Growing Up

For me, fast food is full of magic.

It's the same kind of magic as Christmas: dinner delivered in gift boxes, stacked deep in a brightly colored bag. Then comes the tray of cups, a family of matching packages, each with its own gift tag to tell you which is yours.

As a kid, I was fascinated by the lids on those drinks, wondering whether the girl behind the window took the time to mark the crucial white bumps labelled "RB" and "Coke," or whether we'd have to find out the hard way which was whose. Sadly, the latter scenario prevailed, and I was left popping all the bumps on my drink myself... after all, that's what the lids were made for.

Now it's my turn, and I admit I get an extra burst of satisfaction when a family comes through at work wanting two iced teas, 7up, and a Pepsi. Marking fast-food drinks has gone from a six-year-old's small-time hobby to a nineteen-year-old's paying job.



Create Your Own Pasta Masterpiece

One hand on the counter, the customer bares his soul.
"I'll have the pasta,"
then it's my turn to play psychiatrist.
"And what kind of noodles would you like?"
After all, it's pretty informative:
"What does your pasta say about you?"
You could be friendly and reliable, like the woman
who eats chicken penne alfredo with broccoli,
or easy to please, like the little girl
who goes out with her grandma once a week
for rotini with just a little marinara?
But no, you're just a twentysomething guy
who can only point and say, "Those ones,
the skinny ones," or "the wiggly ones,"
or if you're a real shiner, "corkscrews."
You need more clarity in your life, my friend,
or a good thing will be right in front of your nose
and you'll be pointing and calling her
"the one with the nice face"
and THEN you'll be in trouble.
But steer clear of the girl who asks
for tortellini, rotini, penne, spaghetti, linguini,
in marina, pesto, and alfredo, with
mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, onions,
green peppers, red peppers, banana peppers, pepper flakes,
worcestershire sauce, garlic, salt and pepper,
sausage, chicken, oh, and do you have meatballs left?
Honestly. Run before it's too late.

*I like my job.


I don't want to tour Europe.


I want to see Europe again the way you can only see it by going in through the back door, by staying in a rundown part of town, by losing a night's sleep because there's a wedding going on downstairs and the band is playing Mariah Carey songs at 4 AM and then realizing that the couple getting married was the same couple you saw when you wandered into the Catholic cathedral that afternoon looking for a priest to talk Latin with.

I want to see the places in Europe that are truly historical, not in the sense that you buy a ticket, wander through, and then go to the gift shop for a keychain, but the places where the barbed wire is still strung along the walls, the places that are gray and empty and silent, the places like Jawor, the town still so ravaged by the Nazis that when we sang hymns in the square half of the group wound up in tears, and I am again just remembering.

I want to get up early in the morning and see the city when no one is awake, when the mist is still melting off of the river, when the stores are closed and the streets are quiet and the birds are out in the thousands.



"An empty house can be as lonely as a full hotel."

- Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca