Aug 3, 2018
Neil Armstrong has nothing over me. At the age of 10, I captained a spaceship that flew to each and every planet in our solar system, discovered and often conquered alien civilizations, killed monsters and, with the cool confidence that only comes with expert flying skills, navigated the unpredictable hazards of the asteroid belt. Neil Armstrong only went to the moon.
Across from the street from the three bedroom apartment, shared by the seven members of our family, lay an expansive park with multiple swing sets, slides (the huge, dangerous ones where some unfortunate kids broke their backs every year), gymnastics rings, a high bar, trapeze bars, merry-go-round (a push one), sand boxes, basketball courts, a kiddie pool and a big public swimming pool. Taking up a half a city block it seemed as big as the universe in itself. In corner of that huge expanse of play space our rocket ship awaited its crew.
Jun 24, 2018
When I was a little kid I thought evil was a pair of giant chattering teeth, the novelty toy kind, that chased my family around the back yard, trying to bite us in the butt. No lie, this was my personal hell. I had nightmares about it all the time. In those dark dreams, my grandmother, mother, aunt, two uncles, my grandfather and cousin (we all shared a 3-bedroom apartment) were chased by the Saint Bernard sized, sinister incisors. Everyone but me laughed in turn as it chased them. It came for me last, and just before it nipped my butt, I always woke up sweating and terrified. The day after each nightmare I was afraid to go to sleep again and wondered why such evil had to exist in the world. But, my grandmother knew how to comfort me. She’d make me a fried bologna and cheese sandwich. As I ate, the tasty food and love of my grandmother made the world seemed right again. Hence, two of my life’s banes: Fear of toy teeth and comfort food.
(To this day I can't look upon a pair of dentures without getting chills. Such is what it is like to be me. Yes, I do need your prayers.)
Jun 20, 2018
My whole, young heart is filled with nothing but Mary Ann. I follow her past the crossing guard. On the other side, I bump into her like a tethered balloon. She giggles and asks me if I am ready. I nod. She bolts. Fifty yards later, she reaches her house three steps ahead of me.
"You'll never catch me,” she says, her giggles now a full laugh. At her door she twirls, blurring into a cloud of pink cotton candy that disappears inside.
Twenty years later I'm standing next to an ice cream kiosk in a mall watching her. She's standing behind the counter of a candy shop.
She looks up and our eyes lock. It’s only for a micro-second but in that short time our races flash before my eyes as if I’m dying: I lose each race, day after day, but I am filled with oblivious joy. And then that last of all days, she races another boy and my heart, like a lost balloon, bursts.
As quickly as our eyes met, she lowers hers. She twirls and disappears through a door behind her.
Jun 20, 2018
I am expressing deep thanks for Pachelbel’s Canon. Chances are good you’ve heard it. It’s soft and has that generic, classical music quality that makes it popular at weddings. In fact, it may have been written specifically for that purpose. There are many arrangements. The string version, with violins playing the melody, is the most common. You can hear it performed here if you so desire. The arrangement I’m thankful for, however, is the one written for three trumpets and performed by Winton Marsalis as performed here.
Trumpets are my favorite musical instruments. They have power that can pick a listener up out of their chair and hurl them to the back of the room. But, at the control of a skilled performer, they can be soft and expressive like no other instrument. Their grace is unsurpassed.