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.


Google-dipity: N – the act of stumbling across something very cool on Google Maps while wasting time on the internet.

Holy City

Somewhere in the finite stretches of our lives, we crossed an invisible threshold and passed into the stage in which we travel with one of our pets. I realized this in the parking lot of a McDonald’s in Orangeburg, South Carolina, where I stood with our seven-pound chi-weenie on a leash, watching the drive-thru line snake slowly by,

The occasion: a quickly-planned weekend trip to Charleston, one that happened to coincide with Kel’s birthday, but one that was mostly made possible by the clearance of normal weekend events. Late Thursday evening I decided to cash out a small bevy of credit card points and book a hotel room. I hadn’t been to Charleston in years; it had been even longer for Kel and would be the kids’ first trip.

Rapidly-planned trips require an odd sort of coordination. We weren’t going to be there long–checking in Friday evening, taking advantage of everything we could Saturday and Sunday morning, then planning to get home in time to take care of chores and the other business readying for the week ahead. We ought to only plan to do three or four things, tops. We decided we owed it to the kids to book a hotel with an indoor pool. We planned to visit the USS Yorktown, a WWII-era aircraft carrier permanently parked on display. I figured we would do a very short tour of Charleston’s historic downtown (you know, show the kids a place where George Washington slept). We would, no doubt, end up on the beach for a walk.

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