The Party

Saturday nights were made for something. For each of us. But we often get lost in what they used to be for. When we were young, toddlers even, they were nights that our parents were in a better mood, happier and they fed us things that we didn’t normally get to eat. Pizza or spaghetti, even Chinese food. In the Midwest of my youth, it depended partially on the weather, partially on my parents’ mood.

When we were teenagers, it was the night to go out, escape and get away. It was the night to be ourselves and let our lives be real expressions of who we were. Our music, our friends, our night. When I was 13, I remember asking the first girl I ever asked, Nancy Rowe, to go steady-whatever that meant. Neither of us knew-but that was OK. We had no expectations, it was a chance to try out emotions and feelings, a chance to see what honesty meant. We tested those bounds, not physical ones.

In our 20’s, we struck out with the vision of what it meant to be individual. We drank, we smoked, we talked and we gathered. We had morals, we had manners, most of us, and it wasn’t a time to break the rules, but rather to ask how those rules applied to us. In my mid 20’s, I was in a band and Saturday night was either the longest practice of the week or, if we were lucky, a gig. We had gigs quite a bit as time went on–private parties, a few local clubs and establishments. The three of us, Edd, the guitarist, Chris, the drummer and I on bass played many a Saturday night. Two years in a row, we played a series of Halloween shows at a private party here in Camarillo, Calif. The hosts of that party were engaged and wonderful people–Andy, who had  a great sense of humor and was fiercely loyal to Lisa (that’s what I’ll call her), was killed at his bachelor party. It was until that time the saddest event of my life.

Andy and his friends had gone to ride motorcycles in the desert. Andy went out just before dinner, apparently, to ride the trails for a quick go-round. He never came back, though no one thought too much about it until early the next morning. When the found him, Andy was lying on the ground, his bike off in the distance. He had apparently been thrown off and broke his neck. I remember telling Edd and Chris. It affected us all.

In later years, when I was no longer playing music, October Saturday nights were comfy, warm and at home with my wife and then, my daughter. As Shannon grew and Halloween became more fun, I re-connected with some of those friends from my teen years in the San Fernando Valley. Greg, Eric and I, Doug, Jeff and Kim, all of us were friends and it turned out that Greg had been keep close with all of them. At his company each year, Greg throws a Halloween party with all of the families and friends. He runs a graphic design, website and arts facility in the San Fernando Valley. He’s done well for himself. Shannon and I and sometimes Sue have been going since Shannon was 8 years old.

Tonight will mark our fifth Halloween party with old friends-the Barnetts and Schuhs, the Gerbers and the Ayers’. We’ll all get together and catch up, share some laughs as the kids, now in their tweens, run around and kick off the fall season of Halloween and Thanksgiving.

It’s a blessing to be able to once again celebrate the change of seasons. And we’re about to head out–Shannon in her rainbow 70’s Diva costume and me as an E.R. doctor. How time flies.



Every few years, one needs to break one’s personality down and clean the parts. It’s rather like an overhaul or a tune-up. The system is well designed and runs fine for the most part. But occasionally, the dusty bits and shards of mistakes, the leaky oil from the crank case, cause the mileage to change and the efficiency to dwindle.

I’m probably going to write more about people who need to do this rather than the fact that I need to. I should probably chastise myself–it’s not my job to tell others how to run their lives. I have trouble “loving without complete understanding,” and I’m left with the vague sense that this is probably a sin. My own shortcoming is looking at other people’s shortcomings and asking myself “how could they do such a thing?”

In fact, my redemption in this matter came through my wife. Quietly, she persisted and perseverated, usually at the dinner table-usually after I’d had a temper tantrum just like the one my daughter had previous to my  own. The quotes aren’t important. My wife was insistent that I learn from my own mistakes. In an essence of time, love, patience and understanding remarkable for any person, she trusted that inside my stony heart and my inflated sense of ego, there was a reasonable person who knew that fighting fire with fire was not what was needed.

Extrapolating from that lesson, I’ve hopefully become a better father and now try to apply it to my profession, my friends, my adult-relationships–and my life. Humility is a lost art, humbleness is all too often seen as weakness and voices of the spirit are ignored in favor of the brazen, brass polished cannons of certainty and intolerance.

I think God speaks to us in moments like these, but I’ve noticed in my adult years that though the Bible has Christ getting angry that one time, He doesn’t normally raise his voice to be heard. He’s usually pretty quiet-even when He’s being condemned.





There is business and there is busy-ness–and the two are not always cohesive parts of a whole. I’ve had both, and I’ve had the third alternative where the two co-habitate–I’m busy taking care of business. And this is why I’ve been away for two weeks on the site.

I’m of a mind to apologize, but as it’s a blog and I can apologize any time I want, I’m not ready to, yet. It would be apologizing for working-for being a husband, a dad and a teacher. It would be apologizing for running off to Arizona to spend time with my brother and his family for his 50th. It doesn’t seem right to apologize for those things.

My students have taken to heights undreamed of by me as I’ve watched them build the school news website from the ground up and they’ve created this. It’s extraordinary and I love that with me serving as a facilitator and adviser, they’ve crafted a new thing. It’s beautiful.

It also occupies a good deal of my time–I Skype each night with our editor in chief and our design editor–we’re constantly on the go and we keep it moving-so much so that the class never slows down. It’s grand! And I cannot remember the last time I used an exclamation mark to talk about teaching in a positive sense.

There’s much more–but essays are in abeyance this evening. I’ll try one later this weekend.


Weary Wanderings

Returning from a hiatus I didn’t know I would take, I was reminded tonight of languid sunsets over spartan desert landscapes and tired, tight muscles.

We spent the weekend in Scottsdale and Phoenix, AZ visiting brother Jerry for his 50th birthday. I happen to like Phoenix, Scottsdale even more–and though I don’t like them in summertime, the early fall allowed enough of a cool down to make it bearable. The Temperature never really got above 90 degrees and most of the time, we were indoors anyway.

It was a fun trip to take with my dad and step-mom, Sue and Shannon and we connected with Jerry and his family and my mom and that was nice. But it was also 14 hours on the road in total and a long trip by any measure. Yesterday morning was tough–working, teaching–and having to lecture and work at it–was hard to do. I got through it–no one was hurt. And that is all.

Year 23 in the classroom is proving interesting and different and if nothing else, that’s a blessing. Nothing is the same and I’ve had the opportunity to change what I do quite a bit. The downside is that I’ve learned the hard way not to assign the four classes of English 4 I teach the same due date for essays. I’ve graded 75 three-page essays and I have 75 more to go. I think I’ll break those due dates up a bit. That should help, though I will still have to grade them.

A steady stream of writing assignments has kept me busy, but an injured foot caused me to change my walks to bike-rides and I forgot that riding a bike is no good on my neck. Well–my foot doesn’t hurt as bad. But I’m dealing with the neck and shoulder issues–though I think I’ve rounded the bend a bit and am slowly returning to normal.

It’s a busy and down week–things are simply in routine mode, though Shannon got a little cold that wound up in her ear, so she’s been uncomfortable. The trip to AZ seemed to have exacerbated it a bit and she suffered for it. Better now–and hopefully will continue to be so.

Gentles, I am aweary–give me leave.