Good Bye Aaron


“Okay Marty, again thanks. I really appreciate it.”—Aaron

That was the last thing I received from Aaron, one of my youth reps, before he was gunned down in the Little Village neighborhood on Chicago’s Near-West side.

Aaron was a smart kid. A funny kid. A generous, kind, loving kid. He was at most 22. He leaves behind a little boy, just over a year old, friends, family, and a hole in the program I run at the Juvenile Court.

I found out about a half hour ago that today—his birthday—he was shot and killed while with another young person. I do not know what happened. I do not know why he was shot, who shot him, who the other young person was, or what happens next. All I know is that the world is a much darker place with-out Aaron.

Aaron would laugh at the dumbest, stupidest jokes. Whenever he walked into a room, he would shake everyone’s hand—everyone, I mean it—and look them in the eye to introduce himself. He was short, about 5’7 or so, but he could fill a room if he wanted to. He would call and say if he was running late, he would call when he would make it home.

He always said please and thank you.

He wanted to go into the FBI to make the world a better place for his son. But college is expensive, and he was not sure it was for him. And yet. And. Yet. He was always looking on how to learn to do more.

Aaron was eager to do more for JAC. When he took a break in June of this year, I knew it was because he was picking more hours at one of his two jobs. When I saw him last, another youth rep and I dropped off his pay check AND he was committing to applying to the court scholarship program. He had made up his mind. College, in fact, was for him.

That was the last I heard from him until August. He sent me a text message and said he missed the program, missed the staff and that he was going to be back once he handled some problems he was going through. I offered to help. That’s when he said thanks, and that he appreciated it. That was the last I heard from him.

I was lucky—or blessed if you prefer—to know Aaron. He was amazing. Proof that young people can change. His loss does not mean that he failed. It means that we failed. The city, the county, the system. We failed him.

My grief is palpable, measurable. I know from experience with grief that there will come a point where I will be able to deal with it. But that is not what I focus on. I am worried for Aaron’s son. I mourn for his parents. I mourn for his neighborhood. I mourn with the young people I work with. I mourn with the community agency that worked with him. My grief is so small by comparison, but it is still there. It connects me to all the people Aaron was connected to. And that is some small degree of comfort.

Good by Aaron. I still miss you.


I’m a full time student this semester, thanks to the county board’s brilliant decision to cut services. These two survey classes, project management and enterprise tech, seem to be right up my alley. I’ll be developing a blog, writing memos and essays, and learning about business processes. I’m going to focus on tech and society, of course, and I’m going to try to spell out all of my concerns about business/consumer culture.

Cross posting is going to happen.


Lately, I’ve been thinking about what defines people. I am hesitant to say that behaviors completely define a person, yet they play a rather large part in it. I would be more than willing to say that our thoughts and attitudes define us, and then I remember some of my social psych classes and I rethink that idea.

One part attitude, one part thoughts, one part behaviors. That’s the best I could come up with. I don’t have anything particularly illuminating to add to this discussion.

At least, not yet.

Thrown for a Loop

I’m a big fan of plans. I like case plans, treatment plans, plans for the weekend, plans to hang out (online, at a bar, at a show). Hell, I make plans on the way home, “First I’ll do the dishes, then I’ll get some water. I’ll play/read/write till dinner…” etc, etc.

I had planned, this month, to write up on the war, health care and a few other things. At least, that was the plan. On Monday things changed dramatically. If I could write it all up, I would, but I value confidentiality more than I value a good blog post. Confidentiality is only one part of this equation. Respect for the others involved is the other.

While I have decided to stop beating myself up over this–as this particular change was not my fault–it is going to take some time before I’m back on my game. While I plan on getting back into the swing of things by reading up on the war, health care and Woody Gutherie, it maybe some time before I completely shake this funk.


Somedays, words are pretty easy things to grab. Then there are the days where I cannot remember how to spell the word “the.” Today isn’t either one of those days. While the words aren’t easy for me to grab, I can at least spell the word that are coming to me. I figure this is something i just have to type through.

Typing through–working through–instance of difficult is what I’ve learned the most this month. NaNoWriMo isn’t about writing the best novel, its just about writing. It is more important that “aspiring writers” develop a routine than it is to generate 50k words in a month.

It’s kinda like practicing the Saxophone. I played one as a kid, you see, and I never developed a routine for practicing it. I used my asthma as an excuse. One of our band directors–a nice old man whose name I’ve forgotten–told me to “practice your finger positions when you can’t breath but its practice time.” I did it once, and i felt so stupid, I stopped. If I had shown any dedication to that instrument, I would have stuck with it. I played that instrument until the end of my freshman year. After I got my “Art Credit” I quit the band and went on to “cooler things,” like playing D&D with my buddy Bill.

I am still learning to write. I’ve given up on being ashamed of it. Now I’m just starting to appreciate the routine of writing, even when the words don’t come as quickly as they should.

Official Nano Update

Here is a graph representing the official Nano Progress thus far:

Now, before you roll your eyes, keep in mind that I have 30 more pages of hand written stuff that I am transcribing. While I am still woefully behind, I do a ton left to transcribe. What I have learned thus far is this:

1) I do get cranky if I do not write at least a few hundred words a day
2) I enjoy writing about my parents
3) I may never get published, and I am no where near as good as some of my friends, but I can write something.

Those three lessons are far more important than 50k words in 30 days.

Now if you will excuse me, I am going to drink a delicious beer from New Glarus, Wisconsin. Here is the brass kettle where my beer was brewed:
This is where the magic happens