Tag Archives: artists

Sucked into the dream.

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Walking-meditation

December finally came and with it came the month that Andy had to vacate the office building and begin the next chapter of his business life.

Andy planned on running his business out of his home office and within a week sold all of the office furniture and remnants of his company from the last 20 years to start over and full commit himself to his Pink Town Foundation and charitable event.

I wavered on my commitment to Andy and started looking for a new job with another website company, this scared Andy when he realized that I wasn’t committed to his business dreams anymore and he tried anything he could to lure me back into the business.

After being out of communication with Andy for two weeks Andy called me one day with a desperate computer problem and asked me to come over to his house and help him out. I drove over to his house with the desire to help him with his computer problem, ask him for my last paycheck and go home.

“How are you Jeremy? I haven’t seen you in a while, come in,” Andy said to me when I arrived at his house. It was 5 p.m. and Andy was drinking a beer and asked me if I wanted one, I accepted and kicked back in his house until he was ready for me to look at his computer.

“I didn’t really call you over here for a computer problem,” Andy said.

“I figured you didn’t, what do you want?” I asked.

“I need you to help me launch the Pink Town Foundation,” Andy said.

“What about Mike and Steve?” I asked.

“Mike started his own business venture and I have no idea what Steve is doing,” Andy said.


 

I wasn’t excited about continuing to work for Andy because he hadn’t paid me in weeks and over the last few months had bounced three of my paychecks.

“I don’t know Andy, I’m tired, I just want a regular job where I can earn a regular paycheck,” I said.

“What about your dream to become an artist? What are you doing with that?” Andy asked.

“Hopefully when I get a regular job I can have the energy to get back to that,” I said.

“Jeremy, artists need to make lots of money so they can work on their artwork full time, where are you going to be able to find a job where you can make the money that you deserve?” Andy asked.

“Where had I heard that before?” I thought.

“I have a proposition for you. Would you be interested in owning your own website business?” Andy asked.

“Where would I get the money to invest in my own website business?” I asked.

“It’s easy, you don’t need a lot of money to start your own business, you can start reselling websites on our server under your own company name, you will have your own website builder like do but won’t have the hassle and responsibility of maintaining your own server,” Andy said.

“I don’t know, it seems like I would have to invest a lot of money for that,” I said.

“What would you say if I can make you a website re-seller for only, $500.000?” Andy asked, and then reclined in his office chair for dramatic effect.

$500.00 was money I could easily spend but would I be committed to the business to spending thousands on advertising, marketing and other business related expenses off the ground?

“I’ll have to think about it,” I said.

“What’s to think about? It’s a great opportunity. You can take all of your old leads that you had when you worked for me and sell those companies websites under your own business! You can start making thousands of dollars in sales next week!” Andy exclaimed.

I started dreaming of what it would be like to be making thousands of dollars in my own business and started to smile when I thought about the possibilities.

I could make it happen; I knew how to sell websites and could see myself making money in my own business. It would be a smart decision and I was going to go for it because I thought that if I was in business for myself I’d have the time to work on my art fulltime and develop my art into a full fledged career.

“What do you say?” Andy asked.

“I’ll do it!” I said.

“Great! I already have the contract ready for you to sign,” Andy said.

“What about the $500.00 payment? It’s going to take me a while to get you that money,” I said.

“I owe you $500.00 for your last paycheck don’t I? Well, that can be your payment to me and you can sign the paperwork today,” Andy said.

Andy always seemed to think two steps ahead whenever he owed anyone money. For instance, when he owed the IRS money, he sold his office building, when he couldn’t pay his credit cards, he sold his cars and now when he owed me money, he convinced me to invest in his business venture.

Investing in the website business seemed like a logical step because I knew the business, inside and out and realized that with my sales leads I could be making sales for my business within the next week.

“Where do I sign?” I asked.

Andy pulled out a contract he had written on Microsoft Word and handed it over to me. I signed the contract, he shook my hand, and I was in business.

The next day I went to the county recorders office and registered my business name and opened up a bank account for my new business. The future seemed bright and all I could do was see streets paved with gold in front of me.

A few nights later I went back to Andy’s to help him fix problems with his network and website, after I finished my work a group of Andy’s friends arrived with alcohol and party supplies.

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“It looks like you’re planning a party, I better go,” I said.

“You’re staying, we’re celebrating the launch of the Pink Town Foundation and since you’re a part of it, you’re going to party with us!” Andy said.

I stayed at Andy’s party until late that night and went home with a beer buzz, happy and optimistic about the future and decided to call Mike to tell him the good news about my new business and continued working relationship with Andy.

“You did what?” Mike asked.

“I invested in Andy’s website product and now I have my own business!” I said, excited.

Mike sighed, “Jeremy, you know that anything Andy does in business will fail. How many businesses did he start and give up during the time we worked for him?” Mike asked.

“It’s different now, my business will work,” I said.

“I have faith in your business but since you’re still working for Andy he’s going to keep using you like he used to and where are you going to find the time to make your business work?” Mike asked.

“Don’t worry Mike, my plan will work,” I said.

“Any website you sell is going to be on Andy’s server so what happens when he forgets to pay the bill to his data center and his server gets turned off? All of your websites will get turned off and you’ll have a lot of angry customers,” Mike said.

“I’ll make sure that doesn’t happen,” I said, optimistically.

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” Mike said.

“I heard you started your own business?” I asked.

“Yeah, it’s great, I’m selling ‘how to’ books from home and I’m making a fortune from it. You should consider selling your own ‘how to’ book,” Mike said.

“Maybe I’ll consider it,” I said.

“Have you heard from Steve lately?” Mike asked.

“Nope, I haven’t seen him or heard from him in weeks,” I said.

“That guy was such a loser, I have no idea how he can afford to live the lifestyle he’s living without making any money,” Mike said.

“Maybe he’s a gigolo?” I joked.

“I wouldn’t be surprised.” Mike said.

Mike and I talked about business and old times back at the company and we said our goodbyes and promised to go to lunch in the future.

I went to be that night dreaming of a bright future and looked forward to getting started with my own business.


I spent the next six months working hard on developing my website business but didn’t get far with it because like Mike predicted, I was busier than ever working for Andy, every day, helping him launch his Pink Town Foundation and keep his other business ventures alive.

Mike continued selling “how to” books from his home and made a few hundred thousands dollars in a year and was able to customize his Corvette and buy a new condo in La Jolla, California.

And Steve eventually contacted Andy again, asking for money and Andy hired him to market his Pink Town Foundation but now that Andy was short on money to pay Steve he quickly became irritated when he saw that Steve never actually did any work and he fired him immediately.

Andy’s Pink Town Foundation never amounted to more than a business name and a logo because, left to market the event himself Andy floundered in a sea of paperwork and was unable to turn his idea into a profitable business. By May of 2003 I finally had enough of working for Andy and cut my ties with him and stopped working for him for good.

