Rite of Passage

My rite of passage came about unexpectedly. It wasn’t killing an animal or getting drunk, and thank God it wasn’t losing my virginity. I was nine years old if I remember correctly. Grandpa Henry owned a ranch in the White Mountains of eastern Arizona. He was a tall, lanky man, a WWII Marine vet, hardened by the sun and long,…

Final Beats of a Song

There are days I sit and reflect on the episodes that have shaped the character I will eventually become. I have questioned the reason for the experience. Why did it happen? Was I supposed to feel this? Will it ever become just a distant memory? One memory that plays in my mind is the strength it took to endure such…

Dogs and Other Sounds of Living

The man in apartment 108 is watching porn too loudly again. He never knows how much noise comes out of his place at strange times. One could assume it’s something to do with his incredible age. The undiscernible amount of years, like hundreds of years old—ages—did not come off so wizardly. One morning, he could be heard hurling curses and…

Death in the Life

It was the middle of June, and the sun was beating down on my head as the four of us jumped out of the bed of my dad’s pickup. My brother, my cousin, my best friend, and a rented riding mower accompanied me for the ride as we waited for my uncle and his friend to show up so that…

Broken Dorms

A decision was made and on a cold Saturday morning  my older sister, Gloria, bursts into my room full of eagerness and authority and says, “We’re taking a trip, Mom wants you to go, so hurry up and get ready!” I’m moving about sluggishly, still trying to awake fully. I ask my sister in the midst of a yawn, “Where…

Future Arrangements

In high school my mother was always on my case about school and grades. She wasn’t mean or anything, but very detailed and strict on how education was very important. She would always lecture me on how it’s hard to find a job with no educational background, and if you did find a job it wouldn’t pay that much. As…

Crossing the Mountains

In a lot of ways our journey through life is like a hiking trip over the mountains. We get to choose which path to take across the mountain and how we do it. The path we choose can either be an easy one or the hard one. Some start on the trail, but end up camping or turning back. People…

The Craft

In the room covered with old white paint, the color is stained and looks yellow. On a tour with a small group of people, we stand uncomfortably close to one another. Our elbows touch slightly and the reaction is sudden when an older woman pulls her arm away quickly. The movement breaks the silence with sudden shifts of clothing. The…

Between a Drum and a Heart

The drum was a quake in the night and, throughout the ages of time, used by mystical and musical hands for millennia. What made it so spiritually catalytic? Our ancestors swore by the sound it emitted, a deep rumble, like a stampede of endless bison thrusting their hooves into the Earth’s surface with a brilliant boom. The drum was important…

Impact of an Education in Indian Country

My life started like other kids growing up on an Indian Reservation. We were below the poverty line and my parents struggled with paying bills and keeping the lights on at home. We lived 20 miles outside the nearest town, on a small ranch on the Blackfeet Reservation. During the harsh Montana winter, our electric bill exceeded $120 a month,…

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