Neglecting This Diary

I see it’s been almost a week since I last wrote in here.  If it’s any consolation, I’ve been neglecting my composition-book diary as well.  It’s a cold and gray Sunday afternoon, and I’m at the main branch of the library, typing away at a computer on the third floor.

Last Thursday, I went again to Highland Avenue Elementary School for my second tutoring session.  I had two entirely new kids.  One was a little girl named Khadija, who barely spoke English.  I think that I was accidentally assigned an ESL student.  (I never took a foreign language in high school; if I had anything to do over again in high school, that would be what I’d rectify).  Khadija also had a tendency toward echolalia.  She repeated–almost verbatim–everything I said, whether I was reading from the story (Jack and Jill) or not.  I said, “Hang on a second here,” rather sotto voce, and she repeated that, almost perfectly.  The only initiative I saw was when she pointed to my State of Ohio ID, which hung around my neck.  She pointed to the picture on it and said, “Teacher!”

My other new kid was named Haley.  Offhand, I could not see why she needed 1:1 tutoring with reading.  She held her own quite well, and initiated more conversation.  My guess is that the teachers were/are having trouble with her extreme distractability.  Often, she seemed to be eavesdropping on the sessions that were going on at other tables, rather than narrowing in on what she and I were doing.  (I was diagnosed ADHD when I was her age, although the term was “hyperkinetic” in the late ’60s, when I entered kindergarten.  With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, I see that much of it was Asperger’s syndrome behavior.)

I saw my shrink last Wednesday, taking the long trek to Mount Carmel East Hospital.  I enjoyed the 15-20 minutes we spent talking.  He’s put me on BuSpar, another antidepressant.  (He has floated the possibility of Lithium, but I want to stay away from that.  Friends who have taken that told me how zombified they were afterwards, and how hungover they felt after it wore off.)

For the first five days I’m on BuSpar, I’m taking half a tablet.  Cutting a pill in half with precision is something only a jeweler or diamond-cutter could do.  But, I’m sucking it up.  In the bowl where we keep vitamins, dietary supplements, and prescriptions, I keep a small cheese knife.  I use it to cut the BuSpar pills in half.  During my typesetting days, I often accumulated X-Acto knives; now that I finally have a use for one, they’ve all vanished.

I’m currently reading A Vast Conspiracy, by Jeffrey Toobin.  I enjoyed The Run of His Life, which dealt with the O.J. Simpson trial, and loved it.  A Vast Conspiracy is about the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal which led to Clinton’s impeachment and almost cost him his Presidency.  The book is pure pleasure, and there’s hardly anyone–on the Right or the Left–whose behavior was admirable during that whole time.

Although I haven’t seen him in 20 years, I have met Jeff Toobin.  During my 18 months as a typesetter for The Harvard Crimson, alumnis from the paper would often pop in and say hello if they were in Cambridge for any reason.  Jeff came in just before Thanksgiving 1982, when the paper’s new editorial board was named.  He had been sports editor of The Crimson, and had graduated that spring.  I came to the paper just after Labor Day, so he and I just missed each other.  The guy who succeeded him as sports editor got very drunk on Scorpion Bowls, a mixed drink served at the Hong Kong Restaurant on Mass. Ave., after learning of his appointment.  Said Scorpion Bowls did not stay in his stomach long, and soon ended up on Jeff Toobin’s jacket.  (Picture Linda Blair in The Exorcist).

Jeff took this in semi-stride, which is more than I would have done.  (The only person who’s barfed on me and lived to tell about it was Susie.)  Two or so weeks after this incident, he sent the new sports editor–whose name I will not mention in this blog–a congratulatory letter.  He would be an asset to The Crimson‘s sports page, and would be an excellent editor.  After signing it, he added: “P.S.–The cost of dry-cleaning my jacket was $25.  You can mail me a check c/o the above address.”


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