Since my Dad was re-hired at Rohr / Goodrich Aerospace my Mom was able to retire from her job that she worked at for over 10 years to help support the family and as my Dad got closer to retirement they enjoyed life even more and began dropping hints, wondering when I was going to get married, and hoping that they would have more grandchildren running around in their golden years.

My sister, Becky, was able to turn her life after her marriage to Joe finally ended and got her own apartment and went to college to get her degree while supporting her son Caleb who brought energy, joy and excitement to our family.

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As I got closer to turning 30 years old I started to review my life and asked myself, “What was most important to me?” Was money, security, success, family or wealth the things that motivated me in my life? It had now been almost ten years since I graduated from high school and I hadn’t accomplished much of anything other than learning some important life lessons and gaining a good education in sales and business that I could take with me wherever I went but, was that enough? Was I happy with where I was at in life or was there something missing?

One day, I went out into my garage studio, at the duplex I shared with my cousin Brian, and realized that due to my job, working for Andy for almost two years I had neglected working on my art and had left my paintings and art supplies in the garage to collect dust. I also realized, once again that my goal to be in business for myself, “So that I could have more time to work on my art”, actually took me away from my art more than ever and that if I continued on the road I was on, I would never realize my artistic dreams.

I decided to be honest with myself and realized that if I ever wanted to do anything with my art I had to sacrifice one of my goals for another if I truly wanted to be happy, and so I gave up on my business aspirations, to focus on my art, full time, in the evenings while I worked a regular job during the day.

“That decision was a long time coming,” My dad said one day.

Dad was right; it finally sank in that, the path to my happiness was in front of me all along and that all I ever had to do was be honest with myself and admit what I really wanted.

THE END.

Living on the edge

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During my first month at Cashwave I worked hard and was hopeful that my job at Cashwave would last for more than a year and slowly became optimistic that I would be able to get financially stable enough to have a social life and invest money into my art and start selling the artwork I had made over the previous years.

My job at Cashwave was very easy, all I was required to do every day was call businesses in the area where Cashwave ATM’s were located and sell them low cost advertising that appeared on the ATM screen when the customer transaction was being processed and on the ATM receipt after the customer finished their transaction. It was an easy sell and I quickly caught on and became very successful at it.

I enjoyed making easy money at Cashwave and looked forward to going to work every day when one day the easy money stopped and the company future didn’t look very bright. 

I arrived for work one morning to find all of the employees up in the conference room for an emergency meeting that Andy had called. Everyone was over anxious because Andy hadn’t heard from or seen Andy in weeks and we weren’t sure why he called the meeting and what his important news was going to be.

Andy arrived to the meeting looking tired and more worn out than usual and all of the employees became silent with dread as we sensed that he had bad news to tell us.

“How’s everyone doing?” Andy said casually.

“Doing a lot better than you, are you sick or something?” Mike asked.

“It’s nothing that a bottle of Scotch can’t cure,” Andy said with a wry grin.

Everyone in the room laughed.

“Anyway, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but I’m here to tell everyone today that Cashwave is going out of business,” Andy said.

The room fell deadly silent as the employees around the room began to contemplate Andy’s announcement and what it meant to their financial futures.

“As everyone knows after 911 Cashwave lost a lot of business due to several of our big customers going out of business and the domination of the ATM market by companies like E-Trade Financial. I’ve also lost millions in costly lawsuits and protracted litigation and my finances are severely drained.” Andy said.

“You’ve been living on the financial edge for to long now Andy. You can’t afford to keep it up much longer.” Howard, the accountant said.

“What are you saying Andy?” Mike asked.

“I’m saying that all employees of Cashwave are going to be laid off immediately until further notice,” Andy said.

“What about the ATMS that we still own? Who is going to service those machines?” Mike asked.

“I’m in the process of selling off those contracts to E-Trade so I can save what assets I have left like this office building.” Andy replied.

“What am I going to do? My husband is laid off and I can’t loose this job,” The secretary said.

“I’m so sorry. If I don’t reorganize my business now I won’t have any opportunity left to rise from the ashes in the future,” Andy said.

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Andy liked to think of himself as a mythical Phoenix that rose from the ashes after it burst into flames. This wasn’t the first time one of his business ventures had gone down in flames and it wouldn’t be the last.

The meeting continued for several more minutes as Andy answered questions from the employees until everyone was allowed to leave to clean out their desks and go home.

As I left the room Andy called Mike and Steve, the outside sales manager back into the conference room and he closed the door.

I didn’t think anything of their private meeting because I was depressed like everyone else at the prospect of losing another job and I walked back to the sales office to clean out my desk of one month and go home. I quickly cleaned out my desk and talked with Herb and Lupe about what they were going to do for work next when Mike walked back in the office looking grim and more stressed out than usual.

“Did Frank already go home?” Mike asked.

“Yeah he’s gone, it’s not like there’s anything for us to do here,” Lupe said.

“I’m sorry guys, I didn’t see this coming,” Mike said with sadness.

“What are you going to do now?” Herb asked.

“I don’t know, probably cash out all of my credit cards, sell my Corvette and spend the next 20 years on an island somewhere,” Mike said.

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“Sounds nice, can you take me with you?” Herb asked.

“I’ll send you a postcard,” Mike said.

“I can’t believe I have to find another stupid job again! I hoped that this job would at least last me for one year and it’s barely lasted me for a month,” I said.

“Well everyone, Andy asked me to close up the sales office so I got to lock things up,” Mike said.

“So you’re kicking us out too?” Lupe asked in mock surprise.

“No Lupe, it’s not like that. I love you guys.” Mike said.

“Come on guys, let’s get out of here and let Mike close up the office,” Lupe said.

As I prepared to leave the office with everyone Mike stopped me from leaving the office, closed the door and locked it.

“What’s going on Mike?” I asked, surprised.

“Jeremy, how do you feel about staying with the company for a little longer?” Mike asked.

“Doing what? We can’t sell ATM advertising anymore because Andy has sold all of the ATM’s,” I replied.

“The reason why Andy had that private meeting with Steve and I upstairs is because he’s going to start a website company and wants us to stay on and help him run it,” Mike said,

“What does that mean for me?” I asked.

“You have the most experience in the sales office with computers and the Internet, you pick up new concepts easily and I don’t think you will have any problem selling Andy’s website product,” Mike said.

“How much will the position pay?” I asked.

“Same as now except you will have the opportunity to earn more commission after the new company has been afloat for more than 90 days,” Mike said.

“Did Andy say he wanted me to be a part of the new company?” I asked.

“I’m the sales manager and can hire anyone I want.” Mike replied.

“What about Herb, Frank and Lupe? Don’t you want to keep one of them aboard because they’ve been with the company longer?” I asked.

“Jeremy, I want you because you have the youth and energy that they don’t have and most important of all you have the computer and Internet skills to help us launch the new company,” Mike said.

I sat down in my chair acting like I was seriously thinking about Mike’s offer when in reality I would jump at the chance to help start a new company.

