Tag Archives: Social Security

Counting Down to 62, and thinking back.

If I could collect the money I am vested in for Social Security because of having made the payments necessary to be permanently vested then I would be 62 years old. It would not be a lot and it would be much better if I had a good job and was earning more FICA credits, but there is no reason to hop that anything in my life will improve before 62. If I can survive till 62 then I can perhaps hope for some meager harvest of the crops sown in my still meager but much better days from 1979 to 1995 when I paid the most FICA and the years from 1995 to 2005 when I paid some.  But if I had to guess I think my death benefit will be all I ever collect. Nine years is a long time in a life where things almost always get worse. But this post at 53 is not about looking forward but rather about looking back about nostalgia.

Today I was helping a friend set up a Facebook page for the Table Tennis operation which he feels passionately about. He is quite a bit older than I am and table tennis keeps him in shape and engaged with other people and he finds a way to make a few bucks off the sport as well. Once upon a time I played a bit of the sport but that was a long time ago.  I have little nostalgia about those days but not very much because there are so many other things to be nostalgic about. There are many songs about nostalgia or expressing nostalgia in American popular culture but one of the ones that stands out for me is Glory Days, by Bruce Springsteen. Here are a few lyrics:

I had a friend was a big baseball player
Back in high school
He could throw that speedball by you
Make you look like a fool boy
Saw him the other night at this roadside bar
I was walking in, he was walking out
We went back inside sat down had a few drinks
But all he kept talking about was:
Glory days, well, they’ll pass you by
Glory days, in the wink of a young girl’s eye
Glory days, glory days

I suppose that my friend and I have discussed his path through life and his past quite a bit — although we have never shared a beer over it . His journey was accompanied by different music than the Boss’s most of the time. Although I fancy he knows Springsteen a bit. But He is still fortunate to be more involved in many of the pursuits of his  youth than some people — like me for instance  — generally are at an earlier age.

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Rocky Russo remembers the glory days of his life as an outdoorsman and hunter with these photographs.

I was never a Bruce Beast as a few of my friends self described themselves, but I was a the owner of a few albums that I enjoyed listening to. One of Bruce Springsteen’s songs that I liked was Glory Days. For those who want to see a video it should be available here.

Nostalgia takes many forms. Looking back in times takes a different tone because of why one is looking back, what one is looking back at and how one is  looking back at the past.  The

My first cousin once removed, Charles William Massie III died this July.  Among other things he and my Dad cut and suctioned my snake bite and tourniqueted my leg and helped rush me to the hospital. He also helped me wash an eye popping out of my head from an allergic reaction and helped rush me to the hospital again a few years later.  He had a longer obituary in the Abbeville Meridional but here is a link to his obituary at the funeral home where I attended his wake. Big Billy and I shared many experiences outdoors and indoors, hunting, religious and familial over my whole life. Yet we were not that close when he died.

I am entirely sure that life will hold a few surprises in each day that I continue to live and breathe. But this year I have run into a number of women with whom I spent some time many years ago and we have had fairly decent visits,. I am made aware of how much my life is about limits and impossibilities compared to the years in the past when there was more hope and I think some of them are reminded of times when they found social life a bit more exciting than they do today. But perhaps our exchanges are not all that close to the one described in the next part of Glory Days.

Well there’s a girl that lives up the block
Back in school she could turn all the boy’s heads
Sometimes on a Friday I’ll stop by
And have a few drinks after she put her kids to bed
Her and her husband Bobby well they split up
I guess it’s two years gone by now
We just sit around talking about the old times,
She says when she feels like crying
She starts laughing thinking about
Glory days, well, they’ll pass you by
Glory days, in the wink of a young girl’s eye
Glory days, glory days

In this year and many years ( twelve to be exact) I have not had any kind of regular girlfriend and the general trend in my life has been towards ever greater isolation of all kinds since I got back from China in 2005. Before China I had been increasingly isolated every year since 1995. So China was just an island of intense social and occupational engagement. But in the years from 1995 to 2004 I wrote for newspapers and taught in public schools as a substitute — recent years have not had those kinds of public engagement for pay. My  Dad has been in the mode of trying to retire more and more and discusses his declining ability to pursue some of his outdoor hobbies. I think of  the next lyrics in Glory Days when I think of talking with him.  Although few of the facts are similar still I empathize with the narrator’s connection of nostalgia across generations. It is something that as it grows in us connects us to older generations.

