My distraction are lonely people

Today's adventures have me encounter two homeless men. Not uncommon in Portland to meet up with people on the streets who call it their home, I just happen to stop and talk to two of them today.

The first I'll call Red Beard. I guess his beard was blondish. Kind of like mine when I grow it out, but mine comes in darker. He had a green hood covering his head as most hood's do, but it was an undergarmet to his coat. His pants were slightly stained and his Nike's looked in pretty good shape. He was pushing a bike. I knew he was a street person because we were in Powell Park, the park voted mostly likely to have an empty bottle of gin in the grass. It was morning, before ten I think but don't know for sure because I had left my timepiece (cell phone) at home, but I think it was because I had to walk my dog and get some school work done early in the day. I had snoozed for about an hour longer than I should have, and needed to complete the part of a group project that I had put off far too long (until the last possible hour). I think I work better under pressure, but at the same time have a hard time determining what I can fit into to that time continum that can get done and can get done well, which is so much fucking better. Bill Gates is in my head reminding me of the one thing he learned at Harvard, "Don't procrastinate." I'm not listening. But I'm trying to listen to this bum. I know he's a bum, despite his clothing -- being sort of clean and all -- because, as mentioned, it's before ten and he's got a brown bag, which wraps around a forty oounce bottle of what I imagine being a malt beverage. He extends his arm my direction and asks me if I'd like a pull, which I refuse and then consider myself rude for doing. Is it rude to refuse an offer in the park, a place a man might call his home? I don't know. But it's early, and I have school work to do. Still, I'm not rude in that I don't leave him there -- at least not right then. I stand and listen to his diatribe. I hear what's bringing him down.

Red Beard, Green Hoodie tells me that he doesn't steal. He collects bottles and that at least that's honest. He's not stealing, which he's witnessed, which he's seen has gotten people into trouble. He says that he's not drinking as much as he was, which I believe to be true because he's up so early, but at the same time I find hard to believe because it is early and he does have a 40 in his hand, which I've mentioned but still feel the need to remind myself. I tell him I think he looks okay because homeless people need especially need the encouragment, and though I can't do much for this man -- I'm walking my dog in the park with empty pockets -- I think that I can afford a few minutes and an ear -- all he wants to do this morning is talk to someone. He goes off about how he's started projects, given them to others only to see them drop the ball, fail. He picks the projects back up, for some reason or another, sets it all back up, and, again for another vague reason, leaves them to it -- whatever it may be.

Red Beard, Green Hoodie says there are some people that don't drink and don't smoke dope. He doesn't understand them. He says that if it wasn't for a beer now and then, if it wasn't for smoking some herb now and then, his feet wouldn't be on the ground. He says these people who don't do these things feet aren't on the ground, and I try to picture these people -- they must be doing something, they must be at work at this hour making a living, working to pay bills. Red Beard, Green Hoodie says he just wants to have a beer. Collect some bottles and cans and watch the world go by. He makes gestures with his mouth and I'm wondering how many teeth he's got in there, not many, I suppose. I continue to listen but find it hard. He's not making much sense. He asks me if I have my pipe on me and I tell him I do not. Then, he tells me a story how the other day he was going through some trash and came across a bag of soil. He says in the bag of soil there was a stem, connected to the stem some leaves. I trust him that he knows the leaves were from a plant that he could smoke, and he assures me that after drying this plant out for the last few days that all he needs to do is find a pipe and he can smoke it, that he can get high and watch the world go by. In the meantime, he feels his pockets and when he gets to his breast pockets he smiles. I knew I had some tobacco, he says, and pulls out the yellow package of Top tobacco. He begins to roll. I want to tell him of my friend that rolls spliffs, a combination of tobacco and marijuana, but I hold my tongue.

I watch him light up the cigarette that he's just rolled. I listen a little more, again because this is all I can give. He asks me if I have any bottles or can, corrects himself, I mean not on you, he says, but still he wonders if I can point him in any direction. I think to yesterday, when I deposited all the bottles and cans from a party we had. How there were some that the machine didn't take, how he could have those and still get money for them, but I don't say anything. I save my breath and shake my head no. By now I want to leave and my dog too. She jumps on this man and gets mud on his pants that seem sort of clean, but he doesn't seem to mind the paw print she's left. He gets joy out of this and says the obvious, what a happy dog you have. I tell him good luck, take care, and goodbye, and I leave the way I came, with him in the park, by the bleechers of a field not played.

