American potlatch.

April 27, 2012 § 9 Comments

In the Potlatch, a traditional ceremony common to the tribes of the Pacific Northwest, guests were given gifts.

The more lavish the gifts, the more the status of the gift-giver was enhanced.

Gifts were not distributed equally. The gift received was a graphic appraisal of the recipient’s worth, kind of like Aunt Martha getting a pair of socks for Christmas while the boss gets tickets to the opera.

Sometimes, in these public displays of opulence, the gifts were destroyed as part of the ceremony. What better way to demonstrate excessive wealth?

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Tom.

April 18, 2012 § 19 Comments

I learned the name for what he was from a friend who was a psych major.

Tom was an isolate.

Always alone, he was not hated. And he wasn’t a square peg in a round hole. For him there was no hole. He belonged nowhere. Tom was so little noticed it was as if he didn’t exist.

His official title was bookkeeper. He opened and closed the metal drawers of the file cabinets in Library Technical Services. He shuffled papers and walked invoices back to our desks for revision, delivering each with an apology and a stiff bow.

Neatly dressed, he wore a white shirt and a tie, dark pants and often one cloth shoe. Large and thick in the middle, his physical profile almost doomed him to diabetes, which he had. He was losing his toes, one after another, to his illness.

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Coming to a full stop.

April 13, 2012 § 11 Comments

I was singing scales when I got into the turn lane, warming up my voice for a Hot Tamale rehearsal with my singing partner Craig.

The light was green. The car ahead of me made the turn onto Lakeshore and I followed.

The oncoming truck was a monster but I thought I could outrun it.

The slam of impact and the sensation of being violently thrown were replaced by silence and a dazzling pattern of fractured light through the spider-webbed windshield.

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The pajama tour.

April 6, 2012 § 16 Comments

This is me, holding up my new book “Summer on the Moon” at the Georgia Book Awards Conference.

Like a mother walking a kindergartener  into a classroom on the first day of school I was hand-holding this latest book and talking to anyone I could get to listen.

“What grade do you teach? This one will really appeal to boys.” Boys are the holy grail of the book pitch.

If all had gone as planned I’d be holding that same book when I stood up in Missouri and Chicago facing rooms packed with teachers and media specialists (unless, of course, I spoke in the same time slot as Laura Numeroff who so famously gave a mouse a cookie ).

I had the plane tickets and everything.

And then I made an unwise left turn. « Read the rest of this entry »

Here today.

April 1, 2012 § 24 Comments

Begin with the assumption that God exists.

Although this post is not an argument in favor of a Creator God, I am fairly certain there is one.

My belief springs not from faith but from being a creator myself. The labor of building a fictive world is intense.

Imagine imagining and constructing a functional universe that actually exists.

I know the argument that given enough time, monkeys with typewriters could write the plays of Shakespeare. But, having worked at the Baltimore Zoo when it was under the directorship of the flamboyant Arthur Watson, I have practical experience with monkeys and typewriters. « Read the rest of this entry »

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