MOTHER’S DAY

I came across a letter my mom wrote me 20 years ago. I was working in Bangkok, Thailand, my first job out of college. She wrote the letter one day after I had called feeling depressed, homesick and lonely, thinking about giving up and coming home.

I managed to stick it out, and when it was time to go back to the U.S., that letter traveled back with me. Then it went from the West to the East Coast, back to the West Coast and then back to the East Coast again, pretty much everywhere I’ve lived since the day I received it. It’s been stored in suffocating attics and lonely storage units, under beds crammed in with God alone knows what else. But here it is.  

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WHAT WOULD CHRIST HAVE DONE ABOUT THE BOSTON BOMBER?

Since the Boston Marathon bombings, there’s been a lot of focus on Islam. But two pieces in the Washington Post got me thinking instead about Christianity.

WHAT WOULD CHRIST HAVE DONE ABOUT THE BOSTON BOMBER?The first was a front-page story about the misery bombing victims are going through. One of those victims is Paul Norden, pictured above, who lost his right leg in the April 15 explosion.

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THE GREAT GATSBY: THE MOVIE’S GREATER THAN THE BOOK

A friend once wrote a review of Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises for our high school newspaper. At the time, I thought that was a little weird. Who reviews a book decades after it’s been declared a classic? Even weirder was that he gave it a bad review. Awkward dialogue, he wrote. Boring story.

THE GREAT GATSBY: THE MOVIE'S GREATER THAN THE BOOKI gave him grief about panning the book. You can’t give Ernest Hemingway a bad review.

Why not? he asked

That stumped me. I hadn’t thought of a reason because I didn’t need a reason. It was the Sun Also Rises. It was a classic. It was Ernest Hemingway. That spoke for itself.  

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HERE’S TO THE DENTISTS

My college professor said the problem with communism is that not enough people want to be street sweepers. If you have a state-guaranteed income, why take a lousy job?

I was thinking about that during a recent dentist appointment. Not many people like dentist appointments. So imagine being a dentist. Your day is nothing but dentist appointments, one after the other. You wake up in the morning, put on gloves, and scrape goo off people’s teeth. Stick the little hose down there to absorb all the gunk and grime and your ears are filled with the sound of suction.

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DAVID BECKHAM’S MANY HAIRDOS

He’s sported a lot of them over his career, which has drawn to a close. I’m just a mild soccer fan, but even I got nostalgic remembering where I was in my life during certain of his haircuts.

DAVID BECKHAM'S MANY HAIRDOSThe Guaridan’s captions are just as entertaining as the photos. The 2005 faux-hawk was “a bit of mousy ‘meh’ mess.” His 2010 boy band comeback look was “mullety at the back, quiffy at the front, and messy in between.”

We kicked the British’s ass in the Revolutionary War and have saved them numeous times since. Yet their journalists still rule.

It’s easy to poke fun at Beckham and his many ‘dos, but as I looked through these photos I found myself admiring his willingness to shake things up, to take some chances, to fail miserably, and then to rise again. Above all he kept soldiering on, always changing and never resting with any one look. His hair was like Madonna. All five of the Spice Girls with some special guest stars added in.

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TELEVISION: THE NEW FAMILY TIME

When people first got televisions, watching a program was a family event. It was a miracle. It was like traveling without having to travel.  

TELEVISION: THE NEW FAMILY TIMEWe take it for granted now, but imagine buying your first TV set in 1951. You didn’t need to go to the movie theater. The theater was in your house. You could watch somebody in New York reading the news. You could watch the St. Louis Cardinals while you played chess with Grampa.

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THE LAST DAY OF SCHOOL, AGAIN

This is a recycled post, but I can’t help thinking about it this time of year.

Most seventh graders can’t wait until summer vacation. But I dreaded it. She was leaving, and I’d never see her again. 

Through that winter and spring, she was my reason for getting up in the morning. She’d been in my class for years, just another one of the girls. Until one day in seventh grade when she wasn’t. There were some whispers, some notes exchanged behind backs. What I gathered was that she liked me a little bit, and then of course I suddenly liked her a lot. That was the beginning of the romance and the end of all conversation between us. Communication after that was through intermediaries or tightly folded correspondence.

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TO THE CLASS OF 2013

You’ve accomplished something, whatever school you’re graduating from. Almost 25 percent of Americans don’t finish high school. Almost 70 percent don’t complete a bachelor’s degree. More than 93 percent of people in the world won’t finish college. Hundreds of millions across the globe, mostly girls, never attend school for a single day.

So you should feel proud. But don’t feel superior. Not everybody had the means or the support that you’ve had to get here. And anyway, lots of people have done very well without graduating. Peter Jennings and Hans Christian Andersen didn’t finish high school. Mark Wahlberg, Louis Armstrong, and Julie Andrews didn’t finish high school. Edward Albee, Adele, Paul Allen, Dan Akroyd, and Jane Austen never finished college. That’s just a few of the A’s. 

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SHOULD MY MIDDLE-AGED MALE FRIEND JUST ADMIT HE LIKES THE NEW TAYLOR SWIFT ALBUM?

My friend, who was wary of admitting he liked Taylor Swift’s album Red, now has a separate but related and yet maybe even more significant problem: Step by step, chord by chord, he is learning to play every Red song on his guitar. And to sing them too.

SHOULD MY MIDDLE-AGED MALE FRIEND JUST ADMIT HE LIKES THE NEW TAYLOR SWIFT ALBUM?He started out with noble intentions. His young daughter’s guitar skills were advancing, so he thought that in order to keep the momentum he’d get the complete Red guitar tablature songbook. It was brilliant. The vegetables had been hidden within the pizza. He didn’t have to force her to practice. She did it on her own almost every day. 

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