I wrote this about a year before I met the girl of my dreams. I was in college, surrounded by late nights of drinking tea and studying geography books. I was fascinated with the city of Cordoba, and horribly lonely as I imagined who my love would one day be.
I’d love to take my wife to see Cordoba some day.
I gazed across the cobblestone street, focused on the hurdy-gurdy beggar.
The silver coin in his cup danced with him, winking.
I drummed my fingers, half-eager, half-anxious, against my third cup of tea,
still dreaming. I still asked words almost on my lips, “Who is she?”
The woman of my dreams sifts through my perceptions
and becomes as real as my bones, smiling a gentle blush,
fingering the handle of her cup, porcelain, still with a sip or two
of chocolate in the bottom.
“So how do you like Cordoba?”
“I’m glad you came.”
“I’m glad to be here.”
“How was your flight?”
“I hardly remember it.”
Every word meant more than was spoken, and as
we drank the morning in that Cordovan cafe,
“Daniel” on the record player, every second in her eyes caressed me.
I placed my folded hands on the table in front of my cup.
“I… I don’t know what to say.”
She reached for my hands, and I winced inside, hoping she’d not see the scars.
With her hands in mine, I noticed she had them too.
We sat through midday, and watched the children on the streets of Cordoba
play with their smiles and laughter.
We watched the hurdy-gurdy man’s eyes gleam as a stranger would leave
a coin and a nod and walk on.
We talked about our pasts, and our futures, and our dreams. We watched midday to afternoon, and saw fathers coming home from the tannery. The hurdy-gurdy man packed up and bought a sandwich from his beggar’s fortune. The sun dipped deep to slumber and the moon blotted out the stars.
“Well, I have to leave now.”
After a soft kiss, and a squeeze of my hands,
she sifted back through my perceptions and
returned to that corner of my heart where she is always.
I push my chair under the table, and walk
down the empty streets of Cordoba, humming “Daniel”,
and drop a coin for the hurdy-gurdy man to find tomorrow.
Sometimes you discover you’ve locked a few feelings away, and they’ll creep up so that you have to deal with them. This week, news of the release of John Rigas from federal prison stirred up a few of those feelings for me. In 1999, I started working for Adelphia in the Long Distance provisioning department. Remember long distance? It was a service you used to have to pay for by the minute!
My new wife and I had moved back to Potter County after we discovered we were going to have twins, and Adelphia was my first full-time job. When the company declared bankruptcy in 2001, many of us knew that our jobs were doomed. Our department was cut in 2002, and I found myself laid off, and confused. I bounced around for a couple year before finding full-time work again.
To be honest, I hated the job. So losing it was in reality one of the best things that ever happened to me. Despite the fact I’ve looked at the loss of that job as a good thing, over the years, I’ve struggled with how I felt about Adelphia, and the Rigas family.
Part of me has always respect John Rigas for the good things he did for Coudersport while he was at the helm of his empire. If there was a need, he met it. He viewed his wealth as a responsibility to put others to work, and to help those in need. Part of me, though, has been angry for the financial ruin that worked it’s way through the lives of many of my former co-workers and friends in Coudersport and the surrounding communities. I was a little bitter for the two years of struggle my own family endured, while barely able to pay our rent, and living expenses. I watched a vibrant community grow dormant, and I watched people lose their houses, and their careers.
Whether or not Mr. Rigas is to blame is hard for me to say. According to the court, he’s guilty of mismanaging his publicly traded company’s wealth, and thus guilty and culpable in the eyes of the law. According to his family, an injustice was done when their father was incarcerated, and when his appeal was struck down. Whether or not he was actually guilty, isn’t up for me to decide, that’s why we have courts to make that declaration.
This summer, I was asked to produce a video for the memorial service of Doris Rigas, John’s late wife. That video was meant to allow John and Timothy Rigas the opportunity to see the service. For me, it was moving, and as I spend weeks editing the footage, I watched as the Rigas family wept and laughed as they celebrated memories of their matriarch. I watched as they expressed genuine frustration with the justice system as it related to the conviction and incarceration of their loved ones.
This summer, while watching a beautiful memorial service for a woman I barely knew, I was forced to reconcile something. I saw that part of me was bitter. I saw that part of me was holding on to this tiny little sliver of anger. And much like a wooden sliver that gets stuck under the skin, eventually, it has to come out. So I made a choice. Whether or not Mr. Rigas was to blame for the hardship I went through – I had to forgive him.