My old man worked twenty years on the line
And they let him go
Now everywhere he goes out looking for work
They just tell him that he’s too old
I was nine years old and he was working at the
Metuchen Ford plant assembly line
Now he just sits on a stool down at the Legion hall
But I can tell what’s on his mind
Glory days yeah goin back
Glory days aw he ain’t never had
Glory days, glory days

This year and part of the past one have formed a unit as I have been back in Abbeville and living in my grandparents old house and trying to get the grounds back in shape with limited time, energy and resources. Eve the resources to put photographs of the glory days of that house and its occupants seem to be in short supply.  But it is a place of nostalgia. This is the year not of the great parties or the family trip to Sea Island,  Georgia but the  trip to local sites during the greatest flood in memory with an open would wrapped in plastic, a ruined cell phone. The year when one of the highest sites in the parish which did not flood still held a lot of water because I had not yet removed the fallen ceiling and caused me to loose even more equipments and supplies than I would have lost just from the torrential rain damage itself . The glory days of the house were definitely in the past despite it being a high and dry place.  Flood damage came too in the form of cars parking to escape the flood and trying to leave when it was too wet. Flood damage came in opportunities lost when I had just started to find a few after moving in and in time and cost of donated labor treating flood related  injuries and buying cleaning supplies. There were other things too but compared to many others we had nothing worth noticing.

 

The truth is that this year, although I have spent time with family I have spent a good bit of time with two old friends named Philippe and Jude. I don’t give their last names and a great deal of what we talk about is better times in the past. Though we have known each other those were not mostly times spent together so the stories are new  — we are not exactly the same age — but all count Abbeville as our hometown. We rarely drink much together but on occasion Jude and I share a drink. We do smoke together, a much despised habit and one that never held me really in a habituated position until recently.  But we have a few places we occasionally go whether drinking or not. and we are nostalgic together there more often than not.
Now I think I’m going down to the well tonight
And I’m going to drink till I get my fill
And I hope when I get old I don’t sit around thinking about it
But I probably will
Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture
A little of the glory of, well time slips away
And leaves you with nothing mister but
Boring stories of glory days
Glory days, well, they’ll pass you by
Glory days, in the wink of a young girl’s eye
Glory days, glory days
Glory days, well, they’ll pass you by
Glory days, in the wink of a young girl’s eye
Glory days, glory days

 

 

One of the places we have been is Twin Peaks in Lafayette. There the waitresses (Katelyn and Leah in these pictures) have less nostalgia and lives more directed to the future. Of course they are cute too and since I cannot afford to do much or go anywhere very often I don’t worry much about the higher than normal prices (which are not that bad — and the food is good). The young girls smile and chat a little and make you feel the present is a kind of present and I have no qualms of conscience about that, in a society of vast sexual problems and maladjustments in terms of every aspect of identity, relationship and interactions between the sexes there is certainly still room for some to object that the food is served with a side of flirty display. I don’t mind saying I find real girls knowing their cute and making a little conversation as they serve you a hamburger refreshingly innocent. Whether this is up to the date, nostalgic in itself or a trend for the future I DON’T KNOW.  But I do know that   in a life in which the best  is mostly in the past it is fun to go to places like this and hope that the girls have life with a more fun present and future. I know that not all of their experiences are fun. But it is an interesting phenomenon in our society today. Links to the experience can be found here and here.  It is perhaps a bit like getting involved on some of the sets of the hit series Mad Men except in a bar that is a fake lodge. But whatever it is it serves a break from the dismal pervasive feeling I often have about much of everything. I have only been twice so far. The reasons I ended up there are too complicated to put here but if I can I will probably go back. I promised Katelyn and Leah I would post these pictures — so I did.

 

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My Social Security: A Reproduced Facebook Note

A Recent Episode and the Course of a Life
by Frank Wynerth Summers III on Saturday, August 25, 2012 at 8:08am ·
I am not sure what my web presence will be in the future. That is not my top priority right now but it is an issue. I really feel limited in what I can do on several venues where I have been active. On this Facebook Profile it may not matter so much. Although I had once planned to leave this network this may end up as the one I continue with most easily.

