I know I don't update it daily. Shut up.

April 28, 2006

The Moving Pen, Having Writ

The S.S. Empire State is 500 feet or yards long, depending on your perspective. I was never spatially gifted - ironic considering I design newspapers for a living.
In the two weeks I lived on it in dock, there was a lot of running around on my part: A lot of "Put this here" and "take this there." Meal times were quite the event, as everyone descended on free food the way many Pittsfordites I've come to know pounce on the retail clerks "beneath" them. ("You boy - behind the counter. Get this for me chop-chop!")
It was a tradition my mid-pubescent metabolism could appreciate. It helped make for one of the smoother transitions for when we were really out to sea, and I could dwell on the fact that for the first time in my life I was utterly alone. And the meals forced me to sup with a ragtag bunch I never would have met - the 40-year-old cook who looked like he was 20 always prayed to Muhammed. The chaplain prayed in a different way, though probably to the same God.
Those early-May days before we shoved off left me plenty of time to write. My priorities were screwy - why did I write letters when I could still place a collect call from anywhere there underneath the Throggs Neck Bridge and still catch the fam before dinnertime?
I hadn't much to say. Gee, mom, send me more stuff. Yes, I'm getting the hang of the washing machine. No, I'm not seasick - it's only docked in the East River, for God's sake.
When the mess hall food wasn't cutting it, I went to the earth's greatest deli, located just up the street. It was a block from the world's greatest tee-ball field, scraped together on the backs of every neighborhood kid from the past 50 years with the Great Bambino's name tatooed on his lips. The smell of hot dogs took up permanent residence, and for me, summer there will never end.
Upon these constitutionals I'd reflect on the Bronx trees and sunshine. Never in the next months on the ship did I ever encounter any malcontentious weather of note. Choppy seas, yes. She pitched at 32 degrees one day - at 40 she capsizes. I looked like a goalie, garbage can in hand as I caught the papers and objects falling from the walls.
But the walks will stick with me. Every year since, in the ast week of April, the memories come back. She'll be shipping off soon, meals at a premium.
And the moving pen, having writ, chugs on.

April 23, 2006

The Original Daily Blurb

This represents the first - and perhaps only - hard copy edition of the Santa Vaca Daily Blurb. It was created in Photoshop and Quark Xpress. The Blurb will now be featured entirely on this blog. I promise it will be about more than just me. Enjoy!

April 17, 2006

Welcome all!

That's it? That's all I could come up with? Boy - you'd think with the world at my fingertips I'd blow your mind with something totally original and thought-provoking. But no, the professional writer comes up with: Welcome all.

Who am I welcoming, anyway? And to what? And now that I have your attention, what should I say?

Let me tell you the truth of my life: I am not where I said I'd be 16 years ago.

Now don't go saying, Oh, he's gonna have one of those blogs. Just hear me out a minute.

Sixteen years ago I was sitting in Mrs. Rischmiller's class at St. Gregory the Great Elementary School. It was fifth grade, a time when boys were boys and girls were some subsection of the human genus unknown to boys. I enjoyed a place somewhere near the top of my class with that final echelon close within my grasp - a 94 average and above-average reading scores. When your mom's a teacher, that kind of thing means a lot at age 10.

Having a high average in class meant having to hide from people the fact that I was completely, utterly and by all accounts definitely devoid of talent. It was true. I had nothing to offer. I was a letdown in sports, enjoyed little popularity and, damn Irish genes, was smaller that most of the other boys. I just barked like a dog in the library a lot. That always got my friends laughing.

One day I was hit with a terrible surprise: Fate, it turned out, found my address. It was knocking very loudly on Mrs. Rischmiller's wood-and-glass door.

It was an assignment: Write an essay on how you will change the world.

What? Change the world? Mom still needs to teach me the whole shoe-tying thing!!! And I'm pretty sure I still don't know right from left!

I sallied. You might say I sallied forth.

How I will change the world, by Bryan Mahoney (a synopsis)
I will change the world by traveling to Ethiopia where the starving people are. I don't have much money so I can't buy them things. I'm not very strong so I can't carry them to a hospital. But my grandpa and I like to tell jokes. Some of them are very funny. I would tell the people of Ethiopia jokes and one day, maybe, they would smile. That is how I will change the world.

I will not post the particulars here, though I remember very clearly the reaction from Mrs. Rischmiller. She cried.

That day I knew my power would never rest in my arms, or my legs, or my back (I am, however, six-foot one-inch and quite healthy). My power would remain in my words, and in my heart.

By now, I was supposed to have won a Nobel Peace Prize for literature. But I'll take your attention as a fair trade. Thanks for reading.