Welcome to An Examined Life. Occassionally I delude myself into thinking that I understand some part of my life (or life in general) and I thought it might be a hoot to share those thoughts with whomever happens to stumble across this. I hope you find something enjoyable here. If I'm really lucky, I'll make you stop and think for a moment.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Aftermath Part 4: What I’ve Learned

I got no rules to recite except love each other; God, if you’d all only do that, you wouldn’t need no other rules at all, not one.

- from Godbody
- by Theodore Sturgeon

As 2011 drew to a close I was feeling pretty good about my life. I was coming off a sabbatical during which I’d launched a new research program, one I was excited about. I’d settled into the single life again, I had a group of good friends around me, Benjamin and I were spending some great time together, and Jonathan was spreading his wings, preparing to soar. I felt that 2012 was going to be a very good year.
All of that changed in the space of a couple of minutes on the afternoon of March 1.
I often talk about my sons in class. My first psychology prof at George Mason often talked about his girls in class, using stories from their lives to illustrate some point he was trying to make. That left a lasting impression on me and over the years I began to see why he did it. I’ve learned so much from trying to be a good parent to my kids. So, recently I found myself thinking about what I’ve learned from Jonathan’s loss, what about this last story of his life I could share with future students.
The first, most insistent thing to come to mind was this: you’re not safe. Not even at home. You can go about your day, doing your work, talking to your friends, and then go home and die simply making dinner in your own kitchen.
But I don’t think that Jonathan would want that to be the meaning I took from his death.
The next thing I thought was that life is fragile. I’ve known that intellectually for a very long time. But no amount of reflection, no amount of reading and studying can prepare you for how easily a life can be snuffed out and for everything that person knew, everything that person felt, everything he loved and longed for, to simply be gone. I could never share my feeble attempts to explain that with a group of strangers, especially those in their late teens or twenties. I’ve only tried with a small group of my friends.
And at that point several things came together in my head. I was the last person to talk to Jonathan on his cell phone. I may have been the last person who ever talked to him. I’d been trying to reach him for a couple of days to see if he could take in my mail while I was away at a conference. He called me while I was on the road to the conference with my colleague Anne and a group of students. We talked briefly, but I was driving and about to go through a tunnel, so I couldn’t stay on the phone long, even though he wanted to tell me about a new project at work. Just a few hours later I got the call from City Hospital that he was gone. On the long ride back to Shepherdstown that night I replayed that last conversation with Jonathan over and over in my head. I usually end phone calls with the kids by saying, “I love you.” But in that last call I was rushed and I couldn’t remember actually saying it. So, it meant more to me than I can say when I mentioned to Anne some time later that I might have been the last one to talk to Jonathan and she responded, “That’s so nice because the last thing you said to him was, ‘I love you.’” That brought me almost to tears.
The reality is that life is fragile. To deny that is to deny part of what makes life so precious, so worth clinging to. Life is, in a cosmic sense, difficult to create, it is impossible for us to bestow (except in that most sacred intimacy between men and women), but it is ever so easy to destroy. Every time you walk away from a loved one there is a chance that you will never see each other again.
And so this. It is hardly an original thought; others have said it before and others will no doubt say it again. But this is my lesson: don’t ever waste any opportunity to tell the people you love how you feel. It may be the last thing they ever hear.
Benjamin, I know that I say I love you a lot, probably even in some situations when it’s a bit embarrassing (like a blog post on the World Wide Web). I hope you know that doing that isn’t just a habit and that I mean it every time I say it.
Mom, Dad, I doubt that either of you knows that I even have a blog. I’m pretty sure that neither of you will actually see this, but I love both of you, too. The same goes for my siblings: Jeff, Kim, John, Judy, Troy, and Nickie. I don’t think we say “I love you” often enough in our family. I hope we can change that.
Heidi, Anne, Joe, Chris, and Richie: I love you guys. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work with or a better group of friends. Your confidence in my leadership abilities is a constant source of amazement to me. Thanks for being there, thanks for listening to some things I know weren’t comfortable to hear (some of them actually having to do with work), and thanks for not treating me as if I were irreparably damaged. I really appreciate it. A special shout out to Anne; your help and support got me through the worst night of my life. I might not have made it back from Pittsburgh without you.
Stephanie. What can I say? I love you, my friend. If I have even a shred of sanity left (which is highly debatable), I owe it to you. Our lunches have meant a great deal to me, and helped me get through divorce and to begin to deal with Jonathan’s loss. You’ve listened when I needed to talk, you’ve talked when I needed to listen, and you always seem to know which one to do. That’s a rare gift. You know, you’d probably make a great psychologist. Up for a career change?
Mike, you, too, have been a great friend. Some of my favorite memories are centered on the courses we taught together, the discussions we had over lunch or in the reading group. Because of them, I think I’m a better chair, a better psychologist, and a better person. You should know that your talk on Constitution Day made me laugh. For the first time since Jonathan’s death, a deep-down, heart-felt laugh. Thank you, buddy. Love ya.
To all my other Shepherd colleagues (faculty, staff, students, and – yes – even the administration), you all are amazing. Over the years we’ve butted heads, we’ve argued, we’ve struggled with budget cuts and a changing academic environment. But, we’ve also laughed, and joked, and we’ve taught a lot of students, and we have, I hope, learned a thing or two ourselves along the way. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but the reality is that we humans are social critters. It takes a village for us to live. You all are my village. Thank you for being so amazing; I love you all.
This is, I think, the last of the Aftermath postings. That’s not to say that I’ve recovered, or healed, or whatever. I don’t think you ever recover from the loss of a child. I’ll be dealing with the aftermath of Jonathan’s death for the rest of my life. But, as I typed this entry I could sense a door somewhere in my head closing, and I could hear a single word, “Finis.”

