Bay City Runaway – The Web Serial

Bay City Runaway (1)As I navigate my way through the beginnings of a writing career, my number one goal is to be read. I have a publisher for one of my books, but my latest book is still unsigned: Bay City Runaway. I’ve published it myself on Amazon and a number of people have read it. But as is often the case with self-publishing, sales have dwindled to nothing. I could blow some money on a large marketing campaign to boost sales, but at this point, I just want readers.

I feel good about the book. I think it has an audience, but Amazon is the largest pond in the book world, so I’m going to do what I’ve done before and share my writing for free on various smaller platforms to raise readership.

My publisher is looking at this book and has no problem with me doing what I want with it in the meantime while they work on my current project. When/if the time comes to hand it over to them, I will take the book offline and give them exclusive rights to it.

You can read this book as a daily serial at the following websites including my own.

Bay City Runaway

Royal Road

Wattpad

Synopsis

David Wilson-Burns offers his gritty and emotionally potent debut novel, Bay City Runaway, a story of two runaways finding each other in their escape from abuse and tragedy.

James, a thirty-something software wiz with a drinking problem, runs away to San Francisco to escape a tragedy in his home state of Oklahoma. In front of his favorite pub one night, a teenage girl with a nasty bruise on her face asks for a cigarette. He sees her several more times and gives her food and smokes. She appears to be living on the street, running away from abuse. Late one night, the frantic teen, Amy, shows up at his China Town apartment. Having nowhere else to go, she seeks shelter and protection from her abuser, who could show up at any time. They form an unlikely and complicated friendship.Wilson-Burns’ moving and engaging novel brings to vivid life the struggling, lonely alcoholic, the precocious, street-wise teenager, and the sexually-charged complication of a would-be girlfriend, Kyra, as their lives become intertwined.

He also captures 1990s college life as he tells the story of how a new friend, Zach, helps James win back the girl he will marry, leading up to the tightly kept secret of the tragedy that puts him on a plane to San Francisco in 2007.

In gripping detail, Wilson-Burns delves deeply into how alcoholism can grow from little seeds into a tragic and disastrous bloom.

Wilson-Burns uses his expressive, straightforward writing style to create an emotional experience for the reader and brings a deep sense of redemption and faith in humanity into his characters and story. Those who have experienced alcoholism in their lives will identify powerfully with James and Amy’s struggles. He shows how love, friendship, and faith can redeem the running, lost, and hurting.

What did I hear in the woods?

cosmosbedroomThere is an old adage that we hear what we want to hear. I think it is a good adage. It speaks to the deep human propensity to make disturbed and muddy the clear, still waters of reality. But like much of the world, belief is a complicated force. Perhaps it is all in how we use it. Where would we be without the believers and the dreamers? I know my life would have much less meaning and fun without belief in the yet proven–in other words, faith.

When I was a child, I came across a film one day flipping through our limited selection of channels on TV: The Legend of Boggy Creek, a docuhorror about a bigfoot-like creature supposedly sited in Fouke, Arkansas throughout the 1940s and 1950s. It was both terrifying and fascinating. Perhaps it was the first horror movie I ever watched. It has long been one of my favorite genres. I was convinced that the movie was absolutely true–perhaps it was.

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A Way Forward in our New Society

On the large scale of history, internet social media is still in its infancy. We have been exploring its boundaries now for 20 years (even more for some early adopters). We have discovered what is valuable about it and what is ugly about it. Many have disengaged because of the uglier facets. But most remain, tolerating the ugly for the valuable.

We now have a new society unlike any in human history—one which spans the globe and which encompasses to full diversity of humanity—and we haven’t yet figured out how to order this new society. What was once considered unacceptable in society is now commonplace. We have entered a new Wild West.

But I believe it is time to establish order. The power brokers of the various platforms are trying to do this, but ultimately it is in our hands.

I do not have a person in my friend list who I do not love and believe to have sacred worth, but I’m finding that Facebook is not a healthy platform for me to be associated with some.

There are many people on this planet who never had a platform for their hate and disrespect. You may blame platforms such as Facebook for that, but the reality is that we control the scope of that platform with our friend lists.

For our new society to thrive and be of value, I believe we must not allow unwanted behavior to thrive by giving it such a huge outlet.

