Tag Archives: Arcata

New Friends and Old Friends

Back in Arcata there were new friends. But also old ones.

Karen was someone I had met before I left. But it wasn’t until I came back we spent time together. When I left she was dating another friend. But now she was single. She’s a smart and attractive woman. There was an attraction from the first time we met. I recall meeting her at a party. But she was drunk. The music was loud. We didn’t talk much. While I was away I stayed in touch online.

Before I moved back I wondered if anything was possible. However back in town the relationship with Simone grew. Karen and I grew to be close friends. We chatted about life. And shared poetry. When I tried to start my own blog. She was the other person on the team. There was a good connection.

If I look back to my accounts online I could pin-point when I met Milk. I know where I met her. Sleeping in my car of course meant no internet. So I would use the wifi at the Co-op. I wasn’t the only person using the internet. One night a strangely attractive younger woman was at a table. On the table was a half gallon of milk. I posted online about her. Did she plan on drinking the whole thing. Milk is gross to me. I will eat cheese and ice cream. But I will not drink milk.

Later we were walking out together. I started talking to her. Like me she was living in her car. We spent more time together. Got to know each other more and became friends. Things weren’t going well with Simone when we met. And there was a spark of hope for a new person in my life. But the winds changed with Simone again. And as a result the spark died.

For a while Milk was sleeping in my car. I offered her the space since I worked at night. And it was bigger than her car. On most days I would get off work, and get my car. I’d drive and park and we’d sleep for a while. Later I would take her back to her car. But one morning Simone wanted me to come over after work. I felt a bit like a jerk, but I had to wake Milk up. I didn’t want to drive back from Simone’s and it was too far for her to walk. Besides I wasn’t keen on the idea of Simone knowing Milk was sleeping in my car. We weren’t having sex. But it just felt odd.

There was no spark but we were friends the rest of her stay. We lived together in a small house in Manilla for a while. It was the house of a friend of her’s. We were house-sitting. It was a neat little place, and close to the beach. But the bathroom didn’t work and I drove into town for my business. One day we tried to have a party, but no one showed up. Simone came and a friend of Milk’s came: that was all. But I miss this time period. Again things weren’t going well with Simone and Milk was a good friend to me.

And she was a good adventure pal. She tried to help me learn French. She tried to get me motivated to jog. We would go on road trips to the coast and visit small towns. On one trip we went on an impromptu run. I’m not sure how long the run was, but it felt like miles. We also visited the redwoods, and once I took her to run in a race. I didn’t run, I took a nap while she ran. Then we went to Gaberville and had lunch.

It wasn’t just women. An important male friend was Dave. He was in his 50s. A homeless man who didn’t look homeless. I’m not sure what was his exact arrangement. He didn’t go to the service center in town. Though he told me at one point he had gone. He walked every where and just spent his days about town. There were a number of times we talked. He told me about his medications one day. And we talked about women and loss, depression and aging. It made me feel better. There were some times during my stay in Arcata I had strong doubts about my future. I felt like a loser. I felt like I would always be a loser. Alone and broke with no prospects.

Writing for the local news paper I covered the homeless service center. Something I shouldn’t have done since I was a client. But no one knew I was sleeping in my car. No one, except staff at the service center, knew I had gotten a camping ticket. And they had helped me get it removed. I had to serve community service, which I did at the service center. In Arcata this place was a point of a lot of debate. Like many other communities which want to help people. But also feel like the same people are dirty and cause problems.

The director wasn’t always a friendly person. While I covered the center and was a client he told people he thought I was a spy. One time I was talking to him about a flier for a public meeting. The wording seemed vague to me and I was trying to understand. This upset him, and he hung up on me. A move which I later heard upset a few people on the board of directors. One of the workers at the center was John, also the director’s name, but this was a different John. He helped me in a couple ways. At one point he talked about buying a local paper and hiring me to work. But it never came to be.

As a reporter I believe I wrote some good stories about the service center. I spoke with a wide range of people. And at one point got a statement from a city official critical of the center. Something my editor told me no one had done before. But I also talked to students, community leaders. And a couple of my new friends on the board of directors. The push while I was there was to serve lunch again. When it had been served before it had caused problems. Part of the issue was the center’s location. One it was in a building owned by the city. Two it was located next to the bus depot. And bus drivers said the clients caused problems.

They were granted the right to serve lunch. But soon after I left the center was closed.

Wendy is the wife of a pastor who served on the board of directors. Her heart was so open and caring. It made her attractive in a way you wouldn’t expect for a married woman at her age. We got to know each other talking about the center. But also a few other issues in the public debate. The begging issue was one of these. A law to limit the activity was up for a vote. While writing about the issue I talked to Wendy. It passed.

