Mentors in Hiding

There is immense value in having a mentor. A mentor serves as a coach, friend, teacher and motivator. Recently someone asked, “Hey Barry who is your mentor?” I looked at the questioner with a wide stupefied gaze. Mentor? I don’t have a mentor. So I told them I was temporarily without a mentor. Days after the conversation the question lingered. Where can I find a mentor?

Well I have fantastic news! Are you excited?! There are mentors everywhere. Right now the smartass reading this and looking underneath his sofa is thinking,


“I don’t see a mentor here Barry…”

Okay so maybe not literally everywhere, but all around us. A mentor doesn’t not have to be constrained a living breathing human. We can find mentorship in books, movies, videogames, art, and sometimes even ourselves. Here’s a great example:

In 9th grade I stumbled upon an anime called Fairy Tail. This cartoon is basically about a group of misfit magic users who come together and form a family like bond. To this day my favorite character in the show is Gajeel. No more what challenge Fairy Tail faced you could rely on Gajeel since he is a tough, no-bs guy that NEVER backed down even when obviously outmatched by an enemy. Watching Gajeel’s boldness at a time where felt pathetic and wimpy empowered me to copy find those traits in myself. Years later while in college I got the same tattoo as Gajeel has in the show for self-reinforcement.


Of course, the 9th grade kid me didn’t realize this. I just wanted to watch an awesome show. The lesson is if you’re willing look past the surface of entertainment you can find real insight. This not me encouraging you to binge watch 12 hours of TV. Instead of blindly consuming ask yourself, “what about this character resonates with me?”

Is it Superman’s pledge to uphold truth, justice, and the American way?

Is it Jon Snow’s commitment to his cause despite constant resistance?

Is it Kermit the Frog’s ability to be in dank memes?


“I take mentoring very seriously”

Diversifying your portfolio of mentors is important too. Fantasy/fiction teaches great lessons through metaphor and biographies/non-fiction show how people overcame real life challenges. Earlier I wrote that sometimes mentors can come from within. What I mean is leveraging the power of questions to push yourself in a positive direction. For me this is asking,

“What would the absolute best version of myself do about this?”

If you’re totally honest, this usually produces a good answer. Go fourth and scour the planet in search of a mentor.

May the force be with you – Barry



Do I really want to be healthly?

“But do I really what to be healthy?”

I couldn’t help but to think this out loud. When entering through the front of Weis customers pass by the produce to reach the bakery. The apple in front of me cannot fairly compete with the strawberry cheesecake 20 feet away. I know nothing about physics but I know desserts possess a pull stronger than the gravity of a planet.

“Must…. Look…. Away…”

My gaze disappointedly returned to the shiny red apple in my palm. Why can’t you taste like that dammit! Answer me!

The apple refused to comment. A series of similar decisions followed:

Potatoes or Flaming Hot Cheetos?

Spinach or Mint Chocolate Chip Ice cream?

Oatmeal or Lucky Charms?

Unsalted peanuts or Nutella?

Broccoli or Bacon?

Just when I feel triumphant the store pulls out on last trump card. A candytopia rack of the world’s most delicious and unhealthy delights right next to the checkout counter. Snickers, M&M’s, KitKats, Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, Sweet Tarts, Twizzlers. All right there for the taking, those shiny colorful wrappers tempting me and whooing me to come closer. Oh come on…. Just one teeny little Snickers could hurt! You know you wanna….

Tastebuds salivating, I feel my will power melting away. The sweet siren song of candies pulling me into a deeper trance. I struggled to fight back, “Must be healthly…”

“Um sir?”

The cashier interrupts my existential crisis to inform me that I am holding up the line.

