The Photo Box, update

“The Photo Box” update: was doing some historical research online for my memoir when I stumbled upon this postcard from my maternal grandparents motel in Gillette, Wyoming. They, Bessie and Ralph Holmes, owned this motel and another down the street called Apache Corners (Apache, for sure, Corners may be incorrect) in the 1940s till the mid sixties. Always a treat to visit because we got to stay in one of the rooms, which seemed so sophisticated to my seven year old self. Anyhoo, spent $4 for the postcard and consider it money well spent. Love the internet!


The Photo Box, a Memoir

I’m writing a memoir, “The Photo Box”, and have worked with Jay Blotcher to help me write the best memoir I can. He’s got 30 years experience and his insights, knowledge, and critiques I have found invaluable. I believe his assistance will be of great value to me and my work.

“The Photobox” is an exploration of my journey to adulthood during the sexual revolution of the 1970s and the historical markers along the way that help define me.

How art and work saved me.

It’s not often we contemplate the path(s) not taken; the what if, the I could have, the if only. Those thoughts are difficult to face; they oftentimes involve friends, family, lovers, and many of life’s dark mysteries, a potent and dangerous combination for ruminative reflection [redundancy intended, like a double-dip cone.]

As it was for me at one point in my life. I had come to a fork in the foot path, a four cornered intersection on a highway, a railway station, a harbor; and I knew I had to make a decision (the details are unimportant; I had run out of soul though, it had been sucked out of me like your dental hygienist sucks out the excess saliva from your mouth, whefght.) It was impossible for me to go any further without it. I quit.

And I remained unemployed for several months. To make my rent, I painted the stairwell (four flights!) of my apartment building. I relied heavily on the kindness of my friends. They fed me, they took me out, they nursed and nurtured me. Somehow I got my soul back and my head screwed on, if not tight, at least tighter.

Someone, a friend, said, “Come work with us.” And instead of (or not only) having artist friends, I now brought their work to the marketplace. I designed, I managed, I cajoled, I suggested and I nudged. I talked, I schlepped, I listened and I learned. I used language, style, gesture, and dramatics (oh yes, i pulled out much from my little black bag of theatrical legerdemain). I grew up. The future (my looking glass/crystal ball) seemed, if not rose-tinted, at least wiped clean of the smudges left from gripping it so tightly in my two hands for fear of breaking it.

I moved onto another job in another art venue. It felt like the right thing, at last. I don’t know how it is for you, but I’m particularly sensitive to my environment and the psychic temperature of the room, here, at this new work opportunity; I felt safe.

It is apparent to me that I was/am a lucky man. I found a job that I have been able to turn into a career (who would’ve thought?) that not only has provided me with creature comforts but also has been a source of deep satisfaction and continuing education (to learn each day, such a gift!) Of course, as with most things in one’s work life, this journey has not been without its trauma, but, even in retrospect, those bumps were minor inconveniences.

It’s possible that I would have found my way into this business without my friends. It’s also possible that I would not have (that prospect gives me chills). I do know though, that art saved me. And the work of art saved me. It would not have been otherwise. I love everything about it (alright, not everything, but most everything, okay?) There’s the talking, the sharing, the leading, the community, the friends, the thrill of discovery, the intent of the artist, the subtleties, and the obvious, the sharing. Did i say that already? Regardless, it bears repeating.

It’s a Sunday afternoon and I’m sitting here at my keyboard reminiscing about work. I’m thankful for that.

(Painting by Sandro Chia. Photographed at the Guggenheim Museum–New York City, summer 1983.)



In July 2021 I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease; I was 68 years old.

It wasn’t a surprise, in fact, it was a relief. It helped explain all of the physical things that had been going wrong over the last several years. The hoarse voice was the first indication. Over the past 2 or three years, whenever I spoke with people, my voice would catch, sound scratchy and invariably, someone would say, “are you okay?” And, of course, I was okay, “my voice was just changing as I aged” and it didn’t cause me any discomfort. I thought it was just part of aging. When I mentioned it to my PCP, he didn’t feel it was cause for worry.

Over the next year or so, I noticed my penmanship deteriorate and get smaller and more cramped; even harder to read. I had always prided myself on my cursive and printing hand–my mother insisted on the Palmer Method and I emulated her flowing hand-writing. To witness it’s decline was disturbing, but how do you codify that? It didn’t ‘hurt’ anywhere. I didn’t tell my PCP that my handwriting was getting worse, why would I?