Towards the end of my stay I moved in with Simone. She lived outside of town. And I spent less time working for the news paper. When it came time to leave. I didn’t feel like I was leaving many people. But at work I had a good friend. We worked together for over a year. And we talked, and spent many nights working the same shift. Toward the end a new guy was hired. He was a bit of a drunk and a douche. I remember my friend telling me before I even talk seriously about moving: “If you quit, I’m going to have to quit too.” I didn’t think he meant it. But I talked to him later and found out he did quit.

Working at CVS was great for a few reasons. We didn’t get much theft at night. But when we did, against policy, we chased them down. One night my co-worker chased a guy down the street and into an alley. The guy heavy guy running with beer stopped. My friend had the phone in one hand, and his pepper spray in the other. The police later told my friend they guy wasn’t heavy. It was all muscle. Another one of my co-workers packed a gun under his shirt at work.

But it was also crazy. One night a guy was giving my cashier a hard time. I went down and asked him to leave. He resisted. I kept asking him politely to leave. But he was getting more and more upset. Until he finally threw his change at me and left. Another guy I tried to get to leave the store because he was causing a scene. We had to call the police. I don’t think people understand how easy it is to get removed from a public store. As the supervisor though I was the captain of the row boat. On most nights it was me and maybe one other person.

Then I got the job in Colorado.

Being Back

So I was back in Arcata. But it wasn’t going to last. I would walk across the stage and then out of town. Well, plans change.

Simone was someone I knew before. As a fellow student I found her to be interesting, and attractive. But there were a lot of students. Few as interesting and attractive but I was moving. While in school I had focused on school. Then as it wound down I was looking outward.

And then I returned. We met again in the computer lab. She was working on a project. I helped her. We talked. And talked and then more. I was happy for a moment. At first we were friends.

When it came time to walk, she choose to go with me and the journalism students. She had two majors. Neither were journalism. It was her minor. But they let her. And we sat together. At this point I felt myself wanting to stay longer.

I got a temporary job at a local flower company. One of the hardest jobs I have ever worked. The flowers were dumped and fed through a spinning wheel. It tore the bulbs off. From there the flowers dropped onto a long conveyor belt. Higher and just in front of this belt was a second. But this one had a flexible range of perfect mountains. As the flowers traveled down the belt. Our job was to bunch them and place them in the valleys of the other belt. The bunches would go along and through a machine which wrapped a string around the stems. Then they were bagged. The last step was to put them in a bucket. A running count was always rolling above us on a reader. The line boss would be yelling. Faster and faster we would be working.

All of this was in a giant warehouse. On other lines the flowers weren’t the same. Or the bunches were not the same. A couple times we would be moved from line to line. But for the most part we spent all day on the same line. A couple times we even were sent outside to work in the fields. We didn’t do planting. And I don’t recall on what they had us work. The job was temporary to cover orders for Mother’s Day. A bunch had gotten hired. Each day after Mother’s Day was a new rumor. Some would get to stay. Then it would be about some being let go. It wasn’t long before I was let go from the job. And then I was staying.

Working with me at the job was a strange girl. She lived in Eureka. And she loved cheese burgers. It wasn’t a long drive to the hospital. So we would drive there on lunch and she would eat cheese burgers. I say we because she didn’t have a car. I drove her for lunch. But I also picked her up in the morning and dropped her off in Eureka. The job started early in the morning, 5 a.m. We got off in the afternoon.

She was a young girl. In her late teens and dealing with the first struggles of real life. I just wanted to help. There was someone I was becoming attached to during this time. It was Simone. On my one day off we would go on walks along the river. I’d never been to Blue Lake before. She showed me an amazing trail. It was the start of summer and a good time to be in love. A good time to be walking in the fresh air.

After the job at the flower farm didn’t work out I got a short-term job. It was something I was so sure would not last I filed “exempt” on my tax paperwork. It was in McKinleyville, and even though we weren’t talking while I worked at the store. Sometimes Simone would come in and say hello. The job itself wasn’t stressful. But I didn’t like the hours and I didn’t like my manager. She was difficult in many ways.

My shift overnight. And for most of it I worked alone. This was one of the biggest problems. Working alone isn’t great for me. But I would man the station. Which meant I sold gas, cigarettes and general store items. One task I hated was counting the cigarettes. A task unique to the job. But one I had to do each morning. Overnight I would try to stock the cooler between customers. Often it was slow after 2 a.m. But until then it was steady. There were no real breaks, or lunches. How can this be legal. There is a loophole for jobs where there isn’t someone to cover. But there was often enough of a break to eat and relax. Each night there was also a lot of cleaning.