“Whoops sorry,”  proceeding to check out without buying any junk food. Trumpets play brilliantly in my background imagination. I won! I was healthy! I rode this high all the back to my apartment. Almost everything inside my fridge is a fruit or vegetable. That when I realized almost everything inside my fridge is a fruit or vegetable. One out loud thought eroded my proud moment

“Do I really want to be healthy?” – Barry

No BHD at the DMV

The Department of Motor Vehicles remains my least favorite organization on the planet Earth. I needed to renew my driver’s license making this visit completely unavoidable. Great. No need to stress it’s just a license renewal. Should be fairly quick. I like the way I think, okay to the DMV!

How naïve of me. Last time I checked “quick” meant something other than a maddening 90-minute wait. I went through the online license renewal process a month prior to avoid this. I never received my camera card in the mail so here I was.

“Number C640 counter 7”

Yes! That’s me!

I moved quickly to counter 7 and presented the paperwork to the clerk. “Hi, so I did the license renewal onl-”

“License number.” The clerk cut me off without flinching from his computer monitor.

Somewhere deep and dark chasm inside of me I felt a spark of murderous rage peer out for a microsecond. DID HE JUST INTERRUPT ME? My greater angels prevailed however and I calmly rattled off the digits on my license.


Rage: I’ll be here if you change your mind!

Barry remember that anger will not serve you.

I will if I punch him in the forehead.

Be the bigger person.

Ugh fine.

Guess they don’t teach BHD (Basic Human Decency) to DMV employees. I stood there seething a few seconds while Rude clerk man, let’s call him Rudy, typed my personal data into the system. This interaction burned through my leftover patience reserves.

Rudy swivel in his chair to face me at last, “Check or Money order?”

“I don’t hav-”

“Then I can’t help you.” Rudy immediately spun back to the monitor.

My breathing sped up 1000 percent while my fists clenched manically. To hell with the pacifist approach. Eyebrows stiffened at an angular V and voice firm I addressed Rudy once more, “NO Listen. What I been trying to tell you is I did the renewal process online. I never received the camera card in the mail and the woman I spoke to on the phone said there was no fee.” I did not wait 90 minutes just to be dismissed in 9 seconds.

Rudy made eye contact with me for the first time. His demeanor changed slightly, “Is your home address the same?”


Rudy worked some magic and produced the paper I needed fairly quickly. I took the paper and made sure to give a him deliberate quasi-sincere “Thank you” before going on my way.

I really hate the DMV – Barry

Adventures in Learning: Lecture Hall Larry

General education classes. No student wants to take them, but everyone is required to. This is how a Business Major finds himself sitting in Chemistry and the Citizen.


Tick……..Tock. Tick………Tock.

Time must be having a lazy day too. I sat in the front row of Kuster Auditorium with my eyes singularly focused on the hands of the clock. I writhed side to side a bit trying to relax. Clearly these cramped lecture hall seats were not made with comfort in mind. My eyes darted back to the wall clock.

12:59pm? GREAT. Class is already taking long it didn’t even start yet!

About a second later my fellow class mate came shuffling down the aisle. I never learned his name but I always called him Lecture Hall Larry in my head. Mostly because he always ended up in my Gen Ed classes, which always happened to be in Lecture Halls. Spoiler alert: this guy is kinda weird.

Larry greeted me before sitting down, “Oh! Hey man! How are you? Good?! Yeah good man?”

Um I didn’t get a chance to answer.

Larry finally plopped down and unfurled his notes from inside his blue Jansport bookbag. His fashion sense irked me slightly. It was the middle of April yet he always sported a thick denim jacket with matching color jeans. Some please notify the Fashion Police.


Denim on denim crime

Dr. Crayola stood up from behind her desk to make an announcement, “Okay class! I finally graded the exam from last Tuesday! Overall not too shabby, but we do need to review a few things.”

Oh yeah that test was easy!

It was subtle, but I began to feel small vibration. I slipped my hand in my pocket quick to look for an alert. Nope. I stole a quick glance right and discovered Larry fidgeting maniacally. Cleary he was anxious.

A salmon read paper with a huge 89 circled in red pen landed on my desk. Of course I nailed the exam as usual.

