Category Archives: Cheyenne

Mother Pluckin Mothers Day

I’ve never really thought about being a mother, or what it actually means to be a mother.

I suppose more likely that I have given it some severe criticism over my days.

You know that moment when you just submit to how things are; how you are sure they will always be in the midst of knowing, while STILL trying, somehow,  to make it better – perhaps over compensating in some mentality that had served you for a good long while; but has become such a self identifying characteristic, that letting go is hard, and humbling and tough to move beyond?

Yep.  That is me.

I could blame the anti-mom game on my early life; social programming, feminism, Disney, and the World In General… but I won’t.

I made a choice of self preservation due to trauma in early life… and I have unabashedly  stuck to it.  I empowered myself by it;  I gave it life and definition.  I fed it by ignorantly and fyoulishly adhering to my trauma blinders.

HA!  Like I think I have always known things!

When I was a child, I wanted to be a Grandma, above all…but, I also knew I never wanted to be a mom- so being a grandma, was probably out of the question.

I grew out of attempting to age quickly, and clung to the idea of being “The cool Aunt.”    My tag line is “When you can’t handle the transitions, save your sanity and send them to me.”  I believed I could be the bridging gap between generations, despite being a decade older than my sister.

Somehow, being single and childless, in my mind, equaled freedom which directly translated to “more room to comprehend and connect.”  It also meant “choosing ones own connections” aka “being exclusive and reclusive, mysterious and confused.”   “Appearing more purposeful than I actually feel.”

I have been, successful.

Successful at avoiding certain responsibilities by “opting out.”  Successful at using the word “No”, even when it’s too much, going too far.  Successful at building a very strong fortress around my totality of being-ness.  Successful at giving out selective passage with time limits, to those who dare venture these walls.

But hey, what is your definition of  “Success”? Is it at all defined by your MOM?

Mothers, just…they just aren’t suppose to just leave, ya know?

I don’t know… I mean… based off Disney, they are bound to. Moms exist as a memory with Disney.  Why is it all the girls and boys who love Disney movies the MOST, still have their mom‘s?

Right?!?  They not only HAVE them… they are CLOSE to them…

I guess, I should admit, I never really “bonded with my step mom in a way that  would ever give me a real “Mommy” vibe.  In the same breath, I will admit, I gave that woman hell with solidified child thoughts.

“You AREN’T MY MOM!”

“Why did you choose HER?”

“She WILL NEVER understand me!”

What wasn’t childish, and I didn’t understand back then, was the fact that I was unknowingly competing with an adult woman for my fathers’ attention.

Whoa, right?!?  No one tells you that at 9 years old, even if you are going to a therapist who is SUPPOSE to help you navigate shit exactly like this; why?  Because you are STRONG, you are RESILIENT, you are SMART, and if an adult explains it properly, YOU WILL COMPREHEND AND OUT DO EXPECTATIONS!

On the other hand, you can still carry all those attributes and go on like a bumbling fool because the adults around you are afraid of breaking a child who has already broken.  A child seeking security, and finding everything around themselves a suspect.  A child adapting, but never REALLY feeling like they are trusted or heard.  Ho, Hum.

I don’t blame the effect of this on any one but myself these days.  And, I am hard on myself, so I ask myself things like  “Why didn’t you see this and understand this dynamic earlier?  What is wrong with you?  Why do you continue to fixate on things that are more easily accepted AS IS, instead of ruminating solutions to the past free-will decisions and actions of others?  If that is what they would have thought was best, they would have.  You know they are doing their best just like you, but you STILL SHOULD HAVE SEEN IT and KNOWN.”

UGH.  Someone please bring me a 2×4 to beat my own head in.

That has been my life on repeat in variations for TWENTY-EIGHT YEARS!

Coincidentally, my step mom married my dad at the age of 28, in May, nineteen years ago this year.

I had just finished up my first grade year.  And let me tell you, it was an EPIC year.  I went to Ireland with my grandparents, my brother and my dad.  I felt like I landed in a place made just for me, except for my sensitive stomach.  We traveled in a rented van and stayed at B&B’s and I felt like the magic of my heritage was upon me. During the school year  I had a beautiful and kind first grade teacher, Miss Rolfe, who was super nice and magical.

Then The End of The Year came.  A week before the last day of first grade, I found out my Miss Rolfe was getting married, and on the last day of school we made a celebratory field trip to Brimmer Park, down the road from Baggs Elementary.  I remember my grandma took me to buy  a gift, and I chose two silver candle holders.  I was excited to show her how much I adored her.

We had a child like bridal shower in the park.  We all brought gifts, and over sized white t-shirts for her to sign in magic marker. On mine she drew an eye + heart+ you.  I felt that inscription in my heart.  She was beautiful, she taught with kindness and I thought she would be there forever.

At the end of our picnic park party, Miss Rolfe broke the news; the man she was marrying had something happening in Arizona.  She wouldn’t be at the school the next year; she was moving.

My heart broke, and I am sure my attitude showed it. My grandpa picked me up from school and we walked the three blocks home.  I was miffed.

I remember being home a while and my dad came in.  I was in the kitchen, and he knelled down to me sitting at the table.  He asked me something like “What do you think about me marrying Karen?”

And my heart sunk lower in my chest, but given the opportunity to express, I said “No…No.”

I received an answer that culminated in “It’s too late.”  I had no “real choice” in the matter.