I have a telephone appointment with the Social Security Administration Monday August 27, 2012. I need a lot of rest these days and there five calls to remind me inclded one that woke me from one of the better sleeps or naps I have had since I went to the emergency room on August 7, 2012. I have lost some weight since then and have spent a good bit of money on copies and various kinds of postage as I seek to make a Social Security claim. I have been walking and doing other forms of rehabilitation therapy that I have learned from decades of dealing with all sorts of chronic ailments and lingering injuries. I have paid very little and more than I could afford to the hospital for the bill that did not get to me untill weeks after it was mailed. I have asked them to send my mail to the post office where I get my amil and not to the home address where I almost always have a horrific experience. This may be my last adventure in life and it is certainly not the way I would choose to end the journey.

But it is not the worst way either. I still feel the metaphorical fingers of death in my chest and left side. I was a big fan of John Denver’s early work and like a lot of his fans not so much of the songs that came many years after “Rocky Mountain High”, “Annie’s Song”, “Poems and Prayers and Promises” and “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” had faded from the charts and record store shelves. But there is a part pf one of his later songs that impressed me which I quote or misquote here from memory:
When You asked how I’ve been here without you
I’d like to say I’ve been fine and I do.
But we both know the truth is hard to come by
And if I told the truth, that’s not quite true

Some days are diamonds some days are stones
Sometimes the hard times won’t leave me alone
Sometimes a cold wind blows a chill in my bones
Some days are diamonds some days are stones.

This is a hard time an I have not been unwillling to say that there have been a lot of hard times. Now, I am having to say about many plans and committments, “Let us make it a rain check” and like thousands who are able to choose and have heart conditions, cancers, and illnesses that could be anywhere between modeestly harmful and terminal — I do not know if there will be a rainless day to use the check .
I have restricted my eating a good bit but I am certainly not in need of the food. When I look at a calendar of any kind I know there is a larger chance that I could not be here next year as I have either just barely missed or just had a heart attack. However, for me the chances of death have often been high and so that does not really change things much.

My incident on August 7, 2012 was not technically a full-blown heart attack because I detected the early signs, Mom woke up and drove me to the hospital and got good care at the emergency room. When they put me on the monitor I was showing some pronounced symptoms, they gave me nitroglycerin, put a tube in my nose with drugs to increase oxygen flow and pumped oxygen in — when the process built to the spasm which is where death and permanent injury occur my body was dropping into an artificial state and it is only a little bit of a metaphor to say that the worst of the storm rolled over me with less harm when i lost consciousness. I think I was spared most permanent results, there was great pain and semi-paralysis all alon my left side the next day and I am still recovering. Probably there was some permanent brain damage I continue to have moments of distinct confusion but I seem to be almost back to to pre-crisis function. However, I was already experiencing plenty of bad physical times before this.

In general my view of my health is that it has been degradced by a compounding effect of numerous insults ( or damaging acts or occurrences of limited impact) to my health. These insults include:

childhood asthma
being bitten by a copperhead snake as a child
repeated hospitalizations for sunstroke.
Several broken bones throughout childhood and adolescence
near death from multiple insect poisonings
amoebic dysentery
Dengue fever
Giardia Lamblia
numerous traffic accidents including a head on collision with a car while riding my bicycle
a probably normal number of other diseases and injuries common in America with some neglect,

There are other factors such as these which could be discussed in private with some people but will not be done here (and no, none of these secrets are sexually transmitted diseases — as far as I know I have never had any and I have been tested for many things that should have shown them over the years). Several who have taken my x-rays have said on occasion they have found real arthritis including chiropractors. But nobody has given me an official diagnosis. The truth is I have worn out generation of braces, slings and used countless backplasters and remedies to get this far.

