The snow comes down like blankets from heaven. It coats everything in pure, refining white, hiding the dirt and the filth of a melting February. I trudge through it, lifting my boots high over the three inches, huffing and puffing and trying not to miss the bus. There’s a certain calm when the snow falls. It’s soothing and quiet. Muffling the sounds and distractions of an ordinary day. The snow takes the bitterness out of the air, it’s sapped the atmosphere of the arctic chill that makes you pull your hat lower and your scarf higher. The snow lets you breathe easy and relax the muscles in your back and your shoulders that tighten when the January air sucks every bit of warmth from your jacket and your gloves and your boots and the tiny gap between your gloves and your coat sleeve.

I collapse on the bus in a slump, letting my bags sit on my lap and listening to the crunch of the massive bus wheels going round and round through the dirty brown snow caked on the road like batter. It’s days like today that make winter worthwhile.

Observations from a performance by Ben Kyle

He sings from his heart to a crowded room. The lyrics drift through air, intermingling with the cigarette smoke like ideas in the mind. The people sit wherever there’s room, on top of the fading pool table or right on the dirty tiled floor. Some of them are focused on the musician, their eyes attentively watching his every move. Others are staring at the tiles, letting the music wash over them. A guy sitting on the pool table flips through the books he just bought at the used bookshop next door. The singer closes his eyes and lets the words roll forth, letting them bounce off the ceiling, off the inattentive ears, off the mismatched ceiling lamps and into the soul of the few people there who were really listening.

Tragedy at Santana High School

I’m old enough to make my own choices.

That’s what teenagers say all the time. That’s how they justify their behavior. And perhaps they’re right. Part of growing up is taking greater responsibility for your actions. Sometimes that means you make mistakes, but that’s part of life.

But what’s interesting is watching standard explanations crumble when tragedy strikes. What happened at Santana High School? Was the student who injured 13 and killed two old enough to make his own choices? On a number of teen web sites today I found a lot of kids blaming the parents. Apparently teenagers aren’t old enough to make their own choices. Apparently parents need to be more involved in the lives of their kids.

Which doesn’t exactly seem like the thing most teens want to admit. They say it now during tragedy, but I wonder what they’ll say come Friday night? Wouldn’t it be great if we all lived up to our own hype?

An Act of Cowardice

Once again America’s schools make the news as violence explode in the hallowed halls of learning and knowledge. It’s kind of depressing. You’d think we’d take the hints. You’d think we’d realize we need to stop marginalizing the outcast. You’d think we’d realize we need to spend time with our kids. You’d think we’d realize that maybe violence in TV, movies, and music needs to be reevaluated. You’d think we’d realize that handguns are a little too accessible. You’d think we’d realize a lot of things, but we don’t.

That’s a messed up little freshman running around shooting his classmates with a smile on his face. He must live in a pretty messed up American family in a pretty messed up American high school full of pretty messed up American kids. He’s probably just like a million other freshmen in high school. That’s the sad thing. Maybe one of these days we’ll realize we’re doing something wrong.

President George W. Bush called this an act of cowardice. That may be, but I would say that a country that continues to watch its children murder one another is committing a bigger act of cowardice. And I’m not just talking about the suburban schools that make the news. I’m also talking about the back alley jobs and the ones that happen all the time. People are dying all over this country, you’d think we’d realize something is dreadfully wrong.

But we’re too busy sucking back on another pop, rotting our teeth, and minding our own business. It’s great to be an American.


Don’t do your taxes on Sunday. I think there should be a law that makes it illegal to do your income taxes on a Sunday, just like you can’t be inaugurated as the president on a Sunday. Simply put, taxes are a pain in the butt. Now I’ll admit they were a lot easier than I thought they would be. But they still weren’t a lot of fun. Wouldn’t that be cool if doing your taxes was fun? Senators and Representatives would really earn their money if they figured out a way to make income taxes fun. It could be a board game, like monopoly. Then people would be dying to play. They’d do their taxes several times a year just to play.

Catching Up

Some days I’m just not so sure. The day passes by before you even realize it. I think Saturday is especially susceptible. Even if you sleep in just a little bit, the afternoon doesn’t last long enough for you to catch up on anything. And that’s what Saturday becomes, the catch-up day for the week. You catch up on sleep, you catch up on work around the house, you catch up on the bills. And with all that you don’t really catch up on anything. It’s kind of depressing. It’d be nice if we had fewer things to catch up on, fewer things to fall behind on.