Saturday, February 27, 2010


I peer, quizzically, into the darkness. Something out of place, I don’t know what, has lifted me out of the depths of sleep. A mild threat of chaos. And it calls to me. It says, “Be a man.” So I get out of bed, stepping gingerly onto the carpet. It whispers to my tired feet as they move past. The wife is sleeping soundly under a mound of pillows and blankets. She is burrowed in comfort, unconcerned.

I survey the doorway, slightly outlined by the light of moon and stars. I step forward carefully, sticking my head out of the door first, into the hallway, like a thief looking for a cop. I can barely see anything. I listen intently to see if it will repeat itself. The thing that woke me.

The noise. I’m sure I heard a noise.

I look into the room where the children sleep. They are breathing the night air, softly, content. Unaware. I move past, stepping through the hallway as my eyes begin to adjust to the dark. I see the vague shapes of chairs and windows. The light from the street illuminates the livingroom. I move forward. Quietly. Listening.


I pass from the living room to the kitchen. In the moonlight I see that it is empty too. I don’t bother with the light. I can see now. The moon is bright. It sticks its fingers through the kitchen shades and pries them apart, curious, looking to see what’s inside.

I grab a spatula for protection from the counter, then move ahead, down the creaking steps to the basement. It’s dark down there. Silent. Ominous. The inky darkness crawls all around me, leering at my inner child, boiling up childhood insecurities. I decide to turn on the light. I brush my hand along the wall to find the switch. I connect. The light fills the basement like water fills a swimming pool. It hurts my eyes, but it is a friend. The room glows with the greenish yellow phosphor of florescent bulbs, emitting their bad humor. It is an empty place at this time of night, offering no solace. Yea, verily.

I listen again to nothing out of the ordinary. The furnace blows warm air through the ducts, out the vents, keeping us alive. It is a grace. The small refrigerator hums. The florescent bulbs buzz in quiet, desultory anger. But I can’t let myself be distracted.

I look around at the empty room. I walk to the other rooms, through other doors. I look and see nothing but what was already there. I feel the night, pressing against the outside of the house, slouched against the block glass windows of the basement, wanting to get in. I return to the steps and turn off the lights, as if to say, “All full here. No more room for the night.” At least the darkness in the house is familiar.

I walk back upstairs into the kitchen, checking the lock on the back door as I pass. I stop one more time to listen for the noise, half heartedly, doubting my senses. I move on and glance out the tiny window through the front door. The street is gently illuminated by street lights. Motionless. Nothing and no one. That door is locked as well.

I look at the kids, the wife, thanking God they’re in this house with me. I listen to them breathe, wondering vaguely how I could ever live without them there. Then I lay back down, weary but satisfied. I have done my duty.

All clear.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Two Guys in a Band

I have been watching a DVD set that has the four appearances of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show back in 1964 and 1965. As Mr. Spock would say, it's "fascinating." They did three weeks in a row in February of ‘64, on their first trip to the States, then another week in September of ‘65. When this actually took place I was in diapers, enjoying Gerber’s fine products.

The three weeks in '64 are interesting. Ed Sullivan, the host, seems very nervous. He’s worried that the crowd of teenagers might erupt into something . . . rude? Dangerous? It’s hard to tell. But he’s pretty nervous. He keeps saying “be quiet” He had to get those commercials in.

On the first show John Lennon doesn’t sing lead on anything, which seems weird. John liked to be out front. But Paul sings all the leads. I wonder if John was sick? Maybe he had a cold and couldn’t sing so Paul took the lead? John makes up for it on the next two shows, singing most of the lead vocals. And his mic is up front, on an angle with George an Paul behind. This gave an interesting angle for the camera, but it also placed John prominently in front of the rest of the band.

And then there’s the show in September of ‘65. It’s a year and a half later but a lot of things are still the same. The crowd is still going gaga. Girls looking like they’re going to pass out, screaming like in a horror movie when the guy with the axe jumps out to chop up the girl. They scream and their hands come up next to their face. What is that? Ed Sullivan is still nervous that things might get out of hand. The audience still putting up with the other acts, just waiting for the Beatles to play.

Then the Beatles come out and you can tell that year and a half has passed. The hair is a little longer. And the way they play, you get the impression they’ve seen the Rolling Stones and feel threatened by the experience. The Stones first record was released in April of ‘64. But, whatever the reason, the Beatles rock harder. John is playing the Rickenbacker 325, painted black. Then Paul does “Yesterday” all by himself, which John doesn’t seem to like much. He makes an odd comment about it. He’s trying to be funny but he’s really just acting a bit strange. Is he nervous or just giddy from the experience? Is he on something?

