Category Archives: Junior

New Beginnings

Five years ago today my life changed drastically.   That old life is now unrecognizable.   I was horribly hung over after passing out at 7 pm the night before on the couch of a house made empty by roommates out of state with their families.  I was still drunk that morning probably.  I was literally sick to my stomach.  I had been eating grease while I picked up items for this big event.  I was exhausted and stressed out.  I was confused about the future and lonely as I looked at another Christmas alone.

I walked into a gym that was empty besides a couple tables for the worship bands to eat some dinner in one of the corners.  It needed to be set up to feed 300 people the next day, but also made nice as not to continue to feel stale and cold.  In my head we were throwing a party.  In reality, we were providing a needed meal in a warm building were half the people didn’t care what it looked like and the other half would judge me.

There were a few people milling around, and it turns out that the small attendance made people leave.  A father and couple teenagers started setting up tables with me.  A single woman started helping us.  After about 20 minutes the tables were set up and the family left.  The single woman and I spent about 3 hours working to make the tables not stale and to add Christmas lights and brightness to the massive gym, to make it small.  We also spent about 3 hours talking.  How we didn’t like traveling at Christmas.  How we didn’t have living fathers.  How our families were far away from Portland but actually close together.  Our jobs and hobbies.  How we liked being in Portland now.  Where we had been and where we wanted to go.

It was longer than planned so I offered to drive her home.  Something I had done literally hundreds of times before as my dad made me a protector of women to an often negative extent.  When I dropped her off, something was different than those times before though.  There was an awkward moment.

The awkward moments continued the next day as we saw each other and chatted a little as I ran around being in charge of chaos of a community Christmas dinner that comingled housed with unhoused friends.  By the end of the meal, I was wiped and had plans to sit in front of my computer and finish binge watching something I am sure.  But there was another awkward moment when she wrote out and handed me her phone number and an address to come hang out with her friend’s family.

Somehow I knew I needed to go. Even though I only met her less than 24 hours before I figured I should make an appearance.  So I did.  I grabbed a couple 22s from my cases of beer and went to a house, that apparently generally didn’t drink, and where I barely knew one person.  I awkwardly walked around saying hi and got another plate of Christmas dinner since I didn’t eat at the first.  And went and planted myself near this girl that intrigued me.  She played games with her friends and we made small talk about what we had planned for the week and how much time free she had.

I left after about an hour because I needed quiet not craziness and couldn’t fake it anymore.  I wished her well, told her Merry Christmas and said thanks to the random family that just set up a couple without knowing it.

That night there were quite a few texts from my dark, cold, quiet basement bedroom.  By the end of them, I had a real date with a real girl.

Within a week, I would start spending everyday with that single lady. Within a month we were pretty sure we weren’t going to be single long. Within 8 months we were wed and in a tiny apartment.  In 2 years we were no longer drinking much or going out to eat but just sitting around with each other.  In 3 years we had a child, a house and a family car.

Now it has been five years since I drank or partied like I did the day before I met the beautiful Hannah.  And tomorrow it will be five years since the best Christmas ever.

And I wouldn’t switch back to that old life for anything.

 

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Filed under Adulthood, Freewrite, Junior, Marriage, The Jesus Way, Three O Clock People

18

Dad

 

It has been 18 years since I lost Dad.  Which is just a stupid long time for it still to hurt and for me to need trigger warnings on multiple shows and online videos still.  But long enough to forget stories and memories.  His voice no longer just comes to me when I think of him.  But will eventually when I think long enough.  Too long to see his posts online somewhere, or pictures, or voice mails.

Being an adult is still difficult without that fatherly figure to help me with relationship issues, work issues, or to show me how to stop the fireplace from smoking up the whole house. Or why the lights over the dining table won’t stop burning out. Or how to build a vegetable garden that is too big to keep up with.  I might have that under control.  I’d love to be able to chat about his stay at home years and how he stayed sane.

But instead, for the last 18 years, I have been winging it.  I have looked for other father figures, but none are the same.  None will do when I was already “raised” when he suddenly passed.

I have made it another year though.  I have figured out how to be a dad myself with a talking, complaining, questioning son.   I have lost track of the times I have thought about how he would like to hear Junior is getting revenge on me by do what I probably did at his age or older.

It doesn’t make it easier to be constantly reminded of the loss in that, or the fact I have multiple friends in the midst of similar shocking losses right now and it brings up the “too soon”, “too young”, “too sudden” thoughts.   But it is part of my story.

And with each passing year, I try to identify with it being part of the story, not the climax, or piviotal moment just a section of the story.  But it is a large part, and I am trying to find something else to make the pivotal moment.