So finding out I was getting a “new mom” with no choice, and realizing I wouldn’t be returning to Baggs Elementary; I was hit with the realization that  I lost a teacher, a school and all my friends; but, hey, I was gaining a step mom and a move to the country west of town, to a new school and house.

I stayed mad for two decades, and anything I deemed my step mothers doing in my misery, went into my brain archive.

How DARE you ask me, what I think and feel, if in the end, it matters, not?

I have always fallen victim to my observations and opinions.

How does one become malleable?  Roll with the punches and keep your mouth shut.  Make up your mind and keep it to yourself.  Suffer in silence.

I looked for my dead mother until I was fifteen; thinking somehow, someway, she could get away faking her death and continue living with another family in the same town.  I looked for her in the aisles of stores, and in the  clouds when I flew on planes.  I thought, in my youth, that you could just put a bouquet of flowers on the roof on birthdays and Mothers day, and she would just float down and get it.  It all continues to give me cognitive dissonance.

But… you know what pulls me out of that dissonance?

I am THIRTY SIX FUCKING YEARS OLD!  This shit is old hat.  I graduated  high school half of my life ago.  Life has moved on.  Everyone is moving on in their own way.

If I am honest with myself and my observations, these truths are undeniable… I have kept myself stuck despite knowing the evolving truths….

My dad has someone who loves him, and her loves her back.

My sister has an attentive mother that adores her, and she deserves that.

They all have done the best they can with me, but I kind of scare them.

Everybody is fighting to comprehend the day to day, and it’s changing swiftly.

My step-mom has always done the best that she can with no guide book, she is brave and resilient; but most like me, adaptable.

I wish I came upon all this alone, but I didn’t.

I have been really blessed in my adulthood to have surrogate mothers.  Women, regardless of age, whose lives seemed to somehow collide into mine.

I haven’t had the same “call and check in every day” or “pop in unexpected” or “care for you when you are sick” kind of relationships; but I have had some eye opening realizations and some heart felt growth.  But honestly, I mean, in my own experience the one thing you have to face about a surrogate is, they will always be there MORE for their own in the most natural and organic way.  You are not really the Fruit of Their Loom, er Womb.

Kind of the same thing with my “step” situation.

She has my sister, and my sister has her; and in no way would I ever wish a woman to grow up motherless. They have a pact I will never truly understand.  And I would never do anything to keep them from it.

I hypothesize that maybe if you have enough surrogate moms, you can actually plan that into your schedule and hug more frequently, and have a reason to make lots of handmade cards?  I don’t know.   What I do know, is, they are there when I need them,most times.  But I don’t ask for, or expect much, and that makes it easier for everyone.  Life is like that.  Sometimes, you have to just figure it out on your own because no one is there to pick up the call or rescue you.. or just soothe you.

And that is okay too.

Some of us have to learn to “Mother” ourselves.

My surrogates and my step mom have taught me more about themselves and myself in regard to the life around me by their unique perspectives and my willingness to listen and observe.  They present perspectives I don’t have on my own, unless I really try.  They DO HAVE birth children! They understand love on a level that I don’t They have  and continue to ride that roller-coaster which may not be ending soon when it comes to life transitions and need.

Rumor has it, “You always want and need your mother… no matter how old you are.”

What do they want in return? These Mothers?  Proof of existence?  Proof that their pain and turmoil and worry isn’t in vain?  Proof that their best attributes can rub off and be impactful and important through progeny?… Justification to a certain degree, that the risk was worth it?  The worry has worth?

Honestly, I don’t fucking know.  I am not even going to pretend right now.  Tell me.

The best I can come up with, is, they are like me; care taking spirits.  I took a different angle, and I know that the out come will be different.  I have no expectation than to have to deal with the most gruesome parts of mortality alone.  They probably expect or at least hope their children will be there to hold their hands through it, when it is their time.

I need to work on honoring this, because quite honestly I have previously just shat upon a Mothers purpose, Their purpose.   We don’t have life without Mothers.  We do not have balance without Women… and care taking humanity would be a lost cause without that energy.

But, I’m not a feminist…?!?

I don’t have to be, because regardless, Mothers gonna keep Mothering.  I apologize if I wasn’t appreciative before.  You all impact the totality of the past,present and future.  We need your love and attentiveness.  We need your kindness and structure.  We need your support, and your presence.  We need your fearless protective nature.

You are a TREASURE.

Thank you.

May all you Mothers, have a Mother Pluckin Mothers Day.

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Joe Shogrin: Not a Douche-bag

 

The weather and the campaign trail are getting hot this July; and the heat radiating from Cheyenne City Council Candidates canvassing neighborhoods, is no exception. This 2016 election brings out twenty-eight candidates between three City Wards. It appears that Individuals are crawling out of the woodwork this year, inspired to step up and serve their local community.
One of these candidates is Joe Shogrin campaigning for Ward 3.
A local political supporter wondered why I hadn’t interviewed Joe, yet, based off of my unprompted interview with Mayoral write-in candidate, Richard Johnson; and I said “If Joe wants to talk, I will sit down and listen, and write something up.”

