Writing with a Life

Writing was a core part of my life from my first poem at the age of 15 until I returned from the Peace Corps at age 24.  Since then, life has taken hold.  I have a wife of two year.  I have had a career for four years.  I’m about to buy my first house.  The thing is, my writing never stopped.  What I felt comfortable sharing has changed though.  I have spent most of the past five year reflecting on my life.

I kept a daily journal in the Peace Corps.  Since my return, I’ve kept a career journal to reflect on the 40 hours I spend sitting a desk.  It is very different writing from the days of poetry and novels–but it has helped me grow as a writing.  And I hope to share what I can in the days, weeks, and months ahead.  I am currently searching my harddrives from the past few years to see what I can post.

I’ve added two pieces in this latest update.

Municipal Broadband for Greeley, Colorado.  As I returned home, a debate was raging in my city about the pros and cons of a municipal broadband.  This is the editorial I wrote for the Greeley Tribune.

The Family Legacy.  My father’s parents died exactly one month apart.  After 64 years of marriage, my grandmother died on December 7th, 2017.  After only a month without his life partner, my grandfather died on January 7th, 2018.  This is my memorial to them.

I hope you are well.  Thank you for your continued support.


In Memoriam


James Styblo and Barbara Cepro grew up during a tense time in the Austria-Hungarian Empire.  These two grew up in an area known as Bohemia.   Although the area was never truly independent, the citizens often considered themselves to be Bohemians.  This created tension during the late 1800s as the German population continued to increase (if you know history, part of Bohemia also goes by a German name–The Sudetanland).

Despite that tides of history, James and Barbara were married in the 1880s.  Barbara was about 20.  James was almost 30.  They had four children between the years of 1890 and 1901.  Mary.  John.  Agnes.  Rose.  By the time Barbara was pregnant with Rose, they likely knew that they could no longer stay in Bohemia.  Whether it was the racial tension, poverty, or opportunity that brought them to the United States is something we do not know.  What we do know is that the family of six made the trip together.  James was 42.  Barbara was 33.  Mary was 11.  John was 5.  Agnes was 3.  Rose was not yet a year.  The year was 1901.

The family settled in Cleveland, Ohio.  Three years later, Barbara gave birth to their final child–Josephine.  The family of seven continued to live in Cleveland as the children got older.  It’s hard to imagine how strange it must have been to watch the onset of World War One.  The war  took place in their old back yard only 13 years after they moved halfway around the world.

The children grew up and got married.  Agnes, the middle child of the five, feel in love at the age of 24 to a man only three years her senior.  His name was Orland Pearl Loomis.  Orland was the oldest son out of eight children.  His family could trace themselves back to before the American Revolution–so it’s likely he endured a lot of racist sentiment when, on November 9th, 1922 they married.  They moved in together in the West-side of Cleveland–ready to start a life together.

On March 3rd, 1926, they gave birth to a daughter.  They named her Eleanor May Loomis.  Eleanor would be two when her younger brother–Leonard–was born.  A year later, Ruth was born.  The young family of three lived happily in Cleveland until a fateful day.  Just four days after Christmas, at the age of five, Leonard Loomis died.  They buried him on New Year’s Eve.  Although Eleanor rarely talked about her brother, it’s easy to see how it turned her in a protective older sister and mother.  Eleanor and her sister Ruth grew up together in the 1930s and 1940s.

While at the  Rhodes High School in Cleveland, Eleanor took a liking to Architecture.  In order to pursue this passion, she went to Ohio University at a strange time.  The year was 1944 and the University was slim on men.  Many had gone off to fight at the height of World War Two.  In Eleanor’s second year at Ohio University, Germany surrendered.  Many of the servicemen came home, they found themselves with newfound opportunity thanks to the GI Bill.  One of those servicemen was Richard Oscar Netschke.