My forgiveness probably doesn’t matter to anyone. It’s not as though anyone at Adelphia knew that their actions were going to affect me. It’s not as though John Rigas or his family even knew part of me was angry. I just know that it felt awfully good to get that little sliver out.
So, while there are a few out there that see Mr. Rigas’s release as an act of injustice – I can honestly say, I can see it as an act of compassion. And an act of compassion is never a bad decision.
If I pay attention to the news – I’m reminded that if we’re hoping a politician will “save us” or “make America great” – then we’re really missing the point. We are trying to fix moral failures with political solutions.
So – here is my suggestions. If every American does these things – our country will be great again.
1. Hire Local. Shop Local. Buy Local.
(don’t outsource to India. don’t buy from china)
2. Be generous and set aside a portion of your budget to help the needy.
3. Abide by your budget and avoid debt. Also – if you are responsible for the money of others – use it wisely, as if it were your own.
4. Be respectful of people that you disagree with.
5. Protect the weak and stand up for the innocent.
6. Teach your children right from wrong.
7. Show respect for people who are doing jobs you aren’t willing to do. This includes fruit picking migrants, police officers, the military, and ER nurses.
8. Don’t use illegal substances. Don’t make them. Don’t buy them. Don’t sell them.
We can try to legislate ways to make America great. We can try to build walls to keep foreigners out. We can try to tax the rich. We can try to carpet-bomb our enemies. We can try any number of things, but ultimately – until we start taking the personal responsibility to live ethically, morally, then we are just contributing to our great American bankruptcy.
I don’t know about you – but I will strive to do right.
I wrote a story for the Bradford Era about my friend Brian Mahaney of Forged Spirit Garage, and it was picked up by the Associated Press, and distributed to newspapers and media outlets globally! Featured in papers in Erie, Houston, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Philly, Washington,
You can read the original article here:
When Brian Mahaney started riding his Harley, he experienced a sense of freedom and adventure — but realized that many others wouldn’t have that.
“I got thinking about those in wheechairs, disabled vets, and others who wouldn’t get to feel the road this way,” said Mahaney, who took that thought, and put some wheels on it.
Mahaney and his wife, Michelle, started “Forged Spirit Garage” this past summer with the intent to develop a wheelchair accessible sidecar, which offers what he calls “two-wheel therapy.” “Getting out on the bike is amazing. You feel the wind, and the road, and you don’t think of anything. It’s a great way to clear your mind, and you aren’t thinking about the bills, the stress or the worry or anything but being on the road,” explained Mahaney.
Wheelchair accessible sidecars and trikes aren’t a new thing, but Mahaney explained the Forged Spirit sidecar is different than existing wheelchair options. Most sidecars that allow a wheelchair rider to board are boxy and enclosed, and it doesn’t feel the same as riding a motorcycle.
“Some people with wheelchairs will ride trikes, but if they take that trike on a dice run, they have to leave their wheelchair behind. So if they want to get off the trike and go into a barbecue joint, they can’t do that,” said Mahaney. “Their wheelchair is where they live their life — it’s their transportation when they aren’t on the bike — and if they can’t have it with them, it really is limiting. With this, they can do what any other able bodied rider can do — they can ride the bike somewhere, and then get off and go in and eat, or whatever, and then get back on the bike and go home.”
Mahaney explained that his sidecar, which is a simple steel platform, attached with a swivel arm, a third wheel, and an air suspension kit, allows the wheelchair to pull on to the bike, and ride as a passenger, or if able, to transfer to the bike to drive it themselves.
Each sidecar is customizable. He said that it can just be a platform, or it can be made to match the style of the bike, with custom fenders, or any other accessories that would go on a Harley, including handlebars, fairings, etc.
“It really gives the sidecar the look and feel of a riding the motorcycle. So that a disabled person can get the same experience on the bike. It doesn’t look like an add-on, it looks like it was built by the manufacturer of the bike.”
Mahaney said that his prototype is getting some attention. He took it to the L.E.E.K. Hunting Preserve in Oswayo this summer for an event.
“They do such a great job with their track chairs, allowing disabled vets to hunt,” said Mahaney. “So when we were there, a lot of people saw our sidecar, and really seemed to understand what we were doing, and were very supportive.”
He also took the sidecar to Rally in the Valley this summer, and met a man who sold his bike when his disabled daughter was born.
“He loved riding, and told me that he would love to be able to have something like this,” Mahaney said. “She was able to pull her wheelchair on the bike, and her face lit up! Her mom started crying, because they loved the idea of being able to take their daughter on a ride with them.”
