THE GRAND CANYON AND THE RAW POWER OF WATER.

The river water was calm and quiet. We were drifting on a raft:  a motorized, inflated, oval shaped, heavy duty, grey vinyl, floating machine which had a flat wooden bench crossing the middle of it, a place for a rider to sit.  We, all the riders, were wearing sun drying shorts, sneakers and tee shirts.  Some of us also wore socks. The side tubes of the raft had tightly woven, thick rope wrapped around them. These were the clutching ropes for the riders as they violently moved through the turbulent waters of the Colorado River. Six of us were sitting, life jackets on, around the raft or lounging, lying on the tubes, which were about a foot above the water. The raft seemed to be aimlessly drifting down river. The only man standing was a blonde, long haired, bearded giant of a man dressed in cut denim overalls with a white tee shirt underneath the overalls. Partially covering his feet were open-toed sandals.  He was known to us as Whale. Whale was guiding the raft from the stern and loved to challenge the River’s whitewater. The drifting was quiet time.  Time to marvel at the beauty of the Grand Canyon.  The Canyon was awe-inspiring and was “Grand” in the truest sense of the word: magnificent, majestic, monumental. At times, the Canyon classically clothed itself in glassy, smooth, polished, rock cliffs, colored in glistening, varying shades of blacks and browns. These sheer cliffs, often proudly towering over a mile above the river, dropped with majesty from the rim of the Canyon straight down penetrating the River surface, slicing it neatly as...

A QUESTION FOR A THERAPIST

There were eight of us then.  The nuclear family, my parents and their children, had not reached maximum size yet.  It was dinner time and we were all seated around the dining room table.  It was the dining room table because the kitchen was too small to accommodate all of us.  The table itself was not a table for  fine dining in a fine dining room, but it was functional.  It could handle the family. My mom sat at one end of the table, my dad the other, three of us were seated on either side of the table with one high chair next to my mom on the corner and one next to my dad on the opposite corner.  I was seated to the left of my dad who sat at the table head closest to the kitchen.  This didn’t make sense since my dad was a “stranger in a strange land” (Borrowed from Roger Heinlein) if he crossed the threshold into the kitchen. My dad didn’t cook, set the table, remove dishes from the table or wash dishes.  He, like rest of us, only dirtied dishes.  I always wondered why my mom didn’t sit closer to the kitchen at that time.  She did by the time most of my brothers, sisters and I were in our teens. I was never critical of my father for his patriarchal behavior because it was the way society worked in the pre and initial post World War II  years.  Women were supposed to marry become homemakers, child bearers, clean the inside of the house, put the meals on the tables and...

SEMINARY, ST. MICHAEL, DON QUIXOTE AND “THE BOOK OF RUTH”

Yes!!  Finally, I had made it.  I was admitted.  The process for admission to the Seminary, for me, had been rigorous.  My psychological testing had immediately triggered a sense of concern for the church’s highest ranking, local official in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Then there was his book, required reading for anyone who wished to enter the Seminary; I told him I didn’t like it.  Well, actually I told him it “sucked,” but he had asked, and when I had asked him about honesty, he had said, “You can always be honest with me.”  So, I was, and my journey for admission to the Seminary became rocky. The decision to attend Seminary was, I always thought,  divinely ordained.  I was walking along the walkway of my college campus carrying my black book bag on a beautiful, sunny, spring day.  The grass was new, fresh and green.  It was the reinvigoration of life into all plant life after the season of death.  The eternal circle of life had commenced the next,  new continuation of rebirth through the circle of time. On this walk, I was struggling with a decision to enter the Lutheran Seminary.  I had just passed the heavily populated library stairs where I had once again been mocked, but since I was now a senior, and the jocks who sat on the stairs understood I was the only student on campus who was raising a child while attending college, the mocking had become humorous, and not malicious.  I had finally been reborn on campus.  Rebirth felt good on this beautiful, sunny, spring day in the season of rebirths. I, for no apparent...

