All writing is about connecting. Here are some excerpts from my writings, my own efforts to connect; and yes, I’m looking at you.
A man and his young daughter wander through alleys, carrying paper bags. They scout around Dumpsters, leaning down to snatch up bits of debris. A busted cuff link, a broken plastic spoon, a corner of clear plastic sporting a VISA logo, scraps of newspaper, even worn bits of broken glass — all become treasured finds.
Their adventures are part of their daily trek to and from school. Years later, father and daughter laugh about how they spent more time bending over to pick up things than walking.
“My daughter likes to say that what she remembers about me is my elbow and butt,” says Robert Ebendorf, f’61, g’63.
Those trips did more than help Ebendorf and his daughter, Brittany, bond. They gave him raw material for his work. He transformed broken glass into an ornamental bowl. The busted spoon, credit card logo and other discards became a necklace. Both pieces of “found art” are now found in prominent museums.
– from Jewel in the Rough, Kansas Alumni, Issue 4, 2007
At first, the trip was a nightmare, as Cagle suffered constant flashbacks and saw visions of the young soldier he had killed. Eventually, the group climbed to a Buddhist temple on a mountain. While the others took off their shoes, Cagle looked up and saw the boy.
“I don’t even know how to describe it.” Cagle struggles to speak as he retells the story. “I’m trying to get my voice back.” He pauses. “Ed came over and said, ‘Let’s go on in.’
“I said, ‘You don’t see him, do you?’
“Ed said, ‘Who?’
“I said, ‘That’s the boy I shot.’”
– from Beyond PTSD, Pacific Standard, September 2011
I’m sitting in a psychotherapist’s office in Kansas City. It’s been a harrowing session, one of a series where I recount the sexual, physical, and emotional abuse my father inflicted on me throughout childhood.
I feel feverish, face aching from crying so hard. I pull myself to a seated position on the therapist’s couch, look at her after fifty minutes of avoiding her eyes, and ask: “Was my father evil?”
She doesn’t answer immediately, and I think, yes, she’s going to tell me he was evil, and yes, she’s going to confirm that it’s OK for me to finally, blessedly, hate him.
“You’ll have to answer that for yourself,” she says.
– from Was My Father Evil? The Progressive, August 2011