Monday, July 25, 2011

Echo Part 1: Talking To Strangers

            The child’s footsteps surround her.  The tunnel’s darkness seems absolute, sandwiched between the semicircles of light at either end.  Panting, she runs toward the other side, her hair patting her shoulders, urging her on.  She is eleven years old with spindly legs that are accentuated by the white socks she pulled half way up her shins.  She watches the light bounce as she runs, until she bursts forth in front of the lake.  There, beneath the blue sky again, she lets herself lean over a fence post and peer down into the water and watch herself catching her breath.  Sufficiently recovered, she takes the lake at a measured stroll.
            The grown-ups don’t pay her any mind.  She tries to look each one in the eye.  The old ladies are too focused on getting their exercise, the couples watching each other.  Sometimes someone, it could be anyone, looks at her and gives a little smile, and she smiles back, or says good day, or simply nods.  She wants to be noticed, to be remembered, to be seen as a regular here.  She reaches into the pocket of her dress and fiddles with something.  Her smile is bigger, her steps quicken.  She walks into a gazebo and leans over her reflection again.
            “Nice day for a walk,” a man’s voice says.
            “Yes it is,” Sally says, her eyes still on the water.
            “I’ve seen you here before.”
            Sally looks up to give a polite smile because she doesn’t know what to say.  The man is standing a few feet away.  She can’t see his face because he looks down into the water.  He has black hair that looks wet and wears a long black raincoat.  Sally looks down at her bare legs and arms, then squints up at the sky.  It is so blue and bright it is almost white.  She shrugs and looks back in the water.
            “How many fish do you think are in there?” the man asks.
            “A thousand.”
            “A thousand?”
            “At least.”
            “Have you ever counted?”
            “Well, no.  But it’s a big lake.”
            “Have you ever swam in it?”
            Sally looks at him.  “You can’t swim in there!”
            “Why not?”
            “You’re not allowed.”
            “What’s that?”
            “I said…”  Before she finishes he turns toward her.  He is younger than she thought, just a few years older, still a boy himself.  He flashes her a smile, then hurtles over the wooden rail.  His coat billows up behind him, catching the air like the wings of a black butterfly, then like smoke, and then he sinks into the water.  Circles ripple out.  She waits, but feels no fear.  His confidence keeps him safe in her mind.  But after awhile the ripples are gone and he still hasn’t appeared.  She leans over, as far as she can, squinting into the water.
            “Hello?  Mister?”
            Nothing but a slight wave lapping the roots, like the tide in the ocean.
            “Ta da!”
            She jumps back and spins around.  There he is with that same grin, completely dry.
            “How did you do that?”
            He smiles, his eyes alive.  “How do you think?”
            If he had said, it’s magic, or, you wouldn’t understand or even not answered, she would have been mystified and in awe.  By asking her to tell him what he did, she immediately begins to deduce.
            “Well, you either dried really fast.  Or you didn’t get wet in the first place.  You could be the first guy’s twin.  You’re not his twin are you?”
            He laughs.  It has a pleasant sound and makes her feel comfortable.  “No, I’m not my twin.”  His calm makes him seem older, a young grown up.
            “Okay.  Don’t tell me!  I’m going to figure it out.”
            “I’m sure you will.  Hey, kid.”
            She has already bit her lip and looks into the water, trying to throw out some more theories.  She looks up when he called her.
            “I don’t know your name.”
            She tilts her head.  “I’m not supposed to tell strangers my name.”
            “Really?”  He steps toward her, the smile on his face, confusing her.  “Are you supposed to even talk to them.”
            “Well…I’ve been thinking about that.  It’s okay to say hello and to answer people when they ask a direct question, like what time is it?  I don’t want to be rude.”
            “So we are having a polite conversation.  Well, good.  You shouldn’t be telling strangers your name.  But I can tell you mine?”
            She shrugs, attempting to look bored.  “I guess. If you want.”
            “Call me Alec.  I’ll see you later kid.”  Without another word he spins on his heal and walks away.  His boots, which she just noticed, clip clop on the asphalt as he leaves her, continuing on down the path and out of sight.  She had no doubt that if she ran around the bend to follow him he would be gone.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Don't Feed The Bears


