Year End Reflections, Part 2: Sojourns

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December 24, 2017, Prescott- I spent yesterday at the Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference, in Phoenix, but elected to stay up here today, as some chores need doing, before I head out on the Greyhound journey to Spring Hill, FL, and a visit with Penny’s mom and sister.  It will be odd not having a vehicle, by which to stop, visit with friends en route, or to respond to others who may live not far from them.  This is, though, a journey of focus.

I have made such focus a more important part of my life, this past year. People and their feelings have been one such concern. Reorganizing my blog site, and making a more concerted effort to attend to others’ comments, as well as their own blogs, has been another.

My travels,while still extensive, going across the continent, yet again, were more devoted to family, friends, and specific purpose. I saw my son off, on his way to Korea, from San Diego, at the beginning of the year.  OC, always a part of any California visit, took up the end of my temporary farewell, to the light of my life.

I can never go without a visit to a little girl and her family in the Reno-Carson City area, so that came first, in the summer.  It seemed capricious to dart back to Arizona, just to deliver a bundle to people who didn’t seem to care, one way or the other, but it mattered to the sender, so I did it.

Friends and family, across the Midwest, the Northeast and Upper South, were more appreciative of my time with them.  Mom always needs to know her wanderer is in a good place, physically and emotionally, so when I was in my hometown, she had the bulk of my attention, but not in as hovering a manner as previously.  A side trip to Maine, also very focused, help break up any sense of hovering.  So, too, did meeting one of my newborn grand-nephews.

My youngest niece and her upcoming wedding brought me to Philadelphia, so as to at least meet her fiance.  Another little grand-nephew was also there, along with his big sister, whom I also had not met.  There was a focus on history, in the three days that followed: Philadelphia itself, Brandywine, Antietam, Harpers Ferry and Lexington, VA. Going to Harrisonburg, perhaps my favourite western Virginia town, took me back to Artful Cafe (once known as Artful Dodger), followed by a brief visit with a friend who once lived in Prescott.  People find it strange, but I don’t forget someone who treated me with a high level of kindness, even if they themselves have moved on.

It has long been past time to visit with the Indiana branch of our family, so a few hours, on point, in Jeffersonville, sent me heading west, with a sense of having completed my connection.  Falls of the Ohio and downtown Paducah were side-benefits of this diversion. Finally, I was honoured to visit with a cousin, in southwest Missouri, before scooting across the plains, to home  There were side benefits to that last leg:  Sedan, KS, with its little ravine, called The Hollow; a kind lady running a motel and cafe in Mooreland, OK; a race against the monsoon rains, in northeast New Mexico; brief return visits to Cimarron, Taos and Rio Grande Gorge; and proving that I still can handle the delicate balance between rest and roadsmanship, on the last leg of the drive home.

I chose a journey to the past, over an emotional visit to Las Vegas, in October.  It was tough going, coming back especially, but Besh Ba Gowah and Gila Cliff Dwellings made me recognize, anew, the importance of appreciating just what those who came before us gave to people, whom they had no idea were coming.

Journeys aren’t, per se, hard on me, so long as I maintain attention, pacing and focus.  New friends came out of these past twelve months, though I may have lost one of the older ones.  Friendships will take up my Christmas post, as seems appropriate.

 

 

 

 

En-titled

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December 9, 2017, Prescott-

I awoke this morning,

in a state of tension.

“Come off it, self!

This is Saturday,

and no one expects

anything of you,

except that you

take part in the

noon conference call.”

I got myself together,

drove to one friend’s house,

picked up a bin of cut juniper,

and delivered to another’s house.

Somehow, I will want to do better

than that.

The pieces of wood are small

in the second friend’s eyes.

Aren’t we a funny breed?

A person is entitled

to big, to fine, to proper,

to sufficient.

I thought of other friends,

in Ojai,

looking at the embers

and foundation, where

once, there was a

home similar to

the second friend’s

house, here.

Where is their piece

of entitlement, now?

Once upon a time,

an angry young woman

demanded of her mate,

that he throw me out

of the house

that five of us shared.

It was mid-February,

cold, snowy,

central Maine.

An older couple

took me in,

two days later.

Seems the Universe

decided that I

was entitled to

dignity, and

freedom from

pneumonia.

Here’s how I see it, now.

These are our entitlements:

Respect, with regard to

our persons,

our time,

our necessaries.

Love,

unconditional,

therefore, never forced.

Opportunity,

to make choices

and to follow through,

on those choices.

These three

are enough for me.

All else proceeds

from them.

 

 

Why I’ll Go Back Again

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November 6, 2017, Prescott-

I’ll go back to Viet Nam, about five years from now.

Nothing I  remember is likely to be there.

Yet, I like to see how a nation grows.

I’ll go back to central Maine, in a year, or three.