Richard and Eleanor met at Ohio University.  They married in 1947 as Richard studied to be a Mechanical Engineer.  Even after they were married, they continued to live on campus in the small housing provided for Veterans of the War.  After graduating, they moved out to Euclid, Ohio.  In 1955, they had their first child.  Gregory.  Two years later, Ruth was named after Eleanor’s sister.  Eleanor was a housewife who raised her two children as her husband worked as a Mechanical Engineer.

On January 26, 1963, Richard was killed in a car accident.  Ruth was 6.  Greg was 8.  Eleanor was 36.  Eleanor went on to support her two children on her own (with the support of her family) for a few years.  On November 19th, 1966, she remarried.  She met Jack Ruseell Lytle at a single parents sky club.  Jack was an engineer and divorcee.  Together they lived on 12 acres of land outside of Cleveland, Ohio.  As Ruth and Greg grew into young adults, Eleanor and Jack fulfilled their wish of living in the Rocky Mountains.  When Jack retired, they moved in Estes Park, Colorado.

As Ruth finished high school, they found a plot of land available close to the Wyoming border–just outside of the town of Red Feather.  The plot of land bordered Roosevelt National Park and had a beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains.  As Ruth and Greg went on to start their own families, Jack built a tiny cabin on this plot of land.  Eleanor and Jack lived in that tiny cabin as Jack built the house of his dreams.  Eleanor and Jack would move into the house Jack built and live there for almost three decades.  In that time, Eleanor watched her two children take on the world.  She even became a grandmother four times over.

On February 15, 2005, after a nearly two year battle with colon cancer, Jack passed away surrounded by family in the care of Hospice Fort Collins, Colorado.  It’s strange to think of how strong a woman Eleanor was.  She lost her brother when she was just a child.  She lost her husband shortly after they started a family.  And she lost her second husband after almost 40 years together.

But the truth is, those struggles would look insignificant compared to the battle she would have to wage over the final decade of her life.  When Jack passed, Eleanor continued to live in the Red Feather house alone.  She spent her days hanging out when women who crafted and quilted just like her.  She turned the entire downstairs of the house into a craft room full of supplies.  It was a great environment for an artist.

The problem is:  without the watchful eye of someone living with her, her Alzheimer’s developed without many alarm bells going off.  It eventually advanced to the point that the family knew what they were dealing with.  As the disease got worse, family started stepping up to support her.  Being in great physical health, her Alzheimer’s developed slowly over the course of nearly a decade.   Her family will also remember that time of her life as bittersweet–as she forgot who she was, we got to hear more and more about her past.

Eleanor May Loomis passed away on December 28th, 2015 in Greeley, Colorado surrounded by family.  She is survived by her sister–Ruth, her two children–Gregory and Ruth, her four grandchildren–Devon, Wesley, Krista, and Richard, and her six great-grandchildren.

2014 in Review

  1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before? I reached complete independence. It’s strange. I’m 25 and for the first time in my life, I am 100% in control of my life and finances.  It is a great feeling.  Also, for the first time ever, I’ve started a career rather than another job. 

    2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
  2. Zero out of four for 2014:
    1. Get below 190 pounds. [Failed Miserably but at least I didn’t gain weight]
    2. Keep in better contact with friends and family [Failed. Moving to NY made this extremely difficult.]
    3. Write Novel Number Five [Not even close. However, I’m more excited about my current writing project than any project in the past two years].
    4. Continue writing a daily diary [I stopped as soon as I got back to the US].
  3. 2015
    1. Run more than 1.5 miles 180 days.
    2. Contact the people I love at least weekly
    3. Start a serious writing project.
    4. Do the best I can at work.
    5. Become financially stable.
  1. Did anyone close to you give birth? Cousins are having kids. Other than that, no.
  1. Did anyone close to you die? Thank God.
  1. What countries did you visit? Technically I hit Morocco, France, England, and the US in one day. Other than that, nothing. We’ve explored a lot of New York though.
  1. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?   I want to take advantage of this random life we have in NY and explore a part of the country I only partly know about.
  1. What date from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

February 8th: The flight back home from the Peace Corps
May 1st: Getting the Job offer in Newburgh.
June 3rd: The day Sofia arrived in New York.

