Expectations. That’s what it really all comes down to, right?

Here’s how it goes in America. Imagine you are 25 years old and living in the U.S. You went to college right out of high school. You couldn’t afford to attend college but then again, who could? You received some money from your parents, worked a little (or a lot) while in school but mostly paid for college with loans. Four to six years’ worth of loans. On average, you’ll be buried beneath $20,000 dollars worth of debt the day you graduate from college. Congratulations. That’s 50% more debt than you would have graduated with just 10 years ago (adjustments for inflation accounted for).

Take this same principle of going into massive debt just to try and get an education and apply it to everything that is the “American Dream”. You want a house? Car of your own? Good job? Marriage and a family? Good luck. The American dream is dying one defaulted home loan at a time.

And here’s where it gets tough. Try talking to your parents about how hard it is to get by in America and they are likely to scoff. Things were tough when they were your age, that’s what they’re sure to say. And while your parents may have had it rough, they never had it this bad.

Ok, so enough with all of the numbers and percentages. I hate numbers. Numbers have a way of dehumanizing the situation.

This is not meant to be a “woe is us” post. Societies rise and fall (as do the governments that rule over them). This reality is as much a part of history as it is a part of our daily lives. To hear our parents tell of what it was like growing up in America is the same as to hear our grandparents tell of what it was like growing up during the Great Depression. It’s history and there is much to be learned from it. But it’s important to realize and keep in mind that it is History with a capitol H. Life will not (and cannot) happen exactly the same way twice. The way your parents lived is not the way you will live; no matter how much they think it should be so.

For me, the importance of what I do with the time I am given hinges less upon who’s expectations I am living up to and more upon what expectations I have for the time I am living in.

I am not my parents, nor my grandparents who came before them. And while their stories will surely live on within me, influencing the actions and decisions I make, my story will not be theirs, and theirs will not be mine.

Perhaps it’s time for a new dream.



"The frantic, stressful striving going on all around us indicates that we are profoundly lost. We seem unable to ask with any seriousness or depth the question of what all our striving is ultimately for."

~ Norman Wirzba


Where To From Here...

It’s all up in the air. It always is with me. Sometimes I feel like a cowboy in an old Western, even if that’s not what I'm shooting for. There’s this one scene in “The Magnificent Seven” (truly a great Western film) where all the gun slingers are gathered in a village. They are defending this little Mexican town from a group of roving banditos. So all the hired guns are sitting around sharing the various hardships of being a cowboy and one of the cowboys speaks a line that resonates deep within me:

“Rented rooms you’ve lived in - five hundred! Meals you eat in hash houses - a thousand! Home - none! Wife - none! Kids... none! Prospects - zero.”

Sounds depressing, don’t it? But no, I'm not trying to live the life of a cowboy. Not trying to live like a gypsy or a nomad or Kerouac and the Beat Generation nor the Hippies that came after them. No, this isn’t how I'm trying to live my life. How I am trying to live is much more difficult for me to explain, much more difficult to formulate into coherent sentences grouped together to make paragraphs that might eventually go on to become a story you might want to read or perhaps even be a part of.

I'm not there yet, wherever there may be. The storyline that is my life is still a sketch, still just an outline. I catch glimpses, every now and then, of what might be to come. But nothing holds water; at least not for very long.

And this is beyond difficult. This time in life is hard. Some say I should just give up and give in. But what, exactly, am I supposed to give up on and give in to?

But listen, I mean you must understand that I do not hate my life, quite the opposite in fact. I choose how I live. Not many people can say that about their lives. I'm beholden to no one, which at times has its advantages and disadvantages. I live simply. No debt. Not much to speak of in the way of material wealth. I have a family that loves me deeply. I have friends that love me deeply as well. I can pick up and leave at the drop of a hat, and sometimes I do.

Then there’s the loneliness. You’ll often hear people romanticize the kind of life I'm living. Hell, you’ll even catch me romanticizing it more often than not. But most skim over this constant companion of loneliness that often stays close by us on our journey. It takes time, energy, and a constant supply of curiosity to meet new people, make new friends, share of your self in the same genuine manner that you hope others will share of themselves with you. I find community; get my “community fix”, in small doses these days.

It’s not like it was just a few years ago when community on an almost consistent basis surrounded me. It’s hard to go from being a missionary surrounded by others who shared at least some semblance of a common goal to being relatively alone with your thoughts, finding folks that “get” you only every so often and even then not nearly as often as you might hope.

And this is the thing about wandering, the thing about journeying that I am only beginning to understand. This loneliness, this acute awareness of never really being understood, this is one of the truest things about me. The beauty of the wanderer is that he begins to understand and perhaps eventually accept that loneliness is not something to be rid of but rather something to embrace and live within.

Don’t ask me where these thoughts came from. I just got lonely and started writing.

I’ll leave you with this fine tune (Arthur McBride) performed by Paul Brady back in 1977. A good story sung well has buoyed me through many a long, lonely day.


The Beginning.

Looking to take a ferry to Alaska? This is where you begin. The Fairhaven ferry terminal, the southern most stop on the Alaska Marine Highway System. This port also happens to be at the bottom of the hill from where I live. Who knows, perhaps one day I'll be on that ferry, headed north to the future.


