Category Archives: The Bad


I’m not a great feminist like I’m not a great father.

But I try.

I don’t like the word ally, even though I understand it and want to be what it implies.

What I am is male. A white male, in fact, living at the height of my species’ dominance and the pinnacle of my sexs’ power.

Entitlement isn’t a concept or a designation you either fall into or you don’t, if you’re white, male and living in America, you’re entitled.

Here I am, writing about myself. When what I intended to write about was women. Continue reading Sex-ism

Art in a time of darkness

marvel-dc-and-the-art-of-darkness-8I have been frustrated for a long time.

As long as I can remember, in fact.

In my youth, I listened to angry music to feel something.

In my early 20s, I rebelled against the politics of the evangelical conservatism I was raised in.

In my 30s, I was too tired to remember what I was frustrated by, but it was there underneath the surface and in the music I listened to with my headphones in the garage on Saturdays when I had a few minutes to myself.

Now I’m in my 40s, and the frustration is out in the open, where I wear it plainly.  Continue reading Art in a time of darkness

The Lucky Hat

I went for a walk at half time and smoked a cigar.

It wasn’t a victory cigar.

It was a cigar of reflection.

I kept telling myself it’s only a game. It’s only a game. It’s only a game.

When I was good and cold, I walked back into my neighbors’ house to take a peek into that crystal ball and see what the future held.

The future still looks bleak.

It looks big and physical. Not pretty, just tough and gritty and textbook playbook. The way football has been played for more than a century.

Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Continue reading The Lucky Hat

Death of a small woodland animal

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.

Continue reading Death of a small woodland animal

Losing the Scent

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.

Continue reading Losing the Scent

Bloody Moon

Bloody moon scared me to death as a kid
along with nuclear war and apartheid

Or maybe I hated the idea instead, like
the Rapture and being left behind

Four fears and an apocalypse to keep me
awake all night and praying for a soul

All of the signs and then some to dwell on
For Sunday mornings and Sunday’s school

Israel and promises too numerous to keep
let alone remember or even understand

My world in a prophecy, life shortened
all hope in the hereafter, the after life

After everything else there is tomorrow
but you never really know until then

Until after the stars fall from your skies
and the moon turns red, red like blood

The two deaths

Phillip Seymour Hoffman
Phillip Seymour Hoffman

The first was an unfortunate accident, the second an unfortunate circumstance.

Each death somehow invaded my normally tepid and still pond of existence. Their announcements left me cold and my waters troubled.

I don’t mean to trivialize the other deaths which have impacted my life.

My uncle took his own life, dear friends gone too soon and the inevitable loss of grand parents.

Each left a life-sized crater in my heart.

But on the outside of the womb of family, there are satellite deaths that occur with some regularity, enough, in fact, to disrupt our normal orbit.

Continue reading The two deaths

Life after undefeated

By Tim Akimoff

Within 20 minutes of the end of an undefeated streak, your blood pressure, pulse rate and temperature return to normal. 

After 8 hours, the remaining competitiveness in your bloodstream has fallen to 3.25 percent of normal. After 48 hours, damaged nerve endings start to regrow and your sense of finality and despair begins to melt away. 

In 5-8 days after the first loss, the average fan of a formerly undefeated college football team will encounter short bouts of regretful hysteria, but it is unlikely that any episode lasts longer than 3 minutes at a time. 

Within 10 days of suffering a catastrophic loss, the average fan of a formerly undefeated team is down to 1 or possibly 2 bouts of nausea-inducing regret and bitterness a day. 

By two weeks, your risk of heart attack has dropped substantially, and your lung capacity and voice control have improved to pre-football season levels. 

After 8 weeks, nearly all evidence of physical suffering from a single loss on your formerly undefeated college football team has disappeared. However, doctors warn that if your team lost late in the season, then there is a crucial window of time wherein the severely flawed BCS can bring symptoms back to fatal proportions, especially in a scenario where other one loss teams are picked ahead of your team for bowl consideration. Doctors warn that recovering from a second round of this type of stress can last as long as hockey season. 

Life after undefeated is a tough time for any sports fan, but it seems in college football these days, it’s particularly stressful as teams jockey for position by dominating lesser opponents for 5, 6, 7 and even 8 games into the season before finally testing their true ability against worthy opponents. 

I, for one, rather enjoy the less pressured idea of the NFL, where a team with even 5 losses can make the playoffs and even the Super Bowl.

For 9 years I’ve watched my Oregon Ducks get tantalizingly close to the National Championship. Within a field goal, in fact. 

My wife said Stanford got in their heads the last two years, as the Ducks have dropped two-in-a-row, late-in-the-season, to dash their national title hopes. Stanford got in my head the last two years. Like two kids from two different schools. One is middle class and the other comes from money. They are essentially equal, playing to their individual strengths and weaknesses. Yet one will always win, like Malfoy tormenting Potter through seven books. 

At some point I must give up this pointless obsession with a national championship, and I suppose this is the year. Next year we’ll have a playoff system, and there is a chance that at least a few of the top schools will have a better shot at playing for it all.

For now, I’m still suffering short bouts of regretful hysteria and nausea-inducing regret and bitterness. Looking forward to the 8-week mark. 


A prayer for the disaffected, the unencumbered of employment and the aimless wanderer

I started working a “real” job when I was 16. I worked most of the way through high school and began full time work in the summer of 1994, when I took a job with a construction company in Salem, Oregon.

There have been a few gaps in my working life since then.

The last six weeks have been the longest and most stressful moments I can remember in recent history.

Of course that’s not saying much. My memory lives in a Google search algorithm now.

On Friday I’ll get a paycheck for the first time in six weeks. To go back, we didn’t really have a nest egg or an emergency plan in place since we purchased our house a year ago and it ate up anything we did have saved up.

In six weeks we lived off Cheryl’s earnings at Applebees until she left at the end of October. We lived off the sale of various household items we needed to get rid of for our move to Anchorage, and we lived off the sale of our second car.

What amazes me is the fact that we made it through a very rough spot. Families are like small countries. They’re not easy to run, and they cost twice as much as you think they should to run.

But it wasn’t the money that helped us get through. It merely smoothed out a rough road. It was the friendships, prayers, thoughts and words of wisdom provided by some very dear friends and family.

And I mean those who really understood how hard it was at times.

It’s very easy to say, “I knew things would work out for you,” from the comfort of your reinstated 401k, salaried and glass-enclosed comfort zone.

I know it’s difficult to empathize with people in difficult situations at times and that it is sometimes hard to know what to say. But saying that “you’re so talented, I knew it wouldn’t take you long to find a job,” has all the Halmark ring of a belated get-well card when you’re trying to figure out how to make a $500 stretch for you-don’t-know-how-long.

And I’d be over it, but I have a few friends who are still in the same boat I was rescued from recently. Adrift with few prospects, it’s easy to throw them an, “I know you’ll find something soon,” as you walk up the gangplank of your hallelujah boat.

Lord, help me to remember what it’s like to walk through the dark times so that I may never forget those who are walking the same pathways today and tomorrow. Help me be a light to those who are downtrodden and suffering. Let me not look over the edge of dispair and offer nothing more than words with half meanings. Let me remember the dark places so that I may be used to help guide others along the way. Make me a mapmaker, a cartographer of sorts. Let my experiences, both good and bad, serve as a book, a story, a route to follow. As much as I prayed for guidance and the clean foot prints of others to follow. Let me leave my own behind.