My sister-in-law and her family went on a trip recently and asked us to care for her daughter’s bearded dragon.
This dragon, a green guy with brown eyes, is still a youth, about seven inches long from the nose to the tip of his tail, though in 18 months he’ll swell to the size of a Tyrannosaurus-rex arm, one you can take out walking with a leash.
While he stayed with us, he lived in a big glass box on our buffet cabinet in the dining room. This changed our mealtimes slightly. Eating in the presence of a reptile makes…
I love teaching Introduction to Creative Writing. It’s a wonderful triathlon: We start with fiction, then move on to poetry, and lastly we write stories from our lives. And I do my best to persuade students to abandon their hastily selected majors and join the writing program so they can help us uphold our time-honored tradition of disobeying our parents.
But this semester, something’s gone wrong.
I, a man who is more like Peter Pan than a man, have become the parent, and the students are my disobedient children.
How did this happen?
How is it possible that the lost…
I used to pray a strange prayer:
“Dear God, prune the roots.”
I saw my mind as a magical tree, but I feared it wasn’t mighty enough. What if it’s only a bonsai? I wanted God to go underground, down to the roots and trim them, snip off their tapered decisions to stop reaching, encourage them to dig deeper into the earth.
“But bonsais are so beautiful,” you say.
You’re not wrong. And I love you.
God’s pruning would make the root system vast. Imagine oceans of water sent up and up into the bonsai. It would have a choice…
I was in a small Christian gang at my elementary school. At first glance, you might not have believed we were gang members, but if you looked closely at the twinkle in our eyes, you would have read the message, “We can die at any time. Jesus will catch us. How about you? Do you know who’s catching you?”
That’s a lot to read in a set of eyes. But you could, because we were looking at you for a very long time, staring, willing your salvation. We stared because Christian culture never taught us the rules of eye contact…
In my high school gym class, they taught us how to dance. This was bad of them, having gym. Why is there gym?
If you immediately have an answer for this, you’re part of the problem.
I hated changing in the locker room. Before high school, I’d heard reports that they forced students to shower after gym. My fear lingered. I kept expecting the gym teacher to step into the room or unfold himself out of a locker and say, “Strip.” Those who remained clothed would be undressed violently by the nude and then dragged into the communal shower.
Q: “Do bees have lips?”
A: An excellent question, dear child. Bees do not have lips in the same sense that humans do, rather, they have something called a labial palp that are situated on either side of the proboscis. Here is a picture. I am told children enjoy those:
Q: Why are trees different? A: Trees are different because of the evolution of plants, dating back to the dinosaurs. Trees were actually sporous plants, much like giant ferns, and they were purple as they had not yet developed chlorophyll. Eventually the taller plants began crowding out the big fern plants, and they choked the life out of them by blocking the sun. Now we have deciduous trees and coniferous trees — deciduous trees marking young growth, where there is a lot of space and less competition for sunlight. Once the conifer trees infiltrate, though, they grow taller and blot…
I don’t remember what Brian Dimmit did to me on the playground, but I remember saying, “I hate you.” He must have done something bad. He was capable of bad things. Like this:
I went to his house one time, and we sat at the computer, watching him play a game.
“Can I play?” I said.
“In a minute,” he said. “Watch this.”
I watched it. I watched it for 10 more minutes.
“Can I play now?”
“Hold up,” he said, “I just want to do one more thing.”
He did 24 more things.
“Can I play?”
“Yeah, when I…
I never had time to be a writer. After all, I had my job at the FedEx/Kinko’s, I had church Sundays and Wednesdays, I had dogs to feed and walk, and then there are all the other little chores associated with living.
Who has the time to sit around and write down all their thoughts and feelings and memories? I sure didn’t.
Now all I have is time. Time and the burning desire to leave my mark on the literary world. Unfortunately, breaking into writing as a ghost has proved far more difficult than I thought it would be.