Our community blogs
The sun had long set behind the mountains of the town of Glacier Bay. The moon bathed the town in a soft light with a backdrop of twinkling stars in the October sky. The trees gently swayed in the offshore breeze that hinted at the bone chilling weather that was to come but for now, the air was crisp and refreshing. The leaves had changed giving the streets and parks a colorful facelift that brought in visitors from all around. The last influx of outsiders bringing their pocketbooks before the long winter brought snow and ice and all the winter games along with it. Some folks said that winter was gods way of testing the human spirit. Much like the grass and trees, humans tended to go into a hibernation mode throughout the winter. Surviving on the nutrients they had gathered in the spring and summer to get them through the harsh starving months of winter. The world seemed a bit sadder in the winter months, most of the habitants of Glacier Bay walked with their head down, their faces covered by scarves and bundled up in colorful hats, gloves, and bulky winter coats. In the summer, they would wave and shout out to their neighbors, most times stopping for moment to ask about families and goings on. But with the onset of winter, one was lucky to get a polite wave as they rushed by seeking indoors over the blistering cold.
On this particular night, Scott Taylor was staring out at the glacier that gave the town its name. The glacier, brightly lit by the moon, reflected across the bay giving off the illusion the water was ice, calm and still. This illusion was ruined every few minutes when a gentle wave would crash into the bottom of the glacier echoing off the mountainside.
Scott tucked his long blonde hair behind his ears and looked towards the town he had lived in all his life. Glacier Bay, nestled at the base of a range of mountains that almost saw snow on the peaks all year round. The glacier snaked its way down the mountain until it spilled out in the bay that was protected by a natural seawall. When the town was first settled in the late 1800’s, the townsfolk had carved a deep channel for boats to enter the bay safely in the natural wall. This was once upon time to protect the fishing vessels that were moored at the docks during the winter months. Nowadays there was not much commercial fishing anymore. All the boats moored at the dock were built more for pleasure and unused for most of the year except when their rich owners could get away from the city for a few short weeks and enjoy all the town had to offer. Many local boys like Scott, made really good money taking care of the boats for their absentee owners throughout the year as well as maintaining the carefully manicured lawns and removing the snow from their vacation homes throughout the year. It always amazed Scott how much someone was willing to pay to keep a house they would visit once or twice a year. It seemed like a waste of money that could be better spent in other ways. But Scott was never one to look a gift horse in the mouth.
As he peered across the bay, he eyes drifted to the lighthouse. There was no need for a lighthouse since the 1950’s and it had long been turned into a tourist destination with daily tours during the summer months. A small gift shop in the base of the lighthouse offered those who had the need to buy souvenirs and keepsakes to remember their trip to Glacier Bay. It had been closed for weeks now, abandoned until the spring. Too many things in Glacier Bay seemed to be dormant for his liking.
Scott glanced at his watch and wondered again what was keeping his friend. His eyes drifted back to the high school. Thirty minute ago the lights had all but been turned off, signaling the end of the play and the participants headed home for the night. Even if there was traffic leaving the parking lot, his friend should have arrived twenty minutes ago. He pulled his coat around him tighter, it wasn’t that cold yet. But sitting still on a bench for almost an hour had caused a chill to sink into his bones.
For the hundredth time, he checked his phone to see if there were any texts. Since he had arrived, his sister had texted him three times about the ending of the play, his mom wanted to know what he was doing Saturday night and if he was free for dinner. And a few more from random friends, but there was nothing from Jake. Silent; much like the last week had been. The old saying was true; you almost never miss what you have until it is no longer there. And after a week of silence from his closest friend, he found that he missed him terribly.
Scott reached into his pocket and pulled out his cigarettes. It was definitely a habit he was trying to quit but the craving was always worse when he was bored. He hadn’t so much taken his first drag when he heard footsteps on the gravel walkway below. Jake must have ridden his bike, otherwise he would have seen the headlights of his car as he drove around the lake.
Though the moon was bright and the sky was clear, he couldn’t make out the face of the figure as it approached him. But he would have known that shape anywhere. He had seen that shape for eighteen years. He peered intently as the boy walked towards him. Once he was close enough to see, Scott could see his face was drawn, his eyes intent as he looked at the ground. His hands were shoved in his pockets and his breath steamed in the night with every exhale. He had ridden his bike.
Jacob Rainer, his next door neighbor for most of his life. The one person that knew every secret, every prank, everything he had ever done in his life. They were together when Scott got the bright idea to jump off the roof with sheets tied around their necks; they were also together when Scott convinced his friend that crossing the bay in old man Thomas’s row boat was a good idea at 2am in the middle of winter. From the time they could walk, they had been inseparable.
The two boys, both eighteen and heading into their final year of school, could not have been more different. Neither in looks nor in personality. Jake was average size, short cropped brown hair, and always seemed to ponder each decision carefully before acting. He was well liked by his peers and received mostly A’ and B’s in all of his classes. Being the middle child, at home he would disappear as his younger sister seemed to garnish all the attention and his older brother couldn’t keep from arguing with his parents about everything. Everyone who knew him would testify that out of all the kids, he was going to be the one that made it and made it in a big way.
Scott took another drag from his cigarette and waited for his friend to sit down next to him on the bench. But that did not stop him from looking at his friend with an expectant look on his face.
Jake moved his hand in front of his face, trying to avoid the cigarette smoke that lingered around Scott’s head like a halo. “I really wish you’d quit those.”
Scott shrugged, “Everyone needs a bad habit.”
Jake settled back into the bench, and stretched his legs out in front of him. “Nice night. Won’t be long until winter arrives though. I can smell the snow in the air.”
Scott threw the cigarette on the ground and stamped it out with his foot. “It is almost November. Hell, Halloween is just around the corner.”
Jake looked at his friend sideways. “What are you going as this year?”
Scott turned his head and looked at his friend, “Are we really doing this? Small talk, like you haven’t said a word to me in a week, and you want to know what I’m dressing for Halloween.”
Jake ignored the outburst, something he did often. “I’m going as a father,” he said quietly.
