Tag Archives: Personal

Profile writing

I’m writing, these days, but it doesn’t involve much fun research or exploration. Much of what I write is for political campaigns and causes. I write most entries for state representative candidate Mike Skindell’s blog, for example.

I have a list of subjects that I have wanted to look into, when time and energy permits, but so far it’s still just a list. Either time or energy have been wanting at most points this year.

Recently, though, inspiration was somehow enough to profile a complete stranger in a satisfying little human-interest article for the local newspaper. It should appear in the printed Lakewood Observer on Wednesday.

Jamie Garrett is a server at Deagan’s Kitchen, an expecting mother, and an aspiring forensics student.

The fact that she’s missing most of one arm is a fact of life, but it doesn’t define her identity.

You can read the rest online also.

Crowded life, sparse commentary

So much going on. Yet so much of it is political, and taking to my personal blog (which is barely more than a diary) to comment on that seems kind of naive.

Not that I wouldn’t write a long, indulgent post expressing my views on e.g. Lakewood’s political tug-of-war that is now into its fourth consecutive year. But given how much my days are packed with the kind of inelegant campaign activity that actually reaches people, I suppose I just can’t bring myself to expend the effort required by any kind of deep essay.

I’m currently doing… a lot of work for two candidates for state representative, plus some work for another, and for two state senate candidates. I’m writing, for publication, where it makes sense… the latest LO included my promo for next week’s Lakewood Dem Club meeting, and an article encouraging support for Issue 1. (It also includes an ad I designed for one of the rare nonpolitical clients.)

Last week I made a day trip to Detroit for political organizing.

I dream of capturing once more a life beyond all this. But certainly not before May 8, and probably not for some while after that, really.

Oh well. This morning is relatively calm, and I was going to jot down some thoughts about The Infinity War (comic book series) stirred up by recent ballyhoo for the big feature film… then I found that I already wrote such a post three years ago. So.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

2017 Year in Review

My experience of last year mostly lent itself to sorting into two categories: political, and other.

Whereas in 2017, “other” was probably more like an appendix than a proper category.

There were reasons, about which I have written here among other places, but it also was just kind of something that happened. I started 2017 with a loose arrangement to provide graphic design for Tristan Rader’s campaign for Lakewood City Council, e.g.; by the beginning of summer I had effectively become designer, writer, director of communications, secretary and assistant campaign manager. Without ever having planned or even explicitly decided to do any of that.

My own year of 2017 might best be captured by a chain of relatively minor events from October. On October 26, I made a very fast trip to Columbus, to testify in favor of congressional redistricting reform at a statehouse hearing. (I was named though not quoted in a cleveland.com article.)

Me outside of Ohio's capitol

Mr. Kuhns goes to Columbus

Read More →

Tristan Rader for Lakewood City Council

A few days ago, I was out walking and had this feeling like I was coming out of a trance… to find that four months had passed.

I have written here about similar feelings twice in the past 13 months, so all I can really say is that this was a similar experience with a new intensity.

I looked around me and saw trees at the very end of their fall-color peak period. Then I thought back and could recall no other sense of the season, equally solid, since the beginning of July.

I recall being in Lakewood’s July 4 parade…

…then I was out for a walk and autumn was into its downhill half.

The best way I can think to describe it is that for the first several months of this year, it was like life was on fast-forward. It felt like time passed more rapidly than normal, but I could still perceive events around me, at an accelerated pace. Then since this post, it became more like just skipping from brief glimpse to brief glimpse, with everything in between jumped over entirely.

This was basically a year of my life. I sacrificed the year, to political action of various types, but above all to Tristan Rader’s campaign for Lakewood City Council.

Kristine, Tristan and me back at the campaign’s formal kickoff

Imagine my reaction since, entirely contrary to my expectations, we succeeded.

Read More →

It was just 2016 a month or so ago I swear

Summer has basically been and gone since my last entry here. It feels like autumn already, too. With hurricanes, fire or drought afflicting much of the U.S., I have no complaints at all about an early autumn, itself, certainly.

But honestly, I scarce know where this year went.

Since… I think it was with the real intense push against Trumpcare in the Senate that things “went to 11” and stayed there. Since then, life has just been full, whatever happens. All day, every day of the week, every week.

I have obtained more than 130 signatures for the Fair Districts ballot measure. And that’s like a when-possible activity, that fits into such “gaps” in my schedule as I can identify.

This past week was relatively calm. Yet it included

  • distributing literature for Jeff Johnson’s campaign
  • handing out dog biscuits at the Lakewood Dog Swim
  • Live-tweeting a City Council meeting
  • an interview about Hancher vs. Hilton with Iowa Public Radio
  • Dropping by an open house about the Icebreaker offshore wind power pilot project
  • Visiting Senator Portman’s office (once again) to express my opinion
  • Putting together two extensive e-mail newsletters

Read More →

2016 Year in Review

My experience of this year mostly lends itself to sorting into two, very different, categories: political, and other.

Except that politics isn’t really something separable from other areas of life, however much one may wish or believe that to be so.

Once again, I confront election results that are not only distasteful, but could very realistically make me a healthcare refugee in the foreseeable future. I’m self-employed, I have an expensive preexisting condition, I’m ineligible for Medicaid and a long way from Medicare (both of which will also come under fire anyway). If a Republican federal government junks the Affordable Care Act (and rules out substitutes which feature either redistribution or heavy-handed regulation, which are the only real ways to make private health insurers cover someone like me), I’ll have to look for other governments that might be more helpful. Which, right now, probably won’t include Ohio.

Meanwhile, even in my own life this year, “political” bled substantially into “other,” although this was admittedly voluntary to a great degree.

