The line advances slowly Jagged and artificial As black as grim night Unending pitch dark She toes the line Tiptoe thin, fragile Spun like spiderwebs Silken in their mean And she dances lean Poetic in her moves Razor-thin and sharp Careful not to fall While the chasm deepens Between warring emotions Churning deep inside The … Continue reading Fissure
It is late evening and we sit together on the couch — she fresh from the bath and in her footie pajamas, me in my voluminous robe. She climbs into my lap and I notice the heavy lids that presage a sleep so deep no one will be able to awaken her for hours, but … Continue reading Tracing Scars
3 days until National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and I have absolutely no idea what my novel is going to be about. Okay, I will edit that statement. I have way too many ideas of what I think my novel should be about, and none of them are strong enough in my mind to drive … Continue reading The 3 Days Conundrum
“Still rock my khakis with a cuff and a crease. Still got love for the streets, repping 213. Still the beat bangs. Still doing my thang. Since I left, ain’t too much changed. Still.” – Dr. Dre, Still D.R.E.
Still (adjective): remaining in place or at rest; motionless; stationary.
When was the last time you stood still, without moving, just stood there thinking whatever thoughts were in your head but not acting on them, just stood there listening to the silence, or the noise, or whatever else was going on around you? It feels good to do that every once in a while, but it gets harder and harder to do in this rapid-paced world in which we live every day of our lives. Even if you don’t live in a major city like Tokyo or Mexico City, it’s difficult to pause the world and its influence long enough to reflect.
And yet, reflection is the most important part of life, thinking about what we do before we do it, while we’re doing it, and after we do it, instead of flitting from one thing to the next with no chance to think about our reasoning or motivation for them. While I was studying possible questions for a job interview a few weeks ago it hit me: it’s tough to figure out, to define, and to verbalize my motivations. I know on a deep level why I do what I do, what my strengths and weaknesses are in a general sense, but how do I bring that up to the surface? Continue reading “Still”
In late summer of 1999 I was on the phone with the lovely people from McDonald’s, telling them the size of shirt I needed, and they were promising me three brand new shirts for my first day working there on the following Monday. Keep in mind I hadn’t really accepted the job at that point, but it was their sign that they were pushing hard to sign me to a long term deal. I felt like Dikembe Mutombo when the Sixers offered him big money to play basketball for them, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to play for the Sixers. McDonald’s wasn’t quite the job I wanted to have on my resume as a 21-year old man who had no designs on working fast food for the rest of his life.
Luckily for me that same day I had an interview with Mr. Gatti’s, a buffet pizza chain with several franchise locations in the Tennessee area. It was my last chance to get out of O’Charley’s, where my hours had dwindled precipitously as the summer tumbled head over heels into autumn. Because I was the only one working, I needed a place that could give me hours and a chance to move up so I could make even more money over the long haul, and I somehow didn’t think McDonald’s was that place. But I was so desperate to get out of O’Charley’s that I was seriously considering it. And then Gatti’s happened.
Funny enough, my first wife and I had just visited the establishment on Kingston Pike for lunch one day and saw the employment sign. I had filled out an application right then and there (back in the time where all applications were still in paper format), but had nearly forgotten about it by the time I received the call from McDonald’s about the shirts. Not less than half an hour later I got a call from Mr. Gatti’s, I went in for the perfunctory interview, and the rest is history. I was happy to call McDonald’s back and let them know they could give those nice new shirts to someone else who wore size XL. Continue reading “I Did What? My Sordid Job History, Volume 8”
I know many others have had it a lot worse than I did growing up. Sure, I lived in a poor part of Southwest Philadelphia, in a row home where I could hear the neighbors whisper if I focused just a little bit. There were drive-bys only a few blocks over, and I realize now just how dangerous the area was back then. But at the time I didn’t think about any of that, and I also honestly didn’t think about the children starving in Ethiopia either, even though my mom always talked about shipping my leftover vegetables there. I didn’t even think about the crack house on the end of the block where Old Leroy would sell his wares, but more often than not just use them himself. We were always warned to stay away from Old Leroy. Instead, what I wondered about more often than anything else was where my father was.
At first it was just like any other family at that time, I guess. It was before the 50+% divorce rate, so if anyone in our school came from a “broken” home it was a huge topic of gossip, but single mother households were on a precipitous rise with more and more women having children out of wedlock. The church frowned on that, and I knew all about it because both of my parents were heavy into the church, my father being a preacher, and my mother a church leader. And at the start our little nuclear family seemed to be just that — containing a nucleus of both parents around which we kids hovered.
Things started to drift into fragments, though, because my dad didn’t have a “home” church. Instead, he was (and is) one of those itinerant preachers who was constantly traveling from church to church, often outside of the city of my birth, and often for long swaths of time. He was also heavily involved in prison ministry so he would be in the jails talking to inmates when he wasn’t doing extensive church tours. That of course left little to no time to continue being a part of the nucleus that helped to keep the family going, and it was obviously very difficult on my mother and on myself and my sister as well.
An old friend of mine from high school sent me a Facebook message a few months ago in which he told me that a man with the last name of McManus had preached an amazing sermon at his church on Saturday, and he asked me if I knew him. Instead of answering his question, I said, “That’s my dad.” Continue reading “Looking For a Father”