But then they do another song, and during this song there’s a really great moment. John Lennon has moved back to sing in the same mic as Paul McCartney. Paul is on harmony. They’re into the song, and for just a second they make eye contact. Instantly they’re both grinning, as if the two of them are in on a private joke. And the joke seems to be this: Man. Can you believe this? Can you believe what’s happening to us? How did we get here? This is nuts, don’t you think?

Two young friends, in their early twenties, playing songs in a rock band, and suddenly it’s become something huge and impossible to account for. Somehow, they’re in America playing on a tremendously popular TV show with people screaming their names. And, somehow, they are the stars of the show.

When they look at each other like that, it’s a very sweet moment. Like kids on Christmas morning, they're amazed to be there and having the time of their lives. Not icons. Not rock stars. Not a piece of history. Just two guys who liked to play music together blown away by what their passion has led them to.

I think that moment says a lot about why the whole thing worked. It reveals the heart behind the songs that are still listened to by so many people. At least until the drugs and the egos started to get in the way.

They enjoyed what they were doing.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010


I have this new thing. It doesn’t happen every day, but it happens quite a bit. When I wake up in the morning, my mind wakes up, mostly, but my body doesn’t want to cooperate. My body just wants to lay there and think about it for a while. Well. As much as it can think without my mind. This can go on for quite a while. A few times, I’ve forced myself to get out of bed anyway, and stumbled around the room like a zombie. It’s not pretty. It’s like being drugged.

The medical journals call this “Sleep Paralysis.” Apparently I’m “hypnopompic.” Isn’t that quaint? It’s when your body tries to wake up while still under the influence of the chemical your brain produces to keep you from moving while you sleep. This is what keeps most of us from punching someone out when we’re dreaming about being Jackie Chan.

What? You don’t dream about being Jackie Chan?

But, anyway, this chemical isn’t being properly whatever whatever... My body chemistry is whacked. Big surprise.

For years I’ve heard elderly people talk as if their bodies were strangers. Older women talking about their hands, but not saying, “my hands,” anymore. Instead, they refer to them as "they." “They just don’t work like they used to.” “They hurt me a lot.” As if some delinquents in the neighborhood are coming into her house while she’s sleeping and doing these things to her. And old men talking about their feet as if they’re a bad neighbor who they can’t get to act right. “They just won’t leave me alone.” “They bother me night and day.”

This creeps me out because I’m starting to move into that neighborhood. Every year the list of what’s “wrong” with me gets longer. It’s not that I’m old. I’m not. Honest. Really. Seriously.


Anyhyoo. I’m not old. But I’m definitely not young anymore either. And things just don’t work like they used to. The plumbing, as they say, is starting to get a bit leaky. And it's made me think about one of the most famous kings in all of history who was also named David. It’s said that, “He died at a good old age, having enjoyed long life...” The key being “enjoyed.”

I was visiting people at a retirement home a few years back and there was this woman I spent some time talking to who wasn’t “enjoying” long life. Everyone she loved had died except for her son who never came to see her. She was mad at God for keeping her alive. To be honest, it was a bit intimidating, so I just listened. That’s something I can usually do without making too many mistakes.

If I get to live that long, which I often doubt, here’s how I envision my old age. I know this is a bunch of hoo hah. But let me dream for a minute...

I imagine being surrounded by grand-kids. My wife and I spoil them, enjoy playing with them, get them all wired up on sugar and caffeine and then send them home to terrorize our grown children. We will laugh gleefully when they pull out of the driveway. They’ll call us in an hour or two and say, “What did you do to our kids,” and we’ll just say, “Why? They were great when they were here!”

I imagine having more time to think about eternal things. Perhaps I’ll come up with a theory of everything, but then I’ll forget it before I remember to tell anyone about it. Perhaps I’ll resolve the perceived “conflict” between God’s sovereignty and the responsibility of man and then refuse to tell the theologians. Perhaps I’ll finally understand . . . things.

I imagine having some uninterrupted time to spend with my wife and friends. My kids will be my best friends. And their kids. And maybe theirs! (Let’s go for broke.) We’ll play, I don’t know, chess or checkers on the wii while listening to music that makes the grand-kids beg us to turn it off.

