After all, why would I risk staining that beauty with a coffee ring? Why place stress upon that carefully sewn binding? If I wanted to actually read the book, well, I have a chewed and annotation-scarred used paperback of it.

Lessons from Emilio

In the image, he is on the Inca Trail, alone, a floppy hat and sunglasses, his hands resting on the top of his walking stick as he waits for me to reach him.  I am wheezing from altitude dizziness as we ascend.


After all, I was maybe 15 years old, skinny and pale as pasta, my “Lord of Chaos” badge hanging crookedly from a fading Dragonslayer t-shirt. And there was Gandalf, a 280 pound beer-stinking sasquatch of a man …

Doing Battell

Doing Battell

I suppose accepting the importance of internal conflict is difficult for any American boy. After all, I was taught to be strong. To write “reflectively” about “feelings” was, in 1978, a girlie thing to do.



I position my fourth finger on the high Eb just as my 3rd grade self learned from Ms. Schnute, my piano teacher from the 1970s. The damp dusts of her cramped basement studio pass through me; I hear her voice calling down from the kitchen where she does dishes: “Septuple! Septuple! Four and three!”

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Essai – 

After Michel deMontaigne, to essai is to engage in a prose act of skepticism, an exploration of a topic as perceived or understood by the writer. You might think of it as a “testing,” an experiment in idea-making. Alas, our education system long ago turned this critical verb into a static noun scored by rubrics in red ink for purposes political and often crippling. 

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