Category Archives: Novel

People of Humboldt

My years at Humboldt were full of people. Some of them I recall well. Others I have slim memories of now.

Before I lived with Rose, she had lived with Heather. And I met her through Rose. She was also a student and cute. No cute is not the right word, she was hot. But I got to know her over the time I was in Arcata and we became friends. It was through her I got to know other circus people. Heather and the Humboldt Circus crew were fun in the way I always wanted to be fun. But could never allow myself.

Another woman from the circus was Aryana. She was also beautiful. Like Heather she was creative and fun. They seemed to emit joy. Like the sun shines and stars twinkle. Just a part of their nature. I’d never known people who were so natural and happy. Later as part of the circus crew I met and got to know Teri. For a brief moment I had a crush on her. But she was younger, and had a boyfriend. But we are all still friends, on Facebook at least.

Following the circus path. There was Shea Free Love. When I think of him I think of his work in town. He did shows at the Farmers’ Market. And while he worked with many of the Circus Club students. He had graduated soon after I arrived on campus. Another magical man in the Arcata performer family was Shantaram. I met him on campus talking to Tony Snow. I was amazed by his card tricks. He lived in Arcata and owned a business.

Moving along from the circus to the other circus on campus. Tony Snow had been the student body president. I believe it was in 2006. Later I talked to him about his term. He said I didn’t understand the events. So I will just say it wasn’t an easy time for him. But Tony is a great person. The kind of person who has a charm. It makes him a natural people person. And in my opinion gives him a strong potential in politics. As a student covering campus government I was lost. Many times he helped me to understand.

A good friend of his was Noelle. I was supposed to talk to her for my CASA story. But in the end I had more sources than I needed. But I did work with her on a number of campus governance stories. And for a short time after graduating we were friends. I feel like I made a mistake with her. Well, maybe mistake isn’t the right word. We take many paths through life. And when we look back it is easy to think how another would be better. But we don’t know. For a moment there appeared to be a path for us. But I was scared. When I was working on the paper she was in campus politics. One of the sane voices on campus. She also helped me a lot to understand events and players.

At the end of my first year on campus there was a big election mess. Jason had been put on the ballot. But right before the election it had been declared he couldn’t hold office. Doubts were raised. Some wanted a new election. But this wasn’t affordable. Jason was someone I respected. But I often didn’t agree with him. He was a friendly person. Just on many issues we held different views. He was the person with the 9-11 Truth signs. The one pushing for pot to be legal. Early in the summer he took a trip to Boston. I’m not going to pretend to know what happened on the plane. But he made national news when he was arrested. Police claim he put stickers in the bathroom. And he wore a shirt comparing Bush to Hitler. He was flying out of Boston. The same airport as three of the 9-11 airplanes. In the end I believe in Jason. The world needs people like Jason. People not afraid to stand up and say what they believe. Because he may or may not be crazy. But sometimes the crazy people get things right. They can see things our sane minds do not.

The person who won the election was Sofia. A woman of classic beauty. I found her deeply attractive at once. Over the summer we talked. And I had a huge crush on her, for a moment. We sat in my apartment and talked until the sun came up. She is a very smart woman: she will do much with her life. But her time in office wasn’t easy either. After it got started things began to calm. We remained friends through the semester. And stayed in touch about events. Once she shared a bit of info about a reporter at a meeting. I asked him about it later. He was always confused how I even knew. But I didn’t cover her time in office. I never told anyone we were friends, and clearly couldn’t say I had a crush on her. But I stayed away to be honest and fair. Like Tony, Sofia has a magical charm.

One person not in student government was Jerilyn. She was an odd one for Humboldt. A supporter of Sarah Palin. She came to my notice my second year on the paper. Her group has posted a memorial to the troops. It was in the library and soon a counter was posted by Jason. I loved her for having a strong spirit. You had to be strong to be at Humboldt and not be liberal. She was also a pretty woman. We talked a few times about politics. And she always made sense. Though I don’t know I always agreed with her. She was another of the people I knew was going some place in life. Now I wish I could call her and discuss events.

And lastly but not leastly was Crystal. She was another of the amazing women in student governance. I don’t recall her exact role. But I know we talked a lot. She was close friends with Noelle. I always liked her for being bold. We were all students on campus. But at times it felt like they were already on their path. And I was just watching and hoping to find mine. Crystal is one I remember for her smile. Her courage and her work for the campus.

I think I could write a whole book about my Facebook friends. It would be 180 chapters long. Of course some chapters would be longer. But there is no space to write about all the people who touched me. And I know I’ve missed people. If I missed you in this short chapter I am sorry.

A whole group of Friends in one person (Chapter 2)

She danced from one room to the next. Picking up a dress. Then putting down a shoe. Sitting down for a moment. The desk in front of her covered in make-up. Her laptop open with a new song. She was writing her life. And creating herself every day.

Jane was an artist. Her work was in demand. A show on Broadway ended last week. Now she sat far away in London. This was the life she dreamed about as a child. She would put on her best dress. Then sing to her parents. And sometimes she would sing at church.

Picking up lip stick she puckered her lips. Thick and red the color went on her lips. She smiled to make sure it wasn’t on her teeth. Today was not a day for having lipstick on her teeth. Her cellphone rattled in her bag. But she didn’t notice.

Today was her the first day she would rehearse with Elton John. They were working together on a show for charity. She was a Gemini, so while she wanted to help others. Details were not her thing. Which group was the charity for? She knew and she didn’t remember. But Elton had told her it was a good cause.

There were many charity shows she did over the years. And at times she wondered about where the money went. She didn’t want to end up like Cat Stephens. He couldn’t even fly into the U.S. anymore.

Looking up at the mirror she checked her progress. Then down she looked at the song. The words were coming along one at a time. Like reluctant children. You know in the end they will come. But you just wish they could be more behaved. The words just didn’t want to listen to her. They fought her. And she pushed back into the void against them.

Her pen was stuck between her teeth. With a firm focus she searched for the next word. But she knew it was a problem. Like trying to fall asleep. The more you try the harder it is. She needed a moment away. And her phone started to flash and vibrate again. This time she picked up the call.

“Charles,” she answered.

“Jane,” he said. “What will I do?”

Being in the theater Jane knew about drama. But no one did drama like her brother. Once he called about a snow storm. Where would he find three months worth of food he asked her. He misunderstood the news. It was a three day storm. And they said it would be a cold winter. He flew into a panic.

