Bert

 

When did you last sing to yourself or to someone else and what song?

I love music. I do it all the time. There’s so many of them. It’s going to be an old song now. “I Can’t Seem to Say Goodbye” [by Jerry Lee Lewis]. It’s an old, old song. There’s a lot of that type of stuff that I like. That cabinet right there is full of old 45s. I mean totally full, and you can see some up above and all, and the old record player. 

 

What is your favorite journey?

I’m an introvert. I would say meeting people like you, meeting people like that, and almost sort of living or imagining my life through you. It’s rewarding to me. I’m happy you came. 

 

What characteristics do you value most in your friends?

Interest. Family. The children. That type of thing. I like honesty. Honesty, both in the sense of not stealing, but also just being yourself. That’s another thing that I like. 

 

What’s the biggest problem in your life?

[exhales] Honestly? Being alone. Yeah. I went with this one lady for a long — we just ended up, not fighting or anything like that. She just seems to want another — she’s Mexican. She’s been here for 40 years, but she’s grown up with a different thing. So basically I’ve always told her, I’m a one-person person. I’m happy with just a few people. I don’t need a bunch of friends. I always dreamed of having one person that way. Unfortunately, my marriage ended. But this lady here, and I thought we were married. We weren’t married, but I thought we were. That’s ended. It’s like I can’t meet somebody else and go out with them, because I’m stuck over here. Boy that’s honest. But that’s good. 

 

What is the secret to lasting relationships?

Wow. [laughs] Boy that’s a coincidence. I would say overall, even ahead of honesty is respect. And that goes for you too. Not just for the relationship, but for yourself. 

 

When and where are / were you happiest?

I’m 73 years old. I mean, my children were growing. This and that. Overall, now — I’m going to phrase it that way, now — basically right here. I know it’s a mess right now. But I’ve always been someone who likes to surround himself with books, things he likes, and have a home. It doesn’t have to be a real fancy home. But I remember my mama saying this years and years ago. She lived in a little maybe $25,000, $40,000 house. And she just said it. “I live in a castle.” She was happy with what she had. That’s basically the answer.

 

What do you fear most?

Probably with the aging and all that is loss of independence. Being dependent on others. 

 

Would your childhood self be proud of you now?

Yes. Not satisfied with how everything turned out. But overall, yes. Getting back to — you hit the motherlode here, you know that, huh — get back to this honesty and stuff like that is the fact that basically everything I’ve done, everything that I am today, has been done by myself. I did it all — I had help, but I did it all. I never cheated. That’s one of the things that my kids remember. “Don’t steal.” Not because of what it does to that person. You can steal a penny from them, it ain’t going to hurt them. It’s what it does to you. Those little things is the kind of stuff that I think is good. 

 

What’s the key to life?

A positive outlook. That’s one thing I lack in. You can get yourself really, really down on life, on yourself, on everything. But there’s so many great things. A positive attitude to me is very, very important. 

 

What’s going to be your greatest accomplishment in the next five years?

Dang. Being alive. [laughs] Being alive. Really. I’m 73. I’m not rich, but I’m not starving either. I have three wonderful daughters. They’ve turned out to be wonderful people, wonderful parents. I’m ok. In the next five years, staying healthy and living. My retirement, by the way, is set on 95. [laughs] 

 

Who is your hero?

There’s so many different things on that. I don’t see black or white. I see gray. I think in general I’d have to answer the question by all the common people who have struggled with life and achieved something. It doesn’t have to be an Obama type thing, it just has to be the unknown people who have made America great. The person probably that I would say would be Ronald Reagan. He grew up in the Midwest. He was a liberal. But he saw what liberalism, what was happening. And he developed his philosophy. He didn’t force it down, didn’t lie like we have today. But he changed America for the good. Unfortunately it’s changing again. It makes me cry to see what’s happening in America today. I like the old America where we taught responsibility. There weren’t always rights and privileges. America is a wonderful country, but the reason for it is because it gives you the opportunity. You’re responsible to take it from there. Ok? There’s my preaching. 