“What do you say?” Mike inquired.

“I’ll do it if he gives me a raise to $13.00 per hour plus commission,” I said.

“You’ve only been with the company for over a month, you can’t ask for a raise already,” Mike said.

“It’s a new company and it’s going to require a lot of time and commitment,” I replied, smugly.

“Alright, alright I’ll talk to Andy and make sure he gives you a pay raise to $13.00 per hour plus commission,” Mike said.

I got up and shook Mike’s hand with a big smile on my face.

“If you use half the skills that you used to work me over for a pay raise you’re going to be very successful selling websites,” Mike said with a laugh.

“When do we get started?” I asked.

“Tomorrow morning, 8 a.m. We’re going to have a meeting in the conference room so don’t be late,” Mike said

“I won’t be late!” I said.

I put my things back in my desk and left the office unsure of what the next day would bring and was optimistic and excited at the thought of being a part of the new company and a bright future.

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Artsy fartsy

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After my conversation with Glen and Andy I grabbed all of my recent artwork and crammed it into my old art portfolio case from high school, took a shower, threw on my Sunday best clothes, jumped in my car and raced for the business meeting.

As I drove over 80 miles an hour on 5 South I kept replaying my conversation with Andy and dreaming of what could be. “You remind me of myself when I was your age, I also loved the same things that you do and didn’t conform to any accepted style in art or truth that the teachers were teaching. You know I might be able to show your work to a friend of mine in L.A. that owns a gallery up there; if he likes your work he might be able to show your work”

Being able to be a full time, working artist was everything that I ever wanted and I was going to do my best to win over Andy Lakey and hopefully get any opportunity to show my artwork.

I arrived at the Hilton in Del Mar an hour early, parked my old car in the parking lot next to BMW’s, Mercedes and other vehicles that cost more than I would make in three years salary. As I left the parking lot and entered the Hilton I joined a group of over 150 people who were attending the same business opportunity meeting as I was.

I quickly realized that “the meeting,” wasn’t going to be any intimate opportunity to learn about a new business opportunity and talk art with Andy Lakey. The meeting was a “cattle call” and I was a part of the herd corralled into a room for the indoctrination.

As we were corralled into a large ballroom I tried to spot Andy or Glen but was unable to find them because I was given a number and pushed into a seat.

Once everyone was inside the lights quickly dimmed and a video presentation for Do it all Travel came on the screen and we watched a video of interviews with various members of the company that had made a six figure income with the company, bought a new home, cars and taken many fabulous vacations.

I soon became bored and looked at my watch and wondered when the video was going to end. The video finally ended thirty minutes later, the lights came on over the stage and a balding man in his early 40’s, wearing an Hawaiian shirt ran to the stage.

“How you all doing, does everyone in this room want to make more money?” The man asked.

“Yes!” The crowd replied.

“Does everyone want a new car?” The man asked.

“Yes!” The crowd replied.

People sitting next to me actually started to cry with excitement and the atmosphere quickly started to resemble a tent revival meeting.

“Does everyone want a new home or the ability to take nice vacations?” The man asked.

“Yes!” the crowd screamed.

“Good, my name is Roger Smith and I’m going to show everyone in this room how they can do all that and more with Do it all Travel” He said.

For the next 45 minutes Roger Smith and a series of managers and successful people in the company came on stage to share their success stories and sales pitch on why attendees like me should invest in the business opportunity. By the time the meeting was over I was emotionally wiped out, physically exhausted and like a new convert ready to hand over my credit card to invest in the company.

I reached in my back pocket for my wallet and credit cards and realized that I forgot it in my rush to leave for the meeting and smiled because I knew that I just saved myself $300.00 by not purchasing the quick start business kit.

I waited around for Glen in the ballroom, for a few minutes after the presentation and when I was prepared to leave a short, bald guy walked up to me with an excited look on his face.

“Jeremy! Glad to see you, I didn’t think you made it! I’m Glen!” He stuck out his hand and I shook it.

“It’s great to meet you Glen.” I said.

“How did you like the meeting tonight?” Glen asked.

“It was great. I’m very interested in the business opportunity,” I said, trying to act excited….

“Are you ready to invest tonight? The company had marked the quick start business kit down to only $300.00! It’s a steal.” Glen said.

I thought of my rent due the following week, bills and an upcoming car repair and thought of the best excuse in the sales world.

“I’d like to think about it,” I said.

“No problem, just don’t wait to long to get involved with this opportunity because you can get in on the ground floor now but in a few weeks that opportunity will be gone.” He said.

“I know, I’d still like to think about it.” I said.

“No problem, I’ll just give you some tapes to listen to keep you motivated until we talk again in a few days,” He said.

“That would be great, thank you.” I said.

I could tell that Glen was quickly growing disinterested with me because I didn’t want to purchase the “quick start business kit,” and he wasn’t going to earn a commission on the sale tonight. Glen quickly grew depressed and was prepared to leave when Andy walked up to introduce himself to me.

“Glen, this must be Jeremy with you right?” Andy asked.

Glen perked up, “It sure is, I was just talking with Jeremy about the importance of investing in the company tonight,” Glen said.

“Oh, you don’t want to miss out on this opportunity, Jeremy, you won’t find a ‘ground floor’ opportunity like this again.” Andy said.

“I know, I can’t invest tonight, because I forgot my credit card.” I said.

“That’s ok, we can take a check,” Glen said with desperation.

 “I’d still like more time to think about it,” I said.

“I admire a man who knows what he wants,” Andy said.

“Me too,” Glen said as he acted depressed again.

“Jeremy, have you had dinner yet?” Andy asked.

“No, not yet,” I said.

“Good, I’m going out to dinner with a few people involved with the company and I’d like you and Glen to come along,” He said.

“I’d love to, where are we going to?” I asked.

“My favorite restaurant, Jonathan’s by the bay.” Andy said.

Jonathan’s by the bay was a high priced restaurant with nothing on the menu under $15.00 and with only $10.00 cash in my wallet I wasn’t sure if I could afford it but I also knew that the opportunity to show Andy my work might not come again so I decided to accept the invitation.

“I’d love to go to dinner with you guys,” I said.

“Great, you can follow me to the restaurant.” Andy said.

I followed Andy out to the parking lot and was about to get in my car when Andy invited me over to his Lexus SUV to show me his latest paintings.

“Come and see my new work,” Andy said.

Andy opened up the back door to his Lexus SUV and pulled out several different paintings that he had completed within the last week.

“What do you think?” Andy asked.

The paintings had all of the elements of color and shape that I loved about his work and I didn’t know what to say.

“Beautiful,” I said.

“I thought you would like them, did you bring your portfolio?” Andy asked.

“Yes sir,” I said.

“Good, you can show your work to me after we eat dinner, let’s go because I’m starving!” Andy said.

I got in my old 1987 Toyota Celica and followed Andy in his brand new Lexus SUV and several other BMW’s and a Mercedes to the restaurant. We arrived a few minutes later and I parked my car in the parking lot next to a Porsche, and I felt like I didn’t belong there.

