That Time Of The Year

(Sunday Paper, Volume I, Issue 13)

I can't say I loved back-to-school shopping when I was a kid.

I can't even say I remember going all too well.

I think we used to go with friends, but I don't remember getting too excited about it.

I liked the new supplies, I've always loved brand-new notebooks...but I think for the most part I dreaded anything associated with the new school year.

Then I became a teacher.

I didn't necessarily love back-to-school shopping as a teacher either. But I liked what it represented...something new for the classroom, maybe, or a new organizational tool for me.

The annual trip to Staples was also one of the long list of items that needed to be accomplished some time in late August as part of setting up the classroom for the new class of students. (For most of my teaching career we supplied the students with what they needed in the classroom, so we'd buy 30 notebooks or binders, etc.)

This past week I took the girls shopping for their school supplies.

Not only did those back-to-school emotions come flooding back...but there was another feeling mixed in, since this was the first time we were doing back-to-school shopping for all three kids.

I think we did OK budget-wise - considering we were buying for all three I don't think we broke the bank.

The girls were excited.

Me? I liked seeing them excited. But I realize more and more that I don't really miss the end-of-August/beginning-of-September back-to-school feelings for myself.

I'll tell you what I did get excited about...I liked seeing the new 2017 calendars on display at Staples. I can't wait until it's time to buy one of those.


*You may or may not have followed along with their blog, but my three friends completed their cross-country biking adventure this week - arriving home on Wednesday, about a week ahead of their original schedule. I wrote an article about them that I was excited about because it looked like it was coming out coincidentally the day they returned....but I haven't heard from the editor. So I'm not sure what's going on with it right now. Hopefully it'll still be printed because I'm excited to share this wonderful accomplishment of theirs with a wider audience...and I'm grateful they took the time out of their grueling schedule to talk with me from the road. And I'm telling you about it now because last week I said I'd be telling you about some exciting writing I did. This was that. I'll keep you posted.


*If you're looking for something to do tonight, I'm on a show at Somerville Brewing Company at 9:30. They have a show every Sunday night, called Liquid Courage Comedy Club, and it's a really supportive venue and there's always a good crowd. If you get there early for dinner and stick around for the comedy it's free...if you come after 9pm it's $5, I think. 

*September is shaping up to be a fun month of shows - I'll write about that next week.

*Thursday was my last show as Comic Sit-In at The Riot Theater's Stand Up Break In. Can't say enough nice things about that show...I love it there. Thursday was fun - one of the bigger crowds I've seen there, and as usual, the lineup was a good one. Very grateful for the opportunity to perform there every week this summer. If you're in Jamaica Plain and it's Thursday night at 9:30pm, go check out a show there.

What I've Been Enjoying

*Lately I've gone to the library without a particular title in mind and wandered through to grab what looks appealing to me. Often I'll find myself in the memoir aisle, or the biographies, or the essays. Usually non-fiction of some kind. And for a while I had seen the book Essays Of E.B. White and thought about getting it but never pulling the trigger. Until this month I did.

I thought I knew a lot about E.B. White. I never stopped to think about it but if you had asked me to tell you about him I probably would have said he's a prolific children's book writer. Nope. Of course he wrote Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web and The Trumpet of the Swan, but as it turns out he was much more prolific as an essayist, writing mostly for The New Yorker (where he would meet his wife, Katharine Angell, who was a writer and literary editor and also happened to be writer Roger's mother), but also Harper's Magazine and the Atlantic Monthly.  (I also thought he lived on the eastern end of Long Island because when we used to go to Montauk in the summer we'd always pass a house with a mailbox that said "E. B. White" on it. I came across nothing in his writing that indicates Montauk was a living space of his...and it occurs to me if you're a famous writer maybe you don't advertise where you live on your mailbox. But according to a quick Google search others have thought this...and maybe indeed the Whites owned a house in Montauk.)

I didn't love every one of the essays in White's collection. Each of them started off on some topic than took kind of a turn into another, main topic. Sometimes I enjoyed the beginning and lost interest when the essay took that turn. But for the most part I really enjoyed the book. White's writing about life in Maine, and his careful observations of animals (both the ones he owned and the ones in the wild) and the surrounding nature really made you realize this was a passion of his and was probably a big reason why Charlotte's Web was so great. A lot of his writing was from the early-to-mid 1900s and in some parts he describes a whole other world from the one we live in today...and in some passages his writing comes across as surprisingly astute even now, 60-plus years later. (There's a part in an essay from 1941 about trying to explain segregation in the south to a foreigner, and in an apparently famous essay from 1948 - Here Is New York - which I didn't know of, he writes about the city growing and becoming a target....specifically by airplanes.)

I loved the passage with which he introduces these essays too. He writes:

The essayist is a self-liberated man, sustained by the childish belief that everything he thinks about, everything that happens to him, is of general interest. He is a fellow who thoroughly enjoys his work, just as people who take bird walks enjoy theirs....Only a person who is congenitally self-centered has the effrontery and the stamina to write essays.

By no means am I comparing myself to E.B. White. I'm just saying...I sure do love writing about myself and my experiences.


*I realized as I was proofreading this Sunday Paper that maybe I should make clear: I do still use a paper calendar for my work/comedy scheduling. I know that's a little bit old-fashioned in this day and age of smartphones and such...but I love it. I'll probably write about it someday. (Just like E.B. White would have!)

*If you're up for a sweet, quick read: a family that my sister worked with years ago has written a book about their baby, born three-and-a-half months early. My sister, who's spent years doing wonderful work for families and children with all kinds of needs, helped the little girl to, among other things, learn to eat. Spoiler alert - that little girl is now 9 years old, doing well, and according to the book, eating very well. Here's the link to the book if you're interested:

*Signed up for a couple of football pools this week...I'm ready to turn the page on the disappointing Mets. That's right, it's now time to have my heart broken by the Jets!