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Here is the next slide show. For those who dislike slideshows the album can be viewed here.
Tonight I kind of have to post something. It gives me a reason to put my blog on my page. I got to spend some time with my cast mates, tonight, a story I though I had put on here…I could have sworn I did, I’ll have to check my drafts. The Ganger got into a play. The university is putting on “Our Town,” and I get to be in it. More than a few people are surprised to learn that I was involved in theater in high school. That is not the point.
The point is I have some awesome cast mates. They allowed me to run my mouth for a while and explain to them that I am unconcerned with saying things like, I love marathon dungeons and dragons games, or sorting pencils, or sorting stamps from the Soviet Union. It is because I do not have time to care. No one can afford to, these are my quirks. I am so very aware that I will not be here one day, and I needed them to know that I am always on the lookout for the next thing to make into a story. I dress up with my sons for Halloween, I go to New York by train on a whim, I audition for plays, I start M&M fights with Liam, because I may not get to do so tomorrow. As you have seen I write it all down, because the next biggest tragedy would be for the stories to be lost, because then who will remember?
It was on the thought of writing it all down that I realized, I write a lot as if I were already gone. Which inspired the idea to write a terrible little poem. It is not finished, but it seems to cap off the night. Judge it all you like, I will as well.
Dead Man’s Story
Hello my dear diary of a dead man!
My gunna be the biggest to do for all the people to see
Like Wellington the people g’on come from all around
The g’on come and bury this hillbilly
They come and stay for days and live a little bit like me
There g’on be song, drink, and dance, but my hope is for you to get a good story.
What you sing, what you drink, and with whom did you dance?
You see that is how you live a bit like me, you put down the phone and begin making a story.
Now me? I am nobody from nowhere, but when I tells you about it, I’m the biggest somebody from the biggest some where you ever heard of.
I was born to the prettiest lady in the daisy land, we together one big family in one big house.
Whole family on a plot of land with a dirt track and a forest filled with dragons and demons and their ilk
My cousins and I the only thing kept them away, our blood, sweat, and play kept those big ole baddies at bay.
Yes we loved it there in the daisy, we went to the same school, the yellow building where mamaw brought the mail to the Allen.
The Allen so old that momma and uncle went there like granddaddy too.
I wish I could show it to you like it was in my day
we moved on to a fancy new street where we was the last generation of kids and a fancy new school that taught me about classes, but where I learned little in class
Now you want to live like me? You g’on need four daddies, you g’on need camping and fishing and movies with your momma across the big old sea.
You gunna live like me you gotta have tobacco, coffee, and tea
You gotta kiss a girl with bright red hair in the photo machine at the gate to the north, you gotta dance with those who cannot speak, you gotta fight when you know you will lose and play nintendo in the tops of trees.
Now you see I wanted to do all there was to see, and surprisingly I am always getting to.
Now I seen London, and I seen France, and I got asked silently by a pretty German girl to dance.
I smelled the channel salt, sailing by a white wall.
Follow me and youll see the black guards of a queen, you’ll sleep in castles in the hills, youll trod the boards with the most creative the nooga had, and you’ll ride horses in a circle every time you see them
To live like me you g’on have to put your name in the big book of an army
you g’on have to go to the man in the round brown hat and do what he say
you g’on have to go to the land of the eagles and learn how they fly
you g’on take up you gun for you destiny, and meet the people who like in the big sand sea
you live like me and you’ll see big crossed sabers, a baghdad sunset, and if you lucky you’ll get to swim in the pool of a dead dictator
you gotta fight in the war, and wonder what for
livin like me get you called doc, if you know some broken body
With me you’ll ride the steam engine to get a pencil and see the big city, gettin back just in time to win moonshine to help the kiddies, while a man tells you that its in the fruit.
To be like me you gotta plan your funeral and write your obituary just to make sure they gets it done right, who else g’on throw that good a party and tell that good a story?
Right now my adventures, and for that matter my blogging is at a minimum, the semester started just under two weeks ago and the laser focus is back. That is not to say that college is not an adventure. I have already taken this farther than you ever could have convinced me back when that I would. I have committed fully to the experience, minus living in a dorm and such, I am married and have a child after all. Maybe that is why I always show up to school with a smile on my face, I live with one child, not five thousand adolescents experiencing freedom for the first time. I am sorry if that seems low, but I have lived in the barracks, it seems to be about the same.
