Wednesday, October 03, 2007

One degree of separation

Wow. I've just returned from "Jentel Presents," a monthly event in Sheridan, where Jentel showcases its current resident artists. Before we started, the executive director came up to me (I was in my customary position at the food table) and asked, "Aimee, do you like surprises?" I turned and saw...my seventh grade English teacher and his wife!!! I almost fell over. During my talk, I felt like I was going through puberty all over again. It was completely surreal. I haven't seen him in probably 15 years. They both look wonderful, like they haven't aged. She saw my name in the local paper, and emailed Jentel and asked if there would be a piano for me to play - her daughter took piano lessons from our teacher. The office decided to keep it a secret.

Afterwards, we all went out to dinner, and I was able to catch up more. I was so touched b/c he said I was a really good writer, and that I should put my writing on my website as well as my artwork (the prime example being the sestina I had in my slide show). He was impressed with everything I've been up to, and said my work was really unique. I told him that the Pulp Function show (where my brick wall is) is traveling eventually to Casper, WY! He grew up in Wyoming, and ended up east for grad school, and then landed in my hometown. She grew up in Sheridan, and they spend summer months here now that they are both retired from teaching.

I remember his classroom, how Farewell to Manzanar was bound, his handwriting, and learning grammar. This last thing is something I've been thinking about for years, since grad school. When I found out that most Americans don't learn or value grammar, I felt grateful that I didn't miss out.

Imagine being at the Pony in north central Wyoming, having a beer and bacon cheeseburger, flanked by a middle school teacher and his wife!! At the end of dinner, we talked about the talks in North Korea, and about how my great uncle Kim Dae-jung, the past South Korean president, was committed to reunification. Then I gifted them with the paper sample book I had brought to the presentation, and watched them drive away in their car with New York plates.

That makes up for all the cattail I lost by inadvertently unplugging my sink vat and having it all pour out on the floor. I also came back to the news that my artwork has been accepted for Art-o-mat! Yay.

9 comments:

  1. Isn't it fab encountering someone from the long lost past???

    It sounds like you had a wonderful evening. Here I thought you would be so isolated and already you've had so many visitors!

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  2. That's an amazing story! Wow.

    I'm so glad you finally had some time to be with people that are fun and know you. I love that story.

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  3. ellie9:38 AM

    i LOVE this story!!! it would make a great comic or short film.

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  4. Your great uncle is Kim Dae-Jung?! Damn.

    7th grade teacher & wife, right on the heels of a visit from Joy. It's a sign. This residency was meant to be, cattails or no.

    Love the scarf.

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  5. i keep wondering if there's any way that connection can help me get a fulbright. but i can't see how dropping that name would help w/my papermaking project. hahaaa!

    i love the scarf, too. made by julie in nebraska last year: yet another example of the random people i haven't seen in 17 years who show up when i'm on rural residencies in the middle of america.

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  6. P.S. I love Art-o-Mat. I remember watching my friend Kate making her pieces for that back when we were both in Korea. Awesome.

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  7. i totally failed the grammer tests he gave in 7th grade. part of my dad's wedding speech for me was giving me a copy of strunk and white i never read...aimee! help me! actually, i think pete is a closet grammer freak.

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  8. WHAT??? that is something i would never guess in a million years about pete, or your wedding. i always thought you were an english/grammar genius!!

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  9. i've picked up enough grammer to get by now that i'm 30 and 1/2 way through grad school. but at 12 yrs old in 7th grade, not so good:)

    pete is total english nerd. we have to look up words whenever there is any doubt about definitions.

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