November 5, 2002
Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada

12:10am I'm happy. Content. I got a hot cup of barley and chicory tea and just finished a bowl of chocolate ice cream and strawberry yogurt topped with Oreo crumbs. The Be Good Tanyas are singing to me from a compilation CD Leanne loaned me and I've just read a few emails from ladies I love.

Dear Cory,

I arrived in Louisiana three days ago, the day before Halloween. My little sister, the one who was in the accident, also arrived at my mom's that day, the same day my dad left for Buenos Aires to visit his 7-year old son (on the occasion of his birthday, which is today.) None of this was "planned": forces are definitely coordinating the details of our lives! Ithas been kind of crazy around the house, because taking care of my sister is a complex production. I am somewhat more used to it than my mom is, but it has been a while since I have been in the groove of it (I moved in with my mom around March 1st, and since then I haven't seen my sister much. When I do see her, it is just a brief visit, nothing like actually being her full-time caregiver.)

I am not finished unpacking yet from my trip to New York, and my room seems overburdened with too much stuff. None of it seems superfluous to me, however: books and papers seem to make up the bulk of it, and those are my "tools." I want to wait until everything is organized and put away before I begin tackling the list of things I want/need to do. It seems like it is all piling up, waiting to get taken care of. I know what needs to be done. it is just a matter of picking a starting point and going for it.

I have not been feeling very centered, but I am in good spirits. I am definitely on a ride, but all is well in my little whirlwind. I took a brief look at the most recent additions to your weblog upon my return, and while my first impulse is to reply to it immaculately, day-by-day and line-by-line, letting you in on the complex echoes it produces in my psyche, I will have to settle (and so will you) for a brief comment about the first thing I read in it.

That mean letter! I couldn't believe how aggressive it was. How did it make you feel right at first? Your reply was masterful and solid (go Max!) but did you feel so self-assured right at first? I am interested in how your reply was born. Even as I read that guy's harsh comments, wondering how someone could be so negative toward someone they don't even know (someone who is doing more good than not, at that, and someone who is definitely "on the ball")-and even as I sympathized for you, I was aware-as you are no doubt-of the potential value of such remarks. You may be familiar with the work of psychologist Carl Jung and his concept of "the shadow": it is the ensemble of the negative and/or threatening aspects of our personality that we don't like to own up to, and of which we are usually not even aware. It is made up of our fears, doubts, anger, impatience.the list goes on. We often see the mirror of our own shadow in other people when they irritate us or make us angry. What we see can be a grotesquely magnified version of our own shortcomings (i.e. "keep it up, and this is where you might end up!")

What do you feel about this guy's timing? Does it seem like he was telling you things you needed to hear, for whatever reasons? Did he catch you at a high or at a low, and did reading his words make you waver in one direction or another? Do you feel like his affronts have been a galvanizing factor in your sense of self, or did they not even influence you all that much? (Interesting that he may have seen, in you, parts of himself which he has been unable to own up to, his own latent potentials unrealized, etc..) It sounds like you are taking it all in stride, though. I would have expected no less! Forgive my curiosity. or welcome it graciously, if you like.

It might take me a while to get to it, but I do want to comment on other things I read on your site since I returned from my trip. (The conversation with Howard Upchurch's wife was super interesting! Apocalypse Now touched me deep, since my dad went to Vietnam... in fact, he got shot down at age 19 and was in a coma for several months, which is interesting in light of the fact that my sister's coma also occurred at age 19.) Also, the tidbits from your journal. I so enjoy reading them. It's not just the content-which definitely resonates-it's also the fact that you DO it. Kindred vocabulary, brother! I am looking forward to meeting you. I will have to send you some of the gleanings and gleamings from my own journals. I haven't been disseminating them all that much, feeling like I want to get more of them typed out and organized first. but maybe I shouldn't try to be so perfect. Anyway, they are alive and ready to sprout in hearts and minds everywhere. Information wants to be free!