It’s unfortunate that Facebook as used the word “friend” and “unfriend” to describe our granting and denying access to our individual Facebook worlds. Because it makes it too personal as if to say “hey, being connected with you through this technology is not working out so I guess we can’t be friends.” Yes, if Facebook was the only basis for our relationship, perhaps that is true, but I have several friends and acquaintances who I connect with in positive ways outside of Facebook and just want to limit it to that.

If you consistently exhibit behavior which is preventing our new society from growing in positive, healthy ways, and you’ve been given ample warning, I will not “unfollow” you, because that does not limit the scope of your behavior and influence. I will “unfriend” you, not to tell you I do t want you in my life, but because it’s time for social media to grow up a little bit. It’s time to take a new step toward maturity.

This is not about dividing. I want diversity, but we can have differing views without the bad behavior.

I propose we all do the same.

Someone pees in your pool once? Say something. They pee in the pool again? Kick’em out. Maybe the lake would be a better place for them.

The Good Cop or the Good Black Dude

This Sunday’s lectionary was the most famous parable, The Good Samaritan.  It is so ubiquitous that people from any age, any race, and any religion is likely to have heard of it.  As a response to the Pharisee’s question, “Ok, then who is my neighbor?” so that he could know who he was expected to have to love, Jesus tells this story.

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

What many do not realize is that part of the story is the the Samaritans were persona non grata for the Jews.  They practiced a different form of  Judaism.  And so that the Samaritan was the one who helped and therefor was righteous in the law subverts the expectations of the questioner.  The priest and the Levite, considered to be the most righteous, were sinners and false.  That must have been a bitter pill to swallow.

And the same time this scripture was read all over the world, our country was embroiled in race and police issues.  And so I’m going to consider the story from those perspectives.

We’re going to plug in two scenarios.

1.) The beaten man is a black man, the first person on the road was a white liberal, the second person was a black person, the third person was a white cop

2.) The

Going Big

Once a year, I go big with my choir.  We do a kind of choral work called a Christmas cantata.  One of the most famous Christmas cantatas is the first section of Handel’s Messiah, for example.  Cantatas originate in the 17th century.  Cantata means “sung” and usually includes some form of narration and is accompanied by an instrumental ensemble.  It’s a series of songs that comprise a single work.  This year was my sixth cantata at Goodrich.

We do a brand new cantata every year.  This year, I wanted to do something very different. My son taught me something about the construction of a joke once.  We laugh because the punchline subverts our expectations.  That’s what I wanted to do this year, except instead of getting a laugh, I wanted to get a dynamic worship response from the congregation.  Our punchline, so to speak, was African American gospel music.  My choir does gospel music once and awhile and they do it very well.  The congregation loves it.  But we’d never done a full on gospel cantata.  In fact, I’d never even heard of a gospel Christmas cantata.  Joel Raney’s composition, Joy, may be a one of a kind.

Every June, I choose the cantata from the best new cantatas of the season, and there were many good ones, but this was a stand out.  It was something I could subvert expectations with.  But I knew that I could not go about it like I had previous years.

In listening to the demo, I nearly turned it away.  I knew Raney had black gospel in mind, but there was nothing like a black gospel sound to the singers.  When I say that, it is not really about race.  It’s about a style that originates in the African American community, and these studio demo folks just didn’t get it.  It sounded like a very good 1980s white high school show choir.  Does that bring a sound to mind?  Cheesy is the best word for it, actually.  But as I listened, I heard something in the score.  Joel Raney understands the fundamentals of black gospel music.  The chords were there.  The rhythm was there.  And, as much as possible with a 4 part SATB score, the voicing was there.  Everything I needed to start something new was there.  We just needed to steer clear of the demo recording.

Now understand, there is absolutely no failure on Raney’s end.  Taking a kind of music that is taught by rote (not sheet music), and notating it onto paper is challenging.  You can’t take the music that’s in your head, put it onto paper, and expect what was in your head to come out of a choir of primarily white United Methodists.  What I wanted to do is imagine what Raney had in mind and bring it to life.  If Raney is Geppetto and his score is Pinnochio, then what I wanted to do is make into a real boy.  Joel, if you’re reading, I don’t mean to sound unflattering;  I’ve just worked with gospel scores and arrangements enough to have a good idea of the challenges and you’ve given us everything we needed to make something really special!  It would take the right group of musicians to do this.

