Friday, September 25, 2015

September 25, 2015

20 years ago, I got to see Pope John Paul in his Popemobile when he visited my then-home of Baltimore, MD. I didn't have a camera to document this. A lot has changed since his US visit in October 1995. Less than 10 years later, Pope John Paul II died. About 2 months after that visit, my father (who by that time was my last living ancestor) died. Less than a year later, I nearly got killed by my neighbors in Baltimore and had to move- and ended up in New York.

In 2015, I had to move back to the New York area after a disastrous 7 months in my hometown of Colorado Springs. I spent 2 months at a Catholic shelter in Jersey City before moving back to Rockaway. Since then, I got hired for what is probably the highest paying job of my life. I finally got to visit Ireland 27 years after I found out I had ancestry there (although I never got to meet any Clarke relatives). And earlier this evening (while at work), I finally got to see the current Pope.
I was in the middle of deliveries on the Upper East Side of Manhattan when I got to the intersection of Madison and E 66th and was prevented from going further by the NYPD. I managed to get a prime viewing spot for the Papal motorcade just as Pope Francis was passing from his school visit in East Harlem to Central Park.

Pope Francis has had a lot to say on the environment, the poor, sin, forgiveness, and prayer. Indeed, numerous times today, he asked people (many of whom aren't Catholic) to pray for him. A lot of people seem to have forgotten that one of the key missions of the Church is to help the poor. Here in New York, the Church is at the forefront of helping the needy. In other dioceses, the Church doesn't have enough resources to help the poor. In my hometown, Catholic Charities runs Marian House which feeds the poor and homeless and provides health services and many other resources except shelter. There is not enough shelter services in that town (especially for women, families, and men who are not substance abusers or veterans), and the so-called religious institution that runs the only all-purpose (200 bed) shelter in town is at best using the shelter as a way to extort money from the taxpayers of Colorado Springs. Austin is in even more dire shape, with about 500 shelter beds between 2 shelters and a homeless population between 3000-5000. And in Syria, the homeless population is in the millions and migrating towards Turkey and Europe due to a civil war primarily between the Baath Butchers of the Assad regime and the barbaric terrorists of the so-called Islamic State.

If Pope Francis and the Church can actually come up with concrete solutions to the environmental, social, and homeless/refugee problems that plague this planet, then they need all the prayers they can get. But I do trust the Church a lot more than I trust the Syrian, Russian, Turkish, or American governments at this point. Besides, if the Hildabeest, the Socialist, or Trump win the Presidency next year, I don't see any point of staying in the United States. Too many on the American left and the right fail to see how their policies hurt the poor and harm society.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

September 13, 2015

As far as the residence and job, nothing has changed since April. But almost everything else has changed. I now am making enough money to afford such niceties as DNA testing and vacations. The fact that I am getting paid vacations helps too. I found out I probably am a nicer person when I'm not in New York and not around this culture. And after my vacation which ended 10 days ago, I could survive outside the United States (and probably thrive, if not for international immigration requirements).