Well, Joe Shogrin DID express an interest to sit down and talk with me about his campaign and his visions for Cheyenne’s future; double bonus win for him, I live in Ward 3, as well. So, we had an impromptu and rather casual meeting over a beer in my humble garage.
Joe stands at about six foot four inches. He is a man who looks like he can lift some heavy equipment with agility… which all makes sense, when I find out he is a High Voltage Lineman. As I understand it, this isn’t easy work for the weak of heart, fear of heights type. This is work that transcends seasons, and jumps straight to badass modern necessity; a-no-one-likes-being-left-without-power-during-a-snowstorm-kind-of-labor.
In 2010, Joe Shogrin left Altus, Oklahoma (population 22,000) for the fine (if not larger) town of Cheyenne, to continue his work as a lineman.

Now, personally, electricity scares the dried fecal matter out of my colon. I don’t really understand how it works.  I know that it is especially dangerous when prefixed by the words “High” and “Voltage”. This isn’t the case when it comes to Shogrin. Joe isn’t scared of electricity or heights. Joe loves his job. Beyond that… Joe LOVES helping people.

“You know the thing that really drives me, is being out there in the middle of an ice storm or a lightening storm, and there are all these people out there who are out of power and suffering… and, I know, we gotta get that power back on.”

Before working in the electricity business, Joe was humbly working as a janitor; however, when he found out that his first baby was on the way, he realized he needed a real career in order to support his growing family.
As luck, God, or good grace would have it; Joe found himself at the right place, at the right time when he went into the Altus City Building to ask about available jobs. He was presented with the opportunity for an entry level, seasonal meter reading gig that would be laid off in six months. He took the job, reading meters for six months, and at the end of it promptly joined the Linemen Apprentice Program.
Joe credits most of his career longevity and advancement with his ability to self teach and seek out knowledge in his chosen field. I make a mental note that these are great attributes for individuals to possess when running for public offices that represent widely varied demographics.
“Cheyenne is an interesting market because a lot of our Councilmen (people) are small business owners, so they look out for small business interests which is an important dynamic that needs to happen, but I feel like the council today isn’t really for the people. Politics shouldn’t be that way at any level. They are there for us, there to serve us. That is what I want to get back to. That is why I want to be on Council. I feel like we have a problem here; a disconnect from the people to the Council; the Council to the people, right on up into the State house and the Senate, upward. We basically have disconnects on every level of Council right now, which is dangerous.”
These are potent observations, that should not be taken lightly; especially from someone willing to put their name in the hat to play a long standing local political game. I think about Rich Johnson’s comments about his beginning attitude in politics being idealistic and optimistic, and how much has changed in his perception of what he could change during his first year in council.

Politics is like High Voltage line work… it isn’t for the weak willed, and easily battered. Maybe Joe really has a chance at winning a seat and assisting in some much needed changes.
I want to know why Joe thinks he would be a good fit for City Council.
“I’ve worked for the city (as a lineman) and one of the biggest strengths I bring to the table is moderation. Mediation is where it is at. I am some one who is willing to moderate and work in the middle. You give a little bit here, you take a little bit there, and after a while you have a compromise.”

So, Joe Shogrin is a willing mediator in favor of compromise. He comes across as open minded and level headed, not to mention brave, with functional risk taking. (Heck, you have to possess those attributes to get that far off the ground to deal with electricity in treacherous weather….)
“I am very supportive of our local economy, but our economy goes through these boom or bust cycles every 10 years with oil. We have good employers; (it just seems) when we are comfortable making money, we crash. We don’t plan ahead, we don’t set anything aside for when the bottom falls out. You can’t base your economy off of two or three (major income) issues with a city this size; we have to diversify our income sources and work load as well as the types of jobs we have. I am kind of disappointed because I see our Council and Candidates, and when I talk to them they are like ‘ We have to support small business!’ And I agree 100%, BUT, we also have to support moving forward to the next level so we can (as a community) support small business. If people have money in their pocket, they are going to spend it and they are going to spend it here, mostly. Now they may go to Fort Collins, but we could build up our down town area; do stuff that will keep them ( local money) here.”
We talked for awhile about Keith Coombes recent Facebook post for Ernie Novembers’ Record Store, calling out downtown business owners for having such short business hours; especially in the summer time, on the week end. Just a few weeks ago Keith kept the business open an hour later than their usual 9 pm closing down. Ernie November, already stays open later, every day of the week, than any other non food related walk-in place of commerce in down town Cheyenne. By keeping the doors open for interested patrons, beyond the posted closing time, thereby engaging the community; the business was able to make an extra $500 bones on the books. This is great for one small local business… and it should be inspiration to other small business owners to take heed and ride the periodic tides we have when it comes to downtown interest and seasonal shopping. (Here is a link to Keith’s post if you want to check it out for yourself.)

