Thursday night, out with friends, work tomorrow, no matter. 

Friday morning, have to go to work, last day before a vacation. Hungover.

At least I have leftover halal food to eat for lunch, I think. That’ll be the goal then. Just hold it together until lunch and the halal will bring me home.

Leave home with two bags, halal and a bag of trash to throw out.

Make it through the morning. Lord only knows how hard that was. But it’s lunchtime, I’ve made it.

I open up my bag and what do I find?


Hangovers. Suck


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Of Dogs that Go Straight to the Heart

To love something that’s vulnerable and utterly dependent, some skin needs to be in the game. If you didn’t know, men are 90% armor, their skin and underbelly tucked away in safe obscurity. But for men to love, and love in a pitying kind of way, their soft underside has to be exposed. That’s the only way.

This, more than any other reason, is why my Dad refused, flat-out refused, to get another dog. Dogs have a way in with him. He bathes them, disciplines them, lets them sleep next to him. And dogs gravitate toward him, as if they know instinctively where the heaviest connection resides. I know from stories that my Dad lost a dog when he was younger and I’ve pieced together that this was a trauma he wanted desperately to avoid if he could.

But there were his young children who begged him for a dog, Junior, and he complied. While Junior was in the periphery of my childhood, he was more central to my Dad than he ever let on. He disciplined him, fed him, and bathed him when none of us would. When Junior got old, it was my Dad who took the emotional brunt of it all. While my sister and I disengaged to protect ourselves, my Dad continued to bathe him until Junior’s fur became thin. In the last years, my Dad moved him from our house (out of sight out of mind, for us at least) to his place of work which had a great big lot for Junior to spend his final days running around, enjoying the extra space…just getting to be a dog. My Dad was with him when he died.

In retrospect, I understand now how hard this was for him. But my sister and I were young and soon we were on his case about getting another. No, he said, they stink up the house, they get fur everywhere, they’re just too much of a hassle. His armor was on again, I think, and for all the excuses and flat refusals, what he was really saying was that he couldn’t bear the sliding feeling that ended in a helpless sort of hurt. That pitying love, again.

Instead of waiting for a yes, my sister just went ahead and got a dog, a Cairn terrier she named Dodger, correctly wagering that once he was unavoidably in our family, he’d have to be accepted despite the stink and the mess he made. My Dad’s attitude was predictable. He pretended not to care, distanced himself physically, emotionally from the pup. But we all knew what was happening. Dogs have a way in with him like a straight injection to the heart. It wasn’t long before my sister’s dog became his, a choice the dog seems to have made as well. They’re inseparable even when they sleep.

The underbelly, exposed again, shows us what kind of man he is. Despite the inevitable hurt, he’s given in to the reluctant love of a dependent and vulnerable, pitiful sort of thing.


I bring this up on Father’s Day because his mother is dying. My grandmother spent a lifetime keeping an arm’s distance away from her sons, not out of any animosity, but out of her own brand of love. She would not be a burden. Her sons, my Dad included, were raised to be heads of families, and she would not, after the years spent raising them to be such, undermine them by being an intrusion. So she kept her distance and resolved to live her last days alone to free her sons from a superfluous concern. This was her love, and you and I may not understand it, but its love all the same.

Despite her best efforts though, she lost her ability to walk late last year and with it, her independence, which meant everything to her. She had no choice but to relent. When my parents moved her closer to where they work, I thought of Junior and how the inevitability of decay, of sorrow and eventual loss was not only invited closer, but embraced as that hard mantle of responsibility.

But I can tell you, for my Dad, it’s more than obligation; it’s an innate capacity to absorb and then to endure the fierce intensity of another being’s nakedness. We speak of our fathers in good ways today. My Daddy is so brave or my Daddy so strong or this, that and the other. And while some fathers rush the field of battle, or run into burning buildings, “heroes” so to speak, it’s another thing entirely to watch your father plunge wholly and completely into a gap impossibly dark and deep.

To go out loved is what we want, but maybe we don’t understand what it takes. This requires an otherness that we can’t completely control, someone else to be there at your bedside willing to wash you, bear the stench of death, and confront their own pain, to see you as human still. The dignity you thought you lost is restored in the way they change your bedpan. And while the pain of it is dispersed across all who loved you, someone has to be the cradle that bears the heaviest load, someone who won’t leave.

