Saturday, March 21, 2009


I’m going through a period in my life, maybe it’s a stage or a phase, where I am addicted to STORY. We all are to some degree, even if we don’t read much. I have certainly been a story addict all my life to a greater or lesser extent. This blog is evidence of that.

My notebooks are filled with bits and pieces, the flotsam and jetsam of a life. Lyrics, fiction, images, characters, poems, memoir, letters. I’ve got two or three classroom notebooks, my car notebook (I only write at traffic lights or when I step out of the car), my backpack notebook, the one by the bed, the old ones in my bag of music. There are drafts of songs in my guitar case, in file folders and cabinets and drawers. There are classroom anecdotes that I keep on clipboards and in student files.

Then there is what I read. There are chapter books and picture books I read aloud to my students. We ALWAYS have a book going. Sharing books with my students is probably the most meaningful thing I do as a teacher instructionally. I say it every time we begin a new chapter book. One of the very best parts of being a teacher is sharing my favorite books with my best friends. And I mean it. Sincerely. I don’t remember who shared Charlotte’s Web with me the first time or The Wizard of Oz or Number the Stars but whoever they were they were my most effective reading teachers. Those books – and many others, are what made me a reader. It wasn’t the hundreds of pages of phonics lessons endured over the years (thousands?), or the fill-in-the-blank comprehension questions to the stories we read in our readers, or the color-coded tiny SRA “stories” with the accompanying quizzes. It was the giver of those books who taught me how to read. It was E. B. White, L. Frank Baum and Lois Lowrey. If I can do anything for my students, it is to give the gift of story that someone gave to me, that someone gave to them, that someone gave to them as far back as humans existed.

A couple days ago Kendall Haven visited our school. He is a wonderful story-teller and writer. He said that humans come hard wired for story. It makes sense. Humans have been writing for what, a few thousand years? Some cultures didn’t develop written language until very recently. Until written language came along, all of our history and culture and religion and heritage were passed through the spoken word. Story.

I always have a big fat fiction book going. Now it is The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb. He wrote I Know This Much Is True – one of the best books I have ever read. I’m reading a fantastic non-fiction book by Greg Mortenson called Three Cups of Tea about his brave life helping to build schools in Pakistan where there were none. There are the blogs I read, the editorials I never miss (Nicholas Kristoff, Leonard Pitts). The newspaper.

In the car I’m stuck on books on tape or CD. I’m almost finished with To Kill a Mockingbird. Jem’s arm has been broken, Scout nearly killed in her chicken-wire-and-fabric ham costume by the dreaded Bob Ewell. The Sheriff, most often referred to as Mr. Heck Tate, is convincing Atticus that it would be a mistake to make a public spectacle out of how Ewell was killed (by Boo Radley, remember? Boo saved the kids’ from the murderous Ewell.). Wise little Scout explains that it would be wrong to bring attention to the shy, reclusive Boo Radley.

Atticus sat looking at the floor for a long time. Finally he raised his head. “Scout,” he said, “Mr. Ewell fell on his knife. Can you possibly understand?”

Atticus looked like he needed cheering up. I ran to him and hugged him and kissed him with all my might. “Yes sir, I understand,” I reassured him. Mr. Tate was right.”

Atticus disengaged himself and looked at me. “What do you mean?”

“Well it’d be sort of like shootin’ a mockingbird, wouldn’t it?”

Atticus put his face in my hair and rubbed it. When he got up and walked across the porch into the shadows, his youthful step had returned. Before he went inside the house, he stopped in front of Boo Radley. “Thank you for my children, Arthur,” he said.

It’s like all good books to me. There is this battle between wanting to finish – to know how it all ends up – and not wanting to finish because who knows when I’ll see these folks again? Atticus, the best father and friend a kid could have, and Jem and Scout who seem more real to me than some real people. I may never read that book again. I’ve read it several times with years between spacing out the readings. But I may never get back to Macomb County again. So many books – so little time, you know?

The older I get, the harder it is not to cry at good books. I’m not sure why. Maybe it is because I know more about life now, not that I am wise, just older. Maybe it is because the more of my days have passed, the more precious the remaining days become. For whatever reason, it’s difficult not to mist up especially when I read something tender aloud. Our old friend and professor, Jerry Harste, told us years ago – when I never cried at reading - that if you can’t cry, you can’t read. I am now finding the truth in that statement more than ever.

