About Me

Vancouver, Washington
Old. That about says it all. Gray is good, too. Affinity for facial hair. Unfortunate affinity for back hair. Loves writing...but it is hard so it often doesn't happen. Happiest at home with my family. Married my best friend.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


He walked into the first bathroom. It was an old party to clean up with brown paper towel signs and toilet paper streamers everywhere.. Even wearing rubber gloves, he wondered shat new and exciting germs he was getting on his hands. He scrubbed the sharpie made poem about poo, and girls, and farts from the walls, and wiped away all of the pubic hair with his eyes closed, breathing through his mouth as if germs could not enter between his yellowing teeth. He then replace the urinal cakes, which smelled like nothing nature had ever made, and smelled even worse when covered with the ammonia scent of pee and washed the filth form the mirrors. He got out as quickly as he could, almost at a run, not paying attention to his forward motion until he had run into Miss Winters in the hallway. With his head down, a mumbled apology, and a quick backward glance at her, he moved to the next bathroom.

Chapter 2

Adrienne Winters had moved into town last year to take a teaching position in the English department left vacant when Mrs. Johnson, the fossilized remains of a 1930’s debutante had retired to Florida with her ex-military husband. Adrienne had been chosen as a replacement because she was young, and therefore would most likely stay awhile, and because she was willing to work for the wages offered by a small town school.

She had moved from New York, where she had attended public school as a ghost. She had graduated from NYU with a degree in comparative literature which she accepted from the college dean who could neither place her face of her name. She immediately began looking for a small place to teach, because she abhorred the violence and discipline necessary at an inner city school and the sheer size of the suburban schools made her cringe with fear. So, she hoped a small place, with a small school, where she could teach a subject that most students slept through was perfect for her. If they were asleep, they wouldn’t ask questions. Questions through her off of the rhythm of the way she presented her material. The Rhythm of the material, like the stanzas of a Robert Browning poem, made her comfortable and kept her grounded in the world she had bubbled for herself.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Judas Principle

When I was a wee lad, still in college, still with all dark hair, still with discernible abs and thighs, I took a class from a Professor of Rhetoric who had been coerced into teaching a course on the American Novel to 1900. Because of his background, we spent as much time learning why the words used in the passage led to the meaning of the passage and whether or not the passage was rational or logical. Most of the time, I just listened, not wanting to participate in the conversation because I usually didn't understand what was being said or because I found the things the professor said quite fascinating and didn't want to interrupt his train of thought with a comment or q question. Being BYU, as we read Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter", the topic of adultery as one of the greatest of sins came up. Of course, most people in the class, and I don't blame them because of where they were from and what they were taught, could not be convinced that, next to murder, the worst physical sin in the world was adultery. Note that I say "physical sin". Our professor, in complete disagreement with the rest of the class, but fully convincing to me, found that her sin of Adultery was not nearly as sinful as that committed by the Parson. You see, My professor's argument was that betrayal is far more sinful than adultery because betrayal is the parent of adultery. The Parson betrayed Abigail by refusing to admit to his own sin, while she courageously stood up for her sin, wearing the scarlet letter. Her sin was less as she refused to betray herself by lying about her sin.

This same professor told us, most of us being young and unmarried, that the greatest, most heinous sin you could commit against your spouse was trying to change that person, trying to change them into what you wanted them to be, refusing to see them as they are. The sin was in trying to get them to betray themselves, the core of who they were, to become something that they weren't. He noted, and at the time I agreed, (and I still agree) that we spend far more time in our relationships trying to change others to meet our needs rather than see that person as an individual, a sacred individual who has been that way since long before birth. We try to force them to betray who they are. We become perpetrators of what I have since come to call "The Judas Principle".

Think about it. Which was the greater sin, that Judas betrayed Christ for 30 pieces of silver or that he did so because he thought he was far too generous with the funds they had as a group of disciples? Would Judas have betrayed Christ had Christ betrayed his basic nature of charity and love for all?

So, yes, we see the Judas Principle at work in our lives. Significant people in our lives try to change us, we try to change others. It goes on all around us. Yet, the saddest example, and the hardest one to see, is when we the Judas Principle is all around us.

I think it becomes especially difficult for certain types of people. For instance, a religious person could change someone else's nature because they feel they are doing them a favor by teaching them "good". If I have young children in church and I constantly try to bribe them, shush them, do whatever possible to make them "reverent" in church, do I betray the basic fact that they are children? Didn't Christ say, "Suffer the Children to come unto me"? Why did he use the word "suffer" instead of "let". Is it because we are embarrassed by their behavior in church? Is it because he sees the sacredness of their very natures as full of joy and mischief and questions and laughter as more important than folded arms and closed mouths?

