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Learning to detach

As I opened the box filled with treasured pieces from my youth, I came across a letter I once placed on my mother’s pillow at the age of 7. Always fearful of confrontation when wanting my way, this means of communication helped me get my desires off my chest with no fear of rebuttal – at least in that moment.


Chicken pox: The Villaj Idiut

My wife accompanied my oldest son last month on his school’s eighth-grade trip to Washington, D.C., for a week.

It was the perfect opportunity for “baching” it, I figured, me and my youngest home alone – which meant unmade beds, Taco Bell for dinner every night, dirty dishes piled high in the sink, soiled clothes on the floor and the unmistakable stench of body odor coming from different areas of the house.

An inconvenient celebration: Haugh About That?

As I pulled letters out of the mailbox, my eyes immediately became transfixed on a large cream-colored envelope, complete with elegant calligraphy. By the weight, number of stamps and shape, I knew that something wonderful was waiting inside.

“Another wedding.” I cried out, excited. “How fun!”

A Piece of My Mind: A bridge to somewhere

“What’s going on?” I asked the young man busily setting up tables at the plaza where Main and State streets intersect.

“We’re kicking off the Los Altos Downtown Vision plan,” he responded. “Stick around – we’re collecting community input. And we’re serving refreshments!”

Commerce in the restroom: The Villaj Idiut

You know what I thoroughly enjoy?

I really, really love when I go to a restaurant, and then I get up to go to the restroom and there is a guy in there “working” – which is to say, doling out hand towels, selling Tic Tacs and offering up some hair spray or mouthwash in exchange for a tip.

History lesson: No Shoes, Please

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the people who are currently making history in our country without appearing to know too much about it – American history, that is. On its face, it seems pretentious and judgmental to single out people who are weak in any particular subject area, American history or otherwise. I myself know nothing about many topics, and I think that’s true for just about everyone.

On the other hand, there is something not quite right about Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ praise of historically black colleges as “pioneers” of the school choice movement when in fact they arose in response to Jim Crow policies that had prevented African-Americans from entering public schools at all. She should have known better, and I don’t mean that in any finger-wagging context. I really do believe that she – or any education secretary, for that matter – should have a better handle on historical context to not only prevent future foot-in-mouth incidents, but to engender faith in her ability to make acute observations, sharp analyses and effective, coherent policies.

Lost in the cloud: A Piece of My Mind

I am working on cleaning out the home my parents occupied for 60 years. In emptying drawers and closets, I am learning a lot about the people who raised me and how they became who they are. And I am also learning how much I can never know.

Among the boxes of heirloom china and heirloom linens and old tax returns are my mother’s scrapbooks from high school and college, beginning with birthday cards she received when she was 7 years old from her father and the grandmother on her father’s side.


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The Town Crier welcomes letters to the editor on current events pertinent to Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View. Write to us at 138 Main St., Los Altos 94022, Attn: Editor, or email editor Bruce Barton at bruceb@latc.com. Because editorial space is limited, please confine letters to no more than 200 words. Include a phone number for verification purposes. Anonymous letters will not be printed.

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