The dizziness was another matter. I had had an ablation in 2014 to stabilize my atrial fibrillation, my blood pressure was relatively stable, although on the low side, I was on a blood thinner. I tried to sit up slowly, stand up slowly, hold steady for a few seconds before moving in order to alleviate the dizziness, but nothing seemed to help. My cardiologist and my PCP were confident that I was okay. But waves of dizziness would still catch me off-guard and oftentimes for no apparent reason. I began shuffling when walking instead of striding with confidence.

Working from home during the pandemic, I noticed that my posture was not as straight as it used to be and my partner, Michael, thought my face looked ‘angry’ and unmoving. It didn’t hurt, so why would I bring it up to my PCP? Then I started choking while trying to swallow–that’s scary. It was so bad that a couple of times I thought it might kill me. I made an appointment with my GI specialist for an endsocopy — results came back negative — no obstructions, nothing out of the ordinary. This I did discuss with my PCP.

Michael and I made a list of the little things that seemed to be going wrong with me. He went online and seconds later came back with a similar list of ailments and problems that were all signs of Parkinson’s. My PCP finally said I should see a neurologist as they had exhausted their avenues of inquiry. I was referred to a neurologist that specialized in neuro-motor functions and specifically worked with Parkinson’s patients. I was anxious waiting to see him, worried what a diagnosis of Parkinson’s would mean to my future.

The neurologist came to the waiting room and called my name, studying me as I rose and walked toward him. He led me to his office and asked why I was there. I pulled out my list of symptoms and handed it to him. Before looking at the list, he said, “You have Parkinson’s. I could tell when you walked toward me just now in the waiting room.”

Well, at least what was happening to me had a name, in a way, that made it a little easier to comprehend all of things that had been happening to me over the last few years. The neurologist explained to me that many people with Parkinson’s go undiagnosed for many years because the physical issues all seem so random.

He prescribed Sinemet and days later, my symptoms lessened. He’s had me going to physical therapy–there are exercises designed specifically for Parkinson’s patients that help manage the neural deterioration associated with the disease.

More on this journey to come…


Sweeter Voices Still

Look what came in today’s mail! I’m honored to be in the company of these writers. Many thanks to the editors, Ryan Schuessler and Kevin Whiteneir, Jr. for including my essay, “How to Operate a Hide-a-Bed” and to @beltpub for believing in the power of the written word.

#lgbtq #anthology #voices #fiction #nonfiction #memoir #poetry Support the arts, it’s just $20! #gaywriter #gaylife #midwest


Keeping Time by the Moon

A chapter, “Keeping Time by the Moon,” from my memoir-in-progress, “The Photo Box,” has been published today in Chelsea Station Magazine. Click through to read.



a friend writes…

Robert & Michael,

I’ve been “plugging” away at my robot version of Romeo & Juliet, but have gone off on a “tangent”. (lol) Thanks to the Folger Library and the Barron’s Dictionary of Computer and Internet terms, hope it amuses… (where is my off-switch?!?) ❤ Vicki

🙂 = .com-edy and 😦 = tragi-SadMac

Compu-quotes from WiiShareware.uk — e-mails, texts, & tweets from the genius bard (adapted by VGA)

  • if my toner cartridge is damaged, will I not inkjet? (Capslock) @TheMatrixofVector
  • watt files these Motorolas B. (Clippy) @MiddlewareDrm
  • Text me where is Napster bred? MP3 or in the headset? @SUlikemeonFacebook
  • This is the Windows of our disconnect. A DOS! A DOS! My Kindle for a DOS! @RIFD3
  • double click, bubble spot, toggle switch, Hubble satellite… (the 3 wired transistors)
  • by the clicking of my thumbs, something wiki this way .coms @MacIntosh
  • Beware the Y2K!; It’s geek 2 meme; & 2, Bluetooth?; Facebook friends, Roman typeface, Country codes…ovr thy w.w.wounds, now do I Spotify… @JouleCC
  • 2B/not 2B? i.e. the FAQ. Watt a PC network is LAN. all the WorldWideWeb’s a mainframe @HelveticaPrinterofDemibold
  • Microsoft! Watt LED thro’ Yahoo Windows breaks…? @CD-Rom & @JouleDiskette

Other e-plays:

  1. The Template (Phosphorus, AOL, Calibrate, Macromedia)
  2. O-text-O, the Morph of Visicale (O-text-0, Desktopmodel, E-@-go)
  3. 2 Gigabytes @ Verizon
  4. Troll-ius & Crash-ida

Mea culpa.