I really feel that, looking back, I actively “volunteered” for very few of the political activities in which I found myself immersed in 2016. But if I was recruited over and over, I rarely said “no,” and perhaps after a time that amounts to volunteering.

Oh, Lakewood politics, you’re crazy but maybe that makes us a match.

Read More →

10 years without Dad

It is a super-busy day, here, with the culmination of that campaign I have been working on in one form or another for nearly two years.

But I’m not letting the day pass without some remembrance of my father, who left us exactly 10 years ago.

Dad, my brother and me

Before the illnesses, in 2003

My upcoming book is dedicated to him. I like to think he would have enjoyed it.

John Kevin Kuhns, 1948-2006

First Seven Jobs

A #firstsevenjobs meme has been doing the rounds in the past week. I am participating here, rather than on Twitter, because…

  1. tele-fundraising
  2. cashier
  3. graphic designer for newspaper
  4. graphic designer for family planning organization
  5. graphic designer for private university
  6. graphic designer for boutique studio
  7. freelance graphic designer

It just seems to make a mockery of the concept. And not even in the intentional way of Warren Ellis’s list, which is otherwise an exemplar of the rubbish, low-level jobs that one is expected to show off.

I, on the other hand, have two mild offerings in that category, followed basically by the same near-profession over and over. The one for which I went to college, and from which I have earned my living, my entire adult life. In fact, in terms of a job meaning “on-staff employee” this is really my entire list at age 38, and even now I only achieve a first seven by cheating, in essence, and including self-employment as item seven. As my last traditional job, at item six, ended 10 years ago it seems fair to make an allowance for having supported myself somehow all this time since. But it still seems like I just don’t have a proper #firstsevenjobs list.

I don’t mind, really. I would say that I have been quite fortunate. I didn’t need to go looking for work in adolescence, which seems like a good thing for any number of reasons, not least being that I don’t think a part-time job really helps with the studies theoretically meant to open up broader horizons. I didn’t even have a summer job until after my freshman year of college, and the brief succession of these is basically my list: One crap job during first summer break from college, another crap job during second summer break, an excellent internship during my third summer break, and then consistent employment in my chosen field.

I sense that part of the #firstsevenjobs concept is that those odd, rubbish jobs build character or something. I can only say that I have my doubts, frankly. Boring list aside, I don’t feel like I missed out by not delivering newspapers or slinging french fries or detasseling.* Variety of life experience is not to be dismissed, by any means, but I’m just not sure how much truly life-enriching experience the typical #firstcrapjobs really provide. At best, I suspect that the point of diminishing returns arrives rapidly, and that menial jobs often take more away from the soul than they contribute before long. For this reason, I think there is a lot to be said against making people perform them in an age when lots of them probably make negligible contribution to any important goods or services.

Of course, since I failed the #firstsevenjobs game so completely, I may just be making excuses. Say, perhaps I can interest you in a #favsevengames list…?

* Here’s a brief explanation for anyone who didn’t grow up around this phenomenon, as was apparently the case for the editors of the dictionary which WordPress uses to spellcheck my posts.

Thankful Thursday, 2015

I have been thinking, lately, that for all my frequent moments of despair, the past five years have been a decent run, for me.

On this formal Thanksgiving without any of the usual activities (having held those early this year), it feels like a worthwhile time to attempt some sort of exploration of this idea.

There’s definitely reason to believe that the preceding five years of my life, roughly 2005-2010, were an era to make a lot look good in comparison. I was fired. My father died, in most of the ways you don’t want someone to exit: early, of multiple debilitating diseases, in a non-luxury nursing home, and agonizingly slowly. Let’s see, the occasional, diagnosis-proof failings of my horrible Pontiac finally reached the point of a realistic danger to my safety, and then I got to discover the joy of used-car shopping without any help for the first time, while under a lot of pressure and still effectively locked out of full-time employment because being fired does that to you. The work I found consisted of temporary contract jobs which, while they had their good points, involved long, nerve-wracking commutes and on two occasions a micromanaging sociopath boss even more deranged than all those who’d preceded him. I also made a failed, first attempt at earning a living from my own clients, wrecked by a combination of overconfidence and an ill-timed global economic crash.

All of this, meanwhile and to very modest surprise in retrospect, eventually produced two years or so of serious, relentless physical tension that screwed up my body to the point of an extended period of plain agony. Having to quit any regular running near the beginning of this period, due to innately substandard joint design, hadn’t helped at all. Nor did much of the medical advice I got, some of which eventually triggered a whole additional gastrointestinal condition on top of things.

Yeah. Politically, 2005-2010 was rather more encouraging, but personally that didn’t help so much because my own life was kind of crap during that period. (The Thankful is coming.)

Read More →

More Cotton’s Library fans

I think the brief rainbow moment is now closed securely between the pages of history books. Back to real life, including the disheartening omnishambles known as the Greek Crisis.

But, as there is nothing particularly important for me to say about that, right now I’m going to extend the positive a bit longer, here.

The summer 2015 issue of The Quarterdeck newsletter has included Cotton’s Library in its book section; I thank them for the notice and endorsement. You can download the issue for free.

Meanwhile, on a personal level I am even more gratified that my younger brother has actually read both of my books and enjoyed them. Possessed of many good qualities including some keen perception, mah bro is not exactly a dedicated reader, all the same. Let alone a history nerd. So I’m touched that he has read through two nonfiction history works, one of them about long-dead English antiquaries and their obsessive documentary collecting. And enjoyed them.

For anyone who might be curious, I will have both books with me at Author Alley, Saturday the 11th. Stop by!