 The fire was starting to die down so I reached into the darkness behind my lawn chair for some more wood.  The oak takes a long time to catch but the fire had been going a few hours and the embers of the last log were burning hot.  I placed the new log on top.  My face burned but it was pleasant in the cold night for a few moments.  I sat back.
            “Is this where the bears are?” Ralph asked me.
            “How the hell should I know?  I mean, they’re around.  You see all the signs.”
            “Don’t feed the bears.”
            “So there must be bears.”
            “Maybe they’re just being careful.”
            “Like a precaution.”
            “Of course they are.  They don’t want you feeding the bears.”
            “What I mean to say is, maybe they don’t see bears that often, only once in awhile.  Once a year and they just do the warning, just in case.  You know like when we prepare for an earthquake.”
            “Those don’t happen everyday.  But bear attacks…”
            “Who said anything about bear attacks?”
            “The signs…”
            “Say don’t feed the fucking bears!”
            “Don’t they eat people?”
            “Dude, are you saying you thought the sign was saying don’t let yourself be eaten by the bears?”
            “Uh, yeah.”
            “And they decided to phrase is as ‘don’t feed the bears.’  That’s how they tell you to protect yourself from a deadly predator.  ‘Don’t feed the bears.’
            “I thought it was a joke.”
            “The national park service doesn’t’ make joke signs.  What the fuck?  Like, Danger: Falling Cock?  Like that?
            Ralph laughed.  “Yeah, like that.”
            I watched the unpredictable flickering in the fire pit, and the shadows on the ground.  “Any more of that jay left?”


The wind rushes in from all directions, and the trees know not which way to sway
Tumbling down the mountainside with the last rays of sunlight
The clouds of dust rise but she sees none of it
She sits on a rock, writing a letter
in my spinning world I imagine
I find her again
I imagine
our words, with their vanishing sounds
will lift away the folded chorus of pastpresent that surrounds us
But just as this impossible silence begins 
an image of myself
warm and safe and soft
and that moment will be like the reflection of an entire landscape being captured in a single drop of water

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Words Of The Gods

Most very old stories and myths don’t attempt to have any kind of moral lesson.  A powerful being is either angered or satiated by the acts of humans.  After awhile the humans learn at least what they should be doing to not anger the powerful god.  They still make mistakes, usually when it has been a long time since the powerful one was angered.  Sometimes it is the next generation that hasn’t had plagues fall upon its head that once more makes the mistakes of not doing the correct rituals or sacrifices.  This sounds like kids today.  They don’t listen and want to make their own mistakes before they learn from them.  But they know what they should do, they are told by their parents what this is.  Whether they do it or not is different from being inundated with the idea of what is harmful and safe and, after many generations, what is right and wrong, good and bad.  This is not the the legacy god, but of people.

But where did these powerful beings come from?  Zeus, Jehovah, Allah, The Creator, Vishnu?  Where they created by humans to explain the unexplainable things: rainstorms, droughts, earthquakes, coincidence?  Are they representations of aliens that visited us in the past? Is there one true god with many different names?  Let’s forget this question for a moment.  The answers range from silly to impossible to ever know.  Whatever powerful being, or human imagination that told us what we should do created what we think of as good and bad, but we don’t think of these actions as being things we are forced to do, orders from a master to slave, but things that are morally better.  Is this how good and bad should be created and defined?  The preferences of an all powerful being or beings?  What we do becomes good, what we don't becomes bad.