Scott’s eyes widened at the declaration. “Well shit.”
Jake stared at the ground, not wanting to make eye contact with Scott. Instead he dug his toe around in the dirt. “Remember the fall dance at the club back in August.”
Scott couldn’t help but chuckle as he remembered that night. That was the night he dumped two bottles of whiskey in the punch, one hour before he puked on Mrs. Turners shoes. As much trouble as he received for ruining her shoes, it would have been worse if they would have known he was the culprit that spiked the punch. “What about it?”
“Christine and I…”
“Christine?” Scott interrupted. “Blankenship.”
“Remember, Becky and I got into that fight. She was mad at you for spiking the punch,” Jake explained. “Becky went home with Julie and Christine was pretty drunk, so I offered to give her a ride.”
“Yeah you did,” Scott said, laughing.
Jake stood up, and spat out angrily, “This is why I can’t talk to you sometimes. Not everything is a joke.”
Scott stared up at his friend for a moment. Then he said in a quiet tone, “You’re serious.”
“I’m gonna be a father Scott. And I’m scared shitless.” Jake stated before turning around to face the glacier.
“Wait a minute,” Scott said, shaking his head. “You slept with Christine the night of the dance and didn’t tell me?”
Jake glared at his friend. “Not everything is about you. And no, I didn’t.”
Scott pulled out another cigarette. “Okay, lets start at the beginning.”
Jake rubbed his eyes tiredly. “Christine was hammered that night. I would never take advantage of someone like that. But she was all over me, and managed to kiss me before I kicked her out of the car.”
Jake sat back down next to his friend and grabbed the cigarette and took a long drag before exhaling the smoke upwards. “That’s how you do it. Not in your friends face.”
“Rodger,” Scott said with a grin. “Continue.”
“Becky and I were having problems. She was so worried about what would happen at the end of the year when we go off to college. It was so frustrating, I mean, why couldn’t we just be happy now, and worry about next year, next year.” Jake stated with a sigh.
“A few days later, Christine showed up at work, being all flirty. Wondering if I wanted to get coffee after I was finished. It was nice, hanging out with her, just being in the moment, not worried about college, and how many kids we needed to have, where we were going to live, you know. Just two people enjoying each other.”
Jake stopped for a moment and eyeing the cigarette before taking it again. “So we hung out off and on for the next few weeks. And I swear, nothing happened. We were just talking.”
“When did Becky find out?” Scott asked as he lit up another cigarette.
Jake took a another drag, looked at the cigarette in his fingers, and threw it on the ground. He stated with a frown, “You sure seem to smoke a lot nowadays.”
“What can I say, I’m an addict.”
“Three weeks ago, Becky saw us at the coffee shop, she went crazy. She wouldn’t let me explain, she started accusing me of cheating on her with her best friend, calling us all sorts of names. It was in the middle of the coffee shop. I’m surprised you didn’t hear about it.”
Scott shrugged. “I’ve been busy.”
“That was the night it happened. Right over there,” Jake gestured at the end of the walkway. He grabbed the cigarette again and took a long drag.
“Look Jake, I don’t mind if you smoke my cigarettes but you have to stop putting them out after one drag, their expensive,” Scott said with a frown. “Are you sure she’s pregnant?”
“She was pretty sure after a week because she missed her period. Three tests later, and I’m gonna be a father,” Jake sighed. “At eighteen, just like my father.”
“That’s heavy,” Scott stated with a grimace.
“And the really messed up thing,” Jake said quietly. “I don’t love her. I love Becky.”
“Does she know?”
Jake shook his head. “No one knows. Just Christine, me, and now you. Not even her parents.”
“No wonder you’ve been avoiding me all week,” Scott said, his eyes wide in disbelief.
Jake stared off into the distance as he said, “I told her. That I didn’t love her and that I wanted to be with Becky.”
“How did she take that?”
“She just starting crying,” Jake said, rubbing his hands through his hair. “I can’t seem to do anything right lately.”
“There is one thing you did perfectly,” Scott blurted out.
Jake stared at him flatly. “Don’t be an ass.”
“I’m just saying maybe you should’ve tried for that ass and you wouldn’t be in this situation.”
Jake couldn’t help but chuckle. “I’m not a pervert like you.”
Scott laughed. “I’m not a pervert anymore; it’s legal now in almost all fifty states. We can get married and everything.”
Jake shoved his friend playfully. “What you do I wouldn’t call it legal in any state.”
“They have all been consensual,” Scott said, pausing before adding with a grin, “except that one time but we won’t talk about him. He deserved what he got anyway.”
“Gross,” Jake stated dryly. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
“Is she going to keep it?” Scott asked carefully.
“I’m not sure. I didn’t know how to bring that up. Fuck, I already told her I don’t want to be with her, I didn’t think asking about abortion was appropriate.” Jake admitted. “I’m such an asshole aren’t I.”
“Best thing to do is talk to your dad.” Scott offered.
“He’s going to kill me,” Jake said with a frown. “He always told me not to do what he did.”
“Look on the bright side,” Scott stated as he stood up. “You didn’t, you’re not going to marry the girl you knocked up.”
“Oh, you are so dead,” Jake snorted and started chasing his friend who had starting running towards his truck parked in the lot down the path.
“You could never catch me slowpoke,” Scott called out over his shoulder before really turning on the speed. His long legs made running seem effortlessly, and he had been running his entire life. On his best day, Jake couldn’t keep up with him unless he slowed to a jog and this time was no different.
By the time Jake caught up to him, he was leaning against his truck and the motor was already warming up. He did notice that Jake’s bike was already in the bed of his blue pick-up. Riding out to the glacier in the middle of the night might be fun but no one wanted to make the long ride back.
Jake half-jogged the last ten yards, his chest heaving as he took large gasps of air. He held his side and winced. “I don’t know how you run that fast and still smoke that many cigarettes.”
“Genetics,” Scott said with a smile. He smoothed down his long blonde hair and jumped in the truck. “Get in before you fall over.”
“I was built for short bursts,” Jake explained as he climbed inside the 4X4 truck with a grunt. “I’m much better on the wrestling floor.”