 

What should I ask the next person?

In all your life, in all your striving, and everything, do you respect yourself? 


 

Kenneth

 

When did you last sing to yourself or to someone else and what song?

[sighs] I sang to my wife the other day, Al Green. I think it was “Let’s Stay Together.” We love Al Green. We love R&B music, blues and stuff. I took her out to dinner at Dynasty Buffet. She loves to eat the crabs. I’ll say it was Saturday night. 

 

What is your favorite journey?

I once went to a town called Pine Bluff, Arkansas. I loved it. Beautiful, quiet, peaceful town. Midsize population. It seemed like it was one of those type of places where crime hadn’t hit it like it’s hitting everywhere else. Drugs and everything hadn’t hit it like everywhere else. That’s been a while ago though, so it’s probably changed by now. 

 

What characteristics do you value most in your friends?

Honesty. Honesty. If I can’t trust you, I can’t be your friend, you know?

 

What’s the biggest problem in your life?

I guess finding dependable people. I own my own company. I’m in transportation. It’s hard, very hard to find people, because they either can’t pass a drug test, or they not dependable. I had a guy told me, “Oh man, I can drive 18-wheelers.” I said, “Well I’m going to put you in a 250 truck and see what you can do.” Three days, man, my truck was a total loss. He tried to make a u-turn [laughs] on a highway in the middle of the day at lunchtime. [laughs] It’s funny now. It wasn’t funny then. It’s kind of stupid. 

 

What is the secret to lasting relationships?

Communication. Yeah. Communication. You know, it’s one thing to tell a person that you love them, but I mean if they not seeing it. Everybody needs to be reassured sometimes. 

 

When and where are / were you happiest?

Fishing. Fishing makes me happy. Even if I don’t catch no fish. It’s peaceful. It’s quiet. Mostly when I’m on my boat. It don’t matter where you at fishing. It’s good to do. You have that time to yourself, you know. Is there anything I can do to change me, to make me a better person? Even we need maintenance sometimes. 

 

What do you fear most?

I haven’t thought about that. I fear that the economy going the wrong way. [laughs] We need to change some people in office and stuff. If it mean that I have to pay $5 for gas for everybody to be working, I’d rather pay $5 gas. But $5 gas, it costs me a lot when I’m filling up an 18-wheeler. Last year, I think I had a $50,000 bill just on fuel. 

 

Would your childhood self be proud of you now?

Oh sure, definitely. My accomplishments. God is head of my life. I can’t do it without Him. Jesus is the reason. 

 

What’s the key to life?

Live and let live. Live and let live. In other words, if there’s something in life you want to do, don’t let other people deter you. Later on in life, you’re going to be thinking about that, and then you’re going to be saying, “I should’ve did that.” You’re going to be down on yourself because sometimes everybody’s not for you. Everybody’s not your friend. They pretend to be your friend, but soon as you try to do something to better yourself, then you see the evil that’s come out of them, you know. So always be who you want to be, and do what you want to do. But always put God first in your life, and let Him lead you.

 

What’s going to be your greatest accomplishment in the next five years?

My greatest accomplishment will be to see my kids grow stronger and survive. Yeah. Three girls and one boy. You know, my kids are doing pretty good. I ain’t going to say they doing super, but they doing their own thing. They doing alright. It could be better, and it’s going to get better. With time, everything gets better. It’s like school. When you know you’re going to school, you got to prepare yourself. So when you go out in life, you have to prepare yourself for life too. You have to have all the tools and knowledge that you need to survive out here, and know how to handle situations out here. 

 

Do you respect yourself?

Always. In order for other people to respect you, you have to respect yourself, because now this generation you got mother’s in the barrooms and stuff with their kids. Going to bingo with their kids, teaching them bad habits. You have to respect yourself. Respect go a long ways. 

 

What should I ask the next person?

What would they do to help make racism better? Because everybody’s racist, so what would they do, say for the world to just come together as one? 


 

Bridgette

 

When did you last sing to yourself or to someone else and what song?