And this year, Junior is old enough to know who pictures are, so he is beginning to meet Grandpa Jim, if only in the couple pictures I have.  And the couple stories that have stuck.  And the silly things he said that are now coming out of my mouth.  Which brings up a whole ‘nother bucket of turds in trying to teach a little boy without real Grandpops what they should be.  And that is the hardest to stomach some days.

Miss you Dad. Every day.

 

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Filed under Adulthood, Death, Freewrite, Grieving, Junior, Marriage, Transparency

Don’t Know

A little over a month ago, a fellow church member sent out a note asking for help with an ESL and Welcome Center she started at her daughter’s school. It was the first time in a long time that I jumped at something. One because they offered childcare. Two because it was among a diverse group of people that wanted to learn English and I know English kinda good enough. And three because they had childcare.  The first time I showed up there was a Spanish speaking man with a great grasp on the language who told me a lot of his story.  I just sat a listened.  He has only come back once, because he is busy, and probably just came those times for fellowship in an otherwise boring day.  That is fine.

A month or so in I am the childcare often. With today at one point six kids under my charge, three of which didn’t speak English and none of which wanted to listen to me…including my own spawn. But I dealt, even though I was really close to not going today… because of Junior not listening anymore.

I went because I truly want my kid to know people of other colors and languages and personalities.  I want him to remember when he is 16 or 26 or 36 that not all people of color are moochers, terrorists, abusers, or untrustworthy.  I want him to remember a friend from when he was this age or 4 or 6 who he had a great time with and liked.  I also want the kids and parents there to see me,  a larger white male smiling and listening to them.  Because I know television dominates a lot of homes and time.  And I know a lot of the coverage on television is negative currently.

I don’t know if it will do any good.  I don’t know if Junior will grow up and move to a town with even less people of color (doubtful).   I don’t know if I will continue to be willing to smile and listen without speaking and groaning.  I don’t know if any of us will be as open as we are now again.

But I also don’t know what else to do to make this world okay.

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Filed under Freewrite, Global Community, Heathen Healers, Junior, The Jesus Way

13th

Watch Now Seriously

 

The beautiful Hannah and I just watched a documentary together….WHAT?  I know it doesn’t happen often but she actually sat down and learned WITH me. But that’s not my point.

My point is that this nation has a history that sucks.  We have institutionally accepted horrible things happening to our own citizens since the beginning of the country and allowed institutionalized slavery to continue to present day.  And since there is an election coming up don’t think I am speaking as if one side started or stopped this.  They are all guilty as #$@#@ and need to be held accountable. Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush Jr., Obama…all have allowed slavery to continue in newer forms. Don’t believe me? Watch The 13th on Netflix.

Are you back? Or never left?

Here’s what I learneded, there is a line in the 13th amendment, which ended slavery in its previous form, that allows men (people) to be free as long as they are not being a punished for crime.  Which sounds great until people are falsely arrested, forced into a plea bargain and then have a felony on their records FOR LIFE.  This causes them to not be able to vote in many states, not be able to receive government assistance, not rent, not be employed, and even not receive life insurance.  After the US Civil War, prisoners were used to help rebuild a lot of cities and infrastructure destroyed in former slave owning areas.  It was a good deal.  If you needed more “workers” simply round up former slaves for loitering or trespassing, since they no longer had jobs or places to live.  This started what we see today with over 2 million people in the prison industrial complex.  That is people that are under house arrest, on long probation or physically in a facility.   Bogus loitering charges still exist, but often drugs or theft is involved.  We all have heard stories of police planting evidence, (Google has about 1,280,000 results in 0.49 seconds) and of quotas.  It’s like they HAVE to arrest people to keep their jobs, right?

The movie delves deeper into the money side of it. How laws are passed to arrest more people and politicians use code words to scare the public into behaving or make us feel safer when we feel attacked.  We like when we hear people will have to serve 85% of sentences and Mandatory Minimums and 3 Strikes.  But then we start hearing what is actually happening to people who are arrested.  How they are coerced into plea deals, and not allowed to leave because of high bails.  Even 10% of 10k is often still too much for working people or single mothers created by their husband, boyfriend or baby daddy serving life for a third strike, 2/3rd of which might have been false.

