Carson’s

My brother Brian and I will most likely be the last generation of our family to work at Carson’s.

A few weeks ago, their owners Bon Ton announced that they are closing down all their stores permanently, including Carson’s.

We both were third generation of our family to work at the well-known Chicagoland department store. While I worked in the Men’s Department, first in Accessories and Dress Shirts, then in Slacks and Dockers — no snide remarks, I heard them enough when I worked there and would say, “I work in Men’s Slacks and Dockers” — and my brother worked in stock distribution, of the three generations of Facks who worked at Carson’s, our Dad had reached the highest out of all of us: furniture buyer.

The first job I ever knew Dad had was working for Carson’s on State Street in downtown Chicago. At the time I didn’t appreciate it, but the wrought iron facade of the Louis Sullivan building was an architectural masterpiece, both of early high-rises and of city architecture, of which Chicago reigns as Queen (if not King).
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25 Years Ago(-ish), I Started College

Around 25 years ago, in late August 1992, I started college (erm, university for you British English speakers out there). It’s a right-of-passage many Americans go through every year when they’re 18, and I’m sure there are many stories about how that first year went for a great many people. Maybe my experience was unique, but I’m pretty sure it’s not.

What I can tell you is I remember my Mom crying when I started college at Northern Illinois University. My excitement due to my freedom was tempered by how upset she was. Being the very anxious person I was and continue to be, I wondered if I’d made the right choice. As an aside: my counselor keeps telling me I do things to please other people instead of myself, and I’m not living my life authentically if I keep doing this. On the other side of this argument, I stayed at college because it was what I wanted, even though it did hurt my mother initially (and maybe it was more of a, “Oh my God, my oldest son is 18 and leaving home and I can’t protect him any more”, which I understand but I’ve never been through so I can’t compare that experience to my own experiences).

Sorry. I digress. You should be used to that by now if you read any of my blogs.

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My 40 Year Love Affair With Star Trek… Is Over

Anyone who knows me knows my love for Star Trek.

As a child, I remember my parents introducing me to Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Bones, and the Enterprise, these complex characters and graceful-looking starship soaring from planet to planet.  I think some of the weekly aliens scared me, especially when they flashed them up at the end of the credits.  (Balok, anyone?)

Balok

I didn’t understand the cerebral and more thought-provoking parts of the episodes because, as a child, you usually don’t have those parts of your brain developed until you start hitting adulthood.  So it was good to watch as something fun as a kid.

It was one of my introductions to science fiction, and one I will always be grateful to my parents for introducing me to it.

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My Writing Journey in 2014

Originally, I was quite an artistic person.  I think everyone who knew me up until about ten years ago could tell you I was always drawing or writing down ideas, doodling, making comics, all sorts of stuff.  My skills weren’t extraordinarily fantastic, but I enjoyed it.

Sadly, when I was young — about 8, I believe — I broke my right hand in several places, and as time has marched on, it has become harder and harder to hold anything (pens, pencils, forks) for long periods of time.  This has meant less and less drawing for me.

Still, I am a creative person, and I started making the shift to writing when, as a freshman Art Major at Northern Illinois University, I realised that I couldn’t keep up with my hand the way it was.  My writing was not exactly excellent in my mind but I have then, and continue to get, quite positive feedback about my skills all together.

In late 2013, after the earthquakes started settling down and I came to terms with the horrors that had unfolded around us (not all made by nature, I might add), I realised that 40 was approaching quickly, and I still had not really written much of anything other than this blog, a few Star Trek fan fiction pieces, and a few scripts for various (and more often than not, failed or defunct) Star Trek productions.

I decided I’d start writing a novel.

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1995: A Turning Point in My Life

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Part of me feels I should say I’m sorry but I’m not sorry.  A lot of shit has been going on in my life, and I’d like to hope most people would agree that real life takes precedence over a blog or keeping others entertained.

There’s a lot to write about, a lot I need to tell you, but I had a bit of an epiphany today, and I wanted to share it with you all.

