Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dr. E. Amer Is On Vacation

Eight years ago today, Hank D. Ballenger died. I've written about him a lot on this blog and have just finished a manuscript that includes much of his sage advice and crazy outlaw ways. He was easily the funniest, most fearless person I ever knew. I met him when we were really young and got to know him best in high school when he went by the pen name, Dr. E. Amer. He was a year ahead of me and every day he would write on the board a different quote or some line of his own poetry. Even though I knew Hank, it took me a long time to realize he was the one writing the quotes because of his alias.

I always looked forward to these daily quotes -- they acted as a sort of omen or portent or horoscope for the day. Of course, like all of us, he wore out from time to time and wrote "Dr. E. Amer is on vacation." I always dreaded these absences -- I missed my quote of the day, whether it be from Ginsberg ("I've seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness") -- sitting in Mineral Wells High School, I nodded furiously, I had seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness!, or Stevie Smith who seemed to both wave and drown or Hank himself, such as in the following poem, "I come out here to indulge/ My Blind Lemon Jefferson fantasy./I play guitar, yes/I sing, yes/But my "Prison Cell Blues"/Lacks a certain conviction,/And, as a blind man,/ I am rather ambivalent/ On the subject of tin cups." But in the spring of each year, Dr. E. Amer would take more vacations, particularly before the weekends or spring break. Spring fever, I suppose. I never liked the season. But now I like to think that Hank isn't dead, but on vacation, just like his youthful hopeful alter ego, and that one day I'll come back to see a new quote where only absence had been the day before.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Words and memories/Are the only curses/ I believe in anymore./ My words,/ Your memories." Hank D. Ballenger

Cocktail Hour
Beautiful jewelery coming up as promised -- my camera chose this exact moment to go on the fritz so I promise by mid-week, you will have pictures and a new link, my lovelies!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Sunday! Thanks so much for all the supportive thoughts and wishes for finishing up my project. Today I complete all corrections and will return to my usually chatty, emailing returning self.


Lana Gramlich said...

Cool post...and who are we to say? Perhaps Dr. E IS on some kind of vacation. We don't know any better.

jodi said...

Hiya Sweets, lovely post for your dear Hank. Seems everyone should have a "Hank" in their lives. Were your ears ringin' last night when Mark and I lamented your absence? Miss you! xo

Anonymous said...

Save our city!!!--WWC

Charles Gramlich said...

I wish I'd had the guts in those days to have an alias.

Anonymous said...

What happened to St. Olaf?--Klipspringer

Hank's Mom said...

Memories are sustaining, tears are a price, within the dreams communication never has to cease. Your mystical magical whimsical. passionate. creative spells are a blessing. You are amazing. Thank you, Hank's Mom.