Monday, March 16, 2009
Somewhere In The North
Sorry for the retreat -- I'm back from the evil flu and appreciate all well wishes!
When I was in the third grade, I had a demanding teacher whose last name changed almost every year (she got married a lot, got mad, went back to her maiden name, and got married again to another unwitting victim) -- she was Mrs. Goodwin that year. Her daughter was my age, a beautiful large girl who never ever seemed to make a mistake. Mrs. Goodwin seemed mystified by my ability to remember things without taking notes -- you're not writing, she'd say, until she figured out that I didn't need to and because I was always out of Big Chief paper and didn't want to go through the humiliating process of borrowing from someone else, listening to them sigh as they ripped off a page for me and listen to my lame promises to repay them the very next day.
Eventually, she had me grading quizzes for her instead of listening to the lesson although I'd overhear her say things like, If you're not a neat person, you should never be allowed loose-leaf paper. I'd let my daughter use it, but never my son. Her son attended college somewhere in the north and at the end of the year hanged himself with his belt from the rafters of his dorm room. Because I was small and silent, I could listen to adult conversations about the topic without being noticed and learned the sad meager details of his end, the note that he had apparently started and ripped up without finishing. I could imagine him in his last hours, not able to explain anything and giving up and saw him as my spiritual brother, the boy who couldn't stay neat enough to deserve loose-leaf paper. Despite my mother's attempts at making me look beautiful, I tended toward an unkempt haggard appearance, still in recovery from my second stomach ulcer. At the end of the year, Mrs. Goodwin paid me a compliment, a rarity from someone like her, even in the best of times. She said, You're the smartest girl in the room and I looked up from the stack of papers I was stapling for her, giving her a half-smile, the kind that employees reserve for a demanding boss who, even after the job was done, would linger because she had no other place to go.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Never mistake motion for action." Ernest Hemingway
Drinking memoir suggestion: Dancing Queen Lisa Crystal Carver
Benedictions and Maledictions