Trifecta prompt – 3 words describing process.

This weekend, we’re asking for you to sum up your own process with just three little words.  Give us dry wit, pathos or otherwise.  And remember, we like your blood on the page.  Put it there. – See more at:

My three words are:

Flood Agonize Pare


Papa and Me.

This is a series of vignettes that make up the larger piece that is Papa and Me.  I wrote this a little while ago, and I had it posted on another blog, so I thought I’d move it here.  It should also be said that this piece won me the Grand Prize from Bergen Community College for Creative Non-Fiction, an honor I dedicate specifically to my Papa, Joyce Wensel Schmidthuber.

Papa and Me

First Impressions

To say that my start was a rocky one might be an understatement.  My parents were married young and I came into a family of alcoholics and addicts.  Inevitably, the relationship went downhill and my mother called home to her parents for a way out.  They bought us a plane ticket, and put us on a plane home when I was only six months old.  Now of course I don’t remember any of this, but my mom tells me that the flight went well and that I wasn’t fussy on the plane at all.  An older man sat next to my mom and I on the longer of the two flights and when she was given her meal, he held me and kept me entertained while she ate.  It’s funny to me now, but my mom seems to remember that the man looked exactly like an actor that was in a Norelco Shaving commercial.  She said she wanted to ask him, but never did.   She’s been curious ever since. Continue reading

I’m Gonna Go So Fast

I’m Gonna Go So Fast

Charles DeLucie

(The excersize was to write a piece in the voice of a younger self, then as your current self.  This was my rendition.)

       Man this is going to be so cool.  Its totally going to work and we’re going to have so much fun.  “No, Josh.  Dont put it there, put the hook part on the bar by the wheel.”  He did, and I grabbed my part and hooked it onto

 my skate board.  “Ok now when you go down the hill it will pull me too.  I’m gonna go so fucking fast!”  Cussing will make Josh think i’m like his other older friends.  So will this because I’m gonna look really cool going down this hill.  He’s getting on the scooter, this is going to be so cool.  “Go Josh, GO!”  I yelled this time.  I cant wait to go down the hill.  I climb over on my stomach and hold on to the sides of the board tightly.  He’s starting to pull off, but I can see the hook of the bungee thing starting to come off the bar.  That’s weird but this is still going to kick ass.  I’m gonna go so fast.

        Looking back, this was a bad idea from the start.  I was going to get on a skate board, lay down on my stomach and get pulled by a scooter, connected by a small bungee cord, and supposedly rocket down this hill looking so cool.  Here’s what I didn’t take into account.  I was young and small, probably 70 pounds, and the bungee cord only had a holding capacity of about 20.  Numbers like that didn’t matter to my childlike plans of a superhero-like trip to badassery.  So when the hook flew off of the back fender of that scooter, and since it was stretched to capacity and full of kinetic energy, it flew at my face faster than my eye could register.  The dull hook buried itself in my skull and knocked me out almost immediately.   When I woke up Josh was long gone, and I was bleeding and had to walk home with a bungee cord sticking out of my head.  On the way home i figured out what had  happened and tried to think of what I would tell my mom who would undoubtedly freak out.  How did I ever live to adolescence with ideas like that?

Happy Birthday Papa

Today, August 31st, is my grandfather’s birthday.  We lost him a few years back now and things have never quite been the same, but on days like today, it’s good for me to sit, and with tears in my eyes, remember a man that always seemed to humbly know the right advice to give.  He was intelligent and kind, but never boastful.  He was always firm and encouraging but never spiteful.   He was my Papa.

Our relationship was a special one.  He was my papa and no one could ever eclipse that place in my life.  When I didn’t have a father, he was that for me, long after having to raise his own kids.  He showed me that a real man is gracious, kind, courageous, intelligent and most of all protective of his family.  He loved us proudly and always beamed when we achieved.  Sure he kicked us in the ass when we screwed up, but he didn’t just yell, he would offer you the advice to get you out of it as well.

He and my grandmother were an improbable match to me, they always seemed at odds in both temperment and personality, but after he left us I saw that even my grandmother, the toughest woman to walk the face of the earth in our eyes, leaned on him for strength and love.  He loved her too, and in his quiet way always managed to show it.

 The thing in my life that makes me the saddest when i think about my grandfather, isn’t that I’ll never get to talk music with him again, or that I will never get to ask him for advice, or even work on the odd project that he would have for me over the years (the projects that would teach me more than I ever imagined).  No doubt these are all things that I have lost and will never get back, but the thing that makes me mourn the most, is that my future family will never get to meet the man that elevated my life in such a way.   And though they will never actually meet him face to face, at least in this life, they will know him through the best parts of me.  When I teach the children I may or may not have to read, it will be from the same books he taught me to read from when i was so very small.  When I am able to give wise and humble advice, it will be his example they will be getting.  When my family sees the pride and strength with which I venerate them, it will be his strength and love that I am simply passing on.

He gave me the tools to be a man long before I ever knew what that looked like.  I have realized that this past year away from home, and will never be able to repay the amazing gifts he has given me, and continues to give me even after he is gone.

Thank you pops.  Thank you for the laughter.  Thank you for the smiles.  Thank you for the conversations.  Thank you for the education.  Thank you for your life, and thank you for your love.  But most of all, thank you for my character.


Joyce Wensel


My Papa