As I Was Saying…

Chatter, memories and rants. Please, don't stop me if you've heard this one before.





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Confessions from the new New Frontier

Here’s why English teachers are actually judging you

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 - 5:50 pm - It’s holiday party time, which means teachers are thrust into social situations with non-teachers and are reminded of how much the public at large misunderstands what we do and why we do it. Actually, teaching high school English is neither adorable nor terrifying. And you really don’t have to worry that I’m evaluating your grammar [...]

Artemis: a few years (not quite millenia) late

Sunday, July 21, 2013 - 4:38 am - I found this poem tucked in the diary I kept during my sophomore and junior year of college. I’m not sure when exactly I wrote it; in fact, I have no clear memory of writing, only of having written it. But it is definitely from sometime during those years. It owes a lot to Billy [...]

Seeing Red

Monday, July 8, 2013 - 8:42 pm - At the end of every school year, I spend a week or two at my parents’ in Portland as a reboot, and to that end, my mother and I got our nails done yesterday. It’s not the kind of thing I do often, since I never like to give the impression that I fuss over [...]

Accidents Will Happen

Monday, June 24, 2013 - 3:18 am - From: gregory hunter <hunterg166@xxxxx.com> To: Elizabeth Sampson <ebef12@yahoo.com> Sent: Friday, February 2, 2007 1:31 AM Subject: Re: God Only Knows sorry for the jaunty note. i (for some reason) figured the note would be returned to me. you were gone, i surmised, off writing some arresting novel elsewhere. teaching, studying… away. a different address. i [...]

Memorial Day Weekend

May 23, 2008

To muse and brood and live again in memory,
With those old faces of our infancy
Heap’d over with a mound of grass,
Two handfuls of white dust, shut in an urn of brass!
 
—Alfred Lord Tennyson, The Lotos-Eaters

I’ve been reading over a folder of personal letters I saved from a former job. One of them, dated nine years ago yesterday, came from a former boss who had learned that my mother had recently died. Among the words of comfort he offered were these: “Time does heal a lot of the pain and sorrow. Memorial Day takes on a greater significance.” He was right, of course. I never thought much about Memorial Day when I was younger.

In junior high and high school, in fact, I actively disliked Memorial Day. I was a band member, and there was a long parade to march in every year. The uniforms were hot and ill-fitting—not to mention ridiculous, if the evidence of surviving photographs is to be given credence.

Think of an organ grinder. Now imagine what the monkey is wearing, and (except for the fez) you have an accurate mental picture of my junior high band uniform.

The march ended in the city park where we stood at parade rest to listen to the windy, politically cautious piety of local dignitaries. The ceremony culminated in an uncertain recitation of the Gettysburg Address, usually delivered by a student. My feelings then were appropriate to the energetic impatience of youth, but the time for that passes.

Several years ago, I read an interview with Jonathan Winters. Then in his late 70’s, Winters retained his blazing wit, yet the interview overall saddened me. As a boy and young man, Winters endured great coldness and cruelty from his parents. He had kept those injuries green, although he owed it to himself to allow the wounds to heal. After all, what is the point of long life if at its heart it is merely the sum of our wounds?

Winters’ emotional pain made me think of the old hymn I sing with the choir every year on Maundy Thursday:

Forgive our sins as we forgive,
You taught us, Lord, to pray;
But you alone can grant us grace
To live the words we say.
 
How can your pardon reach and bless
The unforgiving heart
That broods on wrongs and will not let
Old bitterness depart?

Like everyone else, I had my own injuries and wrongs and outrage when I was young, but they have mostly passed. Now, with a simple heart, I miss those old faces.

One Response to “Memorial Day Weekend”

  1. Sully Sullivan Says:

    We don’t have a Memorial Day in Canada in May, but we have something almost identical in November called Remembrance Day. What you mentioned is right. Now, as I get older, I have come to appreciate life more. Realizing the value in life is an acquired taste. Now, still so young at 24, I begin to think back on my childhood and miss some of the people that were around then but are gone now.

    “Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering – and it’s all over much too soon.”
    -Woody Allen

    http://yeahtotallyright.blogspot.com

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