Our morality is not based on the word of god.  Or rather, the words of the gods are seeds.  From it grows a tree.  The Tree of Morality, that is us alone.  A dog learns what is the rules, what they should do and shouldn’t do.  When they do what they should do, they get rewarded with a “good dog” and a pat and they feel better.  When they transgress they are told “bad dog” and are punished with a stern tone of voice or worse.  Where did we learn this?  The words came from the gods, the meaning is our own.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Worm

Here is a story I began a few months ago and put down.  I have some ideas of where it is going/went, but any thoughts would be helpful.  I just wanted to share what I have.  Thanks!


The sun came through the window a little too brightly.  Jim looked at the blinds, willing them to fold up and cut the sunlight into yellow lines on the ceiling.  He didn’t move though.  That will faded away when aimed toward his limbs.  He blinked, but that was his eyelids, not himself.  Jim looked down at his hands, wanting to squeeze them into fists, just the right one even.  They looked like beggars hands, fingers cupped and ready for coins.
He heard the key rattling around in the lock, announcing her presence.  The sound of the front door opening came down the hallway, the rustle of paper bags, her footsteps.  After a short amount of time Rachel walked into the doorway and stood there, as if she were the door itself.  She took in the scene.  Jim still in bed, the way he looked at her, a mixture of embarrassment and fear and relief.  She thought of a dog who had fallen in a well, looking up.
“Are you hungry,” she said.
“No,” he said.
“I don’t know,” he said.
“Well I got some food and I want you to eat.”
“Okay,” he said.
She said “Bagels and cream cheese, granola, strawberry jam, and yogurt.”
He managed a smile.  “I don’t think I’m that hungry.”
“Pick one,” she said.  She nodded, an acknowledgement of his attempt at humor, but didn’t smile back.
After a pause he said, “Torture by yogurt.”
She was already down the hall.  “It won’t be that be that bad.”  When she was gone the smile faded beneath the pressing sunlight.  He wished he’d asked her to close the blinds, but he also knew her eye-rolling and sighs would be worse than the light.  He closed his eyes, but the red glow of the blood in his eyelids was like the whine of a leaf blower.
When she came back with the yogurt and a spoon and a bowl of cut up strawberries, he asked her about her walk.
“It’s a beautiful day.  There’s a little breeze that makes the leaves shiver and the shadows change.”  Jim looked up though the window but his view didn’t contain any trees or clouds or anything that the wind could move. 
“So,” she said, “Is it something or not?”
“It’s always something,” he said.
“Something you know?” she said.
“Actually, today, I think it is.”  She waited.  “I was…I was thinking about something.  Right when I woke up, like the thought was already there.  It was this talk I had with my grandfather.  I was playing out in the yard in the afternoon.  It had rained that day but now the sky was clear.  I was squatting over the earth, watching a worm move along through the surface layer of the dir, which was already drying up.  I couldn’t believe how it just kept going!  No arms, no legs, it just kept squeezing in and pushing out, using its little bristle arms I guess.  I lay next to it and pulled my arms against my sides and my legs together, and kind of rolled back and forth trying to move forward.  Tworm was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen!  Then I remembered what the other kids at school said, that you could cut a worm in half, and that both halves would become its own worm.  Have you heard that?”
“Yes,” she said.
“So I carefully scooped up this little thing that I’d been watching intently for 10, 15 minutes, put it on a flat rock, and searched around for another flat rock to cut it.  I kept thinking, I’m going to make one worm into two.  It’s going to grow a second brain, it’s going to have a twin, a best friend, forever.  I found a thin, sharp stone, returned to my worm and…”  Jim hit the bed with his hand.  “For a second I was revolted, not just by myself, but by the maimed creature in front of me, as if I’d just cut off a dog’s legs, and there it was, alive, confused and twitching.  Well, I…” Jim’s mouth stopped moving, right in mid sentence, the jaw open but not slack.  “…I…I tell you both sides were moving and wiggling, the front was moving a bit more…umm…panicked.  I realized it was becoming two worms, and in that moment it wasn’t gross or scary anymore.  I watched them for a few more minutes, then took them inside to show my grandfather.  He shook his head and walked us over to the desk that was my father’s desk, but he’d never used.  He pushed aside the yellow pad of paper and ballpoint pens and had me put both worms on the dark brown surface.  He pushed the chair in and I was trapped against the desk.  He said to watch them, and to call me when something happened.  I asked him what.  He said I would know.  ‘Don’t call til you know,’ he said and left the room.  So I crossed my arms on the desk and rested my chin on them and watched the worms twitch and struggle.  Nothing happened for a few hours, except once in awhile a worm came near the edge and I turned it around.  I didn’t leave or fall asleep because I couldn’t disappoint my gramps.  Then I realized that one of them, the one with the head, was changing.  The opposite end of the head half was tapering and becoming a tail.  The other one, the original tail was slowing its twitching, and soon ceased altogether.  It hadn’t been a second worm at all, just a twitchy body part. Instead of creating another life form I’d simply maimed and shortened one that already existed.

