Saturday, June 25, 2005

Once again, an autobiographical anecdote

Some of my friends, including my wife, call me jean-pierre, a name I took in my Memphis days. I had tried to be a writer, and met with little success thus far. I did get some recognition as a poet, artist, anarchist, and Progressive organizer in Midtown Memphis during the late 1980's and early 1990's.
I was homeless for about a dozen years, beginning with an eviction from a fraternity house after a fly by night insurance company bilked me out of three months of earnings. Eventually I ended up at a vegetarian coffee house, The Babylon Cafe', owned and managed by Mimi Hohenburg. She was following the Diamond Path of Buddhism. Some of her friends and co-religionists gathered at the coffee house, which was in an old servants' quarters behind a grocery store, and a stone's throw from where lived Joe Walsh' of the rock group, the Eagles.
I took some of my dishwasher savings,bought a train pass, travelled to Illinois to visit my parents and brother, then to New York City, then Boston, then by bus to Waterville, Maine, where I visited a writer friend from Oxford, Mississippi. She and her friends gave me a lift to Hwy. 1 on the way to Bar Harbor. I hitch-hiked to Cherryfield to get work raking blueberries. First, I met Raker X, Elaine, who led me to Solar Energy Awareness and Demonstrations Seminars, called S.E.A.D.S., or that hippy commune, maybe, by some of the less accepting locals. At SEADS, I became acquainted with some ecological and political activists and outsiders. The leader was a Navy vet named Charlie, whose partner John had left some time earlier. I think he had died.
At a clinic for migrant workers nearby, I met a wonderful young woman doctor whom I'll call Hoosier Zoe. She and I fell in love at first sight. We became pen pals after I returned to Memphis. After several months I returned from Memphis to live with her at her cottage near Augusta, Maine. Later, we moved to a town on the tundra in Alaska, some 500 miles from Anchorage, and not connected by any roads to Anchorage or the Outside. There, I learned Yup'ik Eskimo, became a volunteer radio announcer, volunteer EMT, and continued to develop my art, writing, contributing to zines, the local newspaper, and supplementing our income at the local Quickie Mart.

Sad to say, we broke up after three years. Broken hearted but determined to get over this loss, and also determined not to go back to washing dishes or being homeless, I joined the National Guard, and within a year joined the Army, was sent to Fort Campbell where I was given Air Assault training, and began a new chapter in my life, as a clerk with the 101st Airborne Division.

During this time I married, settled with my wife in a township among the Amish, took up exploring rivers by canoe, and caves by flashlight. I re-enlisted as a combat engineer, and was sent to Fort Stewart and the Third Infantry Division.

Today we reside, my wife Wilma, my daughter Annie Franck, and my son Altgeld, in a small town at a crossroads where trucks play their way to Florida and back north or west, mostly. I still try my hand at writing, teach English to immigrant adults, or substitute as a public school teacher. Am trying to teach my children Spanish, Irish, mathematics, and science.

My blogs are, I also am a regular contributer to bulletin boards at Yahoo Current Events, Literature, and the Savannah Morning News bulletin boards, as hajgora7 or teacher-artist.


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