She looked at her watch. The party didn’t start for two hours. But now she wanted an excuse to get off the phone already. She loved her dear brother. He was the eternal support in her play growing up. When ever she needed a leading man. Or someone to play a horse. Or anything she asked of him. But in some ways he had never grown up himself. And while she was about the world with her own play. He stayed at the family home with his old toys.

“How’s the old car running?” she asked.

“I started it last night,” he offered. “But, I didn’t drive it so it wouldn’t get wet. It might rain today. The weather man said there was a chance.”

It was the driest month of the year, August. But she figured it wasn’t worth the discussion. If he didn’t want to drive, it was okay with her. But she still felt like it would be a step which would help him get off the farm. A step she felt like he needed. Her life was so full of life. And their other sister was so on the edge. But Charles waited like a hurt puppy about his feeding dish.

“Listen Charles…” she started. But it was too late. The finger had been pulled from the dike. Now the ocean was flooding in on her. She could hear his tears through the phone. He was sobbing in a deep stress.

“You don’t have time?” he whispered.

“No… I mean yes,” she vacillated. “What dear brother is the problem?”

The “dear brother” came out sarcastic and she felt it. But, he never listened to the tone of her words. And he didn’t today.

“They’re going to get dust on my cattle,” Charles blurted into the phone.

“Wait, our cattle?” her tone changed to alarm. She may mock the farm and her brother. But it supported her lifestyle in no small degree. Even the powerful attorney sister needed the resources of the farm at times.

“My cattle,” Charles firmly stated. For the last five years he was the only family member on the farm. So he felt like the livestock were his. He would share the income, but they were his.

“Yes, Charles,” she relented. “Tell me the story.”

Over the next three hours she tried to stay awake. But it wasn’t clear what the weather last week had to do with the neighbors. And what was this about the county commissioners. She listened with the polite yeses and nos until he stopped crying. Now she was late for the party.

“Have you called New York,” she tried to push him off on their other sister. The ram of the family.

But just listening was calming to Charles. He was breathing normal. He could form his words without sounding like a drunk. And it was time for Jane to let him go. It was late where he was and she was late.

“I have a party to go to Charles,” Jane inserted into the discussion. “One of the princes are going to be there.”

“You always understand me Jane,” Charles emoted. “Thank you for listening.”

But she hadn’t listened, and now she felt bad. She explained to her brother neither of the princes of England could help him. Then wished him a goodnight’s rest.

Charles sat down. Put the phone down on the cradle. It was nearly dead now. And he was exhausted. It wasn’t like him to spend hours on the phone. However, he felt like his very life was in danger. They’ll get dust on my cattle, he thought to himself. Walking into the kitchen for a glass of water.

Jane rushed to the party which was just starting.

“Am I late dears,” she asked strolling through the door. She imagined it to be fashionable late.

“Late,” a friend replied. “You are like a whole group of friends in one person. We could never really start the party without you.”

Humboldt Journalism

I spent two and a half years at Humboldt. Starting in the fall and ending in the fall. Looking back now there is so much I have forgot. And so many people I remember. I am still close to many of my fellow students. Most of those in the journalism program. But I connected with a lot of other people at college.

In my first semester I met a great teacher. She is¬†Marcy Burstiner. My first class with her was on media. But it wasn’t from the inside. But an outside look at media. It was more about media theory. Marshall McLuhan and his ideas of media were taught. But I wasn’t supposed to be in the class. It wasn’t a class for journalism students. Marcy told me this later in the class. But it was fun.

It is the journalism classes I recall the most. The first publication I worked on was The Osprey. The student magazine. For this class we each had an article. Humboldt is a liberal campus. My topic was other ideas on campus. What was it like to not be a liberal. Conservatives are rare on many campuses. So, how do they feel? It is a topic I choose because I am not liberal. Maybe not conservative either. I was going through a change on campus. Becoming more center right then I used to be.

I remember my editor. In my mind she was so hot. But she was also friendly and helpful. The class met like others at school. We would get together discuss the magazine and work on stories. Towards the end of the class we started layout. Students did it all from start to finish. They even sold ads. But most only had one story in the magazine. And not everyone did the same share of work. It was a good introduction to the process. The next step was the student paper. Unlike the Osprey it was put out each week.

My first time on The Lumberjack was fun. My editor is one of the coolest people I know. But there are few stories I recall from the first year. But there are two which made an impact on me.

One was about a local woman’s business. To be honest I had known her before. And thought she was interesting. And cute. So, when I wanted to do a story about her. It was also about getting to know her better. The story went well, and we are still friends. Her business was designing clothes. But she is a deeply creative and fun person.

The other story was kind of a lark. It was a wet day like many in Humboldt. My mood was down and I felt like I was not doing well with the paper. I’d gone to a local art event and was walking around. A local non-profit was at part of the event. CASA, is about helping kids. It stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. What they do is provide someone to speak for children in court. Many of the kids are in families with problems. Some are abused. But in some cases the parents are ending a marriage. The group speaks for the kids.

I talked to them for a few moments. Then I went home. It wasn’t until later I thought of a story. It may have been one of my better stories. I contacted the group. They were interested. It was a hard story is some ways. Not just the topic, but getting information wasn’t easy. But I talked to volunteers. And I even talked to a former child of the program. It was a cover story and set the tone of an issue. It also got me the attention of a soon to be editor.

The next semester on the paper I was the managing editor. A role I wasn’t sure of at first. There were many questions. Could I perform the job was one. But what was the job was another. The editor-in-chief said she liked my CASA story. But also how I had gone out and got the story. This was a fun time for me on the paper. And in some ways the height of my career as a journalist. I had spent the summer in town. And got to know some of the campus power players. As much as you can call them power players. They saw themselves as being power players. But also I got involved in the issues of campus a little. The politics of student government.

I found out about the job before the summer. And over the summer I put some work into creating a work flow process. One change I brought to the paper was using Google Docs. I was a Google Fan Boy for sure. But it made the whole process easier. It meant copies were not emailed around. Then edited and emailed around more. There was one copy and everyone could access it.

One issue I covered was the structure of some campus bodies. At the time few seemed to understand. And I tried to make it clear. Which wasn’t always a success. But in the process I came to know many of the staff with authority. One person I recall was Paul Mann. The media contact for the school. And I remember one time in his office. He was on the phone with someone and told them, “I have to go I’m with a reporter.” He could have just said he was with a student. It made me feel good. But I also went around Paul at times. Because as the media contact, it seemed he didn’t know much at times. So I would go and talk directly to other people on campus. A practice I found out later was discouraged. But it worked for me. And people seemed comfortable talking to me.

