Freedom to Read Week: Letter from the Free World

Kurt Vonnegut famously said, “I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anyone tell you different.” Well, I just got to spend a very cool week at the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library (KVML) talking with cool people, learning about cool things, having cool experiences—you know, farting around. It was great fun! And now here I am, back to my real world of family and friends and comfortable sleeping, and lessons and essay grading and game plans, and so on. I suppose it’s hard to tell yet what parts of my experience will last beyond being pleasant memories and what things got in deep enough to germinate, but before I fade completely into obscurity, I’m reminded of something else that KV famously said, “I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’” The quote is, in part, a tribute to his uncle but also a reminder to be aware of and grateful for the moments of happiness that often come in simple and unexpected ways. So, as I look back on my week at KVML during Freedom to Read Week, I have some exclaiming and murmuring to do.

There are a few people I want to thank publicly because, well, they more than deserve it. First, I want to thank my wife, not only for holding down the fort back in Tipton, but more importantly, for being so constantly and wholeheartedly supportive! Back at good ol’ Tipton High School, I’d like to thank Aaron Tolle and the rest of the football coaches, as well as my American Studies partner Phil Morgan, for picking up whatever slack my absence might have caused, my bosses for understanding the value of this amazing and unusual experience, and super-sub Barb Cardwell (whom the students affectionately call “Cardi B”) for filling in for me for the week.

Finally, I’d like to thank the amazing staff of KVML. The Vonnegut Museum is a treasure in Indianapolis, and the people who work and volunteer there are a treasure within a treasure! I knew they were brilliant and dedicated people, but being able to see behind the curtain for a few days showed me just how brilliant and dedicated (and flexible and talented and cool and nice and fun) they are. And, for a few days, anyway, I got to be a part of that amazing team! Lucky me!!!

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