“One of the constituents (running with me) is big on down town. His platform is ‘Bring Back Downtown.’ He says that he goes down there at night, and it’s dead except for the bar scene. You have a couple of beers and walk around, but there is nothing to do. It makes you wonder, what is there to go down there for? The bar scene? That may not be what the Councils’ job is, but, it’s also (what adds to) a perception of the community. Everyone is struggling to make a living, and so as a Council, what can we do to help them? I know that business owners are making their own schedules and want their time… not everyone is willing to work 12p-9p; and it isn’t the Councils job to impose that… but as a friend of the community, working to be in the Council; I would suggest that they really look at that and consider adjusting. Maybe try working some different hours and see what you get in the results. Downtown is essential to so many activities in Cheyenne. We have the Plaza, the Depot and space; sadly, it is underutilized. Bring the people in like we do on Friday’s. If I am to be a steward of peoples money, I’m not just going to spend it (willy nilly). I am not going to spend it on something that I wouldn’t spend my own money on.”
Joe is a blue collar guy, working blue collar work. He has to get his pants dirty and his hands callused to do what he does. He has to challenge his fears and step into the unknown in order to help strangers. He finds satisfaction in a job well done. I admire these attributes in general, and especially when it comes from those who feel invigorated enough to step from their obscure silence into a cooperative community position; willing and excited to help tow the line.
I shared my concern about certain ambitious projects in the city that seem to be rising to the top of discussions without real priority; for instance, the Sky Bridge. It is a very large scale project that was introduced to the town as “a way to make our skyline unique”, yet it doesn’t seem that this project should be any priority; especially when taking into consideration that there are so many defunct properties in down town… It seems like an over ambitious project with no real connection to realistic priorities as it pertains to actually improving Downtown Cheyenne for its residents. Another example is the Children’s Museum that started as a granted project, and is now being presented as a building that will be paid for with tax dollars, under the guise that it will invigorate a down town that already has a parking problem, and few options for kids. (On a personal note, I think the Museum is a great idea, but it belongs closer to Lions Park with other kid/family friendly activities; perhaps in the existing old terminal of the Regional Airport, which is historic in itself.) I also share my concern that we are wasting resources with all of these surveys that cost money to assess, in order to figure out a consensus for the direction of down town.
“A project like the Sky Bridge should be funded by grants on a Federal level. And if they try and make us pay for it through taxes, I am going to fight it. I will dress up as Darth Vadar with my friends dressed up as Chewbacca and everything, and I will say ‘DO NOT PASS’ and have some fun with it. Most of these surveys are coming from the State level. I have been talking to some of the candidates I am running with, who are interested in interacting on that level, and I think I can smooth a road over between State Statutes and City Council. If that could happen we could make a positive impact in Cheyenne and Casper, because (State statute) it effects them too. “
Joe is a big proponent of calling out what doesn’t work, and then figuring out solutions that work best for everyone. He has a soft heart for those around him that are suffering from circumstances that are out of their control. He asserts his compassion by volunteering community service, coaching soccer and mentoring children who have no fathers.
“I could be at home watching night shows like everybody else, but instead I choose to invest my time in the future. I have been watching City Council meetings for about two years. I get upset about it because they are suppose to be the voice of the citizens and some of the things they vote for are not Citizen Friendly. It’s like, if I started ‘Joe’s Lawn Mowing Business’ or ‘Joe’s Tiki Hut Stand on The Corner of Joe Rd.’ Then my interest would be ‘well I gotta make sure they don’t close that little loophole, so I can keep my business.’ That is how they (City Council) work, they protect only what serves them. I serve people. That is who I want to serve. I care about everybody, including them. So far as I can tell, there is no real Leadership on Council.”
Joe is quite the people person, and he aims to lend a helping hand whenever the opportunity arises. This is an attribute more leaders should have.
“I am the type of person that will pull over and help you if I see ya stranded on the side of the road… or if I see ya struggling with something. If I see you struggling with your lawn mower, when I am driving by, I will stop to help you because I am pretty good with stuff like that.”
Shogrin’s goal in acquiring one of the Ward 3 Council seats, is to bring together the community of Cheyenne. He understands that many hands working together, can accomplish more in less time. He believes that some of the beautification that needs to happen in the city, could be accomplished quickly if we could set a time and date to get together to get things done. He notices that people are some what “shelled off” in this city, and he wants bring them out of their isolation. He wants to have a strong community that cares for the welfare of one another.

“We have to take care of ourselves. Not just our house, but our community. That is hard to talk people into doing because people are so introverted and shelled off from the world with their face in their cellphone on Facebook.”

Joe has a unique perspective on running for City Council, he doesn’t view it as a competition and he doesn’t view the other constituents as opposition.
“I can’t say enough nice stuff about the people that I have met who (are also) running. I mean they all seem like really nice people. I am not running against them; I am running WITH them. In all honesty, if I get in, and they don’t all they gotta do is call me and say ‘Hey, Joe. Watch out for this. Can you help me with this? ‘ In my mind I am running with seven other people. We all want the same thing; we want to make Cheyenne stronger, bigger, and better. Basically I am surrounded by seven other people that have the same heart for the City that I do; so why would I make an enemy instead of a friend? I care for those people. Win or lose, we are in it together.”
Team work and compromise,is not a platform many actually run on… in fact, to some it may not even seem like a platform at all. The truth speaks loudly in this moment; if we truly love our City and desire to make it better, we have to work together and prioritize our compromises. Is Cheyenne mature enough to be progressive and thoughtful in it’s evolution? Cheyenne is large enough, to start carving out it’s own unique image in the comparative landscapes of other cities. What do we want to represent to ourselves and prospective future residents, and visitors alike?

As the cost of living continues it’s incremental increase across the boarder in Colorado; Cheyenne is bound to be a destination for those who can’t afford to live in Colorado’s changing economy. How can we encourage those who move here, but retain work in Colorado, to spend their money in Cheyenne with local business’? Especially when the heart of the city is in somewhat sad disrepair? What can we do to beautify our town and effectively diversify?

