If you could go back in time and meet your 16-year-old self…

what three things would you tell yourself?

Only 3 things?  Wow!

  1. Sweet Briar is a great college and you will have a terrific four years if you go there…but…look around New England a little more.  Can you get into Mt. Holyoke?  Is there a small college nearby that has a great teacher’s program?  And take some classes at Keene State over summers.  And if you do go to SBC?  Room with Candice in Manson your sophomore year.
  2. You have a condition called vulvodynia.  As soon as you graduate from college and Brattleboro Ob/Gyn opens in Brattleboro go see Dr. McBean and get her to fix you.  You will be so glad that you did in 2000.
  3. And that guy, that one that has the funny hair, he is going to have the part of the dad in Bye, Bye Birdie.  And in the future?  You will love him.  No seriously, stop laughing.  Really, you will.  Stop laughing!  You will love him. You will even want to have babies with him.  And they will be soooo cute.  But only if you remember the second thing I told you.

What’s your favorite poem?

If I Could Tell You

Time will say nothing but I told you so,
Time only knows the price we have to pay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

If we should weep when clowns put on their show,
If we should stumble when musicians play,
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

There are no fortunes to be told, although,
Because I love you more than I can say,
If I could tell you I would let you know.

The winds must come from somewhere when they blow,
There must be reasons why the leaves decay;
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

Perhaps the roses really want to grow,
The vision seriously intends to stay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

Suppose all the lions get up and go,
And all the brooks and soldiers run away;
Will Time say nothing but I told you so?
If I could tell you I would let you know.

W.H. Auden

When I was a senior in high school (1994) I went on a trip to London with my school.  I was in awe pretty much the whole time.  Not that I hadn’t traveled, I was just so in love with London I could hardly believe I was really there.  If I had had a digital camera I would have run out of space on my memory card the first day.  I especially loved riding the Underground.  After all I grew up in a town with a handful of elevators, a crappy bus system, and no escalators.

On the Underground I started to notice poetry in some of the ad spaces.  I didn’t know until way later (enter the advent of the internet) that this was a culture thing.

Poems on the Underground was launched in 1986. The programme was the brainchild of American writer Judith Chernaik, whose aim was to bring poetry to the wide ranging audience of passengers on the Underground.

All I knew was, I was seeing poems I hadn’t read before.  There was one that caught my eye and I wrote it in my journal.  I don’t know what it was that spoke to me in Auden’s words.  Maybe it was the repetition, maybe the odd rhyme scheme, maybe the message, but whatever it was I came home wanting to know more poetry by W.H. Auden.  It was a librarian friend who explained villanelle style poetry to me.  I tried to write poems in the same style, but I am a hopeless writer.  I got a book of his poetry and devoured it.  Four Weddings and a Funeral came out that same summer and featured another Auden poem that just about broke my heart.

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.


The connections just keep coming.  The college I went to, Sweet Briar College, actually has an Auden collection in the library.  I don’t actually know what that means, because I was never brave enough to ask about it.

Looking back I wish my senior quote in my high school yearbook had been from another Auden poem, Leap Before You Look.

A solitude ten thousand fathoms deep
Sustains the bed on which we lie, my dear;
Although I love you, you will have to leap;
Our dream of safety has to disappear.

I would have just quoted the last line, but I put the whole final stanza here to give context.  I was so afraid to leave the safety of my hometown, my friends, the only house I ever really remembered (there had been an apartment until I was 3), my parents and my sister.  Virginia is a long way from Vermont in so many different ways.  And I really had to leap before I looked, or I might not have gone.  I am so glad I did.

I had no idea what I was going to experience in college or how it would shape my life.  I wanted all the answers up front, but they weren’t there for me.  To be trite, I had to let time be the one to tell me so.

If I could tell you, I would let you know

8 Years Ago Today

I was in my literacy room waiting for my third graders. The same room I teach in now. My para walked in from her break. “You haven’t left the room, have you?” she asked. “No.” I said. “Then you don’t know.” she said, quietly. “Know what?” “I will tell you after.” “No, please tell me.” “The World Trade towers are no more.” It was 10:45 on September 11, 2001.

My bear

Whoorl wrote a nice piece about her childhood blanket and challenged her readers to write too. I am writing about my favorite childhood stuffed animal. This week we had Staff Appriciation week at school and we each brought in an artifact that represents us. I brought my bear. Almost no one guessed he was mine.

Gotta...getta...GUND He’s my bear. He doesn’t have a name. I always thought it was stupid when people asked his name. He’s a bear, a stuffed toy, why would he have a name?  I know people name their stuffed animals, and in fact, I named other stuffed animals, just not my bear.

My bear I have had my bear since I was about 18 months old. According to my parents we went to Florida to visit Sylvia and Bill that fall. Bill was my dad’s cousin, but they were way older than my parents, so they were more like grandparents. While we were there they had a birthday party for me. I certainly don’t remember it, but I have seen pictures. We were all wearing party hats.

I don’t remember a time not having my bear. He is flat and balding. His tongue is gone and his nose is rubbed off. His eyes are scratched and he has cataracts of clear nail polish from where I tried to fix the scratches. He used to be kind of yellow, but now he is a grayish color. His tag is worn and hard to read.  When I was little and my mom would wash him, I would get mad.  He got all fluffy and not comfortable.  So I would throw him down the stairs and jump on him.

I took my bear with me everywhere.  He went to DC with me in middle school.  He went back and forth to college a dozen times or more.  He always rode outside my bag on planes so he has been through several x-ray machines.  He hasn’t traveled since I graduated, so I guess he needs a trip.  I think he will go in the car with us to Sweet Briar this spring.

He doesn’t have a place of honor or anything.  He still sleeps in my room, but he is buried under extra blankets and PJs to keep him safe from my kitty.  When my husband is away, my bear sleeps on his spot.

He is my bear.

Where did they go?

Whoorl posted an entry about things she misses after reading this article and its comments.

I miss Jello Pudding Pops.
Several people mention the CRX. I miss one particular CRX, the one belonging to my high school boyfriend.
I also hate that every time I find sneakers I like they discontinue them.
One of the things that really cracks me up is some of the candy people mention is still available in New England.
I don’t really drink Coke anymore, but I definitely miss the way it tasted before the whole New Coke fiasco.
Recently Trident changed the pink bubble gum flavor and it is so bad that I threw out a whole pack. However, I just bought a pack of Juicy Fruit and it is YELLOW! Not that nasty grey it used to be, and the flavor lasts much longer. A change for the good!
There also used to be really great soft oatmeal cookies called Almost Home. I loved those.

What are some things you miss?