I sang “Happy Birthday” Saturday night at Cafe Du Monde to someone who’s birthday it was. It was a bunch of drunk girls. They wanted their friend — it was her birthday. They were like, “Sing ‘Happy Birthday.’” So that’s what I did.

 

What is your favorite journey?

My favorite journey right now is the journey of recovery. I’m a recovering addict. Drugs. Heroin. So I’ve been sober for 17 months and two days. It has been a really good experience for me, and that’s the journey I’m on with other people that are also in recovery. And it has been amazing. It’s an amazing experience for me right now. 

 

What characteristics do you value most in your friends?

Definitely honesty. I would say outgoing personalities. Loyal. I think those would be the ones. Being honest with someone is extremely important. That also ties into my recovery, being completely honest. I definitely value someone being honest with me, as well as me being honest with someone else. Being outgoing and bubbly, that’s kind of like how I am. I like to be around that kind of atmosphere, those kind of people just feed off each other’s energy. Just have fun. The loyalty part, I just like people I know I can depend on. I like to be someone people can depend on as well. 

 

What’s the biggest problem in your life?

[laughs] How I get to work every day. I don’t have a car, so I catch the bus, and I depend on people to pick me up sometimes. Sometimes I have to walk. Sometimes it’s raining. It’s not always fun, but if I had to pick a problem, that would probably be the biggest one.

 

What is the secret to lasting relationships?

Communication. Definitely communication. I’m in a relationship with someone, and we are very open with each other. We talk about everything. The good, the bad, the ugly. I think that’s important because if you don’t communicate with one another, you develop resentments. If one’s unhappy, you don’t know it if they don’t tell you, or vice versa. So definitely communication. 

 

When and where are / were you happiest?

I’m happiest when I’m outside. I’m happiest when It’s sun shining and I’m outside. Or either when I’m asleep because I work so much. I work 70 hours a week, so when I do have time off, I like to just relax and chill. Or to be outside in the park, by the lake. That’s when I’m happy.

 

What do you fear most?

Change. Change. I would have to say I fear change the most. And that’s inevitable because change is always a part of life, but for me personally, I get comfortable with the way things are. If anything is different than that or when things change, it’s fearful. I always have this fear. But I’ve been trying not to be stuck in the fear and just go with it.

 

Would your childhood self be proud of you now?

Yes. My childhood self was a sad, depressed little girl. That turned into the life of the drugs and getting loaded. To come out of that and to not die, because I’ve known several people that died. To come out of that, and to be able to help other women in recovery, and to be a mother to the children I have now, I would think that my childhood self would be happy about where I’m at right now. 

 

What’s the key to life?

I would say just living in the moment and just going with it, you know? Just going with the flow. Like whatever happens, happens. Everything’s going to be OK. It’s all going to work out. Not to stress. Not to stress the small stuff. Just go with it, and just be happy. 

 

What’s going to be your greatest accomplishment in the next five years?

My greatest accomplishment in the next five years would be to be living completely on my own with my children. To have finished school — because I’m in school — so to have finished that, and to be providing for my children, and be completely self-sufficient in raising them. 

 

What would you do to help make racism better?

I think the key to that — I don’t have a struggle with that — is to treat everyone the same no matter what they believe. It may be different from what I believe. I’m not going to treat anybody any different because of what color they are, where they come from, how much money they have. Just be kind. Kindness goes a long way. It can completely turn someone’s day around. Being an asshole to someone doesn’t help any situation. I think just being kind to people regardless of their weight, their color, who looks better — all that is so silly. I feel like treating everyone the same — if everyone did that, it would be better than like, “Oh, I’m going to be mean to this person because they’re Hispanic.” Or, “I’m not going to wait on this person because they’re black.” Whatever. Just being equal with it. 

 

What should I ask the next person?

What one thing brings you the most peace? I know for me, I love drawing. Painting. Things like that. When I’m doing something like that, that brings me peace like nothing else. 


 

Amy

 

When did you last sing to yourself or to someone else and what song?

