Tears

(Ideally you would play this music as you read the piece. – Owen)

I wanted to participate in perfection, and make multicolored tulips out of music. I was eighteen, and knew hatred, love, and despair.

The world was ugly: violent, unjust, and painful. But alone, in a spotlight on a wooden stage, these notes, this music built a beautiful world for me, a home. And beauty and sadness were that home: a lovers’ dance, in a world beyond words.

And I blinked, and thirty-seven years went by.

And when I heard the music again, this morning, tears started falling, because of who that boy was, and what he believed, and what would come of him. For in playing this music, he was trying to recreate some measure of perfection.

A thing he no longer thinks possible, most days.

Hamlet in a Tweet

Hamlet, indecisive, delays his revenge upon an incestuous mother & murderous uncle just long enough for everyone else in the world to die.


642 Tiny Things to Write About (c) 2014 by Chronicle Books

“Boil down Hamlet, Shakespeare’s longest play, to a tweet (140 characters).”


Photo credit : ID 19650230 © Igor Dolgov | Dreamstime

Fortune’s Favor (2)

For nearly sixteen years, we have eaten at least monthly, and often weekly, at the Mandarin Cafe. It is one of only a couple of Chinese restaurants in this city that are not primarily buffet restaurants; and, while busy, it is usually pretty quiet.

We went there last New Year’s Eve, and, while my wife was chatting with the owner/operator and his wife, I spoke for a few minutes with a waitress / hostess there who painted the mural you might be able to make out in the picture above, and who I have written about elsewhere. I was paying the bill.

“Why didn’t you open your fortune cookie?” she asked, having just come from our table. She then handed it to me.

While the ancient credit card machine was processing my card, I cracked open the cookie and read:

“Water will break a stone that fire only strengthens.”

Interesting. I pocketed it.


You know, for someone who is supposed to have his life together, I sure as hell don’t.

I’ve carried my share of heartaches the last few years, but none greater than those associated with my 22-year-old son. Failed out college, fired from jobs, in and out of drug & alcohol rehab. He struggles with a number of mental health issues, and has gender dysphasia.

Halfway through 2016, he got a job at a convenience store, but was very unhappy. He lived alone in a tiny apartment we were paying for while he got on his feet. He had been unemployed, living in that same apartment, for 18 months.

I never raged or stormed at him, for I knew, or felt I knew, that I had, in some measure, done this to him. 

My heart ached, constantly. 

Around April he quit his job, saying he was going to live in Tennessee with some transgendered friends. He found work, and sounds so much happier now.

Sometimes tears see us through what anger cannot. 

For water will break a stone that fire will only strengthen.


642 Tiny Things to Write About (c) 2014 by Chronicle Books

“Write last year’s fortune cookie. It got everything right.”

Fortune’s Favor (1)

As I scrambled around yesterday morning getting ready for work, I noticed that my previous night’s fortune cookie was still unopened, so I opened it and read the following:

You will receive good news very soon.

“Well, that’s nice,” I thought. “I haven’t heard any of that in a while.”

Getting in my car a couple of minutes later, the tire light came on as I was leaving the driveway. My car barely made it to the auto / tire shop.

Leaving my car to be repaired, I managed to find someone to pick me up for work, but I was 40 minutes late for a mandatory meeting. The boss was not pleased.

I was called on to speak in the meeting about 2 hours later. I had not been listening – at all – and had to admit as much in front of everyone. The boss was slightly north of “not pleased”.

I argued with a bunch of people at work for the next few hours. That was not as much fun as it might sound like.

Late in the afternoon, I got a text from my sister saying my mom was in the hospital, having fainted from dizzy spells, and that she (my sister) was going out to see her this weekend.

That “good news” can come any time now.


642 Tiny Things to Write About (c) 2014 by Chronicle Books

“Write yesterday’s fortune cookie. It got everything wrong.”