Monthly Archives: September 2020

Exodus: The Final Chapter

How fitting, on this, my last day on social media, to be writing about exits. A departure far more significant is happening today than mine from Facebook.

30 years ago I hit the road for Spring Break as many college students do. I wasn’t going to Ft. Lauderdale, or Panama City Beach, but to Plymouth, WI, hometown of a new friend I’d met at Food Glorious Food, where I worked. The trip itself is quite a story. We left town in a Mazda and arrived in Wisconsin in a Saab, but that’s not germane to my point here. During our week in the Middle Western region I met another friend, who quickly joined us in Tallahassee. Since he arrived at 247 Lipona Dr. in a red Nissan Pulsar, we’ve been inseparable with a few exceptions. We’ve lived together in four houses, been neighbors five times, across three states: Florida, Montana, and Oregon. We both spent time with the first friend I mentioned, and other brothers, in Bosnia, although never together. I was passing through, he stayed quite a while.

I detoured to the Gulf coast, and upstate New York without him. He set up camp in Gainesville, and rural Marion county for a time. Other than these brief solo sorties Joey has been right there, so close I can reach out and put my hand on him, which I’ve needed to do more times than I can count.

Last night we broke protocol and hugged in his driveway, where he’s lived a mile away for close to 10 years. He, and his good and able companion, Paige, are off to North Carolina, to live in the mountains.

I’ve been thinking about friendship, and writing about it, for even longer than I’ve known Joey. Saying goodbye to friends is so hard. I’ve been lucky enough to experience that sense of loss more times than I can count. Learning Spanish, I was delighted to realize one day that the expression, “I miss you”, is so much better said in espaƱol. It more literally translates, “I am less you” or “I am minus you.” Let me tell y’all, I am very minus Joey.

What I hang onto, what holds me together, is an idea I’ve honed all my life; that we live many lives simultaneously through the lives of those we love. I am here in Tallahassee, doing non-profit work from home. Sometimes I ride my bike. I am also a plumber in Montana, a rock star in Portland, a data specialist in Orlando, a cartographer in North Carolina (soon), a paramedic in the Adirondacks, a bon vivant on the shores of Lake Ontario, a senior strategist at the Gates Foundation, and a horse trainer in Reddick. I’m a school teacher in Lee County, and I own some Melting Pots in DC. I lived in Singapore for a while, and I am an award winner photographer in NYC two times over. I save lives every day in heart surgery. I never came back from Bosnia, and I have many cherished children. I am a farmer and a librarian. I teach tolerance and humility in Colorado. I’ve saved countless children in countless places. I am an artist in the low country of Georgia, a scratch golfer and a stone cold pro of a drummer twice over. I have a little dog named Winter. I sell restaurant equipment and shred a Fender Strat or a Gibson SG. I am a nurse, brave and capable in a pandemic. I make ceramic totems for peace and kindness. I am the greatest wedding cake artist from the mountains to the deep blue sea. I’ve climbed the peak of the Grand Tetons, and wisely bailed on Aconcagua. I’ve made beautiful works of glass and read 10,000 books. I know Charles Mingus’ oeuvre by heart.

Those are just a few of the lives I live.

So yes, things are changing, which is all things ever do. Wherever you are today, and whatever you’re doing? I am there, and I do that too.


Exodus part one: The banned and the banished

Exodus part one: The banned and the banished

Here, encased in an amber of shame, are the 102 people I blocked in my time on Facebook.

Thomas Croom Ed Smythe Debbie Mealus Robin Springer Deena Jones Garry Batto William Hayden
Jason Berks Pat Newman Jay A Smith Dalton Dollarhide T.j. Newsom Jean Ashley Crawford J.D. Kristoff Alex Kolkena Rose Craig Fran Anne Greg Johnson Robert Hill Joe Bene Diana Frankfurter Mike Boz Scott Kuli Gary Howard Georgiano King Debbie Josi Anne Johnson Dawn Ganey Matt Biddington James Bugsy Balderrama Barry Kidd Arika Lauren Michael Sherbert Bill Nichols Rick Pfeifer Jonathan Hilton Thomas Oliver Kopian Carolina Corpus Richard Harkins Mark J. Shipley Martin Jacobs Joe Soukup Joe Hudson Vicki Coke Randy Berkland Roberta Martinez Michael Brooks Tracy Seifert Yanni Kratsas Regina Daniel Lisa Ness Kevin Thiem Brett Knower Caden Barber Mike Yates
Norman Duffell Bob Le Bras William J R Hall Randy Brown Tracie Rsu Wayne Kemper Marilu Winn Clifton
Dave Almquist Jeremy Hintz Kathy Lorenzo Steven Pope Rick Ogilvie Sanford Schwartz Cletus Rambuncticus Robert Weigel Sarah Dewberry Robinson Robert E L Bowman Kent Goodwin James Lindsey Daniel Fyffe Margo Carmichael Tom Abell Tonya Olson Otterness Lonnie Mark Hall Matthew Borman Michael Pendergast Jr. Alexandra William
Dennis Irwin Rusty Harris Levi Calvert Eric Mocker George Miller Dave Walker Michael Oluwadarasimi
James Murphy Brian Hobbs Lourdes Hernandez Lynn Tramel Tom Hoover Cee J Hazen Ibrahim Quyum Mickey Warhola Ann Pollak Beth Brockhoff Shelia G Matheny Jack Milton Robbie Jax William Hayden Tyler Hayes Riechman Hubert Woodard Shawn McKellop Daniel Ros Peggy Maynard Mark Wilson J.D. Kristoff

A few are cherished grudges that I take down off the shelf and polish like old bowling trophies. Most though, are random persons or not persons at all, but programs that emulate people. Horrible people. A few are relatives of yours, not mine. What they all share in common with only one exception, is that without Facebook, I would never have encountered them.
Sure you can say I am thin-skinned, unwilling to hear opinions different than my own. You would be right about that. I do not want to encounter, as William Butler Yeats said,
…somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
I do not recall signing up to engage in futile slogan-slinging with the impacted tarry stool of the internet, yet they seem to be everywhere, or I am unable to protect my borders enough to only have my personal photographs and pithy comments exploited. The hard truth that I am ashamed to admit, but must own to be free, is I’ve hardly read a book or written a thought of my own since I discovered this dark mirror that only tells me I’m pretty no matter my wart-riddled, ruddy complexion.

For all that it takes away, it has also given me so much. Without it I would not be reunited with my first and always love, Melissa. For that alone, I can agree to disagree with Mr. Zuckerburg,and not go away mad, but instead just go away maybe for a while, or maybe forever.

For now though, in this final week of engagement, this data cow is going to kick down the fence and free the moron brigade. That’s right. I am unblocking them one and all, and I trust they will each meet a deserving fate, as will I.