Sunday, May 22, 2016

My Sunday Feeling

It now can be revealed.  And many of you know it already.  

From the date of the last post on the blog up until the end of March I taught at Catholic High School for Boys here in Little Rock.  A member of the faculty had to take an emergency leave of absence for reasons of his health.  So one day I was looking into forming a PA and getting malpractice insurance.  The next day I was teaching American history to Juniors and Marketing to Seniors.  Although the boss told me to teach business law since I did not know the first damn thing about Marketing.  

And I'm not kidding.  The teacher went away on a Thursday and the next day I was there for real.  And that's pretty much all I did for 3 months.  I spent my evenings preparing or grading.  It was all encompassing.  I didn't write.  I didn't play music.  I hardly played golf.  

I don't want to write about the experience too much right now.  For one thing, I never had a proper exit interview.  That's for a couple of reasons.  The principal still has way too much on his plate right now.  I need to talk to him before I write about it.  For another thing, I never really exited.  I still go in for an hour or so each day to help with the small boys choir over there which is known as the Schola Cantorum or "Schola" for short.  They are doing their first concert ever next Thursday.  I am basically the tenor section.  And I help run rehearsal when the director can't make it.  So I'm kinda busy myself.

Also, I'm still sorting the entire experience out in my head and in my heart.  And I don't really know where to begin.  I can say to you out there in the audience what I say to folks that have asked me about it.  

"Teaching ain't easy. Overall it was an amazing and humbling experience.  When it was good it was really really good.  But when it was bad it was really really bad."  And when it was bad I'm sure it was, at least in part, because I wasn't much good.  That's the way I always felt about it.  On the other hand, the real teachers there could not possibly have been kinder or more tolerant even.  It was a tough situation for everybody.  For the kids especially.  

And I think I will leave it at that for now.  

So, what have I been up to since April?  Not much.  Seriously.  It took me a good month to completely decompress, for lack of a better word, even after I started going back in to help with Schola or sub for somebody.  Ot both. 

 I think that I learned that teaching high school is not a switch you can turn on or off.  And it took awhile to adjust back to my former life after being amped up all the time.  It was weird.  I was done at spring break.  I thought about my boys a lot the first week that school started back up.  And I did consider them as "my boys." I still do.  

I got to where I could hear their voices as I read their papers.  As Melissa said, "You got attached to those kids."  Yeah I did.

So shoot me.  I'm not a terribly emotional person.  But you can't turn it on and off.  At least I can't.  Which I guess means I'm not a total sociopath.  So I have that going for me.

So what now? I still practice law a little bit.  I still plan on incorporating myself in some fashion and I intend to get malpractice insurance.  People are all the time wanting me to do stuff for them.  So why not?   I don't particularly need money.  But I see a car note in my future along with continuing with the home improvement stuff I started back in January which got put on hold due to one thing or the other back then.

My young friend Lucas Murray and I have resumed playing guitar.  I'm going to start doing the Wednesday night Open Mic Night which is now at the Next Bar and Bistro due the closing of the late and greatly lamented Afterthought.  

Melissa, last time I checked, hasn't come to her senses yet and we are still together.  We spend a lot of time going to Joe's AAU basketball games.  Which is fine. Joe is a nice player and I enjoy watching the kids play.  

Resumed working out in the day which I prefer.  Resumed getting some golf in during the weekday which is nice.  More and more of my friends are starting to retire.  I look forward to meeting them for lunch or going for walks.   I like being able to do whatever the hell I want to pretty much whenever I want to again.  

And I'm going to write more including returning to this blog.  Not sure if I will post every Sunday as I have in the past.  But I will return to blogging.  And I plan to write about sports for the newspaper's blog "Blood, Dirt and Angels." That was the original plan before I became Mister Chips from Hell last January.  

Many of the kids, and some of the teachers ask me, if I am going to "come back" as it is invariably put.  That's nice to hear.  The principal told me the other night that I need to be at graduation next Friday.  "The boys will want you to be there," he said.  This comes as a surprise to me as there were 2 or 3 that I would have liked to have strangled.  And I'm sure the feeling was mutual.  But that, too, is nice to hear.  

So in addition to getting a business license, along with all the other stuff I will need to get street legal to do the lawyer thing, I'm going to look into the requirements for getting a teacher's license on a non-traditional basis.

Because like I said.  You can't turn it on and off.

We will visit again soon.  

Sunday, January 17, 2016

My Sunday, Let Me Get Back To You, Feeling

The literary world will hardly take notice but I am going away for awhile.  Everything is fine.  But I have taken on new, and wonderful, responsibilities for the time being.  However, they come with a high learning curve, or at least I am proceeding as if they do.  And until they don't, or until I semi-figure it out, as I know I will, they will be pretty much my focus for the immediate future.  