YOUTH BASKETBALL AND THE DESTRUCTION OF DREAMS

One of my grandsons, one of my oldest son’s boys, was playing in an All Star Basketball Tournament.   He plays for a team consisting of  11 year old boys.  The team goes by the name Ballers.  Balling obviously has a different meaning now than when I was growing up in the 1960s and 1970s. I never liked the 1960s and 1970s use of the word “ball.”  I was never sure what it really meant: Did it mean bouncing around in bed, or did it have something to do with the physical connection linking two people.  I never liked answering a question like, “Did you ball her last night?” “No, I didn’t ball her, but I had a ball!”  With whom did you have a ball?”  I used “with whom”  because that’s the way young boys or teenagers spoke in my day, not. The Ballers ( the team on which my grandson plays) wore blue and white uniforms.  All the boys were dressed in the now traditional, longer shorts, not the hot pants worn by the teams for which I played as a young basketball fanatic. You probably don’t know this, but I was going to start center for John Wooden at UCLA and be the repeat star on a run for three NCAA basketball titles in a row.  It couldn’t be four titles in a row  because in those days freshmen could not start on a varsity team, NCAA rules, although I was Varsity ready when I entered the University. I would  star on several Gold Medal Olympic basketball teams.  USA! USA! USA!  I was, of course, the...

MASQUERADE

I was sitting with Mylo, Bella and Meg about eight rows from the stage.   Several members of the cast walked from the back of the stage and through the curtain.  The Phantom of the Opera began with an auction of old theatrical props that had allegedly belonged in a nineteenth century Paris Opera House.  A monkey music box, the first item auctioned, began to play.  The initial notes of the song “Masquerade” floated gently through the air.  The next item put up for auction was a broken very large, faux, crystal chandelier.  The  stage auctioneer began the sale of the broken chandelier by reminding the audience of  the strange events concerning the Phantom of the Opera. Then suddenly, the music began, an aggressive but beautiful sound, The Phantom’s theme, and the chandelier began its ascent to the top of the Majestic Theater, to its position in the old Opera House.   As if in a time machine, the ascending chandelier transported us and the rest of the audience, as if by magic, to the old Paris Opera House, once the Majestic Theater.  The chandelier  glistened and shined with its prisms of faux crystal emitting refracted light creating a varying, colorful, sparkling, beautiful chandelier;  the transition was complete. Yet, nothing was as it seemed.  We were not in nineteenth century Paris. We were not the audience in an old Opera House.  We did not have a very large, magical,  crystal chandelier hanging over our heads.  We were in New York City in the Majestic Theater trapped willingly in the illusion of life created by the theater, the music and the...

TRANSSPECIES

I had just parked my car in the mall parking lot.  It was one of those bathroom days, too much coffee, too much water.  My bladder was in the year 1889, May 31, precisely, and it felt like Lake Conemaugh being prevented from bursting by the South Fork Dam in Johnstown, PA.  All that coffee, all that water just pouring into my bladder like heavy rainfall held back by the squeezed closing of my pee hole, better known to the medical group as a urinary opening.  I was at this time thanking God I only had one urinary opening.  “Thank you, God!!” I could not imagine having had to squeeze two or more pee holes closed. I raced through the parking lot unable to open the dam’s floodgates between two cars because too many people were strolling through the lot.  As a near, last hope of staving off heavy rain drainage, enough to float a few cars with their drivers to the creek behind the parking lot, I reached down to my pant’s zipper and grabbed my groin. I felt like Michael Jackson dancing, a rapper rapping or a little boy fixated on his penis, realizing for the first time that touching it felt good. Through the glass doors I scurried, legs now squeezing my thighs together.  I was scurrying pigeon toed.  I realized I was running, while limping, with my hand clutching my penis and my pee hole being squeezed closed which meant my butt hole was puckered.  I wondered if my pants were embarrassingly  plastered   around my butt cheeks defining the crack. But I didn’t care;...

TURBULENCE AND SUMO WRESTLERS

The Boeing 737-800, a 96,000,000 million U.S.  dollar aircraft, began to shutter and shake.  I had boarded late on standby and, of course, climbed into a middle seat in the Coach section of the aircraft about twenty-seven rows towards the rear of the aircraft.  We were 30,000 feet high, flying about 10,000 feet above the gentle appearing, thin wisps of the cirrus clouds.  The cirrus clouds indicated fair weather below. As the plane rocked and rolled through the sky, the pilot announced over the public address system.  “Service is suspended because of moderate turbulence!”  This announcement coincided with the aircraft dropping some number of incalculable feet as if it were going to simply fall from the sky and land on its soft under belly. The flight attendants and passengers were directed by the pilot to take their seats and to buckle up for safety.  An attractive blonde female flight attendant who was walking to her seat when the aircraft dropped, either flew up to meet the ceiling or the ceiling crashed down to meet her.  Either way the result was the same for the flight attendant.  She banged her head and crumbled to the aisle floor. After the flight attendant crumbled to the floor,  three or four large (two hundred pound plus), macho men unbuckled their seat belts and leaped from their aisle seats to assist her.  Turbulence humbled them to the floor quickly as well. The scene reminded me of my taking a tow rope up the side of a mountain with all the other skiers who could not negotiate a green circle trail. The tow rope is...

