Friday, December 28, 2012
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Monday, December 17, 2012
Thank you to the teachers past, present and future who stand in the classrooms of Overlook Elementary School, Abington Junior High School, Abington Senior High School, James Madison University, Turner Ashby High School, James River High School, Oakton High School, Fauquier High School, Bradley Elementary School, Eagle View Elementary School, George Mason University and The International School of Beijing. You, along with the other great teachers I have met along the way, made me feel safe everyday that I went to school either as a little boy or a young man, you taught me to be a teacher and a coach, you modeled the dedication to children that I try to emulate in my life and work, you hold my child everyday and show him that you love him. You are not told enough how important you are. You are heroes. While I can't fathom the horrors of Sandy Hook, and have bewildering sympathy for all, I also want you to know how enormously proud I am of you - my teachers.
Paul Koch (@pkoch9999)
Paul Koch (@pkoch9999)
Sunday, December 16, 2012
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Friday, December 7, 2012
think we usually just call it the bridge. Most of the year the
flower girl, a young woman, grandmother, or child - sometimes all of
them together - stand or snooze watch over a fabulous array of
beautiful plant life along a small bridge just a block from our house.
In the springtime bursts of color are the draw. The first driver
who double parks on the bridge with a hint of interest stirs the
entrepreneurs to life. Amid the plants on the bridge, we
also visit the bike guy, who with twisted hands and a green bottle
of bai jiu within reach, fixes flat tires or squeaky brakes without
uttering a single word of conversation. I just pay him 10 kuai when
he is done. The pancake lady sells jian bing for 4 kuai. After
first trying this street food - a rolled pastry with egg, sesame seed,
cilantro and green onion - I hurried home to share the last bite with
Joanne; she coined the old woman's name. "That pancake thingy was
amazing, are you gonna learn how to make it before we move back?"
It is really cold now, and of late the bridge has made room for the
glove and hat lady and the firewood guy too. Among them the tree lady
stands a frigid watch over rows of live Christmas trees
lining both sides of the bridge.
"Dad, can we get our Christmas tree this weekend?" Parker asked.
"What do you mean, we already have one."
I joked that although our live tree from last year isn't so "live"
anymore, we could paint it's twiggy branches green and pull it back
into the house. The boys laughed.
"Maybe they can deliver the new one and take the old one away," Parker
"Right, and maybe this year, we can to do a better job of keeping it alive."
"Dad, do you think we can plant it in the yard?"
"Good idea sonny, did you know --"
" -- yeah, I know," he cut in, "Meemaw and PopPop planted the
Christmas trees from when you were little in your yard."
"Yep, and they're still there in the back yard, the home run fence for
our wiffle ball games, remember?"
"Those huge ones," Bennett called out, "how did they fit --"
"--C'mon B," I poked, raising giggles from all three of them.
"They've got to be 30 years old. They used to be regular Christmas
trees just like these; they grew that tall after PopPop planted them."
"Can we get that one dad?" Devon shouted, pointing at the tallest of
the potted evergreens as we crossed the bridge.
I rolled down the window, "Ni hao, nai nai. Na ge gao de shu, duo shao qian."
"Zhe ge yi qian wu bai."
"Zhenda ma?" I squawked, offering her my Chingish version of
'seriously?' as I I rolled up the window and drove along.
"What'd she say, dad?"
"1500 kuai! Dude, that is like two-hundred bucks! Maybe we should
think about the green paint."
Last night, after the boys were in bed, I got a call from Meemaw on
Skype. We chatted about winter travel plans, the boys' grades, the
status of various Amazon orders, the temperatures in each of our parts
of the world, trees.
A neighbor's tree had fallen during Hurricane Sandy and a large crane
was on site to help with removal. Mom turned the webcam to the
backyard and I saw the amazing sight; dad had negotiated with the
crane guy to go ahead and take our trees out too. Hanging high over
our back yard, our family Chirstmas tree, over 30 years old - our
home run fence, hiding spot, summer shade - swung in the air. Gone.
This weekend, I think we'll go back to the bridge and get that tree
from the tree lady. And sometime in January we will dig a hole and
plant it in the ground out in the front of our house in River Garden.
Though chances are we will never see this tree grow tall, become a
homerun fence or provide shade to a worker in the heat of the Beijing
summer, I am pretty sure that when we plant that tree in the ground,
my boys, just like their daddy, will never forget it.
Saturday, December 1, 2012
Friday, November 30, 2012
So, as I was pulling into school this morning, a woman in a black Mercedes, pretty common ride in these parts, cut me off - another commonplace event living here in China. The difference today was that with a car full of kids, I didn't use any expletives, I just wagged my finger and said, "let me get a good look at you lady, because I never forget."
Yes, I used my outside voice, and was cut off by an eruption of laughter from behind me.
"That is a good one dad."
I proceeded to tell them that I am cursed, and most likely so is at least one of them, with this strange ability to never forget people whom I feel have done me wrong.
The bus driver who told, the coach who squeezed up 10, the guy who snubbed us in the All-Star game, the parent who made it personal, the dude who "never sent that text", the punk who lost his job to a 9th grader, the redneck who took back his donation.
Generally a group of bullies and liars.
This list, thankfully short, is fairly evenly spaced over my life, an instance every 5 years or so. With that said, I guess China has been pretty good to me since the only thing I have had to worry about is the regular dumbass in the Mercedes.
As November comes to a close and giving thanks for what you have is apropos, I am going to tell my son on the car ride home today that he should not be like his dad, and instead of remembering those who did him wrong, remember those who have been kind, generous and thoughtful.