Showing posts from December, 2016

Strange and Charming Particles

One of the weird things about teaching is that you spend three months getting to know a group of people who are destined to disappear. Inevitably you start to like a few of them.  They're funny or interesting. You have watched them rise to the occasion, overcome a problem or in a few cases tank.  Sometimes, too, they have shared deeply personal things about their lives with you. You have rooted for them, grumbled about them, laughed with them.

And then they leave.

They don't call, they don't write.  They just leave.  It's almost like you get dumped at the end of every semester.  And 95 percent of these people you will never see or hear of again. A class--especially a good one--is like one of those rare subatomic particles that  flashes into existence in a super collider.  It's there for a nanosecond or two and then it's gone.

I had two really great classes this semester.  I liked the course and the energy the students brought to the room.  I liked them.  So th…

In the final direction of the elementary town

Sometime in the early 1970s my mother decided to reupholster a chair in red velvet.  I can still see her tucking and tacking away out in the driveway of our suburban ranch house.  She was never a particularly handy woman, but she managed well enough.  My dad, however, was not impressed by the finished product.  He laughed and said it looked like something that belonged in a bordello.  Perhaps in response to this slight, she placed the chair in a prominent spot in their bedroom.

When my mother left my father a few years later, she took the chair with her.  It eventually followed her into a new marriage, a move to California and later to Tennessee.  It was an incongruous part of the decor in four different houses.  And last March I hauled it back to Iowa when I moved my mother into an assisted living home.  Four months later I had to move her and the chair again when she had to go into a different unit in the facility for advanced memory care.

Last Wednesday we moved once m…