A couple of weeks ago I gave a copy of The Education of Little Tree to Teresa, our student teacher. It was to celebrate her completing her first week of student teaching. She’s really busy now. Completely busy. I didn’t know when she’d ever be able to read it. But it’s an important book, one every teacher should read. So I gave it to her. A time capsule of brilliant writing and insight, a few ounces of paper and ink that hold so much wisdom, life, sorrow, joy. Perhaps she’d read it years from now and think back on our classroom and our beautiful, brilliant kids. Maybe she’d be retired before she ever got around to reading it. You give a book. You never know. Maybe she’d never get around to reading it. So many books – so little time, right? Maybe she’d schlep it around for a few moves and finally sell it in a yard sale without ever having read it.

But she came in one morning this week and said that she’d read the first chapter. I waited. Anxious. Well, she’d loved it. I knew she would. Maybe she’ll think it is as important as I do. Maybe not. But for her there’ll be other important books. Ones she’ll give lovingly to her own child – waiting to be born, her students and her friends. I think so. I don’t know her that well, but I think she’s like that.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Kigali Genocide Memorial

Earlier this week I was working with my teacher friend Tameka and her lovely class of fourth graders (my former second and third graders). We were practicing responding to writing prompts, the kind that the students had to face later in the week for the standardized tests. Tameka and I were coming up with practice prompts for the children so everyone would get in the habit of organizing their ideas with an outline or prewriting notes.

One of our prompts was, Think of someone who is a hero to you. Why is this person your hero? What did he or she do to make you think that way? (or something like that). We were pushing ourselves to respond quickly, to write fluently and clearly. We only wrote for about five minutes before we stopped writing and shared our ideas.

As with all writing assignments or simply free writing periods, I wrote along with the kids. Tameka wrote too. While I had no idea who I would write about when I sat down, my mind went quickly back to Rwanda, Africa. It was in Rwanda in the summer of 2007 that I encountered the bravest people I ever hope to meet.

I recorded most of this trip in a black and white composition book and nearly filled it. What started as a travel log became a long message to my wife, Heidi. When I got home, my good friend George thought I should post my journal entries on a blog. It took a while, but I did as George suggested on a blog called A White Boy In Rwanda.

When I was sitting in that fourth grade classroom a few days ago, my mind raced back to the weeks I spent in Rwanda with Immaculee Ilibagiza, Roger Remera, Bishop John Rucyahana and my many friends from the US. These brilliant people lost their families and their loved ones in the Rwandan Genocide now 15 years ago. Yet, they thrive. They forgive. They have moved on to do wonderful things. They must the bravest people I have ever known.

In the post that follows, I have drawn an excerpt from that notebook. I wrote it in a few scattered chunks over a couple of days. Late in the night, a night heavy with insomnia, and early the next morning. This followed a visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial where there are the remains of 250,000 people. It is still almost impossible to imagine. During those 100 days well over 1,000,000 people were killed.

Immaculee and Roger took us to the memorial because they knew that we needed to see it, to experience it. This piece begins after we returned from the memorial and sort of rewinds to the experiences there.

Sunday 6/30/07 11:50 PM

Tim (Immaculee’s friend and agent) talked us into going swimming after dinner. Hilarious. He is such a salesman. The water was cold and we laughed until our faces hurt. Everyone came back, at least part way, from an emotionally wrenching day. I didn’t know what to expect from the Genocide Memorial. Thousands of innocent Rwandans in a mass grave. I took some pictures, just a little video but nothing will be able to describe the power, the sadness. Most of the visitors were Europeans, a few Rwandans, a few Americans besides us. One of the drivers was there in the room with the photographs staring at a picture of his own family.

Outside, large cement slabs – maybe ten yards by twenty yards, covering hundreds (thousands) of bodies each. A large black wall, not marble or obsidian, concrete. Black, stark, simple. Hundreds of names on small plaques were attached to the wall. So many of the ones buried there remain unidentified. A perpetual flame. Simple. There are several mass graves across Rwanda. Official graves. They are still finding bodies. There were some flowers. The black painted wall. A perpetual flame. Many names.

Inside a man told us in a very quiet voice a little about the genocide. He must have said the same things many times. He was reverent. When we entered the memorial we saw an enlarged photo of an unnamed Rwandan child. A boy. Maybe ten years old. It was ripped and scratched. Stained with blood. He was just a child. It was found in the pocket of an unidentified victim. His eyes were looking into the lens of the camera. Into our eyes. Just a child.

