Author Archive

One day of junior high school in the mid-80s in Redmond, Washington

I wake up to the sounds of 101.5 FM, Seattle’s top-40 station. Billy Ocean, perhaps. Or maybe Wham!, if I’m lucky. I am 12 years old, in 7th grade—junior high. I shower, brush my teeth, apply mousse. I attempt to select the right outfit—no easy task, as the incorrect combination can and will result in […]

Sweet tooth

I hate Halloween. I hate having to come up with some stupid costume idea, worrying if it’s too silly or obvious or cryptic. Even when I was a kid, selecting a costume always seemed to me like an afterthought, an evil that was necessary to partake in the holiday ritual. My costumes were always easy, […]

When colonies collapse

I’m not a very sentimental person, though I have my moments. And I’m certainly no nature lover, but lately I can’t help but fret and wonder — where have all the bees gone? I’ve been dismayed over the last six months by the dramatically named “Colony Collapse Disorder,” the inexplicable mass vanishing of millions of […]

A fear of ink

I live in a land where just about everyone under fifty has a tattoo or three or twenty three. This will come as no shock to anyone who knows that I live in North America or, in particular, Long Beach, California. I don’t have any tattoos, which will also come as no shock to anyone […]

On not seizing the day

Here’s a conversation I have fairly often with my writing students: Me: So the point of your essay is, what, “carpe diem”? What does that mean to you, exactly? Student: It means “seize the day.” Me: I know that. But what do you mean by “seize the day”? Student: You know. Like, living life to […]

Bad job

Recently, I was on a search committee to hire new faculty, which inevitably made me feel pretty damned lucky to have a full-time job (not to mention tenure). On top of that, just yesterday I picked up my “Service Award,” which I received upon… well, having managed to not lose my job in the five […]

Dealing with divorce: a child’s guide

If your parents are divorced or in the process of getting a divorce, you may be concerned with the effects this might have on you. And you should be. Studies show that children of divorce have considerably greater risk of experiencing, uhh … “psychological issues” compared with children who live in a stable two-parent environment. […]

Not in my nature

The other day I ran into a colleague, and while we were doing our post-summer-chitchat-thing, she told me she had spent the better part of her summer volunteering as a wilderness ranger in the Sierra National Forest, an experience that involved hiking and working in some of the most remote and picturesque parts of California: […]

Amusement-phobic, redux

A few months ago, I wrote a post about my (ir?)rational fear of amusement-park rides (and one ride, in particular), a fear that has followed me through childhood and teenhood and young adulthood and into my thirties. And while I’m not afraid of all rides, I generally stay away from the ones with height requirements. […]

A cry for help

My name is Jeremy, and I’m an addict. I tried to deny this fact as long as humanly possible, making excuses, constructing elaborate justifications. But I continued to feed my addiction, and now I’ve lost any ability to control it. My problem began when I watched the first DVD of the television show Freaks and […]