“Hey man, how did you do on the exam?” Larry must have noticed the stupid grin on my face.

Amazing, as always.

“Oh me?” I poorly faked a less than satisfied look, “Yeah I guess I did OKAY. What about you?”

Clutched with the pain of uncertainty Larry looked at me a second before responding, “….. Well you know how these things go man? Like I THINK I did good, but I mean jeez this was a hard one. Maybe I could have studied more ya know? I’ll find out soon though.”

“Oh yeah I feel you”

“Like I know I could have studied more. Next time I’ll definitely study more. I can’t regret slacking now, just need to do better next time.”

“Yeah I totally get that. I thought some parts were hard too. Don’t worry too much! I’m sure you did good!”


Dr. Crayola smacks a salmon colored exam onto Larry’s desk facedown. I notice him hesitate a second before flipping it over. From my seat I saw a big fat 63 circled in red ink on the top right corner his exam.

Well I take that back.

Disappointment stains every facet of Larry’s movement. I begin to sense the shock in his unnatural paralysis. It was as if he was recovering from a freshly opened wound.

This is awkward now……

I tuck my exam away in a folder and pretend not to have seen Larry’s paper. “So how did you do??”

He shifts to the left to face me deadpan, “I’ll do better next time.”

Good luck Larry – Barry

Budget Cuts


Returning to Luzerne Hall to begin another year of college. Junior year to be precise. I dreaded this moment all summer long and now I was living it. Uncertainty stoked the flames of my worry engine. How could I handle working with new staff members, taking 18 credits, being in a new student government leadership position and graduate on time? Preparing for student move-in week with my staff distracted me from thoughts. I spent my rare moments of solitude in the lobby. Sitting behind the large granite desk in the lobby felt familiar and completely alien. I think it was the nostalgia of the previous year clashing with the current year.

Fifteen minutes pasted and my GHD (supervisor) along with a few other staff members clustered around the front desk. I’m not sure how, but suddenly I noticed our tall desk trash can was missing.

“Hey Max, do you know where the desk trash can is?”

Max scrunched his thick eyebrows together in deep consideration, “Hmmm…. I didn’t know we had a desk trash can? Maybe it was removed for some reason?”

Of course. It always comes down to money. I unconsciously looked down to former spot of the missing waste basket, took a shallow breath, and muttered “budget cuts.” There was a tangible change in atmosphere when my gaze returned upward. Everyone was now staring at me in disgust.

Shit, did I just accidentally violate a social norm again? What? I just wanted to know where the trash can was!? STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT!

Max eventually broke the silence, “Barry………..what did you just say?”

“Um, I said ‘do you know where the desk trash can is?’”

Frustration seeped on the corners of Max’s face, “No. I mean after that.”

This is very strange, why am I suddenly on trial?!

“I said ‘budget cuts’, since they probably removed the trash can to save money.”

The tension in the lobby began to deflate. Max’s facial expressions slowly eased up too, “Oh. Good. That’s not what we thought you said haha…”

That’s absurd! What bad thing could “budget cuts” possible be misinterpreted for?!

“… It sounded like you said bunch of c*nts.”

Oh. That would be bad. – Barry

The Donut Heist


Tim and I strolled into the Multipurpose room and scooched our way through the audience into the back row seats. Tonight a Guest Speaker from the Center of Leadership and Engagement (CLE) was here to talk about….Public Speaking? Leadership? Honestly, I have no clue. The key words highlighted on the event flyer were “Free Food.” Oh, and I needed to do this to win a bet against Tim.

“Yo! What’s with these seats? Why are so far away?” Tim complained loudly.

“This was YOUR idea. You said, ‘we should sit in the back’. Look, the front row is completely empty if you want to move.”

Tim’s face grew red at the suggestion, “Nahh chill man! I’m not sitting where everyone can see me!”

Ugh. What a child.