While we’re not playing wii checkers, my wife and I will just go out of town for no reason and eat at restaurants only old people like. I’ll actually get to sit with her in church. We’ll feed the poor and visit the sick without looking at our watches.

You never know.

All of this, of course, depends on my body not falling apart first. The spirit is willing, but...

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Last October, at the Detroit Free Press marathon, three different guys died within a fifteen to twenty minute period of time. This is not a typical thing. And they weren’t all old either. People did what they could to save them, but it didn’t work. Tragic.

When I read about this, all I could think was, “It could have been me.” I actually ran this marathon once. Well, “ran” is a bit extravagant.

Let me explain.

A friend of mine was a runner. He took it seriously and he was good at it. He ran all the time. He lost all kinds of weight and seemed more relaxed. And I observed with admiration. I was impressed with his dedication. I wanted to be that dedicated too.


Then, one day, he told me he was going to run in the Detroit marathon. He was working hard for it. And I thought, hey, maybe I could do it too. I could start running and get ready. There was still time to prepare. And I meant to. I really did. I thought about it a lot. I even bought some new running shoes.

I went out running a few times. To be honest, it was more a kind of jogging with an intent look on my face. Around the block. And as the date kept getting closer, I thought, “It’s just a few miles. Old people are doing this run. I’m in pretty good shape. I’m not in it to win. How hard could it be?”

Did I mention that this marathon was over twenty miles long?

The day arrived. I went out there with my buddy and we ran. Well, he ran. He did great. Placed pretty high on the list of survivors. As for me, I ran for a bit, trying to keep up with the people around me, but that soon faded into a sort of half-hearted jogging motion, which progressively degraded into a painful lope.

Many, many people passed me by. The trained runners flew past in a blur. Others moved past more respectfully, but it still pained me. Then those old people passed me by. I think some guy on crutches passed me by, and then some infants, crawling, snickering as they went past. Squirrels made jokes at my expense from the sidewalks and trees. At one point it felt like someone was jabbing a knife into my side. But I kept going. I walked. I jogged. I tried to run. I walked. I loped. As fast as I could, I forged ahead.

It seemed like the run would never end. It went on and on and on. Hours and hours, I plodded forward. The whole way I was trying to figure out why I was doing it. I was in some serious pain. At times I was just barely walking. Then I’d get my whatever back and keep going. I almost quit several times, but I didn’t. I’m just not much for quitting. So I finished the race.

People have said, “Hey. That’s still pretty good. You finished the race!” But that is not a race I should have been in. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t do the work. You kind hearted people need to stop encouraging my foolishness.

I went home. At the time, in that moment, I was kind of proud of myself. After all, I had finished the race. I told my family about it, then went to lie down for a while. I was tired. I had every reason to be tired.

A few hours later, I woke up. Suddenly, I understood the meaning of the word “excruciating.” We get that word from the word “crucifixion.” Pain so bad that it feels like you’re being tortured. And that’s what it was like. My legs had seized up in paroxysms of pain. I didn’t just have a charley-horse, I was riding that horse. Throbbing, unbearable pain.

I screamed! I tried to get out of bed to find help from someone, anyone. Pathetically, I fell to the floor. My poor abused legs had gone on strike. They couldn’t support me. And why should they after what I had done to them? If they had any sense, they would just leave and never come back.

Thinking that someone must be murdering me, the family came running. Thank God. Literally. Someone started rubbing my legs. Someone gave me pills. I don’t know what they were. I would have swallowed a toad dipped in used chewing tobacco if someone had told me it would help. Anything to make the pain go away. A spinal tap would have been good.

Finally. Finally. The pain started to let up. It didn’t go away fast. It took a while. My legs hurt for days. I still have flashbacks. I get the sweats when I walk past athletic shoe stores.

It was so stupid. But I learned. Running a race, any kind of race, takes preparation. Sometimes you can finish without it, but there’s a price to pay.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

A good friend of mine has been grieving because his best friend committed suicide. My friend has been handling this in what I consider a heroic manner. But grieving can be hard because it’s so unpredictable. Grief does not always behave like you expect it to. It can do weird things to us.

Years ago, when I was 19 and still living at home, my parents were in the kitchen, making dinner or something, when the phone rang. My mom picked up the phone. I didn’t pay much attention until I heard her say...