For years, people were locked up in asylums or put into posh institutions (which were still prisons, even if their relations were wealthy), because they were not normal and needed to be either changed to meet society's standards ( a Judas betrayal) or hidden so that no one could see them (another betrayal because we cannot learn from the things we can neither see nor interact with). Today, things have changed. Mentally challenged people are brought into society, given jobs, taken on outings. Yet, this is all done on society's timetable and according to what society deems best for the individual (thus for society itself). The individual isn't consulted. Maybe he or she doesn't like the Zoo but prefers the library or the movie theater. Not an option, stay with the group. Besides, you'll learn things at the Zoo---things WE want you to learn. And in that way, we commit Judas' sin upon them.

To me, though, the saddest thing of all, and maybe the most difficult to see, becasue we seem to want to always change ourselves to meet the expectations of someone else, is self-betrayal; the Judas Principle applied to the sanctity of our own individuality. If I were to become "serious" to comply with many people's version of what it is to be a good Christian, I would betray myself. My relationship with my Heavenly Father consists of laughter, joy, and the sheer irony of the things I see around me or that He points out to me. I don't feel his dissapproval, so that of anyone else doesn't really matter. I was depressed to the point of suicide. I was depressed to the point of complete inactivity and lack or initiative. With my wife's help, my bishop's help, and the help of several professionals, i am doing much better, thank you. I could have denied the way I felt, told myself that a 40 year old man with responsibilities doesn't act that way, refused help, and pushed on as best I could. That would have been self betrayal--I would have eventually "accidentally" wrapped my car around a big tree or found alcohol or drugs to help me forget who I was. I know I will probably function for the rest of my life on chemicals and i can live with that, becasue that is who I am. Some may look askance, some may dissaprove, but I am being true to me and that feels pretty good.

What doesn't feel good is self-betrayal. For instance, somewhere along the line , i have become convinced that I am ugly, or unlovable. So i stop eating to become pretty, endangering a sacred life. Maybe sometime I was neglected, rejected, told i was beneath notice. So i cut myself to get attention and to get control of those feelings that tell me i am worthless. Maybe i try to commit suicide a few times. Maybe I believe I'll never amount to anything, that I am useless and worthless, so i work and slave just to show the voices in my head that I can succeed. Yet, the voices in my head never hear me, because i have already betrayed myself by believing myself useless and worthless.

Consider the pain and anguish walking all around you as you walk through the store, or the mall, or on the streets. Judas never did dash his head up0on a rock as he ran from his betrayal of Christ. he walks and whispers all around us today. So maybe we should all give those around and ourselves a little bit of a break. i think a kind word, a generous gesture, a simple smile all go a long way to breaking the Judas Principle.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Today was ,to his chagrin, the day he had to spend cleaning all of the boys bathrooms and the boys locker room. He could already smell the piss and sweat, see the yellowed toilet paper strewn about the floor, the scratches on the gray painted stall dividers with anatomical drawings, phone numbers of “slutty girls”, and pubescent poetry dealing with the less than poetic functions of the body. So, today, his cart contained the gray paint can to cover the graffiti that would show up again within a matter of hours, extra strength pine cleaner that only made the bathrooms and gyms smell like campground outhouses rather than clean bathrooms, and a large terry cloth towel with a thick nap to it that he always brought with him into the boys bathroom. He hated the towel, loathed it in fact. He called it his “pube catcher”, but, in his mind, it was like cleaning the garbage dump down by the river of its boxes of smutty magazines and x-rated video tapes no longer of use since the compact disc revolution. He realized that the hairs were most likely a natural by-product of standing in the stall, peeing, talking to one another about girls, or dates, or the next game or what an ass the coach was for making them practice drills hour after hour. However, in his mind’s eye, he saw the testosterone engorged boys of his youth, hitting him in the arm and telling him to flinch, threatening to push him forward into the urinal while he was trying to pee, or, worse yet, masturbating in the doored stalls to thoughts of girls he was afraid to even look at, much less approach. So, his outlook for the day was grim, at best.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Slobber Excerpt-7-14-2008

