Category: writing Page 2 of 24

Tossing Out Mr. Hogan

Yours truly with a group of former students in 2007.

Cleaning is cathartic, but how do you throw out a profession?

For eight years, I’ve kept a half dozen copy paper boxes shut in a closet in our basement. These boxes were full of file folders that were, in turn, filled end to end with paper, thousands and thousands of pages that were the sum total of my brief career as a high school English teacher.

Pop psychologists sometimes talk about the baggage we carry around with us as we go from place to place and point to point in our lives. It makes for a nice metaphor: this notion that we are often weighed down by reminders of our previous experiences, and that cumulatively, these experiences can inhibit our way to make any kind of progress.

The good news is that the yards of copy paper in my basement never impeded my ability to leave teaching and find other work–that turned out just fine. And yet, I’ve lived with them in a sort of hidden proximity ever since I left my classroom in 2007. I cannot remember why I felt compelled to save them.

It’s Up to Us

America’s people lend their hands every day to the solvency of this nation. Today, we must resolve to put those hands to work.

Our democracy is not written in stone. Rather, it’s written on paper–paper that can be written over, crumpled up, or burned. Our nation is a crucible in motion–growing, changing, and moving, and not without pain. That is my less than poetic attempt at saying that the future of our nation is up to us–we, the People–and only us.

After yesterday’s assault on the United States Capitol Building, an act of insurrection that attempted to occupy, abuse, and disrupt many of the symbols of our democracy and, chiefly, the peaceful transition of power, we the People should be more concerned than ever about what we are to do with this remarkable nation.

Calling the Bet

2020 was the year that kept on giving.

Here’s a funny trend: the last few years have been tough–so tough that as we reach this last week before New Year’s Day, we have habitually wished away the year in hopes the next would be better. 2016 was one such year, as was 2019. Funny, isn’t it? What on earth happened to us in 2019 that convinced us to hurry up with it, to roll along as fast as we could in hopes that 2020 would bring us some kind of respite?

Well, 2020 called our bets and ran the table on us, plowing us over with a merciless pandemic, widespread civil unrest, and an election that annihilated any sense of national unity.

Twelve months ago, for the second time, I patched together a list of resolutions for the year 2020. I pecked out my meager ideas on the old, Olympia typewriter that belonged to my grandfather. Last year (2019), I kept the list on my fridge the entire year and followed up on my efforts.

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