Archive October 2009

Easy, okay and yes 1

Dear Bradshaw,

            Well, the flu season has arrived and it’s a doozy. To begin with, I’ve been greeted in students’ houses by entire families bundled up in their pajamas, sick with the flu and apologizing for the way they’re dressed but, get this, not for exposing me to their debilitating virus. No, it’s not swine flu (pork fever as one of my students calls it) but the flu it is — vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, despair — and me in the middle. This is no joke, man. I’ve managed to stay healthy so far but swine flu’s expected to sweep through the city and when it does I may not be so lucky. Emails have been circulating about how to avoid it and, in addition to the slew of other information, three of the most important tips are to wash your hands with soap and hot water as often as possible, never touch your face, and don’t shake people’s hands. Washing my hands and not touching my face is easy, okay and yes — but refusing to shake someone’s hand is like spitting in his or her eye. How can I avoid shaking someone’s hand without offending the person who’s holding it out? continue reading »

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Why there’s war and social psychosis 0

Dear Bradshaw,

About a week ago, while writing in my apartment, the only sound was of my fingers pounding the keys. There was a bottle of water next to my glass of wine on the coffee table and I noticed the water inside the bottle was rippling. You might not make much of that Shaw but it was spectacular because, as I said before, the apartment was hush, no air conditioning stirring the air, no earthquake of which to speak, no helicopter fanning the roof, nothing, man, I mean zippo! Nevertheless, the water inside the bottle was rippling, and it got my mind chugging, curious to know what was making it move. continue reading »

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Why does a rose grow? 0

Dear Bradshaw,

I’m currently sitting on some cobblestones in Piazza Navona, about twenty minutes before my next lesson, so I’m taking advantage of this time to write you, buddy old pal of mine. I love days like this. Beautiful weather days, where you can just sit in one spot and breathe in and out while thinking about being alive and, more importantly, taking the time to realize you’re alive. Too much time (mine at least) is spent worrying about what I have to do tomorrow or what I should have done yesterday while running around and making plans and organizing my day. It seems I’m always going to or returning from work. If not that, I’m working. Otherwise, I’m sleeping or eating or showering or shaving or brushing my teeth or cutting my fingernails or buying groceries or paying bills or doing laundry or dishes or anything other than thinking about the fact that this is my life happening right now. Not enough time is spent sitting and relaxing and marveling at the miracle of existence. I don’t mean why we’re here or what happens after we die. I mean just understanding that you’re here now and wow! Isn’t that astonishing? Why ask why we’re here? After all, why is your hand here? Why does a rose grow? Why must there be a reason? continue reading »

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Reason for writing 0

Dear Bradshaw,

That question in your last letter got my mind spinning, man, like a pinwheel on the Fourth of July. It’s all I’ve been thinking about lately. Would I still write if I knew I’d never publish anything of value or worth to anyone? The answer is yes, absolutely, I would still write and, in a nutshell, the conclusion I came to is that, no matter what, everything I write is of value to me. Naturally, I write for a reason, and though publication and recognition would be wonderful, that’s not why I write. I write for fun, to feel free, and to exercise my mind and imagination. I write because I’m alive and, well, at the end of everything, that’s all there is, right? Whether I like it or not, kaput, the end, nothing gold can stay. When and if I’m eighty years old looking back on my life, I want to be able to ask myself, “Was it worth it? Did you have a good time?” and answer, “Yes!” continue reading »

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Suicide by cancer stick 0

Dear Bradshaw,

I had an apple for lunch today. How’s that for healthy, huh? Not a pastrami sandwich or a hot dog, nor a Big Mac or a Whopper, and no cans of Coke. Just an apple, you know = the piece of fruit Adam ate that started all the claptrap about sin and suffering. Anyway, the point of my story, and of this letter, is that a crazy thing happened when I finished eating it. There I was, on my way to a private lesson, holding the core in my hand and — being in the middle of Rome, surrounded by cobblestones, bricks and concrete — I couldn’t figure out what to do with it, the core I mean, where to throw it away. I wanted to toss it into a flowerbed or a bush where it belongs, to fertilize the soil, to give the seeds back to the earth from which they came, but technically that would have been littering, and punishable by a fine. Yet, what sense is there in chucking an apple core or a banana peel or lemon rinds into a trashcan to be hauled off to a landfill? That makes as much sense as buying a can of corn and then dumping out the corn and eating the can. Anyway, I was in a real crisis. When I finally did pass a bare patch of earth, I felt guilty and self-conscious, as if what I was about to do was wrong even though I knew it was right. Well, in the end, I chickened out and, waiting until I passed a trashcan, I threw the core in there. Crazy. continue reading »

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