Consider the Kangaroo

To Australians, kangaroos are ordinary. To me, kangaroos are exotic. I am a tourist from the United States and like most tourists, I hope to see kangaroos. Watch them bound 25 feet in a single hop, jump six-feet high, zoom by at 40 miles per hour powered by their muscular hind legs and propelled by their powerful tails which provide both balance and force. And since my partner Arnie and I are spending three months in the country where kangaroos are native, where they travel in groups called mobs, I expect to see a lot of them.

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There are a few kinds of places on this planet that cause my deepest, deepest self to shriek you could die here. Among them are the tops of cliffs and ski lifts. But mostly, I think of Deception Pass, where a bridge skips its way between three rocky spurs of land a stone’s throw from Washington’s border with Canada. There, cars can zoom over the strait and tourists can meander down a pedestrian walkway, snap photos, and admire the rugged cliffs of

Continue reading… "Sturdy"

What Are We Doing Here Anyway?

When I was little my dad kidnapped me all the time. It was criminal in my mind. The work of a real sadist. All he had to do was lure me with the promise of a toy and I’d fall for it. Candy from a stranger. Except he wasn’t really a stranger, he was my dad. I got into his work van, it smelled of oil and cigarettes, and before I knew it we were halfway across town on some country road, the tools in the back rattling like an ominous soundtrack.

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What We Wear

I didn’t recognize the blouse that she wore in her casket, but I immediately knew I hated it. Everything about it. It was peachy-pink with lots of ruffles. She never would’ve owned a shirt like that. My mother was a classic beauty and always dressed in classic styles; straight lines, pencil skirts. Unadorned high heels and V-neck or scoop neck shirts and blouses with collars were in her closet, but never something this frilly.

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Occasionally I seem to fall into myself, and I have a limited number of holes to accommodate that, which is to say I’m capable, one chance in five, of being an asshole.

You see, I’ve just gotten out of bed and I remember some things I said and did yesterday while I’m trying to make some pancakes look and smell like pancakes before I taste them, and I’ve reached the point where flippancy is the other side of intensity and both of them have burned the pancakes.

Continue reading… "Distemper"

Summer Stock Story

I was headed to Theatre-by-the-Sea in Rhode Island. I’d gotten the part of von Trapp, or the Captain, as he was known, in The Sound of Music at because I was tall, had a mature look (due to a receding hairline), and so could conceivably be a widowed former naval officer who had fathered seven children. I was twenty-nine years old, but looked forty-two. Also, I could sing, thanks to my father’s patient voice lessons, and was emotionally not unlike von Trapp,

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Some Kind of Smoke Signal

There’s this video of my dad and me lighting our hands on fire at the kitchen table. It starts with him walking around the kitchen, opening and closing cupboards. He must have been looking for something—I’m sure he was looking for something—but a small part of me wonders if maybe he was doing it just for fun. This is the same man, after all, who dragged home a hay bale for us to practice “knife throwing” on mere hours

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Persian Lessons

It was my need to belong that drove me to learn Persian. I prided myself on my command of the idiom. The secret to my steep learning curve was pretending. Make-believe was my major strategy. I was not content to merely memorize verb conjugations and the uses of the subjunctive. My tactic early on was to convince myself that I was Iranian. Even before I had the vocabulary, I had mastered the cadence of a Persian sentence. I

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