Anyhow I have created a small group of pencil junkies at school. Two of them asked for care packages when I took my little trip to CW earlier in the month, and they were well provisioned. Now in all fairness one of those people was Carl. I already knew Carl, the fact that I applied to the college he works at is pure coincidence. The other person is Tyler, who graduated right after we met, but we decided we would make such good friends that he drove from Rhode Island to come and see us, talk pencils and watch X-files.
These two are innocent of something I have committed before. I have witnessed this going on some at school and at various places at large and this is just my take on it. No matter what our passion or how passionate we are about it, never should we ever be snobs.
I have done it, I probably still do, although I would say I do it in the privacy of my own home, but even then I fight it. I have recognized my need to be appreciative and thankful and I try to work on it. That is why I am here, with an exhortation against stationary snobbery.
First let us recognize that many of the pencils, pens and notebooks we love are luxury items from a relative perspective.
It is ok to admit it. They are luxuries, they are indulgences, they are the exploration of our passion. We also cannot allow them to be what causes us to belittle something that is ALL that someone else has. This is not a rant on equality. It is simply a consideration. Imagine a middle school child among us whose family keeps them supplied with all their needs school supplies included, but a blackwing is simply out of reach. That does not mean that we should not write about them, that we should not post pictures of them. I simply beg that we stop to consider before we describe something that is functional as “cheap” or “garbage.” Let us consider some of our less expensive utensils and paper.
There is very little to be called fancy about these items. They are filler paper in a binder, a notebook with no name, and pencils selected from the brands of staples, CVS, office depot, Dixon, and the novelty holiday sort given away at school parties. They are also the the items who witness the labor and drive of those who want to succeed. Those who have had the supplies they needed and maybe had to erase a little harder to use the hard red eraser, but wanted to ensure their homework was perfect. As I said they are not fancy. The paper has no name, the pencils are mostly named after the store they are bought at, but you can put a point on them and do work.
When I was in school my mother made sure that within reason we got the supplies we wanted when the school year started. FiveStar and trapper keeper were common, along with boxes of Ticonderoga and Elmer’s. Now that I am paying for my school supplies I still buy the brands I like for college, but I stare very hard at what a five star notebook costs (and for the price realized I could take school notes on Moleskine) and wondered why my mother didn’t tell me I was insane that paper is paper.
I am not innocent in this. I must constantly flog myself with the memories of Iraqi children who were living in relocation camps who aside from probably being excited to have enough to eat, could not contain themselves when they found out that we had sent word home that there were schools, but no supplies and people had come through and shipped us boxes and boxes of supplies. The generosity of the human spirit never ceases to amaze me. This is my exhortation, that before we call something garbage, before we describe it as cheap, that we consider for a moment those who treasure these tools as their own, that they are more careful with their no name number two than we are with a 602 due to having forgotten.
I write this not out of self righteousness, but out of the awareness that I have never shown the gratitude and joy that I saw on the face of a very specific Iraqi girl from the camps when I sat down beside her on the hood of a small broken yellow car in the camp, and from my pack pulled out a small backpack full of supplies for her. We should live to achieve that kind of satisfaction and appreciation.
Hrolf The Ganger.
Yesterday I told you about pencils from friends. Today I write of tea with a friend.
Tea is on that great list of things that can make any situation more enjoyable. Whether it is simply something to share over conversation, or you are sharing it with a buddy in a war torn foreign land, there is always a place for tea. Janet brought me a bag of “Afghani Chai” from the Boston general store. She also brought me a very beautiful wire tea strainer.
I am always deeply moved when my friends are happy to have found something that they think that I would enjoy because they know of my obsessions. It makes me wish I was better at finding little things for people on my travels. Then I realize that I do get to share with my friends. When they come over they are promptly served the tea or coffee of their choice made by me. If they take an interest in the pencils they are sent home with a couple of lovelies. Even if they are paying for a bag of pencils from my travels I stick blackwings on top of it just because it is the best I have to give. Tea can make any situation better, but the only thing that can make tea better is the company you drink it with. I cannot wait to serve this to Janet.
When I make tea, like everything else, it has a process a ritual I enjoy following. Sometimes if there is time I enjoy breaking out the moleskine notebook tea journal and using my poor skills to fully evaluate that tea.
The list grows. Sit down with a friend, share a cup, and don’t forget to warm the pot.
Hrolf the ganger.