A friend sent me this email request:
I'm reading a book called One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern. In the story, a woman has to track down all these people on a list and find out their story. I've decided to do this on a smaller scale and have chosen people at random. If you're receiving this message, you have an opportunity to appear on my blog (http://merrylandgirl.com) and share some fun things about yourself. I'm calling it "52 Stories" (hopefully getting a balance of male and female) and posting one a week for all of 2013. If you're interested in participating, please answer the following questions (a couple of sentences for each, at least) OR pick one of the questions and write a few paragraphs.
If you want to keep it anonymous, just share your initials or make up a fun nickname. You're welcome to share your real name though (first and last or just first). Whichever makes you most comfortable. I just think that everyone has a story to tell and this is a good way to bring up such stories. I've used all these questions for various blog project posts in the past, so you can go back through the blog read my thoughts on them, if you wish.
I'd like to get the first post up next week, since it is technically the first week of the year. So if you're brave and want to volunteer, please answer these as soon as possible.
Name you'd like to go by:
Age (or age range):
Location (can just list state/country/province if you don't want to be specific):
*What is an experience that is legendary for you?My Response:
*What is your guilty pleasure?
*What is something you've never done but you would like to do?
*If you could give someone one of your favorite things as a gift, what would it be and why?
*What is something you did that changed someone's life?
*What part of your personality is now extinct?
*What is one thing that you find really funny?
*Tell me one thing you love about yourself (or a gift you'd like to get yourself, where money is not an issue):
*What TV show, book or movie is most like your life?
*What is something that not many people know about you?
On days when there is actually sun in the normally rainy sky, it sets too soon, low over the western bend of the Naselle river, right on the county line between Wahkiakum & Pacific Counties. The river borders the North side of my wife's family's land, to which we live adjacent. Our home is new to our town of 419 and according the most recent concensus, it's the only shipping container home in either county our town occupies. Also, according to the most recent citizen census, I am the only African American male actually residing in our small, close-knit town.
Regrettably, my wife and I don't really fit into the close-knit portion of this community, but that's okay; I am a stand that in time, things will change for us. Our home is off grid and functions on less than one half of a kilowatt of power, ninety percent of the time. This means that unlike most Americans, we do not have a TV we watch regularly or do many other things most Americans would consider “normal”, either.
In my town, I am not only very new, and therefore an outsider, I am known to many as the town crazy. In that, I am somewhat of a legend. For instance, not only did I build the first Shipping Container home in the region, but I did it wholly between myself, my wife, and a single friend through the middle of a horribly stormy winter. In fact, three years ago, right at this time, I was busy with one friend and a rented 30 ton crane stacking up shipping boxes and welding them together at all hours of the day regardless of time or weather. This is why everyone around here thinks I'm crazy.
Maybe I am a little bit whacky. My number one favorite thing to do is to contribute to others' lives. Through building my home, I have started a small project called “The Generosity Project.” In this, I have made deep impacts on the lives of many young people but one person in particular comes to mind. The young Andrew came to the GP January of 2011 to “learn how to be a man” in his words. Andrew wanted to learn how to survive in the country, to build things, weld, learn some mechanical skills, hunt, fish and generally gain some real-life experience that he felt would be beneficial contributions to his adult life.
Over the course of one year, Andrew was instrumental in building much of the infrastructure around my home including landscaping, a cinder block room, our 16 x 30 workshop, and most notably, a 30 foot timber “roundhouse” which he built entirely on his own out of reclaimed “slash” timber gleaned from nearby clear-cuts.
On leaving the GP for the last time last month, Andrew told me that his time working with me “changed his life and made him who he is by teaching him numerous skills that will 'contribute greatly' to his future, while helping him find himself”. It has been a joy to work with him for the last two years and am as grateful for his help as he is for my contributions to him.
The experience of getting to know Andrew has been great fun. When we met, through a help exchange web site, we knew nothing of one another but have created an amazing friendship together. We've gotten deeply close to one another even admitting to each other our guilty pleasures. For me, its modern pop and most specifically crappy greats like Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake both of whom I love to sing along loudly to while beebopping my head in my car.
Yesterday, as I was changing the ball joints on one of my cars I pondered that the thing I love best about myself is my ability to fix just about anything. It brought to mind a recent experience where a close friend in Tacoma 150 miles away had both her and her boyfriend's cars break in one weekend. The repairs would have been devastatingly expensive if I had not taken a weekend to go to a junkyard, find and pull the proper parts, and install them on both their cars. My selflessness is a gift I cherish because contributing to the lives of others is certainly my greatest pleasure.
I have never gone very far outside of the continental United States, however, my lovely wife and I intend to do some mission work where we will travel through third world communities where I will teach English while she provides nursing and care services to people in need. This is our greatest goal and I think the most valuable gift I could give another: love and support to those in need.
What I find really funny about the mission-work thing is that I was raised in a family where materialism is the number one goal, and until I met my wife, I was just that way. I felt strongly that the place for me was in some fortune 100 company manning a cubicle, working on complex computer data solutions and earning as much money as humanly possible to enjoy a relaxing, expensive retirement. These days, however, I find myself to be much more of a humanitarian believing that my greatest gift to the world and its communities is my knowledge and experience, rather than anything materialistic.
I wish I could say that my life is a parallel of someone else's experience as in a movie or book, but nothing compares. I am a pioneer creating my own future one step at a time. Our home is unlike any other in the country, our landscaping a permaculture expression of self-preservation mixed with organic solitude, and our outbuildings are each completely unique. If I had to draw a parallel, I may call myself a modern-day Robinson Crusoe, but he had nothing of the technology or general community I have utilized to fulfill my dreams.
I guess the most important thing about me is the thing least known by my friends and family. That is my compulsions to create, and to homestead and all of that is simply the product of nothing other than depression. Four years ago, I learned that I have a not-so-rare syndrome called Klinefelter's. Its a DNA variation that has left me sterile, unable to produce off-spring. The aftermath of this news has been devastating for my wife and I. The worst part is this problem is normally discovered at a boy's early age, but somehow it was missed by my parents, and everyone until we began trying to have children.
This cruel joke played by God has been the most prominent power in my life of late. The shock of it caused me to abandon a very successful IT company I had spent 5 years building, and to move here, to a small, close-knit town where becoming a “local” is unlikely at best during the course of your life.
The important thing is it is a place where I can privately hone my artistic skills by building my home and distracting myself from the pain and mourning that has accompanied the loss of my natural Fatherhood. While I journey through my odyssey, I keep my eyes open, waiting for the moment when the possibility of other avenues for personal fulfilment become available to me as my comfort level with this drastic life change levels out.