One of the first stories of the semester I wrote with my editor-in-chief. We interviewed the University President. He was a person hated by some on campus. Not just by students who disagreed with him. But there was also a split among the staff. While I could see why people would dis-like him. From my view he cared about students. And he wanted the best for the campus.

But there were many fun stories I did for the paper. A couple big names came to campus. And I got to talk to a few of them on the phone. Tegan and Sara was an example. And I got a free CD, and went to the show. It was a great show. And if I hadn’t been a fan before. I would have been after. But I also talked to a member of Cowboy Junkies. A band I still love. Like Tegan and Sara I was a fan before.

It was a busy semester for me. Besides working on The Lumberjack I was involved in a website for travel stories. And I was the Editor-in-Chief of the alumni newsletter. It was a productive time for me. I was working, going to class, involved on campus. This meant I was busy most of the time. But I had no social life. Which was okay. I also didn’t have time for depression. Except over the summers which were hard times for me.

But my proudest moment from college was the debate. The town of Arcata was having an election. And many students were bound to be voters. So I worked with each of the six candidates and the student radio station to set up a debate on campus. Due to previous problems one of the campus had banned one of the candidates. But with the help of a friend, a judge allowed him on campus for the debate. I remember asking a friend to meet the man. And to make sure police didn’t try to block his access. The debate itself was a success. And I got to know people in the community. Before the debate I talked to all six. And I put together a small story on each of them. I am sure this helped me later.

Leaving Humboldt I felt better about my career than I have since. I had worked online, in print and done video. I felt sure about where I was going. And sure about my life choice. But my first job changed a lot, and not in a good way.

What I haven’t talked about is the other people from Humboldt. And I guess I’ll need a new chapter. Because there was a lot of them. This is when I first met Simone. But I didn’t get to know her until later.

Dust on My Cattle: An Involuntary treatise on Government (Chapter I)

It was an office of a powerful woman. At the top of the tallest building in town. She stared out the window. The people below her lived in her shadow. The king and the king maker. Her whole live she had wanted this one moment. Victory.
Grown men were known to huddle in fear.

When she started to read in Kindergarten. There was a drive in her soul deeper than anything else. This drive pushed her through the years like jet fuel. A pumping sensation in her heart. Her brother was two years older. Even at a young age though she felt protective of him.

Now she had the power to protect anyone. Or destroy anyone. With a snap of her fingers. And she was only 25 years old. Single and full of ambition. She’d never met a man who could handle her. The thrill lasted for an hour. The sex lasted less than a minute. The next morning came empty and alone. Morning after morning through the college years. And now she just gave up.

In school she was called The Ram. As single in focus as a bullet. And hard headed like a hammer. It was a fire inside which made her alive. It was a fire which burned all in its path. The fire was sometimes of lust. And maybe someday it would be a fire of romance. But the only love she had now was her brother.

Five years ago their parents had died. If there was a moment when she felt lost. It was alone in the moment she got the news. But soon it was a shared moment. As one by one the news spread. Like a mold. And one by one they came to her. But as much as they came to support her. They knew and she knew they needed her. Much more than she needed them. She was the child who slept all night as a baby. But she didn’t sleep for nights after she got the news.

And he brother was a wreck. He still lived in the family home. It was now his home. While she could live there, it was too full of the family. And she wasn’t in the family. Her brother broke when told of the deaths. He fell into so many pieces she wondered if he would ever be whole again. It took him three years to be able to live without the nurse.

But today the sky was full of sunshine. Looking down at the city she was happy. It lay around her office like a set of toys. And today was the biggest day of her career. It was the case which would put her in the history books. Sitting at her desk. With a glass of cherry juice in hand, she relaxed. It had taken almost a year.

The case isn’t a part of our story. But I want to share the details anyways. The case was against the biggest bank in town. It was run by the mayor’s brother. His name was Leo, and he had cheated his investors, attempted murder and bribed a city councilmember. Her role was representing over 500,000 investors. This was the biggest case of the year. The biggest case in the state. And brought her not just fame but a slate of new friends. And today is was over. As the phone rang she imagined herself on Necker Island.

“Salut,” she answered hitting the speaker phone button. It was her brother.

“Good job on your case,” he said. “I wanted to call and let you know mom and dad would be proud.”

But she didn’t really care about mom and dad. They grew up in a farm house. A small dusty farm house and they would have been proud of many things. This was a success they couldn’t understand. She had taken on this case alone. Many men had feared to handle it.

“Thank you dear Charles,” she spoke. Most people called him Charlie. But she loved to call him Charles. Most people also didn’t take him seriously. He was an artist and working on his first book of poetry. Alone on the family farm back in Montana.

She had another sister who was touring in Europe. A singer, musician and like Charles a poet. At times it seemed odd how the three of them were so different. Her brother was known as the bull. And while it was partly an unkind jab at his weight. It fit his loyal and strong personality. Their sister was like two people in one. With a love of fashion and art. People called her the third Olsen twin.

“I’d like to come visit you,” Charles stated.

“I’d really love to see you,” she started, “sorry I have to go the governor is on the other line.”

With the phone still in one hand. Charles stood alone on his ranch. The couch hit sat on was his mother’s. And the chair where his father sat. Still sat unmoved all these years. Outside the window he watched the rain roll into the small valley. He didn’t drive. But he couldn’t come to sell their car. Raindrops one by one washed dust from the windows. He looked down at the phone. He loved his sister. But wished she hadn’t moved so far away.

He picked up a sandwich with his other hand. Deep in thought about up coming events he still had the phone. His sister would know how to solve the problem. She had always known how to solve the problem. And this one would be no different. But he had to talk to her in person. So first he must try and gather himself. Get together enough focus to buy a plane ticket. Then take a nap.

Arcata

Moving to Arcata felt like a bold change. But it was daring and fun. The last time I had made such a move was 1998. I didn’t know anyone in Arcata. And in 1998 when I moved to Portland I knew no one. But at least I had school. And soon I hoped to find a job.

I remember the first days of orientation. When I am in a new group of people I do a set of things. One is I try not to talk about myself. I’ve had bad reactions from new people. Maybe bad isn’t the right term. But when people find you’ve traveled they treat you different. There is an idea you might be different.

I guess one example would be when I went home to the mountains. This was a few years before I moved to Arcata. I was with Mother and at her friend’s house. I’d been listening and paying attention passively. But at some point her friend said, “I guess you think you’re special since you’ve been to all these places.” This has never been true. I’ve never gone anywhere which made me a different person. Never lived anywhere which changed me. Even Yosemite. I’d always been a person who loved nature. And this part of myself grew while in the park. But it wasn’t a change.

