Monday, June 8, 2009


Andrew's cousin XuXi is always sending the girls great books by her various writer friends, in packages postmarked from all over the world. She is a global citizen in the best Kho sense of the word, hopping from Hong Kong to the south island of New Zealand to universities in Europe and Iowa to her little country getaway house in Mooers, NY. I live in awe of her energy and creativity, and in her good taste in books and boyfriend.

The last package XuXi sent actually contained a grown-up book called "Do-Over!" by her friend Robin Hemley. Robin directs the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa, and received a Guggenheim Fellowship for his work on Do-Over! Basically, the premise is that Robin had some moments in his 48 year life that he wished he could - you guessed it - do over, from a flubbed line in a school play to a skipped prom to a "Lord of the Flies"-type summer camp experience.

It is hilarious, the perfect summer read for my fellow mid-lifers. My favorite part so far was when he redid kindergarten, to erase the memory of what sounds like a sadistic, crazy teacher. (No, not set at Joaquin Miller. Ouch!) The kids in the class are amazingly non-flustered when a grown man joins them for circle and naptime, though they are a bit surprised when Robin volunteers that his wife drops him off at school. "I thought you would say your dad," says one kid.

It reminds me of a story about my niece Katie, always tall for her age and a friendly, commanding presence. In kindergarten she was out shopping with my sister and Sally saw a little girl from Katie's class in the store. "Katie, isn't that your classmate?" Sally said helpfully, loud enough for the other child to hear.

The other little girl looked at my niece, open mouthed, and said, "You're a KID?"

Yes Katie had convinced them all that she was a teacher. No more preposterous than a grown man convincing the kids that he's one of them, I guess.

Anyway - the book is a very entertaining and sweet reminder that we never enter the same river twice, but sometimes it's worth taking a dip. Any do over moments in YOUR life?

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