AN ENCOUNTER WITH A PORCELAIN TUB AND THE GOD OF THE MIRROR

I turned off the water, pulled the curtain back and stepped over the side wall of the tub.  Stepping over the side of the old, smooth, worn, claw footed porcelain tub was quite dangerous.  The porcelain was  incredibly smooth after years and years of warm water pouring from the taps, people lounging with their heads resting on the back wall while their feet controlled the temperature of the water by turning the taps as the rest of their bodies floated, and kids would spend minutes as if they were hours sliding down the tub’s back and into the pool with a splash.  All were wearing that porcelain tub smooth and slippery. The tub was a place of happiness growing up,  “nothing like a warm bath,” or a place for meditating or a place for sitting peacefully feeling the hurt you knew you would have to feel when it happened, as it always did. If you’re hurt, angry or really sad, a warm tub of water is a good place to be.  And yet, one mistake climbing out of that porcelain tub could turn the friendly tub into an enemy with the potential to deal a fatal blow. To escape the tub, I had placed my hand on its side wall; I had gingerly lifted my right foot from the water.  The water that  was now being sucked down the drain by a tornado like vortex.  I placed my right foot on the carpeted floor next to the tub.  Still holding onto the side wall of the tub, I removed my left foot from the spiraling, drain bound water and...

MICHAEL JACKSON TEACHES ENGLISH

The middle-aged man with a full head of early acquired, silver hair walked sharply into my classroom.  He was neatly dressed in a tweed herringbone sport coat with grey pants, a white shirt and a pink with a grey, spotted bow tie.  He wore  black rimmed conservative men’s eyeglasses and men’s black, laced permashine shoes.  The shoes and the eyeglasses were the only items of clothing that he wore that gave any indication of his two professions. He proceeded to the back of the classroom at a brisk pace, body erect never stopping to introduce himself or even nod his head in acknowledgement that he was in my classroom.  He sat down stiffly, posture perfect in a desk in the rear of the classroom. He placed his notepad on the desk, reached inside his tweed herringbone sport coat, probably to the hidden pocket of his white shirt, and magically pulled a pen from the pocket. He glanced at my name printed in white chalk on the blackboard.  He wrote my name on his paper in some designated space for a teacher’s name.  He then glanced at the blackboard again.  My classroom number was printed in white chalk beneath my name.  He appeared to write my classroom number in a designated space as well. He then slowly raised his head. I stood motionless at the front of the classroom in army jeep green, wool slacks that had a two inch, black stripe running from my waist down to my black perma shine shoes. The black stripes were running down each outer pant leg.  I wore a greenish shirt which had...

LIFE DETERMINED BY ROLLS OF THE DICE

I dreamed I was standing and observing a game of craps.  I examined the floorette or bottom of the table which stood twenty-eight inches above the floor.  I observed that the table was twelve feet long with half circles on either end.  Around the table were twenty-two, equally spaced, “new moon” shaped chip racks, enough racks to permit each of the players in the game to place their future bets, dreams, fun, irritation, excitement and anger directly in front of  their claimed chip rack and within inches of the grasp of their hands, the hands that would toss the chips on the table while the players gave the dealers oral instructions on how to place their bets, anticipating the outcome of their throws of the dice. The solid table top was covered with felt. The felt was marked with various numbers and groups of numbers representing a variety of aspects of life.  Each number or aspect of life was endowed with a set of odds which represented the likelihood of a number’s appearance on a throw of the dice by a player. The physical logistics of the game were easy enough   A player had to throw the dice from one end of the table to the other with the dice bouncing off the rubber pyramids on the back wall.  After striking the rubber pyramids, the dice bounced off the pyramids, twisted and rolled around the table until they stopped with one set of dotted numbers face up on each die.  Add the numbers together and a player had his result. Would I survive birth, grow up, get in...