So, I try to avoid myself as a topic. Besides I am much more curious about others. And you only find out about others if you listen. This relates to the problem above. If people feel like you are different they may not want to share. They may feel like you’ve seen so much and you don’t want to listen. But this isn’t true for me. I love to listen to the stories people tell. This is one of the things I love the most about news.

The only person I recall from orientation a cute girl named Monique. She was an odd one though. We are still friends today. Her role was to help new people get to know the school. And the help them feel comfortable. She did her role well. I always felt comfortable with her. During my years at Humboldt we were good friends. And I miss talking to her often. But she was set in her ways. We didn’t live far apart and I recall a debate about the best way to walk to school. Well, there was her way and the wrong way. I usually took the wrong way. But if I wanted to walk with her I had to take her way. Maybe I was set in my ideas too. Soon after I met her, she laid out a plan for her life. The age of her wedding was set. The ages of her first and second children also set. And I smiled. Because it was perfect. And she found out life isn’t perfect. Thinking about her now I wonder if I took her friendship at the time for granted. I’ve done this before.

The experience of school will be a chapter of its own. But I loved my time at Humboldt State.

Living with Rose was curious. And while she was an amazing woman, it didn’t last. After a couple months events pushed us apart. I was focused on classes and work. While there was a point I had thought we could be more than friends. Many things were happening which made it feel like it wasn’t an option. The apartment we rented was from a management company. So when it came time to move I called and asked what they had to rent. Looking for places in Arcata isn’t easy. Like many college towns there are few places and many faces. In the end I posted an ad looking for a roommate. I knew the company would rent to me if I could find a roommate. It worked. And I moved to a new apartment. Rose and I stayed friends and spent time together after I moved. But she was dealing with her own issues at the time. We are still friends today.

The new apartment was a better place. It was closer to school and work. We moved in during the winter. My roommate got a job at the same store I worked at in town. It was one of the local health food stores. Working at Wildberries was something I enjoyed. In an odd way, the only job I can compare it too is working at Walmart. I worked hard, I was dependable and I did a good job. Until things changed and they let me go. In the future I’ll talk more about work. But while some of it was an immature attitude on my part. It is also true I believe I had real concerns. The biggest of which was my own health. And losing the job cost me dearly. But in the end it was better for me. The next job I took was with Long’s Drugs. It is a funny story because they were hiring for overnights. And I applied for the job. But before I got it I went in to talk to them. I’d told them I changed my mind because of the shift. I didn’t think I could do school and over-nights. They told me they’d hire me anyway.

The town of Arcata is a neat place. It took me a while to get into the community. But it is one of the places I wish I could be forever. While I lived there I never owned a car. While there are buses. It is also small enough to walk basically everywhere. At the center of the town is The Plaza. Around the plaza was a couple bars where locals and students drank. In the years I lived in Arcata I went into the bars less than ten times.

But having lived in Yosemite it was the parks I loved. It has a community forest with miles of trails. And some of my first memories are of hiking in the woods. I did this often for the years I lived in Arcata. But there was also a marsh. It sat along side the bay, and just south of town. Both the marsh and the forest were within walking distance of the center of town. I did a lot of walking. Most of it alone.

I got the job at Wildberries soon after getting to Arcata. It was the summer, and one year later I lost the job. It didn’t help my roommate also moved out during the summer. I guess I am a poor roommate. Because my next roommate also moved out over the summer. Though in her case it was in part due to wanting to live with a boyfriend. They had met and I allowed him to stay with us. But I didn’t date anyone in Arcata. There was one date with a girl. But it felt so awkward. Women make me feel more and more awkward the older I get. After the first date we didn’t even talk. Another woman told me we wouldn’t be a good match because of my blog at the time. I was going through a time when I focused on celebrity gossip a lot. I remember the day Lindsay Lohan crashed her car. I spent the whole day online reading and blogging. Looking back I feel it was silly. But also a silly reason to not even want to meet someone. I also miss being so active with news and blogging. Even if it was just celebrity news and gossip.

There wasn’t much of a break between the two times I lived in Arcata. But the tone of each period was different. During the first period I was in school. I was focused and working and had little time or concern for much else. There were moments when I was deeply lonely. Even though I had good people around me. It is part of my nature not to be open with people. And I think this makes it harder for me to create bonds with others. The kind of bonds where you call someone just to talk about a bad day. It was school and work which kept me moving. And distracted.

Most of the friends I have on Facebook are from this time. Mostly because I this is when I got on the site. It had been the case before where you had to use a real name. And until recently I’ve never used my real name online. I had been using the internet for years. Even since I was at Bethany. And the common practice on most sites was to use a handle – not a real name. I also think college is a unique space. One easy for friendship. And Humboldt is a small college.

I’ve now been on Facebook for a number of years. And have added more friends. A good number from my first years in college. And I have only un-friended four people. Three of them being people who were too close to me. One was a pervert.

When it came time to leave Arcata I gave away most of my things. I had bought the car I still own. Moving to Wyoming would be a big move. Taking a lot of stuff with me wasn’t an option. I packed as much as I could into the car. Then after making a stop in Stockton and Santa Cruz left the state. The car was a rolling brick.

The Long Trip to Arcata

The move from Stockton turned out to be an adventure.

My first plan was to rent a van. This is how I moved out of Yosemite and it worked well. I did have a little more stuff. But it should be okay. Then I recalled my friend LJ had a van. A nice van with lots of room. I thought he would like the trip. And he would want to help me. When I asked him, he accepted.

But then it came time to move. He had traded his big van in for a smaller VW van. I was doubtful. But he believed it would work. And with a small amount of effort we crammed it all inside. And we hit the road. I didn’t know the way very well. The route I took, and never took again, was north through most of the valley. My logic was it would be faster to drive in the valley. And we had no problems. After Redding we started over the mountains. As we climbed the hills in the overloaded van. We started to have problems. At first the engine was getting hot. We would stop and let it cool. Then we started going again. But then it died all together. The last spot was in a parking lot in Weaverville.

This was still about two hours from Arcata. But I felt like it was close. So I started asking people for a ride. Eventually I ran into a guy who said he ran the local cab company. His first plan was to get as much stuff in his SUV and leave the rest until later. Then he came up with a better plan. He had a free-tow on his AAA card. I paid him, and he allowed me to use the tow to have the van (and my stuff) towed to Arcata. It was a life saver. And LJ just hitch-hiked back to Stockton.

