By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
Big Geno and Little Geno]]
This is little Geno. I'm big Geno. He's going to be a security dog. I'm going to take my time with him. I'm just trying to get his neck to be strong. The chain is to put muscles in his chest. Right now he's young. As he gets old he'll get used to it. Once he sees me with it, he knows he's got to put it on. At first he didn't want to have it on, but now he's used to it. It's not being abusive. You can train a dog how you want to train a dog, just like a child. You can raise a child up to cuss out grown people. You know, you just raise you dog just the way you want to be raised up. That's all it is.
I was born in Laos. After the war I was four years in Thailand. Then we came to United States and Minneapolis in 1980. I've been here 17 years and I have nothing, only welfare. No clothes, no home. I stay with sister and brother. Now we are not sure if we will see money on the 1st because of the new law. I am not a citizen. I tell them I try to go to school to learn citizen, to be American. They say OK.
I like to live like people. Have a car, have my own apartment, have a job, go to work on time. That's what I want. I cannot live in the United States like this. Maybe I have to back to our home town. Go back to the farm and make rice, feed the pigs, chicken, sell to live. Now I have only 200 money for the land and 120 for the food stamps. That's good for 30 days. Now I'm waiting. Thank you, sir.
Portland and 26th]]
There are seven of us kids in the family. We're going to use the money to buy some clothes and outfits for the Fourth of July for all of us. If there's money left over we're going to buy more supplies for more lemonade.
12th Avenue and East Lake Street]]
I've lived in different places on Lake Street most of my life. Once I lived on the streets for six months. I walked from Chicago to Cedar Avenue. Just walking back and forth like a zombie, I guess. It was the grace of God that helped me get out of it. But I just got kicked out of the place I was staying. So I guess I'm back in the same situation I was in. Now I've got to figure something out.
My mom works the streets. It's kind of depressing what turned out to be. I never seen it coming. But life goes on, I guess. I try to see her all the time. We're always happy when we're with each other, though. I take her out to eat when I can. Last payday I gave her $45 and told her to do what she wants with it.
I consider myself a Native muralist. My artwork is spectacular. I can't believe I can do work like this. It's like it gives me a little key. Maybe I can make a living off my art. Once I get that door open, like right now, if I was to keep doing more paintings, get them out there, advertising, it should work out pretty good.
I come to the peace garden often in the summer and the spring. Sometimes I'll just go to relax. It's kind of hard to relax there now because it's kind of messed up. It got deteriorated. There are beer cans all over, but I did a little part of it too. I guess everybody did their little part and messed it up. I just lie on the bench and meditate. I try to think about peaceful things, dreams and hopes. Things like getting my own apartment, getting on with my life. I hope that my mom gets off working on the streets. I wish I had a regular family once again. That's my hopes and dreams.
We adopted four children. We decided to adopt because we couldn't have our kids. Our oldest is an 8-year-old biracial boy. He is one quarter Afro-American. He has Down's syndrome. He is full of life and love. And a handful at times. Our second is a 6-year-old Caucasian girl. She's bright, beautiful, and peaceful. Our third is Afro-American. He is a handsome and determined 3-year-old. He was born with a hole in his heart. He's had heart failure three times. He would turn blue. They had to hold him constantly. He's off all the drugs now and he's doing well. Our 6-month-old baby is Afro-American. She's been hospitalized three times. But she's doing great. Our hearts and our hands are full. We're grateful to God.
Many people come up and tell us we're angels for doing this. But we didn't do this for our sainthood. We did this for selfish reasons. We just wanted kids.
We get asked questions everywhere we go. The big question is, "Why is she black?" And I say, "That's the way God made her." And they say, "No, no, no, you know what I mean." Or they say, "Why are you white?" I think we're kind of a puzzle to people.
Sometimes we would like to blend in. There's always the feeling of having to explain our family, I'm sure it can't help but make the kids feel uncomfortable. Sometimes I get tired of it. But then again we like to talk about our kids, too.