Nostos Ou Topos

“San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. But no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant. It was madness in any direction, at any hour you could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right. That we were winning…that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of old and evil. Not in any mean or military sense, we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. We had all the momentum. We were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave.”

The above is an excerpt from Hunter S. Thompson’s novel, “Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas”. I was reminded of this beautiful passage from Hunters journal last night while watching a documentary about him entitled “Gonzo”.

I must have been 18 or 19 when I first watched the Johnny Depp version of “Fear and Loathing”. I remember how strange that film seemed to me then (and how strange it still appears to this day). But I also remember the above passage, and how when it was first read chills ran down my spine, tears stinging the corner of my eyes. I was arrested by the nostalgic utopia and wonder of it all. These things have always arrested me.

Isabel Fonseca, the author of “Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey”, had this to say about nostalgia for utopia:

Nostos is the Greek for “a return home”; the Gypsies have no home, and, perhaps uniquely among peoples, they have no dream of a homeland. Utopia-ou topos-means “no place.” Nostalgia for utopia: a return home to no place.”

This became the fate of those children of the Sixties. This nostalgic longing for a Utopian dream that they were sure really happened. They were there, they saw it, they were it. Peace and love were real and tangible beings, not just some cheap bumper stickers, slogans on a t-shirt or fridge magnets.

And then the wave crashed. It wasn’t that the vision of the Sixties was so unrealistic that it surely couldn’t sustain itself. It was that the children of the Sixties, with all their “flower power” and flowing dresses, had a vision beyond this world. A vision this world was not ready for; may never be ready for.

And in many ways those who refuse to give up this vision long after the Sixties have come and gone are beset by a similar fate as that of the Gypsies: a deep and discernible longing for a place and time that, try as they may, they can never return to.


Last Night

I left the party. Left the warmth, the light, the subdued buzz of bodies gathered around the kitchen table sharing stories late into the night. I began my walk and was quickly overwhelmed by the stinging wind whipping against my parka. I pushed through the wind and over Sehome hill (well, sort of around rather then over). What kind of folks walked these sidewalks tonight?

A couple, dressed for an occasion not befitting their midnight stroll, clung tightly to each other as the chill evening blew right through them, irregardless of improper garb and dress.

Friday night in this sleepy college town saw only a handful of cars inhabiting the roadways. Stoplights stayed green or red, the traffic patterns electronically set for a quiet car less night in the dead of winter. But this winter night was anything but dead. It was one descriptive verb after another but definitely not dead.

I passed Joes Gardens, the rows turned over in anticipation of the spring plant. The rows would have to wait. Spring was still a few months away. Further down the road whirring lights rushed by me, alternating reds and blues warning all of danger! More lights up ahead, sedentary and forming a giant peace symbol. ‘Twas the season for peace. I wished for four seasons instead of just one.

The cops cruised by, flashing a spotlight as they passed. One turned around, drove by me again. No doubt suspicious of me and the time of night I chose to propel this bag of bones through the wind and darkness. What dark deeds might I be up to?

Fairhaven came and went. One empty intersection with papers blowing across its motor less expanse. The bridge delivered me safely, as it had for many who came before, across the ravine and over the stream to the other side of town. The hill to home came in sight and I watched the fluorescent lights of the city clash with the reflective glow of a hidden but almost full moon.

The night ended, or began, with a tug of the door into my apartment, heat cascading from within. This was the last walk home. Or at least the last walk home until I chose to wander away again.



This cat, the fat one I call Gato (the one my mother calls Cinderella) lays about, caged like the stupid animal she is. She used to be free. Used to have free reign of the house, inside and out. But then the errant shit began to materialize, first in the tub and eventually on my mother’s side of the bed. The bed she shares with my father. That was the final straw, the straw that doomed this spiteful animal to the outdoors, the “indoors” being seen only through the metal wires of a 2 by 2 cage.

Stupid Gato.

But enough about the cat. Enough! I’ve been needing to write something, everything, anything. The inner perfectionist (the one I despise) requires absolutely the right mood, inside and out. The sky must be just the right shade of grey, the silence the right kind of silence, the rain just so. If I could, and perhaps one day I will, say fuck the grey, fuck the silence and fuck the rain I would. But I'm not there yet. The muse is fickle. It wanders away, takes to the road, takes to the hills, takes to the sky or the sea or anywhere else but where I happen to be.

Then I go quiet, my voice goes on a journey and leaves me behind, speechless and dumb. There’s no guaranteed time of return, no day on a calendar to denote it’s possible homecoming (do muses even have homes to come to?). But then I leave as well, searching for I don’t know what. The muse? A home? A place where I can be myself or no one at all?

The clock ticks out a loud 3:45. Not the dark, brooding 3:45 of the early morning hours. No, this is the dull, grey 3:45 of a wet afternoon in the south. Just a few days into the new year and I'm already tired of it. Where is 2010, 2011, 2012? They’re on their way and will be here sooner then I hoped they would be.

That’s the thing about the future; it either too early or too late.

But here is the present, right on time and boring as hell. That clock is driving me insane.



A lot.