Scott turned on the heat full blast as he spoke, “And yet, oddly enough, I turned out to be the gay one.”
“That is true. I’ve probably had my face in more boy crotches than you have. If I’m not gay by now, I’ll never be,” Jake said proudly.
“You are one of the few on the wrestling team that could honestly say that,” Scott said, moving his eyebrows up and down suggestively.
“Those are my teammates, I don’t want to hear about what they might do with you behind closed doors,” Jake complained half-heartedly.
Scott laughed, loud and deep. “Remember that time we went to that away game in Hillersville, now that was a wrestler that knew which end of a boy was what.”
For the rest of the ride back to town, Scott told one outlandish tale after another about his many conquests and crazy exploits. Like most boys do of a certain age, there was a large amount of exaggeration and all out lies. Jake knew that Scott was far from being a virgin, and he did have a more active sex life than most boys in the school ever dared dream. Most times he just hoped that most of Scott’s stories were fanciful tales designed to get a rise out of his listeners.
Scott was well known around the school at having the weirdest sense of humor. No matter what the circumstance, he could always be counted on to say the most offensive thing at any given time. It was something that Jake actually respected him for. It took a very confident person to say whatever and not care what everyone else thought. Scott truly marched to a different drum than anyone else. He was never sure which boy was the good influence on the other. All he knew, Scott was someone he could count on to always be there. No matter what.
For his part, Scott was at a complete loss of words. He couldn’t even begin to understand what his friend was going through. So he did the only thing he could do, try to take Jake’s mind off his problem, even if it was only for twenty minutes on the ride home.
Jake was almost smiling by the time the blue truck pulled up to 803 Campus Circle at 11:53pm. Scott put the truck in park and stared ahead. “Talk to your dad.”
“I’d rather talk to your dad,” Jake stated with a grin.
Scott laughed again. “He’d be so happy to talk about sex with girls with someone. You’d make his day.”
“How’s he been the last few weeks?” Jake asked, looking at his friend intently.
“He’s getting use to it,” Scott said with a shrug. “Mom said it was okay for me to come to dinner tomorrow night. So that’s a good thing.”
Jake reached over and put his hand on Scott’s arm. “Look Scott, I’m sorry I’ve been so distant lately. It’s not because…you’re gay. I don’t care about that. And truthfully, I kind of always suspected.”
“Really?” Scott asked. “Why didn’t you say anything?”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Jake countered.
Scott turned his head for a moment and looked out the drivers window. “I guess I was scared.”
Scott turned to face his friend. “I think I knew that you wouldn’t care, deep down. But I didn’t want to lose you. You are one of the most important things in my life. And I was scared to take a chance that you wouldn’t accept me. Or worse.”
“Or worse?” Jake asked.
“Like, if you thought I was hitting on you on those times we would wrestle around. Or the showers, or sleeping together,” Scott said honestly.
Jake made a face and said quickly, “That’s gross.”
Scott’s eyes widened as Jake continued thoughtfully, “One of the reasons I always thought you were gay was when we wrestled and you’d get a boner.”
“I so did not,” Scott denied laughing.
Jake laughed, for the first time that night, a deep belly laugh. “Exactly my point. You are more like my brother than my own brother.”
Scott stated through his laughter, “Truth.”
“I didn’t know what to say about this Christine thing, I was avoiding you because it’s got my head all twisted,” Jake admitted. “But I realized that you might think it was because you came out. And it’s not. Honest.”
Scott sighed. “Thank you. I will admit I was wondering if that was it. It was weird not being able to talk to you about this stuff.”
“Hey, you can always talk to me, I might not understand it all, but I’ll listen,” Jake said with a small grin.
“Thanks. And you’re not worried what everyone will say at school about you,” Scott asked. He had already heard some of the things that have been said. For the time being, nothing had been said to his face but he figured it was just a matter of time.
Jake laughed again. “Scott, I don’t know how to tell you this, but I wasn’t the only one that suspected.”
Scott was truly stunned. “Really.”
“Becky and even Julie told me that years ago. Mike mentioned it in passing,” Jake said through his laughter. “I think everyone knew and probably no one really cares.”
“Well shit, I could’ve saved all that stress,” Scott said thoughtfully. “If only my father would’ve suspected.”
“He’ll come around,” Jake said confidently. “He just always wanted a grandson.”
“Well, maybe he can adopt Christine’s baby,” Scott snorted out, not being able to stop himself.
“You really are an asshole,” Jake said, shaking his head. “Really, a big asshole.”
“You could come over and visit him, bring him presents,” Scott said more enthusiastically, gesturing wildly. “Take naps with me in my bed.”
“Just keep laughing,” Jake warned, but the corner of his mouth was curling up in a grin. “Though, you are a great napping partner. You like to cuddle.”
“One time,” Scott admonished.
“Best nap I ever had,” Jake said laughing. “That’s when you’re father should’ve suspected. When he walked in on us that day, you had even drooled a bit on my shoulder.”
“You’re laughing now,” Scott replied. “But Mom asked me if you were my boyfriend.”
Jake stopped laughing and asked, “Seriously? What did you say?”
Scott put his hands behind his head and said, “I told her it wasn’t my place to out other people and if she wanted to know she should ask you.”
Jake smacked him right in the stomach, hard. Scott made a sound, and grabbed his stomach, though he didn’t stop laughing. “It doesn’t help that you stopped coming around these last few weeks. No telling what they are thinking.”
“Well, I can bet they aren’t thinking I got some girl pregnant,” Jake said wistfully.
“No, can’t say that they are,” Scott agreed. “Anything you need, just ask.”
“Thanks. But it’s time for me to go inside,” Jake stated as he stared at his darkened house, a lone porch light shining a light on the walkway. “I’ll see you.”
Jake opened the door and headed towards the front of the house. Scott stared at him until he disappeared inside and the door closed. Scott checked his phone and read a text that brought a grin to his face. He replied, “I’m on my way.”