So Slobber walked the school hallways, head down and eyes averted. He closed off his ears to all voices but the ones within his own head. He felt only the rough fabric of his coveralls and the soft, worn feeling of his Highlander t-shirt. He smelled the cloying scents of flower and fruit enhanced perfumes worn by the girls, the speedstick, the oniony smell of armpits, and the everpresent smell of testosterone. It all blended with the smell of stale mopwater infused with ammonia and a sour mop wetted too many times, left to dry in a heap in the corner of his “building engineer” closet. He tasted the everpresent overspice of the previous night’s microwave dinner and the blood from grinding his teeth to the point of damaging his gums. He only wished he could turn off his sense of smell and taste and touch as easily as he could sight and sound, but was left with the attempt to ignore instead of push away.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


The dream is always a variation of the same theme. Last night it was spraying disinfectant all over the neighbor's veranda to kill the germs and smell from cat crap. The night before, it was spraying an anti-algae spray in the "pond" in front of the the old Hotel Como to keep the algae and lichen from the lake infiltrating the rowboat area and eating the wood of the ancient rowboats, now seriously in need of several coats of paint. Before that, it was a giant can of bugspray in the tiny kithenette connected to the even tinier studio apartment at the back of the hotel because giant cockroaches, ants, and silverfish had staged a coup near the tiny refrigerator and were threatening to annex the brie and the grapes. And, before that, it was the cloying smell of father's aftershave used as an air freshener to cover the odor of decay that swelled forth like some massive sneaker wave, beginning at the hollowed out spot beneath the floorboards of the bedroom he had shared with his lover for years and years until, one morning, the poison finally worked and he just didn't wake up. That particular tableau of the theme seemed to occur more than any of the others and it was beginning to work. He began to research slow acting poisons on the internet.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Slobber is moving

Slobber is much more comfortable being 'fleshed out" , as it were, in a more private forum. So, he is moving to AppleWorks where he will have a quiet folder to himself...much less embarassment and stress when the bandages come off. However, he will be making regular appearances on Chiaroscuro--he calls them "excerpts". They will be little snatches of his growth and development, of his life and story, along with many of the characters in the school and in his town that he has yet to introduce, even to me.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Untitled II

He had been quietly moving through these halls with either a mop, or a broom, boxes of toilet paper, or a giant trash can on wheels for 10 years. Before that, he unobtrusively attended classes in English and Philosophy at the Community college for 3 years. Before that, he had walked these same high school halls. He walked them in much the same way he was walking them now, but rather than cleaning tools and garbage, he carried textbooks and a ratty 3 ring binder, once covered in purple fabric, now sweatstained, inkstained, potato chip oil stained, and most holey (to him, most holy). Now, when even noticed by either the students of the faculty, he was Mr. Cloud. In high school, he was Slobber the Clod or, if anyone wanted to poke fun at his obsession with "The Highlander", he was Slobber McClod.
He was never quite sure where the idea for "slobber" came from. He didn't slobber--he rarely opened his mouth. To him, it made no sense,and, becasue he rarely spoke to anyone so had no friends to ask about the name, he never found out that he was "Slobber" because his pillow combed his oily hair, his oily and pimply face was oily and pimply ALL of the time, and his jeans and t-shirt never changed. The other students didn't know that he really did have several pairs of jeans and several t-shirts--because he didn't realize he portrayed "slobbiness", he never explained to anyone that he had 4 pairs of jeans, all roughly the same color and 4 t-shirts, all black with a gothic lettering of "The Highlander" superimposed over a claymore.
Oddly enough, because the t-shirt had been his own design and he could get them screenprinted almost anywhere, he continued to wear blue jeans and black t-shirt to this day, now hidden beneath his gray coveralls. Had any of the current faculty who had also been students at the school with "Slobber" known what he wore beneath his coveralls, they may have passed the legacy of "Slobber McClod" down to the current student body. But, they didn't know, so Slobber was simply Mr. Cloud.
He had been born Conner Cloud of a mother frightened of her own shadow and a father who felt so very grandiose that he tried to overshadow everything. Thus, his mother was in a constant state of fear and his father was in a constant state of wind and bluster, making sure that his shadow covered everything within his "domain". That he considered his domain to be wherevver he was at the moment was odd, as reality placed his domain in a broken down single-wide on the very edge of town, camped like a gypsy trailer on the 10 acre plot of land which was the sole legacy left by Conner's Grandfather Cloud, a man also given to boasting (and, to make the boasting bigger and more unlikely, given also to the daily overconsumption of cheap Scotch).