I hope we will be able to converge when you drive down. You mentioned something about the end of this month, but that might be kind of tricky for me to manage because my other sister is having a baby right around that time, and might need me to be around to help out. (It's a little girl!) I will also be working on a public art project that might be done by then (in fact, I hope it will!), but I will tell you about that in another email. Maybe we can stretch the calendar around like silly putty. If all else fails, maybe we can hook up on your way back. although Mexico is definitely calling! What parts do you plan on visiting? I will break out the map in a heartbeat.


My reply

> How did it > make you feel right at first? Your reply was masterful and solid (go Max!) > but did you feel so self-assured right at first?

It hurt... becuase there are truths in what he said... and I'm sure he is not the only person who thinks those things, but i knew I could not dwell on it. And there was no point in attacking him back. I like the challenge... it's good... they keep me on my toes. I think I replied quite quick, but it could have been a day or so. Often I take time to think it over and settle down.

> familiar with the work of psychologist Carl Jung and his concept of "the shadow"

I've heard of Jung again just lately, I don't know where. And the idea of what makes us mad about others is really that part of ourself..... that is something I've recognised for a while. I'm glad you brought it up though. It's so good to hear your prespective.

> > What do you feel about this guy's timing? Does it seem like he was telling > you things you needed to hear, for whatever reasons? Did he catch you at a > high or at a low, and did reading his words make you waver in one direction > or another? Do you feel like his affronts have been a galvanizing factor > in your sense of self, or did they not even influence you all that much?

It has made me stronger. If I didn't have the love of close friends who really know me, Mr. X's words could have really hurt. The timing... well... I'm heading off again... so maybe it was a bit of what I needed, however negitive, to spur me on and become that action hero. I'm doing it here at home as well with my shows and the tree house and just being a rock star at the clubs, but I guess some people on my site see that as play... and not the stuff real action heros are made of. I don't need to prove anything to anyone. I'm free. I feel good... no matter what some people think. But... I guess I do gotta prove it to them too. I really do want to finish my kayak trip. I just didn't want to rush into it. I've enjoyed this time at home, savering my youth and my friends. Things are changing. We are getting older. Pathes are parting. I have no regrets. Those days will never come again. But, now I'm ready. Now it's time to go solomax again. Nothing is keeping me here.

> What parts do you plan on visiting? I will break out the map in > a heartbeat.

From Louisianna, we'd head to Austin where I'll do a show, then maybe on in San Antonio, and on through Laredo to Torreon to Mazatlan, where we'd chill a few, then stop in Palmillas, on the border of Sinaloa and Nayarit. Robilitio is ten miles from there as the crow flies, but an hour by car. We'll go between the two villages, kayaking(I'm thinking about bringing my other kayak so you can paddle too) and climbing the the mountain of death, making a trail, the taking a bunch of villagers up. Sound like fun?

More work to do...
See you soon!

Gabby sent this:

-American Pictures-
This is a Dane's journey through the American Underclass. Jacob Holdt hitchhiked 100,000 miles making a documentary of poverty, class & racism in the US. I saw this show in Minneapolis 4 years ago and it is very interesting for anyone to see from Holdt's perspective our own "hidden" underclass. He is coming to the University of Southern Maine next Monday, November 11 at 7pm at Room 113 of Masterton Hall.

This is how I do what I do

Arnold... Its Cory Richardson. For the next month I'm touring with my slide show as I drive to Mexico(to continue my journey by kayak to Nicaragua), and I could do a show at your school on Monday afternoon. The show is one hour(for more info check my site: I have all the gear, all I need is a dark room. And a large screen would be good too if you got it, as mine is small.

I love sharing the spirit of adventure and have passionate desire to inspire wonder and empowerment -- that's what MAX @ School is all about, and but these shows are my main income, how I afford to publish my website and do shows free of charge(like the one I did last night at the prison for female inmates). If the school could subsidize the show with $50, and have each kid bring in a two bucks from home, that would be great, but whatever your school can afford is fine.

Please let me know by Friday at 5pm. Thanks!

