Who am I?
What am I?
I am the product of humble beginnings, disruptive beginnings, and optimistic beginnings.
Born in 1944, in a little coal mining town of Price, Utah, my parents were allowed out of their World War II Relocation Camp to birth me. At the end of the war, my family was allowed back to their home in Alameda, California, where my Grandparents had settled after their displacement from San Francisco's 1906 Earthquake. They proceeded to bear and raise ten children in Alameda before their forced re-location to various camps. I was only 3 years old when my Mother and Father divorced, and I never saw my Father again.
This jibundake.com effort being largely about serendipity, I have to mention that in my twenties, my Aunt May was volunteering in a hospital in Honolulu where she lived, and came upon my Father dying of lung cancer. She was trying to broker a meeting between us, but I really had no interest because he never created nor maintained an interest in me. This fact is a natural underpinning of many of my relationships to this day: meet a stranger; if there is mutual interest, a friendship begins. If interest is temporary, or fades, so does friendship. But once in awhile, some elements create a very long-lasting bond, and these are the friendships of which I'm most proud.
Raised in Alameda, in the 1950's, of divorced parents, and loving Grandparents offered optimism in spite of my everyday school experiences within an almost totally White community. When my Grandparents raised their children, they somehow started and maintained their own dry cleaning business. They maintained a huge garden and raised a variety of animals in the middle of Alameda, which included chickens, rabbits, and goats!! My Uncles laughed at their embarrassing memories of being forced to collect horse manure from the streets in the '30's to fertilize their parents' garden. My embarrassment in the '50's had mostly to do with being Japanese with funny sounding last name, and not having a father. I just didn't fit in with most of my school friends. Interestingly, my exuberant personality and ego was able to compensate, and I found myself creating a variety of friends, many of whom remain so. My school work, other than Art, was just above average, although I did skip a half year. My graduating class was the last of the "Mid-terms."
High school, I think, is difficult for most people. In Alameda there were no junior high schools to transition. Social class systems were clearly defined by sanctioned Greek lettered fraternities and sororities at Alameda High School. Of course, their membership were 99.9% White. In our entire school, I believe there were only I/2 dozen Blacks, maybe a dozen Hispanic, and maybe two dozen Asians. Most of the fathers of my Japanese-American friends were gardeners. Both my Grandmother and my Mother performed house-work for their living. In a couple of situations, my mother lived-in with me at wealthy UC Berkeley college professors' homes as full time help. Later, my Mother was able to work as a civil servant at the Naval Supply Center for the rest of her working career. She didn't move to her own apartment and then own home until she was in her fifties. There, in Berkeley, she was able to begin her real life, which included attending and graduating from college, and beginning a long amazing life of world travel! Optimism.
My wife of 48 years has traveled extensively, both as a travel writer, and for her love of hiking in small groups. My son and my daughter, too, have traveled to foreign lands and major US cities. But I have limited my travels to the places and friends with whom I have developed close bonds. As my friend who first introduced me to New Orleans so aptly put, "Gordon, you don't just visit places, you ADOPT THEM!" Thus, I tell people, I am avoiding visits to New York City or The Eastern Seaboard because I can't afford to further divide my present visitation schedules! As I write, I have just returned from my annual Little Tokyo, Los Angeles trip in which I fly and shuttle to avoid bringing my own car. I used to just wander the two or three blocks of E. First Street, the heart of it. But now interesting adjacent gentrification and hipster spots are luring me beyond the exclusively Japanese mode that I set for myself. Also, with every visit, I am developing new friendships which offer the opportunity of motorized travel to other parts of L.A. that I have never visited.
The common thread that ties much of my past to my present lifestyle, and which will become this site's principal message, is the idea of traveling alone much of the time in order to allow random people and events into our lives. This basic tenet is made possible by literally keeping an open heart, and a smile on our faces. Sounds like a Christian anthem, but I know it works. I have spent much time throughout my life in various ghettos from West & East Oakland, San Francisco, and more recently, New Orleans. Also areas that benefit from this attitude are the so-called red-neck country, from fly-fishing in Northern California's Sacramento Valley towns, to both Cajun country, Louisiana, and throughout Mississippi. Attitudes are changing because more non-White immigrants have spread throughout our country. Whether or not they are accepted or valued, at least they are lending more color to our nation's complexion. I DO really think that individuals and families are making close ties with their neighbors who see them as hard-working people trying to prosper...but, those smiles are important!! After owning my little business in suburban Walnut Creek, CA for 41 years, I am grateful for the occasional smile and, "How are you?" that I receive when I pass people on the street or in my building. It is as if more people are fronting good will.
Tourist towns like New Orleans are filled with people out having fun; the good will vibe is already there. That might be why more than any other place, strangers approach me all the time asking me about myself, or wanting to be photographed with me. Okay, I'm an odd novelty!! In future words and photos, I hope to illustrate a life of odd coincidences. I will also provide a forum for suggestions regarding restaurants or bars, and places that I have and do visit. Individuals are always asking me for these suggestions in New Orleans, but I have been creating custom suggestions based upon the specific likes and dislikes of these people. Maybe now, this medium might make this effort easier and more entertaining: all sing along!!