Monday, July 30, 2012

Aftermath 3 Post Script

Do people write post scripts to blogs? Well, I'm going to. I meant to include this in the last entry, but as commonly happens, the words took on a life of their own as I wrote and went in a different direction.

One other simile: the loss of Jonathan is – in the truest sense of the phrase – a living nightmare, a horror from which I cannot awaken. When the knowledge of Jonathan’s death – no, knowledge is not the right word. I am constantly aware of his loss. What I mean is a sense of the enormity of it, the rending of the heart, the endlessness of the desert, the eternity with a hole in my spirit where a beloved son should be, the anguish of a promising life unfulfilled – when that strikes it does so with the same visceral shock that breaks you out of a nightmare, only there’s no waking from this…

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Aftermath Part 3: Metaphors

I was driving home from the Mall a couple of days ago. As I passed the place the Jonathan’s butcher used to be, tears began rolling down my face and the great emptiness welled up inside. The butcher’s place is no longer there, they went out of business before Jonathan died. But the memory was just enough to trigger the grief all over again.

I never know what’s going to do that. It can be the sight of a photograph of Jonathan, even one that’s always in sight. A song. A place we went together. Sometimes the pain just strikes out of nowhere, with no obvious trigger. Even sleep is no refuge; I woke up crying Monday morning.

Trying to explain to someone else how this feels is difficult. There are no words to describe these feelings. Even if there were, they would be horrible words, unpronounceable words. Sometimes I feel that the only thing that could give voice to these feelings would be an inarticulate howl of pain and anguish and fear and anger. So I find myself relying on similes and metaphors.

We all know about the 800-pound gorilla. The knowledge of Jonathan’s death is an 800-pound gorilla crammed into my head with me. If I just sit quietly and stare out the window I can ignore the fact that it’s pressed up against me in here, and it might choose to ignore me. If I move at all, I bump into it. That might trigger an attack. And sometimes it simply chooses to savage me.

It is like trudging through a desert. Walking through loose and shifting sand is exhausting. Walking through the heat is exhausting. The desert extends as far as the eye can see (possibly to infinity) in all directions. There are occasional oases – time with Benjamin, lunch with a good friend – but life is just trudging on through the desert…

From the closing of The Little Prince:

Now my sorrow is comforted a little. That is to say – not entirely. But I know that he did go back to his planet, because I did not find his body at daybreak. It was not such a heavy body… And at night I love to listen to the stars. It is like five hundred million little bells…

But there is one extraordinary thing… When I drew the muzzle for the little prince, I forgot to add the leather strap to it. He will never have been able to fasten it on his sheep. So now I keep wondering: what is happening on his planet? Perhaps the sheep has eaten the flower…

At one time I say to myself: “Surely not! The little prince shuts his flower under her glass globe every night, and he watches over his sheep very carefully…” Then I am happy. And there is sweetness in the laughter of all the stars.