There were a few regular customers. One would often bring a dog with him to the store. On the Fourth of July the dog came alone. Many animals are scared by the fireworks. Well he got into the store and I was trying to get him out. He bit me. Not a bad bite, just a nip because he was scared. Another funny story was one of my co-workers finding a counterfeit bill. I believe it was a $20. He insisted on calling the sheriff and turning it over. Which is the “right” thing to do, I guess. But in my experience most people would just return it. I don’t know it was worth the officer’s time to drive out and pick it up.

The area around the gas station reminded me of Silent Hill. While I know it is a video game. I never played the game, but I have watched the movie. There was often a dense fog. My life felt like it was in a dense fog. I was sleeping in my car at the time. Unsure about how long I wanted to stay in town. And unsure how long I would stay in town. If I had only known.

But after working there for a couple weeks I went back to my old job. We talked and they offered me a better job. So I agreed to go back to CVS. The hours were the same, but the pay and the work was better. This is when I started to feel like I would be back for a while. But not long enough to get a place. And I wasn’t making enough money for rent. Even as I moved to a full-time job as a night supervisor at CVS.

Eventually I started a blog to write about town. I had a couple people I could talk to about news. Also a friend of mine was going to help me. This wasn’t Simone, but Karen, also a journalism student. But she had gone to HSU before I started. She had already worked for a couple news papers. While the blog didn’t work out, I did get offered a free-lance gig from the local paper. The Arcata Eye was the local news source people loved to hate. The owner and editor was said to focus too much on pot crimes in the area. When A&E did a documentary named Pot City, they talked to him. And this made people unhappy.

While working at the newspaper a former HSU student I knew tried to mount a boycott. Not being direct friends, but a friend of a friend I found out about it early. I’m not sure I made the right choice looking back. But I alerted the editor about the page the student had made on Facebook. I guess it was about gaining some respect with the editor. But it was also about letting someone I thought of as a friend know someone was attempting them harm. I imagine if it had been the other way around I would have done much the same thing. Even though the student was less of a friend. News of the page spread to the small staff at the paper. Then it spread to local media types. Before long they had flooded the page turning it into a joke. This is why I regret my part in the site being known. I don’t believe it would have lasted or worked. It turns out others had tried a similar move in the past. But it did earn local media attention. Much of which focused on the fact the first people on the page were an editor of the paper itself. And in the end I guess the student was okay.

I knew people from living in town before. But Arcata this time also had a new batch of people. Milk was one of these people. Many were people I talked to as I worked for the paper. One person thought I was a spy. But most became new friends.

The Long Trip Home

In the next few weeks I crossed much of the west. From North Dakota. Down to Arizona. And west to California.

News was breaking and I wanted to see. In North Dakota the river was flooding. So I made my way there to write a story. When I got there I spoke with some local news teams. I had hoped to write something freelance. But it didn’t work out. Being a new reporter I imagined things would come to me in a way I soon discovered was wrong.

I did get a Labor Ready job though. It was with the city of Moorehead. Inside a large warehouse I helped stack sandbags to be delivered. I worked with the city for a number of days. At the end they suggested I apply for a job. It was a good area. An area I could see myself going back to live. But not at the time.

The flooding had caused havoc along a long part of the river. This was the Red River of the North. Not to be confused with the one along northern Texas border. This one runs north along the Dakotas and Minnesota. This being one of the flattest parts of the country. When the river flooded, it spread out fast.

While I was in Fargo I slept in my car. There was an all-night coffee shop. It had free wifi, so this is where I used the internet. In general Fargo was a friendly college town.

While in the area I took a side trip into Minnesota. The Mississippi River begins not far from Fargo. And I wanted to see the headwaters of the great river. To see its humble origin. By this time I had given up on writing a news story. And my Labor Ready job was winding down. It looked like it would be time for me to leave soon. I couldn’t be so close and not make the trip.

Finding the birth place of the river was easy. Up a small paved path from a parking lot was a small lake. The outflow of this lake was maybe 15 feet wide. But if you dropped a twig in it, the twig could float all the way to the ocean. It would go down the longest river in the country. When you think of how important the river is to our nation. And how long, and wide it becomes. It enters the world in a obscure park, when I was there there were few visitors.