The small assemble room lights dimmed as Mrs. Presenter Lady began presenting the workshop. Still no sign of free snacks yet. Mrs. Presenter Lady began with a question, “What is leadership? How can students become role models and leaders on this campus?” Mrs. Presenter Lady communicated with a powerful lyrical cadence in her voice. Before I long I found myself invested in the presentation.

“Pssst! Yo!” Tim whispered loudly.

Just ignore him. Pay attention.

Since we were sitting right next to each it was hard to fully ignore him. I could hear Tim fidgeting around in his chair. Finally, I turned to him, “Would you relax? It’s almost over.” From the outside, we must have looked like an old married couple. Mrs. Lady wrapped up her PowerPoint with the lights flicking back on soon afterwards.

“Told you it was almost over.”

He let out a salvo of yawns before finally standing up. “Hey man, wait!” The excitement in his eyes pointed to the discovery of the snack table. As students slowly filtered out of the Multipurpose room we closed in on the snack table. After devouring 6 cookies chocolate chip cookies each Tim notices something incredible.



“Look! A whole 8 pack of donuts! And they aren’t open!”

“Oh yeah, too bad no one opened it yet”

Just then Tim flashed me a sinister grin, whispering “We should just take them!”

Alarm bells immediately sounded off on my ethical conscience, “What! Are you crazy?! How would we even do that?”

Tim turned his back and reverted to a oddly calm demeanor. “Oh? Sorry, I didn’t realize this you were a coward.”

The blood in my veins thickened with anger. Damnit! This is oldest trick in the book, yet somehow it was working! Ego can lead a person to do stupid things. A stupid decision is guaranteed if that Ego mixes with male testosterone. I turned around to do a quick sweep of the room. Including us, only a few people still lingered around.

My eyes narrowed back at him, “Take the damn donuts! I’ll cover you.”

Without missing a beat Tim quickly began stuffing the rectangular box of donuts into the inner left pocket of his jacket. The donuts box stuck out comically underneath his jacket. I stood to the left of Tim in an attempt to avoid any suspicion. My heart pulsed quickly, with my emotions becoming a cocktail of excitement and anxiety. I feel like I landed in a real-life scene of Ocean’s Eleven.

Okay, steady now. Just stay cooool.

We reached the double doors to exit the room when I made the mistake of turning around one last time. In that instant, I locked eyes with Mrs. Presenter Lady who was beaming a chilly glare in our direction.

It was almost as if she witnessed two dumbass kids awkwardley stealing a box of donuts. – Barry

Random Encounters – Tijuana Tales

Over Thanksgiving Break I found myself in the Stroud Mall. Strange creatures masquerading as humans love to roam freely in the Stroud Mall. I do my best to avoid them. Always. Who knows what attracts these extraterrestrial fedora-wearing teenage beings into that tiny shopping complex?

Probably Auntie Anne’s pretzels.

Susanna followed me all the way into the Men’s department of Sears. She stood in the aisle waiting as I drowned in a sea of jeans. Slim fit jeans, Boot-cut jeans, stretch fit jeans, Extra-blue jeans, black jeans, ripped-jeans, gene jeans- the variety can be dizzying. Vertigo outright smacked me when I saw the price!

$70!!! For jeans!! They better shave off a few pounds for that price!

Sadly, the tag did not indicate weight loss features for the jeans. Maybe I’m just cheap.

“So what are your plans for after Grad School?” Susanna asked

“Umm? Move to San Diego is my only plan right now,” I replied hastily. “Why are jeans so expensive?”

Susanna ignored my second question completely, “San Diego? That’s cool and you could even visit Mexico too.”



Cue spontaneous Mariachi  band

Susanna and I looked at exchanged confused looks. The mentioning of Mexico brought in an uninvited participant to the conversation.

“Me and my buddies went to Mexico a few years ago, beautiful country…”

Um who are you?