“Don’t worry Jeremy; I don’t like eating here either. I only like coming here for celebrations.” Andy said.

“What are we celebrating?” I asked.

“It’s been a very good year for me in art and business and I want to celebrate.” Andy said.

I smiled at the thought of being able to dine in any restaurant in ease to just “celebrate” like Andy without a care in the world.

“Don’t worry about dinner Jeremy, I’m buying!” Andy enthused.

“Awesome! Thank you so much.” I gushed and followed him into the restaurant to enjoy a fine meal and good wine.

Glen and his wife and four other people from the conference also attended the dinner and Andy paid for everyone’s meals and after we had desert and coffee, by 10:30 p.m. and asked me to show him my art portfolio. I ran back to my car and brought it back to Andy, eager for him to examine it.

Andy looked through my artwork quickly and paused as he looked at a few of my best paintings. I waited with heavy anticipation for the verdict when he finally told me what I wanted to hear.

“I love all of it and I’m going to talk to my friend that owns the gallery up in L.A. and see if I can introduce you to him.” Andy said.

I was ecstatic and Andy saw it in my eyes.

 “Don’t get too excited yet Jeremy, it takes a lot of work to break into the L.A. art world but I’m going to do my best to get you a shot at it ok?” Andy said.

“Thank you!” Were the only words I could say as I felt like my dreams just came true, I gave Andy my phone number, address and e-mail address and he promised to call me with news from his gallery friend the following week.

Andy and I shook hands like old friends, said our goodbyes and I drove home on “cloud nine,” more excited than I had been in years, feeling like I was on the road to accomplishing my life’s ambition and nothing could stop me.

I felt happy and euphoric and was not prepared for how the world would change the following week.

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The Journey

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Christmas arrived quickly for me and on what was supposed to be one of the most wonderful times of the year; I was worried sick about the journey that awaited me. The planning and all of the little details involved took weeks to finalize, and as my relatives and friends learned about my plan I gained wide spread support especially after everyone learned the true about who Becky’s father really was and how he treated her.

On Christmas morning my parents drove me to the airport, gave me hugs and kisses, and watched me board the plane. And as I traversed the terminal I mentally went through every last detail of my trip and prepared myself emotionally for what it would be like once Becky and I would finally be together as husband and wife.

It had now weeks since we had spent real time together and yet I could still remember what it felt like to hold her hand in mine, to smell the scent of her hair as she sat next to me, to look into her eyes and have her know my desire for her without saying it. It was those things about her that kept me going during the long weeks that had passed since we were last separated. and it was every other thing about her that made me hunger to return to her once again.

The plane ride to Portland, Oregon only, lasted a couple of hours and before I knew it, I was searching for the next gate where I would sit and wait once again before boarding another small airplane that would take me to a small county airport in La Grande, Oregon, which was very close to Becky’s home.

I felt like a spy on a secret mission to retrieve a priceless jewel from my enemy.

I was on a long journey to an unfamiliar city where I had to navigate my way in the dead of winter through snow and ice to rescue my wife from her vengeful father. By 3 p.m. the next plane was ready for me and the other passengers. We boarded the plane and sat there for a few minutes before the pilots voice announced on the intercom that our plane would be delayed for one hour because of snow and ice. We would stay on the plane and wait it out, hoping that the plane wouldn’t be grounded for the night. I began to grow nervous.

We waited on the plane until 4 p.m. when the pilot announced that the weather had cleared and he’d been given go ahead to fly. I began to relax and wondered about what I would have for dinner that night.

The plane took off. It felt like it was flying smoothly for a few minutes when it began to shake and the pilot advised us to buckle up due to turbulence.

“Shit!” One of the passengers next to me said.

I started to freak out and pictured the plane crashing into a small field, with my parents learning about it the next morning from an early phone call from the F.A.A.

“This can’t be happening!” I thought as the plane was tossed back and forth like a flimsy trashcan.

The other passengers on the plane were also visibly shaken and holding hands. Some were even saying prayers when the pilot’s voice came on the intercom again.

“Folks, as you can see, we’ve hit some bad weather this afternoon and will have to divert to Washington for the night.”

“No shit!” Said the passenger sitting next to me.

“Please keep your seat belts buckled because we will be landing in a few minutes.”

Washington?

After more shaking and rolling, the plane finally touched down in Washington. We exited the plane and were greeted by a heavy snowstorm that blanketed the area with snow and ice. I walked inside the terminal with the other passengers and stopped to look out of the windows facing the runway. There were dozens of other planes that were grounded by the heavy winter storm. When the pilots and flight attendants walked into the terminal I went over to ask them if they thought we would be able to fly to Oregon the next day.

“I don’t think so, sir. The weather report is saying that this is the worst winter storm up here in 20 years.”

“We might be grounded tomorrow,” The pilot said.

My plans were falling apart, again.


Feeling depressed, I went to look for my bags unsure of my next move. Airports were typically happy places for me, full of people eagerly coming and going to different destinations and cities but on that afternoon, the airport in Washington was full of displaced people who all had a glazed-over look in their eyes as they sat around waiting for welcomed news of departures. After searching and grabbing for my bags I found a corner of the airport and decided to lie down and rest. It was going to be a long night. So I accepted my fate and fell asleep.

I slept for a few minutes when someone started to shake me awake. “Son, you better get up.”

I opened my eyes and was greeted by an elderly looking cowboy who was holding his hand out to help me up.

“The airlines chartered a bus to take everyone to the hotel up the street where we can stay for the night,” He said.

I got up, rubbed my eyes and remembered that it wasn’t a dream, and that I was really one 1,000 away from home in the middle of nowhere.

“You look like a man on a mission,” The man said.

“You’re right.” I said.

“I can always judge a man by the look in his eyes,” he said.

“My name’s Angel Johnson,” he said as he positioned his hand for a handshake.

“My mother named me Angel in the hopes that I would stay out of trouble as a kid, he said, laughing.

Angel looked like the classic 1970’s T.V. character, “McCloud”. He was dressed in faded blue jeans, rough-looking boots, a long winter jacket, and a cowboy hat.

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“Let me help you with your bags,” Angel said.

“Thank you,” I said, feeling at ease.

“Where you heading?” Angel asked.

“Lostine, Oregon. My plane was supposed to land in an airport in La Grande, Oregon, but it was diverted here because of this winter storm,” I said.

“You have family in Lostine?” Angel asked.

“Yes,” I said.

What I didn’t tell him was that I was on a secret mission to save my wife from the hands of her psycho parents who forced her to accompany them.

“So you’re far away from home?” Angel asked.

“Yes. I’m from California.” I said.

“How about you?” I asked.

“I’m from La Grande, Oregon.”

“I’m heading back from a yearly fishing trip that I go on with old friends,” Angel said.

