Thursday, June 15, 2006


This story in the Nashville Tennessean, about two boys who got lost in a Hamilton County cave, made me shudder. My native middle Tennessee is a caver's paradise, but in a cave near Sparta, Tenn., I once had a experience so traumatic that I couldn't even think about caves for years after, much less explore them. I was with experienced cavers that day, but I was firmly convinced we were lost and doomed. I think my experienced caver friends were, too. Or maybe they were just trying to scare me.

After years of recovery, I can now go into caves. But they need to have paved walkways and colored lights, like Wisconsin's own Cave of the Mounds, which is lovely, even though its formations can't hold a candle -- pardon the expression -- to those of Tennessee limestone caves like the one that nearly killed me.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Sheets rapidly flying off a calendar

I look at the calendar on the wall and sigh. It is June 14, and tomorrow it will be June 15, and that means June is half over. It is not much of a stretch for me to imagine that June being half over is the same as summer being half over, or indeed that summer is all but over. Summer is gone! And I never even made it to the beach!

Crazy thoughts, I know. Summer actually has not yet begun, at least as the calendar goes. Indeed, exciting pagan bonfires are still being planned all over the city to celebrate the first day of summer, which is next week. But at work today we were talking about articles that will run in July, and it felt like we might as well have been talking about articles that will run in November. July?! June has not even begun! On second thought, it has.

These feelings clearly got wired in me when I was a kid. I liked school just fine, but I loved summer unequivocally. All that unstructured time meant long days at the pool, stickball till dusk and -- of course -- lots of daytime television. I dreaded fall, which brought with it the return of structured time, regimentation, imprisonment.

And dread is what I'm feeling now. The pleasant days of early summer fill me with dread, because I know they won't last. What if, once summer is over, I have nothing to show for it? What if I never have anything to show for anything?

Breathe, Kenneth. Enjoy the day. Stickball, anyone?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


A couple of years ago, in a frenzy of housecleaning, I threw out most of the contents of a box that held my papers from high school and college. Now I regret doing that. I do not have much sentimental attachment to the ninth grade geometry homework, but I would be curious to revisit some of those essays I wrote about Milton, Keats, E.M. Forster, George Eliot.

I slaved over those things and often pulled true all-nighters. It was a cumbersome process, but it worked reliably. I paced, smoked, fretted till the wee hours of the morning, and waited for inspiration. It always came, and then I typed furiously until the last possible minute, threw the paper over the professor's transom and prayed for the A-minus.

I'm glad to say my writing habits have improved. I think my writing has, too. In fact, I know it has, and I can prove it: I did save a few of my old papers from school, and I cringe now to read them. So perhaps it is for the best that I got rid of most of them.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Extra extra

Last night I dreamed that coreweekly, the "faux" alternative newsweekly dreamed up by the publishers of Madison's daily papers and scuttled earlier this year, had returned -- as an advertising circular akin to the Shopper Stopper.

Come to think of it...