Today, in the car, and it was that song by The Weekend. “But I love it.” [laughs] Something about I can’t feel my face. It’s on the radio. It’s catchy. 

 

What is your favorite journey?

I like going to the beach, South Padre [Texas]. It’s beautiful. It’s a once-a-summer trip. We went fishing last time, so that was cool. It’s just whenever we can. At least just have to make it there one time. 

 

What characteristics do you value most in your friends?

Their humor and their kindness. I’m a happy person, so when I’m around people that are like that, it makes it fun. 

 

What’s the biggest problem in your life?

Money. [laughs] That’s everybody’s problem right?

 

What is the secret to lasting relationships?

Talking. If they’re open and honest and can talk about anything, it’s good. If you’ve got trust, you can build on that. 

 

When and where are / were you happiest?

With my kids. Just two. A nice even number. That’s it. [laughs]

 

What do you fear most?

New things. Like moving somewhere new, not knowing anybody and just kind of starting fresh. I think that’s kind of scary. 

 

Would your childhood self be proud of you now?

Oh yeah. I’m a certified nurse assistant, so I help people. I’ve seen a lot of good things come out of bad situations. Miracles happen. I used to say I wanted to be a doctor. It’s like, it’s not actually a doctor, but you’re around them, and you’re helping people, so it’s kind of like that. I work in neuro rehab, so people with brain injuries, stroke victims, amputees. It’s pretty awesome. 

 

What’s the key to life?

Happiness. Yes. 

 

What’s going to be your greatest accomplishment in the next five years?

Raising that thing. [laughs] Yeah, just raising my kids. He’s two, and my oldest is 10.

 

What one thing brings you the most peace?

She asked a hard question, didn’t she? Just enjoying life. Seeing the water. Taking my kids somewhere they can enjoy themselves, and just kind of reflect — having time to yourself to reflect. I think that’s beautiful. 

 

What should I ask the next person?

What do you hope for your future?


Larry

 

When did you last sing to yourself or to someone else and what song?

Oh, yesterday. I can’t remember the song now. I think it was in the afternoon. It was an old tune, but I can’t remember what it was right now.

 

What is your favorite journey?

I suppose to go out west again. That was a great journey. Mostly California, 30 years ago, 40 years ago probably now. I’m getting old. My brother and I were going to start a free school, and we went to San Francisco and checked a few of them out. We got nowhere. [laughs] It was fun though. 

 

What characteristics do you value most in your friends?

A sense of humor. I think it marks the intelligence of a human being to be able to laugh. 

 

What’s the biggest problem in your life?

[laughs] Well my wife would say alcohol, but I don’t think that’s a problem. Yeah. That’s it. 

 

What is the secret to lasting relationships?

Compromise. You have to be willing to compromise in order to have a relationship, I believe. 

 

When and where are / were you happiest?

When I’m driving. We also do craft shows on the weekends. So this weekend, we’re going down to New Orleans to do a craft show down there. You forget about everything when you’re driving along. Everything becomes more positive. 

 

What do you fear most?

Oh. Probably death. [laughs] I don’t think you’re ever prepared for it. 

 

Would your childhood self be proud of you now?

Yeah. Yeah. I’ve pretty much done whatever I wanted. Never had to work for — well, I did work for other people, but the last 40 years, we’ve been on our own. That’s the only way to me, is you got to figure out what to do for yourself that you can make money at and still be happy. And that’s usually not working for a corporation or somebody else.  

 

What’s the key to life?

Oh God. You know, I jokingly say a good digestive system, but I don’t know if that’s it. [laughs] Yeah probably. Who knows? 

 

What’s going to be your greatest accomplishment in the next five years?

I don’t know. Get along with people better I guess.

 

What do you hope for your future?

Peace. Peace in this land. It’ll never happen, but, peace throughout the world. It will never happen. But I hope for it. And I’m not a praying person, so I don’t get involved in all that stuff, but that would be nice. 

 

What should I ask the next person?

How do you protect the ones you love?