I believe police have hard jobs and attempt to do good the majority of the time.  I also think they are trained to identify people of color as guilty and Caucasians as victims.   This has more to do with what I have heard from experienced people than from any article on the interwebs.  People of color being stopped and ticketed for small offences (5 over, broken taillight, out of state tags too long) while I was let go with a warning many times.  Or larger offenses like possession of drugs not being reported for white friends, while people of color were illegally searched to find them.  Therefore I truly believe that lives of crimes and drugs come from circumstances.  To gain power and money to get out of the “rough life”, but then get a felony and keep the cycle going in your family tree.  If you don’t have privilege or opportunity you fight more for it and bend the rules to get there.   I have met too many people on the streets with felonies from 19 or 20 years of age that limit them when 50.  Lesser jobs, lesser apartments, lesser insurances, lesser lives and so falling back into the escape of drugs and then the need to crime.  Yes, crime as a verb.

Instead of helping people break the cycle though it seems like the government is enabling the profiting off of poor, uneducated and disproportionately people of color specifically in the prison complex.  Instead of setting up a safety net that would help most, the system mandates felons can’t live in subsidized housing, penalizes family unity by limiting food and job benefits per address, and caps the limited benefits people can legally get in a tight timeline.  So people numb themselves with illegal drugs and resort to crime to buy food and keep the cycle going.

The major problem that The 13th exposes though is that prisons in this country are for profit, privately run institutions.  Therefore they need “raw materials” to make profits.  Unfortunately this leads to arresting people that can’t defend themselves in court.  Those who have been raised to fear the authority of police and all law enforcement.  Those whose fathers were arrested and served time for the same or similar crimes they will fall into.  If they were public run, I am not saying this wouldn’t happen it.  But I am saying that if they were charitably non-profit they would attempt to be run out of business.

I have more in my head that I’m not sure I have the words to say and realize I am just rambling so will leave you to ponder this quote from the film.

“We (African-Americans) thought, I mean they called the end of slavery “Jubilee”, we thought we were done then.  And then you had a 100 years of Jim Crow, terror and lynching.  Dr. King, these guys come on the scene, Ella Jo Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, we get the bills passed to vote then they break out the handcuffs, label you felon, you can’t vote or get a job. So we don’t know what the net iteration of this will be, but it will be.  It will be. And we will have to be vigilant.”  Van Jones

Stay woke y’all, especially those in the racial voting majority like me.

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Filed under Adulthood, Junior, Overthinking, Reviews, The Jesus Way

Left

We – the beautiful Hannah and I- live in a nomadically transplanted city. Most people aren’t from here and most won’t stay… as we are learning.   People come for work, school or adventure often in their 20s and stay as long as they can or want.  The city houses a lot of people with grand dreams and plans who hang out until another job, partner or dream pulls them away.  We came as part of that group.

The beautiful Hannah has over a decade here.  I have lived here four times as long as anywhere else in my adulthood and am approaching that decade mark too.  We have lived in multiple parts of the city and are on the edge of it now it sometimes feels.  The mountain can be seen from our patio window when the leaves are gone and the sun is out.  The coast is an easy drive away and allows us to have lunch after a nice drive if we have a free day to play.  The food is amazing.  The beers were good and hopefully will be when we can go out again.  People are generally laid back and welcoming.  And even though it is touted as the Whitest City in (US) America and part of the Least Churched Region in North America, we have many people of other colors in our inner circle…and our “local” church.  People think and act similar enough to us for us to feel accepted.  We don’t get weird looks for talking to homeless or people with special needs.  We can own chickens, garden and buy only from the edges of the grocery store without judgment and know a lot of others that do the same.

We really like it here.  We have a house in a neighborhood that has a lot of real locals.  We have our spots, our stores, our communities, our old and new neighborhoods and the beautiful Hannah has a career at a school that won’t be transferred or moved.  We plan to be here a long time.

But we are consistently saying good bye to friends with whom we have connected it feels.  They move because of work promotions.  Because they want to move closer to family before having kids.  Because it was a short term thing that lasted many years and is now over.  Because parents need them back home. Or because housing is silly expensive and they didn’t buy a place yet and can’t imagine living paycheck to paycheck just to stay here.  Whatever the reason, Junior has a lost a lot of friends as have we and we realized we need to start making more connections again.  And in chatting with people we have heard that many are planning to head back “home” at some point.  When the kids need to go to school, or when it’s time to have kids, or when they need a real job.

The beautiful Hannah and I initially bonded over not wanting to live near where we were raised again.  Shortly after we met we began to make Portland our city together. We shared with each other what we loved.  We started combining traditions, routines, drinking spots, eating spots, and friends.  We made our home and are strengthened ourselves in the communities that would take us.   Those communities changed and shifted with marriage, work changes, and Junior and his demands.  And they change substantially when close friends move to green pastures they find or dream.

Leaving is not our plan or story it seems.  So I guess we are a little different here but that’s ok.

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Filed under Adulthood, Dreams, Freewrite, Global Community, Junior, Marriage, Overthinking, Transparency, unfinished thoughts