‘Grandpa!’ I yelled.  His footsteps came behind me quickly.  He leaned over me.  ‘We’re all like that,’ he said.  ‘The body and the soul.  When you split them apart, the body dies, but the soul lives on.  Now put that poor bastard back where he belongs.’
I took both of them out back.  I dug a little hole until it was mud and put the live little worm back into his home.  Then I dug another hole and buried its dead former tail.”  Jim’s eyes were on the ceiling.  As the silence after his story stretched out he brought them to rest on Rachel.
“Hmm,” she said.  “You woke up thinking about that?”
“I did.  I mean, not all that, just the end, just the part where I buried the live one and the dead one in the same place, and I wondered…”
“Yeah?” she said.  She was getting impatient.  Jim wanted to say it, but now, because he paused, he thought saying it after telling the whole memory of his boyhood would be anticlimactic.
While Jim tried to figure out if he was going to finish speaking or not, Rachel silently left the room.  He knew she had to get to work and didn’t want to wait for him to build up the energy to finish s sentence.  A few minutes later her footsteps came back to the door and “I’m leaving.”
“I wish you’d stay.”
“I have a lot to catch up on at work.”
“We could talk.  Or just sit.”
“I hope you get up and enjoy the day.”           
“I will.  I know I can if you stay.”
The door was shutting.  Time began to pass.

