Guess which one I don’t fully understand

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In The Shawshank Redemption, there’s a character named Red. He’s a prisoner who smuggles in special items for other prisoners for a price. He’s the Amazon of Shawshank. Red can get you anything you want, within reason, everything but outer space. That’s reserved for the warden.

Here’s Red’s rule: “Risk goes up, price goes up.”

In other words, if the item you want is something that could get him in trouble, like a pickaxe, he charges more money.

This makes sense to me, and I agree. If the risk is high, the price should be high.

Something else that makes…


Hurt someone. Now!

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There’s a Stephen King quote from On Writing that’s become as soothing to me as a psalm. King gets it:

If you write (or paint or dance or sculpt or sing, I suppose), someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that’s all. I’m not editorializing, just trying to give you the facts as I see them.

My heart says this is true. My heart says, “Preach!” The trouble is, I don’t understand why it’s true.

If the quote was talking about trolls, I’d get it. These inhuman creatures make people feel lousy because that’s natural. …


It’s Not When I Die, But If

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Graveyards are everywhere. We simply cannot stay alive.

I can’t go to the store for milk and eggs without passing the dead.

This scares me.


Because these dead people used to be just like me: so beautiful, but also terrible at planning and therefore needing to pop to the store for milk and eggs midweek, and on the way, they passed graveyards. They thought, I can’t get away from these things!

And they thought, These dead people used to be just like me.


He died as he lived: Disobeying his wife and riding motorcycles

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This year, on the brink of my 40th birthday, I’ve begun to covet other men’s motorcycles.

Every time I hear a bike engine, that seductive grunt, I whip my eyes to the road. I want to see the bike, badly. I need to know, “Can I picture myself on you?”

I’m not interested in bikers. I hardly look at them. Some well-meaning folks endure their midlife crisis by ignoring the bikes and climbing onto these bikers.


There’s a part of me always hunting for this treasure

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Every summer, my little family and I travel to Maine, the home country. There is much visiting, and many Maine delicacies to consume: whoopie pies, lobster, and Moxie, the whisky of soda pop.

And there are journeys to the sacred Atlantic where I demand to be changed by the water in mystical ways.

I stand on a rock that reaches into the waves and look to the horizon. I look and look. I order my eyes to weep, and I stuff Nature’s salty poetry into my soul like a looter.

I walk away full of the ocean and of myself.


I teach to keep the child in my heart alive

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I’m a teacher who happens to like teaching. But even if I didn’t, I would still teach. Even if I hated children, I would do it. How do I know? Because sometimes I do hate children, yet I teach.


Not because the children are our future.

They’re not. They can’t be. Have you spent time with children lately? If they’re our future, we have to fight them and take it back. Finally a fight that might unify the world. Why? Because children are everywhere. Nothing but a global alliance can stop them.

Do I teach because I cannot do…


If anger isn’t allowed to fly out in screams, where does it go?

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Doctors say my son’s mind can be found on the autism spectrum. Where? It’s difficult to know. I call the zone wherein his mind dwells, “The Wizard Zone,” and “The Earth-Does-Not-Deserve-This-Amazing-Mind Zone.”

I also call it “The If-You-Do-Not-Agree-With-Me-About-My-Boy-You-Empty-Headed-Bastard-Bound-For-Hell-I-Pray-Daily-You-Will-Die-Alone Zone.”

My son has difficulty controlling his emotions, especially when they’re powerful.

This can be awesome.

When he’s happy, he’d wild. Dancing. Crying out and waving his hands. It scares the crap out of the cats. They flee. One of their gods has gone mad. Wait, all three of their gods are now insane. …


I don’t love you, so you know I’m telling the truth

illustration by author

My family ran a small blueberry raking operation when I was young. Grampa was the general. His children and their spouses were his lieutenants, and we the grandchildren were grunts on the raking crew.

The work starts early. Dew soaks the blueberry fields until they’re as wet as shallow ponds. Your sneakers are going to be sopping for the first several hours. You might develop trench foot.

Then the sun comes. A killer sun. It hates dew and it hates you. Your body is 70% dew and this makes the sun furious. …


Nothing scares me more than the birds and the bees

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For a long time, I’ve dreaded discussing the facts of life with my son. I blame this dread on New England, where I’m from. It is a place alive and shivering with the fear of sex. Who started this fear? The anti-sex wrestling tag team: the pilgrims and the Puritans.

Why did the pilgrims wear so many buckles?

To keep all the sex in. To smother it to death.

But when you try to buckle up a natural thing, it will escape. Malcolm was right,

“Life finds a way.”

I think it comes down to a very bad equation hatched…


It seems impossible that something as marvelous and boundless as a person could ever be gone

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It struck me recently that most gravestones give you only a name and two numbers with a little line between them.

That’s it? I thought. What about all the stuff that makes me ME?

In the old days, stones at least said how a person died:

Jasper Billings 1802–1855
Found under boulder.

Matilda McConnel 1799–1831
Dead. Wolf-related.

That’s good information to include. But there should be more stuff too. All the stuff. So even a stranger could pass by and be moved to tears.

But how?

Someone please describe this new and wonderful gravestone.

The New and Wonderful Gravestone


Daniel Williams

A poverty-stricken, soft Batman. Here are some drawings: And here’s a blog:

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