Of course it wasn’t so easy. We waited and waited for hours. It got to the point he was going to invite me to spend the night at his house. Then the truck arrived. It was late and it was dark. But I was on my way to my new life again. I rode in the cab of the truck and we headed west.

Then more problems. While driving the tow truck was having problems with its lights. The driver pulled over and called his dispatch. He couldn’t get his lights on. This was a problem because it was dark. But also driving along a rural two-lane road you need lights for others to see you. Stuck again. The driver and his dispatch couldn’t solve the problem. They sent out a second tow truck. My friend’s van, and my stuff, was moved from the first to the ground. Then re-loaded on the second. After a short pause I was on my way again.

Finally in the wee hours of the morning we pulled into Arcata. After locating my new apartment the driver dropped off the van. It was late, all I could think was to sleep. The door was open so I went and slept on the couch.

The next day I moved into the new room. This was my first time actually meeting Amy. She is a pretty woman with a friendly smile.

The van stayed in the lot for a couple weeks. I talked to LJ about his plans for the van. It wouldn’t run until repaired. Eventually the property management company said it had to be moved. I called LJ and he said he’d contacted a garage in town. I’m not sure who called the tow truck, or who paid. But I know it wasn’t me. Later the garage called me about the van. I gave them my friend’s information. And I called him again.

In the end I don’t know what happened to the van. I would see it on the street by the garage for months. Then it got moved inside their gate. But it still sat there until it disappeared all together. Well, I never saw it again. And I felt bad because if LJ hadn’t helped me move he wouldn’t have lost his van. And it is probable he did lose the van. Like myself and many others he was living on a tight budget. With an unknown amount of repair work needed, and a astronomical tow bill to have to moved to Stockton. In the end the costs probably were too much.

A word in my defense though. If he’d had the small van from the start I never would have asked for his help. And I had my doubts and expressed them before the trip. He took the risk with an awareness of the danger. And besides I didn’t have time to feel too bad. I was starting off with a brand new friend of a roommate. I was in a new town, in an amazing part of the state. Soon I would be starting at a new school.There were lots of new things in my life. What I didn’t have yet and needed was a new job.

A short Chapter

When I left New York City I went to Pennsylvania. I had a friend from a gathering there. But I didn’t stay long. She is an amazing person. The person who told me about the effins. What are effins you ask.

Well, they are imps. They aren’t evil per se. But they cause problems. They go out into the world and just create havoc. And they are created every time someone uses the F-word. Just saying the word creates an effin. And you never know what nature of crime it will commit.

There was a small part of myself which though I might stay longer. A part wanted to be more than friends. But it was clear this wasn’t an option. And also clear she didn’t plan on my being there for long. But it was good to see her. Maybe there was a reason I believed things would be different. But I do not recall now.

From there I went to Alabama. I had a friend from college who lived in Huntsville. She was having problems with her husband. And needed a friend. Again I wasn’t there long, maybe a week or two. I do recall working at Labor Ready while in Alabama.

One site I worked at was a construction site. Which is typical for Labor Ready jobs. The one I remember most was in a kitchen. There were a couple of us on the job. I was working hard, but some of the other guys were slacking. And then in one moment I knew this would not be a repeat job.

One of the guys was pushing a stack of plastic racks. The racks were full of glasses. He wasn’t being careful and tried pushing it over a small crack on the floor. The whole stack fell over and several of the glasses broke.

I spent hours downloading music from Napster. It has just come out and was the big thing. The crime of it wasn’t clear at the time. At least not to me. Now being more of a content creator I understand better. I also have learned how bad it is for our market system.

The friend from Alabama was someone who went to Bethany after I left. But we became friends – and almost more. At two separate times we almost had sex. Once was in the back seat of her car. But it was so cramped. It was uncomfortable. I was not feeling the moment. The second time was in her bed. And we stopped because we didn’t have protection. At times I wonder about that moment. If we’d had sex. How would our lives be different today. If we had a child. If we had gotten closer. But now she is lost to me. I haven’t seen or heard from her since the visit to Alabama. When I think about her I feel alone.

The whole trip back was by bus. After Alabama I rode the bus across Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. I recall thinking for a long time. Could I count Texas as I state I visited. Even though I was on the bus the whole time. This of course became less of an issue after I lived in Texas.

The bus took me back to Stockton. From there I returned to my second year working at Camp Silver Lake.

New York City

The idea of going to New York City was my friends. Come visit she said. When I left, she told me: I never had someone visit for three months.

I had just left my first year working in Silver Lake. With some of my money I bought a bus ticket. I arrived in the city just a month after Sept. 11. The whole city was still on edge. I met my friends at the bus station. The giant Port Authority Building.

While I was in the city I was one of a group living in a small studio. For most of the time I slept on a small couch. The friend who invited me was a part of a larger group. They were dreamers. And they were artists. The type of people who bring the city to life. My friend worked at a framing shop in Manhattan. She is an amazing artist.

One of my earliest memories was going shopping. I purchased food for myself and the rest. When I got to town my spirits were high. But the weather, problems with my friends, and just life got me down. In general it was a hard time for me. And not for any reason except myself. And depression.

These were friends I had met years before. When I met I felt like we were on the same page. But here I felt out of place. The larger group was one I didn’t connect with on a real level. They were all friendly. It wasn’t them. It was me. I felt different. While there I read Bill Gates’ book. When talking to one of the studio-mates I asked, “would you let Bill Gates join your group?” Based on his book, he sounded like a dreamer too. Now, granted in some ways the dreams were different. But I believed, and still do, all dreams come from a place of value. The answer was, no. The reason was, “he would try and take over.” But, you don’t know – he might not.

One of the group was pushing me to drink. Just one he would say. Just one, just one, just one. I would always say no. He made me feel uncomfortable because of this. And I had the strong impression he just didn’t like me. When I spent time with my friend alone I was okay. And there were a few of her friends I got on with too. I’ve never been a drinker, I wasn’t into looking for a party. And I don’t mean this to have a moral tone. There were times living in New York City I wished I was more like the rest of the group. But I wasn’t. And it didn’t feel right when I tried to pretend. When alone with my friend I drank some wine. I trusted her.

I didn’t trust her friend. It is easier to say no one the first drink. What I feared was he would push me to drink one, then two, and three. But my family has a history of alcoholism. And it just isn’t what I want for myself. It isn’t what I believe you need to have fun.

