I grew up the only child of parents who dreamed of living in rural Vermont. The fact that I was born totally blind did not deter them. Thanks to their love and strong family values, I always had a stable home., though my childhood was often lonely.
Little else in my childhood life was as simple. The world saw me as "the blind boy." I soon became quite discontent with the roles I was expected to fill as "the blind boy," and did everything I could to step out of those roles.
My hyperactive and impulsive nature got me into a lot of trouble, but it also taught me a lot. One of the things it taught me was that, despite what everyone else thought, if I was just a little bit smarter, stronger and more resourceful than those around me, I achieved my goal, often surpassing my sighted age mate. I learned to trust only myself when deciding who I would be and what I could do.
This made a lot of people mad, and a lot of people uneasy and, for some reason, afraid. As I got older, the pressure upon me to be blind first, person second, increased exponentially. By the time I graduated from Dartmouth College with a Bachelor's degree in English (1990), I didn't trust anyone's assessment of who I was or what my life path should be. I determined to pursue what I loved--music and writing--rather than do what I was told--be a good role model for blind people and live an uneventful life within the boundaries set for the disabled by those around them.
Striking out on my own, once again I found that I could usually eliminate the presence of a "disability," if I was smarter, stronger and more creative than most. Applying this to my musical and writing careers, I began playing gigs around the New ENgland area, recorded my first album, "You are the FireStorm," and wrote and published my first science fiction novel, "Cerberus," all the while holding down various odd jobs to make money. More and more, I was convinced that I wasn't disabled unless someone else thought I was, and that profound realization changed me.
One of the wisest men I have ever known was Yoshi, a man who became my martial arts sensei in the mid 1990's. He taught me a code of strength and gentleness, as well as skills which have literally saved my life.
Sensei Yoshi was shot by a gang member late in 1998. Shortly after that, I surprised two people attempting to invade my home. I was able to defend myself, but, fearing reprisals, I began to move frequently.
Having been homeless for two weeks in 1994, I didn't want to do it again. I moved to Philadelphia, and kept an apartment as my "base." I tried not to be there very often. I combined my musical and literary aspirations and my need to travel and, using the Internet, found gigs suitable to my talents all over the country.
One can only keep looking back over one's shoulder for so long. After over five years with no reprisals, I eventually moved to the SF Bay area of California. There, ironically, my musical career slowed down, but my writing career picked up. As well, my developing hearing loss--silent genetic partner to my birth-onset blindness--began to make life more challenging, and I began to rely on writing gigs more and more.
Disillusioned with the Bay Area and seeking a quiet place, I now reside on the Oregon coast. Due to the changing nature of the industry, I no longer need to be anywhere to produce music or publish poetry and prose, and can work from home. I still travel as much as possible, and I know the adventure is not nearly over yet.
Many have told me that they want to read more about my life. I am currently working on a longer version of my autobiography, "Lilacs and Chains." My current plan is to self-publish this through this site for a small donation.
If you'd are interested in reading "Lilacs and Chains," when it comes out, please contact me. The more interest I have in it, the greater alacrity I will show in writing it, I'm sure.Click here to contact me about your interest in "Lilacs and Chains." Back to the front page.