Quietly, this makes my Dad a hero. To show this kind of love, a pitiful kind of love, not intense like romance, or nurturing like a parent to child, but an enduring one, means that dignity is served in the most ignominious of moments, and death is cheated of its most dehumanizing sting.

For men to love like this, they are exposed, their skin in the open. They’re speared for it, he’s bearing the brunt, believe me, but he’s not going anywhere.

This is how to die loved, and we may not understand yet,

But it’s love all the same.


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True Story (Probably)

I’m pretty sure this is how it happened.

Hey Doug, we have a problem here.

Wha? Something wrong with Stevie?!

No, no he’s fine.

Well then what goddammit? I’m busy.

The back-up dancers…they’re on strike.

 Strike? What do you mean strike?

 I mean they’re not going to be here for the shoot.

 Jesus BOB! We’re shooting the video in half an hour! What the hell am I supposed to do?

 I don’t know Doug. I don’t know.

 Christ…what are we going to tell Stevie? He’s never going to work with us again after this…You know how he is!

Well, what about them?


 Those girls in your office who just sit around all day filing and typing and the rest.

 Bob, those are my secretaries. What exactly are you suggesting here?

 Well, they look young. Maybe they’d like to be in a Stevie Wonder video?

 That may be a good idea, Bob…except there’s only one small problem.

 What’s that?

 They’re about the shittiest dancers I’ve seen in my 49 years. Are you high?!

 Doug, hear me out. I mean…what choice do we have here? Listen…Stevie may not even notice.

They’re not his girls! Of course he’s going to notice.

 No, I mean, just come up with some half-baked story about how we got some new girls…


 And you know, he’s well…you know…

 He’s what Bob?

 Well he’s blind isn’t he?

 Yeah, so?

 So you shoot the thing, tell the girls to do a little jig and…I mean, you tell me how Stevie will ever know the difference?

 This is gotta be the dumbest idea ever. You know you’re going to get me fired right?

 Doug, honestly, what choice do we have right now?

 You have a point there.  SANDY! JESSICA!…ladies, can you come here for a minute? I need to talk to you… 

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Just a Thought

There’s no question this city teaches you a thing or two.

Ever wonder if they’re all the wrong things?

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Mother’s Day Card Circa 1990

M Mom is the best mom in the universe, even Jupiter

O Older then Mrs. Anderson

T Tetherball is my favorit to play at Reces

H Healthy teeth

E Every day she maks a sanwich for lunch time

R Realy good at coking fish

If you’re reading this, (and I know you are even though you promised never to read my blog), you should know that your fish is actually terrible.

But I love you. You’re the best Mom in the universe.

Even Jupiter.


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This Is What I Would Say

This is what I would say, given the chance.

That the mind and heart are constantly in battle but not in the way of competing warlords. They are yin and yang, and depending on the season of life, one takes a larger, more prominent role.

The mind is fairly straightforward. We sharpen and exercise it in the pursuit of our ambitions, whatever those may be. We can flower it in all sorts of ways too and it becomes most muscular when we need to be critical, decisive, and resolute. The mind is both a fortress and our small claim in this world.

The heart is harder to pin down because ownership doesn’t fully belong to us. We’ve heard it said, “Follow your heart”, but where does it lead? It leads to people, inevitably, and we give up our rights to them.

But there are times when the mind intrudes into matters of the heart. It’s the alpha dog in this relationship and sometimes presumes to instruct the heart on the proper ways of living. It knows one way, which is to be independent, closed-off and self-reliant.

But the mind doesn’t understand the heart, it never will. The heart is a muscle and muscles need to be massaged. And the only way to do that is to invite people in; their hands are needed in ways that the mind will never understand. Without it, the heart becomes hard, calcified to the point where it yields to its more muscular and self-reliant partner. It ceases to be the motor which drives us, inspires us, and instead becomes a proxy for our cold and calculating minds.

What I would say, if given the chance, if you were here, is that I need your hands.

Then I’d say…

Right there, that’s the spot.



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You Know What?

Country music IS good!

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