Forty-Three Hours and Counting

5 years ago with 22 comments in Uncategorized
I smoked my first cigarette at age 10, in the raspberry bushes across the street with my friend W., who had stolen his father’s pack. We hid the rest under a bush for later, but that night in a fit of penitence I came back and snapped them all in half, then mixed them with sand for good measure. When we met up to smoke some more, I pretended to be as surprised as anybody. I didn’t ...

Paupers

5 years ago with 9 comments in Uncategorized
“You know what’s funny?” says A., coming up to me while we practice Bok Pai Chuan and grinning painfully. “How you’re so much better at that form, even though I’ve been coming here for longer!” “Aw, but you don’t get to come here as often as I do!” I say, hoping my grin is less transparent than his. He really wants me to think he ...

Interlude: Kung Fu

5 years ago with 14 comments in Uncategorized
In transit again, this time outside Kung Fu. I like sitting in my car and typing away. Maybe this could be a start of one of those famous Neurotic Writers’ Habits, like how Graham Greene would sit watching license plates until he saw the right number combination, and then he could write. Maybe eventually I won’t be able to write except in my car. Then again, who wants to be Graham ...

Me Time

6 years ago with 16 comments in Uncategorized
I was talking with Fr. T and pulling a standard maneuver wherein I complain about how well things are going, and try to work out some way that I must be doing something wrong — you know, something I could work on, something to feel guilty about. Fr. T blames this, mostly in jest, on my Jewish heritage: people talk about “Catholic guilt,” but Jews have got Catholics beat in ...

Antimirage

6 years ago with 16 comments in Uncategorized
Can you guess the reason that I’ve got a keyboard gathering dust in my parents’ attic, a drum set doing the same in their spare room, a fiddle languishing in my closet, and a duduk slowly drying in my dresser? I’ll give you a hint — it’s the same reason I can read the Cyrillic alphabet but can’t speak a word of Russian, can pronounce German passably but ...

Servants of the King

6 years ago with 10 comments in Uncategorized
It would be funny if it weren’t so embarrassing, the thought of a grown man like me hoping that the teacher is going to come tell me I’m doing a good job. By “teacher”, of course I mean “Sifu.” Lord, how I love Kung Fu. I love it a surprising amount. I know I’m a little bit of a dilettante — I love to pick things up, but I don’t always ...

Sifu? I Barely Know ‘Er!

6 years ago with 14 comments in Uncategorized
This place looks just like a Kung Fu dojo should look. It’s in the seedy section of town,1 egg-rolled2 between a Chinese restaurant and a 7-11. Inside the students are moving in slow motion; the T’ai Chi class is right before the Kung Fu class. The sifu — that’s Kung Fu for sensei — is a big guy, with tattooed forearms and a ponytail, and kind eyes that ...