State of Mind Blog

Updates on Murray’s Writing

Why Men Hate Ballet

murray schane state of mind

Here I was at the University of Chicago about to end my short career as a ballet dancer. My blind friend, Robert Walz (a portrait of him in the framed picture) had just been killed in a head-on car crash. And my Chaucer professor would not grant me time to attend the funeral so I stayed up all night with a friend typing my term paper and got downgraded. Not a good time.

Then I made a radical decision. Having listened to my father whisper “doctor” in my ear since the cradle, I decided finally to apply to medical school. I had to quickly pack in pre-med courses: physics, quantitative (chemical) analysis, calculus, etc. I took the MCATs and got in. A hero’s journey—like my little hero Panzil.
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Saving Equality

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It starts in the womb. The unequal distribution of features—cognitive and emotional potentials, gender specifics, mental stability—all start by wandering off course.

Until very recently we believed we were all truly created equal. It was a founding principle of our very revolutionary democracy. And we hold to that as a sacred given. And well we should.

The world never stops disputing that belief. We stand nuclear-armed to defend the principle of equality against enemies we consider wholly unequal.

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Toys Make the Man

murray schane state of mind

I had always needed a train set. My first glimpse of a complete Lionel train layout was at Hudson’s Department Store in their storied toy department. It became an unanswered prayer. My parents were of such poor origins that they regarded toys as superfluous, frivolous and worthless. I learned not to hit my head against that blank wall.

But the yearning for a train set, a small layout with just a few cars, a tunnel, an overhead bridge, a small station and a train signal pole persisted. Simple. But the desire, the longing remained unavailing. I could forgo other toys and, acceding to my parents’ core belief, I did.

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Being Grandfathered In

murray schane state of mind

Here I am cuddling my day-old grandson when suddenly I felt the collapse of time. A familiar though eerie sense of life at warp  speed. This grandson bears the same name as his father, one generation folded into the next.  And what is my role? Grandfathers are supposed to provide a legacy and hopefully a positive one. Money, if there is any, would be easy. But hardly about who I am, who I want to be in my grandson’s life.

I had no such thoughts when I was a new father. My thought then was that my son and I would share parallel destinies. Some of that experience informs my novel, Father ∫ Son. Being a grandfather is like being placed at the head of a table, a figurehead speaking into a future that will proceed beyond me. It’s like being awarded a diploma. Or an early headstone.

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How the Brain Loses Heart

murray schane state of mind

Empathy rides up front in the brain, near its evolutionary apex. Empathy is the driving force that binds us to others. It is both an emotional response to how another feels and a cognitive recognition of that other’s mind, separate but also similar. Difficult to measure, empathy clearly varies between individuals and can also bend with experience.

Empathy is one of the defining characteristics of humanity. So what happens when it goes missing?

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Birthday Dreams and Dreads

murray schane state of mind blog

The site of the house where I lived the first nine years of my life


Passing through another birthday (in August) nowadays is no longer the thrill of opening a new chapter in a beloved book, with dozens more still to come, still to follow at a pace of my own choosing. Birthdays are now like a hike along a twisting, bramble-strewn, almost treacherous path where fellow hikers sometimes fall or give up and walk away. There is always the glory of the view, the sunlit expanse of sky and terrain, the anticipated arrival of a somber, rosaceous sunset. Night and sleep seem preparative.

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Autumn Leads

Murray Schane Blog

All through my school years, I dreaded summer vacations.

Sure, the first weeks felt like total freedom, no schedule constraints, no homework deadlines, no school cafeteria food. But then summer came. And kept coming. I had things to do: mow the grass, which seemed bent on growing faster and faster, giving me insufficient time to recover between mowings. I had swimming lessons which I cut as often as I could because I could not put my head in the water – that stems from my seventh summer when I almost drowned in the swimming pool of the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami. A lifeguard, using a do-or-die tactic, threw me off the high diving board to get me to swim spontaneously. The next day I had to be rescued from an ocean undertow while paddling in a kiddie inner tube with my dad. At first, I didn’t understand his scream for help.

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Pianist, c’est moi!

Murray Schane blog

Three years ago, homing down on my twilight years, I decided to start piano lessons. Why? How? My son’s girlfriend has been playing and studying since age six, now doing Chopin on an electronic piano. That looked affordable. Now, finally, I could realize the unfulfilled, frustrated, forgotten wish of my childhood. But who would take on an aging adult? I Googled and found Sheldon Landa….

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Here I Go

Murray Schane Paris

I like to think I was born in Paris. My parents had met there, both still adolescents. Soon afterward they found separate lives in different cities in America. I came into existence and grew up where they ultimately re-united. In Detroit. Years later, just the other day in fact, I went “back” to Paris.

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Another Oh Dad moment

Father Son Boat Murray Schane


So Hillie showed up at my door. 3:00 of a morning. Best time to drive here from the far west (Santa Monica). That’s what she was talking about as I answered the door in my boxers, pulled on backward half still asleep. You came to crow about discovering the joys of driving L.A. deep in the night?! I asked. No no. She settled into my half-sunken couch (I need a new one as soon as I can muster the money and effort to shop for one—hint, hint). Hillie’s hair was scrambled, long loose whisps raining off the unstuck mass of gold, blond gorgeousness. In distress Hillie achieved a goddess look. I stared. She talked. Love. What is it? Why does it hurt? My answer: I dunno. Never ask a poet to extemporize on subjects he/she would need to ponder with pen or keyboard in hand and head drilled into vocabular ranks. So I hugged her. Tears flowed. From both of us. And you can too easily guess the rest. By morning, drinking freshly french-pressed coffee, we shared a long dunno minute. Where am I going, Dad? How about a dose of paternal input?


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