We walked over to the bus that was waiting for us and were driven to the hotel that was conveniently right up the street from the airport. Once we arrived at the hotel I was feeling more exhausted than ever, and walked over to the front desk and paid for a room for the night. As I walked to my room, Angel came up behind me pulling his luggage and said, “Son, the hotel manager just informed everyone that the airline is going to make another attempt to fly to Bend tomorrow, so everyone is supposed to meet at the front desk by 7 a.m. for our 8 a.m. flight.”

“That’s great news!” I said.

“Just thought I’d let you know,” Angel said as he opened his door.

“See you tomorrow!” He said.

I found my room and once inside, called my parents to brief them on where I was and what had happened that day.

“What’s the weather like at home?” I asked as I looked out the window at the heavily falling snow landing outside.

“Santa Ana, It was 80 degrees in the shade today,” my dad said.

“Save some warm weather for me, okay?” I asked.

“You got it. See you soon, son,” my dad said.

I hung up the phone and wanted to go home that night, but instead, I stuck to my plan and kept assuring myself that it was going to work.

The next morning, I woke up early, showered, and ate breakfast in the hotel lobby. I went over the remaining details of the trip in my head.

Step 1 – Arrive in La Grande, Oregon.

Step 2 – Drive to Lostine, Oregon.

Step 3 – Arrange a meeting point with Becky.

Step 4 – Get Becky and drive like a madman back to the airport to wait for the flight back to San Diego.

“It’s going to work, it’s going to work,” I kept telling myself.

After I finished breakfast, I went over to the hotel lobby, checked out, and was greeted by my new friend, Angel.

“Mornin, I thought you might need this,” Angel said as he handed me a large cup of coffee to go from the hotels restaurant.

“You read my mind,” I said, smiling.

As we sat there talking, the other passengers from the night before began to walk up to the check out counter. Everyone waited anxiously for the bus to arrive and take us back to the airport. Angel and I chatted with ease like two old friends about everything, from bass fishing and country music, to politics and religion, when the bus arrived and we boarded it with the other passengers and to head back to the airport.

“Looks like were on our way now.” Angel said.

“Thank God,” I said in relief.

The bus quickly drove us through the deserted streets and made it back to the airport in minutes. I looked out at the town, wondering where everyone was.

“It’s Christmas day. Nobody will be out today especially in this weather.” Angel said.

“It sure is cold,” I said.

“Bet it’s not like this in San Diego,” he then said.

“How’d you know I’m from San Diego?” I asked, feeling like Angel knew everything about me.

Angel smiled and said, “We better get goin.”

We walked into the airport and were greeted by dozens of angry passengers who were shouting and screaming at airline officials.

“Damn! I’ve got a business meeting today at 3 p.m.,” a businessman said.

“I have to get home to feed my dog,” and elderly woman declared.

“You bastards are always screwing us around,” claimed a young snowboarder.

“Yeah, man, typical bullshit from the Man!” said another snowboarder.

“Screw it bro, let’s go find a bar and get drunk!” another  snowboarder said.

“Must have beer!” They all said in unison as they went looking for the airport lounge.

“I’m sorry ladies and gentlemen, but the airline has informed us that there won’t be any planes coming or going for the next few hours because of ice on the runway,” the airline official said. “For those of you who can’t wait, we have car rental facilities inside the airport that can rent you a car for anywhere you need to go. For those of you who are going to stay and wait you will find our facilities comfortable. We have a Starbucks and McDonald’s in the terminal.”

“When is the earliest that we can get in the air?” I asked the airline rep.

“Probably not until 3 p.m. today,” he said.

That would screw up my plans and I wouldn’t be able to get to Becky’s in time.

“But that’s hours from now!” I exclaimed.

“I’m sorry, sir,” he said as he squirmed out of my way.

“I’m never going to get to Oregon,” I said.

Suddenly, Angel appeared out of nowhere and said, “Looks like everyone is in the same boat.”

“No kidding,” I said.

“I got an idea. Why don’t you and me rent ourselves a car and you can drop me off in La Grande on your way to Lostine, Oregon. I’ve got plenty of cash and can pay for half of it,” He said.

I thought about it for a minute and once again, my overactive imagination pictured Angel murdering me and dumping me on the side of a country road.

I was prepared to say no, but realized that he was probably a lot older than my dad was and couldn’t possibly pull a fast one on me. Besides, I was out in the middle of nowhere, with no friends or family, and decided that having Angel, as my travel companion and guide on this trip was probably the best decision I could make.

“That sounds like a great idea to me,” gleefully.

“Good, because I sure don’t feel like hitch-hiking my way home today,” Angel said.

We walked over to the rental counter, rented a brand-new Ford Focus and quickly got on the road. During the first few minutes in the car, Angel instructed me on how to drive in the winter weather and navigate through the completely foreign weather conditions I had never driven through. Angel really was my guide that day and made me feel completely at ease behind the wheel, even though it was snowing again outside and we continued to pass cars that had gone off the road every few miles, reminding me how dangerous the driving conditions were.

After driving for a while, I started to relax.

“What kind of hobbies do you have, Son?” Angel asked.

“I’m an artist,” I said.

Even though I said it, I didn’t really feel like one because I hadn’t painted or made anything new in over a year because of my relationship with Becky and everything that came with it.

I just didn’t have the heart to touch my art supplies or create anything new.

“An artist, huh?” Angel grinned.

“What kind of work do you do?” He asked.

I told him about my love of modern, abstract art and artists like Picasso, Matisse and Braque and how some day, I wanted to follow in their footsteps.

“Sounds like you have a lot of talent, Son.” Angel said. “Have you produced anything lately?”

I sighed and said, “no”.

“Why not?” He asked.

This gave me a natural opening to talk about my story. I talked for over an hour with my new friend and told him everything about my relationship with Becky and why I was really in Oregon.

Angel sat quietly for a minute and finally said, “son, I got one question for you. Why the hell are you going after this girl after everything she’s done to you? Especially with all your of talents and gifts, it sounds like you can have any girl you want.

I thought it over and said, “I have to try and make it work one last time. All of my life I’ve given up on things when the going got rough and I don’t want to give up on my relationship with Becky, especially if there is any hope left,” I said.

“Well, I don’t envy you with the path you’re walking because you sound like you face a great deal of opposition from her parents and that’s not easy to deal with, especially now that you two are married. You know that what you want to do might not work out right?” He asked.

“I know,” I said.

“It might not work out,” had been one of the main topics of conversation in my family lately. Nobody wanted to see me fail and witness my hopes and dreams fall flat, even though at that particular time my dream seemed like just that: a dream.

“Can I give you a word of advice, Son?” Angel asked.

“Sure,” I said, not knowing what to expect.

“Don’t give up on your other hopes and dreams after your journey is over. Even if your plans with her don’t work out, don’t give up on your art when you get back home. God gave you those artistic gifts for a reason, and I don’t think he’d want you to waste them. Take it from a guy who’s walked in your shoes and seen it all, okay?” Angel said.