Then I have worked very hard in the hours when I was not resting at a subsistence position for room, most board and a borrowed car on my parents compound for the last seven years after really becoming diasbled from injuries in Hurricane Rita which left me unable to walk well for more than a month. But however, bad such a choice may have been I hoped to recover and find work. My mind was still strong and I could prove it. Although feeding dogs, washing tens of thousands of dishes, moving trons of garbage and catching horses was what I did to earn my pittance I had other outlets where I could invest my mental capital and hope for the best and could prove I still had some capacity there. But this new event has sapped my strength and resilience at a new level. Yet if I were rich, popular and successful I could probably keep working with my good health insurance, ego boosted resistance, caring spouse and other such things. I am in fact long in decline and have reached the point where a recent shock has left me with stroke symptoms and I am at the end of my rope in so many ways, I really need the help I insured for hoping it would be in retirement at a full age. That there may be for some others choices and ease which are not relevant to my case leads me to seek access to what may be able to get from my social security premiums, I have paid FICA to about twenty employers where I have done much less than a majority of my work and I will have to cash into that to make it any further as a responsible citizen. I am turning to Cngressman Charles Boustany Juinor M.D. ‘s office for support as well as to a Social Security lawyer I have known for years for support even while I struggle to do this on my own. I was going to tag Congressman Boustany in this note as he used to be my Facebook friend but what Facebook tells me when I click on his name is ” This account has been deactivated. Only you can see Charles on your friends list. You have the option to unfriend Charles”. I do not pretend that the issues are simple, I honestly beleve America owes me more than it is able to pay but that is true of several people I know and that does not absolutley and certainly mean I should get this social scurity benefit and the medicare that comes with it. We will see what happens next. I already received a quick disapproval of claim and with my travel have to say to a few doctors “please help me establish my medical record if you can”.

In this note I am drawing on various other sources i have written in the past in part to reduce my efforts here. In this plagiarizing of myself I will be recycling below some material from earlier Notes on my Facebook Timeline. That is most likely to be from “Risks Remembered, Touching the Time for Turning Four Dozen Years Old and Longevity” other notes which have been more autobiographical in nature. I hope I start to feel better than I currently am feeling. I have been in recvoery and rehabilitation mode before and I am now.

I have been blessed with a number of good things in my life but I truly believe that I can look back on my life with clear eyes and see that I have moved through layers of pain, grief and suffering for a long time. I have moved through layers of darkness and evil for a long time and through layers of joy and enlightenment as well. My life is like that of other who can see the world and life in moral terms. But I am more weary and wounded than some and I really think I have done about as much to maintain vigor and energy as I could ever reasonably have expected myself to do in my life.

I am someone who has many things to look back on with satisfaction in my life. It is true that I have a sense of accomplishment, but I am not successful in the American sense of the word. Other than vested credits in the Social Security System which can be worth as little as the minimal death benefit because my spouse divorced me about twenty months before she would have become permanently eligible to receive a spouse survivor benefit and while I have supported many children partially I have no children of my own. My death benefit could be even less than that if it is not colllected. I am someone with almost no personal assets which can be found by a thorough paper search and not many more with a more thorough accounting borne of speaking with me. I am long divorced, childless and on an average day for many years I have awakened feeling less than great from a physical point of view. I have not had a great overarching objective in life of that type and intensity which sort of deadens the pains of life while the goal and one’s strength to hold to it endure together. I do have some large goals but not to that numbing intensity.

That radical idealist’s freedom from consciousness of pain is something I have known in the past but it is not typical of my life now. Indeed I am fond of the words in the film Princess Bride “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something”. These terse and stark terms are among my favorite bits of dramatic dialog. Although I have not checked and my quote may be a bit off. Right now I am feeling a bit of general pain and malaise. I believe that there is suffering that is good and desirable, suffering that is caused by very remote causes and suffering which is caused by nearby people to some degree and is not desirable but is not much a matter of fault. There is also suffering caused by various degrees of malice. I am willing to say I have suffered a great deal.

One of the realities of life is that the public discourse has a strange and somewhat tenuous connection with the lives of the many people, families and groups who live in the places and polities where that public discourse is taking place and is thought to be accepted. The messages of the regimes, religious leaders and artists in a society get translated by many people and social factors before their somewhat less than obvious effects are felt in the lives of many of the people. In my childhood milieu there were survivors of World War II, the Korean War and the War in Vietnam flowing back into society or still working to deal with memories of tremendous violence which were growing dim already in the minds of many. There were violent Black activists loosely caught up in the Civil Rights movement and violent White Supremacists seeking a chance to respond to the challenges of a new time. There were a variety of police and organized crime figures. While the images may not have been graphic by todays standards television explored many issues of violence. But in the midst of all this I knew that I was in a culture struggling to reach some understanding of violence and that the realities of the Cold War were a big part of that struggle. While the idea of a nuclear holocaust was always part of my imagination as soon as I began to think about the world as a whole it was not the focus. I cannot remember all the details and did not know enough as a child to have been an effective witness if I had been brought into a law court in those days but I was aware of specific instances of violence and homicide involving people I bearly knew in ways that left a far greater impression of horror upon me than the large context of possible world extinctions for humanity and other species. In my childhood I had already traveled a lot but as I continued to both travel and to study other cultures and epochs in history I have seen that homicide and violence have varied greatly but have had a very large impact on almost all societies at almost all times.