I didn’t hire church musicians because they’re all engaged on Sunday morning.  Instead, I went to the local music scene to find a pianist, drummer, percussionist, and bass player.  I sat down with the pianist in July.  He would essentially be the band leader.  And we imagined for awhile.  We imagined a presentation of the music in its most possible authentic form.  The only musician I couldn’t find to do it was a gospel music organist.  They are a rare breed and all very busy.  But the pianist would handle all of the flare that the organist would have done.  We imagined an augmented version that would ring true.  I told him if you help me with the band, I’ll see what I could do with the choir.

He may have thought I was a little nuts (spoiler alert:  I am).  Maybe he thought I didn’t know what I was talking about.  I don’t know.  Ok, so you’re going to take a group of musicians who have never played together (or in a church for that matter) to take a written score and turn it into something different than the written score and you’re going to do it in 5 rehearsals?

Yes!  That’s what I wanted to do!  I think he may have been a little hesitant, but intrigued enough to throw in with me.  We sat down the next week and looked at it.  He was prodigious beyond what I expected and I was really excited.  It was summer.  I told him that we would start in October and perform it in December.

I knew it would work.  It was one of those Holy Spirit things.  I could see it all so clearly in my head.  I would give them CDs to learn their parts and a score to the pianist.  Most of these musicians would be learning by ear.  They would learn it in a few weeks and have fun doing it.  We would find our sound;  our interpretation.  They would join with the choir in December and we would present it on the 18th.

Every August, I hold a choir retreat in which we play a game or two, look at some new fall material, have a potluck lunch, and look at the cantata for the first time. We all look forward to it.   The choir had the same response to the demo as I did, but they trusted me so we had a good consensus on it.  And so the work began.  I knew from the beginning that rhythm and style would be the hardest elements and I was right.  Challenging music.

What I wanted for them was not their regular traditional choral sound.  I wanted something brighter, yell-ier, and freer, adding style that is not written down.  There were no complaints.  I spend a good deal of our rehearsal time trying to prevent them from doing that anyway.  Black gospel music singing is very different than what anglo-centric choirs do.  It requires a chestier sound.  That means we take our speaking/yelling voices and take it on up to our higher register instead of flipping over into head voice all of the time.   That requires some technique and I didn’t expect everyone to get it.  Plus, there were a lot of legit soprano parts that wouldn’t allow for that.  But I wanted us to do our best at sounding like a gospel choir, at least where it really counted.

In the end, it turned out that the biggest challenge was balancing the volume between the band and the choir.  Our second to last rehearsal was disastrous.  It was the first time we all got together and the singers were screaming trying to sing over the drums.  Not good.  Mutiny in their eyes, I concocted a plan to dampen the drums and amplify the choir.  I prayed and prayed and when the dress rehearsal came I had nailed it.  It was good.

All that was left was to worship.  That is number one for me.  Yes, it’s a great show worthy of a concert, but my plan from the beginning was to subvert expectations with the goal of a more spontaneous kind of worship.  And I believe we accomplished that.  There were amens, people wanting to move (and not really knowing how to), tears, and spontaneous clapping.  Never had our program had such a profound effect.  It was recorded and has been shared throughout the community.  And the mandate was clear, more of this kind of music at Goodrich.

Afterwards, the pianist wrote about the importance of white people understanding and performing black music…and I added black sacred music.  It’s an American original.  It needs to be embraced by churches like mine with music directors who are willing to give it their best shot.  And I gave it my best shot and went big.

Tea and Halibut

allergyI don’t know if this is even a story, but it somehow represents my life in a small way. I’ve struggled with a stuffy nose since college. Medicines help a little. Nose sprays, over-the-counter pills, saline snorting–yeah, I could do all that. The stuffiness would be no big deal except that it does affect my singing voice which is important to me.  Depending on the style of music, I sometimes have to go on Sudafed for a few days before singing to get everything in tip-top condition. If I need a lot of resonance, a stuffy nose can hold me back. It can also drip down on my vocal cords and give me a little laryngitis.  It’s a whole big thing.