I am not at liberty to discuss what's going on right now.  I'm sure that will be my next entry in these pages.  

I am great.  I am excited.  If I had any sense I would be a lot more scared than I am.  But I am going to be a busy, busy man for the foreseeable future.  Which will be good for me.  I think.  

One of my favorite clients was, and presumably still is, an African-American gentleman.  He used to always tell me that everything would be revealed "in the fullness of time."

I will get back to you in the fullness of time.  And I will, most likely, have some great stories when I do. 

Until then, talk amongst yourselves.  

Sunday, January 10, 2016


No time for blogging this weekend.  

Talk amongst yourselves. 

Sunday, January 03, 2016

My New Year Feeling

I was never much good at math.  So I don't know whether last October I had officially spent 60 years on this vale of tears or whether it was 59.  Not that it much matters.  But I am fortunate to have been lent sufficient breath to have seen another year come and go. I say "fortunate." I do not say "blessed." 

You may have heard that the Arkansas River is way past flood stage.  It hasn't affected Little Rock all that much.  But homes and farms to the west of here have been impacted as has property downstream in Pine Bluff. 

Facebook may be safely relied upon at times like these to be a repository of bad theology.  People who have been spared are "blessed."  Which implies that folks who were not are cursed.  One poster went so far as to see the hand of God in her not being able to reach her home, which I guess would have been destroyed with her in it had she not been forced to turn back.  By God I suppose.

Of course, this is purblind nonsense of the purest grade.  I do not for one minute think that God sits up in her Heaven and picks winners and losers in Jefferson County.  But I also think that the "winners" should be more gracious about it when they choose to open their mouth to the press.  But I ramble.

I'm comfortable with describing myself as "fortunate." The word strongly implies that I am aware that I didn't get to this spot solely by stint of my own merit.  It is for that reason that I threw a little party back in October.  I invited my friends and family out of gratitude for their presence in my life.  These are the folks that encouraged me, dog-cussed me, listened to me, came to me for help, hugged me, kicked me and preached to me.  The latter whether I wanted to listen to it or not.  I only got a couple lightning bolts from eyes looking over the top of Vic Nixon's glasses.  They were all sufficient.  But enough about that. Maybe 2016 will find me less likely to belabor my points.  You never know. Anything's possible.  

So what to do about 2016?  

So far so good.  But its early yet.  

I am with a woman who says she loves me.  It must be true.  Otherwise, why would she put up with the likes of me?  Indeed, she tells me that she loves me on a frequent basis.  She does this with her kids too.  It's like she has thrown up a force field around them that she has let me enter.  One of my friends described M upon meeting her as "very tall and way cool."   Another said that she "radiates peace."  All of these things are true.  Quiet and reserved, she loves books, old movies that she has watched before (which I don't get but that's OK), naps, crossword puzzles, long walks, and pinot noir.  And naps.  Lots of naps. 

Of course, it is a package deal. Her daughter S, a freshman away in college, is an 18 year old cauldron of emotion, words and eyelash-fluttering.  She's also 9 kinds of smart.  As is her brother J.  He's 16.  He's the spitting image of his mom and has her laid-back temperament.  Like both his parents who were DI athletes, he is a good ballplayer and I enjoy watching him play football and basketball.  Good thing I enjoy watching kids play sports.  Because I do a lot of it nowadays. Which is AOK by me.  S and I are likewise OK.  She is far more complex than her brother but I think has resolved it in her mind that my continued presence in her life is inevitable. That's about all I can say with any degree of certitude. That's OK too. We take what we can get. But she thinks I'm funny and she lets me touch her now. This latter observation sent a friend of mine who raised a daughter into a spasm of tear-inducing helpless laughter.  Baby steps.  

We're coming up on a year now.  It's a good situation.  

So back to 2016.  I don't make resolutions as such.  But there are things I want to accomplish.  

I want to play more golf this year than I did last year.  Especially since I am playing better now than I ever have.  Granted it's a near thing but it's a thing.  

I'm going to play and sing more.  I've got about 9 songs ready to go.  Either my young friend Lucas is too busy to fool with me anymore or his absence is his way of saying "fly away little bird."  Either way, like my golf, I am playing better. And I owe the boy a debt of gratitude.  Really I do.  He was a kind and patient teacher. Which is the way you like them.

I'm going to write more.  I think it's just going to have to be part of the schedule of the day, along with guitar practice and exercise. A friend of mine who retired from teaching at Hendrix told me something last Fall.  "You worked for a long time.  You have earned the right to do nothin' if that's what you want to do.  But I'm telling you that you need to write more." Chuck is not one to stick his nose into other people's business. And so I will take his advice.  Which leads me to the next topic.

