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Life So Far

Punchlines and Plot Twists

The days of selling stories for a quarter were long gone. For the first time, I wasn’t sharing my writing with anyone. The work was purely for me, a simple way to amuse myself, passing time while trapped in the hallway, taking whatever might be happening in my life at the time and spinning a fiction around it. Or rewriting something I saw in a movie or on TV.

Lost in the System

Ms. Moroka did her best from day one. She never said the words to me, but I could tell she thought that my placement was ridiculous. So, in one of the most confusing years of my academic life, I spent my 1985-86 school year as a third grader in schedule and name, while approximately 80% of my actual work was done in tandem with the fourth grade class. But what about next year?, you might be wondering. 

It’s Fun to Write at the YMCA

Mr. Damon continued to pay me $0.25 for every story I wrote. Ms. Jean and Mr. Kent liked my stories even more than I ever thought they might, and they were always happy to pay for them too. So were a few other kids. Candy and Danielle always got them for free. Mr. Damon let me use the copy machine. I would write a story for a quarter and end up with a couple of dollars every time. I sold my stories for about a month.

Like a Dealer on the Playground

I lived on the lookout for parents getting rid of childhoods in bulk, cleaning out the rooms of their college-bound boys. The same $5 action figure at Target was never more than a dollar at Vet’s Stadium. And from the right vendors, comics were practically sold by the pound.
Halfway through my third grade year, I was turning into quite the junior entrepreneur, and was feeling less bitter about the broken promise of a better school experience.

Mom Vs. McKinney 

It was a simple kindergarten style assignment: crafting a collage from pictures cut out of the magazines and newspapers piled in front of us. Mom was juggling multiple responsibilities and running late for all of them when the principal, Mr. Butcher, gave her a call. They needed her at McKinney immediately; there was a serious problem. She asked for more information, but Butcher simply restated the need for her presence. 

Goodbye, Mr. Norm

Rewinding the clock to the five year old me who was always in trouble for talking too much, I’ll introduce you to Mr. Norm, the one teacher at McKinney who seemed to really get me. McKinney was a small school, so the teachers all had multiple jobs, but I only remember Mr. Norm as being in charge of all the drama productions, and that those productions were magical.

And She Hadn’t Even Seen the Movie.

From a very early age, profanity and violence were perfectly acceptable in my household. But nudity has never been okay with my mother. Die Hard is an ultimate example. I was twelve when that movie came out. It had cursing and killing, start to finish, but the objectionable scene for my mother is the two seconds of boob when canoodling gets interrupted by Gruber and his goons raiding the Nakatomi party. 

First Reads and Forbidden Pages

Books gave me ways to decode the language of grownups and understand the world around me. Reading was a way to experience magic and feed my curiosity, expanding my mind beyond the limitations of my immediate surroundings.

Meet My Grandparents

In a life with few regrets, I do wish I could rewind the clock to let my grandparents know how much they meant to me, how extraordinary I think they were, and that watching them all of those weekends as a child helped me to better nurture my own children.