He started up his truck and headed across town whistling. He had wanted to tell Jake about the reason he came out but didn’t think it was the right time. Not when Jake was worried about being a father to a girl he didn’t want to be with. Not to mention that when Becky found out she would probably break up with him. No seventeen year old girl wants to be a girlfriend of an eighteen year old that is having a baby with her best friend.
But that was for a later time to worry about. For now, he was going to see the reason he came out. And for now, that was all that mattered.
I think I’ve been turning into a recluse. But, I haven’t lost my optimism…yet.
A lot has been happening, but where to begin? I guess from the beginning. This will be long.
When the economy started to go down in 2008, my business (I'm a structural engineer to help keep their buildings from crashing down) started to slow. My clients were architects and builders. Their businesses went down and consequently, so did mine. I eventually pulled out of the business and went on Social Security, because I could make more than my business was bringing in. We muddled on for a while, and then two of our foster kids were pulled from us because the agency had found adoptive families for them. Now David had to go to work. Because of the turn down in the income, I missed a rent payment in June of 2013. I was able to make the next few rent payments, but couldn’t pay the June rent. Well, in October of that year, we were evicted. I was pretty much in financial ruin.
As my father was quite ill in the hospital, my brother offered to use his truck flatbed trailer and move us to Minnesota. We would be staying in my father’s house with no rent. So on October 30th we arrived in Thief River Falls, Minnesota and moved into my dad’s house. That gave me the opportunity see him in the hospital. The house is about 125 years old with riverfront property, large for this area, and not very well kept up. It needed a lot of mostly minor repairs that had been neglected over the last couple of years. We had given away all of our furniture as move space was limited, but kept linens, clothes and kitchen stuff.
My dad passed away from cancer a month later in November of 2013. He left the house to my brother, also a David (my partner), and I. My brother has a home in town, so I remain living in the house that my dad left us, and he remained in his.
David got a job with Digikey in February of 2014. It’s one of the largest electronic parts distributers in the country and employs a little over 1/3 of the city’s population of 8,500. I tried to get a job, but when they read my resume, I’m too qualified for anything that they could offer, so I stayed retired and continued to raise our remaining foster boy, Rio Northern.
That didn’t go well. New Mexico put in a request that we be able to transport him to Minnesota. The approval came just 2 hours before we were to leave. Starting off on the right foot, huh? Rio was still under guardianship of the state of New Mexico. New Mexico has different policies than Pennington County. (The state runs the foster system in New Mexico while in Minnesota the counties run their social services.) New Mexico has a requirement that they must have a home visit by their case worker once a month, while Pennington County does not. New Mexico had requested that Pennington County Social Services provide that. That’s where the fireworks started. Pennington County did not have guardianship over Rio and did not want him here as they had no control over him. He was a burden to them.
David and I had started the adoption process for Rio in the spring of 2013, but it was not complete when we left. New Mexico requested that Pennington County perform the final home study, which they did and approved the adoption in early March of 2015.
Now, Rio does not have the best ability to make good choices and got into trouble with the law. He got a BB gun that first Christmas here. I figured that since he was going to be living in an area where everyone hunts and has a lot of guns and would be with my relative’s kids, he should get some firearm training from me. A new friend and Rio took the BB gun and went out the day after Christmas. The other kid took the gun and was shooting out car headlights and windows in a church. The police were able to follow their footprints in the snow and showed up at our house that afternoon. Since Rio was with him and considered an accomplice, he had to go to juvenile court. Rio had not fired the BB gun.
This is a small town, and some of the police here are bullies. As Rio had been involved with the police, he now had a reputation with them as being quite the delinquent. And it got worse. Rio had been taking a med to help with his ADHD and PTSD. Shortly after that Christmas (February 2014, I think), the doctor changed his med to vivance. Shortly after the med change, Rio came home from a friends. He seemed to be depressed, and we questioned him but could find nothing that had made him depressed. I guess that he just didn’t want to talk about it. Fifteen minutes later I found his prescription bottle in the bathroom sink – empty! I immediately called 911 and an ambulance was dispatched along with the police. Rio had tried to commit suicide. He was put on a suicide watch at the hospital and given the standard blood tests. They found amphetamines in his system. Now Rio was not just a delinquent in the eyes of the police and the courts, but a meth-head as well. It’s really unfortunate how people don’t follow through and jump to conclusions. You see, vinance IS an amphetamine. He took his own prescribed medication not something from off the street. The police never understood or realized that.
When we went to court in March 2015, Rio’s public defender and I were shocked when the county prosecuting attorney dropped all charges. Of course, we were elated, but couldn’t figure out why. We found out the next morning why. Pennington County had recanted their adoption approval. Two things were in play here. The first Is that our foster license had expired, but since we were in the adoption process, we were approved with an adoptive license to have a foster boy in our home. But now we didn’t have either a foster or adoptive license. Second is that there Is a federal agency that governs rules between states for foster kids that live out of the state that has their guardianship. Pennington County Social Services contacted them, telling them of the unlicensed home that Rio was in. New Mexico contacted us and said that they had three days to pick up Rio and return him to New Mexico. Needless to say, we were quite upset that Rio was being jerked from our home. I drove Rio back to Las Cruces that weekend. It was quite obvious to me, David and Rio’s attorney that we were set up! Pennington County Social Services couldn’t get Rio out if he were awaiting judgement from the judicial system. They obviously contacted the County Prosecutor’s office, and they worked it out.
When Rio was back in New Mexico, he was scheduled to have his annual court hearing in a couple of weeks. The judge just wants to make sure that the agency is following through with their plans for getting these kids adopted at that hearing. I couldn’t afford staying in a motel for an extra two weeks, so I drove back to Minnesota to wait. Two weeks later, I drove back to New Mexico and contacted Rio’s attorney (New Mexico provides an attorney to protect the rights of kids under care by Social Services). She submitted a motion before Rio’s hearing that requested David and I be given permanent guardianship over Rio. New Mexico Social Services had to approve that motion before it could be so ordered. They could not approve the motion because of an agency policy to never let a minor out from under their control unless he or she was adopted, or aged out. I heard from the agency’s attorney that she thought that our home was the best place for Rio, but her hands were tied.