After this short trip I started back west. I wanted to make a stop at Mount Rushmore. I’d been there before. But I wanted to see it again. It was a bit of a race against time. To get there before it got dark. But I made it, speeding across the Dakotas. There isn’t much to see in these states. But seeing Mount Rushmore is an experience. And I saw the monument to Crazy Horse off in the distance and fog while driving. But it was dark, and the park was closed.

After stopping in Wyoming I started back for California. I had graduated but hadn’t done a ceremony. Since I had free time I wanted to be there to walk with my friends. When I got back to Arcata I thought I would stay for the week. But then I got a short-term job and fell in love in a long-term way. So plans changed.

There was an adventure along my path back to Arcata. From Wyoming I drove south to Boulder. It is such a magical place for me. I spent a couple days in town. And I hiked to the top of the Flat Irons. I didn’t plan on staying in town. Though I always think about staying every time I visit. One day I may move to Boulder and stay to live for a while. But this wasn’t the time to think about such a move. In the past I’d taken the northern route from Boulder to California. This time I took the southern route.

It went through the high mountains, and along route 70. I drove right through Vail, a place where I would soon be living. Though I didn’t know it at the time. I got off the freeway and drove along the route I drove many times later in my life. The mountains are amazing, still covered in snow at the tops. I couldn’t have gone to Yellowstone on this trip because of the weather. But the road through the Rockies was clear.

Moving out of Colorado into Utah I found an amazing landscape. There are few words to really tell people what it looked like in front of me. It looked like an alien landscape. It was orange. The rolling land was broken by deep canyons. The colour made me feel like I was on another planet. Like Mars, but it wasn’t red. The ground had little life. Looking around I couldn’t imagine I was still on earth. It was beautiful in a way which I’d never imagined. I had no clue such a place even existed. All my trips through Utah were in the north. And it has its own beauty. But it is flat and grey, and white. Nothing like the striking deep colours of the San Rafael Reef. This magical place was formed under the ground. After being pushed to the surface it was eroded by many floods. These formed the deep canyons and mesas of the area.

Coming west my goal was Arcata. But I had yet another short adventure.

I went to visit my family in Stockton. I’d talked to mother about a trip to see my brother in Arizona. I asked if she could afford to pay for the gas, and I would drive. We took the route through the desert of Nevada. Because I love Nevada. Even though I got a speeding ticket on this trip. It was a smooth drive down. We stopped for the night a couple hours from Phoenix. It was a cheap little hotel in a small town. The bed was comfy enough for me to sleep. Even if the towels didn’t match each other. Mother pointed this fact out.

Once in Phoenix we spent a couple days with my brother. This was the first time in a number of years I’d seen my brother. He was well. We took a hike on one of the mountains in town. But it was hot there, and Mother wanted to return. On the drive back we stopped at the Grand Canyon. I’d also been here a couple years before with my father. I wasn’t sure if Mother had seen the canyon. Either way it seemed like a waste to drive so near and not stop.

The good news about the return trip was I didn’t get a tickets. Some of those small towns have slow speed limits. But we also made a stop in Reno on the way home. Mother’s sisters live there – and yes I know they are my aunts. But I don’t know them at all. So, they are my mother’s sisters. After visiting for a couple hours we made our way home. We drove along the scenic Lake Tahoe.

After leaving Mother in Stockton I made my way home to Arcata. I think we may have many homes in this world. If this is true, my heart will always be at home in Arcata. And Santa Cruz, Yosemite, Boulder.

Like I said. My plan was to walk in the ceremony. Then leave town. And yes my plans got turned around and I stayed for about two years.

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.

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.

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.

Dante

Dante came into my life when I lived in Portland. It was the first time I lived there. I used his name on a dateline. A phone number you called to meet singles. I didn’t think much about it. And I only met two people.

One of them however became friends with a friend of mine. She shared the name with him. And he started using it. I didn’t have much of a relationship with Dante. For years it stayed this way.

When we traveled across the county. I used the name Dante all the way across. Meeting the women in Upstate New York, I was Dante. It was there I got the addition of Prince.

We had planned to go to a festival. Before hand I hand been singing a song. One of the lines way about going to the festival, “and dancing with the prince.” When the time came I went with the girls. And my friend stayed to watch a movie. Dancing at the festival, they figured I must be the prince.

Over time I started to get to know him better. And when I worked at Silver Lake I borrowed his identity again. At the camp everyone called me Dante. It was fun to think of myself as Dante. And not Chris.

I think there has always been a dark draw to Dante. Something about him made me come closer. His name invoked the story of Dante’s journey through hell. And later through heaven. I remember a quote about having to go through hell. And then you find your treasure. It is about struggle. About going deep. But also understanding our wounds. Loving our shadow.