The guide left us there. As we walked through the maze of stone walls and rough cement or brick floors there were pictures showing the history of Rwanda from the early days before it was a colony throughout its history. Photos of leaders, ordinary people, military. Pictures showing the persecution of the Tutsis. The text was in Kinyrwanda, French and English. It was detailed, honest, brutal. The farther we went the quieter everyone became. We cried softly as we saw the horror of everyday people, simple good people, killed by their neighbors, coerced by their government, betrayed by their friends, their religious leaders. There were videos of survivors telling stories of what happened to their families. Too horrific to write now. Rape, physical torture, families made to watch their loved ones brutalized, killed. We cried. Occasionally we stopped to reflect, to talk softly, to pray, to cry.


Being there with Immaculee brought it to another level. Getting to know her and seeing her memories flash back was… I’m blocking here… incredible, unbelievably sad. It touched my soul in a way I didn’t know was possible, as nothing else could. Her anger and sadness were palpable. At the end of the self-tour were other rooms. One was very dark. For a while I was in there alone. The only sound was a silken voiced woman reading the names of those killed. There are well over a million names. I could hear my own breathing, feel my heart pounding. My sinuses were clogged from crying. My head was throbbing. I was numb.

One case held long bones from legs. Femurs. Stacks and rows of femurs. There were cases of skulls. Some little, some really tiny. Some with machete marks. Some cracked open as if hit with a heavy club. One case in this darkened room held what must have been found on the bodies of the victims. Photos, pocket knives, a simple wedding band, hair clips, an earring. Just the stuff of a human life. The musical names were being read one after another. It would take thousands of hours just to read them all. Darkness. Bones. Pocket stuff. Names. Tears.


The next area was a small amphitheater. Survivors told their stories on large TV screens. Tiny alcoves with soft benches lay around the outside of the room. Cables with rings and clips held thousands of photographs. Tens of thousands? Some were blurry, taken with inexpensive cameras. Wedding pictures. Blank stares. Joyous expressions. Some were looking past the camera at the photographer with so much love in their eyes. Old men in their very best clothes. Young ones playing with simple toys. Messy hair. Patched pants. Blank stares. Some of the photographs were copies. Some were the actual photographs with the owners’ handwriting on the back. Someone’s birthday. Someone’s new coat. Someone at age four.

I wanted to see every face. My eyes were so blurred with a veil of tears that I could barely see at all. I sat alone in one of the corners. Alone with images of people just like Imaculee and just like Asha and just like Ali and Saniyo and Isha (our Somali Bantu friends - refugees from a Kenyan camp) and just like the Jews and the Gypsies and the Native Americans and like the women in Afghanistan under the Taliban and like the victims of genocide in Darfur, and those in refugee camps all over… And I was overwhelmed, Heidi. For a while I couldn’t breath. That was the room that affected me the most. Until I went upstairs. I thought I was overloaded then I walked up the stairs to a simple area devoted to the children.

The Children

There were large portraits of beautiful children (I know I’ve overused the word beautiful) from about two to ten years old. Simple statements in three languages were under their sweet faces… Favorite Animal: My cat, Favorite Food: Rice, Favorite Toy: The doll my sister and I share, Last Words: Why would you do that? You are my friend… All of these stories so terribly cut short. For the perpetrators these images must be ghosts.


In a crazy way I feel guilty. I am blessed to live in a free country. A powerful country. A country which chooses war over engagement. My guilt is about why I/we didn’t care that much. It was played down in the news but we did hear it. The news that was reported to us was at best incorrect and insufficient and at worst an outright lie and a cover up. Was it the O. J. Simpson trial or some other mind numbing distracter that kept us from feeling the intensity of what was happening? Something, that while it was happening (and certainly before) could have been stopped. Guilt implies fault. Was it at least partially our fault? Could I/we have done anything at all to save a child with bright inquisitive eyes or an old woman who lived alone or Immaculee’s family or the Bishop’s niece?

Monday 7/1/07 7:30 AM

I’ll pick up from where I left off last night. The rooms with the large children’s pictures were so sad – only a word like sad can’t really describe it. No words really can. It was something like reading Left to Tell but so much more. Immaculee said some simple words along the way, words I wish I had written down. Among these words was the idea that unless we take what we know now and do what we can to change the world then our trip here will have been for nothing.


