In my experience, fathers tend to fall into two general camps. There are the dads so preoccupied with their own interests and careers and financially supporting their families that they rarely interact with their kids. Then there are the dads who strive for an active role in their children’s lives: They change their diapers and teach them sports, counsel them as they grow up, and worry about their futures.
But then again, imagine a father who would write an operetta for his children, with parts for each to sing to fend off homesickness when they’re far from home. In the…
There are some things you should understand about this man, the man who fathered me:
He looks like almost every other baby ever born: red-faced, hairless, eyes closed. His cries pierce the quiet country desolation and scatter among the last brittle oak leaves of winter. Spring is coming.
Middle child syndrome. Somewhere among the cows and the chickens, the last of the hogs and two stray dogs. Not as pious as the eldest, a daughter, nor as charming as the youngest, another son. Poor eyesight and a buzz cut. Nothing special, really.
Pulls a knife on the kid at school…
People typically shut down when someone talks for more than 40 seconds. I’d recently read that from Mark Goulston, author of Just Listen, and this past weekend I had a firsthand experience of it.
My houseguest, someone I didn’t know very well, turned out to be quite the talker. As we sat together after dinner his verbal stream of consciousness washed over me, and I wondered when he might pause to take a breath. He didn’t.
I felt myself shutting down, losing interest not just in listening to him but also in saying anything. The nonstop talking continued at breakfast…
I had always wanted to cook, but my first kitchen, no more than a 6-foot-by-6-foot linoleum-tiled square in my tiny walk-up apartment, stopped me from cooking anything more than couscous salad and the occasional batch of pumpkin muffins. I had always longed for a green thumb, but my first garden was a strip of shady, rocky soil, so I halfheartedly planted a few pansies and basil plants and waited patiently for another house that would have a garden with direct sun. I had always wanted to write, but I didn’t have a room of my own.
For a long time…
It is the curse of the humanist to want all the laws of science to apply to people too. I confess to being cursed in that way. A few years ago, when I was researching my novel Weather Woman and was reading a lot of science, I became captivated by the theory of entanglement, which refers to the idea that once two particles have interacted they thereafter always respond in relationship to one another, even when far apart. In a 1935 paper, Albert Einstein called the phenomenon “spooky action at a distance.”
I’ve been happy since November. Yes, I understand that happiness is a subjective concept. I know that it’s not the end-all, be-all in life. I absolutely get that it’s only been six months which shouldn’t even be that big of a deal. But it is to me, dammit.
“That seems long. Mine doesn’t take long at all.”
I put my feet on your dashboard, sand and beach tar between my toes; we are old friends.
You pull out a Marlboro and fumble in your pocket for your lighter, holding the steering wheel with your knees. “Don’t,” I say, reaching out for the wheel, nodding toward my child in the backseat. You nod and drop the cigarette out of your lips to your lap and grin at me. “Fine, but only for you.”
“Not for me,” I say.
“For him, because he is yours,” you say.
“Yes, but also for you.”
I’ve been trying to save you for…
A few years ago, when I was dating the woman who’s now my wife, I cooked dinner in her home and was looking for a knife to chop vegetables. She said to try the top drawer near the stove. When I opened it, I found a knife all right—along with a hammer, screwdrivers, a tape measure, a chunk of string, a small tube of glue, and lots of other stuff.
Her house was tidy; everything arranged just so — the plants, the artwork, all the little touches. Every day, she made the bed, pillows arranged symmetrically. But when I opened…
It was 1987, my freshman year at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The First Intifada had just begun. Young Arabs with keffiyehs around their necks stood at a long table near the cafeteria’s exit, a Palestinian flag hanging behind them.
“Sign the petition! Free Palestine!”
They terrified me; I walked by as fast as I could. To me, a keffiyeh stood for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and Palestinians weren’t human beings, they were terrorists. Right in front of me, in real life.
I wasn’t alone. The main student cafeteria, the Marvin Center, had its own imaginary Green…
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