But at another time I say to myself: “At some moment or other one is absent-minded, and that is enough! On some evening he forgot the glass globe, or the sheep got out, without making any noise, in the night…” And then the little bells are changed to tears…

Here, then, is a great mystery. For you who also love the little prince, and for me, nothing in the universe can be the same if somewhere, we do not know where, a sheep that we never saw has – yes or no? – eaten a rose…

Look up at the sky. Ask yourselves: Is it yes or no? Has the sheep eaten the flower? And you will see how everything changes…

The rose is gone, the desert has no well. For me, the stars weep…

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Aftermath Part 2: Apology

Are you going away with no word of farewell
Will there be not a trace left behind
I could have loved you better, didn’t mean to be unkind
You know that was the last thing on my mind

from Last Thing on my Mind
by Tom Paxton

After the fire I went to Jonathan’s apartment three or four times to try and salvage some of his belongings. What seemed like it could be saved I brought to my house and stored in the garage. A bit over a week ago Diane and Ingrid came to my house to go through the boxes. A couple of days later I was out there trying to clean up the video games systems so they could go to Benjamin, who spent a lot of time playing games with Jonathan. I picked up one of the game controllers – something that he held in his hands and took so much joy from – and the paper towel I was using came away black as pitch, black as hell itself.
And I lost it.
I’ve been thinking a lot since then. Those thoughts led to this Aftermath series of postings. In the last one I beat up on God. This time it’s my turn.
I said last time that a big part of my self-concept is that I’m a Dad. I’m starting to think that I’m not very good at it.
One thing that has haunted me is that Jonathan died alone. When he really needed someone, there was no one there – I wasn’t there – for him. I know that’s irrational, but who expects feelings to be rational? If I had known, I would have done anything I could to prevent his death. Still, I feel like I failed him when he needed me most. And I’ve been thinking about other times…
Jonathan loved video games. From the time he was little he was just fascinated by them. When he couldn’t actually be playing video games, he was pretending to be video game characters (mostly Mario). I, however, was concerned about his socialization, so he wasn’t allowed to have them at my house. He did have them at his Mom’s and he had some games on my computer, but he couldn’t have his video games at my house. I finally relented when he was 13. And you know what? The sky didn’t fall and he ended up making some pretty good friends over the years. His socialization skills obviously weren’t deficient.
A similar thing happened with karate. He loved the Ninja Turtles and the Power Rangers. He really wanted to learn karate. Some of his “friends” (the reason for the scare quotes is a whole other story) in the neighborhood were taking lessons, but again I was concerned about socialization and I wanted him to wait until he understood that you don’t use your friends as practice targets. We made him play soccer for a few seasons, but it was clear that he really didn’t enjoy it. He started tae kwon do lessons when he was 8. The sky didn’t fall then, either. He was still studying and teaching martial arts when he died.
Last summer Benjamin moved into Jonathan’s old room in my house. I soon realized how poorly the AC system worked in his room; it was sometimes nearly 90 up there when it was around 72 on the main level. It must have been like that when Jonathan lived here, but I was so wrapped up in my marriage that I didn’t know. I really should have.
And then there was the first time Ingrid, Benjamin, and I went to Ocean City. Jonathan had to work and couldn’t go. He went to an ophthalmologist appointment the day we left (we were only going for one night) and the guy sent him to Baltimore to Johns Hopkins. Jonathan sat there for hours alone and his girlfriend called to break up with him while he was there. I really should have gone to be with him.
I could have loved you better, son. I’m sorry.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Aftermath Part 1: The Book of Job

From dictionary.com:

Aftermath: something that results or follows from an event, especially one of a disastrous or unfortunate nature; consequence: the aftermath of war; the aftermath of the flood.

The purpose of this blog was to talk about what I’ve learned in my life and how I got to where I am now. The loss of my son Jonathan has put me in a place I never conceived of being, not even in my worst nightmares. I have felt like I needed to write something for some time, but I wasn’t quite sure what it was that I needed to write. Life, death, the afterlife, God, religion, coping with loss, fatherhood, how to cope while being alone, how to help my son Benjamin – so much has come up in the last three months. I’m still not sure what to write about, but I thought I’d start typing and see what comes out. So, here goes.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Job. Before I go there, though, I need to say a couple of other things. The first is that a big part of my identity is that I consider myself a family man and a Dad. Even as a kid I knew that being a Dad was important to me. I was raised Catholic and when I was confirmed the saint’s name I chose was Joseph, because he was a father. As an adult, my desire for more time with my family (especially at holidays) was a major factor in my decision to leave retail management and go back to school. Being a Dad has always been important to me.