” A constituent made a comment about maybe trying to get the homeless people out of that area (downtown), and the Wyoming Tribune Eagle spun it like they’re a homeless hater . I’m like ‘No.’ The press will do that to you.’ But, responsibly, if you get them out of the area, you help give them means and ways to work. You gotta work with them, to have them work with you. There is always a balance, always a compromise to work things out. My friends joke that I could negotiate a deal between the Devil and God. I say, ‘I might be able to’ It’s about compromise, and it’s about working together and that’s my whole agenda.”
One of the big compromises Joe observes that needs some attention, is the wages in our great State. At this point in time, wages for most jobs doesn’t even come close to competitive national averages; which could be one reason Colorado transfers, may choose to keep their jobs and money across the boarder. Joe is concerned that our below average wages need to be addressed as a way of adding to the positive draw for current and future residents.
“If you have a CDL other places you average about $50,000 per year. Here you make about $12.24 an hour, which is about $25,000 dollars a year. And here you have to have a Heavy Machine License, because a lot of these guys have to go unload heavy equipment… so that is additional, but typically a Heavy Machine Operator will make $60-70 thousand a year. Not here. We may pay those guys $18 an hour. Then we have our Fire and Police departments, and we are growing, so we need to think about that because those departments are going to have to grow in the future. Since I have been here, I think we have grown by 6,000, that’s a lot, and now we are short on both Fire and Police. I was talking to both Chiefs, and basically Fire needs another outpost over on the east side of town. Those business’ on the east side of town actually have higher insurance rates because the response time of the Fire Department. That is one of our bigger employment centers over there. There are 2000 plus jobs in that area. “
An area of address Shogrin finds pertinent, is the need for City funding to diversify their support into more of the activities and organizations in town. Joe then referenced the failing Ice and Events Center that was taken over by the City a few years ago. Lack of advertising and promotion of activities at the Event Center has made it slip to the back of most peoples minds when contemplating a fun family friendly social activity.

“The city tends to really support four or five organizations. We don’t promote our business’ well enough. There are local business’ here, that I haven’t even heard of. You can go down off Dell Range into one of the local shops; take my friend who owned Kabob King. When he took over that building down there behind Applebees, and I go in there to have a Kabob Burger, and I look over at Applebees and their parking lot is packed. I look at his parking lot, and there are two cars in it. Applebees is a big box store. 90% of the money they make over there goes back to the corporation and the rest goes to service and bar staff. We have a lot of organizations that can help you promote your business, but a problem  I see, is they are not all under one umbrella and they need not be governed by the City Council because that says corruption. Maybe not this year, maybe not next year, or even in eight years; some where down the way, it’s going to get corrupt. Corrupt government pisses me off more than anything. If I see something right or wrong going on, I am going to call it. If it’s wrong, and I am doing it, I am going to apologize and get re-educated. I’m not above that, it’s a strength I have going into Council, if I get there. I’m not above admitting when I am wrong and learning something new. Sometimes I need help too, and I am not afraid to ask for it.”
Observing past candidates and current Council meetings leaves much to be desired in even giving the illusion of working together as a committee for the people. Many meetings run long circles around the issues with little being accomplished with the time spent meant to progress the city and address issues. Members seem unwilling to compromise or budge on their stances, which begs the question, are these representatives REALLY FOR the people and the City, or are they solely fixated on protecting their own personal interests?
“I am like, one percent asshole. Other than that I want to bring people together. At the end of the day I want us all to work together as a team. My first goal in City Council, would be to bring everyone to work together as a team. The first thing we have to realize is the first priority is, we are working together for the same reason; We are for the people, we are for Cheyenne. It’s an easy commitment. If some one is 25% right about something, we don’t have to just shoot them down. You take that 25% and build on it. Without our town having a great future, our business’ will not have a great future. If business doesn’t have a great future, the town isn’t going to have a great future and have a chance to actually become prosperous. “
Joe noted that Cheyenne’s focus has seemed geared toward the tourism that is primarily generated during the summer months in the Capital City, versus prioritizing the actual residents and business’ that run year long that actually supports city programs with tax revenue. He feels that if we invest in the beautification and maintenance of our city, it will be more attractive both aesthetically, and and in functionality.
“You see beer bottles sitting in the gutter for 3 days and no one wants to pick it up. We don’t practice due diligence in picking things up. One of the issues we have with downtown is it just needs a new coat of paint… and if enough people were to help, we could get it done in three hours. It doesn’t have to take a lot to make a place look awesome. If the City were to prioritize, and set aside a few days where city employees just went around helping people get things cleaned up…Can you imagine all these experts in their field with a budget and some grants, and we could clean up downtown nicely. We have beautiful buildings, they’ve just been neglected. “
Every downtown is known for having a ghetto area. How can Cheyenne, revitalize and address the issues that arise from an alcohol infused area that draws homelessness and at-risk adults, effectively? How do we clean up our act with out over gentrifying? How can we assist sub-sectors of our community that are disenfranchised and potentially dealing with chemical abuse and mental health issue, who are drawn to these areas where like minded poverty stricken peers congregate?

“I know why they congregate down there. Both of our Homeless Resources are down there within walking distance. You have the intersection of two busy highways right down there, and on top of that you have three places downtown there that offer free wifi. Then you are also in walking distance of MLK park, in which they sleep in if they can’t find a spot that is safe to sleep at, at night. It’s not about making the homeless people leave downtown, it’s about giving them an incentive to leave downtown. I think that is the problem people have had with downtown ‘Oh, it has to be clean’ and they want to do like they did in Denver. They swept through the homeless parks and rifled through their things, destroyed their things.”

