The Eaters

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A story is a restaurant. Readers are hungry, hungry hippos. Tension’s the food and drink.

The beasties arrive, yank open the lobby doors, and if they don’t smell some rub-a-dub-grub right away, they’re gone. But they cannot live on nose alone. Chase their sniffings by sending out a server to strut past with a tray of steaming morsels for eye-feasting. Continue reading

Worm Dieth Not

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My son Sawyer and I walk to meet the school bus. Yesterday, he said,

“School is not my thing.”
“What is your thing?” I said.
“Summer.”

One day I told Sawyer “Time for homework,” and he said, “I don’t work. I play!”

G flagHe needed me to understand his true profession.

I remember my own march away from play. I wondered what work I would do. For a time I thought, I’ll be like dad and do computer stuff. But I didn’t understand what my father did. I still don’t. My sister’s friend thinks dad is a spy.

Maybe that’s what I meant when I wanted to work with computers. I meant, “I want to be a spy.” Continue reading

A Monster, Free and Full

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A youth minister man came to my school and talked about fear. He focused on the horror most of us would feel if circumstances or an enemy or we ourselves exposed our secret imperfectionA cats-inside-headss.

Imagine two mirrors. They stand in separate rooms. In one mirror I look perfect. In the other I’m a monster. I fully buy the message of whichever mirror I see. Visiting back and forth, I swing from hell to heaven to hell.

But if the mirrors stood side by side in one room, my eyes could flit back and forth between the monster I’ve kept hidden and the perfection I hope for. By a trick of optics, I’d see a new person, one caught between mirrors, fully represented by neither. Middle-me could hope for perfection while the monster in the corner of my eye frees me from the crippling delusion that I’ve achieved perfection; and middle-me could look at the monster without feeling hopeless, because I’d see perfection out of the other corner of my eye. Continue reading

The Graveyard Boy

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I have a train that meets me in the early morning dark. I see it out the window of my little office at home and down a long passageway of gaps between houses and trees—more than a mile away. I hear the horn and look. Here come three giant lights on the train’s face. Almost every morning, I look them in the eye.

Sometimes I say to the train, “There you are.” It howls its E gravewarning to anything standing or sleeping on the tracks, or maybe it cries out in the spirit of Emily Dickinson who sings “as the boy does by the burying ground, because I am afraid.”

Thinking of a frightened train spooks me. If a beast so big and bad has to holler at the dark, what would happen to me out there?

Yes, I belong to the old tribe: I’m afraid of the dark.

When my Mindy comes home in the evening and finds all the lights burning, almost every light, she says,

“Were you scared?”
I say, “Does the pope wear a pointy hat?”
I imagine the pope stretched out long and thin beneath my bed, grinning at the bed springs, waiting for me to fall asleep… Continue reading

Craft fu

A blast

Talent is gunpowder. Craft is a bullet’s brass casing. It’s the metal walls of the gun.

Without a swaddling of thick skin, gunpowder flares up and achieves little.

Think of fight movies. Our hero is a mountain of explosive rage. Scene one: he fights the bad-guy and loses. Why? The bad-guy has training. Our guy does not.

The hero then meets wise old Mr. So-And-So who teaches him Kung fu, h-dateTaekwondo, Aikido, and Voodoo. He binds the rage. Now it can only strike in certain directions. So when the bad-guy foolishly stands in the way of these directions at the end of the movie, he’s done. Continue reading

C.S. Lewis, SMASH!

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I’ve been trying for a long time to be humble, to solve the pride-puzzle, the puzzle of how not to worship myself, how not to think I’m better than you. I just didn’t know how…until yesterday.

P suckI didn’t figure it out because I was insulted more times this week than I have been in most months, maybe most years. Everyone and their mothers were all trying to bring me low. I wouldn’t have been surprised by a scathing text from my own mother, a painfully revealing text accidentally sent my way:

“OMG, Dan was UNplanned. Dream-killer. I hoped his life would make me forget we never wanted him. Nope. TLK2UL8R.” Continue reading