The second thing is that I’ve always had ambivalent feelings about whether God exists or not. I was – as I said above – raised Roman Catholic. I fell away from that through middle school, then returned to the church when I was in high school and was asked to join the folk group at the local Catholic church. I played in that group through high school and into my undergrad years at George Mason. As I went through undergrad I went from unquestioning acceptance that God was up there somewhere, to an appreciation of how Jesus gave the world a personal God (one who could be called Father), to a realization that I had fundamental differences with basic Catholic beliefs (I’ll get into some of those some other time). I came to realize that I could no longer call myself Catholic if being Catholic meant believing those things. It was actually a class on the New Testament (taught by an ordained minister) that provided the last bits of information that led me to decide that I simply do not know whether there’s a God out there. Nonetheless, when I was worried for one of the kids or my wife, a silent plea went out to someone to take care of them.

But now I know this: if there is a God out there, He’s got a hell of a lot to answer for[1].

And I will also say this. I no longer think the Judeo-Christian God is worthy of worship.

Why? Well, for a start check out the section on the Hebrew Bible in chapter 2 of Steven Pinker’s book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence has Declined or a somewhat similar list of reasons (atrocities) online here: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/donald_morgan/atrocity.html. But really, what made me take the final step was the story of Job.

As I said before, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Job. So, this week I pulled the old King James version off the shelf and checked out the Book of Job. It’s been a long time since I last read it and I was reading it with different eyes…

Job was a good, God-fearing man. “Fearing” is actually a pretty good description. He was so afraid of what his God would do – with good reason as it turns out – that he made sacrifices for his children in case they might somehow affront God. Job was a successful man and he had lots of stuff. He also had a wife and ten children.

So, one day God was having a visit with his sons and Satan. God (bragging?) points out Job as a good man to Satan. Satan suggests that Job is only good because God has given him lots of stuff, so God offers Job up as a test and allows Satan to take it all away. Job lost all of his stuff and all ten of his children were killed[2]. Why? For a test. So God could show Satan that his followers love him no matter what. Really? This is how a just, good God acts?

Job was understandably grief-stricken. He’d lived his life trying to be a good man. He was succeeding by all accounts – including God’s (see Job 1:8). Job wanted to know what he had done to deserve such treatment from God, yet he never cursed God for his losses. God’s response when he finally shows up? In a nutshell, “You don’t know what it’s like to be me, so how can you question me like this?” Job ended up apologizing for being such an ungrateful wretch so God gave him back twice as much stuff and ten replacement children. That last bit really set me back and got me thinking. Replacement children? Really?

That is no God I want to worship.

I think Job had a right to expect better from his God. And he had a right to question him. Children have a right to expect certain things from their parents. One big one is that parents should not abuse their children. And what God did to Job was nothing short of abuse and he did it just for bragging rights with Satan. Some of you might be thinking, this only applies if you accept Jesus’ conception of God as a parent. What if you believe God is the ruler of the universe. That makes him a leader and, if you’ve read some of my other writings, you’ll know that I have beliefs about leadership. One of most important of those is that leaders take care of their people. Yes, I never had to send someone to their death at Kmart and some leaders do have to make those kinds of decisions, but such decisons should never be made lightly. Was winning an argument with Satan really enough of a cause to allow the deaths of ten children?

I close for now with the question that Abraham asked God: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just? (Gen. 18:25)

[1] Ok, yes, God could also be a She or an It, but the sentence loses something written that way.
[2] I do feel compelled to point out that Job had 7 sons and 3 daughters. They were all at the eldest son’s house when it collapsed, but the verse (Job 1:19) only says “and it fell upon the young men and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.” The girls don’t even merit a mention?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Jonathan Paul Daily (1987 - 2012)

This blog was called An Examined Life because I intended to share some of the thoughts I’ve had about my life and how I got to be the person that I am. Today, though, I want to talk about someone else’s life. I want to talk about the life of my son Jonathan, who died in a fire at his apartment on March 1, 2012. This entry is adapted from the eulogy I gave for my precious son.