The Social Security process is hard enough but in addition like everything else it is cloaked threats of prosecution for perjury in a morass of impossibly complex details of a very complex life. If I trusted all the parties involved this would not be a big stressor but I do not. I am opposed to lying about my own life in a way which leaves out the important ways in which it has been an incredible personal hell. It is a summary litany of that hellishness ehich is what I hope to capture in this note. Recently someone referred to me as “a youngun”. I don’t think that is really all that possible at my age but furthermore I do not believe that my age matches the mileage on my particular body all that well. I am recording a litlle part of the wear and tear in this Note. It is by necessity a very partial record but perhaps it is a partial record that will help to complete the self-portrait I have chosen to post online.

The 1964 to 1970 Years

I was born on June 15, 1964. That was the start of this little advanture in pain. In this list I have avoided the legitimate sufferings of training amd discipline in childhood and of learning choldhood skills. I have been told that I was born with a broken collarbone or otherwise had a broken collarbone shortly after birth. In my mother’s family my older brother whom I never met or heard about until graduate school was given up for adoption. Her brother who would have been the boy nearest my age died who was older than me on that side, allegedly of SIDS, before I was born. I was the oldest granddchild and the next one born died in early childhood. Hydrocephalus is the given reason for his demise he was born when I was a near the end of these years anddied in the next set of years on this list. I was troubled with croup and childhood asthma and breathing often came with difficulty. When I was a small child at my mother’s family’s home, a car ran backwards over me but the wheels missed me, I was once and I was pushed into a swimming pool wearing boots. Also on this side of the family someone burnt my face with a cigarette catching the eyelid and part of theface near it in a substantial burn. But my interaction with my father’s family where I was also alone in my generation for years was also marked by lots of unique experiences one of my father’s brothers broke my arm and this occurred in a context of lots of excessive physical cafrelessness and once one of my aunts was with me as I was taken into very deep water in the Pacific Ocean as a small child and caught in a crosscurrent I would never have swum in alone. Toward the end of this period I was bitten by a copperhead snake at my hometown Country Club while watching fireworks on the Fourth of July. A drunken relative pointed a loaded shotgun at me in the dark in shadowy rooms of a house far from others who would help and near one who was provoking them to shoot me. One of my cousins who was also a child tried to set off a firework in my hand. These were among many other frightening memories. I went to school deep in London’s Red Light District in Soho for Kindergarten. It was a region where threatening people mixed with the less threatening in a wide variety of ways. In these years I was also bitten and attacked by several dogs in a way which was short of “being savaged” by a dog but was bloody and equally more than a nip. There were good times but despite all this negative attention nobody had bothered to teach me to tie my shoes or ride a bicycle as I entered the age where these skills were useful in getting on in life and along with others. While everyone has a lot of income compared to me today my family did not have as much income as many Americans would but they had large homes, farms, real estate and there were quite afew times when resentful servants and employees and their children and spouses expressed their envy and resentments toward me in a threatening way. It is also true that some of those in this same class of people were my supporters and helpers in a personal and caring way on quite a few occasions. It is also true that by the end of these years I had begun to learn to ride horses, fish, fly kites and do other things which indicate some helpful adult attention. I believe that much of the pain of my childhood was partly transferred from outsiders pressuring those who hurt me. I also believe it was the responsibility of those who hurt me then. Beyond all this I also had the more prosaic suffering of simply changing schools. It was during these early years that I already became aware of to what a great extent both my own good and that which I believed to be good were ideas and realities profoundly at odds with the ideas and ideologies I would interact with and confront in the world. It was this sense of a creeping and pervasive horror embodied in the minds of my fellow human beings. That would become one of the major themes of my life.

