointment

“I wish I had a sister like you.” The line hangs in the air, as the reader pauses in disbelief. Junior jaws drop, a few of them shaking their heads, as if to clear away the last line uttered by Jim O’Connor, gentleman caller and secret high school crush of the hopeful Laura Wingfield in Tennessee…

To The {Book} Fair

…I’m coming to get you, I hissed, as I entered the library like a man stepping into a freight elevator of science and wisdom. “The Literary Life,” Billy Collins It’s a busy Friday night at Black Forest Academy. Upstairs, the junior varsity boys basketball team plays one of their last home games of the season….

Richer Than Hemingway

“But then we did not think of ourselves ever as poor. We did not accept it…. We ate well and cheaply and ate well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other.” A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway “Are you ready?” I ask my Period 3 Honors American Literature class as they file in,…

Holden

“What I was really hanging around for, I was trying to feel some kind of a good-by. I mean I’ve left schools and places I didn’t even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don’t care if it’s a sad good-by or a bad good-by, but when I leave a place I like…

We Didn’t Always Live in Kandern

As often happens, I have words stuck in my head. These ones aren’t the common song lyrics, though. I’m the only person I know who is haunted by lines of prose. “We didn’t always live on Mango Street.” Those used to be first words I  read to my students, back at Ingraham, nine thousand miles…