I want to talk to you about Jonathan, my son, about his life and the kind of person he was. I have been struggling to find the right words. I remember when he was a baby, and a toddler, and in grade school, and high school. I remember holding him in times when he was sick, or scared, or tired and times that he was happy and silly and we wrestled on the floor. And for every memory I have that suggested a trait that described him, I have another memory of another point in his life when that trait didn’t describe him. For days, everything I came up with was not the Jonathan I knew, was not the Jonathan who I treasured and loved. The Jonathan I want to tell to you about.

I also kept coming back to the last time I saw him. He’d come over to the house to play a new board game that he’d gotten with me and Benjamin. After that, we watched an episode of the show Firefly. That show was quite possibly Jonathan’s favorite TV show of all time. It was a science fiction show set in space aboard a ship called Serenity. I starting thinking about what it was that might have attracted him to those people. The crew of the ship Serenity really weren’t epic heroes like in Star Trek or Star Wars. The captain, Malcolm Reynolds was certainly no Jean Luc Picard or Luke Skywalker. He was no saint. But he wasn’t exactly a sinner. Over the course of the series you found out that he was just a basically decent guy, an independent guy, living life on his terms.

And then it hit me. That’s the kind of person my Jonathan, the Jonathan I remember, the Jonathan I loved, that’s the kind of person he was. Not a saint. Not a sinner. Just a really decent kid trying to live life on his terms.

And having said that, now I think I can talk about the things that made Jonathan unique in all the world and they won't come across as a caricature.

First, he was great big brother. I’m not sure how many 24 year old men would spend huge blocks of time on a regular basis with their 16 year old brothers, but Jonathan did. He’s the kind of big brother I wish I’d been, that I wish I'd had, when I was a kid.

Some of you may know Jonathan as a student of martial arts. What you might not know is that he’d been interested in martial arts since he was little. He used to watch the Power Rangers and the Ninja Turtles on TV and talk about wanting to learn karate. We made him do soccer for a few season because it seemed more social, but it was clear that his heart wasn’t in it. We signed him up for tae kwon do lessons when he was 8 and he’s been training almost continuously since then. Jonathan was a brown belt instructor in the International Kenpo Karate Organization and was preparing for his black belt test at the time of his death. In honor of his commitment to the discipline, Jonathan’s instructor, Michael Seigel, and other officials in the organization have since awarded Jonathan his black belt.

Jonathan also loved video games. Whether it was on a dedicated gaming system or a computer, he was fascinated with them. I remember having a conference with one of his grade school teachers who told me that she was forbidding him to write any more school assignments on video games. She said that she knew he played soccer and went to movies and tons of other things, but all he ever wrote about were video games. He maintained that love all his life.

Jonathan was bright. He was placed into gifted programs in grade school and academically I don’t think I ever saw him break a sweat. I know that some of his teachers challenged him and inspired him, but I don’t think any of them ever found his limit.

I think the last few years were some of the happiest in his life. He was on his own with a job he loved and the future looked bright. He was exploring everything and laying out the terms by which he’d live his life. I’m so proud of the man he was becoming.

I’d like to finish by sharing a bit of a book that means a lot to me. It is the story of a little prince, who leaves his home on a journey to find out what’s important in life. Along the way he comes to Earth, where he meets a fox who teaches him the value of taming, of befriending, another person…

“My life is very monotonous,” he [the fox] said. “I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And, in consequence, I am a little bored. But, if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps will send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat…”

The fox gazed at the little prince, for a long time.

“Please – tame me!” he said.


So the little prince tamed the fox. And as the hour of his departure drew near –

“Ah,” said the fox, “I shall cry.”

“It is your own fault,” said the little prince. “I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you…”

“Yes, that is so,” said the fox.

“But now you are going to cry!” said the little prince.

“Yes, that is so,” said the fox.

“Then it has done you no good at all!”

“It has done me good,” said the fox, “because of the color of the wheat fields.”