“I appreciate the advice, but I’ve got to see this journey through and give it my best shot.” I said.

“I know you do, I just don’t want you to come home a broken man if your plans here don’t work out,” he remarked.

“You sound like you’re speaking from experience,” I said.

“Son, it would take me a few days and lots of beer to tell you all of my stories. Unfortunately I can’t drink anymore and we don’t have a lot of time left together.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Look,” Angel said, pointing out the window to a sign that read, “Welcome to La Grande Oregon.”

I looked at the clock and realized that we had been on the road for hours. It was already 1 p.m. and time seemed to fly by quickly while we drove on the empty, icy roads.

“Why don’t you drop me off at the town hall? Then I can get you a map and show you how to get to Lostine,” Angel promised.

“That sounds great.”

“I can’t believe that we’ve been on the road for this long!” I said.

“Well, the Good Lord has been looking out for us,” Angel said.

Grande_Ronde_theater

La Grande Oregon

 

La Grande, Oregon, looked like Mayberry and with the prevalent snow-capped rooftops it looked inviting to a tired homesick traveler like me. Once we found the town hall, Angel and I got out of the car and entered the warm town hall building and were greeted by friendly, cordial faces.

“Welcome to La Grande!” A girl behind a nearby desk said to me.

“Ma’am, this young man needs a map of Oregon so he can route out his trip to Lostine to see his family.”

“Well, you’re in luck! I just happen to have one right here!” The girl said.

She opened her desk drawer and pulled out a well-worn map of Oregon. She then proceeded to highlight the easiest route into Lostine. Things were now going exceptionally well and I was developing confidence in my plans once again. While she highlighted, Angel stood calmly next to me and when she was done, we thanked her and walked back outside.

 

We outside looking at the snowy day for several minutes when Angel said, “Son I better get home because I’m dogged tired and, besides you got a long drive ahead of you.”

“You want to go get some lunch or something?” I asked.

“No. I appreciate the offer, but I think it’s time we get going,” Angel said.

Once again, the kind old cowboy and I shook hands like old friends.

“Son, it was great meeting you. Don’t forget what I said about not giving up on your goals or dreams if your plan doesn’t work out okay?”

“I promise,” I said.

“And if I’m ever back here, I promise that I will look you up and take you out for a steak,” I said.

Angel chuckled and said; “I’d take you up on your offer if my doctor would let me eat red meat. Those hippie doctors won’t let old folks like me touch that stuff anymore.”

We laughed and stood there for a few more seconds before Angel said, “You better get goin.”

I thanked him again and we parted ways. I walked back to the car while Angel started up the street towards the direction of an old hotel in town. I got into the car, rolled down the window, and looked up the street for him, but he was gone. “Thanks again Angel,” I said into the wind and continued on my way.

The drive into Oregon could have been a lot worse if I didn’t have an experienced traveler like Angel to guide me on the roads, and give comfort to me after I told him my story.

I was in La Grande, Oregon, only a few hours away from my wife, a few miles away from seeing her again. I was getting excited, so I raced along the snowy roads anticipating our reunion.

En route to Lostine I drove through the remaining little towns with ease until I finally reached Becky’s new home. The town wasn’t much to look at. With no major stores, buildings, developments, stoplights, or civilization around for miles, I could see why this town appealed to her father’s nature. He didn’t move his family up here because of the great weather and atmosphere. Fred moved his family to Lostine because he wanted to hide them from the real world, keeping them locked up in his own little world until the day he died.

Nobody knew who he was, people would easily fall for his deception, and neighbors would welcome him into their lives, appointing him their new religious leader. I pitied the people in this town and couldn’t wait to get Becky and leave immediately. I was already sick of the constant snow, cold, and steel grey skies. I wanted to see sunshine again; I wanted to get back to the blue skies and warm weather of San Diego with my wife by my side.

Once I pulled into town, I drove around for a few minutes and surveyed the scene to make sure that I knew all the towns’ roads and was familiar with the major intersections. I knew that if Becky’s family saw me outside their house, they would call the police to arrest me. Or even chase after Becky and I in the rental car. I didn’t want either scenario to happen and prepared myself emotionally for whatever was in store for me.

I found the old, beat-up house where Becky’s family now lived and slowly drove past her kitchen window, catching a glimpse of her inside doing the dishes. It was around 3 p.m. and I knew that her parents had asked Becky and her other sister to get things ready for dinner at 5 p.m. As I drove past her window, I waved, turned a corner, parked the car up the street from her house and waited. After a few minutes, she slowly came out of her house, walked up to my car, and got inside. She wasn’t excited to see me.

There wasn’t a passionate embrace or speedy exit like in the movies. Becky was indecisive again and giving me the cold shoulder. I grabbed her and kissed her, but she was like kissing a cold fish.

“Are you ready to go?” I asked, sensing what she was thinking.

“Becky? Hello?” I said, waving my hand in front of her face.

She just sat there, thinking over what to say.

“Jeremy, I don’t know if this was the right idea,” she said.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“We broke my parent’s laws and God’s laws.” She said.

“Becky, I’ve just come 1,000 miles to get you because you asked me to. We’ve had this conversation again and again about what the right decision is, but the question isn’t what your parents want, it’s what you want. What do you want, Becky? The dream we had is now a reality and we can make it happen if you leave with me right now.” I said.

“I don’t know, I don’t know,” Becky kept saying, acting like she was doped up.

“Becky, what’s wrong with you?” You begged me to come and rescue you, and now that I’m here, you don’t want to go?” I said.

“I’m sorry, Jeremy,” she said.

“I’m sorry to,” I said.

“Can you give me until tomorrow?” She asked.

I laughed and said, “What’s a few more hours going to do? If your mind is already made up, I can’t change it for you in a few hours,” I said.

She looked at me clearly and said, “I don’t have a bag ready and will need one more day to get prepared,” she said.

“Alright, if I come and get you tomorrow morning, do you promise that you will leave with me?” I asked.

“I promise,” she said.

Suddenly, Becky’s parents pulled into their driveway in their old beat up station wagon.

“Oh no!” She screamed.

We slid down into the rental car seats and waited until they went inside.

“Alright, I’ll come back for you in the morning at 6 a.m. and you better be ready!” I said.

Becky agreed and we kissed quickly, and she exited the car and ran back inside her house. The plan wasn’t working out like it was supposed to, but plans often changed. And since I was here in her town, I didn’t plan on leaving without her. Once I was certain all of her family members were inside their house, having dinner I started up the car and quickly drove away in search of a motel.

Because Lostine had no major developments and no hotels, I was forced to drive to the next town a few miles away, where I found a nasty rat trap hotel that I could stay in for the night. The room smelled like cat piss and cigarette smoke, but it was a roof over my head, and once inside, I slumped down in an old chair and immediately fell asleep for the next few hours. I awoke around 11 p.m. that night hungry because I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast. I decided to get in the car and go looking for the nearest restaurant. I couldn’t find any restaurants, fast food joints, all-night gas stations or any place to buy food late at night. Evidently, Oregon shutdown early, every night at and everyone was tucked away safely in their comfy beds. I was tired, hungry and homesick.

