Off Topic, Sometimes

It's been a while since I wrote about not writing. I've been trying to break some tics and habits, but this one might be worth holding on to. Periodically I hit something of a wall. For those of you haven't been reading me for very long, you should know that I don't believe in writer's block. I believe in writing when it doesn't feel good, when inspiration is a deadline or a weird sort of fear that, if you don't write, the magic, what little there is, will leave you with nothing. I've been … [Read more...]

An Open Letter to Salon and Molly McCluskey — UPDATED

Dear Salon Editors and Molly (if I may), I read your article, "My Steubenville," with great personal interest. Before I get to that, let me clarify one key term for you. The word 'Steubenville,' in this case, is like the word 'bat.' To bat your eyes at someone is different from swinging a bat or throwing a dead bat at someone. See? The same word actually refers to very different things. I suppose you could bat your eyes while swinging a bat at a bat that someone threw at you, but even then … [Read more...]

A Hot Mess: Marriage, Derrida, Nabokov, and Whatnot

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I don't really understand what the same sex marriage hullabaloo is about. I can understand it at a personal, anecdotal level. I know a great many people who are upset and concerned and animated about this issue. But I do not have a clear grasp of what is really going on. As a Roman Catholic, I understand marriage as a sacrament. I'm not even sure what it means to be "married" outside of the sacrament of marriage. I guess filing taxes is the only place where it makes some concrete sense to … [Read more...]

BREAKING NEWS: USCCB to Think About HHS Amendment Sanely and Without the Advice of Drudge, Huff Post, or Alike

February 1, 2013 --- In a shocking press release, United States Conference of Bishops made several unexpected moves in response to the Obama administration's proposed modifications to the HHS mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, known by many as Obamacare. In a brief three-sentence memo, Cardinal Timothy Dolan implied a number of cryptic, esoteric, and ridiculous things. Two of the three sentences were particularly disconcerting to American Catholics: We welcome … [Read more...]

Space, and not being smart in an e-mail.

Sorry, readers. The end of the month is usually the time when I'm trying to meet all the end of the month deadlines that I should've started to work on a month or more ago. I'm swamped. In the meantime, here's an e-mail I just sent to my Foundations of Educational Thought class. You might find it interesting. Some context: I often assign an infamous first paper where students must describe the word 'word' in one page. The better way to put the prompt is like this. Describe the following … [Read more...]

A Tale of Three Cubicles (full length)

Part One I was first assigned to the beam-cutting station, but I asked to be reassigned. I wanted to weld. It seemed honorable and I wanted to be somebody. But I guess no ones asks to be a welder once they get to the cutting stations. I was given the materials: gloves, sleeves, apron, mask. I needed boots. No tennis shoes. I don't recall the details or the exact time, but I passed an initial inspection of some kind. I was first assigned to be a go-fer, which sucked. I took naps and wasted a … [Read more...]

“One Pop Harem,” a bedtime story by Sam and Sam

Another "former student and present friend" (I've been blessed with several of them) and I wrote a book of poetry together last year, entirely by accident, in a dialogue written on paper plates, serenaded by the music of Spencer Ellliott. We transcribed the poems and interviews, edited them, and self-published the collection as a chapbook: Poems by Sam and Sam. I consider it the best thing of mine in print to date. We're going to co-author another, much longer book this spring: Distance … [Read more...]

A Tale of Three Cubicles, Part III

Part I Part II The opening details are mostly unimportant. The hiring process was convoluted and indirect. I quit my job at Target to work closer to where we lived, working on an IT project for Medtronic Corporation, as a consultant for another middle-man corporation. I had to get hired by both of them. Still an hourly employee, but making ten dollars more per hour. My official title, which I only learned after a week or two on the job, was something along the lines of a "coordinator." Most … [Read more...]

A Tale of Three Cubicles, Part II

Part I. Bilingual Benefits Representative. That seemed pretty good. What was it? Target Corporation, corporate headquarters. Sounded important enough. Fourteen dollars an hour, plus ten percent off at Target stores and lots of perks to rent limousines and go watch WMBA games. (I did both.) I was teaching Spanish. 26k a year before deductions. With my commute and everything else I was beginning to feel like Tolstoy's Ivan Ilych: underpaid and under-appreciated. Unlike Ilych, I actually was … [Read more...]

New Year’s Eve

I spent New Year's Eve with a buddy from college. We weren't super close while enrolled, but we knew each other. He was a little older and I had a bad reputation. We somehow ended up in the Twin Cities afterwards and became good friends. I sang and played at his wedding, we recorded music together and played terrible golf at a nine-hole course. He's a genius or something --- understands how things work and can replicate that sense of things in craftwork, computation, and the fine arts. He … [Read more...]


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