I spent the better part of 2018 - well, okay, it wasn't the *better* part exactly, but the greater part - in a live / work situation with an elderly couple who were the parents of an acquaintance of mine from the synagogue. In January I described the location:
If you take Highway 30 out of Portland, you'll head to the north-west along the Columbia river. You'll pass Linnton, with its fish sign and electronic speed signs flashing accusatory amber numerals, and the beautiful St. Johns Bridge. Keep going, and eventually you'll get to Scappoose, and then Saint Helens.
Somewhere between Linnton and Scappoose, if you turn off to the left on one of the roads that lead up into the hills and then drive for 10 or 15 minutes, you'll get to where I live. The owners own two properties: the house across the street that they occupy (aka The High Castle), and the house that serves a guest house and business office (aka The Undisclosed Location), which is also where I live. And that's the house in these pictures. ...
On turning 55, I reflected:
So I've attained the magical age of 55 years. Hey, it's both a Fibonacci number and a triangular number!
Looking back, the hardest thing to think about is all the connections with people that I haven't kept up as well as I should have. What gives me hope and encouragement is finding a deeper, stronger sense of purpose as I grow older, as the distractions fall away into the background.
By mid-year, I was tired of depending on Boss Man's irregular paychecks and started looking for work off the grounds.
Last week I interviewed for an IT position in a local school district. I did everything right: I was dressed professionally, showed up 15 minutes early, had two extra copies of my resume *and* references with me, answered all the questions perfectly, asked relevant questions of my own, remembered and used the interviewers' names, and generally gave a kick-ass interview. The next day I got the call: they'd decided to go with another candidate.
This week I had a phone interview for a help desk position at a finance company. It started poorly and went from bad to worse: they asked me one technical question after another that I didn't know the answer to, and when it was my turn to ask questions I asked dumb questions. Worst interview I've given in a long time.
And I just got the call from the recruiter: I start work next week.
Back at The Undisclosed Location, however, the deer were unimpressed:
They just stand there looking at you like, "Deer crossing, motherf**ker!"
That job - tech support in a consumer finance company in Beaverton - would last until early the following year. From late summer to mid-autumn, I continued living on the grounds and working there part-time, with occasional forays to Cathedral Coffee in Scappoose.
Also that fall, a member of Portland's conservative community, Leo Stratton, was killed in a truck crash. I didn't know Leo well, but had met him once or twice at our rallies. And another comrade from Portland's conservative world, Andy Ngo was interviewed at City Journal.
In October, I wrote my testimonial for the #WalkAway movement.
I grew up in Connecticut, in a liberal home; but the word meant something different then. My parents were old-school liberals - Kennedy Democrats. Mom in particular had no use for Communism, and admired Soviet dissidents like Solzhenitsyn. (Another Soviet dissident of the day - a Jewish activist - would later play an important role in my own thinking.) Our family didn't follow an organized religion, although we were nominally Unitarians.
We were book-lovers and intellectuals, and Mom and Dad instilled a love of learning in my sister and me. But we were also a very troubled family. As a kid I had a love of science and a nerdy bent. (This was in the 1970s, before the computer revolution made geekiness cool. In those days, "nerd" was definitely not a compliment.) I didn't want to spend the rest of my life hiding in books, like in the Simon and Garfunkel song "I Am a Rock."
I joined the military after high school and served 10 years active duty in two branches - the Air Force and the Marines. It was a great challenge and an opportunity to grow as a person. Surrounded by all different kinds of people from very different backgrounds, I learned more than I ever would have learned in a classroom. ...
At the end of October, I bid a tearful farewell to the hilltop lodgings with the elderly couple, and moved to an apartment in Hillsboro, where I continue to live today and where I am neighbors with galadrion.
And then came November. Back in 2006, over Thanksgiving weekend, I had received a surprise message from an old friend from my hometown, Georgianne. Over the following years we became friends, then lovers, then co-parents to Bunny. We took our separate paths but she was never far from my thoughts. Over Thanksgiving weekend of 2018 - exactly twelve years after she had come back into my life - Georgianne was admitted to the emergency room and did not survive. I will always remember her as the girl from back home.