an american childhood

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July 5, 2005
Excerpts from "An American Childhood"
[After a huge childhood run, a scientific test just to make SURE that people couldn't fly by running and flapping their arms] "What could touch me now? For what were the people on Penn avenue to me, or what was I to myself, really, but a witness to any boldness I could muster, or any cowardice if it came to that, any giving up on heaven for the sake of diginity on earth? I had not seen a great deal accompished in the name of dignity, ever."
--Annie Dillard. Maybe that's why I've never been particularly defensive of my dignity. Sort of another take on that old "Weird Al" line "I'll be mellow when I'm dead."

"Do you advocate the overthrow of the United States government by force or violence?"
"...Force."
--Annie Dillard reporting on her mom's regarding even bureaucratic forms as straight lines.

Before I had watched [the amoeba, now caught by microscope] at all, I ran upstairs. My parents were still at table, drinking coffee. They, too, could see the famous amoeba. I told them, bursting, that he was all set up, that they should hurry before his water dried. It was the chance of the lifetime.

Father had stretched out his long legs and was tilting back in his chair. Mother sat with her knees crossed, in blue snacks, smoking a Chesterfield. The dessert dishes were still on the table. My sisters were nowhere in evidence. It was a warm evening; the big dining-room windows gave onto blooming rhododendrons.

Mother regarded me warmly. She gave me to understand that she was glad I had found what I had been loking for, but that she and Father were happy to sit with their coffee, and would not be coming down.

She did not say, but I understood at once, that they had their pursuits (coffee?) and I had mine. She did not say, but I began to understand then, that you do what you do out of your private passion for the thing itself.
--I guess this is how I feel about relationships in general...I mean, I also crave a bit of admiration, and for recognition that "hey, that IS cool..." but besides that, pursuits are personal and don't always need to be shared to a non-trivial extent.