His thoughts began to dip below the surface of the present, to get caught in the jet streams of things he had said and done.  He didn’t fall into reverie, didn’t reminisce, he was simply breathing in the worry about what he had done and what had been done to him.  He jolted back to the present with a shiver, shaking the bed.  But then the bed didn’t stop.  It was the bed that had moved him, or rather, the earth.  He jumped up quickly and ran to the doorway.  How much time was passing?  Earthquakes always seemed longer than they were.  What he thought was a momentary scream cut into his ears, and then his bedroom window shattered.  The shards caught the sunlight as they fell, and it looked to Jim like he were in a sparkly snowglobe.  It was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen.  An ache he had always felt but never known pulled him forward.  He ran toward the sparkles, to envelop himself in their reflections, but of course, as fast as his mind was recording each detail, his body couldn’t catch up.  By the time his watery limbs had crossed the room the window had become a jagged booby trap on the floor.  It was at this point that Jim thought he should get out of the house.  He jumped on his bed and hurled himself through the empty window toward the backyard.  He felt like a superhero.  He even landed relatively smoothly with a shoulder roll onto the stone and brick ground.  He continued into a standing position and as he came up heard a real scream.  It wasn’t the kind of scream anyone ever wanted to hear, and it chilled him to the bone.  It was a child’s voice, full of panic, of falling or being cut, confused, afraid, trying to scream away whatever was happening.  Jim thought all these things, but his philosophical ruminations came as he was already hopping the fence next door, and then the next fence, to get to the house 2 over where the kid lived.  He figured it was her, Maria or Carla or something.  She was the only kid on the block and he’d only really met her once right after she was born, when he made her parents a cake and, in a fit of mania, threw most of the childhood toys and books he’d been saving for 20 years into a bag and brought them over.  They invited him in but warned him she was asleep.  He desperately wanted her to see him there, not that she would understand he had brought her gifts, but so that someday, when she was older, she might see him again and recognize his face, and put it together with all her experiences with the painted barn with the door that mooed when you opened it, the plastic shark, the fisherman with the gaunt cheeks, the tattered copies of Goodnight Moon and Where The Wild Things Are.  He had even looked at her, willing the word wake up toward her, hoping to wake her up without anyone knowing it was him.  She lay on her back, her head to the side, her flowery lips parted.
She would see him now.
He landed there in her backyard.  Near the askew house was a pile of old boxes, the packing tape cut, their bodies flattened and piled up.  The boxes where shivering.  So were his legs.  For a moment he thought the earthquake was still going, when he heard her muffled cries.  He ran forward, toward the boxes.  He quickly eyed the house.  The upstairs window was broken, and the corners of the building had been slightly rhombused, but it looked stable enough.
“Just not a square anymore,” he said.  “Not the same, not a square.”
He began to dig, picking up the cold, molding old boxes and throwing them behind him like oversized Frisbees.  “Not cubes anymore.”  What the hell did they have these for?  He saw ants and beetles and roly-polies.  Where they crawling on her, even now?  In his mind he imagined her as she was years ago, a little baby, unworkable by his thoughts, covered in crawly little legs.  Just as he was grazing flesh with his digging fingers, he heard her father yelling.  The words were too fast, he couldn’t make them out, were they English?  Was he angry, was he afraid?  Where was he?
Jim grabbed a forearm and pulled.  He almost screamed when he saw the father there.  He let go quickly, disgusted, and looked back at the house.  The girl, it must be her, stood near the pane-less window, crying, silent now.
“Jim, thank you, I can’t…”  The father almost fell, grabbing Jim’s arm and shoulder.  Once studied he limped over to lean on the fence.  Jim looked down at the ground, down at his hands.  “Jim.” The man was breathless.  “Jim, I can’t.”  Jim felt himself shrinking, his elbows coming into his ribcage, his knees eating up his calves.  “Jim!”  Jim, shocked, looked the father in the eye.  “Jim, listen.  I can not walk.  Please, Carla, please.”
Jim was already running through the garage.  Everything looked like it did when he was dancing.  There was a low rumble somewhere, everywhere, and sprays of dust shooting out like hydraulics.  The house was just like his, but the stairs aren’t where they should be.  He stood where the bottom step was, waiting for them to appear.  His body began to slow down, his momentum leaving through his legs straight into the ground.  Next to him was a door, like the door to his bedroom.  He pushed it open and shuffled in, confused to not see his bed there, the sun splashed across it.  Cardboard boxes lined the walls.  And old table with the legs unscrewed and lying next to it.  A dusty director’s chair collapsed in on itself.  In the corner, where his bed should be, the steps came down, cutting into the room.  Underneath the steps was a white box, and he knew it was his.  He crouched down beneath the stairs and pulled it out, and uncovered his old toys.  The little boxy, 1970’s looking metal cars with the doors that really opened, his wand of water and sparkles.  He didn’t see a few things, figures and books he liked when he was older.  Maybe she still had those, held them to her chest right now.  He almost stood up and took the stairs then and there, but he found the barn with the door that mooed when you opened it.  The moo still worked.  He could hear it over the roar.  He opened and closed the door, marveling at the sound, and the painted straw inside.  Maybe she would hear the moos and come down the stairs to find him, an oversized x-men doll clutched under her arm.  Then he would stand up for sure, then he would gather her in his arms and take her out to safety and see to her father.  She’ll be coming any second, any second now.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Father’s Day
Recently a strange holiday passed that, as a child, I never gave a second thought.  Father’s Day was just like Mother’s Day, but for dads, just like a birthday, a day where you get or make Dad a gift, write him a card, and spend the day the way he wants to.  I thought this was normal, and the way everyone spent Father’s Day.  Of course people all over don’t spend their days the same way.  A large family Christmas is very different from a lonely one.  But for some, Father’s Day was never a holiday.  The last 2 schools where I worked as a teacher basically turned a blind eye to Father’s Day.  We didn’t look up cool art projects to make, like during Halloween, Christmas, Hanukah, and the 4th of July.  We didn’t mention Father’s Day, and if we did, it was to select few children who we knew hadn’t been abandoned by their Dads.  Of course there are many reasons for someone not to be there.  People die, people get divorced, people have to work far away, sometimes in different countries, but the deadbeat mom was rare, leaving Father’s Day to celebrate what should be but is not.

