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Without words on paper

Finalizing the furniture in my nifty new room, I was sure surprised to find a roach climbing up the back of a chair. Killed it, of course, and let's hope that's the only one that rode over with me and my stuff. I don't want to be the guy who introduced roaches to this place.

Then I spent most of the day setting up a shade I'd bought for the skylight. Yeah, there's a great big window in the ceiling of my new room — damned swanky, no doubt, but the sunrise wakes me up in the morning.

I'm not inherently handy, and the instructions for installing the shade were written by or for people who don't read English. It took six hours and half a roll of duct tape, a hammer, and my biggest magnet to make it all semi-functional. It's as ugly as your sister, but it ought to hold back tomorrow's dawn.

♦ ♦ ♦

On the train to the hardware store to buy the shade, I overheard a couple of people talking. The woman is a teacher, and she was remembering the last day of the school year, when at the closing bell all the kids ran out of the classroom, except one. One student stayed behind to briefly say thanks and goodbye to the teacher, before running after the others out the door. Guess that doesn't happen often, because the lady sounded like she might cry.

It made me stare out the window, into the darkness of the tunnel and the nothingness of a memory. Being raised with good manners, I'm certain I said thanks when teachers loaned me a pencil or let me stay ten minutes after class to avoid being beat up, but never ever did I say thanks to a teacher for teaching me. Never even thought about saying it, and that saddens me.

Can you imagine being alive without being able to read and write? I'd feel marooned in my own mind — no way to communicate with the outside world except through the horror of talking with people? "I'd rather be dead" seems cliché or hyperbolic, but my life would be simply shit without words on paper.

Yet I never said "Thanks, teach," for explaining the letters of the alphabet, and how to read, and how to write, and proper grammar. The teacher who taught grammar is the one of very few teachers whose name I remember 20+ years later, and she was already old so she's probably dead by now, but — thank you, Miss Sherwood.

From Pathetic Life #14
Tuesday, July 11, 1995

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

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