She said it quietly. It was disturbing. I dropped what I was doing in the next room and walked toward the kitchen. I saw her hand the phone to my dad. While he listened, his face started to change right in front of my eyes. In a moment it went from the face of a grown man to the face of a broken and hurt child. He said, “Alright.” But it wasn’t. He hung up the phone and collapsed into my mom’s arms, weeping. I have never before and never since seen my dad weep like this. Sobbing. Uncontrollable. It scared me.

Two of my dad’s sisters, living in Tennessee, had been driving to work. At some spot on the road, near a school, there had been some ice on the road. They collided with a semi truck and were killed instantly.

A good friend decided to drive me down to Tennessee for the funeral. We drove until we were passing out, then we stopped on the side of the road somewhere and slept in the car. We drove some more. We talked. We observed. We philosophized about life and death. Jack Kerouac would have been proud.

I was nervous about getting there.

When we arrived in Tennessee, I didn’t know how to feel. I think seeing my dad like that had messed me up. Knowing how my aunts had died, so violently, left me not knowing how to respond. Everything about how I felt seemed inappropriate and out of place. I laughed at things I shouldn’t have. I was unintentionally rude. I said things that were outright goofy, which I’m pretty good at regardless. But, more than usual, I was nervous and unsure about what to say to people. I didn’t know how to act. I just felt numb. And I didn’t shed a single tear. It was weird.

We got through it, then the friend took me and we detoured over to the Smoky Mountains for a day. Had a nice time. Headed on home.

Life went on. Time happened. Over a year went by.

I’m sitting in the car with my newish girlfriend. She would later become the wife. We’re talking about different things. Somehow the subject of my aunts and how they died comes up. I start to talk about the trip. I try to explain what I experienced. And, suddenly, I realize that I am broken and I fall apart. Sobbing. Uncontrollable. I wept for my dad and the family. I wept for my aunts. I wept from the center of my strange, inscrutable heart.

For some reason, finally, after all that time, I mourned.

I’ve learned over the years that the process of mourning can heal if we don't let it take possession of us. It can be like a demon, or it can be like a guide. You can let it control you or you can let it take you through the loss to a place of peace. Without mourning we would be emotionally destroyed by our broken world. But we can't belong to the sorrow because we belong to the Creator.

Like love, mourning works to heal us. So we need to grieve over whatever we've given away or whatever has been taken from us, we need to mourn, to confess our loss and, through that expression, begin to move on. It’s okay to weep, to grieve, to mourn. For a time. But it’s also okay to move on. It really is.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Do you see it?

John 11:35; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010

Saturday, February 13, 2010


So. I go to get my haircut and I get a talkative haircutter person. Which I prefer, usually. Having someone silently snip things off your body is a little creepy to me. But this haircutter person was really nice and talkative. She seemed like a kind person.

I have no idea what we talked about, for the most part, because I wasn’t really paying attention. It was small talk. Which I’m not very good at. But then she noticed I was wearing this shirt that had a spoof of Star Trek’s Mr. Spock on it. I got it at It was Mr. Spork instead of Mr. Spock. A spork in Spock’s shirt with the live longer and prosper hand signal.

Well. I think it’s funny. So sue me.

But she asks me if I’m “into” Star Trek, which, to me, seemed like a loaded question. There are lots of different levels of “into” Star Trek. So I grudgingly admit that I like Star Trek, and for some strange reason I mention that I’ve gone to a Star Trek convention.

Just one. Honest.

But for some people, that’s all it takes to consign you to the ignore column. Still, I confessed. I told her about going to the Star Trek convention.

Haircutter person: And did you wear a costume?
Me: A costume?
Haircutter person: Yeah. You know, did you dress up like a Star Trek character?
Me: (Laughing) No! No. I don’t take it quite that seriously. It was just a day out with a friend. It was mostly just people selling Star Trek stuff.

I sensed the insecurity dripping from my voice.

Me: So. Does this make me a nerd?
Haircutter person: Oh yeah. But nerds are cool. It’s just that if you wear a costume, it moves you into the realm of dork. And dork is not cool.
Me: Oh. Well that’s good to know.
Haircutter person: Yeah. Nerds are good. Nerds rule the world.

She finished cutting my hair. I gave her a big tip. Nerds are big tippers. Dorks aren’t.

Peace to you.
© LW Publishing 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Pluto Platter

I thought you’d want to know.