All of us who knew Jonathan have our own personal wheat fields. As his father, I’d like to make just one request of you. Every so often, take a few moments and go down to your wheat field and spend just a while listening to the wind in the wheat…

Monday, January 30, 2012

I’ve Got a Name

I spent a fair amount of time in high school trying to figure out what I was going to change my name to when I could afford to pay a lawyer to handle the legalities of becoming someone else. To me, Larry Daily just seemed so incredibly plain. So boring. There was no proud history to my name despite the fact that I was named after my father. My parents split up when I was in first grade, so I never got to know my Dad enough to be proud that I was carrying his name[1]. At the time I really wanted to grow up to be John Denver (or at least the East Coast version of John Denver). I loved the Blue Ridge Mountains, but there were no cool cities near them that I could name myself after (Larry Sperryville? Larry Luray? Larry Front Royal? See what I mean?). For awhile after reading MASH I tried being Trapper John, but that didn’t work out so well. Looking back, I had no role models. I really didn’t know who I was, and my name didn’t really offer any clues.
There were bits and pieces of me floating around in my teenaged body. The Professor from Gilligan’s Island and Benton Quest were in that primordial identity soup (see my first posting). I was also influenced by Gandalf the Gray (Lord of the Rings) and Ged (from the Earthsea trilogy). There was a big dollop of John Denver in the mix as well. Then I got my job at Kmart. As I discussed in my last posting, I learned a lot from John Lipp. But there was another person at the store who impressed me and who I tried to emulate.
His name was Ted.
That’s all I remember now. I know he had a last name. At one time I might have even have known what it was. But around the store he was Ted. As I recall, Ted had worked (in management?) for the Kresge Company when Kresge stores still existed[2]. In our store, he was the manager of the hardware department. He didn’t carry keys, but he did most of the other things that we assistant managers did.
What impressed me about Ted was that he knew his department. He knew what sold and what didn’t. He knew what he had in stock, what was on order, and when it was expected to arrive. He was the expert. And Mr. Lipp knew it. If I had an item coming up on sale in my department and Mr. Lipp asked if I had enough on order, my claim that I did was always followed by, “You better check to make sure.” Actually, almost anyone’s claim in those same circumstances was followed by, “You better check.” But not Ted. If Ted said he had enough on order, Lipp would nod and move on to the next item on his agenda. I wanted to be like that. I wanted to be an expert. I wanted that kind of respect and one of my first important revelations was that you didn’t demand that kind of respect. You earned it by being very good at what you did.
Like Ted.
It was at Kmart that I began signing my name as Larry Z. Daily[3]. I’m not sure why I started doing it that way, but I know why I still do. I was a department head, in charge of rugs, furniture, and plastics (the faux Tupperware stuff). I stocked the shelves, kept them neat and in order, and placed orders for needed merchandise (which were reviewed by the assistant manager I reported to). One afternoon the district manager was in the store and ended up touring my departments with me[4]. At one point he asked me what the best selling color was for bathroom rugs. I knew what he wanted to hear – conventional wisdom in the company was that brown was the most popular color for bathroom rugs – but in my store I sold pink and powder blue bathroom rugs. Tons of them. So, that’s what I told him. He, of course, didn’t believe me. He made me get my order book and show him what I’d been ordering. He saw tons of orders for pink and powder blue. Then he made me show him through my stockroom, to make sure I didn’t have all those mountains of pink and blue rugs moldering away back there. There really weren’t any pink and blue rugs in the stockroom. At that point I saw something in his eyes that I hadn’t seen directed at me before. Respect.
Like Ted.
He asked me my name and I told him: Larry Z. Daily. For some reason he got hung up on the Z and I was forever Larry Z to him. I’m not sure he ever really knew my last name. But I got something from that experience. I began to realize that who I was didn’t come from my name. My identity, the meaning of my life weren’t handed to me when my parents named me. It was the other way around. The meaning of my name came from me. Whether my name was something to be proud of depended on what I chose to do, how I chose to live. Sure, I’ve made some mistakes since then. Some were small; some still give rise to pain and shame when I think about them. On the whole, though, I like to think I’ve done ok.
So, I’m Larry Z. Daily.
Who are you?

[1] Call me Junior and I will have to hurt you.
[2] The Kresge Company grew up to be Kmart. Ever wonder what the K was for? Now you know.
[3] No, I will not tell you what Z stands for. And no, I will not confirm it if you guess it.
[4] Why he was touring my departments with me rather than the assistant manager is one of the enduring mysteries in my life.