on Basketball

Among the Egyptian students, the American students, the Japanese and African students, the bright students and the wild students, Carmelo Anthony stood out as the most visible student on the tiny campus of Oak Hill Academy, tucked away in microscopic Mouth of Wilson, Virginia.Now on the worldwide stage, he stands out in the news media, on NBA basketball courts, and in the Olympic Games. I don’t remember the first time I met him.I might even venture to say I never actually met him, merely shared space with him, sitting in the same classrooms, chapels, library, gym, and cafeteria that he did during our senior year in high school.For a brief time, in a rural town plumb in the middle of Appalachia, our very different lives intersected.Yet, and such is true of all successful athletes, there remained a barrier between him and the rest of us.As his career has propelled him …

Continue reading

Dialogue

“Good morning, this is Brian calling from K2 Software. I am responding to a recent inquiry you placed on our website about our enterprise management software.” “Huh? I’m sorry, can you hold on… one sec…. thanks.” I sit on hold and listen to elevator music for seven minutes. “Hello, EasyCare Lawn Services. This is Trisha, how can I help you?” “Hi Trisha, I was just on hold. This is Brian calling from K2 Software. If you have a minute, I wanted to talk to you about enterprise management software for your business.” “Oh, sorry, we don’t need that anymore.” The line goes dead. One call down, 140 more to go. This is the life of a telemarketer. Its my second day on the job. I hear the same script come mumbling out of the cube next to me, just as unsuccessfully. My phone rings: “Good morning, this is Brian.” “Hi, …

Continue reading

Waking Up in a Specific Setting

Still partially sleeping, I stumble through the unfamiliar room until I find the bathroom, where I slap my hands flat on the counter and evaluate myself in the mirror. I’m trying to grow a beard. My eyes are rose red and my hair smells like smoke. There is a bidet to my left, which I contemptuously ignore. My travel pouch is stuffed with miniature versions of the shampoo, soap and razor I use every day. I step into a shower separated from the rest of the bathroom only by a curtain. The water is warm enough. My watch is beeping at me, 7:00 A.M. My body doesn’t agree, because it feels so much more like midnight. The events of the past few days flicker through my mind; fragmented images of European cities wrapped in neon blur, acts that I won’t be ashamed of until later. I have only slept a …

Continue reading

Body Part

Hidden under three layers of skin, buried under hair, sweat, and sunburn, tiny bubbles of black ink stain the inside of my left forearm. Five letters and one symbol, each an inch squared, spell out the word “Wisdom.” I sat in a chair like the kind you do at the dentist’s office while a rough, goateed man repeatedly plunged a sharp needle into my arm, transmitting the black liquid to a place in my body where it will stay, forever. Five years and three more regrettable tattoos later, the dark word has faded slightly, but still shows easily enough that I try and hide it in the company of strangers and children. Whatever high-minded thoughts I harbored when I commissioned this enterprise I have forgotten, lost, abandoned, and revoked. “What does that say?” I used to have no problem answering when some curious person would try and lift my arm …

Continue reading