It’s My Birthday (Groan)

Due to my crappy memory for anything besides Simpsons quotes and sports statistics, lots of my childhood memories come from parental second-hand stories. My dad tells embarrassing scatological stories of my first few years with an uncontrolled bladder and my mom mostly fills in details from questions about my elementary wanderings. One story that can be corroborated was around my 5th or 6th b-day. During the common “Happy Birthday” song, I burst into tears. On a grainy home video, I’m sitting at the head of the table in a darkened room with a little conical hat, fires burning atop my sweet cake, family illuminated in shadows performing that droning incantation and you can see it coming. My face drops and I lose it. Even as a tiny kid I didn’t like that song.

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Stephen King Puts Bugs in Your Brain

A few days ago, I finished reading Pet Sematary and then watched the 1989 movie. The movie pulls out the big moments and crams it all into 100 minutes. They’re both scary in different ways. I got the terror tingles and horror chills from both. It’s not a purely scary idea such as a killer clown or a haunted mansion; it’s more a question of what would you do for your kid? Continue reading

At Home During Coronavirus 2020

A few weeks ago, when the Coronavirus was still holed up in Central China and not the global pandemic and international catastrophe it has become, my apartment flooded. Late in the quiet hours of a worknight sleep, my wife woke me up with frantic screaming. She had gotten up to pee and stepped in it. The wet floor could be a dog-related effluvium or a spilled water cup from the nightstand, but this was too deep and too cold for that. Gurgling up from between the doorframe was clean, clear, cold water. I stayed awake all night in a cycle, alternating every towel in the house between soaking up the unknown stream and the washing machine spin-cycle. Continue reading

Parasites

Parasites have a pretty nasty connotation. Vermin such as: fleas, lice, ticks, worms—are tiny monosyllabic terrors. They’re selfish takers. They bite. They suck. They kill. Parasites target bodies and blood. In Bong Joon Ho’s Oscar-winning movie Parasite, the broke Kim family targeted the wealthy Park family. Through a series of unfortunate events, the four poor Kim’s come under the employ of an outrageously opulent family, who are living their idyllic life, shuttling in their chauffeured Benz between high-rise offices, classy supermarkets, garden parties and their ultra-luxe home. Continue reading

Thinking About Memories and Anniversaries

“It was twenty years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.”

–Lennon/McCartney

The year of anniversaries. Ten years ago, 2009, Obama was inaugurated and I tried to get my students interested in watching history in the making. Not everyone is interested in history. Kids ask, “Why do I need to learn history if it already happened?” “Why do I need to learn about dead people?” I usually respond with some confounded response about how history lays bricks for future roads. Continue reading

Wealth Impacts Success More Than Grit

You just woke up, it’s a chilly Saturday morning, you have nothing to do, nowhere to be and there’s a gentle rainy mist outside, your significant other says, “I’ll get you a coffee, but you have to wait two hours while I drive to the best coffee shop in the next town.” How many of us will wait for that primo java and who will take the leftover instant package collecting dust in the back of the cabinet? Your answer might be able to provide answers about your income level, emotional stability and chances for obesity. Continue reading

Panic and Public Pools: Looking Back/Forward

Having reached what is statistically speaking the midpoint of my life, I’ve learned a few things: good shoes are important, Indian food is better than Chinese, going to bed early is a delightful privilege, people notice your clothes, Tuesdays suck, and recently, that I don’t particularly care for public pools. Continue reading

On Applying to Be The New York Times’ Travel Writer

When I was in elementary school, I had a globe with raised mountains and sunken seas on the surface. The tactile senses elicited by slowly roaming my dirty little fingers over the nubs conveyed a palpable sense of something beyond me, beyond my little town, in the mysterious lands across the Atlantic ocean in which I’d swim every summer. That was my instant and distinct connection to the larger world. What was out there? Continue reading