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Showing posts from 2009

Painted Canyon, Mecca California

The rocks in the dry riverbed sand were clear. They pointed to the left. Phil and I simply didn't think it was referring to the direction we were supposed to take. We didn't think much about the arrow at all. Our conversation went something like this: "Oh look! An arrow!" "Give me the camera. I'll take a picture of it." We continued up the riverbed of Painted Canyon and didn't think twice about all the people we passed going the opposite direction until we spotted a ladder scaling up a stripe of white rocks on the side of the canyon walls. We decided to ask for directions from the next group that passed us. The couple seemed confused about how we'd gotten there. "We just walked up the dry riverbed," we explained. "You didn't climb up the ladders?" they asked us. "You didn't come up Ladder Canyon? Did you see that big arrow in the sand?" For some reason they couldn't understand that neither

The Dude in Front of Trader Joe's

If and when I have kids I want to teach them to give money to the people who stand on the outside of grocery stores: the girl scouts selling cookies, the Santa Claus bell ringer, the homeless shelter volunteer. I want my kids to have a heart for people and not money. I’ve heard that the things you practice yourself are the things your kids will most likely learn from you, so I decided it was time to start practicing. On the way into Trader Joe’s today, I remembered to grab a fistful of change and shove it in my pocket. It was probably only 80 cents, and I saw two opportunities as I approached the sidewalk: a woman with a homeless shelter money box and man with a sign that read, “Trying to get home. Please help. God bless.” Without making up my mind about anything I made eye contact with the sign man and asked him what the deal was. He told me a very colorful story about how he was from West Virginia and had come out to California to find his lost father, and now he was trying to

Jacob and Me

Jacob and I were beyond hopscotch, hide-and-seek, rubber-band gun wars, and Tiddly Winks. At ages 9 and 7 we knew that the best games were the ones we invented, and that was how Computer Battles evolved: a game of plotting and clever talk. In the protection of our separate rooms, which doubled as bases, we made plans to destroy each other with the help of our imaginary multi-functional computers. The action proceeded as follows. Jacob: “My computer made some bombs, and I’m hiding them outside your base."            Me: “Then my computer built a video camera that sees you."            Jacob: “But I saw you, so now I’m going to blast your cameras.”             Me: “Well, my cameras have shields around them.”             Jacob: “But my gun has special blasters that can destroy your shields.”            Me: “But my shields are rubber so your blasters bounce off them.”           Jacob:  “Your computer can’t build that kind of shield; you have to go to the store to

A Live Coal in the Sea

William Langland: “But all the wickedness in the world which man may do or think is no more to the mercy of God than a live coal dropped in the sea.” Does a day come for everyone when they realize that their parents are just people or do some never find out and keep expecting their parents to be super human? I suppose for some—those whose mothers drink, whose fathers sexually abuse, whose parents have affairs and divorce—I suppose the children of these parents find out the truth all too soon. They learn from the beginning that dad doesn’t keep his promises; that mom only cares about herself; that their parents don’t provide or protect. Shall I call these children the poor in spirit because they understand from a young age that mom and dad aren’t the source of love, peace, and safety? Shall I even go so far as to call them blessed? Them? With their distrust of men and homosexual inclinations and insatiable craving for human affection? Shall I call the abused blessed? True, some s

February Finds

The Camilia bushes have been shedding their blossoms like my parent’s plum tree in August, and the blossoms are no less messy than the fallen overripe plums, which congeal with the gravel on hot summer days. Spring fever is spreading through the seventh and eighth graders, and the teachers know this is equivalent to a rainy or blustery day in the classroom. The boys are now competing for the title of class clown. They compete with uncalled for comments most of the time, but sometimes the competition includes bent paperclips, the automatic pencil sharpener, a re-shaped coat-hanger (where did the little brute get that one, certainly not from the teacher’s supply room), a foot-long pen, paper mache finger extensions, rubber bands, the occasional cell phone, and dissected pens rebuilt as rocket launchers. I must not be giving the little animals enough activities to occupy their time. I don’t hesitate to take away their gadgets and put them up for sale—the price is a few bonus tally stick

"7 In a Boat"

PART 1: The Upper Room at Nightfall INTRO/ED: The following events happened, and while we have no way of knowing whether or not they happened in this way, human nature hasn’t change in 2000 years, and so… they might have happened like this. (PETER, JAMES, and JOHN are waiting to meet with the disciples. PETER is rapidly pacing the length of the room, looking out the window, looking at his watch, impatiently. JOHN is staring whimsically at nothing with a pad of paper and a pencil in his hands. JAMES is fixing a fishing net.) PETER: I said just before dusk, didn’t I? Then how come no one’s here yet? Last time I checked, dusk was right after the sun set, not when it’s pitch dark. JAMES: (Not phased) They’ll get here. PETER: Oh yes. Andrew will be on time. I’m surprised he isn’t here already. (Looks around) Nate will be on time and Philip too; he’s a fast walker, but the others don’t understand time. They think dusk is midnight. This isn’t Egyptian time; this isn’t even Roman tim