Friday, February 2, 2018

Beard Power

I grew my first chin beard in tenth grade. Not the pinecone that it is today, a half-inch at most, but enough to change the game. Less emasculating sarcasm from peers. More attention from girls. Feeling closer to adulthood than childhood, seeing that manly little outgrowth in the side-view mirror as I cruised along with a newly acquired driver's license.

The hair and its effect have been growing ever since.

On a three-week road trip from Philly to L.A., my friends and I ended up along the same route as 50,000 hogs headed for the 60th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota. Everywhere we went it was bikes, beer, and badasses. On the outside, from the neck up at least, I blended in and earned us a little cred in a subculture not known for its warmth (on the inside I'm too anxious to ride a ten-speed through town). Some years later I was in the Uygur city of Kashgar, where the Muslim men greeted my uncut bushiness with nods of approval, perhaps thinking that I was with Allah (when in fact I'm "spiritual but not religious," as my online dating profile would say). After that I took a teaching job at an urban Maryland high school, in which being a goat-like caricature of myself fast-tracked classroom rapport and greatly increased the number of completed homework assignments. 

Impressive, how a tuft of facial pubes can alter so many outcomes. How differently might events have unfolded had I shaved? Which triggered conversations and resulting relationships would never have occurred? Which ones would have in their place? Maybe I get carjacked or miss meeting the love of my life in the beardless version.

If nothing else, against my baldheadedness, it keeps me from looking like a crazed volleyball.

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Saturday, December 30, 2017

I Was On My Way...

The last leg of a journey is often most precarious, especially on the important trips.

That's when you run out of gas, twist your ankle, and lose faith. It's the round where the finalist chokes, the stage at which the pilgrims start eating each other.

Almost there, just miles of inches to go...

The finish line reserved for the most determined good or the most relentless evil.

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Friday, November 3, 2017


From a great enough distance, any exclusive club looks absurd.

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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Eighty Proof Overflow

A potent ingredient can enable or destroy the recipe. 

By the tenth hot wing, pepper turns to pain. Leftover rainwater in an overturned tire teems with microscopic life while somewhere else an entire community drowns in a monsoon. A little confidence inspires a first date; too much and you’re a sociopath. The cleanest, most efficient means of keeping our trillion devices running uninterruptedly is nuclear—until a seal breaks or the wrong person gets the codes, and then Earth is a charred, radiated husk.

Sitting here at the bar, the right number of Jack and Cokes have delivered me to this line. Time to close my tab before the writing and its author sink to regrettable depths.

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Sunday, August 13, 2017


Racism is intellectually clumsy and depends upon an unbalanced worldview.

The only way to deem an entire people inferior is to be (willfully) unaware of their accomplishments, like viewing The Grand Canyon through a paper towel roll.

Tribalism is natural, but diversity is no more unnatural than the combustion engines and computer networks that compel us to mix.

And since the world has gotten too small to segregate, we either learn to move forward in step, or we trip fatally over one another, tilling the soil for our replacement.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Egg Demons

There once was an expectant hen pecking around a nuclear plant. Worse, the place was constructed over a cursed Indian burial ground.

When her eggs finally came, they were way more alive than nature ever intended...

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Sunday, June 4, 2017


American egos are even bigger than our asses. We're always Number One, and our colors never run. Assertive as eagles. Prominent as Mount Rushmore.

Amidst so many megaphones, social squeamishness is a substantial burden. Some of us should have rather been turtles, hard-shell recluses engineered for withdrawal.

Really, we could all benefit from a strand or two of tortoise DNA. A cousin to humility, shyness is as much a spiritual asset as a political liability. Envision a nation with more listening than shouting, where restraint overrides impulse, and mindful introspection prevents thoughtless self-confidence.

Blush if you agree.

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