22 Apr 2002

When I worked at Stanford last year, I used to take the commuter train to work. It was a ride of about an hour each way and I always looked forward to it. Head phones on, favorite music playing, I would lay my head back against the seat and spend the time just staring out the window.

In the mornings, as the fog was beginning to dissipate, the train would pass a small inlet. This tiny body of water was really nothing more than a small finger of the Bay, crowded under a concrete freeway onramp and surrounded by the debris of half-built and abandoned buildings, homeless encampments, and a steel graveyard.

In this inlet was an old wooden row boat, anchored in the middle of the water and unreachable by shore. As far as I could tell, the boat never moved, was never used. It had all the appearance of something forgotten or abandoned.

13 Apr 2002

When I was a young, I lived on a farm several miles outside of Kettle Falls, in Washington state. Below the farm was an undeveloped field with a dirt road running through it that connected several homes. Below that was Lake Roosevelt. Surrounding all of this was bits and pieces of the Colville National Forest. Back in those more innocent days, my mother let me go down to the field by myself as long as I didn't go down to the water.

I loved the field of tall golden weeds. Since I was only about five at the time, the weeds would come up to my chest and I could look out on a sea of waving fronds and imagine I was on a ship in the ocean.

I loved the dust of the road and would walk it slowly, sucking on the end of a grass blade and occasionally chasing after a grasshopper or butterfly. Every once in a while I would see another critter such as a deer or a mother skunk leading a string of babies across the road.

21 Feb 2002

Though in the end, this is all I ask for: to participate briefly in the lives of others at a low level; to speak in a plain, truth-telling voice; to not take myself too seriously; and then to have done with it. Since after all, it is one thing to write sports, but another thing entirely to live a life.

No mad passion, no heights of glory, no sentiment, and no mockery — this phrase from the book is the most fitting description of the lead character, Frank, a late 30's sportswriter recently faced with several life upheavals. And my choice of this phrase is one that I know would meet with Frank's, and the author's, approval.

The Sportwriter was not an easy read for me. For the first time in 40+ years I could actually believe that there are basic, fundamental differences between men and women that go beyond the mere physical; differences so strong as to make Frank seem alien to me. Outside of my comprehension.

28 Jun 2000

"By the way, Fitzgerald, how are you making out with your problem?"

"We are holding our own."

"Okay, fine. I'll be talking to you later."

So ends the last communication between the ore ship The Arthur M. Anderson and the ill-fated ship, The Edmond Fitzgerald. The Fitz, as it was known, went down with all her hands on the night of November 11, 1975, during a gale on the Great Lakes. She's since been immortalized by being the focus of the ballad, "The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald", by Gordon Lightfoot.

History is dotted with stories and sagas of ships lost at seas. Each story touches something within us regardless of how long ago the ship was lost. If you doubt that, consider the uproar over the discovery of the Titanic, and the subsequent film of the same name.

Pages

Subscribe to Burningbird RSS