Age: I’m XXXVII, born in MCMLXXVIII–that’s dead language for “getting old.”
Location: On the left (as usual) of the white sofa in my living room, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
Occupation: Dad, Husband, Writer, Activist, Language Teacher
Where did you come from? Mom. We were in Mexico City that day.
A Fear: The bear that licked me some years back–long story.
A Goal: Nonviolence. More of it.
A Memory: The first summer I took a group of students to the Holy Land, an Israeli soldier wouldn’t let me into Bethlehem and had me stand in the noon sun (blazing at 100 ºF) because he was convinced I was Jewish–the middle “I” stands for Israel. It also didn’t help that one of the Dutch dudes in the group was Aaron Zachariah. I demanded to speak with the checkpoint commander when the soldier implied that he’d check us for circumcision if we didn’t convince him. After an hour they let us go without demanding more than paperwork.
A Mistake: This year, my friend and brother, Ben Bufford, woke me up on my birthday. It was 8 a.m., I had decided to sleep in. He sang his best rendition of Happy Birthday Mr. President complete with his Marilyn Monroe impression. I’m pretty sure he was in his cubicle at work. We talked for almost an hour. He said some very affirming things, assured me that God had plans for me, and suggested that we meet up very soon, but I was too busy for the next few days. A week later, at 1 a.m., I rushed to the hospital because he’d fainted, but when I got there he had passed away–he was 36. The last time I talked to him wasn’t in person. I will always regret that.
A Hero: Right now, Foucault.
A Fault: Whichever one shows up that day. Seriously, I think I’ve hosted most by now.
A Talent: I used to do a killer Christopher Walken impression, then my accent started reverting to Philly and now when I try it, folks say I sound drunk or tired. I don’t do it anymore.
A Prized Possession: The rollerball Meisterstük pen that my wife, Kate, gave me when I got accepted to Warren Wilson’s MFA, but a close second is the Olivetti Valentine (typewriter) that my friend, Brent, found for me in Portland.
A Need: Wisdom to raise my daughter to fight the patriarchy, practice nonviolence, love herself, love others, love God, and hopefully me too.
I want More: Time to read and write
I want Less: Stuff in general or at least the need for it.
What would you change about the world? Violence, I’d do away with all forms of it–verbal, physical, systemic, economic, cultural. But, I’d settle for a general ban on war and having all international conflicts solved either through extreme Jenga matches or Angry Birds (the latter because my six-year-old nephew, Luisito, would soon become supreme commander of the known universe) .
What do you love about yourself? The space I tend to occupy in relationships I value. I can’t think of a better way to say it. It’s not so much who I am on my own, or achievements, or habits. Rather, in my relationships with others, I tend to be given a space in their set scheme of social roles, needs, or wants.