Category Archives: Essay

evitcepsreP yM gnignahC

Changing your evitcepsrep is all about exposing yourself to new views
Changing your evitcepsrep is all about exposing yourself to new views
It’s been a challenge to change my perspective this week.

I’ve been coming at this from one angle since all hell broke loose on Tuesday night.

Finding the negatives lying around on the floor, picking them up, weighing them, and then moving on to the next one.  Continue reading evitcepsreP yM gnignahC

The False Narrative: Good Guys and Bad Guys

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 07:  Yulia Efimova of Russia celebrates winning the first Semifinal of the Women's 100m Breaststroke on Day 2 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on August 7, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 07: Yulia Efimova of Russia celebrates winning the first Semifinal of the Women’s 100m Breaststroke on Day 2 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on August 7, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

I watched a press conference this morning in which “journalists” interviewed Yulia Efimova and Lilly King about their now high-profile Olympic spat.

Except it’s not a spat.

It’s just storytelling, good, old-fashioned storytelling.

But it’s a false narrative, something the Russians excelled at when maniacal tyrents wanted to keep the populace fearfully paralyzed or reactionary enough to turn against their own.

And something that demagogues still use to manipulate our deepest fears and our irrational desires.

Yulia Efimova is not a bad guy.  Continue reading The False Narrative: Good Guys and Bad Guys

The Costs of Coming Home

Eight-Year SojournTurns out you can come home again.

But it will cost you.

What it will cost you is a matter of what you put in to the decision to leave home in the first place.

Did you leave home out of fear? Fear that you’d never amount to anything there. Was it too small to contain you? Constantly running to the edges of town like a Bruce Springsteen song. Was it wanderlust? The kind of wanderlust seeing all the home towns on earth can’t cover.  Continue reading The Costs of Coming Home

The Tin Man seeks a heart

Tin Man
Tin Man

I read a story this week about a woman who moved to Portland, Oregon from New York city and found herself incredibly lonely. Like dangerously lonely.

The better part of my life has been spent pursuing the opposite of loneliness. One of the reasons I moved to Chicago was because I believed that a city with eight million people would be the antidote to loneliness.

At first it is.

You’re surrounded by the cacophony of this human hive. It fairly roars with the constant sound of movement. You can’t look around and not see humans walking somewhere quickly. Nobody meanders in Chicago.

Continue reading The Tin Man seeks a heart

Narcissism and Hubris in the Status Update

the-animal-gladiators-of-hubris-02

The forward-most car on the 5:30 p.m. 303 train from LaSalle Street station in Chicago to Vermont Street in suburban Blue Island is ungodly noisy.

It has a screech not unlike a large dying animal when the car shifts from left to right as it slowly leaves the station.

But it doesn’t impede the conversation that occurs between the long-time commuters of the forward-most car on train 303.

They all know each other and have for a long time.

They greet each other with hugs and ask after loved ones they know by name.

When I found my way to the forward-most car on train 303, I was lonely and growing bitter commuting in from the Chicago suburbs every weekday.

Continue reading Narcissism and Hubris in the Status Update

A Good Kind of Pain

A_baseball_and_gloveLast night I had a catch with my middle boy.

He’s 13 now, and we’ve had catches in the spring most years that he’s been able to hold a baseball in one hand. Well, maybe with the exception of those two years we lived in Alaska. I think maybe the weather kept us from having a real catch until technical summer.

We lined up with my back to the grill, where I could sneak over and turn the chops in between throws. He was out toward the southern fence.

The first throw hit my glove right in the palm, where the leather is thin, and your palm can really feel the contours of the ball.

It popped, loudly, with that pleasurable sound of leather on leather that sound equivalent of  the smell of fresh-cut-grass or peanuts or cheap beer and hot dogs.

The sound of baseball.

Continue reading A Good Kind of Pain

Does modesty really make men behave better?

Fire Island Nude Beach
Fire Island Nude Beach

The first breasts I remember seeing as an adolescent child belonged to a Finnish woman who was sitting across from my brother and me in a sauna in the bowels of a Swedish ferry that was carrying us across the Gulf of Bothnia.

Though I was raised in Europe until the age of 7, my parents had moved our family back to the United States, where nudity was relegated to hidden colonies and Playboy magazines.

We visited friends in Austria on that same trip, and they invited us down to the local swimming pool for an afternoon in the water.

To our astonishment, the two teenage girls in the group disrobed in front of us, quickly pulling on swimsuits in a practiced and efficient manner.

They were not the least bit ashamed, but my brother and I, red-faced with eyes cast directly at the ground for fear of getting caught looking, took the time to find the bathrooms, where we changed into swimsuits as modestly as we could.

What was natural and normal to me in Europe had become a great mystery to me in the United States.

After reading a recent blog post by a woman who gave up wearing leggings because she doesn’t want to contribute to men thinking lustful thoughts about her body, I started thinking about the idea of what is really at fault in our society when it comes to nudity and sex.

Continue reading Does modesty really make men behave better?

Charlie is us

Charlie Brown

I spent one summer working in a print shop in Santa Rosa, California.

My cousins owned the shop in partnership with my uncle, and they were gracious enough to host me for the summer and allow me to make a little money while attempting to learn the family trade.

I was a better production assistant than a press operator, which required some mechanical and engineering skills.

So I collated, packaged, invoiced and made deliveries in a beat-up old GMC truck with a hydraulic clutch. Which proved very interesting when I had to make deliveries in downtown San Francisco.

My favorite delivery, by far, was to the house of one Charles M Schulz, who lived and worked in Santa Rosa.

I only ever met the man on a handful of occasions, dealing mostly with his assistant or his wife, but I was as enamored of his celebrity as anyone I had ever met personally at that point in my life. Which I think included the actor Craig T Nelson and Pope John Paul II.

Continue reading Charlie is us

You Can Hack This Life. But Should You?

http://www.menlivingwithmeaning.com/l/training/

My feeds are constantly full of great life hacks.

50 Life Hacks to Make Your Life Easier

99 Life Hacks to Make Your Life Easier 

10 Essential Ways to Hack Your Life

1000 Life Hacks

And that’s just the first four of more than 28 million results for the search query “how to hack this life.”

As my two boys walk through their teenage years, I’ve been thinking about the loss of the rites of passage rituals that defined the jump from boyhood to manhood for so much of human history.

Good or bad, these tests offered boys the chance to pass through their worst fears, through struggle and pain and indecision alone and without aid.

Which, in and of itself, is an interesting concept.

You see, life as we know it today is actually a great hack.

Continue reading You Can Hack This Life. But Should You?

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.

Continue reading The Narrative