Lostine Oregon

Lostine Oregon

 

I didn’t know what else to do that night but drive so I stepped on the gas to see how fast the rental car would go.

Since the streets were deserted and there were no stoplights or other traffic for miles I went faster and faster until the car reached 100 miles per hour. After a few miles of driving at race car speeds I slowed down and was doing about 55 miles per hour along the country roads when a police officer pulled out from nowhere with it’s lights flashing.

“Shit!” I said laughing at the situation.

Here I was racing the car at 100 miles per hour a few minutes ago, through the deserted roads of Oregon and now this cop was going to give me a speeding ticket for driving at a measly 55 miles per hour? I hated getting a ticket but laughed at the irony and rolled down my windows as the cop walked up.

“You’re out here kind of late, aren’t you?” He asked.

“Yes, sir,” I replied.

“You know how fast you were going?” He asked.

“No, I’m from out of town,” I said, ready to laugh in his face.

“Don’t get smart with me, Son, you were doing 55 in a 35 zone.”

“Officer, it’s midnight. Unless there are cows out walking the streets at night, I don’t think anyone was in danger,” I said.

“Give me your license and registration, Smart Ass,” he said.

I handed it to him and he walked back to his car, never failing to keep his spotlight flashed through my back window while he checked my license.

Finally, he returned and handed me his notepad for me to sign his ticket.

“You’ll get your ticket mailed to you in 30 days,” He smiled.

“Excuse me, Officer Johnson; is there a McDonalds in this area? Because I’m starved,” I said.

“My name is Officer Smith,” He grunted.

“I advise you to go back to wherever your hotel is and stay there before you get into more trouble,” He said.

I mock saluted him, rolled up my window and drove away, leaving him standing out in the cold. When I got back to the crappy hotel I looked at my watch and it was 1 a.m. In a few hours, I knew there would be a final resolution: she would either come with me to the airport and we would go home together, or I would leave her in Oregon and never see her again. I didn’t want to think about what would happen if she changed her mind on me again, so I tried to keep such thoughts out of my head as I drifted off to sleep.

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The good times and the bad

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Falling in love for the first time with a young, passionate woman who loved me back was a wonderful, new phase of my life.

Before falling in love, I constantly witnessed the closeness of couples around me on a regular basis but I never understood what they had.

But when it finally happened, I at last understood what it was all about. And I gave myself to it completely.

During the first few months of our relationship, we were white hot lovers who couldn’t bear to spend one moment apart; the yearning for each other was just too much to bear.

She was my North Star and every night after work, I followed her warm light home.

We even wrote letters to one another on days we couldn’t see each other, and our relationship blossomed more than ever.

Then came another big change.

My parents decided that they were ready to move from our home of 13 years in Spring Valley to a smaller, cozier home in nearby Chula Vista. It was closer to my dad’s job and was conclusive to taking care of my Grandma Hyatt, who was in her early 80’s and ready to leave the responsibility of her old home and move in with them.

I loved living in our house in Spring Valley because I had grown up there and it was the only home I had ever known.

That house was where I developed my love for gardening from our large flower garden, developed my passion for art from the wonderful sunsets I watched from our patio and fed my desire for knowledge in my room, my safe haven, I had known and loved since childhood.

It was extremely hard to leave for another home, in a different area, away from everything I knew and loved.

On my final night there, as we packed the final box and drove away from the cold dark shell that was our old house, my Mom and I cried because it was almost as if, symbolically one phase of life was closing, and another was opening.

But it didn’t take long to move beyond the sadness of moving from my old house and old life, to a new house and a new life because of my engagement to Becky and future wedding.

By this time I had already told my parents that I loved Becky and that we wanted to get married. They supported me in anything I did and told me that they were eager to welcome her into the family.

Our wedding plans sped up quickly as Becky and her mother were making wedding plans, trying on wedding dresses, contacting caterers, sending out invitations, making travel plans with relatives while all I had to do was buy the rings, rent a tux and show up for the ceremony.

Every day, the first things I was asked from Becky and her mother when I went over to her house was what I thought about this cake and that cake, how many people I wanted to invite and did I rent a tux?

I quickly realized that Becky, like most young women, had planned for her wedding all of her life and she wanted every detail like the flowers, brides maids gowns, wedding dress and cake to be very special.

I was ready for marriage but at the same time began to feel rushed by her parents who were pushing for an early wedding, even though I originally wanted for us to be engaged for one year.

Her parent’s philosophy was, “If two people really love each other, why should they wait to get married when God wants them to be together?”

When we got engaged I wanted our engagement to be for one year because I wanted to really wanted to fell confident about my job, find an apartment and save money for our future so that I could have a life ready for her once we were together.

Her parents told us that they were married after only dating for a few short months and even though they had little to no money throughout their lives and been on the verge of homelessness at times they always had their love to keep them together.

I felt differently than her parents and wanted to make sure I was ready financially for marriage and feeling rushed into marriage became very unsettling to me.

My relationship with Becky and her family was good, but their relationship with my parents and other people in the church quickly fell apart within a few months after Fred took over as pastor of the church.

Fred, was a pastor with a very “old fashioned” world view and demanded that all aspects of life should follow the Bible. This included how women dressed, wore their hair, did their makeup, performed jobs, treated their children, and handled their family life etc. This was something that the church elders claimed they didn’t know about him before he started as pastor.

His beliefs caused everyone in the church to get upset because Fred wanted to change every aspect of the congregation’s life to follow his world view.

Fred was turning into a cult leader before my very eyes but I couldn’t see it because I was in love with his daughter. And being an idealist, I though all of the problems Fred was causing wouldn’t affect Becky and I once we were married.

How wrong I was.

I quickly realized that Becky would follow her father with blind devotion and never question him on anything. No matter how hard I tried to convince her that she could make up her own mind and do what she wanted with her life she never agreed with me.

Becky’s beliefs included sex without birth control, having many children like her mother, residing in a rural area and shunning modern society.

“That’s not what I want in life,” I told her one night when we were talking, outside, alone.

“I’m from California, my family is here and our life is going to be here. I want to live here, build a life and raise a family.” I said.

Fred was contemplating what would happen if he was forced to leave the church because of his radical beliefs and Becky wanted us to follow her parents like sheep once we were married.

She didn’t agree with my goals and ambitions and we started to fight about what each of us wanted and we explored our core values to see if they matched the vision we had for our life together.

We both had the same faith, love of God, devotion to family but she wanted the traditions her father raised her on while I craved modernity.

I almost ended our relationship a few times but she always drew me back. Then after making up with her we felt like we could conquer any barrier in our relationship if we were together.

We were in our own little world and oblivious to what Fred was doing to destroy the church and ruin people’s lives.

