The Summer of “Re”

In 1 on July 20, 2009 at 4:17 pm
At my sister's birthday party this year. There was no Michael Jackson cake, but she did get his biography "Unmasked" as a present from her husband!

At my sister's birthday party this year. There was no Michael Jackson cake, but she did get his biography "Unmasked" as a present from her husband!

re: prefix…1. again:anew 2. back: backward (recall)


I. Reunion

My summer began with a trip to Middlbury Vermont for the 90th birthday of the Bread Loaf School of English. There, in the beautiful Green Mountains, I was reunited with old friends. We sat in the same chairs on the same green and yellow porches of yore and re-lived great old memories. It was a wistful journey– in a good way. Most of my buddies there are also teachers or involved in education somehow. Aerie teaches in Baltimore. Todd is a headmaster in Massachusettes. Tim & John both live and work in NYC. Kathleen teaches in Mass., CC also. Helen & Tim met at Bread Loaf and both teach at The Asheville School. They have three kids with one on the way! My friend, Teri, teaches in the very northern part of Vermont and also works with the National Education Association which is a labor union for teachers. Aside from all of that, they are just wonderful people and seeing them all again made me feel hopeful.

II. Remembrance

On the other hand, I was also struck (or sucked in by) the loss of several famous/semi-famous pop culture personalities: Bea Arthur of The Golden Girls, Ed McMahon of the Johnny Carson Tonite Show, Walker Kronkite of CBS news and…of course…Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson’s death seemed like yet another bit of my youth fading away. I remember junior high dances where we all ran to the middle of the gym floor for “I Wanna’ Rock with You.” My little sister had a Michael Jackson wall in her bedroom and slept in her Michael Jackson earrings for so long that her ears got infected! She also had a Michael Jackson birthday cake. No one was allowed to eat the sugary rendition of Michael Jackson’s frosting head. MJ’s head was wrapped in foil and placed in the freezer for safe keeping. Nearly a decade later when we moved from that house, my mom found Michael Jackson tucked in the nether regions of the freezer. Somehow this bizarre family anecdote seems fitting for Michael Jackson. I wonder what other less glamorous souls were lost this summer?

III. Re-use, Reduce, Recycle

So, my husband and I have been trying to recycle most of our plastic, paper, and aluminum. It is kind of a pain to loading up laundry baskets of trash into the station wagon and driving to the dump, but truthfully it’s really not that bad once you get into the habit of it. Dr. Gresham also helped us to re-plant five tiny Eastern Red Cedar trees which he re-located to our yard from upstate near Columbia. We are hoping someday that they will grow tall and wide enough to create a natural fence at the back of our small patio. We also learned from Dr. Gresham that our soil is really CLAY and difficult for plants. That won’t stop me, however, Next spring, I hope to plant a mimosa tree. I find them feminine and graceful and reminscent of both the swampy and the swanky aspects of the South which make me love it so!

IV. Rediscovery

Okay. I was cuckoo for Netflix when it first came out. But now? With the “watch instantly” feature? WOO HOO! My husband hooked my laptop through the tv and we were able to INSTANTLY watch nearly 1,000 movies. Documentaries seem the most interesting to me right now. I especially enjoyed “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill” which is about a community of wild parrots in San Francisco and this St. Francis of Assisi type guy who cares for them all, understands them, and explains their personality and issues. I also enjoyed a documentary called “Home Movies” which documented the lives of people who made alternative living choices. One lady lived in a tree house in a remote part of Hawaii. Another couple lived on a defunct missile base. A guy from Illinois lived in a house that he had engineered with robots and crazy gadgets like a hand that popped out of the wall and handed you soap. And the most likable fellow lived on a house boat in the bayous of Louisiana. He was an alligator charmer. It was fascinating. I also watched GIANT with James Dean because I have heard it is his best acting. He died very young (like Heath Ledger) and was amazingly talented. Also, did you know that Michael Jackson, James Dean, and Shannon Lewis are all originally from Indiana? 🙂

V. Relaxing

I am one of the few adults I know who gets to nap frequently, has hours of solitude, and can choose or not choose to do whatever I do or do not do. Of course, this is mostly true in the summer. I stayed up waaaaaaaaaay too late this summer surfing the net, working on my Tweb, watching The Golden Girls, Tori and Dean, and Bridezillas. At the Bread Loaf reunion, my good friend Aerie said she is a firm believer in “mixing the high and the low”. So I read a little Shakespeare and then I watched a little Oxygen network. Eat a healthy salad and have some Skittles for dessert. I’m testing out her theory. I’ll let you know how it goes.

VI. Restructuring

As July melts into August, slowly, slowly, I am also thinking about the restructuring of our school. We have a new headmaster and his children will attend our school. We have a golf school option and the schedule in the upper school is going to be different. I am teaching a new course (English II) with new texts that I have never taught before. AND, I’m even trying to think of how to rearrange the room so that it is more efficient for my teaching and your learning.  This is all exciting and interesting and means being able to take a refreshed and open mind into the school year.

What are your RE flections for the summer? I would love to know. Post them in the comment section of this blog OR start your own wordpress blog. It’s pretty fun actually. I’m sort of getting used to it.

See you soon,

Mrs. Lewis


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