This is a thing I wrote for MamaPop.
A Memorial Day Story
There is a place called the Chosin Reservoir. You’ve probably never heard of it. It’s in North Korea. A battle was fought there; November 27 through December 23, 1950. 30,000 UN troops were surrounded by 67,000 North Korea and Chinese troops. Temperatures during this time were well below zero, and everything froze; guns, morphine, blood plasma. I remember reading about it in junior high. There was a story: an American Marine had been shot through the jaw during an evening firefight. The bullet went clean through one side of his jaw and out the other, and his jaw was held to his head by his own blood. It was so cold, you see, that the blood immediately froze. The cold that was slowly killing his fellow Marines saved his life. He lay awake all night, surrounded by his buddies, who offered what comfort they could. Dawn came, and with it warmth. Enough so that the blood holding his jaw to his head thawed, and when it did his jaw fell off and he bled out and died. Killed by the sun. Can you imagine. You can’t. I can’t. But we can know that it happened. We can remember.
It’s my job to take them to dinner at eighty miles an hour. It’s my job to stop a mile from the restaurant so they can have five pounds of crab legs and three bottles of beer a piece, and then go get prime rib. It’s my job to go hunting so they can fire off their guns an inch from my ear and laugh when I get startled because IT’S MY JOB!
The absolute greatest moment in Mad Men history.
A year and three weeks? A year and a month? That’s how long it’s been. First the ACL tear (destroyed, the doc said, you no longer have an ACL) and then the surgery and the long, long recovery and now even paddling out through what Surfline generously called 1 to 2 feet it feels like someone is trying their best to pull your arms right out of your sockets, and of course there’s that tightness between your shoulder blades, as if someone else has inserted a screw through those muscles and into your spine and is twisting it, pretzeling your upper back. Paddle. Paddle. It’s going to be OK. Someone dear to you suggested this be your mantra and so it is. The pain lowers the walls and so come the whispers to your head. How are the kids going to be? Where will you live? Who are you going to become? How does all of this end? It’s going to be OK. You’re out in what would be the lineup if there was anyone else; driving for close to an hour up and down the coast the excuse being there’s not parking but really, you knew why you didn’t stop, then this stretch of beach with no one in the water, no one to see what you’ve become. It’s going to be OK. You recall that terrible Sam Raimi baseball movie that starred Kevin Costner and the only thing that stuck with you. “Clear the Mechanism.” Costner is a pitcher, and he says this to himself just before throwing. Clear the Mechanism. Lose everything but what’s in front of you. The batter. The wave. Same difference. Clear. You recall your very first wave. It was no higher than the ones that are rolling underneath you. It changed everything. Something looks like…yes. Pivot the board around. Flop onto it like a wounded seal. Paddle. Glance back over your shoulder to see it forming. A year and a month. The knee. Everything else that followed, a life burned down. Paddle. Feel the board lift. Don’t stop. Paddle. The board, moving under the wave’s power. Your feet, suddenly underneath you, planted on the deck, that familiar soft hiss. It’s going to be OK.
We’d run through our warmup drills and now it was time to beat the shit out of each other: scrum practice. Josh was running things tonight; he pointed at me. “Jay - flanker, blindside.” I nodded. He saw vacancy in…
This is a thing I wrote last night. It wasn’t easy.
Harrison Ford Won’t Answer Star Wars Questions (by JimmyKimmelLive)
Last Thursday, my organization, People Reluctant To Kill for an Abstraction, orchestrated an overwhelming show of force around the globe.
At precisely 9 in the morning, working with focus and stealth, our entire membership succeeded in simultaneously beheading no one. At 10, Phase II began,…