My parents were not happy with what Fred was doing to destroy the church and they became increasingly concerned as I spent more time with Becky at her house. They wondered if I was getting brainwashed by Fred’s way of thinking while I was deeply in love with his daughter.

I assured my parents and everyone who cared to listen that, “I’m my own man! And nobody is going to brainwash me!” Even though I said this I didn’t realize that the power of love that I had for Becky and the desire I had to be with her would make me turn my back on everything I had known and loved.

As things got worse in the church Fred and his family began to “shun” or turn their backs on members of the congregation that he was supposed to be the spiritual leader of. My parents were also “shunned” by Fred and his family because my mom and dad didn’t want to adhere to Fred’s backward way of thinking. They told me what was Fred was doing in the church, and how they were being treated by him and his family and I didn’t want to believe it.

After a few months as pastor, the elders asked Fred to leave the church because the congregation was preparing to split up and the elders didn’t want that to happen.

One night after I had dinner with his family, I was talking with Becky about our marriage plans, in her living room, when Fred came in and told us the news that he would no longer be pastor of the church.

He made it sound like he was fired from his job and left with nothing to live on, when in reality, the elders had agreed to pay him his salary for the remainder of the year, and continue to let him live in the home that they had bought for his family only a few months before, while Fred looked for work and decided what he wanted to do next.

Fred had no desire to look for work and get a real world job while he was living off the salary the church was paying him. His desire was to start his own “church” right from the comfort of his own home and hopefully attract people who believed like him.

What I didn’t realize was, now that Fred would have his own “church” and didn’t have to answer to elders or have anyone question his authority he essentially became a full blown cult leader.

jim_jones_006b

Jim Jones

 

Of course I didn’t see him as a cult leader at the time because I was in love with his daughter and my rationality was clouded so I decided to leave the only church I had ever known and follow Fred’s leadership.

This disappointed my parents because I had always followed in their footsteps and for the first time, I went in a different direction then them.

My parents, friends and relatives tried to get me to see that I was following a blatant cult leader and that I was slowly being brainwashed by him but I didn’t see it that way.

This was a scary decision for me. But it was also a very liberating one because I was making a real “grownup” decision and hoped that it was the right one to make.

Despite the tribulation surrounding us, my relationship with Becky only got more intense. I experienced first hand how trying times bring couples together. So naturally our hunger for each other became hotter than ever and we made love whenever we could be alone from her parents prying eyes.

As I fell for her more and more and became part of her family, I slowly gave up on my own dreams and artistic endeavors because I didn’t have any time for art or writing because I was always with her and I didn’t see how my artistic goals would fit in to our plans once we were married.

Becky wanted to get pregnant and have children right after we were married and I couldn’t see how I could pursue my creative goals when I would have a wife and family of my own to support.

Although our relationship was heating up our marriage plans were slowing down.

Fred’s “church” wasn’t getting any interest or support from anyone in San Diego and as his salary from his brief stint as pastor was coming to an end he and his wife began to search for homes in cheaper parts of the country. Their plans took precedence over our marriage plans and we were left in “limbo” as they decided what they wanted to do next.

The question they asked me one night was, “would Becky and I go with them if they moved to another state to start a new life?”

I didn’t want to say no to them if going with them was their only condition to letting me marry Becky so I told them that once we were married we would move with them wherever they went.

This excited Becky’s parents and drew Fred closer to me as a friend and confidant than ever before because after he lost his job as pastor at the church he had no friends in California he trusted.

As Fred’s salary from his job at the church began to dwindle and his home church drew no interest from the community he became increasingly withdrawn and manic depressive around his family.

Fred blamed my parents and everyone who was still worshiping at the church that had kicked him out for his problems and imminent financial troubles. On a nightly basis he lashed out at the world around him and called anyone evil, who didn’t agree with his way of seeing the world or teaching from the Bible.

I became increasingly alarmed with Fred’s psychotic behavior and cult leader view points and began to question the choice I was making to follow him and marry his daughter.

My inner turmoil was horrible because, every day, as I fought with my own inbred desire to be independent and free of Fred’s dominating behavior I was still deeply in love with Becky and my love for her stopped any actions to exercise my independent personality.

I wanted to stand up to Fred and tell him how I really felt about him but I also feared that if I did stand up to him he would end my relationship with Becky and forbid us from seeing each other ever again.

Even though Becky was 21 years old and I was 24, legal adults and able to make our own decisions, she was essentially “owned” by Fred and if I wanted a life with her I had to be his, “yes man” and “whipping boy” until we were married.

I thought that once Becky and I were married I would speak up for myself and not let Fred dominate me or control what Becky and I did with our lives.

My parents were deeply concerned about me and made their feelings known whenever I was around them at home. I told them that once Becky and I were married I would assert myself and we would live our own lives, separate from Fred and his family.

I wanted to be optimistic with my parents and project my usual aura of confidence around them but inwardly I didn’t believe my confidence or think that Fred would let Becky and I go, once we were married.

I knew that if I wanted to be true to myself, to be my own person and have a life with Becky, away from Fred and his dominating ways, I would have to fight for what I wanted……….

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Top Art Destinations – San Diego, CA

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Top Art Destinations – San Diego, CA

San-Diego-California

By Jeremy Raglin

As an artist I’ve had many cities and towns across the United States which have inspired me over the years but no city continues to inspire me more than my home town of San Diego, California.

San Diego is not just a “pretty” place to live since the city gets close to 365 days of sunshine per year, it’s also a great city for artists and a great destination if you’re searching for inspiration for your next paintings.

Top Art Destinations – Chicano Park

One of the first places in San Diego I became inspired as an artist is Chicano Park.

Located in the Barrio Logan area of San Diego, Chicano Park has an awesome history which has been documented by murals painted by local and nationwide artists over the last 40 years.

I first visited Chicano Park when I was in my late teens and was hooked by the artwork, colors and designs which make the highway bridges appear to be abstract sculptures.

Even though I was a white boy painting in the Barrio nobody messed with me thanks to my friend Jose Cervantes who was a legend at Chicano Park and instrumental in helping the park to become what it is today.

Balboa Park

My second great love in San Diego is Balboa Park.

I’ve been visiting here since I was a baby and know every path, tree and museum like the back of my hand.

One of my fondest memories was attending an MC Escher show at the Museum of Art with Joe Cervantes and leaving the show so inspired by Escher’s art that we drew on the sidewalk after we left the museum.

Harbor Area

Last of all, but most important, another great spot for me to paint and be inspired in San Diego is the harbor area.

I love painting down there because I can always count on a steady stream of people walking by who will take the time to express an interest in my artwork.

I’ll never forget painting down there in my early 20’s when all I wanted to do was paint and nothing else.

Like most artists in their 20’s who live in Paris I grabbed some wine, cheese and my art stuff then took the journey by trolley downtown to the waterfront where I spent the day painting a harbor scene.

To view my work visit my Instagram page here: http://instagram.com/jeremyraglin/

Hear No Evil (C) 2012 Jeremy Raglin

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