13465971_1745896805657737_3765290143080208362_n Overall it appears Joe Shogrin really is for the people and the City. He is most definitely NOT a douche-bag. His apparent willingness to work with and for others, all while focusing on resourceful solutions that capitalize on the unique expertise and strengths of individuals working as a team, seems profound and exactly what the city of Cheyenne needs right now. With this attitude many positive things can be accomplished over a shorter period of time, thereby accelerating us into a bountiful future for this Magic City.
If you would like to connect with Joe on Facebook, click here.
If you would like to call and schedule a chat with him about any questions or concerns you may have, give him a call at (307)630-8342.
If you haven’t already, you still have time to register to vote; the primary election is in August and the race is heating up. You can register to vote at the County Clerks Office at 2020 Carey Avenue.

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Richard Johnson, Renegade Politician Pt.1

If you are a Cheyenne resident voter that follows local politics, the name of Richard Johnson, has probably popped up in conversation more than once around the water cooler.

In all seriousness, it appears that he has a completely diametric effect on those who have taken notice of his politics; whether from the outside looking in, or first hand. You either love him, hate him or find yourself completely confused by him and his presence in the political arena. Some may say, though, that “that’s par for the course when it comes to politicians.” Rich, however, is far from par for the course when it comes to politics.

And, now, our Black Sheep Councilman, is running for Mayor, on a write in campaign.

Richard is a life long resident of Cheyenne. Being labeled as “subversive” or “controversial” is nothing new when it comes to how he chooses to play his role in the game of society. Even from a young age, Rich was getting things done in a manner of hard grit sandpaper. Ruffling feathers with his ideas; all the while making strong attempts to bring sub-sectors of our community, places and ways to feel involved.

Take for instance, his involvement and passion to help get the skate park built.

I remember this town before there was a skate park.
Though I didn’t skate, many of my friends did and I knew how badly they wanted a place to go; a magical place where they could do what  they wanted to; a place where they weren’t going to get yelled at or cited for “illegal skating.”

Rich was just a few years older, and cared about skating AND politics enough to jump in; because, even when building a skate park, it all comes down to politics and support of the community.

At a first and superficial glance some may assumed that Rich is just out to break things. Breaking the systems and people who view him as obstructive or destructive… but can One individual really break something that is already blocked and/ or broken? Can One individual use their own transparency to show others that they need not pretend that superficial fixes and ignorance will alleviate a certain history of systematic dysfunction, that no longer fits our growing and changing economy?

I suppose Richard is out to challenge that in a very direct way that will yet again ruffle feathers.

This is not to say that in the process of his involvement, officially with the City Council, that he hasn’t himself changed, and noticeably so….

It’s a moody spring day in Cheyenne, Thursday in the Third week of May; we decide to meet up at the new Danielmark’s Brewpub, to discuss his effect on the community, and the reasons for the write in campaign.

Rich looks like I feel; tired, and perhaps retaining some water. On his head is a black ball cap that proclaims “DON’T ASK ME 4 SHIT!”… ironic accessory to wear to an interview… when all I have is answers to ask for.

As per usual, he has also accessorized with one of his favorite black metal band t-shirts; today it’s Panzerfaust. According to Wikipedia “Panzerfaust is an inexpensive, single shot, recoil-less German anti-tank weapon of World War II. It consists of a small, disposable pre-loaded launch tube firing a high-explosive anti-tank warhead, and was intended to be operated by a single soldier. ” This could be the end of this article. Whether or not he realizes it (and I guess that he does), he sums himself up consistently, without the help of others.

My hope for this series of pieces, is to give you a more clear view of where Rich stands on topics effecting this town.  For those of you who may be on the fence, or just on the side of the fence where the haters hang out; This is for you.

We grab our brews, and head out the the nice new Danielmark’s patio, and jump straight into it.

“Well, Rich, tell me about how you have become who you’ve hated?”

Basically over the last month I have done a huge paradigm shift from who I was before January 5, 2015. Pretty much before that I was an idealist, and now I am the fucking worst pessimist you’ve ever fucking met.

“So you basically skipped realism, and jumped straight to pessimism?”

Yeah, it’s pretty much, this whole escapade is total fucking failure. At least my site lives up to it’s name now. (The infamous FaceBook page “Richard Johnson, You Failed This City)

“Why are you feeling so disappointed?”

Well, because I know that there are ebbs and flows, and right now it’s on a flow, and soon it will be on an ebb…and we’re going to get another old man as Mayor. And I bet you that this year the status quo is going to go out in droves and kill everything (progressive.) I was actually waiting for more candidates to run against me, not because of who I am, but basically because of what I stand for. So I thought there would be a lot more opposition candidates. I mean they have nine more days to file… I figured they would come in a put the kibosh on it. I mean if they really look at it, I haven’t done anything except repeal some laws and ordinances. Like spitting is coming up, and weapons. Basically chickens was a thing that nobody thought should happen, but I just did it to piss people off.

“Are you maybe just being a little too hard on yourself? I mean, you have only been in the position a year, and it probably takes at least a year to figure out what you are doing, since you hadn’t done it before.”