The stranger in question was a short middle age man in a dirt splattered black sweatshirt and grease stained jeans. His appearance resembled that of a homeless person, not someone who could afford to go to Mexico. Giving him the benefit of the doubt I continued to listen. Susanna did the same.

“Yeah my buddies decided to take me to a cathouse in Tijuana. They said ‘listen here man, we’re going to get you laid’…”

“Oh? That’s umm….” Leaving the sentence, I unfinished I tried to think of a means of escape. A cloud of unease rested around me. I did not expect a story about prostitution while jean shopping. I’m officially uncomfortable.

“… and everything is so much cheaper down there. I bought a Sombrero for $3 USA, hell I could have bought a house! I had $15,000 in cash!”

I threw glances and every nonverbal signal in the book at Susanna to get us out of there. She caught none of them. In fact, she seemed to be enjoying this stranger’s tale. Why does this always happen to me?! With no way out I let him drone on for 10 more minutes.


Still didn’t get the hint

“And also the Tequila there is no joke! None of that watered down American bullshit! I drank a shit ton of Tequila and blacked out. To this day I refuse to drink Tequila…. And another thing”

Finally, Susanna intervened, “Well I think we need to get going now!” In the parking lot I could help but to be annoyed by the fact that we left the mall with no jeans and oddly personal anecdotes about a strange man’s adventures in a foreign country.

Maybe I should buy jeans from Mexico – Barry

It Could Happen to You

November in Pennsylvania. I could begin this story by conjuring sensations of the penetrating effects of cold. How it cracks the skins seeps straight down into the marrow of your bones. Bundling  Maybe describe the howling winds that banish away warmth on impact. Maybe. I could fill your mind with images frost scarred students strutting around in thick wool beanies, heavy black Timberland boots, and puffy insulated Patagonia coats. I could do all these things, but I won’t.


Also not going to include a picture

Somehow, I found myself walking outside in the cold. A lapse in memory made me forget why I left my apartment in the first place. I strolled along for a few blocks until the cold forced me to retreat back  towards home. Logic says I went outside to go somewhere, but where? Think. Think. Think. My fingers shivered in my jean pockets. Only another block before I was back inside.

“HEY! BARRY!” a loud voiced echoed from a distance. My neck immediately swung around to answer. Scanning up, down, and all the round. Still don’t see anybody. My frenzied head movments earned me a dirty look from a scrawny old lady leaning on a parking meter. Someone called out my name! I’m not crazy!

Maybe I was just hearing things?

Later that evening I lounged on my sofa ruminating. I wonder who shouted out my name? Maybe they actually said “Harry” not Barry? It’s a simple mistake to make. No I feel like it was directed toward me. No one else was outside on the sidewalk beside that strange old lady. Maybe her name is Barry too? What if that old woman shouted out my name just so she could pretend not hear anything and give me a dirty look!? That scoundrel! Is this step one is kind of convoluted conspiracy? How far up does this thing go?!

Investigating this incident produced more questions than answers. Evidence has dried up and I’m fresh out of leads. The trail has gone cold. I will go my entire life not knowing who shouted out my name.

Let this be a warning: it could happen to you – Barry

How To Be a Good Student: A Complete Walkthrough

Pursing an education takes a lot a work. It can be even more difficult if you feel uncertain about what it takes to be good student. As a recent college graduate and first semester graduate student I can walk you through the intricacies of learning to become an excellent scholar.

The First Assignment – Getting Started

Hooray! You received your first homework of the semester! I glanced over the rubric, the assignment looks straightforward. The due date is a week from now. I have a crazy idea: let’s get it done early!

Sounds awesome!

Great! Now just get out your laptop and we can get started.

*Pulls laptop out of bag. Shakes the cookie crumbs out of the grimy keyboard. Sets laptop down.*

Alrighty, so open up Microsoft Word and we can get this party started.

Okay…… I just need to check the internet for something first. It will only take a sec.

Alright keep it brief.