Rio’s attorney and I had many breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings along with a few in her office to figure out what to do. She had an idea. She provided two motions to the court. The first one was to have Rio removed from control by the agency and placed under control of the court. This removed Rio from being under the policies of the agency. The second was to have Rio removed from control by the court and placed under permanent legal guardianship of David and I. The judge signed both orders the next morning, and Rio was now ours! I drove back to Minnesota the following day with my son!
Pennington County was not pleased that we went around them. And, Rio was now under the scrutiny of the county sheriff’s and city police departments. In a way, we feel that even David and I are being watched. Police cars seem to be cruising our street a lot. The neighborhood has gone south since I remember it back in the day (I was born here). There was a drug bust in a house across the street a few months after we arrived.
On a brighter note, David and I were married last year shortly after Rio and I returned to Minnesota. Minnesota already had already legalized gay marriage.
It seems that living in Minnesota has been one crisis after another. I don’t like this town. It has totally changed since I was here years ago. Digikey has to hire a lot of people, and there are a lot of new arrivals with their delinquent kids because of that. We have to keep the house continually locked because of a lot of robberies that happen in this neighborhood.
Rio turned 18 on September 13th last year. Oddly enough, his birthday is the day before mine, so we celebrate together. He was now out of our guardianship and technically on his own. He wants what all kids want, and that is to be on his own. So, Rio moved to Morehead, Minnesota last month. Fargo is just across the Red River of the North from Morehead. He had an opportunity to room with a friend of ours. She’s about 30 years old and could give him the guidance that he needed. The apartment building is just across the street from the State University of Minnesota Morehead. He enrolled in GED classes and now fully intends to attend the university to get a degree in graphic and video arts. He never had any ambition to go to college before this. I can’t tell you how much I’m impressed and pleased that he wants to finally make something of himself. The friends that he’s meeting there are nothing like the delinquents that he’s met here. They have goals. His roommate goes to the college. His roommate’s mother is a teacher. Perfect for developing motivation in him.
Well, it didn’t go so well. David and I didn’t realize the mental aberrations that Rio’s roommate was living under. She started accusing Rio of things that he was not a part of, and she eventually moved out. Unfortunately, they were under lease, and Rio could not afford all of the expenses himself. Thankfully, the landlord is on Rio’s side and is trying to find a roommate for him. Unfortunately, David and I must pick up his new found expenses. We don’t want him to move back to Thief River Falls for two reasons. First is the proliferation of delinquent friends that seem to come around here and the attitude that he needs to be watched by the police. Second is that we want him in the school environment that’s afforded him where he is. He wants to stay because of the school and his future. We’re off to find him furniture tomorrow. We’re working on trying to keep him there, trying to help him find a roommate. The landlord offered to move him to a single bedroom apartment, but Rio can’t afford the rent all by himself. We’re still working on it. I'll be visiting Clay County (where Morehead is located) tomorrow.
As for David and I, we want out of this place. I’ve mostly lived in larger cities and so has David. Maybe it has a lot to do with the anonymity of self and culture that large cities offer compared to small towns. My brother and I have worked out an arrangement. We had originally thought of buying a large 5th wheel trailer and truck to tour the country. We wanted to find a place to relocate to and wanted to find out where we might want to live first. That would work for us. This house has a sales value (given the repairs and upgrades that need to be made) of around $ 85,000. That means that what I own is around $ 42,500. He offered to buy me out (which I want) by giving me his 5th wheel trailer and truck and some cash as my portion. So hopefully, David and I will be out of here on Nov 1st this year on our way to investigate and enjoy the country.
I've started writing again with the time I have now that Rio is in his own apartment. We still have to go get him in Morehead for his court appearances. It's a novel and will take some time to finish, but I think you'll like it.
I've never lost my optimism. :)
A report from Zuccotti Park, November 14th 2011
Written December 25th, 2011 at 06:18 AM by larkin
A report from Zuccotti Park, November 14th 2011
(This is my piece, not, cut and paste from other sources)
I have a bias so don't expect impartial reporting from me. I am sympathetic to the core issues of Occupation Wall Street. If I was homeless, I might be camped there with them.
I traveled 300 miles for a number of reasons, one of which was to go to Zuccotti Park and visit the with the protesters. What makes Occupation Wall Street different from the others is that they are camped in the very center of the world and the contrast is formidable. Upon approaching the park the sky view is dominated by the lofty new world trade center building now almost complete. The campable part of the park is barely 60' x 250' and every square foot is occupied with tents. The overall appearance is grimy like many other parts of New York. The buildings surrounding the park aren't just buildings, they are shining monuments that tower over what I fear is a doomed encampment.
On their own and sometimes with the help of the police, the indigent, the homeless and mentally ill came from other parts of the city. It was hoped by their adversaries that the presence of undesirables and potential trouble makers would discredit the motives of the movement.
Instead of rejecting or ejecting these people, they fed them, scrounged up clothing and tried to organize social service for them. The philosophy was that these people are also part of the 99%. It was a true test of principles.
Surrounding the entire park was a continuous stream of well dressed tourists taking pictures and donating a dollar here and there. I talked with one camper who could only be characterized as an romantic and impractical idealist. I asked him why he didn't make the walk to Washington. He said he didn't have a sleeping bag and he had to stay close to friends in Brooklyn. There were older people, Native American contingencies, There were disaffected democrats, libertarians and yes, socialist and anarchists.
The button and poster sellers showed up in numbers. This is a capitalist country, after all.
I was excited and fearful at the same time. The police lined the corners of the park acting as quiet and somewhat resentful custodians of something they really didn't want to be bothered with. The New York City police force is probably the most racially diverse police force in the country. They consist of men, women, black, Spanish, Asian, tall and short. They too have family members that have lost their houses or are unemployed. Like the service men that have joined the ranks of the protestors the police are not without sympathies for what is going on. However they are employed by the city and the people that conduct the affairs around Zuccotti park.