  1. What was your biggest achievement of the year?Starting a lasting career and relationship simultaneously.
  1. What was your biggest failure? My inability to continue running. My inability to stay in contact with loved ones.
  1. Did you suffer illness or injury?I never got sick in the Peace Corps. And the only time I’ve been sick in New York is now (an annoying cold). The last time I puked was January 10th, 2013…so I got a nice two year streak going.  However my knee is starting to suck.
  2. What was the best thing you bought? I’ve loved going to random Restaurants up and down the Hudson Valley with Sofia.
  1. Whose behavior merited celebration? Sofia for being so strong. My parents for being so helpful and understanding as I jump around the world like a crazy person.
  1. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
  1. Where did most of your money go? Rent and Food. Extra money? Coffee, restaurants, and NYC trips.
  1. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Seeing Sofia again and moving to NY.
  1. What song will always remind you of 2014? Take Me to Church by Hozier. It’s just an addictive song.
  1. Compared to this time last year, are you:
    1. happier or sadder? I was incredibly lonely this time last year. Peace Corps was a great experience but a lonely one. My decision to come home was one of the best decisions of my life.  In the months since I returned, I’ve built my life up the way I really want it to be.  I am a better person because of it.
    2. Richer or poorer? As I start to honestly pay off my student loans, I am starting to understand wealth and the idea of money.  This is the first time I’ve had a good paying full time job.  It’s a strange feeling to be so financially independent.
  1. What do you wish you’d done more of? Read and Write. I already regret not reading enough. I always have a book on me but I need to default to it more often.  Writing is always a difficult game…I just need to find the balance where I force myself to write daily.  That’s the only way to do it.
  1. What do you wish you’d done less of?Time on the computer. The older I get, the more I wanting to separate myself from  my electronics.
  1. How will you be spending Christmas? I actually have no idea.
  1. How will you be spending New Years? No idea here Either. We’ve talked about going to Time Square.
  1. Did you fall in love in 2014? Every day.
  1. How many one-night stands?
  1. What was your favorite TV program? We watched the entirety of Friends in 2014 and not much else, so that’ll probably be the winner.

  2. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
  1. What was the Best book you read? Unfortunately, I didn’t get to read that much this year. Nothing great really stands out.
  1. What was your greatest musical discovery? I am addicted to the variety available on 8Track. I love picking a new mix every evening.
  1. What did you want and get? Honestly? The life I have right now was only a dream of mine a year ago…I got everything I wanted. The girl of my dreams. The job I love. The life I can call my own.
  1. What was your favorite film of this year? Great movie.
  1. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 25….and I don’t honestly remember it. The 80 days in Greeley were a sheer whirlwind.
  1. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Having more time to spend with my nieces.
  1. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014? “I’m an adult now? ..ok.  Time to buy some button down shirts, nice shoes, and nice pants.”
  1. What kept you sane? This was an unexpected part of my year. With the full time job, I’m taking on a very different stress in my life. I started running randomly….and got addicted so quickly.
  1. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? With the lack of a TV….not many. The closer we get to 2016, the more I like Hickenlooper. He would be a great VP for Hillary
  1. What political issue stirred you the most? Income Inequality and Automations effects on unemployment. I’ve become fascinated with economics and find myself terrified by the way the world works.  It all boils down to one stat for me: The Richest 85 people in the world have the same wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion.
  1. Who did you miss? My family. My friend in Morocco. Alan.  It’s hard to start completely anew.
  1. Who was the best new person you met? Honestly, this is a tie between many people at work.  The positive attitude of my new office is the best part of the job.
  1. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014? It’s important for the soul to be able to make a living for yourself.