The Kigali memorial is on the side of a hill. Looking down and across the valley you see very poor homes. Row on row, corrugated roofs packed tightly together. When we think of the poor in America it really isn’t like this. As we drove down the winding hill and through the streets people were everywhere. Women in brightly colored wraps carrying firewood on their heads, children in ragged clothes playing soccer with something – not a soccer ball. One old man with no eyes being lovingly led by a very little one, maybe five or six. Well dressed people too. Business suits, colorful shirts and blouses, high heels. Such a wide assortment. Just like everywhere I suppose. Most seem happy. That big old smile was everywhere. So many smiles here. Among the many unforgettable images that smile is the best.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Where I'm From II

A couple weeks ago I posted some poems.  First, George Ella Lyon's "Where I'm From".  I met her recently and was inspired by her piece to write my own.  I immediately shared George Ella's poem with my class.  They each wrote their own.  Soon, they will be up on our class' web page.  

Our student teacher Teresa, had the brilliant idea of passing around a digital recorder and recording us reading parts of our poems.  The little recorder went round and round and what came out of this sharing was amazing.  Some of it was funny, some touching, some revealing.  Somehow, that recording didn't work out but we'll do it again.  I can only imagine it will be better next time.  

So this post, this poem, is by guest bloggers, my second grade class.  What follows are little bits of everyone's poems sort of sewn together in a waterfall of words.  

Where I'm From

I am from pass down books from my family members
who all share a great bond of love with me.
I am from Charlotte and Columbia.  I am from after school snacks.
I am from finding small treasures like acorns and rocks.
When I was in my mamma's tummy she would sing to me.
I'm from spaghetti and baked potatoes 
and chocolate cake with milk.
I'm from my crib all soft and fluffy and
I'm from the wild wind blowing.
I'm from a family of rainbow flying high in the air.
I'm from sparkling stars swimming in the darkness.
I live in the country.  I really like my house.  It is big.
I'm from the care and love of sweet friendship.
I'm from playing outside in the soft brown dirt, 
from loving animals big and small.
I'm from jumping on my trampoline.
I'm from the people who live in peace.
I'm a freedom fighter, a peacekeeper, a gentleman.
I'm from a sweet mother.  I'm from a sweet and funny dad.
I'm from happiness late at night.
I'm from basketball and soccer and cheerleading.
I'm from my everlasting Father.  The beat of my heart.
I'm from my soft crib , I'm from my mom's hands.
I'm from writing and reading books.  
I'm from being a big brother at the age of 3 1/4.
I am from science, I am from wonder, I am from love.
I am from Myrtle Beach and Charleston.  I am from my cousins.
I am from reading about sharks and frogs and snakes.
I was born crying and scared.
I'm from games with my dad and cub scouts with my mom 
and wrestling with my brother.
I'm from speed zooming all around me.
I'm from the wildness jumping all inside me.
Running, playing, fun for all, for me, for you.
I'm from my imagination.  I'm from nature and animals.
My friends are nice.  I am lucky to have them.
I'm from the sweet soft baby skin and the family that looks after me.
From making new friends and helping others.
I'm from under the ground, I'm from Heaven, I'm from a dream.
I'm from beads in my hair.  
I am from the sweet flowers that grow in my yard.
I am one who frees the slaves, stops segregation and 
ends the war once and for all.
I am from the war for peace.
I'm from deep in the woods.  I'm from stick fights.
I'm from being a sister.  I'm from being friends.
The love of my family, the sports I play and the 
teachers that teach me.
I'm from the stroller to my first step.
I'm from writer's craft.
I'm from a voice calling out from the wilderness.
I am from the land of magic.
I am from, "Of course it is happening inside my head but 
why should that mean it isn't real?"
I am from riding my bike and exploring outside.
People said that I was sweet and precious but when I would cry
they said I roared like a lion.
I'm from a hospital to a house to a school
to a galaxy of aliens and monsters.
I'm from ideas dashing to my brain.
I'm from dirt in my hair.  I'm from Smarty Pants Land.
I'm from smiling every day.  I'm from singing like crazy.
I'm from having freedom to do whatever I want to do.
I'm from a heart of joy and love.
I'm from chasing my beloved dog.  
I'm from fights with cats to kissing them.
I'm from friends, without them I would die.
I'm from the sweet sour taste of oranges.
I'm from the glow of good, the glow of peace,
the glow of light, the glow of wonder, the glow of life.
I'm from finding shells on the beach with my family.
I'm from the smokey Tennessee mountains.
I'm from the dreams I see in my sleep.
I'm from learning new things every day.
I'm from ink on paper to the middle of the woods.
 I'm from hugs and smiles and singing.
But most importantly, I'm from God!
I am from being me! 

