24 March 2011

Eccentric? Old Fashioned? Or Something Else...

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."
--Lewis Carroll The Walrus and The Carpenter

My wife would never say that I am eccentric, she might say that I am old fashioned, she will ALWAYS say that she knew what she was getting into when she married me.  I still think she has to sometimes just put up with me.

I am a pre-middle aged / post-1st-round college / father / husband /teacher / vagabond.  I am young enough to be idealistic, and old enough to know better.  I started college to get a degree in Physics / Astronomy; did that for a few years, started asking questions that I wanted better answers to... so... moved to a degree in Theology / Philosophy; wasn't sure what to do with the degree, so I ended up with a degree in Political Science.  Inspired by all the twists and turns of bureaucratic democracy... I worked 3 years in landscaping, woodwork, building maintenance, and brushed up on my Polish.  Now, as I work on a Masters in Teaching, I teach.  As of writing, I teach History/Government/Geography (Social Studies) in the morning, and Computer Science in the afternoon... I get it all, the old and the new.

Somewhere between the Politics and the Polish, I married the most wonderful woman in the world.  We have been married for 4 years... and since she has put up with all of the above and we still like each other... she really MUST be the most wonderful woman in the world.  Hannah and I have been through a lot together.  We have two beautiful little girls, a house, and cash flow... we are living the dream.

I have a lot of interest... and sometimes it is hard to keep it all straight... hence this blog.  I have a fascination with fountain pens, sealing wax, paper, amateur radio, wood working, cooking, and the list goes on.  My wife wrote a paper about me years ago for a college class.  I think it illustrates some it well.  I only including a couple sections.  The beginning starts as she is leaving the college where we met and switching to a different college.
… I had known Tom through mutual friends but we were not by any means close. I called out to him saying “goodbye” as I had done with so many other people. Tom stopped dead in his tracks, “Goodbye? You’re leaving? When?” He looked completely stunned.  I responded simply “Now.” I gave him a quick hug and walked off campus. Mama later recalled the conversation and asked me who that young man was. I said, “Oh, he is a friendly acquaintance. We don’t really know each other that well.” Mama looked incredulously at me and said, “umm… Hannah, he looked like someone had dumped a bucket of cold water on him. I think there is more to your acquaintance than you realize.” I brushed Mama off and obliviously went my way.

I began to realize Mama’s point a week later when I received a hand written letter sealed with wax family crest from Tom. His letter, essentially, asked me to be his friend and apologized for not having been better friends while we were on campus. I was excited about the idea of having a pen pal. I told Mama happily that Tom had written me and he wanted to be friends. Mama again looked at me dubiously; she was amazed at how oblivious I could be.  Tom and I started writing almost every day. I would watch as the mail man arrived wondering if there was a letter with a wax seal waiting for me.

Receiving a letter from Tom has always been fascinating.  My first few letters were covered in one, two, and three cent stamps.  After opening, I could often tell if the letter was written in the middle of the afternoon or the middle of the night by whether the seal was a nice round impression on the back of the letter, or a smudge blob of wax.  One letter, a four page letter, was spent explaining the paper he had gotten from an old French paper mill, the hand carved fountain pen his sister had given him, and the Czech family crest that adorned each and every letter… save one… when I received a wax rose.   I would never say Tom was eccentric with his letters… per say.  I have always taken each letter as a glimpse at his personality.  Tom can go on about the “lost art of letter writing,” talk about camping, cast iron skillets, and fireplaces…

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