Thursday, May 10, 2007
People Who Weren't There
In answer to an assignment, a student of mine asked if he could interview his boy scout leader. He's taught me so much about life, my student said. Sounds good, I said, but I thought it would probably be a little uninspired, one of those odes to a great guy. Odes to great guys don't always make the best papers, unfortunately. Writing needs tension to work. My student returned to me, horrified. I went over there on the day I said and he had forgotten about it. He was drunk and in his boxers and dog shit was all over his house. That cheered me up a lot. You have a story, I said. He shook his head. This was the man that told me to always be brave, to have integrity. He said that you could tell a lot about a man by the way he kept himself in the world. He always seemed so together. I wanted to be him when I grew up.
My student wrote a great essay, but could not be consoled about his loss of innocence. I told him that maybe he'd caught the guy on a bad day. No go. You should have seen the place. Years of garbage. And he cursed and yelled at people who weren't there. And he could barely answer my questions. I suppose finding your mentor in a house filled with dog shit and crushed PBR cans does not inspire confidence. I thought about the people I have admired over the years and their secret lives, the things that you don't see. Not everyone has a house that disappoints, but many a soul contains debris that we don't want to see. A woman who had inspired me as a child, whom I had loved deeply, a friend of my mother's who was a teacher, spent every night washing her walls with a toothbrush, had to wear rags on her hands because she'd scrubbed them so raw. It's a skin disease, my mother told me. Don't say anything. I didn't, but I loved her all the more for those strips of gauze that could never entirely conceal what she had done to herself in an attempt to rid herself of anything bad that she might have touched in the world.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Run towards the roar. " Tammy Faye Bakker
Drinking reading suggestion: "The Hunger Artist" Franz Kafka Susan of Buckatunna Queen (www.buckatunnaqueen.blogspot.com) had an excellent Kafka quote on her beautiful, thoughtful blog yesterday -- it put me in mind of him and his fantastic stories. He's one of the bleakest writers ever and yet he said he laughed a lot when reading his stories to friends. We should all be so lucky! For laughing and for friends who allow us to read our stories to them.)
Benedictions and Maledictions
All love and prayers to Tammy Faye Bakker who is going through her final journey to the next world. And much love to her children, Tammy Sue and Jay. If you haven't checked out Jay's Revolution Church site, do!
Congrats to Jim of JR's Thumbprint (www.jrtomlinson.blogspot.com) for one year of posting every single day. He makes it look easy. It is not easy. Way to go, Jim. Check out his rocking video from back in the day!