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Can You Give Until You Break?

Angela was chauffeured to our place by way of a federal probation officer.  Hmm—what did that fact signify?  Some would think that she was “from away”—another ex con, freeloader, coming to the “nanny state” because of all our rich and easy benefits.  Many would cringe and feel trepidation.  And don’t miss the federal probation part—she […]

They Just Don’t Get Any Saltier

  I first met Clarence in 1996.  He was 60 years old but looked much older (except for the twinkle in his eyes).  Clarence was a good ol boy from Lubec, Lamoine, Jonesport, East Machias, Winter Harbor or Deer Isle—take your pick.  He had a balding dome the color of old stain on a Cedar […]

The Real Problem is Us

So this piece is being written by an extremely amateur political junkie.  There are political blogs, including several posted by this newspaper, that are written by smart people who make politics their daily focus.  These are people who research, who can keep track of multiple moving parts, and who have practiced the art of analysis […]

She Buried Him Under the Woodpile

  The call from the upper Midwest came in around 4:00 pm.  “Does anyone there know a gentleman named John?”  Oh, did we ever! “John” grew up in Charlestown.  I don’t have to add “Mass,” do I?  Charlestown doesn’t need a publicist, although Dennis Lehane has helped its notoriety with novels like Mystic River.  John […]

Crazy Depends on Who’s Lookin’ and for How Long

(The author wishes to note at the onset of this little piece that it may appear to some that I am making fun of people who are challenged by gender identity issues and society’s response to them.  Many of these same people clearly suffer with emotional pain and, in some cases, mental illness, frequently resulting […]

How Bad is it, Really?

The morning news was playing on the shelter’s Day Room television when I arrived at work at 7:45.  I got organized in my office and then went back into the bigger room to connect with overnight staff and observe the general scene.  I watched as “Eddy” took in the news and then grabbed his backpack […]

Zen and the Art of Homeless Shelter Maintenance

And so it happened that the 1974 classic by Robert Pirsig was sitting right there on the library shelf, the green and black binding catching my eye when I didn’t know I was looking for it.  But that’s how some of the most striking moments in life happen, isn’t it?  It took me three weeks’ […]