You know the rendezvous.

If you’d asked me before, I’d have said, “No, Rendezvous does not appear in Shakespeare. It is clearly a very modern word.”
And I would have been very very wrong obviously.
Despite knowing this play pretty well – having read it multiple times, heard it many more – it still didn’t register that “rendezvous” is used in such a quotidian manner. When did this word become common parlance in English? Have English speakers been rendezvousing for centuries even further back than Shakespeare’s?

And so ‘a goes to heaven.

Herman told me last night that he was excited to go to heaven. There are a lot of people he wants to see there, he says.

He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 2 years ago and while he’s doing very well, he’s concerned about what’s ahead.

He told me that when it comes time, he’s not going to take any pills or anything, he’s just gonna go. He gestured with his two thumbs going upwards. He’s just gonna go.

I guess he’s imagining that he just makes the decision and, poof, like magic, his body will follow his will.

And so he goes to heaven.

My wit’s diseased.

Sometimes I can be as sharp as a tack and get a whole lot of zingers in. In the right crowd, I can be the funny one. I won’t let an opening pass me by and I see all of them. 
And then – in other circumstances, I won’t say a word. Not only will I let an opportunity for wit pass me by, I won’t even see the opportunity. It can feel like my wit has been severely compromised, like it’s home sick with the flu.

I suspect it is all a matter of the audience and participants in a conversation. Where the audience is receptive and embraces me warmly, I can throw out jokes like they’re going out of style. Where the audience is not so keen on me or where there are already many people catching every opening that passes by I can barely get a word in edgewise. And so my wit bundles up in bed with a bowl of chicken soup and hopes to get back to work tomorrow. 

What to ourselves in passion we propose, The passion ending, doth purpose lose.

Good grief! How many times does the King express this same sentiment? It’s, like, one aphorism after another. The king is a cliché machine, generating non-stop “You’ll change your mind” sayings. This one being not much different than the one previous, nor much different than the one that will follow.

This speech is imminently cut-able. And I’m not sure what Shakespeare is doing here aside from maybe making fun of another writer’s style? It makes me wonder if one of Shakespeare’s contemporaries or predecessor’s wrote in this non-stop aphoristic rhyming couplet style and this speech of the Player King’s is a little dig or a shout out or something. It’s not funny enough to be Pyramus and Thisbe style meta-theatre and not serious enough to be Spanish Tragedy style – life crossing over the 4th wall. It’s an arch little list. And it does rather go on.

Die two months ago, and not forgotten yet?

My great-aunt Emma died, was it two months ago? My dad let me know on the phone as I was walking up Broadway and it was warm and summery so it was probably a couple of months ago now. I hadn’t seen her in years but her presence was always a bright sunny one in my memory.

We lost my grandfather well over a year ago. His loss looms large, especially over my mother. My grandmother, who doesn’t remember me and recently referred to my mother as her son, probably also feels his loss profoundly, but she’s not aware of it. She sometimes thinks the man across the dining room in the Memory Wing is her husband – just having dinner with friends over there – just out of reach.
I wear his hat when I can and remember him young and jolly.

We lost my Great Uncle Gene a while ago now. There were difficult stories about his passing but his life was a celebration. I remember him bringing me to his flower shop a few times (or was it just once? before a party?) I was captivated by the tools of the trade – the foam, the rods, the props to keep the flowers upright and performing at their best. He had a series of little dogs and collected Coke memorabilia. The house he shared with his “friend” Jim was full of Coke signs and Coke, too.

We lost my sweet Great Aunt Marge, my Uncle Tom and Cousin Tommy all around the same time. It’s like they were all on a boat and when one corner sank, they all went down.

My friend, Twarne, murdered in New Orleans, at some point in our 20s. Before then, he slid in and out of my life with ninja stealth. A brilliant and prickly mind with a softer heart than anyone knew.

Jody, who took his own young life, vibrates in a deep dark electric blue in my memory. His house, his yard, his letters, his porch, the rainstorms we danced in, the sweatlodge, the artwork, the darkness in him that was bound to emerge, I guess.

My Granddaddy gone, in my early teens. His spaghetti mac, the crab feasts in the backyard, his dogs, his house, the family photograph we were taking when he clutched at my shoulder because he wasn’t well.

A little girl I knew, who was killed in a car accident. Her death was reported to me by my little brother who was also a child at the time. A bright light lost at an early age.

And in the news this year, it feels like all the greats are dying – our childhood icons, our heroes and idols. This is how it will be now, you realize – when death ceases to be an anomaly and is instead a constant fact of life.

And thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought, And enterprises of great pitch and momentWith this regard their currents turn awryAnd lose the name of action.

There are a lot of ingredients in the stew of this sentence. There are these color metaphors (the hue, the pale cast) and the disease idea (sicklied.) Also music (pitch.) Or is it? By the way, what are pitch and moment doing together? I like them. But. . .

Pitch could also be a tar-like substance (don’t think that’s the idea here) or perhaps a high place? There are things that people stand on, with a little extra height. Or the pitch of a boat as it sails over water with a lot of movement in it. 

I think that’s got to be the one because then we have more water images, with the current turning awry. If this were two sentences, as it may well be in other editions, this mixing of metaphors might be more logical. But – logical or not – the music of this line is undeniable and the drive of it and the thrust of it. It is a great exploration of how we can get off course (yet another metaphor) – even if the course he’s talking about seems to be suicide. 
Except that it also doesn’t feel like that. It’s like – the real question for Hamlet isn’t so much To Be or Not to Be but To Kill or Not to Kill. To be Revenged or Not to Be Revenged. To Trust a Ghost or Not to Trust a Ghost. This speech is a beautiful mystery. 

No, I went round to work, And my young mistress thus I did bespeak: ‘Lord Hamlet is a prince, out of thy star.’

No, I went round to work,
And my young mistress thus I did bespeak:
‘Lord Hamlet is a prince, out of thy star.’

Polonius picked up his briefcase, his overcoat and his car keys. On his way to the office, he stopped to tell his daughter she wasn’t worth as much as the man she loved. Saying something like, ‘He’s totally out of your league, kid,” he chucked her on the chin and went round to work.
Ophelia, left at home, wonders what her star is and why Hamlet is out of it. Is he the universe and her star the sun for her particular galaxy? Is Hamlet not a part of her Milky Way? ? How then do their orbits cross?

O dear Ophelia, I am ill at these numbers.

This line begs further analysis and/or investigation. The only time I can imagine saying “I am ill at these numbers” would be in relationship to a set of figures that have recently been revealed. Like, if I’d just lost a fortune in the stock market and my financial advisor just showed me the details. Those numbers might make me ill. Or, more like MY life, if I just saw the negative balance in my bank account next to the number of my student loan payment. I have been ill at those numbers. But somehow I don’t think that’s love poem material. Stars, sun, truth, love, financial report?
Nope. Numbers must be pointing at something else. Illness being a perfectly normal response to love, it must be the numbers that are something other than numbers.
It’s not like Hamlet is confessing an odd quirk wherein the mention of #7 makes him nauseous. Plus, no numbers follow “These numbers.” It doesn’t read: I am ill at these numbers: 7, 23 and 15. But what these numbers are is a total mystery to me. I make a little stretch to the numbers of feet in a verse and wonder if he’s saying, “O Ophelia, I’m a lousy poet.” Because that would make sense. Particularly because he kind of IS a lousy poet if this love letter is any indication.
He’s kind of the best poet ever in his everyday speech, though, so there’s that.

By heaven, it is a proper to our age To cast beyond ourselves in our opinions As it is common for the younger sort To lack discretion.

Our class is dominated by older ladies
Who are awash with opinions and do not hesitate
To share them at every turn.
They cast the net of their opinions so far and so wide that they cast a spell of silence among the rest of us. Its power was strongest in the beginning because the young new arrivals are less hesitant to speak but those of us younger students were struck dumb by it.
In other contexts, I am a most vocal student but here, in three years, I have never said a word. We, the younger sort in this class, are not quite young enough to lack discretion. In this case, the proper aged ones do cast beyond themselves in opinion and are also lacking discretion.
I work with many of the younger sort, who do, decidedly lack discretion. Part of teaching very young people is, sometimes, the task of teaching discretion. Sometimes, I long to bring these older ladies in our class to my class and there perhaps give them an opportunity to re-learn discretion.

But, my good lord –

Reynaldo’s trying to speak some truth to power
(if in fact, he’s a servant as he is often played.)
He does not blindly accept an order.
He has to question it, understand it, point out the holes in the plan.
Those are some of the most important people in the world. The ones who will
stand up and ask questions make enormous differences for the rest of us.

I was proud of my student yesterday who kept his hand in the air,
Even while the Principal was moving on, taking the floor, clearly ready to wrap up. He left his hand up, straight up, until she finally called on him almost in annoyance saying, “What is your question?”
Which once he’d asked it, she answered, generously changing her tone. I love that he didn’t give up. I love that he got what he needed. I love that he made a space for himself and his class in a moment that wasn’t his to take.