No, I knew exactly what I was doing. I did it with the skate park. I knew what government was all about, that’s why I thought I could just, kind of, mesh in. But, you know, really, it’s just smoke and mirrors. I don’t really feel like anything has really been accomplished in seventeen months.

“But, you didn’t have a clear plan, right?”

No. And I never do. I never run on that type of shit. I told them, that I have no agenda. For my write in, let’s just say that this community better hope I’m never elected for Mayor.

“What does that even mean?”

I will raise impact fees for developers. I will never have a six penny or seven penny tax, where you have to pay for a fire station because a developer wants to keep a couple of million for themselves. I WILL RAISE IMPACT FEES, and I WILL make developers pay for fire stations and more police officers. And I know, the Chamber of Commerce is going to come after me and tell me that I am not supporting local business. Then the Council is going to flip flop on me because they are a bunch of cowards. They are going to get scared that suddenly local business’ that hires local employees, is going to get the shaft again. If you look at inflation rates the Walmart on Livingston paid $125.00 for their final flat.”

Richard then explains his observation of wasted funds on spaces, with things like landscaping, in the name of “beautification” with plants that are having a hard time surviving in our climate at the times of year that they are planted. At the same time he is addressing his experience with the community complaining about the overgrown Green Way, that is justified to not be trimmed as a means of “trash mitigation and purification of waters with natural grasslands.”

Johnson makes note that Cheyenne lacks a specific beautification plan that is symbiotic with the climate and environment of the city and surrounding areas, and that citizens and business’ are wasting funds yearly on everything but long lasting beautification solutions that can also add to the the potential uniqueness of Cheyenne.

Maybe it was the topics of trash, and  monetary waste; that the conversation led next to the other Mayoral Candidates running for office.

As you may have heard before this article, Johnson, is running on a write in campaign. No signs, no banners, no $25.00 entry fee to put his name in the hat. He doesn’t think you need to spend money for a campaign, and he is out to prove it in his own renegade way. Some people are laughing, I know… and maybe I am giggling a little on the inside, too. My reason is, “you never know until you try, and if you don’t put any money in… what do you have to lose?” Right?

A slight controversy recently came up online, after Marian Oor announced her Mayoral bid with videos, balloons and bright orange posters. Richard boiled it down to gimmicks and things that would end up as trash in peoples yards.   In turn he encouraged  voters to avoid posters on their lawns and in their business’, and instead, actually investigate what the constituents were currently doing in the community that would prove they should have a seat ( whether City Council, Mayor, or beyond.)

Social Media followers of Richard Johnson, and active participants in the community eager to try their hand at city council agreed with his logic. Gabe Pina of Pina Accounting and the Downtown Cheyenne Business Coop is running for a seat in Ward 3 City Council.  He  was inspired to ask his supporters to donate to one of several community charities in lieu of campaign donations.

I almost feel like an asshole now, every time I go into a new business opening, because I am surrounded by fake assholes. I am surrounded by ‘candidates’. It’s almost like everything I have done for the last year and a half on my own was “Oh I am elected, now I have to really go out and support my community. “

And support his community he did. “Richard Johnson, You Failed This City” has been just as abuzz with community events as it has been with Johnson’s personal rants; raves, observations, controversial pictures and not so rhetorical questions.

Anything having to do with Cheyenne; issues within the community have been posted to his social media participants, by Richard himself. Concerns by the public have been emailed to him, and he has posted them anonymously to gauge the interest of the community with topics raised. Overall, Rich has made a pretty concerted effort to attend as many events as possible regardless of  niche or perceived “cool” factor.

More than once, Richard, has arrived unannounced, and not specifically invited. And, perhaps to some onlookers, who may have been self placated in their own perceived superiority; were the least impressed with the effort in which Mr. Johnson was asserting himself into political circles concerning this community in the fine state of Wyoming.

So, though perhaps not out to impress, Richard Johnson is more willing than others to play the game and attempt to beat it by breaking the status quo.  Whether he  breaks it, or perhaps just overloads the system; there is bound to be an impact for Cheyenne.

(To go to Part 2, CLICK HERE)

Four Miles, For Miles.

My thighs were sticking together.

I am sure a rash was happening.

The friction of skin upon skin, creating a burn like Sin.

Being in one of the most social of lady places; the bathroom, I queried another female patron.

“Do you have any powder, by chance?”

Answering the question with an action, she pulled a large zip-loc bag out of her purse.

“I need just enough to dry out my lack of thigh gap.” I respond with more dryness than my pasty but saturated Vaginal neighbors.

“Ohhh, hunny.. this aint’t talc… It’s coke.”

Immediately, I imagine the options of relief.

“Too expensive for my needs, but I bet the numbing sensation is worth it;” imagining the potential, I add ” I need four miles worth of ‘numb’ dryness.”

She queries, “Four miles?”

I am pretty sure at this point she is already coked out and her brain is having a hard time equivocating.

“Yeah… four miles home. I think by cab that is about fifteen bucks… and that just seems too much to me, for this podunk town….. too much, even though, I… Even though I am having this issue.” At this point I am attempting to handle the pain with a smile… I am a liar, and this shit hurts.

Eyebrows cocked, head tilted, she questions, ” An issue?”

“A woman’s issue…”

She looks incredulous for a moment until a spark of understanding, spreads over her already tightened facial muscles.

“OOOoooohhh, Auntie Flo!”

I see she is now slightly softened by compassion and understanding.