I love my friend dearly. But his pressure and the tone of the group made me feel alone. The more so because I wanted to be a part. Which is rare for me. I felt like this was were I belonged. But I didn’t feel like I fit in. So, I felt like there was something wrong with me. I started to grow away from the group and do my own thing. And it didn’t feel to me like anyone cared. I know this isn’t fair. And was a symptom of the depression.

Right now it is almost 2 a.m. A fitting time to write about New York City. I don’t recall sleeping much. What I do remember was being out all times of the night. There was a 24 hour internet cafe near Times Square. They had an odd price scheme. The price adjusted according to demand. In the middle of the night demand was low. The price was low. This was one of the places I spent a lot of time. I was there on New Years’ Eve.

But I also went to the library in Brooklyn a couple times. My friend lived in the Clinton Hill neighborhood. And I worked at Labor Ready.

I got to know the city working with Labor Ready. You have to find your way to the job sites. The people I worked with were good people. Though they loved to try and have extra hours written on the time card. I never tried it myself, but gained some cash from their efforts. I worked a few moving jobs in the city.

There was one I recall. We went on break and I left my coat, with wallet and money in the apartment. When we came back it was sealed by the Sheriff. The person was being evicted. It gave me a good scare, but I did get my things.

Before I got to the city Labor Ready workers had been at Ground Zero. But rumor was there had been theft. Also the nature of the clean-up was moving away from casual labor needs.

Another job I recall was tearing down a fire damaged building. But we were taking it down one board at a time. It was a bad job. The plan was having trash barrels loaded up with debris. Just the regular kind you buy at the store. Then there were dragged down the stairs. Five flights of stairs to the bottom. Outside a large dumpster was waiting for the buckets where the buckets were dumped. I was on the job for about a week I believe. And it drove me to the point of exhaustion. In the end they asked me to be removed. But I didn’t care, I’d had enough.

Working at Labor Ready at the time took some timing. It also took being a good worker. I was given good jobs because I did a good job. But I also got to the office an hour before they opened. The opening time was 6 a.m. But it wasn’t uncommon to find a line at 5 a.m. Sometimes I didn’t sleep, often I slept little. I am sure this was a factor in my depression.

One time I was riding the subway. I fell asleep and missed my stop. Okay, this happened a couple times. But this time I got off the subway, got on the train going back. I fell asleep and missed it again. I was tired most of the time I was in the city. Once at the studio someone came to pick up something. He wasn’t trusted and I tried to stay awake to keep an eye on him. But I couldn’t. I just couldn’t stay awake.

After New Years’ Eve I took a short trip to Glens Falls. The last time I was there to see friends. It was early 2002. When I came back I didn’t stay long. I saved some money, bought a bus ticket and started home. But I had a few stops to make along the way.

When I first got to the city it was all strange. My friend and I had a discussion about the closest subway stop to her house. She was a little upset I questioned her answer. By the time I left I knew the subways well enough to help others. One day I walked through the maze of the Times Square – Port Authority complex of subway stations without getting lost. It was a shock. I told my friend about the experience. While in the city I spent a fair amount of time just walking around. Manhattan mostly because it felt safer. And the grid is pretty basic. A couple night I walked around Times Square. And sometimes during the day.

I told my friend Times Square was a funny place. Because of its location in the city, and the county. It would be easy to do something and be in the national spotlight. You were at the white hot focus of attention. But at the same time there are so many lights. Even at night it is bright like day. And there are almost always crowds walking around. So the average person would be totally ignored. There was something which drew me to Times Square.

I went to Ground Zero once while in the city. It wasn’t where I was trying to go at the time. It was the only time I rode the city bus too. My normal mode of transit was walking and the subway. But while looking for Greenwich Village I ended up at the site. A friend I met there said he was always lost in the city after the attack. Since they were the tallest buildings in the city. He knew once he located them, which way was south. Now they were gone. I wasn’t impressed deeply by the site.

There was an art show which touched me. It was a collection of photos. Personal photos which had been shared. Many were of the skyline before and after the attacks. There were a wide range of images. They showed the way common people were touched by the events. My friend told me she went to the roof of her building and could see the buildings fall.

One other place I spent time was Central Park. There are a lot of neat little corners. One I liked was the Turtle Pond. I explored a good deal of the park while living in the city. And on one occasion did some walking along the Hudson River. I had seen the city as a boy. On a trip with my father we had taken a tour around the island on a boat. But being back I wanted to see more of the city. It felt like an experience I wanted to soak in as much as possible.

Maybe someday I will go back to the city. I am closer to family in New York now. I should take a trip to see them soon. When I left the city I wanted to visit friends. And then go home.

Stockton People

I moved for college. But I could have gone anywhere. I moved to Stockton for family. There was an idea in my mind. We would spend time together. And we would get to know each other. Be closer. It didn’t workout.

I did spend some time with my sister. I know once we went to my favorite coffee shop. It is almost a chapter in itself. But I was busy with school. My sister was busy with her own life. There is no blame. This is just how things turned out. Rather, I am sure what blame there is, is mine.

In my apartment complex I knew no one. There was a neighbor who had problems. I never called the landlord or the police. But one night someone else did. My apartment was over the carport. You could see in the window a little. One of the neighbor’s friends did once mention: “I always wondered who lived there.”

Then again I was rarely home.

At school I made a few friends. There was a woman I was attracted to in one of my classes. We even went out to coffee. But I think she was younger. And she clearly didn’t seem interested. Over time we just stopped talking to each other. Like so many other people in my life. It wasn’t a choice, but it happened by itself. There were a couple others I would talk to when I saw them on campus. But we weren’t friends. But when I wasn’t in class I wasn’t on campus.

At the tax job I worked mostly alone. Though I did get to know the couple who ran the office. There were some friendly women working in the office too. And we got along well. But not in a deep or lasting way. Once the job ended I never heard from any of them again. Except for the couple. A few years later I went back and had them do my taxes again.

The woman who hired me at the gas station job was odd. It wasn’t her only job. As a result she didn’t need to cash her pay checks. But I can talking to her. Once I used the word “tome” and another time “epistle.” She had told me before how she was so smart. It was the only reason I would use those words. I thought if she didn’t know what they meant, she’d like to know. She didn’t know, and didn’t want to know. And got upset. She was one of the people who know everything. If you agree with her your smart. If you don’t then your wrong and dumb. She never had much respect for the owner. And while there were things he did which were wrong. He did start several businesses in his life. And I’ve never even started one.