I don’t believe in sin. And it has been years since I have believed. We don’t sin against God. But we fail ourselves. The only crime is failing to love ourselves. And the punishment is not being loved by ourselves. We hold the key to our own chains.

Dante was a recluse. A lover of knowledge and poetry. Not a person happy at parties. Unless he could hide in the corner. There was a very secret part of him. A part which wanted to be invisible. Just to watch the world. And not be a part. But he loved getting to know people one on one. Hearing about their lives and stories.

In Yosemite I got to know Dante better. But at the same time Dante hid away deeper. It wasn’t a name I spoke often. When doing art of writing, I spent time with Dante. But it was always alone. No one else in Yosemite knew Dante. I was growing. And Dante was growing. We spent a lot of time together hiking.

He was still creative. Still a dreamer. It was his dreams which helped me fall in love with the girls in New York. Laura whom I lived with for a few months. And Shaylyn whom I saw rarely.

In Yosemite I decided I wanted to be a writer. And I choose to go into the news business. I do like news. But it was for the writing. One of the first stories I recall being acutely aware of was Scott Peterson. On my blog I gave a lot of space to Dante. But when I left, I almost left him behind. Which is sad because he was part of the reason I want to be a writer.

Working and going to school in Stockton took a heavy toll. I didn’t have time for friends. And I didn’t have time for Dante. There were a few paintings. And a couple times I took photo walks. But Dante wasn’t a part of my life. He would become less a part of my life for the next few years.

It isn’t because I didn’t value his energy. Or because I wasn’t pulled to be alone. But because I ignored those things. And I ignored his needs. Dante is a loyal friend, like Lilith. But things were strained with both of them during this time. All I had time for was me. Run to work, to school, to sleep, to work, to school. Run all the time. Well I had a bike.

Dante may be loyal. But has wanted to die a number of times. Alone, but not alone.

The one exception to all this is my roommate in Arcata. When I met her online I used Dante’s name. And she still calls me Dante to this day. There was a part of herself which touched him. And it would appear a part of him touched her. Could they not be alone anymore. But she wasn’t making time for Dante either. And I pushed him away after moving to a new place. He didn’t feel like a friend. He felt more like a shadow.

My first online identity was TheSanePoet. A name I still use online often. But when I first got Facebook I used the name Dante. It was a way to be honest. But to lie at the same time. Dante wanted people to know him. But also wanted people to know nothing.

His desire was different than Lilith. Less about fear. More about presenting the perfect image. A perfectionist artist. I would be his work of art. There was only one way to turn me into this work of art: control everything. I could share anything I wanted. But the way I shared was important to Dante.

While living in Portland the second time I used the name rarely. M didn’t like it. Because I did love Dante so much. And because I loved M so much it isn’t a surprise they have the same middle name: Rose.

A rose is about a passion. Maybe a passion for life. Or for a person. Or truth or love or the passion for words. These ideas were becoming more important to me. It was while living in Portland this time I started my real art career. I’ve created little over the years. Most of what of it in those years. Dante inspired me as an artist. There was a world of feeling he could touch. But I could not.

I know this is all over the place. But this is the nature of Dante. He isn’t like me. I’m going back even further for the next part of this tale.

Living in Santa Cruz I met an amazing woman. At the beach one day she told me I was a Pleiadian. This is an alien race. But I think she was wrong. What she was seeing was behavior I had learned from Dante. He was the being from another world. A number of years later I started to pin Pleiades to his name to make this point. A point he was aware of, but didn’t discuss. A point he seemed not to care enough about to argue for or against.

If other people know Dante, they may use a different name. But as of now I refer to him as Prince Dante Rose Pleiades. And I still use his name online. He doesn’t like Facebook.

It is interesting Dante is more passive than Lilith. But as friends I know they both look out for me. Dante shares dark secrets with Lilith. Things they will not even share with me.

But Dante is more optimistic. When I first was getting to know him, he wore a skirt. These were the good years. We were good friends. He believed in the world. Thought life could and should be better for all. He pushed me to get out much more than I do now. Maybe because getting out is my own hell. One he knew I needed to experience.

I believe he still wants to wear a skirt. And if I allowed him, he would.

Now me and Dante are getting to know each other again. Like lovers parted for long years. I am writing again, which is creative. This makes Dante happy. My dream of being an artist is being re-awakened. Dante is a part of this dream. I can’t write or be an artist without his help. But still no one else knows him. It is only online I share anything about him. And I don’t allow many people from real life to know me online.

We are growing together in the last couple years. And it has been good for both of us.