A few summers ago, I took the Wilson-Burns family to Orlando for a week of Universal and Disney fun. Read all about at Wally World or Bust. As the week progressed in balmy Florida, my nose cleared up. I noticed while singing in the shower one morning. Everything was just easier. I had the kind of control and ease I had lost over the last few years.  Ah HA!  There must be something in Oklahoma that is causing this!

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Resuming My Wife Says I’m Complicated

I took this blog down for a while because I published its content in a book on Amazon and I gave them the digital rights so that it could be on Kindle Unlimited. I’ve set those posts to private.  But I have more to say!  I have a substantial list of more stories and essays I intend to write. Perhaps there will be another book down the road.

Thanks for reading!

Tractor Beam Server or Member of the Team

58

Sun Microsystems Enterprise 5000 Server

In 2001, I went to work for the FAA in Oklahoma City.  It was my first permanent job as a programmer.  How I got the job is a little morbid.

I was working for an insurance company on a one year contract.  When I finished the project, one of my contract competitors pointed me to a job at the FAA.  She may have been trying to get rid of me, but I was ready to go so it didn’t matter.

It was for the position of junior developer.  With two years of experience, that was an appropriate position for me.  I remember nothing of the interview, but it must have gone well because they called me.  I fancied myself a good negotiator.  I’d negotiated some good deals for myself since I started my career.  So I was confident that I would be able to do well this time.  My future boss took my first offer, but it seemed like there was a tinge of reticence in his voice.  I thought I was awesome.

When I arrived on my first day, it was to a very somber group of men and a desk that had not been cleared off from the last guy.  I soon learned that the guy I had replaced had died right after my interview in an all terrain vehicle accident.  I was in the senior position now.    Much, much later, I learned that they had been through every resume that they had, and mine was the only one left, hence the easy negotiation.  I didn’t take it hard.  I laughed to myself.  I had gotten the job and I did well in it and that was all that mattered.

But I didn’t start off so hot.  In the first month, the database administrator, the change management system administrator, and the server administrator all resigned leaving just two programmers with no experience with any system administration.

They stepped us through their documentation a few times and then wished us luck.  After a few weeks we were feeling pretty good about it.  We hadn’t had a single real problem.  One of my jobs was to backup the server on tape, replace the tape, and take the old one to a safe.  One day, though, the server, which is the size and shape of a refrigerator, wouldn’t open.  It had a door which opened just like a refrigerator.  Fortunately, I thought, there was a key above the door so I turned it.  Here’s what it sounded like.

It turns out the server wasn’t locked, I had been trying to pull open the door from the side my refrigerator opens. The guys who were taking care of that server before had to come in on the weekend and rebuild it to make it run again.  They said it could have been worse.  Shutting a server down cold can be catastrophic, apparently.   They hid the key from me after that.  I never had to do the backup again.

This team was an all male team, as are most of the teams I’ve worked with, and there’s something that I know about joining a team, especially an all male team.  They need to know that you can handle a good ribbing.  The sooner the better.  So I took this as an opportunity.  I told the story with the server sound being the climactic ending.  I figured out how to make it by vocalizing while I whistle.  Here it is.

They tease me to this day.  I became a member of the team when I shared my story.  I paid my dues, and I laughed at myself.  It’s so important to be able to laugh at yourself when you deserve it.  It’s so much more attractive than being sullen and defensive,  and to this day, if I see any of those guys, the first thing they want is the tractor beam.  It always gets a laugh.

 

 

Kicked Out

I attended college for vocal music education in the early 90s.  In a voice degree, one of the most important figures, if not the most, is your voice teacher.  This is one of the few professors you will see every week for your entire college life.

Learning to sing often requires a rather close relationship between the teacher and the student.  It’s a mentor relationship.   The study of singing more than just singing.  It is the learning of a lifestyle.  It encompasses physical fitness, diet, sleeping habits, how much water to drink, and of course discipline.  Because you want to be the best singer you can be, you look to your voice teacher for everything they give you that might help your chances at success.