“Uhmm… No.” I can’t help but pause, acknowledging that if that WAS the case, it would be the least of my concerns; and that is why God made toilet paper.

“No?” She repeats, but with a sense of fear… like maybe I will tell her I just found breast cancer, or one of my ovarian cysts just escaped.

“No. I have heinous thigh sweat, and…uhm… massive chaffing.” I don’t know why I am so ashamed of saying this in front of a person carrying enough cocaine to be indicted on a felony, but it is how I respond, nonetheless.

“oh. OH. OooooOOHHHHhhh!” Images percolate in her mind and her eyes get big. I like that she seems to REALLY “get it”.

“Yeah…”

“Oh, hunny… that’s rough!”

Without losing a beat… I say,

“No, it’s RAW!”

I have pulled her into coke induced empathy, and she nods knowingly. “Yeah… whew, them’s the pits.”

On a roll, I say “More like the crevasses.”

Still feeling a bit desperate and despondent about returning to the bar,  I ask ” So, do you have anything else in that big, magic bag that might help me?”

She begins the notorious “Puffy Purse Scavenger Hunt.” Digging deep in its depths for something significant or (in her mind) useful.

” Uhm, well, how about…Preparation H? err… uh.. Advil?”

By the looks of it, she has a whole different set of ‘women’s issues’; the pain, numbing my verbal filter, causes me to outwardly express as much.

I am disappointed AND defeated, but she is quick to respond, “Damn straight! I do! And I don’t leave my house ill prepared.”

God Jeebus, she must be a Virgo… I know what she is talking about, because USUALLY, I AM that lady (minus large zip-lock bags filled with illegal substances).

Agitated with my observations, I add in a whisper of “apparently…” with far too much judgement and sarcasm.

An awkward silence ensues, and I find this to be prime time to exit stage left. Besides, she doesn’t have what I need, anyway.

Betcha if I needed a safety pin, there would be one floating around in there.

Maybe, just maybe, this is my fault.

Maybe, if I was at a family restaurant, instead of this dark bar,  I would have better luck with my needs.

Maybe under other circumstances I could find a nice overweight and sympathetic mother… with a small baby, and an overstuffed baby bag.

And I would ask for her help… and she would reach deep into that well stocked baby bag of hers, and pull out just ONE of ten travel size baby powder bottles; and she would hand it over with loving care, and say “Keep it. You know you’re going to need a reapplication some where down the road.”

And she would wink at me, maybe even squeeze my hand or my shoulder and I would feel safe, protected and loved.

I would respond with a smile and a humble “Thank you”; thinking my good Karma must be returning in the form of self preservation, and I would walk home properly powdered.

Instead of looking for a family restaurant, with a responsible mother carrying a plentiful baby bag; I walked back into the bar intent on the only legal numbing I know… whiskey.

They know me here and the bartender asks if I will take another double Jameson on the rocks. I say “yes and add on a pint of Fat Tire.”

My favorite short order Cook sits to my right, and says “I’ve got those, put ’em on my tab.”

“Oh you don’t have to do that… I’ve got it.” I respond with a shyness.

“Nah, you gave that warm knit hat that you made, to my friend who was sick… and that hat kept her head and ears warm all winter.”

I can’t argue with such kind logic, and thank him for the drinks.

My good Karma is not in fact going to self preservation right now; or maybe it is, it’s just my momentary perspective…. I do need these drinks right now, if only to distract my brain from the chub rub forming on my inner thighs.

“Well, thanks again. I really appreciate it.”

And I do appreciate it as I slip out the back door to the patio; to go think some more about perspective.

The Zen Buddhists say to “judge nothing.” To see all as life, without duality.

So I adopt this perspective for the moment and take a long swig of whiskey. I hold it in my mouth for a while, letting the alcohol drench all of my taste buds. Slowly, I swallow it’s gentle burn down my throat.

I let the alcohol sit in my mouth like a tincture; letting the medicinal properties seep into the porous membrane of my mouth, allowing the liquid to cross the blood brain barrier and stimulate an exquisite release of dopamine.

Anyone observing may think I am contemplating the “swallow.” Wondering why my process is less smooth and desperate as their own, as they urgently suckle the heads of bottles containing weak watery beer. They drink it like they need water, like a hungry baby at the nipple.

I am outside, and no one is here. No one to watch or judge.

The air is thick with humidity and the clouds compound into a thick grayness above; growing heavy with precipitation, the thunder begins to take over.

I smile at the age old vision of God and his army of angels rolling bowling balls down an infinite bowling lane. Each roll of thunder, a ball. Each strike of lightening, the strike of all ten pins. After some time, it begins to hail. Perhaps this is a sign of a Heavenly game of 300, and the hail is celestial confetti falling to Earths floor.

The hoots and hollers,  vibrating clouds, reverberate the cheers of a job well done. The Heavenly Team has won the League Championship.

Unbeknownst to them, we sit below like ants; watching as our flowers are beat free of their petals and our cars become dented with new geography.

A few people now have gathered beneath the rain shelter. We chat about the weather, avoiding conversations that dig much deeper. It’s okay… I didn’t come for more than distraction from my physical malady; which I have almost successfully mastered, until I again remind myself of the impending four miles.  Four Miles… for miles.

 

I take the last drink of whiskey, and chew on a couple of ice cubes as I stand to take my first apprehensive steps toward home.

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