The people to whom I caused some pain,

are mostly gone away.

Yet, it will be good to make some sort of amends.

I’ll go back to Israel, within the next ten years.

The places I visited, thirty-five years ago,

will be there for centuries to come,

yet, I need to approach them,

with greater reverence.

I’ll go back to Massachusetts,

at least once a year,

until the time comes for

my first angel to take flight.

Yet, I suspect that will be

some years in the future.

I’ll go back to Korea,

sometime in the near future.

Yet, I will be a prodigal son,

both atoning for breaches of manners

and honouring the roots that

my own seed might put down.

I’ll return to the American Southwest,

each time I need to pick myself up.

As  here, the desert and mountains

inform as to the way to renewal.

(Note to the nervous ones:  I’m not moving anywhere, any time soon.)

Sixty Six, for Sixty-Six, Part XXXIX: Duality

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June 3, 2017, Prescott-

I went to see the film, “Wonder Woman”, tonight.  Of course, it is a fantasy, and quite over the top, but it does raise issues of the reality behind female empowerment and of the dual nature of human beings.

The title character, being a super hero, born to a demigod, of a mortal human,  has dual natures.  She uses her strength for the good of the innocent and tempers it with the fully loving power of the human female.

There is an exchange, towards the climax of the film, between Wonder Woman and the film’s archvillain, in which she points out that humans are not, as he claims, inherently wicked, but rather are dual in nature.  She makes it her mission to stand up for the goodness of human nature, while standing up TO the baser, destructive tendencies of mankind.

Here, art suggests life.  I have, most of my own life, favoured a loving response, even to injustice, over one of violence.  Toughness is sometimes necessary, in a tough world, but I was raised to choose such battles carefully.   Yet, for being judicious and tender-hearted, in the Maine of the mid-1970’s, I was labeled, by people who were themselves quite weak, as effeminate and insipid.  The Southwest has been more accommodating of a gentle nature, than the Northeast was, when I lived there, but I sense things are changing all over.

Each of us has a duality to face.  So it goes, every day that passes with my having chosen love over fear and loathing, that a daily accounting brings a sense of having lived another one, in a successful manner.

 

My Life Thus Far: The Seventies

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February 11, 2016, Prescott-  Today was brutal, for many people about whom I care.  It wasn’t so bad for me, personally, because I stayed put-mostly out of financial prudence.  Things will be better that way, tomorrow.

So, I will continue recounting what has been good, and not so good, with the years gone by.  A lot of you, my faithful WP readers, despised my account of the Sixties.  Brace yourselves:  Things went a tad south for me, as twentysomething, but I lay the blame at my own two feet.  Therefore, if you were rankled by me as a teen, skip this post.

1970-High Point:  Being in Fort Myer for the entire year.

Low Point:  Stan E. getting killed in combat.

People in the heart:  Cathy P., my best long-distance phone friend; my three faithful roommates in the TriService barracks; Don and Charley,my co-workers; Stan E., who died for his country.

Places in the heart:  Georgetown, DC; the C & P Canal Towpath; Lynn Beach, when I was on leave.

1971-High Point:  Being stationed in the Cholon section of Saigon.

Low Point:  Wretched, crowded, chaotic Long Binh Army Base.

People in the heart:  Jim T., who stood up for his girls; Tay Lanh, who honoured my dignity; Bill B., Arnie P. and Roger D., my buddies in Cholon; the Henderson family, who overlooked my surly temperament, while I was in Sydney; Tommy W., who didn’t deserve to have been left alone, while injured.

Places in the heart:  Cholon; Vung Tau; Tauranga Park; Woollahra.

1972- High Point:  My hitchhiking trip across North America.

Low Point:  Ignoring what I had been told about spiritual truth.

People in the heart:  Dave G., who gave me my first post-Army job; my workmates, Jimmy, Jan, Donna and Franny; Jim F., my long-suffering boss; Lillies S., the college office manager, who told me to always set my sights high; my hometown buddies, who welcomed me back from ‘Nam; the Gordon family, of Toronto, who camped with me, along Lake Superior; Kathy B., with whom I almost fell madly in love; the Bullocks, who hosted me in Baltimore, for a week; the anonymous truck driver in King of Prussia, who introduced me to the Baha’i Faith; Sandy and Al, my housemates; Donna G., who tried to be a good friend.

Places in the heart:  North Shore Community College; Montreal; Lake Superior; Edmonton; Jasper; Lake Louise; Babb, MT; Morgantown, WV; Baltimore; Ocean City; Bethlehem, PA; my little room in Beverly, MA.

1973- High Point: Visiting Prince Edward Island.

Low Point:  The Chelsea Fire.

