Thursday, December 25, 2008

little stays of execution

As one ages, the declutter process begins. We throw out "stuff" so that the load is lighter. It serves to streamline life. As I was going through some papers, I found a photo taken (in about 1974) on a Sunday in broad daylight on 7th Avenue. There is not one person on the street. I found an issue of "Poet" magazine that had published one of my poems in the Winter of 1992. I was called a "New American Poet." Imagine that! Here is the final stanza:

As I hear the sound of the rain begin
to assault the old, tired, faded fire escape-
I start to pack.

In 1991, I won the contest to find "the funniest teacher" at Stand-up NY comedy club. A few years earlier, at The Eagle Tavern, Jon Stewart had spent 20 seconds of his act imitating me. And that year a parent visited me during the school conference night and told me that her daughter set up her room to resemble a classroom and spent part of the night being "Miss Levine" as she taught her imaginary class. I look at my many former students in old class photos. I have a class photo from 1969 where I am wearing a Mary Quant dress and Correge boots and my hair is in a bouffant artichoke.
We tend to go through life thinking we are immortal. I studied Buddhism with Robert Thurman, and many of the lectures were spent discussing mortality. We all have a death sentence. But wait! If we get the right tests and then the recommended procedures, we can get a little stay of execution. It's about those little stays of execution along the way.

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