From Dayton to Szolnok: A Scarf

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Kelley Deal of the Breeders has long been a knitter and sewer, first of handbags, then of scarves. Each one is unique. For years I tried to buy one of them, but whenever I visited her online store, they were all sold out. So I figured, “next year,” year after year, for about two decades.

Then, stupendously, a month ago, I came to her store when there was just one scarf left, a lovely one named Flyer Nation (the nickname for University of Dayton fans). I wrote to her right away, and it wasn’t too late! I purchased it.

But that wasn’t the end of it; several weeks later, I received a letter in the mail from the Hungarian postal service stating that the scarf was being held in customs (as happens with many packages). I had to complete and submit a form to get it cleared.

I did that but then received an email stating that this wasn’t enough; I had to provide the receipt as well. I did.

This morning, when I was still in my pajamas, the doorbell rang. I answered; it was the postman. I pulled on some clothes and ran downstairs. He had the package for me, but I had to pay a duty fee in cash. I didn’t have the cash on me. Crestfallen, I asked him about other options. He offered to deliver it on Monday–but Monday is a long day for me, and I doubted I’d be home. I offered to go to an ATM right then and there. We discussed where I might go. I mentioned the one at the Spar supermarket across the river. He said he could meet me there in ten minutes. So I sprinted over the bridge, over the Zagyva river, to the supermarket; just when I was withdrawing the money, I saw his van approach. All went well, and I love the scarf. I donned it right away.

I don’t know what the moral of this story is. That things come to those who wait? That things come to those who stop waiting? That waiting and not-waiting are both important in life? That scarves are beautiful? That it’s great to make things by hand? That Flyer Nation is a fitting name for a scarf? That Dayton inspires both yarns and tunes? Whatever it may be, I celebrated earlier with a little bike ride (see above), and later with an upload of “Dayton Break,” the song I wrote back in 1992 and played with my band, the Dogsmen. Here we’re playing at my mom and Stan’s in Northampton, in 1992 or 1993, at a family reunion. Thanks to my Uncle Dan for sending me the video of the whole event. The sound in this video is muddy (this was before digital technology became widely available), but I added the lyrics to the description on YouTube, in case anyone is curious. They (the lyrics) have no literal connection to my life; they came one day, along with the melody and bass line, and I followed to see where they would go.

  • “To know that you can do better next time, unrecognizably better, and that there is no next time, and that it is a blessing there is not, there is a thought to be going on with.”

    —Samuel Beckett, Malone Dies

  • TEDx Talk

    Delivered at TEDx Upper West Side, April 26, 2016.

  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

     

    Diana Senechal is the author of Republic of Noise: The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture and the 2011 winner of the Hiett Prize in the Humanities, awarded by the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. Her second book, Mind over Memes: Passive Listening, Toxic Talk, and Other Modern Language Follies, was published by Rowman & Littlefield in October 2018. In February 2022, Deep Vellum will publish her translation of Gyula Jenei's 2018 poetry collection Mindig Más.

    Since November 2017, she has been teaching English, American civilization, and British civilization at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium in Szolnok, Hungary. From 2011 to 2016, she helped shape and teach the philosophy program at Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science & Engineering in New York City. In 2014, she and her students founded the philosophy journal CONTRARIWISE, which now has international participation and readership. In 2020, at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium, she and her students released the first issue of the online literary journal Folyosó.

  • INTERVIEWS AND TALKS

    On April 26, 2016, Diana Senechal delivered her talk "Take Away the Takeaway (Including This One)" at TEDx Upper West Side.
     

    Here is a video from the Dallas Institute's 2015 Education Forum.  Also see the video "Hiett Prize Winners Discuss the Future of the Humanities." 

    On April 19–21, 2014, Diana Senechal took part in a discussion of solitude on BBC World Service's programme The Forum.  

    On February 22, 2013, Diana Senechal was interviewed by Leah Wescott, editor-in-chief of The Cronk of Higher Education. Here is the podcast.

  • ABOUT THIS BLOG

    All blog contents are copyright © Diana Senechal. Anything on this blog may be quoted with proper attribution. Comments are welcome.

    On this blog, Take Away the Takeaway, I discuss literature, music, education, and other things. Some of the pieces are satirical and assigned (for clarity) to the satire category.

    When I revise a piece substantially after posting it, I note this at the end. Minor corrections (e.g., of punctuation and spelling) may go unannounced.

    Speaking of imperfection, my other blog, Megfogalmazások, abounds with imperfect Hungarian.

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