5pm. Often I do things intuitively because I know that this action is what it is to be me. And other people have these same obsessions... that they just need to do something... like playing music. Its something they need to get the spirit out, and if you don't it will drive them crazy. They'll get depressed, feeling like life sucks-- is meaningless. We need that release-- to go wild and act instinctually. If we don't we start to die. Life is about finding those passions-- those things we need to do to be who we are.

Shake up my reality
Show me something different
Positive preferibly

I'm looking after the store for mom, as I often do when she goes away. I like it cuz I have the house to myself... well... between customers. I can't leave the house no matter how nice it is outside, so I get lots of computer work done. When mom and dad are here it can get too nuts to think. I need peace. That's one reason public school really sucked for me. I didn't like being with all those people. I'm a person who studies along. I don't mind discussing things with other people amd partying, but when I need to consentrate, there must be no disctractions. Today in schools they drug kids like me. Its not the kid's fault they don't fit in the box.

Mr. Hersey was in today to get Iron and Vita-C 500. He is a faith healing minster. I always like to pick his brain by offering statements like "don't you think it's possible to go into the wilderness alone like Jesus did to be with "God", without the Bible and find spiritual fullfillment?" He amd his wife both shook their heads and said "no". "You need to pray," they said, "Say: God reveil yourself to me. You keep searching for the truth and you will find him-- not it. Him. All the signs are there. He is coming back soon."

Telling a story about a woman he healed with prayer, Mr. Hersey nearly started to weep. It was so real to him; something he really believed in and it touched him deeply. I've seen it in my mother many times when she is talking about the Holy Spirit. It brings her to tears. When I've talked to people that are hurting and said I could see the good in them, they started crying. I think the spirit is real, but it's not a limited sort of thing that you can put a label on and put it any kind a box of organized religion.

Christ-ina is here now beside me playing her bass guitar(not plugged in), and telling me how cool it is to be a rock star at school since her band, the school house band, played a bunch of Misfits tunes at a Halloween assembly. "I was thinking on the way down, a day without bass is like a week without climbing for you and Tom." she told me. "I've done more on Adrien (my bass) in two months than I have in six years on my guitar(My guitar's name is Thomas)." Finding a passion and gaining recognition... these themes keep coming up.

Looking for the cave yesterday, Tom and I found the Glen Carpinter Center on Ashburn Lake, run by the YMCA, and Bob gave us a tour of the lodge, which was amazing inside. Most people in the city have no idea that place exists. It was my first time being there, although I've been wanting to go for a while. That's a future FAR OUT School for sure!

Bob just wrote me:

Cool web site, although I have not seen it all yet (much to review). You should be proud of yourself! Keep up the great work and good luck on your adventure.

Bob... glad you like the site... and thanks for showing us around the lodge uninvited and all... it was beautiful!

On Thursday night I'm having a potluck dinner here at my house(down by the Irving Nature Park on the corner of Sand Cove Road and Fisherman's Lane), and after we will discuss plans for the FAR OUT School. I have a bunch of ideas and I need feedback and to get others involved. I'm just inviting a bunch of people who know almost as little about it as you. These are people who work in or are interested in social services. If you come that would be great. Maybe you'd have something to offer in some way. Won't know unless you come. There will be good people here. My number is 635-4122, or you can email if you want more info.

Thanks for the kind words of support!


greetings cory! i've been busy putting thousands of pics in ongoing quest..i have piles of pictures and such I've been sorting through and found some old stuff you sent me years ago...neato... my halloween was wonderful. i was a viking woman and went to the local thursday nite open stage to play and hear some music. my freind randall from hawaii was home for a week, he's lived in maui with his girlfriend sara for the last two years and seasonally for about 15 years before that. it was soo nice to see him and hear him play, he's an amazing musician. he just opened a show in maui for john prine and kris kristopherson...sara is always trying to convince me to come live there but i'm hoping to just go visit sometime soon. i really miss her and yearn for warmer climates on this cold ontario day! carry on in peace, hope all is well! suzy

Suzy... that's one exciting life you got yourself there!