Last night, I was feeling a bit nostalgic, very awake, and slightly under the influence of a few glasses of vino, so I rummaged through our cabinets below the bookcase with our DVDs and Blu-Rays in them to haul out my old photos from my pre-New Zealand days.

Some bring tears to my eyes.  Some make me long for yesterday and for those who are no longer with us.  Others make me smile.  Others again make me laugh heartily.

I found a photo of someone I haven’t spoken to in a long time, someone who, to be totally honest, hasn’t crossed my mind a lot lately.  He does once in a while, but with time marching on and a million other memories cramming their way into my head every month or three, and having seen each other last in 1995 when we were both totally different people, these thoughts grow fewer and farther the more distant that year becomes.

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Scott the Actor…?

Lieutenant Ken Kato on Henglaar, M.D.
Lieutenant Ken Kato on Henglaar, M.D.

There’s something liberating about acting.  I think it’s getting away from the humdrum of everyday life, or playing an aspect of yourself busting to get loose, or portraying the growth or the downward spiral of a character for an audience.

I really got into acting when I was in high school.  It was something I enjoyed, although, to be honest, I think my emphasis was more on getting the lines right than the motivation of the character or figuring out the weight the words should take.  My youth and relative inexperience in life had betrayed me.  I’d never been in love.  I was busy figuring out where I wanted to go in life.  I was trying to keep my homosexuality secret from everyone.  (That last bit was a lot of wasted energy; the people who know me and care about me have been and always will be the people who supported me, whether in 1991 or 2013.)

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Miscommunication Between Cultures, Part 2

Hopefully Yves doesn’t kill me for posting this story.  Sorry, Yves!

When I was studying at Northern Illinois University, we used to make supply runs to the local Jewel grocery store.  Of course, this necessitated us having a car, so when someone with a car presented themselves, to Jewel we could a-go.

One day, my friend Yves (originally from Switzerland) and I were wandering through Jewel, dodging the local old ladies who seemed to always be there, haphazardly pushing their shopping carts around with three items in them.  It was kinda like running into the middle of a bumper car ring, hoping you wouldn’t get hit… more than 20 times.

Suddenly, Yves remembered something and started to walk faster.  I tried to keep up.  “What’s the matter?” I called out after him.

“I remember something I need…”  Dodging old ladies, he dashed down one aisle, only to emerge as I got there.

“What?”

He frantically went to the next aisle and looked down it.  “Stuff… You know.  Stuff.  To douche with.”

I kinda cocked my head and said, “Um, I don’t think that’s the word you’re looking for.”

“Yes, it’s right.  Stuff to douche with!” He was getting more agitated as he looked for the aisle.

“I think, just maybe, you’re talking about soap…?”

Bars of Soap

“Yeah.  Soap to douche with!”  That time was a bit too loud, because a little old lady and her cart collided with an end-cap.

“Ah, here it is!” His voice sound relieved, although he had a look of concern as he looked over at the group of little old ladies and a shop assistant trying to clean up the spilled contents of the end cap.

Yves was going through the soap to see which brand he wanted, cheerfully inserting the word “douche” into every sentence he could when another old lady passed him and gave him a scolding look.

Our following conversation went a bit like this:

“Uh, I think we need to stop using that word.”

“Which word?”

“Douche,” I hissed under my breath.

“Why?  It means, you know, to clean your body.”  Using a voice everyone within 3 feet can hear…

“Not in American English it doesn’t!”

Yves looked puzzled, like Data trying to comprehend something not programmed into his experience on Star Trek: The Next Generation.  He found the brand he was looking for and placed it in the cart or basket (I can’t remember which).  “Oh.  So what does douche mean in English?”  Still in the normal voice.

Quiet conspiracy voice: “It’s a female thing.”

Normal voice: “What kind of female thing?”

“I’ll tell you in the car on the way home.  I’m not discussing this in Jewel!”