There was a younger man who worked there for a while. He did things his own way. Sometimes he knew the right way, and just didn’t care. But he was just young and still growing. He had a lovely girl friend and a child. At some point he got a better job as a painter. He just quit without notice. The owner said whoever hired him wasn’t smart. Because if he quit one job without notice, he would quit another the same way. But I hope things turned out for him.

After he quit the woman quit sometime later. She cashed all her checks and caused the owner a little problems. I am sure it wasn’t as bad as she had hoped. But after she left a Pakistani man worked with me. He was funny. Once I joked about putting my head in the oven. “No, no… don’t do this, it isn’t funny,” he said. And I thought how funny you think I could kill myself like in an electric oven. The doors wouldn’t close with my head in the way. And surely it would take a long time to do any damage. But he was always there, and a good worker. At this point I was doing most of the cleaning. He would give me a ride home.

For a while a woman worked at the store. I had no interest in her. But her sister came around sometimes and we flirted. Then one night I took her to my place. I may have made too much of a point about it not being serious. She was a nice girl. And the attraction was mutual. But I knew I’d be soon leaving town. Her sister had already quit working at the store at this point. And afterward I didn’t see either one of them again. It was a lesson.

The next person I worked with was Asian. He would say, “I’m not racist.” But he was. When he talked about black people he said they were thieves. You can’t trust them, he explained. Maybe he didn’t understand what being racist meant. I got along okay with him at work. We covered for each other. But he wasn’t someone I liked. When he dropped his phone in the toilet – I told him to turn it on. Even though I was pretty sure it was the wrong thing to do. He had to replace his phone.

Once someone brought in a fake $10 bill. After we found it in the drawer we got scared. Getting rid of it seemed like the only solution. Otherwise the owner would be angry. So, when a couple came in arguing he gave them the bill in their change. The couple left. About 10 minutes later they came back. The guy tried to buy something with the bill. My co-worker had the guts to tell him we couldn’t take the bill because it was fake. But the guy forgot who had given him the bill.

Towards the end of my time working there I cleaned less. The owner hired a Filipino man to clean. He wasn’t here legally. A fact I discovered when he gave me a ride home one night. At the store he was a good worker. Focused and hard working. He looked Hispanic so a lot of people tried to talk to him in Spanish. But he didn’t know the language. Some would get upset. I’d explain he was from the Philippines. One night he was giving me a ride home. We stopped at a red light. A cop car was at the signal to our right. I made a joke about not running the red light. Then he did run the red light. We got pulled over and he didn’t have any papers. The police let him go, but said I would have to drive. I drove to my place and then he drove home.

But all this is just school and work. While in Stockton I found a cute little coffee shop. And there was a cute girl there too. A couple of them to be honest. But one I had my eye on more than the others. A small group of us would hang out at the coffee shop. One of the guys I had known while living with my mother. He had lived downstairs from her apartment. At the coffee shop we hung out. I took a lot of pictures. It was about this time I got a good camera and started taking a lot of photos. Camera phones weren’t common at the time. Taking selfies had not become a national past-time. I still have those photos.

The girl lived down the street. She was younger than me. At times I thought there might be a potential. A couple times we went to her house. She lived with her father. Once I kissed her on the cheek. But then we spent less time together. I was wrong about the potential. And it was okay. It was a bit disappointing for me. But I wasn’t planning on staying in town long.

In my experience there are moments which bring people together. They form bonds and groups. Small networks of people and relationships. But then the moment passes and people drift away. When I got to know these friends it was summer. I had more free time. Then school came and we all had different priorities. One of the girls went to my college. When I saw her around campus we would spend some time together. But age does make a difference.

The name of the coffee shop was Lola’s. It is closed now. A good friend of mine came to visit one night. We went to the coffee shop. We had also spent time together in Boulder. While in Boulder we were often at a place named Lolita’s. She mentioned the odd fact.

One of the oddest friends I had in Stockton was LJ. He would come to my job at first. And it was okay to chat with him at work. At work I feel like I am a different person. I put on my friendly customer service face. But there is some security there, because they are just customers. But one day he called me on my cellphone. One of my co-workers had given him the number. And at first I was pissed. It was a stupid thing for him to do. But me and LJ did become good friends. He was gay and hoped I was gay too. Not the first and not the last time. But I told him I wasn’t and he respected me.

Well one time he saw a photo of me. I was laying on the grass. The camera was over my face when I had taken the image. Like someone looking down on me. He told me this was what he had always wanted to see. Kind of crossing the line, but he never pushed things beyond flirting. Thinking back I am sure being a black gay man in Stockton was an odd existence. When I moved out of Stockton he helped me move – and lost his van in the process. This is a story for later.

There were a few other people I knew from the gas station. A lady who worked for the police department in dispatch. She came in every night for iced tea. This was a perfect example of the customer service me relating to someone. And there was a girl who talked to me. She seemed to take a fancy to me. We got together outside of work once. But it went poorly. I don’t recall the details. But she wasn’t the kind of person I felt with which I had much in common.

When I left Stockton, I left them all behind. I tried to keep in touch with LJ, but it didn’t work out for long. Once settled in Arcata I was busy again. And we never really got very close. There are few people in my life I have gotten very close to, including family.

Stockton

When I left Yosemite I was down. It was a dark time for me. A lonely time. I felt broken. And like a small bird forced to fly before it was ready. But I took my broken wings and learned to fly. I’d like to say I learned to live so free. But I learned to live in fear.

I hated the way the job ended in Yosemite. And being pushed out with no net. In a way I have been running from this moment ever since. I have focused hard on always having a job. On working hard. I hate looking for work. And the idea of being out of work again scares me. There have been a couple times I have been unemployed since. And I’ve took the first thing I could find. Actually working at Walmart was not the first thing I could find. I worked at Labor Ready for months. Walmart was a calculated choice.

I remember while moving listening to news of the tsunami in Asia. In a way it helped me to see my life wasn’t so bad. I had packed all my things. I rented a van and drove it to Stockton. I had the van for the weekend and thought I would need to find a storage unit. But I didn’t.

I looked up ads. While in a gas station I asked if they were hiring. The woman told me to come back the next day. I called about an apartment. And I called on a second job. Then I applied for school. It was something you could do online.

On Sunday I interviewed for the job, and was hired. Then I got the second job as well. I recall talking to the woman about the apartment. She said it was impressive I was able to find work so fast, and enroll in school. I think it helped me to get the apartment. It was one of the best places I have lived. It wasn’t all too expensive either. Though I don’t recall the rent.