When I was a senior in high school my mentor at the time, the director of music at my church, told me that there was a certain voice studio at the college I was planning on attending that was for the more advanced students and she would help me get it.  I’d feel more comfortable not using his name, so I will call him Professor Nelson.  Being advanced was something I valued a lot.  In retrospect, I needed the exact opposite.  I needed a teacher who would teach me as if I knew absolutely nothing.  She managed to get me an informal audition with him in his office.  He expressed his interest in me and when I made my official audition to the school, he chose me.  I was elated.

Nelson was a man of great mystique.  He created a larger than life character.  He was the wise one.  He often intimated that he was connected to celebrity.  He was an accomplished cyclist.  He was an accomplished painter; painting in the wilds of Wyoming.  He fancied himself a bit of a cowboy type, but to my knowledge he never had anything to do with cattle.  And what impressed me the most is that he was a specialist in French music.  This was an interest of mine.  Anything French to me had it’s own mystique.  He studied abroad with a quite famous French singer and recorded an album that I wore out on cassette tape twice.  I idolized this man.  I felt proud to be in his studio, which was almost exclusively graduate students.

He trained me as a tenor, although I was never sure if he actually thought I was one.  He often called me a “baritenor”.  That was a blend between a tenor and a baritone.  It’s not a true voice type, but it’s how he dealt with the limitations of my voice.   I don’t think he really put a lot of importance on what I was because I was just an education major.  My success as a tenor was mixed.  I didn’t want mixed success.  I wanted to be the best.  So after a couple of years, I got it in my head that I might be a baritone (which I am).  I told him I wanted to give it a try.

The first thing he brought out was Valentin’s aria from Faust which has two high G’s, which only experienced baritones could reach.  It was as if he was trying to prove me wrong.  As if to say that singing this would be the only way to prove if I was a baritone.  I failed miserably.

I’d been singing a lot in my falsetto in college in early music performances.  I was well received.  A man who sings in falsetto exclusively is called a countertenor.  Countertenors were on the cusp of being big in the professional world, but otherwise they were was still obscure.  I started talking about it with Professor Nelson.

“Look, David.  I could sing like that all day.”  Nelson was practically a countertenor himself with his very light lyric baritone.  He demonstrated his falsetto. “See?  But there’s nothing to it.  It has no steel.  It has no value.”

A few weeks later, I came into my lesson and said, “Ok.  I think I want to be a tenor again.”

His face reddened and he exploded.  “You come in here, you want to be a tenor, you want to be a baritone, you want to sing like a girl.  What are you?  I don’t know.”

My ears were burning.  I felt like my chest and head were a gong and he had just taken a wack at me.

Then he looked away and began shaking his head and said, “I can’t keep going back and forth.  I don’t know how to teach you.  I’m done with you.”

I knew I was going to cry, so I left his office.  As soon as I was in the hall, the tears came hard.  I made my way down to the other end of the hall to see the head of the voice department.  She was a very maternal figure and I knew that she would be both a comfort and a problem solver.

I knocked on her door.  She was teaching a lesson to a friend of mine whom I didn’t mind seeing me upset.   After I explained what had happened, she first gave me a big hug and patted my back.  When I had pulled myself together she went into chairperson mode.

She explained that her goal was to get me through my senior year and she would get me a teacher.

She did get me a teacher.  None of the other teachers in the department would take me.  She never tried to explain why and I didn’t ask.  I had gained a reputation for being a difficult student by then, and I’m fairly certain that that was a factor.  She convinced a retired professor to take me.  It was a great fit.

Now, though, I no longer idolized Nelson.  I resented him.  I ridiculed his idiosyncrasies to my friends.  I toughened up by tearing him down.

So why do I keep returning to this story?  I loved Professor Nelson.  I wanted to please him.  The few times he expressed displeasure with me were upsetting.  I’m sure my family would say that I was all  “Professor Nelson this” and “Professor Nelson that” every day of my college career.  When he kicked me out of his studio, it hurt me very deeply.  I suppose I’ve told this at times to become the object of pity.  Pity’s not the best gift a person can receive, but it has some value.

When I was a kid, there was this other kid who broke his leg and had to use crutches.  He was the object of everyone’s pity and I wanted it so bad that I found some crutches and walked around with them at home for a little while.   I decided that it wasn’t worth the effort, but I wanted it.  I wanted the attention.  I wanted the girls to ask if it hurt really bad.