In May, I took an autosomal DNA test sponsored by It showed I was primarily of Western European (i.e. German, Dutch, French) and Irish origin. I had so little British/English DNA in my sample that it made me question whether the woman I knew as my grandmother Hazel (who was born 104 years ago in Toronto to Worcestershire native parents) actually was my biological grandmother. I later found a Worcestershire DNA match on Ancestry that could only have been related to me through my grandmother's family. For most of the matches that showed up on there (and GEDMatch and the free version of FamilyTreeDNA), I have no idea how I'm related to these people. And the autosomal DNA test never showed me where exactly my Clarke ancestors originated. I have since ordered a more expensive Y-DNA test that should reveal where the Clarke family came from and hopefully find other Clarkes. As far as I know, I'm the last one. My parents are long gone, and my estranged sister is technically a Johnson (of the Tennessee Springer-esque branch). In June, after she threatened to have me arrested over calling a welfare check on her (which resulted in her institutionalization for being suicidal), I cut her off completely.
I figured out how to get vacation time from my job, and used the money I was saving for a car towards my first extended international vacation. To Ireland. In a lot of ways, Ireland is similar to the US. They speak English (with accents just as hard to follow as Americans from the rural South or Northern Appalachia). They listen to the same music that Americans do. They have HD and satellite television, internet, wi-fi, malls, buskers, nice cars, western style housing, and a more advanced bus and railway network. But cars are driven on the left side of the road. The currency is in euros, with anything smaller than 5 euros ($5.50 US) in coins instead of paper money. And the locals are super nice and polite- to the point that they would be easy pickings for con artists and evil-doers if they ever stepped foot in New York. I probably felt more at home in 5 days in Ireland (where I had never been before August 29) than I did in the last 10 years in America, even with the bilingual signs and instructions in Irish (a language I am far less familiar with than Spanish, or French, or Creole). But it would take a high paying job offer, a Mega Millions jackpot, or a marriage offer (from an Irish woman who could still tolerate me after several weeks) before I could ever think of renouncing my American citizenship and move there.
And wherever I end up, I can now claim to be a published writer. Not for my musings on the obscene state of New York and Washington politics, but for my songwriting and poetry abilities. Two of the lyrics to my songs (Ask and Piping Plovers) and 8 other original works were added to the Holy Apostles writers' workshop anthology that was published in June. I got to read some of my works at a public reading on June 25.
The workshop is starting up again on the 17th. However, I don't know if I can attend any of the workshops with my current work schedule.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

April 19, 2015

Nearly a month has passed since I returned to Rockaway. I am still getting used to not having a kitchen or cooking devices, and paying more than half my income in rent (with the lower rent option in Jersey City negated by the more than doubling of non-car-owning transportation expenses). Somehow this part of Rockaway is still safe. There aren't any large scale shooting incidents or breakdowns here like what is happening in the Bronx and Brooklyn under De Blasio's rule. I have been working on writings for the workshop (which I have to submit via e-mail due to my new job) and for potential musical projects. After all, Rockaway is where my electronic music career began.
And in atypical blog discussion, I am trying to determine which bird flew into Rockaway last week (pictured above). I have seen the various seagulls and related sea birds that are normally found in this area as well as this weird bird that looks somewhat like a seagull but with a longer and more pointed colored beak. I have yet to see any piping plovers since I moved back. Supposedly it will be next year before work starts on the section of the boardwalk that connects Beach 115th Street to Shore Front Parkway due to research on the plovers. But there is the chance that the plovers are still pissed about that song I wrote about them last year...

Friday, March 27, 2015

March 27, 2015

My first new blog of the year was composed in a place I never thought I'd be again. New York, or more specifically, my now seemingly permanent home neighborhood of Rockaway Park, Queens. And for the 4th straight year, I spent a good part of Lent in a homeless shelter. But I ended up in the shelter (in Jersey City, NJ, of all places) after getting into a disagreement with the super/resident manager of my Salvation Army-owned transitional housing in Colorado Springs. That led to me being evicted with 10 minutes warning and being blacklisted from the city's main shelter. After getting thrown out and threatened with arrest if I stepped foot on Salvation Army property without approval, I went to Marian House, the main low-income/homeless information center in Colorado Springs. After rejecting their suggestions of relocating to Portland or Seattle, I took a Greyhound back to New York and ended up in New Jersey when my now seemingly permanent residence didn't have any rooms available. One finally became available on the 25th of March, and I moved back with the unemployment I had accumulated while in the shelter. And after about 20 interviews and 19 rejections, I got hired by Urban Express, which means next week I will be a foot messenger again, albeit one paid slightly above NY's minimum wage and making about twice what I did in my last messenger gig.
So now, it's back to the beach and back to delivering on the streets of Manhattan. And (in a somewhat repeat of Lent 2013 and 2014) back to creative artistic pursuits- namely a writers' workshop run by the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen. Hopefully some of the pre-work stuff I submitted can get published.