The inventor of the Frisbee just died. His name was Fred Morrison. He was 90 years old. But he didn’t call it a “Frisbee.” That change took place when he licensed a toy company to sell his invention. Seems Fred wasn’t much of a salesman. But boy could he invent things.

Fred’s name for the toy was the “Pluto Platter.” I kind of prefer “Pluto Platter.”

“Frisbee” was a pie company. Kids liked to throw the pie tins, so the toy company renamed the Pluto Platter and gave it the name of the pie company. And for this they get millions – no, probably gazillions – of dollars? Frisbee sounds right because that’s what we’ve always called it. But it could have been otherwise. The discs original name would have likely become known by the simplified nickname “PP.”

“Hey man, you got your PP?” “The kids are on the beach throwing around their PP.” “I think I left my PP in the car.” “Man, did you see the dog catch that PP in his mouth?”

What a wonderful world it could have been.

Mr. Morrison never liked the new name. It just wasn’t as . . . sonorous.

Fred invented some other toys as well. None of them were as successful, but what is? Still. I bet that battery powered tomahawk he came up with was a wonder.

Good night, Fred. Rest in peace my good man.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


When I was a kid, maybe 11 or 12 years old, I went to a shoe store. I found some platform shoes that were truly amazing. Inspiring even. I’m not sure why I liked them so much. Maybe because they were so different. I wanted to be different. Some of my favorite rock stars wore platform shoes, so I thought they were cool, and this pair was especially cool. Elton John would have been jealous. Jet black with multi-colored patchwork swatches on the top, very tall, slip on patent leather, platform shoes. It was love at first sight.

I bought them. It took my last dime. I carried them over the threshold of our modest suburban home like a new bride. I gazed at them with reverence and awe. I dreamed satisfied dreams. I imagined a big life with those shoes. They were wonderful to behold. Yea, verily.

So, next day, I don the shoes and head out into the neighborhood. I’m feeling it. I’m feeling good. I’m in the zone. Walking tall. It’s hard to look away from those shoes, so comfortable, so right. They gleam with an almost angelic glow. Resplendent. All was right with the world. But the first kid in the neighborhood who sees me says, “Where’s the flood?”

See, the tall heel on the shoes made the pants look short. The pants may have been short, anyway, which was fine with me because I could see the shoes better. But it wasn’t about the pants. He was cutting me over the shoes. They were too different. They were too . . . whatever.

I keep walking.

Another kid says “Where’s the flood.” Then another. Another kid makes a racist comment about who I may have stolen the shoes from. It went on and on. Merciless. They just didn’t get the splendor. I was violating some unwritten code that I was personally unaware of. I was breaking the rules. Who makes these rules anyway? My glory became the joke of the day. So shoot me.

I went home and took the shoes off. Put them in the box. Stuck them in the closet. I abandoned them. I never wore them again.

Who knows where they are now. Perhaps an angel is wearing them in heaven. Or Elvis.

Man. I loved those shoes.

Mark 7:7, Colossians 2:20-3:4, Mark 8:38
Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010

Tuesday, February 9, 2010



© LW Publishing 2010


The other day I was thinking about types of cheeses, when my ruminations were interrupted by some startling realizations...

Elvis’s mother’s name was Gladys.
My mother’s name is Gladys!

Elvis’ parents were from Tennessee.
My parents are from Tennessee!

Is this creeping you out yet?

Elvis was a singer who played acoustic guitar.
I’m a singer who plays acoustic guitar!!!

Elvis’s dad’s name began with the letter V.
My dad’s middle name begins with, you guessed it, the letter V!!!!

Elvis’s first name starts with the letter E.
That’s only one letter away from the letter D.
My first name starts with D!!!!!

I don’t know about you, but the hairs are standing up on my arms.

I could go on with this, but I think you get the point. Sorry if I freaked you out.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010

Monday, February 8, 2010


Sunday night. Everyone watching the Superbowl. Well. Not everyone. I was watching Fringe on DVD. Great stuff. Was the Superbowl super? I hear it usually isn’t.

So, it seems New Orleans won? I was hoping they might. It could do them some good, you know. Even for people who aren’t into sports, there’s just a good feeling that goes with that kind of a win. Makes you feel winning is possible.

I don’t watch football, but I do have experience with it. My wife was a cheerleader for the Michigan Panthers. This was a big deal to my friends. I just liked her. Still do.