The 1970 to 1975 Years

During these years I would spend some early time with an eyepatch from an injury that threatened my sight. I would discover that for me going to school would repeatedly mean getting into fights that I felt I could not avoid. In every block of years in my childhood I got into fights and I cannot remeber any individual years when I did not. Nor can I say my last physical fight took place as a child. In these years I suffered another broken arm. This arm injury was caused by a playmate. In addition this was a time of many injuries of more happy context that resulted in the scrapes and bruises coming from learning in a variety of sports and also outdoor liesure and work occupations. I also had happy memories and many of the best times I shared with my father are of him teaching me to shoot, hunt, fish and ride horses in those years. It was late in this period that I learned to ride a bike and also a “minibike” which was was a small motorcycle. It was in these years when I had many injuries on outdoor adventures on the farm including stepping on two nails — one with each foot. These were on a hidden board sunken in a swampy lake where I often hunted, fished and collected berries and bait as well as varied memories. I never was very happy in school and often was very unhappy. However, it was also in these years when I first knew the experience changing schools which is painful and exciting, this was first a transfer to a school in New York and then back to Louisiana. Later, it was transferring back to school in Louisiana from New York of having to give up almost all my childhood possessions and traveling to Tonga to begin school in a very different system and culture. Shortly after arriving in Tonga I was stung terribly by a subtatntial part of a swarm of flying and stinging insects. Then while there I was stricken with Dengue fever. Avery painful disease which frequently killed children and the elderly. On my way out of Tonga on a very remote Island I had another very serious health crisis where I was stung by a poisonous centipede and poisoned by a natural poison in the food at the same time. I certainly did not receive an extraordinary degree of health care. Then after leaving Tonga to begin homeschooling in American Samos and the continue in the area around Navajoland in New Mexico as well as in Navajoland. Then my sister Sarah was born and from there we went about traveling for a long while and that included my being the only adolescent enrolled in the Spanish language school I attended in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

The 1976 to 1980 Years

For me these years years would not be complete without remembering the pain of being injured by a head-on collision between myself and a car which I was chased into when riding through my grandmother’s neighborhood several years earlier by a neighbor’s dog which may have been unleashed to attack me as I passed by. There is no reason why I should keep trying to live a hopeful life when I think of all these kinds of things and yet sometimes I do still walk forward in hope. It was during these years that the first girls I knew talked with me about the trauma of abortion or the fears of unwed motherhood who said they could not talk to anyone else in their lives. This block of years ended with me publishing along letter to the editor arguing against the return to conscription or the military draft and supporting the rights of conscientious objectors. I still oppose the draft and still support the right of conscientious objectors but there have been few things I ever did that I regretted more than this article which was a creation of its time and situations.

The 1981 to 1985 Years

During this time period I began interacting with the people of New Zealand and then moved to living and working with the people of the Philippines. Both were very different places. In New Zealand I interacted with people at what I would call a Redemptorist high school, although it was known as Bishop Viard College or Viard College. I interacted with a youth group and a music ministry in the local church parish, ministered to an old folks home, volunteered at a weather station, visited with a Maori Catholic activist and did a lot of hiking on the coast. I also worked as an apprentice to a master craftsman. A child we fostered there to one of my few possessions a knife and slashed most of my favorite and newest clothes to entertain himself.