I have always been interested in fathers, men taking care of kids, being tough but also being caring.  What made me this way?  Simply being a man?  Not all men are so focused on fathers, we know that for sure.  Did I want to be a father?  At 12, and throughout my teens that was not something I could imagine.  What about my own dad?

My dad didn’t leave me when I was a kid, nor treat me badly, nor exactly fit the mold of the big tough but caring father.  He always made me feel like he loved me and cared for me and has always been there for me.  But, like most teens, I felt that my parents were preventing me from being who I was.  They had rules that didn’t seem to make sense.  “Okay, I should be nice to people, I shouldn’t spend all my money, I shouldn’t get a girl pregnant, okay I got you!  But why worry about if I get home at 5:05 when my curfew is 5:00.  I mean, yes I’m late but does it matter?  Dudes?”

“Yeah, I cut school, but my grades are fine.  What, that doesn’t matter?  Why?  Why?”

Of course these are silly examples.  My parents were fair, and though sometimes I didn’t feel that their arguments fully made sense, they were never mean or unreasonable.  Still, I felt that I had ideas and wishes that were hampered by the rules of adults.  I think that this is a common, if not universal feeling among those making the difficult transition from adolescence to adulthood.

My theory is that one reason for the popularity of hip hop among youths is that the music is filled with this same sense of frustration from a group of people towards another group of people for not allowing them to be themselves.  Somehow, as early hip hop distilled the social ills of the world, specifically the white power structures effect on black people, teens of all races felt a kinship with their own struggle against adults.  Yes, I realize that these aren’t the same things.  The Man though in control, is not our parent, but I think you see what I’m saying (Na mean).  Or maybe I am simply projecting how I felt as a youth being drawn to hip hop music.

It all started because rap was cool.  In my day, in my town, being black was the coolest thing you could do.  If you couldn’t do that, or be Latino, you could dress the right way, and listen to the right music.  So I started listening to KMEL, buying rap tapes, and thinking long and hard about people different than myself.  One could say this music was a great departure from the music of my adolescence; Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Huey Lewis and the Stones, but I think political and storytelling songs like Man In The Mirror, Simple as That, and Living For The City all helped set the stage for my ruminations on the state of the world.

When I was in middle school I began my first novel.  I had recently learned that there was a time in American history when slavery was still legal, but bringing new Africans into the country as slaves was illegal.  I imagined an alternate reality where this state of affairs continued into something like the present day, and a radical movement began among slaves to commit suicide as a way to end slavery.  I called the book Genocide.  It was set in a middle school.  The main character was named Joe (after Joseph, my middle name.  It was much cooler to be named Joe than Dan and I often gave my characters the nomenclature I wished to have in real life).  Anyway, a racially mixed group of friends, race wars, assassinations, a new constitution, and phrases like “why you pushing up on my girl” and “luckily I shot him in the face” made for quite a read.  Yes, the title was Genocide.  I still have the original, unfinished manuscript, written in terrible handwriting that is only slightly worse than my writing now.