There is a core group of activists that headed out towards Washington on foot. Their intention is to join up with Occupation Washington and forge solidarity. The walk is expected to take 2 weeks and they plan to accumulate supporters all along the way.
I left the park with an ominous feeling about the future of the encampment and for all those involved. I knew it could go on this way. My guess was that rout was going to happen very soon and certainly while the activists were away on their march to Washington D.C. Activists specialize in confrontation and the police really don't need them.
I got home on Monday evening. At 4 am this morning I checked Youtube and saw that the camp had been razed at 1 am this morning.
The encampment at Zuccotti park maybe gone but it will become the Genesis for a much larger movement. These people didn't come out of nowhere and they challenged and took on the most powerful forces on the planet. They did it with no money. All across the country cities and the police forces will begin to tear down and raze these encampments but it will only make matters worse. The problem is a government unresponsive to the voters. It is a government that supports forces that are dismantling this once great country of ours. Until they begin to deal with these issues things are only going to escalate.
To quote Chris Hedges, "We have nothing left but the street.."
- Read more...
- 0 comments
It's fast becoming a need of mammoth proportions to stand against religions as antiquated belief systems with no redeeming features.
Moreover, religious belief is an immature explanation for what science now reveals as fact without superstition, morality without coercion, and love without the need to appeal to, or appease a god.
How many lives will the religious sacrifice on the altar of their ignorance?
How many beating hearts will the priests of burden rip from the bodies of the innocent?
And how many times must we witness insanity destroying reason, intelligence, and truth, before we understand that nurturing the love within ourselves is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the mystery of life?
- Read more...
- 0 comments
Lives in Periphery
A new serial novel by EleCivil
Manufacturing plants opened up on the outskirts – little metal pockmarks against the amber waves of grain. They didn’t last. Now, there were abandoned factories and junk heaps just sitting around. Chunks of broken machines rusted into the gravel lots in front of condemned buildings. He had always been drawn to them; the abandoned machines and the ruins of a failed empire. This one was fairly close to school, and it had become his afternoon hideout. No one else knew this – they’d probably think he was weird – but the way he saw it, some people are called to the trees, some people are called to the water, and he was called to the rust. Given his childhood on the outskirts, rust seemed as natural and comforting as a cool breeze.
“Consider it reparations for your history of repeated malfeasance. I know from your records that you’re smart enough. That’s why I’m using words like ‘malfeasance’. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that. I usually have to say things like ‘Hey, jerk - stop punching.’ This is refreshing.”
He wasn't going to fall for this. This kind of tactic may work on middle schoolers, or hotheads, or the weak-nerved, but he was made of stronger stuff than that. This was such a transparent trick to make him implicate himself. Say nothing, and let the criminal go mad with guilt until he's ready to throw himself to the floor, pull up the boards and it's the beating of his hideous heart! But that wouldn't work on him. He wasn't a criminal.
"Hell, if you’re going to play outlaw, you might as well go all out."
Beginning Fall 2013
- Read more...
- 0 comments
My avatar pic was an assignment that required us to modify propaganda while still maintining the message current. I based mine off a satire of Sheppard Fairey's (sp?) HOPE image... for which he was apparently sued. I've always felt a strong connection to the trans community-- not because I am trans (I'm not trans nor do I feel a need to change my gender), but because of something else that is hard to explain. I guess I've always admired the fight and spirit behind every transgendered person, their generosity and their outlook on life. The actual work was a bit of a fiasco, both technically and concept-wise. I still enjoy looking at it every now and then though. I'll post it when I find it ^_^.
The experience of unveiling this for critique was a little unsettling. I didn't expect people to have much of an opinion on the subject, since nobody in class was transgendered or queer as far as I knew. And I had no idea if the propaganda and my own beliefs would be confused as the same. Anyway there it is. Technically mediocre, but fun to make nonetheless. I can't remember the exact dimension. Something like... 18x12in? Hmmm.
I've been thinking a lot about writing. Today I came across two bits of 'advice' that I found yonks ago and put in a box. Where I originally found them I have no idea. However, as they are worth pondering I thought I'd post them. Here's the first:
Eight basic necessities to create a story - probably, methinks, sword and sorcery. Though they do adapt.
1) one Hero
2) one Villain
3) one object they both desire
4) one journey
5) a couple of sidekicks (generally not more than 3)
6) one wisened mentor (maybe a sidekick)
7) one valuable (magical?) item that keeps getting mislaid
8) one prophesy (or two that contradict)
The second is a graphic that, sadly, I can't attribute. My bad.
I hope this helps!
So, after a hard drive crash on Wednesday, I was in the PDX Apple Store to get another drive installed in my MacBook. The genius at the Genius Bar took the little gem to the surgical suite and began the surgery. I waited close to the Bar near a wall. I put my laptop bag on the floor at my feet and looked at some accessories on the wall. Within three minutes, a very delightful and very gay (at least according to my bidar) young man in a blue Apple Store shirt walked over, smiling, and asked if I needed anything. I said, "No thank you, I'm just waiting for a drive installation." Nice customer service I thought.
Over the next seven minutes four more very nice young men, all of whom I assessed as gay, walked over one at a time to and to ask if they could help me. I'm trying to figure out why I warrant this attention from this group of guys. I mean I think I give off the vibe of a straight ex-cop. Then I remember that on my computer bag handle I've placed a luggage tag from HRC with the blue and yellow equal sign. I put it there mostly to piss off any homophobic cops and firefighters I see in the course of training them.
Oh well. These solicitous young men were only interested in caring for what they thought was an elderly queen. I'm surprised that one of them didn't ask what I was doing during the riot. At least, that's the explanation I invented.
It's been over a month now since my grandmother died. This past weekend was the 11th anniversary of my dad's death. I had a really close relationship with my family. That's no matter what I say about being gay, my feelings about that.
The past few weeks, after doing a lot of immediately necessary things, I then sort of retreated into my shell. I know I can't really do that. My house is a mess. And by mess I mean something beyond pigsty. Pigs would be offended. My grandmother's house is still to get taken care of. It is neat and tidy, though. There's much to do.