So much to cover and where to start. Well the apartment was a studio. But it had a decent sized kitchen and bathroom. The bedroom was a fair size, for me. I had much less then. It was in a small two-story complex. All the doors opened into a courtyard in the middle. Two locked gates controlled access to the courtyard.

One of the funnier things which happened at this apartment involved my rug. It was old and dirty and I kept it just outside my door. But this was inside the courtyard, behind the locked gates. One day I went outside and it was gone. There wasn’t really any place to look. And I was short on time. So I rushed on my way to class. While riding my bike to school though I saw a figure sleeping on a bench wrapped in my rug. I figured someone must be pretty desperate to sleep in a rolled up rug. On my way back from class I found it on the bench and took it home.

The community college in town was one of the best times of my life. When I had been in school before I failed. Well, I passed, but just barely. And I had never enjoyed school. Even during my time at Bethany it wasn’t a joy. But this time it was a joy. And I was doing great. The teachers were great. The students were great. And it was sad for me to have to leave when I graduated. I always felt like I wanted to complete my education at San Joaquin Delta Community College. But I couldn’t. I was there three semesters. The first was the best in many ways.

It was at Delta I had the first math class I really enjoyed. The teacher just explained it all in a way my mind understood. For the first time in my life I liked math. And he gave me advice I didn’t take and still regret. He told me the next class I should take was Calculus. But I was scared and took Statistics. A bad choice. Another teacher at the school I enjoyed taught Health. She also taught some other life classes. I took as many as I could from her. It wasn’t the subject. She was just a great teacher. The kind of teacher I would like to be someday.

My day always started early with class. I had to rush out the door. After class the first year I worked with a tax preparation company. My job was simple. Dress as Uncle Sam or the Statue of Liberty and dance around for a couple hours with a sign. I would listen to music and dance and wave the sign. It wasn’t a great job. But it was a job and the people running it were good people. I rode my bike, and at first didn’t lock it up. But towards the end of my time there it got stolen. I had to buy another bike. I had saved money from Yosemite, but it was a lot of money wasted.

The second bike was also stolen actually. I had it parked in front of my sister’s house. It was on the porch, away from the street. I don’t know you could even see it from the street. But it was stolen. I still think it was one of her ex-husband’s friend’s who stole the bike. Then I was riding an older bike I got from a friend. It lasted for a while, but wasn’t great. Once while rushing to work I managed to wreck it and flip over the handle bars.

I went home and tried to get ready for work. But my wrist started to hurt. Being a guy about the pain, I tried it ignore it. But it was throbbing worse and worse. Finally I called my sister and asked her to take my to the hospital. It felt like it was broken. At the hospital I couldn’t sign papers. I couldn’t do much. But my sister was helping me. “It makes me feel like a diva,” I told her.

My wrist was put in a wrap. Riding a bike was out of the question for a while. Then when I could ride I still didn’t. I was a bit scared. At some point my bike disappeared again. But I didn’t care.

The job at the tax company was a good job. It was part-time of course. The ride from home to school was 1.5 miles. From school to the first job was about three miles. From home to school was north, and from school to work was north. But between the jobs I turned around and went over five miles south. I worked at a gas station in Downtown Stockton.

The gas station job was paying me well enough. But the owner could be a real ass sometimes. There are so many stories I could tell. Once he was yelling at me and a co-worker about something. A man walked out with a fountain drink. “Did he pay for that,” the owner yelled. We looked at each other and both said, “yes.” Later I asked my co-worker if the man had bought the drink. He didn’t know and neither did I. But we agreed if we had admitted it, the owner would just yell more. The owner used to pump his gas for free. Now, I understand this could be illegal. But he may have adjusted the costs in the backroom in a way to make it legal. One day he was on his way to the bank. Pulling out of the driveway he ran out of gas.

Maybe the biggest episode was a guy who paid for his gas and forgot to pump it. He came back and the gas had been pumped. It was $20. I called the owner, who was upstairs. His first response was to make sure I didn’t tell them he was upstairs. Then said don’t give him anything. The man was upset and wanted to talk to the owner. But I told him he wasn’t available. This went on for some time and I called the owner again. He could hear everything. He knew the scene going on, and again he told me not to let the man know he was upstairs. Eventually the man left the store. After the man left me and my co-worker were talking about it and mentioned the owner was upstairs. Then when he walked out of the store I heard someone say, “he really was upstairs.” The whole thing bugged my not because he was right or wrong. But because he was such a coward. First of all I would have come down and dealt with the problem myself. But I also would have been inclined to give him the gas. It could have been a scam, but it didn’t feel like one. And sometimes you have to take a loss to keep up appearances.

The job was simple really. Turn pumps on and off from a board inside. We made coffee drinks, some iced drinks and some sandwiches. Then of course there was the cleaning. When I started I had to mop the whole store. It was a real chore to get it all done. And I never really got done on time. But I worked hard. Later he hired another man to do the cleaning.

But I did prove the owner wrong once. It was a drink we made. For some reason the size of the cup had changed. We had been shown to fill the cup to a line. But when the size changed this wasn’t the right amount. One day he came down and told me I was doing it wrong. So I measured out the amount I was supposed to add. He agreed it was the right amount. And I put it in the cup and I was right.

It was just a gas station job but it was stressful. We didn’t sell alcohol, which made me happy. People would come in, scan the coolers, look confused, and scan again. Then I’d just tell them, “we don’t sell alcohol.” The owner had a business before, and it made him sad to see people lining up to buy alcohol at 6 a.m. He could also be a good man.

The woman I talked to when I got hired was strange. She had a second job and didn’t need the money from the gas station job. So she never cashed her pay checks. She told me she was doing it to screw over the owner. I bet your confused to how this hurts the owner. But I was confused to how someone could be so petty and vindictive. When she left the job after several months she took all the checks and cashed them at once. This of course emptied the owners account.

I stayed at the gas station job until I left for university. After I left someone broke into the store. The owner watched the video obsessively and finally saw a way to catch the man. But in the end the owner went out of business and I hear he got a divorce. I never liked the man, but it still made me sad. He was trying his best like we all are, and he did give me a good paying job. When I was leaving he told me when I was a success I could look back on working at the gas station. He was a part of the success. I think it gave him some pride and he was right.

Most of the time I was in Stockton I was moving. In fact there weren’t many moments I had free. But after my first semester there was some time. During the summer I didn’t take classes, so there were more. The last day I was in Stockton was odd. School was done, and I had quit my job to move. I had nothing to do, no pressing obligations. And then I moved. The move itself turned into an adventure for another story.