I also played drums in high school and university marching band. This meant playing at half time for football games. One year in university we did a gig at halftime at the Pontiac Silverdome on a Thanksgiving. I would have rather been at home with the family, but it was required. So we were standing at the end zone waiting to take the field. For some reason, the door to the locker room opens. Out come some football players. Lions. It was part of the half time festivities. And let me just say, these guys were huge.


There’s no way to describe it, really. It was like Phil Spector’s wall of sound in human form. Tons of human flesh and bone moving past us. The ground shook as they went past. I imagine a herd of buffalo would give off the same sensations. Earth shattering.

Finally, when they were finished with whatever they were doing, they stomped back past us and into the locker room. I think it was the locker room. Who knows. But then the whistle blew. We took the field and played our songs. The horrible acoustics of the Pontiac Silverdome ate every note. It was like playing into the ether. It was pointless.

So why was I missing Thanksgiving with the family?

My only other connection to football, besides playing at football games, was the fact that my locker partner in High School was a football player. He liked being my locker partner because I didn’t use the locker. I kept all my things in the band room. He seemed like a nice guy, but I didn’t really know him.

Yeah. Me and football. We go way back. We are so tight.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010

Friday, February 5, 2010

Encounter 3

More time passes.

I think it was late November. I know it was cold outside. I was working as a delivery driver for a company set up near Metro Airport. They sent me into downtown Detroit to deliver a package. When I finished I was told to wait. That meant they wanted me to sit out there in case a call to pick up a package came in from that area.

I went to Burger King. Went inside to eat. I read my book while I ate. Don’t waste a minute. Always have a book ready. Reading and waiting. My beeper kept silent.

After a while, for no real reason, I decided to go out to the van and read out there. It was starting to get dark, but I had a light in the van. On my way, I noticed a person walking up the sidewalk toward me. At first I couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman. Turns out it was a woman. She was carrying a large cloth bag full of what looked like clothes and blankets. She was swallowed up in a dirty, oversized, puffed up coat with a big hood. Under that were what looked like bed sheets and scarves, wrapped all around her. It made her look a lot bigger than she was.

We made eye contact. I said “Hi.”

She had on thick glasses. They were chipped and cracked, covered with smudgy fingerprints. I wondered how she could see through them..

Me: How are you doing today?

She walked up to me. She was filthy and she smelled pretty bad. She just stared at me for what seemed like quite a long time. I wasn’t sure she was going to say anything at first. But then she talked, really fast. She was a little hard to understand. Something like...

Her: I’m good, I’m good. Just a little tired. Good. Not bad. Just a little tired. It’s kind of cold. Are you cold? It’s kind of cold out here. I have a coat. I’m a little tired. It’s getting dark. I’ve got a coat. Did you eat in there? Are you hungry? I’m kind of tired.
Me: Yeah, I just ate. Are you hungry? Can I get you a hamburger?
Her: No. No. No. Don’t need a hamburger. My foot hurts. I’m a little tired. It’s getting kind of dark. I have my coat. What are you doing out here. Are you cold? Why are you out here?
Me: I’m just working. I had a burger. Are you sure I can’t get you something to eat?
Her: No. No. I’m just a little tired. Don’t need a hamburger. Don’t need it.

Awkward pause.

Me: Do you have somewhere to go?
Her: Oh, yeah. I got me somewhere to go. I know where I am. I’m just a little tired. I don’t need a hamburger. I got my coat. I’m good. I’m good. Just a little tired.
Me: Okay. Well you have a good night then and be careful out here.
Her: Oh yeah. I’m good. I know where I’m at. I’m just a little tired. You be careful too.
Me: Thank you.
Her: Alright then. Good night.
Me: Good night.
Her: Alright.

I got in the van and watched her walk away. She shambled on, talking to herself. I think I had interrupted her. Her bag kind of flopped around a bit as she walked, but it didn’t seem to bother her.

She did seem a little tired...

So. It all makes me wonder how far gone you have to be before everyone writes you off. Some people are very secure no matter what they say or do. They have family. They have a net. But, other people, not so much. Some have very little room for weakness or failure in their lives. No net.

We all have things that cause someone to write us off. You don’t look a certain way or talk a certain way so there are people who don’t want to be around you. You don’t know certain things, so there are people who don’t want to be around you. We all go through this kind of thing.

But there are many people who have essentially been written off by practically everyone. Some of them are sick, physically or mentally. Some of them never learned to cope. Some of them have earned their isolation with destructive behaviors. I know how it works. But I’m just saying. It’s easy to forget that these people, overcome with conflict on the outside, fear and confusion on the inside, are just people. Nothing more, nothing less.

