A Tale of Three Cubicles, Epilogue

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Part I Part II Part III I was destined for the collar. Everyone seemed to see that, and believe it, too. Fr. O'Malley, the priest who converted my father and baptized me, would take me out for a steak dinner sometimes. He'd always say, "When you're a priest, you can eat steak everyday." That stuck. I love to eat. I felt obligated to say that I wanted to be a priest when I grew up. Not sure why, but I knew there was no firefighting in my future. I was a devout and precise altar server … [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...]

A Tale of Three Cubicles, Part I

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 lot of time. … [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...]

Education, The Craft of Desire

There is a universal and inextricable relationship between desire and belief. This relationship contains and reveals the natural, religious, and erotic order of things. It is no surprise, then, that New Atheists are today's fiercest defenders of religious belief in their evangelical zeal, straw-man debates, and group therapy sessions. Echo chambers. No, I'm not going to spell this out to the predictably irritable vigilantes out there. I simply want to point out two well-known facts … [Read more...]

Those Immune to Violence Arm and Disarm

My late Tio "Manino" (short for Marcelino) had an bottle of Mexican brandy beside his recliner. Presidente. He was well into his eighties, past his drinking prime, so I asked what it was for. He replied that, with all the break-ins and robberies and murders that were commonplace in his neighborhood, especially ones targeting the elderly, he had come up with a strategy: if a thug entered his small trailer-house he'd tell him there's nothing to be stolen, nothing of value, but he'd invite the … [Read more...]

Beso, Abrazo y Ternura

(A note to English readers: this begins a series of Spanish-language essays I will post here weekly.) Pregunta: ¿Que puede ofrecer la cultura Hispana a la Iglesia Católica en los Estados Unidos? Respuesta: Cultura. En el sentido biológico, una “cultura” nace de proximidad y tiempo. Lo que nos falta en los Estados Unidos es el prójimo, la persona que se besa, abraza y ama porque la vida siempre se acaba. La persona que aparece en proximidad. Esta intimidad, tan ausente en … [Read more...]

I Miss My Brother: A Sports Memoir

ESPN is the world's best worst psychic. Always looking ahead to the next story, inventing news before it doesn't happen. Masters of straw-man stories, written in tortured prose. Convenient virtual foils to what transpires in reality. They build their own surprises and punchlines. Sometimes garbage, other times a stretch, and occasionally --- and this is why I read them --- too fun to not play along with. Thoroughly amusing. A few weeks ago they speculated on very speculative speculations that … [Read more...]

Faith and Food

Holy Cross Catholic Church, Minneapolis, MN

Happy Year of Faith, everyone! On Monday, I think I raised some eyebrows when I expressed my fear of Latinos becoming "white." For the record: as proud and attached as I am to my Texican Hispanic heritage, I wouldn't mind being any number of other ethnicities --- so long as they're Catholic. (As I've pointed out, until recently, Catholics have been excluded from being considered white.) My fear is not principally racial; it is cultural and religious. Catholic culture is what I treasure … [Read more...]


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