Beauty Consultant for Hire

I want to change careers. It would be a big shift, but I believe I will make a fantastic beauty consultant. Not like the animated mannequins at high-end department stores who prey on people's insecurities by demonstrating how they can mask miniscule "flaws" in the interest of so-called self-improvement, and certainly not like the plastic surgeons who multiply that make-up counter pitch to exponentially more permanent and costly extremes. No, my services will be much simpler: For the smallest possible Read more [...]

Dishing It Out

Why have dishes and silverware if you're not going to use them? That was the inside joke at our house to justify a sink cluttered with dirty plates and bowls, coffee mugs stuffed with so much flatware they resembled metallic hedgehogs or some found-art installation. My wife and I both dislike washing dishes, so for years, we simply wouldn't do it until we had to. When one of us would inevitably be forced to stir coffee with a butter knife or contemplate eating cereal with a serving ladle, we would Read more [...]

Men In Pink

I have gender issues. Not with being a man (I'm smart enough to appreciate the good fortune my chromosomal composition has afforded me in America) but with the way our culture continues to define gender, and by reflex, the expectations of each gender. Specifically, what it is to be a "man". For instance, I wear pink shirts. I like pink shirts. Not as much as blue or white shirts, but enough that I'm glad to have the option to add that color to the palette of my life. That shouldn't be worthy of Read more [...]


I lost my dad this summer, a fantastic man who gave me 44 years of guidance, wisdom, humor, and love. I can't do him justice in an essay, as none of us really could with our parents — his influence on me and my siblings is so broad, so subtle, so all encompassing that any attempt to define it leads to endless addendums and clarifications, each tangent getting no closer to a complete truth than the insufficient phrase it expands upon. There would be no me without him, literally and figuratively. Read more [...]

Sonic Coincidence

As a prologue to this story, let me quickly recount a music listening experience from my college days, when a friend said he loved how the harmonica in REM's "Pretty Persuasion" was strangely out of key. Harmonica? I had heard that song at least 40 times and had no recollection of a harmonica. He popped on the album (kids, your parents can translate) and as the third verse started, he pointed at the speakers. Sure enough, buried deep in the mix, there was a hard-blowing harmonica, clearly not the Read more [...]

The Wrong Right Jeans

All the cool kids wore Levi's jeans. I was in eighth grade, at my second Junior High School in two years following my family's relocation to Maine. I was the new kid, and like most new kids — and like so many eighth graders — I wanted nothing more than to assimilate, to disappear into the crowd, to not feel like I was being assessed and summarized by a class full of kids who had known each other since they were sticking rulers into paste pots in kindergarten. And that assimilation wasn't going Read more [...]

Waxing Psychological

I was passing time on the bus by peeking over the shoulder of the woman in front of me and reading the headlines of her People magazine. Personally, I would never buy People magazine — and I say that with so much righteous intellectual superiority that my you'd think I didn't own a television — but in truth, it's always my first choice when I'm at the doctor's office. It's the cotton candy of magazines: no nutrition, no substance, but so much pointless deliciousness. What immediately startled Read more [...]

Marriage (A Primer)

Talking about marriage is like talking about religion — it means different things to different people. Even to people in the same marriage. You've got your Orthodox Married who believe that everything after "I do" is a compromise of one's personal self for the good of the institution; you've got your Reformed Married who are willing to compromise but have recognized that two televisions in separate rooms is a matrimonial blessing; there's your Born-Again Married, who keep a Deepak Chopra book in Read more [...]

Audible Residue

At this moment, I am humming Buddy Holly's "Everyday." You know the one: "Everyday, it's a-gettin' closer, goin' faster than a roller coaster..." and so on. Buddy's charming paean to the promise of impending love is a sweet little ditty, but frankly, after more than an hour of it, I want to carve it out of my cranium with the thin plastic knife that I got with my bagel at the same time I got this freakin' song stuck in my head. The café in my office building is notorious for such subliminal gifting. Read more [...]
September 23, 2010Permalink 9 Comments

Lovely Weeds

"It's like being inside a model train set." That's how my father described the few acres of college town that surrounded his business. The century-old paddle and oar factory sat next to train tracks that, ¼ mile north, carried freight cars across a picturesque trestle bridge that spanned the jagged rocks that made up the bed of the Stillwater River. To the south, the train rails passed a old New England homes adorned with painted porch chairs and bright potted flowers before crossing several roads Read more [...]