64 Things I’ve Learned in 64 Years (not by any means an exhaustive list)

  1. mud tastes better than you might imagine
  2. troubled times do build character
  3. i will never like math
  4. love finds you
  5. tall is good
  6. i am as graceful as a cantaloupe
  7. dancing makes you feel good
  8. never mix, never worry
  9. tell the truth, even when it’s inconvenient
  10. don’t argue with a fool (it’s harder to do than it sounds


  1. pet a dog every chance you get
  2. accept the fact that some people are cat people
  3. mustard yellow is not my color
  4. long walks are soul-cleansing
  5. talking to yourself is okay
  6. not everyone is your friend
  7. listen to your heart
  8. learn a foreign language
  9. work smart, not hard
  10. if you fall off your bike/horse/pedestal, get back up, brush yourself off and try again


  1. not everything in life is analogous to a sport
  2. read the newspaper; you’ll always be able to carry on a conversation with a stranger
  3. bald is good
  4. men, grow a mustache at least once in your life
  5. kiss friends and hug them
  6. be passionate about doing good
  7. give love unconditionally
  8. hold hands with your lover
  9. resist tyranny
  10. jump in mud puddles and dance in the rain


  1. no one wants to hear you complain
  2. listen carefully and more often
  3. come with a solution to a problem
  4. some people are jealous of you
  5. show off in moderation
  6. honor the dead
  7. honor the living
  8. sharing is caring
  9. do something for a loved one without being asked
  10. be solicitous to strangers, but not obsequious


  1. treat everyone with respect
  2. go to an art museum
  3. see a play
  4. better yet, act in a play
  5. learn how to debate
  6. ask for help
  7. give help when asked
  8. hold a baby
  9. i love new york (but i don’t want to live there)
  10. laugh at stupid jokes


  1. puns are fun
  2. pinch yourself
  3. believe in something
  4. act your age (joking! what does that even mean?)
  5. stretch your legs before getting out of bed
  6. don’t lick a mustard knife and take a sip of coffee
  7. take your lunch to work
  8. start a savings account and pay yourself monthly
  9. take care of yourself, someone may depend on you
  10. have a hobby


  1. love often and deeply
  2. snoring happens
  3. see the sun rise
  4. this was easier than i thought it was going to be

cafe flore907



…be counted on to stand up.


Although this quote by Chuck Jones was written  in January of 1961, it is particularly pertinent to today.

“Today, we cannot envisage a protected world that does not include them all, and so [my] hope this year to all people everywhere is for a future–sheltered by the stars, sweetened by clean air, and above all fostering a climate in which no man can be commanded to stand up and be counted–but where every man can be counted on to stand up.” –Chuck Jones


Billy Blue Eye, a Good-bye

I found you online, a “tweenie” dachshund with one blue eye and one brown.  A few days later, we met in front of the Ralph Lauren outlet store in Carlsbad, you on a string leash, no collar, walking two humans, anxious to let you go. You and Joey didn’t seem to mind each other and so I said, “I’ll take him,” and the string leash was handed to me. We walked, and you, well-trained dog that you were, stepped to my left and stayed there while Joey, still being trained, pulled and jerked his leach, his “must smell everything” at full operating mode. You didn’t seem to care.


Until we got in the car. Then there was a minor dispute about who would occupy the front seat and who the rear. You claimed the front as if it was rightfully yours, and this time, Joey didn’t seem to mind. No growling, no snapping, just as it always was between the two of you, brothers in spirit if not in breed.


Billy Blue Eye, little Billy two-shoes, Billy of the Wild Niguel, always available to be petted and admired, loved and stroked. The softest of fur as if you  were put on this earth just to be petted. And so everyone you met automatically reached out to touch you, even in your last days, carried in my arms, friends and strangers would stretch out their arms and wiggle their fingers behind your ears, stroke your snout, kiss you.

A couple of years in, you popped a disc and had to have back surgery. You never complained. A year after that, another disc popped and you had a second surgery and suddenly you were our “$9000 free dog”. What was to be done, though? We loved you and you loved us back.


You loved to go for walks almost as much as you liked to curl up by the back door in the late afternoon sunshine for a siesta. You and Joey were inseparable. We traveled together; up the coast a couple of times to stay in Carmel and no matter where we went you were the star attraction.

There’s so much more, after all we spent almost 16 years together, but this last year, your 20th, was rough and today was the roughest. We had to say goodbye. But you had one last little surprise for us, didn’t you? Driving down the freeway this afternoon, after our last good-bye, Michael said, “look, a rainbow!” And sure enough, there you were, one last doggie kiss in red, orange, blue, green, and violet.




flowers (and rhetorical questions)

what  becomes of the broken-hearted?


how can we be lovers if we can’t be friends?


where is the love?


how do i live without you?


what’s love got to do with it?


how can you mend a broken heart?


wouldn’t it be nice?


who do you think you are?


who’s zoomin’ who?




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© Robert Patrick, and Cultivar, 2008-2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, photographs and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert Patrick and Cultivar with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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