Thanks again, George Ella!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

At the Restaurant

I’m sitting in this restaurant taking a break before our Friday movie night at school. Tonight it’s “The Incredible Mr. Limpett”. Don Knotts turns into a fish, works for the Allies during WWII and wins the war. The tarps are down on the floor at school, the DVD projector and speakers are set up.  I've got a few minutes to catch my breath before heading back.  Long week.

I’m by myself in a crowded place. It’s a perfect time for people watching. There are so many interesting faces, clothes, hair, accents.

It’s a Friday night so the place is hopping. This is a really large strip mall and there are many people walking around. Lots of folks just hanging out. I’m seated right by the window.  I've got my notebook open.

It’s warm for the first time in months so people are showing more skin than in a while. Earlier this week it was so cold that we had to take in plants from outside so they wouldn’t freeze. But now it’s balmy. There is a late afternoon breeze that is one of the first true harbingers of spring. It’s an hour before sunset so there’s this reddish orange glow that just makes people look… beautiful. Most folks just seem happier. It’ll get cold again, we know it, but for now it is the perfect time to get outside, to celebrate the weather, to go to the mall.

Girls wearing low risers (Is that the term? We used to call them hip huggers). Young guys with sagging pants, their hands reaching back to hoist them up like windshield wipers on intermittent. Young families with kids in tow or kids in strollers. Military men and women wearing the new sort of small-checked design camouflage fatigues. I guess they just haven’t had the chance to change from what they wear to work. They’re not camouflaged very well here.

Two lovely young African American teens with the most beautiful braids and twists. Those two care about hair. They are both smiling broadly. Beaming. A mom and daughter wearing matching cutoffs – probably for the first time in months. Their legs are pale. The young girl, maybe 12, has almost white blond hair. Long and straight. Bright blue eyes. Mom’s eyes are the exact same color. Her hair used to be authentic blond. You can tell. They make each other laugh. Then they tilt their heads together and the mom suddenly looks about twenty years younger.

The next pair that walks by has been fighting I think. Her head is down, her blackish-red hair covers her face. Low risers. Shoulders slumped in a shuffling sad walk. Sandals.  Her arms are crossed over her chest. She has a name tattooed on her sleeveless triceps. Adam. She looks like she might be crying. Adam (I presume) looks nonchalant, like he couldn’t care less, like he doesn’t have a care in the world. The young woman says something I can’t hear. He answers. I can’t hear him either, they’re on the other side of the glass. But I can read his lips easily. It isn’t pretty, what he says. They walk on by.

My attention is drawn to an older couple who walk in slowly and carefully. I’m not eavesdropping but I can hear. They are close to me. They approach the booth next door. “You always like a booth,” says he. They are holding hands.

“And you always let me have the booth,” she says. And I'm thinking, how many times have they said that? “Thank you, dear,” and it sounds like she says ‘dee–uh’ her voice is so soft, so southern.

They are old. Eightyish, maybe older. The woman has on rouge and lipstick and eye shadow. She is well put together. But she moves into the booth slowly. She has a limp too. Maybe a bum hip. Her man helps her as much as he can. And he is gentle. So gentle. He scoots into the booth across from her. Their eyes shine for each other. They put the little pager on the table between them, the one that buzzes and lights up when their food is ready.

Then it strikes me that this beautiful woman looks a lot like my Heidi – at least how Heidi might possibly look in 30 years. This gal has had her hair dyed, Heidi probably won’t do that, but her eyes are clear and she has that kind of natural beauty that one doesn’t outgrow. She has a beautiful presence as well. She doesn’t just look at her man when they talk, she looks into him. I know that look. I am in love with it. I have been for 33 years.

