The Narrative

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 12.17.16 PMWe’re all suckers for great storytelling.

It’s what we’ve been doing for the better part of 10,000 years.

We’re either telling or listening. We’re attuned to the narrative of our existence as interpreted by others and broadcast back to us in one form or another.

It’s how we understand one another. It’s also how we fail to understand one another. The subtleties of our lives lost in translation, as it were.

We look for the narrative in everything. Seeking it like truth or a map legend or a rubric.

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The Art of Staying In Bed All Day

in-bed-all-dayWe stayed in bed all day watching Netflix movies and reading books in between the movies.

Call it recovery from our first big house party in a few years, where we dipped into the cellar and made like Jesus, serving the best last late into Saturday night and early Sunday morning.

I got up and made breakfast for the friends who stayed until the bitter end and then stayed the night.

We ate omelettes with leftover pulled pork and sharp cheddar cheese with salsa and avocado. I made them strong coffee, and we watched some television together before they left for their Sunday activities.

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The Blacksmith

BlacksmithI stopped in to the bar on my way home from work to finish up a couple of emails.

Bringing work home with me, especially work that stresses me out, is against whatever rules I’ve set up for myself.

I ordered an IPA from Michigan and sat sipping the thick, frothy top off a malty, hoppy bomb of a beer minding my own business.

I know the owner, Dave, well, and we shot the shit for a little while, as we do. I got the lay of the beer board and finished up my emails.

For a few minutes, I sat there, silently, just soaking in the dark wood, the sounds of the pin ball games and Operation Ivy’s “Unity” playing on the sound system.

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The lost art of intentionality

Parents and two teenagers watching television

The smartphone has changed our lives.

Many would argue that it’s for the better.

Some work argue that it’s for the worse.

But all agree that this little piece of technology has truly changed our behaviors.

I’ve been analyzing my own behavior recently, in light of the many articles I’ve read bout the impact of small screens on our lives.

How our brains are different when we read paper than they are when we read on screens.

How we’ve lost our ability to focus on one task or project at a time.

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The Two Graces

http://www.columbusmuseum.org/blog/collection/the-two-graces/
The Two Graces – Oil on canvas – by Odilon Redon

This is one of those weeks or, rather, two-week stretches that we don’t have any time designation for, but you learn to dread them when you’re not in the midst of one of them.

My wife worked 10-days straight at a mismanaged Starbucks, and it left some scars.

The younger kids had a half day of school on Friday, and they made plans, but the oldest had school all day, so they had to cancel their plans, which made for a miserable dinner table conversation on Thursday.

There are nights where our robust family dinner-table discussions descend into a circus only Fellini could appreciate.

Lest you think we’re any more put together than you are.

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Death of a small woodland animal

http://www.mcglinch.com/blog/2007/06/request-doodle-dead-squirrel-ascending.html

The screams started as I sat down to write in the three-season room off the back of our new rental house.

It was lower in tone than a cicada, but it had that constant humming quality to it that made it unbearable, like a low-grade headache.

I scanned the yard to see if I could spot where the sound was coming from, but I didn’t notice anything.

It continued for several minutes and then fell silent.

There was noticeable relief when it ended. I felt physically better somehow.

I cracked my knuckles and went to work on a short story that I was struggling to end shortly.

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When the characters in your imagination meet their movie versions

http://wallpaperweb.org/wallpaper/games/harry-potter-and-the-sorcerers-stone_29750.htm

My daughter still wants me to read to her every night.

It is one of the great joys of my life.

She’s a great reader, tied for top in her class and competitive in a way I didn’t really expect, always asking to go another level up.

She likes the way I do the characters, with accents and growls and stutters.

We’ve moved on from her toddler books into the big world of pop cultural literature. When we moved recently, I found myself with two boxes of books to donate to Goodwill. When I opened the box to peek inside, I found all my favorites there. “Goodnight Moon,” “Curious George,” “Go, Dog. Go!” “Where the Wild Things Are,” and many more.

These books are books I’d proudly keep on my shelves next to my Hemingway, Vonnegut, Maclean, Harrison and Bulgakov.

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Losing the Scent

http://www.nexos.com.mx/?p=15393

I’ve always joked with people that if I were to develop a life-threatening allergy to seafood, I would settle my affairs, go to my kitchen and whip up a batch of bouillabaisse the likes of which the world has never seen before, pour myself a big glass of some fine, French wine and enjoy a divine last meal.

When I went vegetarian for four years during my early 30s, I couldn’t give up seafood, such is my love for the bounty of the oceans.

I learned to cook from watching my grandmothers and my mother work their magic in their respective kitchens over my lifetime. Through their bloodlines flowed thousands of years of shared knowledge. I loved the way they knew where in the cooking process they were by the smells and the colors or the feel. Cooking was a sensory experience, it wasn’t book learning.

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The Optics of Ice Water

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My boss likes to use a particular phrase when she talks about presenting new ideas.

She often tells me to “think about the optics.”

Optics means, among other things, the way an event or course of action is perceived by the public.

Sometimes when you’re enveloped in a project or an event, you get caught up in the details, and it’s difficult to think about the optics.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the optics of ice water.

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The Middle Children of History

(Photo by Sander van der Wel)

My uncle Peter killed himself when I was 15-years-old.

It still haunts me 25 years later.

I’ve never really gotten over his death, because as a family, we never really discussed it.

This was in part our Ukrainian culture and the superstitions that came over the ocean with my grandparents, partly our religious beliefs and partly my age at the time.

All I ever really knew about the circumstances that led to his death was that he was a lonely man, in spite of having a loving, supportive family and that he struggled with depression.

Last week an old friend and former colleague from my newspaper days in Missoula, Montana, the indefatigable humorist, baseball lover and writer of Fatuous Twaddle, Jaime Kelly, ended his life in his car in a park in Missoula.

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"THE WORLD BREAKS EVERYONE, AND AFTERWARD, SOME ARE STRONG AT THE BROKEN PLACES." – HEMINGWAY