I continue to practice law here and there.  I do it enough to keep my hand in and what passes for my skills up.  I used to feel guilty that somebody with my formidable talent-and yes I am kidding- wasn't working more.  But things are better now.  Although just like "once a Baptist always a Baptist" once a lawyer you're "always a lawyer." I don't define myself so much as a lawyer anymore.  Or I don't define myself by work anymore and I think there's a reason for that.  And things are much the better for it.

But I think I'm going to become a "PA" and bite the bullet and get malpractice insurance.  People keep trying to hire me to do stuff for them.  Wills.  Business stuff. Stuff I can do.  No divorces. No criminal. There's no need to leave money on the table.    

Both M and my Mississippi lawyer friend think I should stick with my work with the schools I sub for.  Marge in Oxford says that this is my chance to "do what I enjoy." And I do very much enjoy being with the kids.  Even when they piss me off.  Which happens with some frequency. This is despite the fact that I ask the boys at the start of each class to recite my "Rule #1." Which is of course, "Don't piss me off." 

For her part, M reminds me that she makes a good living at her day job and that all she wants is for me to do "what makes me happy." Women, as a rule, tend to be more intuitive than men about such issues.  Perhaps I should listen for once. Like the man said, I did work for a long time.  I'm not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination but I make a pretty decent income just for waking up in the morning.  I don't have to do anything I don't want to do.  It's a good situation.  

And so I look forward to the coming year.  Or at least the part that comes after Valentine's Day.  Some things never change.

It's all good.  I'm content.  

And I'm fortunate.  Very fortunate.  

Sunday, December 27, 2015

My Sunday Feeling

I thought it was unusual when my brother John texted me about bringing my camera to Michele's house for Christmas dinner.  Then again, I thought that maybe they didn't have one since everybody takes pics with their cellphones nowadays.  Still, he never had made such a request in the past.

So, M and I packed the camera along with the Christmas wine I had bought and the salad that she had made and over the river and through the woods to the Village of Wellington we went.

After everyone had eaten, about 6:30 or so, John called everybody into the living room, ostensibly to pass out gifts.  He instead reached into his pocket and produced a box.  In it contained two wedding rings.  About that time other family members and friends started coming through the front door behind him.

"Well," he announced. "Since everybody is gathered together and since we have two preachers here-referring to Cousin Bruce and M-Michele and I are going to get married on Christmas." Actually, we have 3, the third being Bruce's wife Carolyn.  But who's counting?

He turned to the bride-to-be.  

"Go get your dress on and let's do this."

Obviously, Bruce-a minister in the Disciples of Christ or Christian Church (think TCU)-was in on this from the get-go. But that was probably about it apart from Michele's sister.  I'm not sure that Clarke or Kole knew.  As I got the camera ready Bruce told me they decided that the time was right and that this is how they wanted to do it.

"Besides," he said. "We really are lousy with clergy in this family nowadays."

Could be worse I suppose.  Some families are lousy with lawyers.

Presently, Michele made her way down the stairs escorted by Kole.  Bruce gathered the wedding party to order.  The bride was radiant.  The groom was gallant.  

And there in the living room, John and Michele were married on Christmas night.  All was calm. All was bright.

After champagne went around, M and I went back over the river and through woods back to the People's Republic of Hillcrest to exchange gifts.  We had just gotten settled in when my buddy Dale texted me from over above the river just east of here.

"You missed one hell of a good time over here," he wrote.

"I bet I did," I wrote back. "But John got married tonight. And I had to take pictures."

His response was intemperate and shall not be repeated in this space.


"You're next," he then wrote. " Don't dare do it without telling us."

Dale hates surprises even worse than I do.  The big sissy left town on his 50th birthday for fear that we would throw him a surprise party.  Really he did.

" I promise you," I replied. "If I ever decide to give up my celibate lifestyle you will be the first to know."

"You monk you."

"Good night."

I don't know if I would want to get married at Christmas.  Or Valentine's Day either.  Things are stressful enough on those occasions.  Further, I know a couple of people who have birthdays around Christmas.  They say it still sucks as much now as it did when they were kids.

Then again, I ran into my buddy Jim on Saturday morning.  Jim was the friend that was not drunk texting me on Christmas night.  He said his brother got married on the 4th of July just so he would always remember his anniversary.  So there is that.

Still it is exciting to officially add to this family that is lousy with clergy.  Michele is a great gal.  John over-married. Even he would admit it.  Kole is a good kid.

They have a great future ahead of them.

All is calm. All is bright.


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Still MIA

I got too much stuff going on.  The literary world will just have to do without me again today.

It will live.  Most likely it will prosper.

Talk amongst yourselves. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sick Leave

I have been struck down again by bronchitis, this time pretty bad.  It's hard to blog when you got pleurisy.  

The good news is that the horse pills seem to be kicking in.  I should be well JUST IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS!

Talk amongst yourselves.