Sep. 21, 2009

High School Reunion

by Kelly-Anne Riess

I used to date him and hang out with his friends

we stole NO DUMPING signs
and placed them over toilets
we watched bad comedies and even worse
horror movies
we had dinner dates at Burger King
or Buffet Palace
our conversations — hockey this and baseball that

he seemed pretty good
but I had to lose him
and I did

he got into drugs after
high school
a year before
I started my Masters degree

I invited him for coffee once
he thought it was an intervention

there he is
look at him now
by the punch in that yellow suit jacket

I can't believe I ever dated him

I bet he won't even come over to say hello

"High School Reunion" by Kelly-Anne Riess, from To End a Conversation. © Thistledown Press, 2008. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It was on this day in 1981 — 28 years ago — that the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Supreme Court nominee Sandra Day O'Connor, (books by this author) making her the nation's first female Supreme Court justice. The confirmation vote was unanimous, 99-0, and she took the bench four days later, on September 25.

She was nominated on July 7 by President Reagan, who'd promised in his 1980 campaign that he would appoint a woman to the court.

Sandra Day O'Connor went to law school at Stanford, graduating third in her class — the very same class in which future Chief Justice William Rehnquist graduated first. While at Stanford Law, the two future justices dated briefly. In 1993, a dozen years after O'Connor's appointment, Ruth Bader Ginsburg (appointed by Clinton) became the second female Supreme Court justice.

It's the birthday of novelist H(erbert) G(eorge) Wells, (books by this author) born in Bromley, England (1866). After college, he got married, got a job writing biology textbooks, and settled down for a few years. But when he developed a respiratory illness in his late 20s, he thought he didn't have many years to live, so he left his wife, ran away with another woman, and began writing furiously. Between 1895 and 1898, he published all of the novels for which he is best remembered: The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), and The War of the Worlds (1898). At the time, scientists were debating the processes of evolution, the danger of scientific knowledge, and the possibility of life on other planets. He was one of the first writers to explore these ideas in fiction. He lived much longer than he thought he would, and went on to publish two or three books almost every year for the rest of his life. His book Outline of History (1919–1920) was his attempt to write a complete history of the world, and it outsold all his other books combined. H.G. Wells said, "Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race."

It's the birthday of horror novelist Stephen King, (books by this author) born in Portland, Maine (1947). He's the author of many novels, including The Shining (1977), Pet Sematary (1983), and From a Buick 8 (2002). His father, a merchant seaman, deserted the family when he was two. He has no memories of the man, but one day he found a boxful of his father's science fiction and fantasy paperbacks, including an anthology of stories from Weird Tales magazine and a book by horror author H.P. Lovecraft. That box of his father's books inspired him to start writing horror stories. After college, King worked jobs at a gas station and a Laundromat. His wife worked at Dunkin' Donuts. He said, "Budget was not exactly the word for whatever it was we were on. It was more like a modified version of the Bataan Death March."

His writing office was the furnace room of his trailer home. He sold a series of horror stories to men's magazines, and he said that the paychecks from these stories always seemed to arrive when one of his kids had an ear infection or the car had broken down. His first novel was Carrie (1973), about a weird, miserable, high school girl with psychic powers. The hard cover didn't sell very well, but when his agent called to say that the paperback rights had sold for $400,000, King couldn't believe it. He said, "The only thing I could think to do was go out and buy my wife a hair dryer."

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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