I’m pleased to say that I’ve outgrown this desire.  I find pity uncomfortable if anything.  Sometimes when I tell the story, it’s in the context of several stories which illustrate what a pain in the butt I was back then.  I was stubborn, a know-it-all, arrogant, sycophantic, and snobbish.

The last time I saw Professor Nelson before he died a few years ago, his words were, “So, are you still singing like a girl?”

And the last time I saw him, just weeks before he died of cancer, I pretended not to see him.

There have been very few tragedies in my life, but being kicked out of Professor Nelson’s studio is significant to me.  A couple of years ago, I got tired of holding onto my resentment and hurt over this man.  I found a cassette tape of his old album of French song and I had it digitally remastered.  I posted it on YouTube.  Then I found an online library of his paintings and convinced the owner to let me create a Facebook page for his music and paintings.  I was finally able to let go of the hurt and give myself permission to think fondly of him again.  It occurs to me now that he was no more at fault than I was.  He really did not know how to teach me, just as he had said.  It’s hard to find out an idol is just a regular human who can’t give you everything you need.  It’s hard to be rejected by them.  But it’s harder still to hold on to the pain and resentment.

You gotta let

that

shit

go

Mouthful

saffron-rice-04I have a group of friends from Bangladesh, and they love to party pretty hard.  I don’t see them much anymore.  I used to attend all of their crazy parties.  And I always wanted to leave earlier than they wanted me to.  At Bengali parties, the food isn’t served until after 10 and with this particular group, they drink and dance most of the night.  That’s just not my style.  I would eat then leave ,which is not cool.  You eat.  Then you stay.  And so I don’t go anymore. They know that they’re not going to get all of me that they want.  I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

And so when I was invited to a wedding reception party, I came late, but this time I really was late.  I was the last person to arrive.  It was in a friend’s apartment.  If you’ve never seen a southeast Asian wedding reception, you’re missing out.  It’s beautiful.  The bride and groom are dressed like royalty up on a platform covered with flowers, sweets, and rice dishes.

I walked in and my friend jumped up to say hi and introduce me.  There were many people there I did not know.

“Hey everybody, this-a David!  He speak Bangla!  Go ahead,” and he pounded me on the back.

My face burned.  I’d learned a few Bangla phrases to show that I cared about my friends’ culture. Most of them appreciated my feeble attempts, but at one party, a very drunk fellow heard me say to one of the women how delicious the food was in Bangla.  He mimicked me by saying it back with exaggerated slowness.   After that, I didn’t much care to do it again.  But my friend had put me on the spot so I shouted “Assalamu alaikum!”  and everyone gave their usual cheer.

My friend said, “Ok, here’s what you do.  You go up to the them, offer them a blessing, and they’ll give you some food.”

I was glad to hear this because I was really hungry and was looking forward to some good Bengali cooking.  I came up to the platform and tried to think of something to say.  I thought of all of the corny blessings in American films featuring foreign characters. Something like, “Many blessings be upon your head and upon the heads of your children.”  But that just didn’t seem right, and I’m not sure I could have said it without a phony accent.  I don’t remember what I said, though, but whatever it was, I was going for as normal as possible.

I started looking around for which food I might eat, but I couldn’t see any plates.  Then the next thing I knew there was a plastic spoon in my mouth.  The groom, with a wide grin, had shoved a spoonful of cold rice into my mouth.  He began to nod and grin at me.  I nodded and grinned back, but something was happening.  My body was rejecting this rice.  Something about him putting it into my mouth and it being cold made me start to gag.

Rather than swallow the rice, I ran to the bathroom and spit it out.  I don’t think anybody saw, but I was worried about it nonetheless.  Who knows how old this tradition even was?  Who knows what superstition might come with it?  Maybe by spitting out the rice, I was making the bride barren.  Maybe I was bringing down some sort of curse on their heads and the heads of their children.

I realize now that if I hadn’t have been so late, the rice might not have been cold and I might not have spit it out.

I miss my Bengali friends.  It would probably only take a phone call to be invited to another party or reception.  But I also know what that would mean.   I’d have to be out late on a Saturday night.  And while those guys would be sleeping in the next day, I would be getting up at 7:30 to direct music at church.  And I’d rather have a plastic spoon of rice shoved into my mouth than miss that.