My Uncle

My uncle emerges from the hallway leading to his garage, gazes about those of us gathered in his living room and makes a beaming, openhanded gesture. I know this bemused stance and have seen it all my life. A gentle and generous-hearted person, he is inviting us to share in his consternation. What is going on here, his expression says. And is he feigning schlemiel status or does he actually deserve it? Thus, my uncle's familiar comic trope, which in this case both warms the heart and chills the soul. Read more [...]


For a moment, looking up from my cappuccino and away from Steel Wheels, all seemed marvelously clear. In my mind, certain cosmic forces had coalesced near Yosemite National Park, and damned if I wasn't going to forge them into change. Hovering over my mind's scene in the lower Sierra was the former director of Caltrans, California's Department of Transportation. Good thing all of these disparate bits were coming together, for not everyone had the ability to synthesize strains of thought this far-flung Read more [...]


I wonder what Isaac Babel was thinking as his captors let him down some last corridor of Lubyanka Prison. That he had always known this would come? Or hoped that his dark forebodings were only imagined? Either way, he had peopled his own consciousness with reality's hard edge. And whether it is better to be prepared or unprepared for the KGB's bullet, who can say?Which brings me to Valerie and Luis, 19-year-olds, one my sister's former student. They have visited me for the last five days. Well, more Read more [...]