2 Corinthians 7:5-7

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Encounter 2

Time passes.

I was sitting outside of the library at Eastern Michigan University. A young woman came out of the library and sat across from me on the other side of the walk. She was well dressed. She looked all around her like she was looking for something she couldn’t find. Her hair was kind of a mess. She seemed agitated. After a few minutes, she walked across to where I was sitting.

Her: She’s not dead, you know.
Me: I’m sorry?
Her: She’s not dead. She can’t die. They can’t make her.
Me: Who’s that?
Her: Lucy.

It was just after comedienne Lucille Ball had died. It was national and international news.

Me: Oh. You mean Lucille Ball?
Her: Lucy. She can’t die.
Me: Well, they say she’s dead. It’s been on the news.

She laughed at that.

Her: She had all the pretty cats.
Me: Yeah?
Her: She had all the colors. All the cats. You can see them. Do you have cats?
Me: No, I don’t have any cats.
Her: Are you sure?
Me: Yes. I’m pretty sure. Cats are okay, I just don’t have one. Do you have cats?
Her: I have lots. All the colors. I love cats. I like my cats. Do you have cats?
Me: No. I sure don’t.

Awkward pause.

Her: She’s not dead, you know.
Me: Well, I guess we’ll see.
Her: Yeah.

Awkward pause.

Her: Gotta go to class now. Nice to meet you.
Me: Nice to meet you too.

After that I noticed her around campus. Hadn’t noticed her before. Someone said her parents paid to keep her in school because it was good for her. I tried to talk to her a little later, but she didn’t respond. Just walked away like I wasn’t there. Didn’t see her around after the semester ended. We never spoke again.

Peace to You.

© LW Publishing 2010

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


In the days of the cavemen, while I was a student at Wayne State University, I was sitting in the hallway near the band room one day when a guy in his mid twenties came in from the front. He was very thin and disheveled. There was a wildness to him. His hair was a mess but his clothes were clean. His movement seemed slow and specific, like he knew where he was going but he didn’t want to get there. He was carrying a Monopoly game box under his arm. It had big rubber bands holding it together, packed full of papers that were sticking out here and there. It was impossible to not see him. On the street you might not see him, but in a university music building, he stood out like a stop sign.

We made eye contact.

He looked away. His eyes scanned the hallway, floor, walls, ceiling, as if he was looking for cracks. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. Finally, he looked at me again. Then he walked right up to me and stood directly in front of me where I was sitting on the bench. If I’d tried to stand up, I would have bumped into him. He looked very tall from that perspective.

Him: You go to school here?
Me: Yes.
Him: Me too.
Me: Cool.
Him: Yeah. I’m a trumpet major. French horn. Flute. But right now I’m producer for the Commodores.
Me: Wow.
Him: Yeah. But you gotta be careful.
Me: Careful about what?
Him: About them. You can’t trust them.
Me: Who’s them?
Him: The operator. You can’t talk to her because she know. She can see what you thinking. You have to be careful.
Me: Yeah.
Him: They’ll get your numbers and then you got nothing left.
Me: Is that what’s in your box?
Him: Yeah. All my numbers. I produce. The Commodores. Kool and the Gang. Retha Franklin.
Me: You produce all of them?
Him: Yeah.
Me: Wow.
Him: Yeah.
Me: Must keep you busy.
Him: I got it all right here. Everything I need.
Me: Cool.
Him: Yeah. Don’t call her. Don’t talk to the operator. She know, man. She know. You gotta be careful what you do.
Me: Thanks. I’ll keep that in mind.
Him: Yeah.

Awkward pause.

Then he walked away, that box held tightly to his chest. As he went he looked at the floor and the walls and the ceiling. He turned the corner and I never saw him again.

Another student in the music department walked up to me. He said, “I think that guy used to go to school here. I said, “Really.” “Yeah.” “Wow.” “Yeah, they say he dropped out one year and then he just came back around all messed up.” “Wow.” “Yeah.”

I have wondered from time to time if that could happen to me. The brain decides to stir up a little too much dopamine. No one knows why. Would it be a slow decline into confusion? Would it be a sudden fall? Could I wake up one morning and find myself compulsively trying to avoid the operator, walking the streets, speaking nonsense to strangers?

If you were the stranger, would you be kind to me?

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010