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Steven Kalas


Please, Good Readers, don't stop the dialogue

They say, sometimes, of a baseball pitcher, “He’s gonna waste one.” This means the pitcher has reason to deliberately not throw a strike. The pitcher is going to throw around the strike zone. It’s a chess game. His purpose is to test the batter. To lure the batter into the pitcher’s game. To see if the batter will expose some tendency or intention. To keep the batter off balance. So the pitcher “wastes one.”

People don't need much time to change our lives

I remember when Mary Poppins conjured a strong wind to literally blow away the queue of applicants for the position of nanny to Jane and Michael Banks. One moment, there were 20-plus proper English women standing in line, waiting to be interviewed.

When enough is enough, it's time to start changing

A friend tells me about his therapy and his therapist. For session after session — weeks, now — my friend has tried to explain the history between his brother and himself. He has taken great pains to describe the great pain he carries about the relationship — chronically disrespectful, disdainful, scornful, critical and bullying. Never physically abusive, but emotionally cold and sometimes just plain humiliating. Since as long as my friend can remember.

Waiting for the right time could be a foolish thought

When I was a child, my father more than once threatened to get a baseball bat and etch “Steven’s Attention Getter” into the wood. He told and retold a story about a farmer plowing a field behind a stubborn ol’ mule, the punch line of which had to do with the stick the father carried on the plow — the mule’s “Attention Getter.”

Knowing of love and feeling loved are different things entirely

For years I’ve argued that “love is not how we feel but how we act” — with “argue” too often becoming the operational outcome — and you develop that concept insightfully and eloquently. But does your parenting example validate the claim that no difference exists “between a love you can’t show and not being loved at all?”

Love: At least know it's always there

So, if I said to you, “I’ve opened a bank account in your name. The account contains a balance of $5 million. To access the money, you’ll need the PIN number, which only I know. And I’m not going to tell you.”

I meant what I said and said what I meant ...

I know a businessman in a lifelong love affair with Japan. He studies and admires the culture and history. He studies the language, the customs and traditions. His relationship with Japan reminds me of my maternal grandmother’s cosmic “crush” on Mexico. These are the kinds of people who make you want to believe in previous lives.

Examining gay marriage, separating church and state

Here’s how I read the sociocultural tea leaves: If you’re fighting in the army that’s waging war against gay marriage, or, said another way, if you understand yourself to be fighting to protect and preserve the institution of marriage from being diluted, distorted or otherwise offended by including homosexual partners … well, I strongly encourage you to run a white flag up the flagpole right now. Stop the metaphorical scorched earth bombing runs. Give up. Quit.

If we're alive, we're rich, we just need to remember that

Rex crafts and tells stories the way a jukebox plays music. Except you don’t have to put money in Rex. Just sit with him awhile and he’ll tell you a story. Actually, I don’t think he can help it, in much the same way as Robin Williams can’t always decide when and where to erupt into stand-up comedy. Rex’s gift (amongst many gifts) is to see the human experience in stories. He sees the world in parables.

Not another Peep out of you, please, my teeth can't take it

Shooting to the top of my list of “The Five Culinary Proofs for the Existence of Satan” is Peeps. Peeps are evil. They peer at me with innocent expressions through the cellophane on the box, suggesting warm nostalgia, joy and friendship. But I’m not fooled. It hurts my teeth just to look at them.

Marriage cannot be saved by negotiating with an alcoholic

And what do you do when your spouse is an active alcoholic, refuses to admit that she is alcoholic, goes to AA to please others but hates the meeting because all they talk about is God. Lost her job because of drinking and is getting unemployment and refuses to seriously look for employment, probably because she’s drunk.

'Shame': One word, two very different ideas

The adults who raised me used the word “shame” with some frequency. More specifically, the female adults. As in “Shame on you!” Or the rhetorical reproof, “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself!” Where I come from, women — grandmothers, mothers, aunties and schoolteachers — used “shame” this way more often than men.