Later in the day, after spending money on coffee and eggs, after spending money on a color copy and then on more coffee and a cookie, I'm approached by a man on the sidewalk. Can I get a quarter is all he asked. I'm prepared this time, not to talk but with a quarter in my pocket. I fish for change, the remainder of a bill I broke. I pull out two and begin to hand it to him. He's making an excuse for why he's begging, how he's not from here, how he needs help. I help him, giving him 50 cents. I know it's for booze, that he doesn't deserve this. That I have more than I need. That I don't deserve it either. He's grateful, though, for what I give him. I give him more, a piece of trite advice. I tell him to take care of himself. He should spend the money on food. I know he won't but I don't want to get into it. I want to catch my bus, fill my own stomach. Make myself feel better. Take better care.

There's a voicemail in my inbox that I ignore. I don't know what to say, so I say nothing. I'm sore in the stomach, I ache in the head. I'm tired and at the end of the quarter. I hate excuses and don't know why I'm noticing these things. I don't want to. I want to be grateful. I'm not homeless. I'm not asking for cans or quarters. But I'm still not giving what I can.

Life's a trip, Son

The plan was to view the movie Bobby. Bobby? Bobby? What's that about, I ignorantly asked. Emilio Estevez was the answer. No, not about him. By him. His masterpiece. His painting on the wall. Oh, Robert F. Kennedy. I get it now. I have a book, not by him (he wrote three) but about him. One of his many son's put together a book of quotes: from speeches, from readings, from people that knew him, from his famous daybook. It's called "Make Gentle the Life of the World." It is his vision, and I recently had it sent to me by my mother and from my New Mexico library. I like it because it's inscribed by someone I used to know: Tim Evans, a newsbroadcaster that I worked with in a political office. His inscription, which he wrote the day he quit to go back to TV, says: "I hope this may offer you some wisdom & inspiration in you journeys, Tim." Thanks, Tim.

I go the the bookshelf (my Oregon library) and pull the book Tim gave me and I show it to the friend I'm going to see the movie Bobby with and I find something I thought was lost (At first I thought the book was lost, it's thin and hidden.) As you may recall my birthday was earlier this month (see Birthday Boy Celebrates His 27). You didn't thank me for the card, my mom said a week after the anniversary of me born by her. No, I didn't get it, I said to her. And I found out it was a special card, and that inside the card was a hundred-dollar credit/gift card you can get nowadays. What you've never had you've never lost, I think with saddness. A message came back the next day (or the day after) that the credit/gift card hadn't been used, was stopped, and would be reissued in the coming days, weeks or months -- I still don't have the new one.

And as it turns out a new one wasn't necessary. The reason was it wasn't used was because back behind my Robert F. Kennedy book was that card of mine, unopened, never seen. And how it got there -- I'll let you draw your own conclusions -- isn't important, but that it was is.

"Hope you enjoy the ride and you never forget the way home." Thanks, Mom.

Fort Clatsop

When the call came into the dispatcher the second time, Astoria area firemen responded to the burning Fort Clatsop replica. They didn't make it, and the building burned.

Shame, too. Before it burned to the ground in a controversial fire, the historic site was a field-trip favorite.

The fire, ruled an accident after investigation, destroyed the community's symbol of two explorers, sent by their country to find the Pacific Ocean.

Meri Lewis and Bill Clark's met the Pacific by the Columbia River near present day Astoria in the county of Clatsop. Oregon, U.S.A.

This is our part of history. Or, our part to a part of part of some history. Partial ammounts of that part.

While Captain Clark blazed trail to the coast, he assigned his men to build a structure that he sketched on a notepad. That log cabin, put on pad with pencil, is where Corps Discovery spent an especially cold winter in 1805 without whiskey and without tobacco.

Recognized as a place of significance, but with little evidence of Lewis and Clark's orriginal fort plans, the Community of Clatsop County (CCC) constructed a replica in 1955.