Yeah yeah, I will. *Opens Google Chrome* Another Star Wars movie? Cool. That reminds me, is Rogue One still on Netflix? Better check just in case I want to watch it again. *Opens Netflix* Looks like it is! Oh look at that! New season of Supernatural!


What the hell do you think you’re doing?!

Come onnn just one episode. Last season ended on a cliffhanger! I just need to know what happens and then I’ll focus. Promise.

Just one episode you say? Promise?

Yeah just one and done. Promise.

Okay, one episode couldn’t hurt.


WOW! What a great season! I can’t believe Dean did that!

….. What happened to just one episode!? That was a whole season! 22 episodes!

Look that was my fault. I didn’t think there would be so many cliffhangers. You know I don’t do well with uncertainty.

Ugh. Whatever let’s just close out of Chrome and open Microsoft Word.

*yawn* Would you look at the time? Almost midnight. I can’t do my best work if I’m tired. I will definitely start tomorrow.

Tomorrow comes and goes. Another tomorrow comes and goes. A string of tomorrows come and go.

Night Before Deadline


Bloodshot eyes strain to stare at the blinding white glow of the computer screen as I type feverishly. Is easeability a word? I feel like it is. Shakespeare invented words, why can’t I? Oh jeez, I should done this sooner! Damn you Netflix!

This is what happens when you don’t listen to me! – Barry

Witness Protection

The second end credits scene rolls and the theater lights turn up to full brightness. My fellow movie goers escape into the hallway buzzing with their reviews of the movie. Meanwhile, I linger in my reclined seat for a moment. Thor: Ragarnok? Not sure how to feel about this.


This is a side effect of writing movie reviews for three years. My mind is not allowed to form a definitive opinion until I’ve mentally sifted through the all merits and flaws of the film. I continue developing my list on my way to the Men’s restroom. That is a side effect of drinking a large blue raspberry ICEE during the movie.

I liked the tone I suppose. Very different from the previous Thor movies…

Someone is already using the urinal to the far right. Naturally I move to an open one on the far left. AMC decided to do without the urinal dividers, so now I need to use extra precautions to hide my man tentacle. Great.


Out of my peripheral I see the guy on the far right flush the handle and brush the residue onto his jeans. He heads toward the sink, checks the mirror and exits.

Something feels off . *Whoosh*

I finish up soon after and release the pee water to the sewers. I walk over to the soap dispenser next the sink and nearly empty the entire container into my left palm. Jets of water stream out of the automatic faucet. After methodically scrubbing my hands I reach for a paper towel. That when the flash back hits me. Oh god! I replay again just to be sure. A wave of disgust slams into me like a full body tackle.

HE DIDN’T WASH HIS HANDS! What’s worse is I am the only witness to this gross violation of hygiene! What if he touches someone!? What if he shares a popcorn with someone?! They would know he didn’t wash his hands! He has man tentacle germs on his hands! Ew!


What’s that famous saying again? “Evil prevails when good men do nothing.”

I can never un-see that heinous act. Maybe I should go into witness protection? – Barry

A Not-so-big Revelation

Cluelessly wandering the aisles of Weis supermarket is a cherished pastime of mine. I never leave that store without discovering something new.

Balsamic ketchup? Ooooooo that sounds interesting! Maybe I have a coupon for it. What’s this? Chocolate scented soap? Hmmmm…..

Yes, my hobbies resemble that of a retired elderly woman, but no one asked for your judgement. This is my story. OK?

Ummm take it easy man.

Without any clear direction or purpose, I drifted along some more. I ended up among rows of fresh colorful produce. Walking very slowly, I pretended to seriously consider purchasing something healthy. Oh, wait- that requires money. Nevermind!

My eyes casual glazed over the price stickers until one snagged my interest:



HUH? Weis sells computers now? And for that cheap? This deal sounds too good to be true.

Directly beneath the sign lay a bunch of greenish-red apples.

Ohhhh a Macintosh is a type of apple.

