Category Archives: Learning

…from biking, to Frenching, to scrabbling and beyond…

After Sandy Hook:II

From Sandy Hook to Taft Union,teachers–those ant-like creatures who choose unimaginably low pay over fat checks and big bonuses, who work in wretched classrooms rather than spacious corporate offices, who spend many nights correcting papers rather than dining at swanky … Continue reading

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Tips on Happiness 3: Uncharted seas*

~~On a wet, raw evening, the mind and heart can become pensive, wander off course.  It is such an evening in Boston–the summer surely in retreat, the winter not quite here yet. In-between, indeterminate, and exciting. Well-meaning writing teachers will … Continue reading

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Breaking bread: Ariadne’s Pears, poached in wine, with spices

Saturday: In the afterglow of Thanksgiving dinner, now that everyone is gone, the table is back to its normal size, and the house is relatively quiet, we finished the last remnants of the pears soaked in a wine-sugar syrup.  I … Continue reading

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Immersion French…

Many years ago, I almost drowned–twice.  Once, believe it or not, in the Dead Sea where no human being in recorded history has faced such a threat.  I was 15 or so, I was on my back in the Dead … Continue reading

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Cupped hands

Every place here—from the checkpoints, to the classrooms, to the streets—is a mixture of two contradictory impulses.  On the one hand, everything matters here, and matters deeply for the entire population is in a state of double occupation.  Every action … Continue reading

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Secret threads…

~~When Araxi Astardjian Oshagan, my maternal grandmother, announced in that gentle but patrician voice of hers, that she was going to start learning English, it seemed an improbable project.  Our grandmother, the quintessential example of a woman who was growing … Continue reading

Posted in Aging, well enough, Armenians, Learning, Palestinians, Passages and Homes, Those we Love | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Biking 1: Going nowhere, cowgirl!

“Don’t get ideas about getting anywhere, ” says Susan in that wholesome voice of hers.  “Just coast along, and end somewhere.” I would release a loud, protracted laugh if I were not a novice bike learner, which–believe it or not–I … Continue reading

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French I: The tumble and music of verbs

Many years ago, when I was teaching a “business writing” course in Yerevan, at the American University of Armenia, one of my more ambitious students was an unfolding bundle of irritation.  Tall and sinewy, he was nervous in the way … Continue reading

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French 1: The Joys of Rote

My friend C.M. is a poet, a translator, and a teacher.  He is also a very good cook whose offerings are as delectable as they are visually pleasurable.  He spends a lot of time preparing his dinners.  From the shopping … Continue reading

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Evergreen on Commonwealth Avenue

I teach undergraduate writing at Boston University. I also do something else, something less visible, less instructive.  Throughout the year and for four to eight weeks each semester and during the summer, I “teach” a course in the short story. … Continue reading

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