Built and abandoned by our heros, the community rebuilt a replica of the Fort, and, for a short while, it became the center of our historical attention.

The disk is obsolete

A disk was dropped off at my door this evening. My housemate, who was playing X-box, answered when the doorbell rang. He was closest. Heidi was barking in the garage. I was in my room, on my computer like I am now. I stood, though, and peeked out the bedroom door and down the hall so I could see the doorway and who was there. I squint and the scene happens all at once and before I was in it. I'm behind the screen.

Short brown hair and glasses appear on a petite girl standing in the doorway, blocked by the housemate who answered the door.

"Can you give this to Carson?" she asks.
And my roommate says, "Yeah. But don'cha want to say anything to him?" She doesn't and leaves. I think that she saw me.

The door is closed. The girl is gone. Handed over to me a yellow disk, a 1.44 MB floppy that no one uses anymore but me, and I sort have stopped. It has my intials on it, marked by myself. On the plastic and not a label. This is a formatted disk that I gave to the girl now walking down my driveway and out of my life.

"You got diskt," I swear my housemate said.

I put the obsolete yellow square into my A drive thinking two things that end up both being wrong: she could have put a virus on the disk; and, she saved a document that told me why she was dropping this off, now, a year after I gave it to her. Why she doesn't want to speak to me.

Turns out that there is nothing more on that disk than a collection of short stories I wrote, saved and had given a girl I once knew.

On the bus ths morning

I recieve a call from my mom. She's home sick from work and wondering when I can come home. She just has a cold, she said. Allergies from bushes she'd been cutting back yesterday, Sunday, a day we normally speak but didn't. Her illness isn't the reason she wants to know when I'm coming home.

I'm finishing my second quarter at Portland State in three weeks. I'll be off for one month before I'm scheduled to return for the next. I've said I'd go home. I want to, and for as much of it as I can. I want to get out of Portland for an extended period of time for the first time since I moved here two years ago. For the past year plus I've been without a car. And unable to travel with my dog, Heidi. I can't think of a month without her. I want to bring Heidi to New Mexico but don't think to check the animal policiy on, a website for cheap fares my mother suggested. I'm going home I tell the one next to me. I see a great deal and click, yes, purchase. Now I'm committed. Later I look where to find out about dogs on planes. informs me that other than service dogs, personal pets are not permitted. Heidi doesn't benifit from my transportation bargin. I look for other options, (A friend suggests a website for owners of pets who need them moved by people going a direction, a form of hitchhicking. Coordination and forty dollars, he says but he forgot the name of the website.) but don't find an answer. I need to be in a meeting and leave the computer.

After dinner with friends, I catch the No. 4 bus to the nearest main road, then walk through the cold, wet, dark side streets to my house. When I get inside my roommates meet me with whattups and nods. Heidi races to the door. She sits and wags and looks up to me for attention. I grab her by the scruff, rub her neck, say yeah yeah hello hi Heidi. I put my bag down and go to my room. My alone place. I sit on my bed and Heidi jumps to look me in the face. Yes, I tell Heidi. I'm going to work it out. I'll make this work. I can't imagine her not in my life. We've been through a lot.

Birthday Boy Celebrates His 27

For those who have yet to wish the birthday boy a happy 27th, don't. It's too late. And he won't accept. He thinks you've forgotten him. He's unsure you care. He'll probably forget yours--if he hasn't already---when your day comes.

Birthday's are just days. Today's one. We're living it. It's somebody's birthday today, and we're not wishing them well. We have hundreds of people in our lives. And 365 days in a year. How can you stamp a date on someone? How can that image be burned in your head? To be remembered when the time comes is asking a lot.

For now we celebrate with the ones around us. We get called by the close, the family, those who have been with us for birthdays past. We take their calls early-they get it out of the way. We say they're sweet to call. Not for remembering, but for fitting us in. And we try to do during the day, what we enjoy doing on a normal day: eating breakfast, reading a book, going to the park with your dog, eating another meal, drinking beers with friends.

We regret to inform people that we want to hear from but don't that today is a special day, but only for the one who was born on this day, a few years back.

Before it's too late, Happy me