Clearly I was thinking hard on the state of the world, race relations, hip hop, and accurate phrases a middle schooler would say.  There is no way this book would have been written had I not gone to school in a racially diverse setting, or if I hadn’t been drinking rap music in through my ears like a bass heavy elixir of the gods.  In rap I found others unlike, but like, myself, struggling, and I found in their struggle a purpose bigger than myself.  I wasn’t black (still not) but I wanted something tangible to fight against, something besides my loving parents, something that was holding them back, holding us all back.  Being white, this something was also partly inside of me.  Luckily, MJ had already told me what to do, in words that meant and have meant more to me than I could have known at the time.  If you want to make the world a better place take a look at yourself and make that…change.

To continue the hip hop created analogy of teens in an adult world and minorities in a white one, there were many great rap songs in the 90’s about the absence of fathers in their son’s lives.  Here was a strange braiding of my struggle as a teen mixed with that of the people in the music.  Here the caretaker had abandoned his charges, charges that were also male.  2PAC’s Papa’z Song and Naughty By Nature’s Ghetto Bastard stirred me down to the base of my soul.  Lines like “had to play catch by myself, what a sorry sight, a pitiful plight so I pray for a starry night” still make my eyes water, maybe because I feel surrounded by children with no fathers.  I recently bought a tiny mitt for a boy close to 5 years old, and we played catch for the first time.  Pac’s words echoed through my head over and over, and the smile that seemed to spread from the boy’s lips to his entire body, to the entire park, and the lack of his father in his life, twists my heart as if I am the boy, and the absent father, and the storyteller all at once.

But why?  I don’t mean why do father’s leave, because that is a question I couldn’t begin to tackle.  Why does it effect me so?  My father never left, so why do I act as if there is a wound there?  Because he didn’t also love rap?  Because he didn’t seem to get me as a teen (oh my god, dad, come one!  Stop trippin!)?  Or was it the couple of years, as I entered the realm of teendom, that my father had to take a job in Washington D.C.?  He made good money, but was gone during the week, or for weeks at a time.  Did I ever fear his plane would go down, or that he wouldn’t return home?  I never gave this any thought.  In fact, I remember feeling proud of myself for not blaming him, for understanding this was something he had to do for the family, and knowing that resenting him wasn’t fair.  But I also remember thinking to myself that I would never work far from my family like that, no matter what.  My father remembers one day when the two of us stood near the Cliff House, looking over the ocean.  He says I was nasty, I believe is his word, nasty and angry about the fact that he’d been gone.  I said he didn’t understand me anymore.  Was I so sensitive that even as I thought I understood, I had buried hurt and angry feelings?  These seeds grew into two interlocking trees.  One, watered by an obsession with boys with absent fathers, the other fed by the deep feeling that my father didn’t really understand me.  I’ll skip the years of therapy but I got over myself and realized that my dad and I have probably the best father-son relationship of anyone I know, that we have always got along really great.  I have also realized that maybe I did feel hurt and abandoned as I entered my teenage years, and that this may have effected my fatherhood obsession, as well as my interest in rap music, 2Pac, and the ills of world.  It can be no coincidence that for over a decade I have fulfilled a fatherly role for a child where her father didn’t, or why I feel I deep pull toward my students who have no men in their lives.  My experiences, but especially my wound, relatively small, have helped me to understand those larger wounds that other’s carry, that our nation carries.  These wounds have helped me see that we all live our lives in reaction to these wounds.  We are all children, raised by children, all of us squinting in the darkness.

They are leaning out for love and they will lean that way foreverSuzanne, Leonard Cohen

We’ve all got holes to fill, and them holes are all that’s realTo Live Is To Fly, Townes Van Zandt

How can I be a man if there's no role model?                         – Papa'z Song, 2Pac

I'm gonna flaunt it, gonna know when, and not now
How will I do it, how will I make it, I won't, that's how            - Ghetto Bastard, Treach

Think it was September, the year I went away,
For there were many things I didn't know.
And I still see him standing, try'n' to be a man;
I said, "Someday you'll understand."

Well, I'm here to tell you now each and ev'ry mother's son
You better learn it fast; you better learn it young,
'Cause, "Someday" Never Comes."            
- Someday Never Comes, Creedence Clearwater Revival

I love you dad!