I've been alternately worried at not doing more, relieved that I can and should rest some, and wondering what's up with me, even though, yes, I've been through this before twice. One with my mom. Again with my dad, worse that time. I am doing better this go-round, and I have some idea what all this is. I'm alternating between, "I don't much care," and "I've got to do all this right now this instant," and a slightly guilty one, "I'm finally free, truly free, for the first time since my dad passed away." Well, and there's also, "how do I reintegrate into normal life?"
The last few weeks, I've begun getting story ideas, bits and pieces, left and right. Other things have been scattered too. Normal habits are out of sync. My sleep/wake cycle, which has for years now been on emergency duty, day and night, is trying somehow to readjust, but it's completely out of sync. That's complicated by the fact that I've been a night owl most of my life, and more so from early college on. Memory-wise, I'll be fine and then I'll realize I've forgotten some little thing or some not so little thing. Add in very bad eyesight, and whew, it gets...interesting...in the sense of the old Chinese curse about, "May you live in interesting times."
But that's mostly OK. I know what it is, I've been through it before, and this seems mild by comparison. Partly because, well, I've done a lot of grieving already, before she passed. Yet today, for the first time since then, I found this urge this evening at suppertime to call her on the phone, then remembered I can't. (Well, I could, but that's one heckuva long distance call, lemme tell ya.) -- You do have to learn to laugh, too, at the absurdity of some things.
So I had been wondering just what's up with me, and tonight, while reading determinedly through a story at AwesomeDude, like I read a couple at Codey's World three days ago, and while I've been listening to AwesomeDude Radio (I swear, Dude and Des and Tim and Azy and Colin aren't paying me to say that) well, it dawned on me what I'm really doing.
I'm cramming in as much relaxation and playtime and me time as I can, in ways that most appeal to me. I'm somehow, I think, trying to make up for lost time.
Now, you may wonder a couple of things at this point. One is, Ben, are you OK? -- Yes, I am OK, or as OK as you can be in this situation. I kind of know how this plays out before you get to the other side of it, and this time around, I should know how to short circuit it and get on with things quicker.
But I feel in some ways like a ghost or like Rip Van Winkle, suddenly waking and finding everything has changed completely, some alternate reality, some Twilight Zone episode, where it's all changed and it's a strange world now. Or like an invisible ghost that now sees things but isn't perceived and doesn't have connections to the real world. Well, except of course that's not quite true. But it is true that my circle of friends in the real world has shrunk to a truly tiny radius. My online life likewise means a whole lot to me, and is still a lifeline for socializing, for friendships, for being an equal partner in this odd primate species.
That, incidentally, leads into the other question you may be wondering. Maybe you noticed, I didn't say anything about going out much and partying, or visiting friends, or a boyfriend, or...satisfying certain physical urges common to male (and female) primates. The answer to that one is pretty simple: I'm not quite ready yet. I'm actually going to appreciate (mostly) the chance to keep to myself some for Christmas and New Year's. Later on, I'll venture out and attempt to rejoin all those crazy monkey-boys and monkey-girls. And well, I've been a loner for a long time. So those urges mostly get taken care of solo, as much as solo can satisfy those, which is to say, it only partly does it. -- But hey, that will now get a chance to get worked on too, and that will be a very new thing for me.
That particular aspect is something about being gay that people often miss. I think to some extent, a lot of gay folks are delayed in the dating and relationships department, because if you don't get to go out and practice as easily and often as someone straight, then you're going to have some catch-up homework to do to get up with the rest of the class. For some of us, that's very light. For others, we may have parts of ourselves stuck back in the teens or earlier or later, and so there's a lot to catch up with. Others don't have quite that issue, because for some reasons, they don't have that kind of lag in time or people.
Well, anyway, right now, I'm about to finish up and head to bed for an indeterminate while to sleep, before my body wakes itself again to do something around here, or to get on the computer and write or surf. I may be up a while still, or I may go to bed, sleep for between two to six hours, and wake again.
I'll have necessary errands (whatever else I get for making Christmas dinner, plus a haircut, plus whatever) on Thursday and back here. It's possible some out of town family might stop by over the holiday, either Christmas or New Year's, but since another relative is sick, they may not get to visit. (I'm OK with that either way.)
In other words, I'm just complaining here how out of sync I feel and how odd it is, reintegrating into a world that is very different than what I've become used to.
Soon enough, I should be up to things again, enough, for instance, to see if two people and a cup of coffee (or some such) can connect as friends after a consolation hug that was, hmm, really, really nice.
Yes, in some ways, I feel like Rip Van Winkle or a ghost invisible in the world. But sometimes, that anonymity is a blessing, a buffer, a safety net, for a while.
We'll see how things go. -- Some creativity is happening too, so it's better than you'd think.
Yup, bedtime, finally. Might be lucky and dream about a nice cute guy. (This has happened a couple of times lately, enough just to reassure me I don't have something off kilter in there, despite whatever my conscious mind may think.)
Zzzz, g'night, awake again sooner than you'd think.
Working on my latest story brought back all these memories from when I was a kid and got me thinking. What does it means to be a man? the following is my attempt to answer that question.
A man does not turn his back on his friends or break his word. He finishes what he starts. A man does not run when things get difficult. He stands and faces what lies in his path, steadfast in the knowledge that no matter what, he gave it his all. He does not let pride stop him from asking for help when he needs it. He sees a problem and fixes it. He knows when to lead and when to follow. He knows respect must be earned before it can be given. He admits when he is wrong and does not gloat when he is right. He humbles himself before his god, country and family and defends them until his last breath. He analyzes his weaknesses, improving them where he can, and accepts where he cannot. A man knows that true strength isn’t measured by muscles, but comes from within. He knows when to be strict and when to be lenient. He does not confess with his mouth, what his heart knows to be untrue. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness. For he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. But most importantly a man speaks up when the situation calls for it and remains silent when it does not.
- Read more...
- 0 comments
It's a been a while - three years! - since I last logged in, and I haven't written much since then too. The biggest reason was that back then my computer crashed. I never thought it would which was why I never had any backups. The whole time, I was like "what about this story" and "what about that story". But I'm past the crushed phase now. So. Moral is, save backups of your works.