I did many things in the philippines with my family and alone. The story of these years involves a lot of good and bad times and the story is not complete without the memories of being bitten by a man who left a set of toothmarks in my shoulder that took years to fade. He and I had a conflict going on and he did no bite me for no reason. But I feel that the most important part of my life there reached a focus in a small period of time and a small place. It was a project called the Bukidnon Catholic State Youth Conference and The Bukidnon State Youth Congress. I worked most of all with Student Catholic Action of the Philippines but also with prominent families, the diocesan authorites of the Catholic Church, informal associates in the police department, leaders from the Ang Ligaya Ng Panginoon Covenant Community in Manila and my parents associate in Couple for Christ and the Jesus in the Mountains Evangelization Team to lead, create and direct a project which was very much my responsibility from the ground up. The Congress consisted of a few informal meetings of varied leaders as well as group members and the exchange of contact information and flyers. The Conference consisted of a small fee paid by constituent group subsidized by donations of about ten times that amount and reduced speakers fees. hundreds were housed fed, taught and participated in workshops, plays and planning for three days with dozens participating an extra day in leadership training. Marxist and right wing political backgrounds, Muslim and animist family ties were brought into a comprehensive dialog which was part of my larger ministry and large connections that I helped facilitate. It is one of the things in my life which I am most proud of having done. That is partly because of the situation, risks and dangers involved in the time and place. This occurred in Malaybalay, Bukidnon
One of my female relatives hired me to work moving asbestos. Where no doubt I was exposed to a very large amount of asbestos considering the amount of time involved even the limited safety precautions I was able to afford on my own were frustrated and thwarted intentionaly or unintententionaly. It was not the first or the last time I felt that people in what I and others around here would consider my family did not consider my safety and survival an important concern. In my life across the years and lands of the world I worked, studied, lived and traveled with hundreds of Catholic priests in relatively private and confidential settings. I knew a very few priests who had relationships which were stable and secure as could be made and had children and were in love with women they were not married to and whose congregations protected them from church authorities because they considred these to be marriages. I knew some priests who seemed to me to be in committed homosexual relationships of a very discreet kind with a group or a single other priest in their religious community or diocese. I knew a few women who were the rare sexual partners of a distant priest who lived very long period of time in profound celibacy. I knew some who became known for being in trouble including for underaged sexual partners and I met one who was a rather unsavory pedophile of an extreme kind and who I though was possibly just such a man when I was a child but I never actually saw him do anything improper. I just felt he was not trustworthy. The remainder of priests I knew comes to about 90% of those I met. In all these cases of the 90% they managed to keep their sexual lives out of my view, to appear and behave as would be suitable for a vowed celibate at all times I was with them. However, in this 1981 to 1985 period I met the only priest who, when I was over eighteen, misinterpreted something I said and made a nonphysical homosexual advance of a rather subtle but unmistakable type. His embarassment when he realized that I may often do without but remain entirely heterosexual in both desire and action made me aware of some of the burdens of his life. I have been approached by other homosexual men and been angry enough but I felt very far from any sense that this man was a threat and sad to sense that he was really unsure about whether I would choose to persecute and hardworking, genteel and cautious man who spent much of his life marrying off heterosexuals, helping families and wearing a sort of sign in life saying “I have decided not to have sex with women”. I resent many homosexuals for many things they have done and said but I was never ashamed to have this man as my priest. I would like to have married diocesan priests but not the bishops and I think there must always be a strong celibate clergy to both for the really abstinent and for some class of homosexual and bisexual Catholic leaders who are committed to a humane life and community. Yet that encounter was still a sorrow in my life because somehow int made me more aware than ever of how complex human life is if one aspires to any sort of real civilization.

During these years friends of mine I knew or people I worked with or talked with or ministered to were shot to death, stabbed to death with icepicks, run over by cars, beaten to death, raped and beaten to death, blown apart and savaged by trained attack dogs and otherwise killed. Two of my associates committed suicide. This was not a single person nor in a single place but a variety of different people in different places. I also had friends and associates who inflicted violence on others. I thought some were justifed and some were not.

The 1986 to 1990 Years

I will say that a number of my ex-wife’s old boyfriends come to mine when I think of these years some were deterred with speech and some with limited physical violence and maybe some were none of the above. But the way they felt entitled to act made me yet more aware of how unhappy I was with the sexual, romantic and courtship culture of the United States. These were the years in which I got married. There is little else that I can remember as vividly as those years and yet I am reticent even here to indulge in the fullness of self-disclosure where it involves my ex-wife. It was in these years that I underwent a rather bizarre and ineffectual process of applying for work as a field officer in the Central Intelligence Agency and being more or less put off in complex and exotic ways. These were the years when I earned my Bachelor of Arts from USL (now UL) and attended Tulane Law School the first time without finishing. There was a sharp degree of emotional pain in my life at the end of this period of time mitigated by the relative optimism of starting a good new job and renting a nice house with my wife near my parents and starting a catechism group. The group would continue although we would move to a house in a bigger city near to us. The only black kid in our group was unable to attend the final part of the classes because of a gunshot wound he claimed was a self inflicted hunting accident and maybe it was.

