Our wedding was in a graveyard in November darkness.
He was not the one disfigured in youth, the one who rose to fame, the one whose story has been told in books and film. He was not the celebrated architect, Louis I. Kahn. He was Lou’s brother, Oscar, a man whose unsung life was unexpectedly cut short, a man I never met but for whom I was named. He was my grandfather, and after all these silent, shadowy years, his faded image is starting to clear.
So you’ve poured your heart out on paper, and now you’re ready to get it published. Congratulations! But if you think spending months, or years, on a manuscript is hard, well, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Get ready for the really hard work. Publishing, and then SELLING your book.
You didn’t smoke or have a chronic disease. You waltzed around the kitchen table, tried Viagra, played cards, and nurtured your African violets. You began a publishing empire called the “Brown Envelopes” filled with jokes, war stories, and Reader’s Digest clips. You collected, copied and mailed the Brown Envelopes every month to 50 friends, acquaintances and Army buddies.
When I insisted that fixing my glasses with a welding torch was a bad idea, my grandfather asked if I’d ever read Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. The book, he said, was about an optometrist who’d made a fortune selling frames.
The spring I turn fourteen I notice Steve. He is tall with slanted eyes and long black hair. I love him instantly.
Summer dawns, humid and sweet. Steve invites me to get a little drunk under the trees. The two of us drink wine from red plastic tumblers. When we kiss he tastes like cinnamon gum.why does he taste like gum when he’s been drinking wine? I spend years chasing that moment.
On a warm Friday morning at the Philadelphia Art Museum, twelve men and women gather to hear a lecture on Mary Cassatt’s painting A Woman and Girl Driving. We’re art apostles, staked out on tiny, collapsible, green vinyl, aluminum stools. Some of the listeners are painters; others, like me, would be hard-pressed to sketch more than a stick figure.
The polluted breeze blowing off the Frankford Creek smelled like melting tar and felt just as hot. I sat with Bill and Rufus at the end of my block under a shadeless, wilted cherry tree. Almond Street was wedged between two chemical plants, an arsenal, and a funeral home, where everybody who lived on the street expected to end up sooner or later. Chemicals in the air ruined the paint jobs of nearly every house and car on the block. Outsiders claimed the air smelled like rotten eggs. I never noticed it except when we came back after driving someplace else.
Boarding to Siyang is called. It’s early morning, and the bus station is filled. I have to push through the crowd to reach the doorway where my bus is waiting. Everyone is carrying red plastic bags filled with food to give— fruit, peanuts, seeds. I am carrying my own plastic bag containing ten oranges and ten bananas. A middle-aged Chinese woman stressed the importance of
It’s a chilly day, but despite the cold, a guy stands at the intersection where drivers wait for the light. He’s selling bouquets of long-stemmed red roses, the kind men who forget may seriously need. The kind my aunt sent for my father’s funeral because, as she wrote, “red roses are for someone you love.”