I found the drive to start writing again, even though I'm busier this time around. I have always wanted to write anyway. It's just that some circumstances inspire you and some don't. Of course, every now and then, a poem finds its way out. Stories, though, are a different, er, story, since most of them need planning and plenty of thought.
The readers helped too. I still get emails from time to time about stories I had written a long time ago, and it's unbelievable how warm it made me feel just knowing my stories are still being read. Made me feel immortal.
Unfortunately, In a World of Fools, the story I was writing back when I "disappeared" without explanation, would have to stay shelved for a while. I would still continue writing it, but probably after I finish writing the thing I'm working on right now. (This is assuming a future reader would find this blog, as I do get asked about it in some emails.)
Anyway, levelheadedness is a good place to be in.
- Read more...
- 0 comments
Well, the hubbie was out of town for the day, but it's been good overall. Tyler had practice and we showed up a good 30 minutes early. One of his teammates showed up early as well as so we played 3-way catch until the rest of the team finally showed up for practice. I also took the niece out to the park since she's finally starting to behave again. We all had a good day.
Our old neighborhood's little league started a few weeks earlier so today was their opening day. Instead of practice, two of Tyler's friends had games today. After their games, they decided to ask and see if they can come over. Tyler and his friend Adam decided to not bother changing, so they're still in their uniforms and lounging around while we watch DayBreakers. Yes, watching a vampire movie.
For those that have read a specific story I wrote - no vampire Jarred jokes. They're scared enough at the moment as it is...
Oh, and I tried to make Tyler and Adam sit on the other side of the room since they are a little ripe, but they refused after the first gory scene. *sigh*
A little something that I'm doing for fun:
I have created a wordpress blog and am featuring various classic rock groups and their music.
There's a treasure of videos on Youtube. I've just saved you the trouble of sorting through all of the rubbish.
Have a look. There's some great stuff there.
I might even write the story of why I don't listen to Emerson, Lake & Palmer anymore. (It has a lot to do with a gymnast from New Orleans named Mark.)
Wow! Didn?t realize it had been so long since I had posted here?. Well? when you read below, you will see that I?ve been rather busy.
After my diagnosis, well, I had to face a few realities. The biggest one was, I was a gay man with AIDS. That is simply not conducive with the fa?ade I had been living for more than twenty years, and yes, in the end it was more than my wife could handle. We had a lot to sort out, I moved into the guest bedroom, and well, yea, we were finally divorced several months ago, and I?m living on my boat. But, it was a VERY friendly divorce, and we are still very close friends, but we both knew we had to move on. I like to tell the folks that I?m ?out? to (which is most anyone who wants to know) that it most closely resembles a ?Will and Grace? type relationship if one has to define it, but we did share most of our lives together, so it?s really the only thing that makes sense. She has moved on and is seeing a nice man, and ummm so am I. More about that later. My boss at work was very cool and understanding about all my ?issues? as were some of my co-workers I chose to share with, so no real work problems.
I decided all this had to have a purpose. I met a wonderful person here in Mississippi that was trying to start up a HIV/AIDS peer support group and AIDS service organization. I agreed to serve on his board with several other wonderful people and have become a bit of an AIDS activist. There are SO many things Mississippi DOES NOT have for HIV survivors that other places take for granted, the list is too long for me to start that here. So far, our group has been quite successful. More about that in a bit as well.
I have also kept up with my writing. After I finished Sky?s the Limit, Book II, (hosted here at AD) I wanted to do something different. Well, a wonderful fellow author whom I originally met at AD and formerly had some of his stories posted here, Adam Donaldson Powell, asked me to co-write a book with him. Adam and I had struck up a beautiful online friendship, and I had read and enjoyed all of his work so it seemed like a good a fit. The project would be more or less a sequel to his earlier PUBLISHED book, ?2014, Life and Adventures of an Incarnated Angel? which was a sort of science fiction/fantasy genre work. I was immediately intrigued.
So, now it?s done, AND PUBLISHED. Yes, I am now a published author.
The name of the book is ?Tunnel at the End of Time? and is available for purchase at www.cyberwit.net. It should be available at Amazon.com soon. Adam?s earlier book, ?2014? is also available at Cyberwit or Amazon. There?s lots more info on the book at Adam?s web site, www.adamdonaldsonpowell.com , along with some excerpts.
Now, back to where I left off above. In the course of organizing a peer support group for the Jackson area, I met a wonderful man named Sam who joined our group almost a year ago now, right after he himself was diagnosed. Sam and I became instant friends as we quickly discovered in conversations that we shared many things in common. In fact, WAY too many to list here, but a short list would be the same TV shows, movies, music, etc., but also both of us had been married and had a son apiece until we had to finally face our sexuality.
Sam and I dated for several weeks before he eventually moved in with me on the houseboat, and the two of us are also trying to restore an old house in North Mississippi where his grandmother had lived and is situated on family land. We call it ?the farm? as the adjacent land is inhabited by cattle that his dad raises. We pretty much stay on the boat during the week and work on the house on the weekends. Sam is a wonderful man, and both of us are very happy. I think THIS is what a relationship is REALLY supposed to be.
Our AIDS organization has really taken off. We co-hosted an AIDS town-hall discussion here in Jackson by the White House AIDS czar and his Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) which Prez. Obama has tasked with the responsibility of formulating the first U.S. national AIDS strategy/policy (about 25 years late, but better late than never). The meeting was one of only a dozen fact-finding meetings held in the U.S. last year. See www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/onap/events . We also sponsored a huge city-wide World AIDS Day event here in Jackson, with Dr. Joycelyn Elders, the former U.S. surgeon general under Prez Clinton as the keynote speaker, and the Mississippi Mass Choir, which has one numerous recording awards performed as well.
So, yeah, I?ve been sorta busy. A new life, a new partner, a new published book, and a new calling, and sometime in there have to find time for my 9 to 5er to keep the bills paid.
No blog entries yet