Columns Apr 17, 2013 at 4:00 am



I love Sherman Alexie's mind; it is as rich, varied and savory as what I would choose for a last meal.
Well played. I can hardly wait until the NBA tips off here next year. Alexie you describe basketball better than anyone on the planet.
Acne covered my adolescent face like sprinkles on an ice-cream cone. 40 years later, the facial scars are blended into leathery skin that has been sunburned too many times. I look "weathered," kind of like the Marlboro Man.
When I was 19, full of whiskey and self-hatred, I shot myself through the stomach with a 30/30 rifle, the kind of weapon used to hunt big game. The blast went straight through me, through the wall behind me, and lodged itself in the TV in the next room. Surgeries and reconstructive work left numerous circular scars across my belly, like nine holes on a putt-putt course. A 14 inch vertical scar zips up from my belly button. The worst is the tennis ball size divot on my back; they called it the exit wound. Like Michael, I can only see it through a mirror, but I know it's there and I've always hidden it.
I use to wish that there was a beach somewhere, specifically designated for damaged people like me. You know, terrible scars or physical disfigurements which would cause "regular" people to stare.
But we wouldn't stare. Oh sure, we would look, but not like at a freak show. We would look at each other with empathy, understanding that what is seen on the outside is just a fraction of the pain that has been held on the inside. There, on that healing shore, we could finally allow our wounded skin to remember what sunshine and fresh air feel like. There, we could smile and each other and see beyond the surface, knowing that the real scars lie deep within, in a place that only the owner can choose to reveal.
My scars were self-inflicted but my wound arrived without my approval. I am gay. And I hide that scar because I live in the prison of Roman Catholic morality.
Someday I hope to find that Beach of Broken, Scarred People. I would take my shirt off. Hell, I'd take all my clothes off. And I'd pray for someone to touch my skin.
My son, about your age, is a fine writer, but he doesn't believe it -- and you aren't helping much (he's a long-time fan). I've published several books and maybe he's afraid to compete with me. My point is that he writes too much; he's entranced with your style of short-writing; and I'm his Mom (so he won't listen to me). What would you tell him about ways to write the short, poignant, and surprising way that you do?

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