Tips for Goodwill Shoppers.

October 26, 2010 § 2 Comments

I shop at a place stocked by a buyer who has no taste, and every kind of taste, and where everything is priced by function.

Shirts (long-sleeved) four dollars.  Shirts (short-sleeved) three dollars–making sleeves a bargain at fifty cents apiece.

It’s an egalitarian system in which the shirt that made its debut on a Paris runway and the shirt that strutted its polyester stuff on a rack at Kmart come out dead even.  And at three dollars (four if the sleeves are long) both are a bargain.

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Takin’ it on the road.

October 18, 2010 § 3 Comments

I am 59 years old and I sing.  Not in church.  Not along with the radio.  Not in the shower.  I sing old-school rock ‘n roll, Motown, classic country—and I do it in front of an audience.

Should I be embarrassed?

It doesn’t seem that long ago–I was thirteen, hugging my grandpa’s arch-top Harmony guitar and singing, “There is…a house…in New Orleans, they call… the Risin’ Sun…”

Shivered-through with the deep and abiding sorrow of the song, and trying to figure out the guitar part, I played the 45 of Eric Burdon and The Animals over and over.  I knew nothing about playing a guitar, but worked on it with focused desire.  After two weeks of focused desire my mother signed me up for guitar lessons.

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The kid who disappeared.

October 15, 2010 § 8 Comments

I woke up in the middle of the night and I thought about him, the kid who disappeared.

He was riding his bike to school but never got there.  They found the bicycle beside the canal, but never a body.

We were sophomores at Princeton High when it happened.

I didn’t know him well, no one I knew, knew him well.  And as I remember it, when suddenly we were all talking about him, it seemed that nobody did.

We had seen him around. in the hall, in class, a tall skinny kid with curly hair, ironic and sarcastic.

Someone said he was smart.

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A day in the life…Hurricane Dennis

October 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

Although Hurricane Dennis caused millions of dollars in damage in Dade County, Florida, fortunately for my family, living aboard a leaky wooden boat at a small Keys resort called “Smuggler’s Cove,” it hit us as a tropical storm–albeit with rainfall totals of biblical proportions.  Did I mention our boat was leaky?

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In love with words.

October 10, 2010 § 1 Comment

When I was young I kept a list of my favorite words.

Some, like shimmer, freckle, dazzle, thump, rustle, were there because of the way they turned on a quick visual image or made a sound.

Others made the list because I liked the way they felt in my mouth: trousers, hollyhock, drainpipe.

A few sounded like what they meant: bubble, wash.

Words remain my constant companions and friends.  They are my way out of my own head and into yours—and vice versa.

I still make word lists.  Sometimes I  collect words that come out of a particular profession.  The first book I ever wrote had a character who spent years with a small traveling circus, or what is known more descriptively in the business as, “a mud show.”

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The Relic

October 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

When I was a kid my family owned a religious relic.  It hung for years from my bedpost.  Diamond shaped, it was covered with satin the color of a cobweb, or a fingerprint on a pane of glass.  The letters IHS were embroidered on it in lichen green. 

My father’s family, hard-headed Swedes, were Protestants or what my grandmother called Shouting Methodists.  Theirs was a practical faith made manifest in casseroles, Swedish meatballs, and yellow cake served in Fellowship Halls. 

The relic that hung on my bedpost was Italian Catholic in origin, passed down on my mother’s side of the family.  Her parents, who were first cousins, had needed a papal dispensation to allow them to marry.  The pope’s blessing must have trumped the stacked deck of DNA.  The Catholic cousins produced no idiots or two-headed offspring.  The relic sprang from that same well of faith and mystery. « Read the rest of this entry »

How to slow…time…down.

October 4, 2010 § 5 Comments

I felt as if I was standing in a cloud of gnats–buzzed by emails, phone calls, the internet, and  the expectation that I could keep up with everything  happening everywhere, and respond with the appropriate sympathy, indignation, joy, or sorrow.

In the constant barrage of information/stimuli/requests for my immediate attention I strove to move ever faster, assuming a defensive posture, as if covering my head with my arms, and I kept going.  But the faster I ran, the faster time sped, until I woke one morning wondering if anything fit into a day anymore, even something as modest as forming a coherent thought.

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Where Am I?

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