Author: Alvira, Marco

Facts Are Facts

Boy, has the deadline for this column crept up on me fast! With the beginning of a new school year and preparing for the Kings River Bluegrass Festival, the first Sunday almost got by me. In fact, I didnít remember it until my wife and I were driving home from San Francisco this evening. After twenty-four years of marriage, there can sometimes be some extended periods of quiet in the cab of my truck on long drives (itís a bit of journey to the City from Merced). Those moments gave me time to think about the column a bit so I wouldnít be staring at a blank screen when I got home at midnight.

One thought kept boomeranging back to me all the way homeóno matter how hard I try to deny it, facts are facts: Iím getting to be a cranky old guy. Now, mind you, Iím only fifty-three, but by historical standards, that makes me a senior citizen. I donít feel old. Just last weekend I was rock climbing and fly-fishing in the Sonora Pass (real high elevation stuff) and intend to go on a 52 mile back pack trip next year while my wife and daughter travel Europe. Now, you might be asking yourself, ďWhy doesnít Marcos go Europe instead of schlepping a 40 pack across the Sierra?Ē Well, that very question is what got me to considering my creeping age. The answer to the question is simple; Iím too impatient and cranky to put up with airports. I used to love flying. Know I prefer fly tying.

Iíll quickly lay out some bullet points outlining the mounting evidence of my rapid advance toward senior menu at Dennyís:

After just three weeks into the new school year, my legs and spine feel like someone poured concrete into them. Just two years ago, they didnít feel like this until May. Ten years ago, they never felt like this at all.

After three weeks of school, I can now call most my 96 students by name if they are in class. Out on the playground, forget it. I call all of them ďKiddo.Ē Five years ago, I had had them all down by the end of the first week. After a three day weekend now, Ill be calling half of them Kiddo in class for a week.
I made a Star War reference the other day. Hardly anyone got it. I discovered that only about four or five kids in any class had ever seen the groundbreaking first three movies. I wandered what this world is coming to that kids didnít understand common cultural referencesÖI mean the movie came out only 37 years ago.

For years, I taught kids that over long periods of time, the English language evolves. There are now at least four syntactical changes in the language since I left high school.

I teach eighth grade. Most of my students were born in 1998..ouch.. Some really nice parents brought their kids to my classroom on the first day of school. Thatís uncommon for parents of eighth graders. It winds up they came to say howdy to their old teacherÖme.

I donít bother getting to learn the names, or even the faces, of new teachers until they return for their third year. It hardly seems worth bothering. Actually, I learned a couple pretty quickly last yearÖI was their old teacher.

As I mentioned, Jany ó my wife ó and I went to San Francisco today. Iím beginning to get the same feeling about traffic as I have about flying. But I love the City. Itís my birth place and I started school there. Additionally, I spent almost entire summers there with my cousins, hopping the Muniís at the tender age of nine, to go to the movies.

I didnít see any kids playing on the streets of the City. Do children live there anymore?

A lady driving behind us on Van Ness rear-ended my truck. It was a light tap on my right rear bumper. She pulled beside me at the light, rolled down her window and asked where I wanted to pull over. I asked how it looked. She said hardly a scratch. I noticed her left front fender had a good dent. It was cold and Jany and I were hungry and headed toward a nice little place on Geary. Getting out of the car hardly seemed worth the effort and energy. I waved the lady off, telling her I wasnít worried about it.

Three changes in the City since I was a kid: the Presidio is now a park, not an Army base; Alcatraz is a park, not a prison; the large brick buildings along the waterfront are boutiques, restaurants, and a ball park, not canneries and shipyardsÖand Iím annoyed by every change.

On the way home, we pulled off Highway 99 to get a cup of Joe at a Starbucks, and it was late. I missed my turn onto a side street and hung a U turn on a country road down the block (things turn country pretty quick out here in the Valley). Within seconds, a police car pulled me over for making an illegal U turn. I apologized and told the officer that we were only trying to get a cup of coffee Ďcause we were dogged tired driving home from San Francisco. I explained that I didnít even see the sign in the dark, and would never intentionally do anything illegal. He gave me a well practiced look-over. He glanced at my white beard, short cropped hair on my balding head, and let me off with a warning. His tone was the same as the one I use to assuage an overly apologetic senior citizen that aimlessly bumps into me with their cart at the super market.

Honestly, I donít really feel old and I stay very active. The signs, however, are as clear as the geese flying south that winter is impending. My winter is approaching somewhere out there. But Iím not giving in. Look around at folks at bluegrass festivals; it is clear that we are often younger than the sum of our years. Iím holding onto that Indian summer as long as I can.
Posted:  9/4/2011

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