Their table buzzer goes off and sort of startles them both. He slides over to the edge of the booth and stands up slowly, a little creakily. He makes two trips and when he returns with both of their food trays, he slides back in. They get everything adjusted in front of them, drinks, silverware, sandwiches, napkins. Automatically, as if they have done this countless times, they reach their hands across the table and lace fingers. They bow their heads and close their eyes. They sigh identical long sighs. And I’m thinking, how many times have they sighed that sigh?

Man says, “Lord we thank thee for this day you have made. Bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies and our souls. Lord, let us pause before we eat and think of ones in need of food and shelter and of love.” Pause. “And Lord thank you so much for the love of this beautiful woman.”

Eyes closed, they smile. Not so much at each other now. They’re smiling at God. And I’m thinking, how many times have they thanked God for each other?

Then they unlace their hands and look at each other with love. Quietly, slowly they begin to eat.

And I’m thinking how I forgot to bless my food – Hey, I am in a restaurant - Hey, this is a public place. But then I close my eyes and I sigh and I take a moment to give thanks once again for my Heidi. And I am grateful for that little moment. After a hectic day, a long week, it wasn’t just chance that led me to sit at that table, in that restaurant, with my notebook and eyes open. I am grateful.

I get up and bus my table and look back at the couple before leaving. They have eyes only for each other. It is so sweet, so God.

Then I head back to school and Don Knotts and "Mr. Limpett".

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

See Ya Tomorrow, Mr. O

Carpool is one of the best parts of the day for me.  Our school is still rather small so we know each other well.  We share stories, play word games, review the day, laugh a lot.  I love this waiting for rides.  I get occasional hugs and smiles from my former students and I watch them grow up.  Millimeter by millimeter. 

Over time the older ones, the ones who used to be in my classroom, gradually get a little more aloof, walking by me without a glance.  At first it is a little lonely watching kids who used to be my best friends pass without a nod.  It's just part of the rhythm of being a teacher.  Last year we went through an elaborate fifteen step handshake to say goodbye which ended up with a sort of minor body slam.  This year I'm lucky to get a, "See ya, Mr. O." from the fourth graders as they step into their cars.  

At the beginning of this year the closeness was still there as we were trying to figure out our new places.  Those big fourth graders trying to understand how to be with another grownup, me trying to figure out my new little second graders.  Now they love their new teacher Tameka, and I have fallen in love with my new class.  It happens slowly.  Millimeter by millimeter.  

As the kids peel off to get in their cars or daycare busses I usually get a fist bump, a hug or a high five from my own students.  The  fifth grade safety patrol takes care of getting the kids into their cars.  They open the doors, help deposit the kids and give a somewhat bland, "Have a nice day," before closing the doors safely.  The circle of children left behind gets smaller and smaller.  The noise dies down and we can hear each other without too much difficulty.  

The other day one of my little boys said, "I've seen your blog, Mr. O.  It's really cool."

"Really?  You read my blog?"

"Yeah, well I didn't really read it.  More like I just looked at it."

"How can you look at all that text and not read?"  I wasn't really convinced that he had been to the blog.

"Why don't you put some pictures on it?  I mean, it would be so much cooler if you did."

"I'll take that under advisement," I said, knowing he's probably right.  "So how do I know that you actually looked at my blog if you didn't read anything on it?"

"It's got this weird little picture of you playing your good guitar on it up in the corner."

"Yep, that's mine all right."

"Man, you write a lot on that thing," he said.

"Yeah, well, it's sort of a hobby, sort of something that I am in the habit of lately."

"Well, you just keep writing those stories," he said.  

"Thanks, buddy, I will.  Maybe you can read one some time."

"Yeah, sure," he said, not insincerely.  He could see his ride in the carpool line and stood up and hefted his backpack over his shoulder in the late afternoon sunshine.  "I probably will someday."  He headed out to the curb where the safety patrol was waiting to open the door for him.  "You know Mr. O., you keep writing those stories and putting them on your blog and stuff and then people can read all of that when you die."

Awkward silence.  "Hmmm?"

"You know, when your dead, people who didn't get a chance to read your blog can go on the internet and look up your stuff and read all about you."

"Okay..." I said.

"But that's a long time from now... more than likely... so don't think about anything like that."

"All right, man, I won't.  See you tomorrow.  Don't forget to bring your book on Martin Luther King for literature study."

"Hey, Mr. O... that thing I just said?  About when you're dead?  Don't think about that, okay?"

"Okay, I won't.  And thanks."

"Sure, see ya tomorrow, Mr. O."

"See ya."