The 1991 to 1995 Years

These are the years when I earned my Master of Arts from LSU. These are the years when I attended Tulane Law School The second time. I came into these years robust and somewhat athletic but leaning toward the side of being thin and left these years overweight and fat for what so far has been the rest of my life. I came into these years having hit the first big bump in my marriage and left these years in the midst of a divorce. It was a time of trying to repair relationships with my family which had been strained in the last two years of my marriage although not ever disrupted at all. I also had a great deal of sadness leading up to and following my divorce. I also felt very carefully abused, entrapped and mistreated by a number of people including relatives who I felt tried hard to do my life great harm and then achieving very limited results were in a position to lie and exaggerate about them very much and keep me in a kind of perpetually blackmailed state without a great deal of focus. This was also a time when I ully emerged from the age where I considered a military carreer.

The 1996 to 2000 Years

These years were the years when I suppose my life really became hell in the sense that I accepted the idea of a whole series of outcomes in which I would find no really appealing major points between the present and a possible death of old age. Yet while that was going on I found new joys in neices who were born in those years and had become part of my life. I had enjoed having nieces by marriage but these were the children of my oldest sister who, being younger than i was starting a family. During those years I had less interaction with violence than some periods but the work I di was still pretty edgy. I set up a small buiness where I drove relatives and old associates to jail from halfway houses and work release programs and to hospitals. I used the moeny I earned from this to pay for a business distributing books, prints of art pieces, greeting cards and jewelry to the public and vendors all around the state, the country and the world. It was a small business that would carry on into the next block of years in this note.

The 2001 to 2005 Years

These years went through the tragic events of 9/11 and the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and the hoic fight on United 92. Those years also saw Hurricane Lili badly affect the school system in Abbeville which affected my work. This period would see me work and live alone in China. The end of it would see me involved with recovery from Hurricane Katrina and then going through Hurricane Rita and leaving injured to go to San Diego and then down into Mexico to stay with my sister and her children. China was a great experience and so was getting to know a generation nephews as well as continuing my relationship with my two oldest nieces.

The 2006 to 2012 Years

These years have brought me to my current position in 2012 which does not need its own category.There have been more nephews and nieces and some good times with my brothers and sisters and parents. I described earlier the work I have been able to do between hours in bed or on a couch in home-made therapies. I will not go through that again in this paragraph. However, I have mostly noticed how may of they physical injuries of the past have come back in varied forms to collect a new toll on my health, time, energy and happiness. My health since I returned from China to the United States has revealed new troubles and woes to me bit by bit. I am not sure my health matters much to me any more since so much of my life is about being out of contact with so much and aspiring to so little that requires vigorous good health. It was in these years that my cousin Severin Summers was killed in Afghanistan. I had the opportunity to remember a long conversation I had with him about the ideas and commitments of militry and more or less civilian people in combat and in other kinds of more or less justified violence. I remembered him carrying the cross at his grandmother’s funeral. It has been a strangely huige experience I would not expect anyone to validate or understand because Sev and I were not close by any standard that makes objective sense.

I am feeling tired and my hold on life feels tenuous enough but not desperately so and I cannot honestly say it is absolutely impossible I could work again. I am waiting to get my form to request reconsideration and will write a letter to trhird address where I have requested this Monday morning probably. All of these events are not a curriculum vitae nor are they an exhaustive recitation of risks and pains in my life. But they give some idea of why I perhaps feel nearer to being very old than I do to being very young. This is perhaps my excuse for being a bit tired and does not include capsized boats. carcrashes, storms, fasts, failures and false arrests I do not wih to explain or mention for many reasons including the lack of space and time. I look at life in America and think there is little chance of me finding what I would consider a very rewarding life here and I am feeling a bit disilluioned and weary with many chronic problems I have written about elsewhere on Facebook but not in this note. I feel rightly or wrongly that I have lived a long and hard life. That is not the only truth but it is the truth. I have profile on Linked-In some could check for a broader picture.

But August 7 has left me feeling differently than ever before. I will see where this path leads. If it leads to death then at least death has never been a stranger. We may not be friends but I have seen the Reaper around many times and no introductions will be necessary…