“Pop Art” by Brian Doyle


I’m doing some reading for my current MA class (Nonfiction Fundamentals) and ran across this fantastic excerpt:

In nine years I have been graced with three children and here is what I have learned about them. They are engines of incalculable joy and agonizing despair. They are comedy machines. Their language is their own and the order of their new halting words has never been heard before in the whole history of the world. They are headlong and hilarious. Their hearts are enormous and sensitive beyond calculation by man or machine. Their pride is vast. They are cruel, and move in herds and gaggles and mobs, and woe unto the silent one, the one who looks funny, the one who speaks awkwardly, the fat one, for she will be shouldered aside, he will never get the ball, she will never be asked to jump rope, he will not be invited to the pool party, she will weep with confusion and rage, he will lash out with sharp small fists. Yet they are endlessly kind, kind by nature, and among them there is often an artless democracy, a linking of arms against the vast puzzle of the long people. They search for rules and rank, for what is allowed and what is forbidden, and poke the rules to see which bends and which is steel, for they wish to know their place in the world, where they might walk, what they may wear, which shows are allowed, how far they can go, who they are. They rise early in excitement and return reluctantly to barracks at night for fear of missing a shred of the daily circus. They eat nothing to speak of but grow at stunning rates that produce mostly leg. They are absorbed by dogs and toast. Mud and jelly accrue to them. They are at war with wasps. They eat no green things. Once they learn sarcasm they use it with abandon, slashing here and there without control and wreaking havoc. When they weep they weep utterly from the marrows of their lonely bones. They will not speak of death but when it comes, a dark hooded hawk on the fence, they face it without fear. They are new creatures hourly, and what you think you know of them is already lost in the river. Their hearts are dense books no one can read. They speak many languages of the body. To them you are a stone who has always been and will always be. When they are ill they shrivel. To father them is not a brief noun but an endless verb that exhausts, enrages, edifies, elevates, educates; I am a thinner and grayer man than I was; and closer to joy. They frighten me, for they will make a new world on the bowed back of the one I love; but they delight me, for to have loved them is to have tasted the furious love the Maker has for what He made, and fathers still, and always will. (Doyle 43)

Being a parent and being a teacher is not nearly the same thing, although I’m sure a venn diagram could show some overlap. I am also not saying that our students (all in high school) are this young. Still, there’s some more overlap, especially the joy in watching young people grow and change over the course of time.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this!

Beth sig

Work Cited

Doyle, Brian. “Pop Art.” The Truth of the Matter: Art and Craft in Creative Nonfiction. By Dinty W. Moore. New York: Pearson/Longman, 2007. 43-44. Print.



Here are a few scattered photos from our trip to southern California. It was so much fun to see friends and family, especially since we don’t see extended family very often. If we missed you while in Cali, we are sorry! If you’d still like to catch up with us while we are in the same time zone, we’d love to chat/skype/etc. 🙂

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Now we are back up in Washington and looking forward to seeing more friends and family! Currently, we are with Eric’s cousins in his home town, and it’s lovely to see them again. This particular cousin lived with us a few years back, and we’ve very much enjoyed catching up and laughing. Laughter is good. ❤

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We are currently in western Washington, readjusting as fireworks explode all around us. (Happy 4th of July, America!) We will only be back in the US temporarily (until mid-August), but living in Mongolia for the last 11 months was enough of a difference that reverse culture shock has still been a thing. So far, neither of us has been found whimpering in the fetal position, but I just about snapped getting temporary SIM cards from Walmart today. Oi.

washington-fireworks-space-needle-hbtv-hemp-beach-tvOther than that minor hiccup, we’ve spent a lot of time relaxing and recovering from the trip over. We’ve enjoyed lengthy naps and decent sleep at night, but we’re still pretty tired these days.

Tomorrow, we will be roadtripping to southern California with my folks, my sister, and her husband. Six adults in a minivan for ~24 hours of driving. We’ll be stopping through San Fran on the way down, and I’m looking forward to picking my mom and my sissy’s brain on teaching techniques and methods while we play tourists. Hey, you gotta do something while waiting in lines. 😉

In general, it’s been good to be back and catching up with friends and family alike. If you are on the West Coast, we’d love to see you! Drop us a line. 🙂


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