Past, Present, Popcorn

By on Nov 19, 2017 in Essays | Comments Off

As a child in the 1970s, I often felt out of place, as if I were a weight hung around the household’s neck. I loved sports, but I equally loved board games, comic books, literature above my reading level, and Star Wars memorabilia. My parents never discouraged these pursuits and, indeed, funded some, but they never really understood them, either. My father and I played football and baseball in our yard and hunted deer and squirrel in the local forests, but if I wanted to play Monopoly or talk in depth about Spider-Man, I was on my own. My mother seemed harried, always on the...

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The Church of Los Corales

By on Nov 5, 2017 in Cuttings, Essays | Comments Off

The cold wind was unexpected. After all, it was the middle of July, and this was the Caribbean. The church of Los Corales was cemented into the side of a mango-covered mountain just west of Santiago. It was not nestled like most mountainside churches; rather, it was cemented. A new building for an old generation. White painted cement, a slate porch, and frosted white doors. Around the church, there were a few strikingly new houses owned by returning Americans, and a bodega that filled at eleven in the morning and was empty again soon after.  On that day it was raining. A heavy downpour...

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Type-Setting Tunes

By on Aug 23, 2015 in Essays | Comments Off

The machine engulfed Travis, but he didn’t seem to mind. Travis chain-smoked unfiltered Camels; and one was always burning at his side as he pressed the buttoned keys for all the letters to appear, just as I had originally typed them. Sometimes, yes, he made mistakes but not often. And anyway, when the words appeared in print, I was the editor; I was the responsible party. And so I never mentioned Travis or his work to anyone. He was frail and hunch-backed. Stooped just in the form you’d expect from one who spent eight, maybe ten hours each day typesetting others’ words, making sure...

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Halloween Hell

By on Oct 26, 2014 in Essays | 1 comment

When my twins are almost six, they appear delightfully normal in our Halloween photos. Samantha, an impish Raggedy Ann, wears a red yarn wig; her lips are cherry red, and there are matching red spots on each of her round cheeks. She smiles exuberantly, showing off her missing front tooth. Her hazel eyes sparkle in anticipation of Tootsie Pops, Starbursts, and all of the candy she will bring home and beg to eat immediately. In contrast, Matthew is dressed as the Grim Reaper, holding a plastic scythe menacingly in one hand. His other hand grasps the death mask he removed because he was too...

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That One Pitch

By on Mar 4, 2014 in Essays | 1 comment

The author’s father is in the top row, to the right of the man in the hat   In late August of 1957, my father took me on a trip to visit his home town of Nanaimo in British Columbia. We stayed in the Plaza Hotel, where, almost a half century earlier, he’d been a bellhop, before going to work in the coal mines. On our first morning, just after breakfast, my father took me on a walking tour of Nanaimo Harbor. We stopped at the Bastion, a fortress constructed in 1853 by the Hudson Bay Company to protect their coal mining interests on Vancouver Island. My father pointed out that...

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Necessary Things

By on Dec 2, 2013 in Essays | Comments Off

Gray Bunny Before Grace names it, the small stuffed bunny is pale pink with purple dots and wears a lavender bow around his neck. A cherished playmate for my littlest niece, he is clutched close at bedtime and in the car seat. Eventually she learns to introduce him, dangling him by an ear and announcing “Bunny,” giggling at her own ability to speak.   With so much affection and milk lavished on him, the bunny makes regular trips through the washing machine. Soon the pink fur fades and the original ribbon frays and then falls off, only to be replaced with a rapid succession of...

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