Showing posts from 2014


Somehow, nearly fourteen years ago, my wife saw a happy, healthy, 175-pound runner hiding beneath the 235-pound, combative, chain-smoking mess I was.  I am not sure how she saw it, either the fitness or the happiness, but she did, and with the help of running she saved me. 

That might sound a bit dramatic, but consider this:  I smoked a pack and a half a day.  I was drinking every day, often alone in my apartment, a six pack on any given night.  My favorite meal was a meatball sub with extra cheese, a full-size bag of chips, and a king-size Snickers.  Dessert (the Snickers was considered a side dish) was an entire pint of Ben and Jerry's.  I had an ego that pressed against the walls, a temper that stalked back and forth inside my chest, and a deep empty feeling despite what others saw as a successful life.  I argued with vehemence on subjects I did not know or care much about, simply because I enjoyed a fight.  I was angry at the world and had a sense of self-worth that left me ho…

An Open Letter to New Fathers

Dear New Father,

I am home from work today with my eight-year-old son who is currently in his thirteenth hour of vomit.  A little while ago, as I was helping him wipe his ass, yellow rubber gloves up to my elbows, I got to thinking, and wanted to share a few things I have picked up over the course of his young life. If you are expecting a child of your own, good luck buddy. Wave goodbye, my friend. Life as you have known it is over. Welcome to the world's strangest club.

Just over two months after closing on a new house, my first son was born.  Buying a house was nothing.  Fatherhood.  Now that is panic.  That really exposed me, like a doomsday prepper caught without his surgical mask and duct tape.  Just look at my face in that picture.  That was about ten minutes into his new life; the nurses were still taking care of everything.  But look, and you can see the fear, the bewilderment, the disbelief...that and the grin on my father's face.  "This is going to be hilarious,&…

Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

I have just finished teaching Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird to the seventy ninth-graders I have in class this year.  I love teaching that book.  I love it because it allows me to talk with thirteen and fourteen year-olds about what it means to stand up for beliefs despite overwhelming odds being stacked against you.  I love it because of the righteous indignation my students feel when Jem and Scout are stunned into silence by Tom Robinson's guilty verdict.  I love it because it presents an obvious miscarriage of justice, a tragic example of the failings of our justice system when prejudice overpowers prudence, when ignorance controls indictment. 

Tom Robinson's innocence is so obvious it is painful.  The injury to his left arm makes him physically incapable of committing the crime he is accused of committing; the testimony of his accusers is filled with glaring inconsistencies and contradictions.  Students gasp out loud when they read; they make angry annotations in …