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CAUTIONARY TALES

CAUTIONARY TALES

When I was just seventeen years old and a freshman in college, I pledged a sorority.  I was only on campus for about a week before Rush started – by the following year, the university decreed that Rush become a second semester event so impressionable freshmen girls could focus on shit like passing Finance 101 instead of on how to best decorate bottles of Boone’s Farm Wild Cherry Wine with puffy paint – and after dozens of parties populated by clapping and singing girls finally ended, I was given a bid. 

My days became jam-packed with sorority events:  Mai-Tai Mixers, Dressy Date Parties, Make Your Own Sundae With Your Purchased Sisters.  Most of it was pretty fun, but for me the most exciting night of all of those many exciting and exhausting nights was the night I got my Big Sister.  

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Starting on the snowy eve before I turned one – and continuing on until the night before my thirteenth birthday – my father wrote an annual letter to me.  After writing each one, he would place the paper into an envelope, seal it, scrawl his signature across the flap, and then write the date of the letter across the front.

On the night of my thirteenth birthday, he and I embarked on the event that I’d looked forward to ever since my sister had experienced her very own thirteenth birthday extravaganza.  We went to dinner at The Four Seasons and sat so close to the pool that I could have stuck my fingers into the water and I don’t remember what I ate for dinner, but I know that I ordered the Chocolate Velvet for dessert and that they also brought me a cloud of cotton candy with some ice cream hidden beneath the perfectly formed fluff of sugar.  Afterwards, we went to see a Broadway show – Penn and Teller.

The whole thing was glorious, in spite of the fact that I was wearing a white satin drop-waist dress that had fringe all over it and my hair was asymmetrical and curly, giving me the appearance of an unfortunate looking hedge.  Holy shit, did my gawky stage suck, but it didn’t matter later that night when my father and I sat on my bed and I was able – finally – to open my letters.

MY FAVORITE PROFESSOR

MY FAVORITE PROFESSOR

I used to see him outside of Memorial Hall, the stately brick building where English classes were held at the University of Delaware. He'd stand on one of the stairwells, leaning against a wrought iron railing that led to the entryway, and I'd see him smoke cigarettes between classes, often surrounded by students who would stand and smoke with him, laughing at everything he said. He seemed older than some of the other professors, but it could have been the grey beard tumbling off of his face that gave that impression. He always dressed casually but professionally, wearing collared shirts but never a sports jacket. Once, as I walked by the group of inhalers on my way to Biblical and Classical Literature, I heard him speak and realized he had an accent. I hadn't expected that. It sounded kind of southern, but I couldn't really place the origin.

TIME

TIME

Time: it might be the most difficult thing for me to fully comprehend.

Time is, by essence, logical. It can be measured. It can be graphed and charted.

It can be traced.

But time is also complicated by the other swirling elements that are as central to the truth as time. The emotion you feel at a time can make the empirical nature of what really is or was shift. You no longer see purely the moment of the time; you feel yourself while you're in it -- and afterwards.