Yesterday was way cool for me... I explored a cave that few ever entered. I could tell cuz delicate rock formations did not show wear and there was no graffiti. We went in a hundred feet or more, which is long in a narrow tube with water flowing through up to a foot deep. We crawled on hands and toes cuz the space was less than two feet high in places. We came out so muddy, smelly like the earth, and the fresh air was so crisp and clean.

Last night I hosted an open discussion with a dozen female inmates at the prison. We talked about seeing light in everyone and getting in touch with our inner child who has not stopped learning. Understanding light is a huge lesson. The female guard, Rena, who was very nice, said, "Sometimes I find it hard to see the good in them when you see the bad."

I asked the ladies how the system could be run to better rehabilitate them, and I was surprised that they didn't have much to say. They didn't seem confident, like they had not found their voice. One of the older ladies was the most outspoken. She writes poetry and said she had given some writing to just about every other inmate, and it made her feel good when people would ask her to write something for them. What some inmates did say is that it is hard to make ends meet because they are over-taxed and the cost of living is too high.

After the inmates left, Rena, Marianne(from the Elizabeth Fry Society who booked my show at the prison), and I talked more about the corrections system and how to help people when they get out. Marianne said many reoffend because prison offers security. Rena replied, "Look how many commit crimes in October and the judge gives them 6 months to get them off the street."

Rena used to work down the hill from my house at Doctor Robert's Hospital, where mentally ill people were kept. When they closed the hospital, many ended up in jail. "It all boils down to money," she said.

"Orphanages... I think they have their place," said Marianne, which triggered thoughts about how to run an institution without government money; and she continued; "I think if they had a business - like a restaurant - and they did all the cooking cleaning, and serving, and they focused on goals, they could make a success of it."

Suzy... I started this message hours ago and kept having happy distractions as Christina and Tom were here playing music in the living room, then we went over top the garage and jammed on a mobile I made of drift wood and beaver sticks. It was like a drum set. Each stick made a different sound. We whacked on anything and everything: wooden beams on the ceiling, plastic tubs, a steel weight lifting bar, the bottom of the sail boat.... it was so fun... finding a rhythm, a beat, and getting in sync with each other. It was therapeutic. My friends like coming here for a change of scene... to get away from their parents. This the kind of place I want to create. A place where people drop in anytime to create something or find a listening ear. A place where it's okay to be loud-- where they can express themselves freely. There is no place in this city that I know of where people can do that. So many things are becoming clear to me.

When Tom got here, Christina and I were sitting in the living room listening to Sheila Rogers on CBC interviewing Justin Trudeau, who was promoting Katimavik and speaking about forming strong values with regard to community. Last night, Rena was also talking about values. She said, speaking about the inmates, "Their values are brand names. If they don't have Tommy or Nike... they don't feel part of society. They destroy a lot of things and steal from one another; steal make-up, steal shampoo. It's terrible to watch them. Even if they have money they steal-- just to get at the person. In a matter of hours they can have the whole unit against that person. Manipulation. They are very manipulative. Mind games. I know one woman here who has two other inmates that she is always playing with. They don't have any respect for themselves; why would they respect anyone else?"

So my dear Suzy, it seems I've written a journal entry to you and I should put it on my site. I find it easier when I am writing to some one. I'm going to start writing newspaper articles to the reader, the just person who is looking at the page of text, not some kind of open letter to all society. It is now 12:35am and I'm not going to bed till this journal is on the site. I've sat at the computer all day writing email, except when I was cooking and eating, and when Tom and Christina came over, and even then I was still writing while I was eating and while they were here. With all this writing I'm doing, it is forcing me to clarify my views, and I'm make connections, weave the web, the social fabric that is necessary to support these ideas I have to create the life I want. So much is coming together, I'm very happy, yet there are also many lose ends. It's such a balance: living in the now and focusing on the positive, but investing in the future and recognizing the negative exists as well, but not dwelling on it.

Good night! And thanks for the update!

Check out these shots from Thanksgiving weekend!