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The More Things Change

If you look at something five ways, how can it seem different on the sixth?


We return to the sea again and again. This, the sixth year of spending a week in Cherry Grove, this the first year of the new normal, the post-pandemic stranglehold more or less released. Things appear different.

First, our vista: our friends’ condo at the beach’s point changed hands, and after five summers we had to search for a new place. Serendipity being the kind saint that she is, I discovered a colleague owned a place just half a mile away. We are here, oceanside.

Things are physically different. The pier on the north end of the beach is missing a ninety-foot portion of its middle. The end of the pier (or most of it) still stands, stranded in the water, planks reaching out shore-side, waving for help. This damage is almost a year old; last August, Hurricane Isaias swept across this sandy string and took the pier’s belly with it. The dunes on that side of the beach have been clawed away by angry seawater. The beach moved.

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.

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