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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.

The Earring

As told by me on Twitter:


It’s late, but that means it’s good timing for a bedtime story. Six years ago, my wife and I snuck away for a long weekend in Chicago. It was her first time in the Windy City, and we picked a blustery few days to be there. Very cold. We bundled up.

We did a lot of touristy stuff in the Loop, all fun: Art Institute, Sears Tower, shops on Michigan. We stayed at my favorite hotel, the Palmer House.

I thought it would be fun to have a drink before dinner at the bar at the top of the Hancock building, so up we went. The view was fun, the drinks quite nice, the atmosphere all you could ask. I wanted to show Kel the basement bar a few blocks down at the Drake, so off we went.

All Quiet on the Christmas Front

Christmas in the basement

There was a time for everything.


It needs no further explanation to say this was our first Christmas in the midst of a pandemic, and it was certainly different. Surprisingly, it might have been better.

Christmas days of years past were often filled with family merry-go-rounds, sprints between relatives’ roosts, packing up a car with presents, then unpacking them, wishing folks well, eating, unwrapping, repacking, driving, and repeating ad infinitum. Coming back home at the end of a multi-family quest was a gift in itself.

The Christmas Day race course had grown shorter in recent years. Family trees thin at the top and grow at the bottom. The trips to grandparents’ houses are now memories; with kids of our own to tow around, we move around less and less.

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