I managed to survive my first eight months of independence in Portland with no job, thanks to salmon. The 1990 fish season had been good, and I had coasted on my earnings till almost the end of my time at the Fuse. By that time though, I was subsisting on instant ramen and mooching a lot of beer and cigarettes off my friends. Occasionally I’d even hit up strangers, and that was when an inner voice told me, You’re turning into that guy. Get a job. Read More »

Mr. Yamazaki

Mr. Yamazaki was a mystery wrapped in an enigma and smothered in wabi-sabi. We knew a little about him from the way he looked and behaved, but most of what we knew about him came from rumors and stories passed down from our older brothers and sisters. One of those rumors was that he had previously taught at Sorbonne University in Paris, France. However, finding that not suitably challenging, he decided to make the move to Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. It seemed plausible enough at the time.
Read More »


In fall, 1982, I was sitting in Mr. Runkle’s seventh grade Social Studies class and this gawky looking new kid came in and sat down right in front of me. Mr. Runkle continued the lesson, which was his standard mumbled textbook reading, and after a while the new kid half turned to me and said, This sucks, huh?

This seems like a pretty tame thing to say now, but at the time it was unexpected and rebellious and held the suggestion of interesting alternatives.Read More »


My other first best friend besides Shane Hickey was Corey Wehner. His family went to my church too. There were only four people in his family, but they were part of a clan of fishermen who all lived in a compound near the edge of a high bluff overlooking the Cook Inlet where they all fished. There were always a dozen or so cousins and other kids running around, so it was great fun for me and my brother John to go over there and run around with them, playing in the woods, riding our bikes back and forth on the winding roads that ran between the houses, and running down the steep, zigzagging goat trail that connected the top of the bluff to the beach.Read More »

Mr. Doyle

On the first day of third grade I sat in the very front row and Mr. Doyle was standing in front of me. When we stood up to do the Pledge he looked down at me, made this frowny face and dropped into a slouch. I guess he thought I should stand up straight and smile. I didn’t get the hint though and just looked back at him.Read More »


My first best friend was Shane Hickey. We became friends around age six because he went to my church. He was one of those kids that other people instinctively hate. Our classmates hated him. His four older brothers hated him. Even some of our teachers hated him. Our third grade teacher, Mr. Doyle gave him a swat every day for a week for no apparent reason.Read More »