People in the heart:  Geary C., Alan A., Sandy G. and Angie D., my friends at NSCC; just about everyone I met on PEI; the hipster who filled my tank with gas, for giving him a ride from Ellsworth to Boothbay.

Places in the heart:  Beverly,MA; Salem; Boston Public Library; Prince Edward Island; New Glasgow, NS; Boothbay Harbor, ME.

1974- High Point: Working at Quisisana Resort, ME.

Low Point:  The botched attempt to serve as editor of “Sage Revisited”.

People in the heart: All my NSCC and Beverly friends; Kathy H., Annette K, Tom & Fricky J., Sandy M., the Grices and Dave B., who were my friends and co-workers at “Quisi”; Dr. and Mrs. Ziv, my “Jewish grandparents” from lower Manhattan; Jimmy S. and Mr. McGregor, who offered me work close to home; my dorm mates in Orchard Hill, at UMass-Amherst.

Places in the heart: Quisisana Resort, Lovell, ME; Bar Harbor; North Conway; Amherst; Fisher Island, NY.

1975- High Point:  Hiking the Presidential Range, in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

Low Point: Getting fired from a part-time job, on my 25th birthday.

People in the heart:  My campus buddies at UMass; Mrs. Braman, the housemother in my rooming house, in Northampton; Steve R., Paul W. and Ken C., my brainy, irreverent and totally sloppy first housemates in South Deerfield; the Rivard family, who moved in, after the guys were evicted; Allan D., my internship co-op teacher; Lloyd Z. and Linda D., who imparted good pedagogy; every child who put up with me in that little U.S. History class; the Zivs.

Places in the heart:  Amherst; Northampton; South Deerfield; the White Mountains; lower Manhattan.

1976- High Point:  Graduating from UMass.

Low Point:  Almost losing a sibling, in an accident.

People in the heart:  Dave C. and Janet C., my Quisisana friends and a most unlikely couple; Fred L., aka “Doctor Dirt”; Clay R., my younger doppelganger; the Smalls, who lodged me in Bangor; the Bryants, who fed me, whenever I tutored their son; Mr. Bluestein, who stressed the value of a dollar; Peter W., who hired me as a Teacher Aide; Cheryl Q., who mentored me.

Places in the heart:  Bangor, Brewer and Etna,ME;

1977- High Point:  My brother, David’s, wedding.

Low Point:  Being evicted, on false pretenses, in the middle of February.

People in the heart:  Cheryl Q., Peter W., Greg F., Susan C., Grace P. and Evelyn L., who tried their best to be mentors and friends; Lucy and Ronnie R., who took me in from the dead of winter; John and Mary M., my cousin and his wife, who were always there for me; my eight unsettled, troubled and always worthwhile students, in the Behaviorally-Challenged class; my first and fourth-graders, that second year, who re-assured me that I could serve as a teacher.

Places in the heart:  Brewer, Etna, Vinalhaven and Fort Kent, ME; Fredericton and Edmundston, NB; Riviere Bleu and Lac Megantic, QB.

1978- High Point:  My sister, Cheryl’s, wedding.

Low Point:  Losing my temper on a school field trip to a museum.

People in the heart:  My friends and well-wishers at Etna-Dixmont School; my new supervisors at Villa School, Toltec, AZ; many of my students, at both schools; Mrs. Knox, my landlady, over the summer.

Places in the heart:  Bangor, Etna, Dexter and Kingfield, ME.; Mactaquac Park and Saint John, NB; Toltec, Casa Grande, Phoenix, Tucson and Grand Canyon, AZ; Amarillo; Chicago; Toledo.

1979- High Point:  My first solo visit to Mexico.

Low Point:  Encountering a dangerous sex offender, in the New Mexico desert.

People in the heart:  Lynda E., Patrick G., Bill K.,  John G.- my co-workers at Villa; the vast majority of my students; the two sisters who drove me from Little Rock to Albuquerque, without regard for my disheveled state; the majority of my fellow travelers, between Phoenix and Boston, and back; the young lady who gave me a ride from Grand Canyon to Las Vegas, in an empty tour bus, just for the sake of having company.

Places in the heart:   Casa Grande;Grand Canyon; Tucson; Puerto Penasco; Hermosillo; Ensenada; Woodfords and Bishop, CA;  Hodgenville and Mammoth Cave, KY.

This decade brought a lot of painful personal growth to my doorstep. There are many people from those days who, if they were never to see me again, it would be too soon.  There are others whom I miss, sorely.  The big lessons are that alcohol and autism are a  wicked combination.  Lack of even rudimentary social skills surfaced, at the worst possible times, though thankfully, it was all pretty much done by the time I moved to Arizona.  When a rough-edged former co-worker tried to nail me with  the label of “loser”, towards the end of 1979, his words fell on deaf ears.

The Eighties would be, by and large, awesome.