Of course, Weis doesn’t sell computers. Yet another question remained:

Why are those laptops called a Macintosh?

Mental gears slowly churned to solve this conundrum. The chance at an epiphany felt imminent. Finally, it happened! The light bulb turned on at full brightness! Everything became crystal clear

“Apple makes a computer named the Macintosh……….because a Macintosh is a type of apple! Wow!”

Clearly, I’m a genius – Barry

Random Encounters – Priorities

Interacting with random Bloomsburg Townees is always an interesting experience. These moments typically occur in a few seconds, but they are definitely worth sharing.

Close your eyes for a moment.


If you listen closely you can hear the air currents swooshing with the flow of traffic. A low of active machinery rests in the background. Pistons firing, while engines madly churn with raw horse power. Your heart jumps at the piercing screech of a sudden stop, at the obnoxious honking of a horn, and the whining scream of a modified muffler. Without looking you can picture the black sedans, red SUVs, and gray mini-vans endlessly streaming through the road.

My apartment overlooks a busy four-way intersection. The scene above describes my current reality. Watching traffic drive by can be incredibly mesmerizing. This day I left my window open to let in the autumn breeze. Down below two women attempting to cross.

Jodi: “Should we go now?”

Vanessa: “No, not yet.”

Few seconds pass.

Jodi: “Okay, what about now?” Continue reading

Stolen Pizza

*Squawk* “Your order is almost ready!” *Squawk*

“Yippie! Did you hear that Barry! The pizza is almost ready!”


Cecelia only orders from Domino’s because they have the annoying online pizza trackers with the sounds. Her favorite order tracker is the tropical theme with the squawking parrot. After breaking up, Cecelia and I decided to stay friends. We made a tradition out of ordering a strange combination of toppings and cheeses on a large pizza from Domino’s. Sure, it’s expensive, but that’s where the emergency credit card Cecelia’s parents left her comes in handy. When your hungry everything is an emergency.

“Cece why do you like that parrot so much? He’s pissing me off.”

“I don’t know haha. Don’t judge me!”

Too late. Wayyy too late.

*Squawk* Your pizza is here! *Squawk*

YES finally!

Cece’s cell rang short after. A brief exchange later she hung up and stared at me. Continue reading

Rough edges

“Mom where are you going?”

13-year-old me felt serious separation anxiety when it came to Mom. Seventh grade sucked and we relocated back to Brooklyn so my sister could start school earlier.

“I’ll be right back. Your Aunt Rein will watch you.”


“MOM! NO! Why Aunt Rein?” I whined loudly in protest.

Mom turned in her office chair to look at me before defensively asking, “What’s wrong with Aunt Rein?”

More like what isn’t wrong with her! She’s mean, she makes fun of me, she yells a lot, she has an attitude, and she scares me.

“I don’t like her! She’s mean!”

Mom paused a moment to think. I knew she agreed with me. I saw it in her conflicted facial movements.

“Patrick don’t be like that. She’s just……. rough around the edges.”


This sugar-coated euphemism throw me into a bigger temper tantrum.

“MOOOOOM! No! Rough around the edges?! She’s rough around the whole perimeter!!!”

Basic geometry at work – Barry

Hot chocolate


A low chitter-chatter of socialization hummed throughout the hallways. The outside windows of the second-floor social lounge showed me a handful of people gathering in excitement. Pretty unusual for a Monday night.

I wonder what’s going on there? Doesn’t matter. Need to do homework.

Curiosity superseded responsibility, so I cautiously entered the social lounge. Packets of facial cleansers, moisturizers, and cucumbers neatly dotted every round table. An orange sampler box of herbal tea filled the window sill.

Karen greeted me immediately, “Hey! Glad you could make it!”

“Hi! What’s going on here?”

“It’s a spa night!”

Oh jeez. I’m in the wrong place.

Karen continued, “Do you want to try a face mask?” Continue reading