In With The Old (Haunts), Out With The New
Volume III, Issue I - Spring 2012
  • I.

    My Uncle Jim recently wrote me an email from the West Coast that started, “I found out that my grandpa Chaney (your great grandpa) had a brother who died at age one. His name was Earl Chaney who died December 15, 1909.” It ended, “Do you live near where Obama wants to put the Islamic mall?”


    When I was three years old, my mom and I moved into my Uncle Jim’s extra room in his apartment in Lawrence, Kansas. He was divorced, and my mom was recovering from an addiction to amphetamines. We moved out the next year, when he remarried. All I remember from that time is a red wagon my mom pulled, with me and our clothes, to the laundromat.


    A tradition in my family is, every birthday, for the birthday boy or girl to give the first piece of cake to his or her favorite person. No one in my family ever gave me the first piece. I always gave it  ............

  • to my mom.


    One Christmas, my grandma gave me a shoebox. In it were hundreds of letters from my Uncle Ollie Chaney, who died somewhere in France during World War II. No one else in the family knew him, except that he died somewhere in France during World War II. He was drafted before he graduated. His grammar was horrible.


    I moved to Brooklyn after reading a book about Brooklyn. I wanted to have a family in Brooklyn, to be a Brooklyn family, to be Eugene in Brighton Beach Memoirs, or Woody Allen in Annie Hall. I wanted to be educated, cultured, a Dodgers fan, even Jewish.


    My brother hung himself from a bed sheet when he was ten years  ............

  • old. The same year my uncle Gary’s one-year-old son was hit by a car and killed. My other brother’s firstborn son died in childbirth. Gary met with a channeler on Jenny Jones. My brother took photos of his blue, starfish-like child. My father grew much older.


    I’ve now lived in eight different Brooklyn neighborhoods. I was living in a factory loft in Bushwick with my wife when we got pregnant. Before the birth of our child, I had repeating dreams that it died before or after it was born.


    Yesterday, I got another email from my Uncle Jim. “I just saw you live in Brooklyn. Did you know that we have a relative, Preacher Roe who played for the Brooklyn Dodgers back in the fifties? It seems I am the only one who had any type of relationship with him. We used to talk on the phone and write letters.”

  • IX.

    Last year I was the same age, 35, when my daughter was born in Park Slope, Brooklyn that my mom was when I left home. My wife says they look a lot like each other. I don’t see the resemblance.

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