Mahaney said the initial idea came while thinking about disabled vets, who suffer from PTSD. Since riding his bike gave him a bit of “two-wheel therapy,” it didn’t seem right that vets, or anyone else for that matter, didn’t have the access to motorcycles that he had.
“I’d really like to be putting them into the hands of everyone that wants one. That’s what this is all about, helping people that want to ride, so they can have that same feeling on the road,” said Mahaney.
Now that the prototype is built, Mahaney is in the marketing and development stage, and he’s funding his project by doing automotive repair and fabrication at the garage.
“I can fix and build pretty much anything, so I’ll do that as much as I need to, so that we can get this project off the ground,” Mahaney said.
Forged Spirit Garage is located in the Bradford Office of Economic and Community Development incubator facility on Russell Boulevard, and Mahaney is using his space to repair cars, trucks, small engines, and light fabrication work, while developing his wheelchair sidecar.
Some people look back on their college poetry and get depressed or embarrassed. I’m not ashamed of mine, to be honest. I was a young and raw poet then – today I’m an older and rustier poet.
Amid stacks and piles,
three miles sratospherically,
a word and a pen
scratch along paper
and create a
with tigers and cherubim
trees and skyscrapers
fog and stars…
visions of unseen…
journals of every
moment that has
a poet’s painted eye.
mice live simple,
Atiny heart pumping
a hundred quiet beats
for every one of your own
sprints his way across
under a heavily treaded rug,
to a hole
neatly gnawed through
a most invisible corner.
Mice… a lot like man.
keep it precise…
You keep getting too wordy,
trying to articulate what can be said without all the words you use
to describe every little detail not noticed by the naked eye.
You speak in circles and never stop going around the bush-beaten path you’ve
Get to the point.
Get to a point.
Hard to understand,
things that make sense.
Higher than our heads,
yet lower than heaven.
Mortal in our eyes,
yet still to resurrect.
Man just for a moment,
to hold our very hearts.
Deleted from the sweet freckled face, a smile hides in
Hides next to my pencil, and bubble gum, and it clings to my keys.
Sometimes i smile…
sometimes i don’t
so i won’t say i am not divided..
I’m convinced that coyote hunting isn’t about killing coyote, but about the rush of fear and adrenaline! Click here to read Part 3 – Where Frank and I are frozen in fear, hearing the sound of a large creature crashing through the woods, not twenty feet away!
“Don’t move – it’s a bear!” whispered Frank.
“What? Where? Should I shoot it?” I half-whispered/half-screamed back.
And then the sound was headed back down the road we had hiked up – and it was gone.
We stood tense, guns drawn, safety off, and breathing air slowly and quietly for a few more minutes – before making a move.
Frank’s best guess was that the bear had been in a tree, hiding from us, and a branch had broken, which made the crash sound, followed by the startled bear (which usually move much more quietly) rushing through the leaves and tall weeds was the rustling we heard as he tried to get as far away from us as possible. The coyotes didn’t want to be near a bear, which is why they didn’t follow us to the top of the hill.
Black bear are nothing to trifle with. They don’t usually attack humans, but a frightened bear, a hungry bear, or a bear protecting it’s young will make quick work of man.
Frank and I then had to make our way back down the mountain – we had decided that the hunt was off – and we were going to make as much noise as possible – so that the bear would keep his distance, as we followed his path back out of the woods.
I’m convinced that coyote hunting isn’t about killing coyote, but about the rush of fear and adrenaline! Click here to read Part 2 – where the coyotes start to circle us in the dark!
After about an hour of hiking up the dark logging road, we got settled in to a clearing of ferns on top of the hill. We hadn’t heard or seen any sign of the coyotes for a few minutes – which seemed odd, since they had been so close to us earlier. Frank pulled out a survival candle/lantern gadget that he was quite proud to show off, and we sat back to back with our shotguns loaded, and pointed off into the darkness.
He fired up the dying rabbit call again – and offered up a few yips on his coyote call – simulating the scuffle of a coyote attacking his prey. And we heard coyotes answer – this time – back up in the hollows of the surrounding hills. The predators that were so close to just ten minutes ago were spread back out in the forest. No matter how hard we tried, we could seem to call them closer. Frank recommended a little silence to see if we could try again.
As soon as we got quiet, there was a crash, rustle, crash, crash, rustle not twenty feet to the south of us. We spun our guns around, and Frank hit his light. Of course – I couldn’t see anything – but I could feel every muscle in my body tighten like rocks, trying to figure out what kind of monster was going to attack.