A Fierce Kind of Love, a project of Visionary Voices
Institute on Disabilities at Temple University

Stories from
Selinsgrove Center and KenCrest Services


recorded at KenCrest Services April 2015
PHOTO of Mike
photo by JJ Tiziou

Image Gallery - click a thumbnail to start

LIVES LIVED APART interview with Mike recorded April 23, 2015

PHOTO of Mike with his interviewer Ben

Ben: I'm done. So should we begin?

Staff: Yeah, whatever you want.

Ben: Alright so where were you born?

Mike: I was born in 68 February 8th.

Ben: But where?

Mike: My birthday is February 8th.

Ben: No but where were you born? Where are you from?

Mike: (Inaudible) in a house, a group home with two staff. Chuck and me. I want to tell you something, OK? (Inaudible) My sugar is low. OK? Yesterday my sugar is low. I got a 58. It jumped down and low. I have to watch my sugar.

Ben: Yeah.

Mike: And I will tell you about that. I passed out. Last week...

Ben: You passed out?

Mike: Yeah, last week in my room. This is my neck. I was stuck in my bed. I couldn't move.

Ben: Yeah, that's not good.

Mike: Here, I will show you. I got this.

Ben: Oh you got the bracelet?

Mike: And my neck. I will get this off me.

Ben: Yeah.

Mike: Look at it.

Ben: OK, it has all the information then. Yeah.

Mike: Yeah, it does.

Ben: It says you're diabetic. Do you have any major problems with that?

Mike: Let's see. My sugar yesterday. The staff should have gave me my sugar. It was low. Yesterday I got (inaudible) and my orange juice. It made my sugar go down.

Ben: OK.

Mike: (Inaudible) I've got to watch my sugar.

Ben: Yeah.

Mike: This is down. This is up, I've got to watch my sugar.

Ben: You've got to keep it on track?

Mike: Yeah?

Ben: How was school like for you growing up?

Mike: What did you say?

Ben: What was school like for you?

Mike: Oh.

Ben: Did you like school?

Mike: I was in school a long time ago. I was there. I was with my staff. (Inaudible). We go out and see my school in there. They miss me. I miss my school. I had fun there. I got school in my phone with me now.

Ben: Oh really?

Mike: I got school here.

Ben: You have school in there?

Mike: In my phone, yes. It's in there now.

Ben: That's cool.

Mike: Yeah. I got () in there, college in there. Anything, it works. (Inaudible). I do his. He know me. My mom and dad, they died and my family. My brother Joe; you don't know my brother. He died too. He was cooking.

Ben: I'm sorry.

Mike: He burned himself. He burned cooking. He burned. He died and my sister. You don't know my sister. She died. They all died on me.

Ben: That must be tough.

Mike: Yeah.

Ben: So I saw your job. Do you like your job?


Mike: I like my job, yeah.

Ben: Yeah?

Mike: Yeah.

Ben: You have a good time?

Mike: Oh yeah. All day, all week. No Saturday, no Sunday. We're off two days. We stay home. We get back on Monday. We get back.

Ben: Do you have a lot of fun at work?

Mike: Oh yeah.

Ben: Yeah?

Mike: Yeah.

Ben: What about on weekends? Do you do anything fun then?

Mike: Let's see. I play my game in my room. I've got a PlayStation 3.

Ben: Oh, I used to have a PlayStation.

Mike: I got games in there and we have a few kinds. I've got VCR tapes. I have 30 tapes in there.

Ben: Nice.

Mike: I've got 30. I watch it.

Ben: Do you like movies?

Mike: I love movies.

Ben: Do you have a favorite movie?

Mike: Let's see... movies. Iron Man.

Ben: Which one?

Mike: Iron Man.

Staff: Iron Man?

Ben: Iron Man?

Mike: Yeah! You know the movies. You remember?

Ben: Yeah.

Mike: We go out to the movies and after that we get popcorn and snacks, watch it and go home. That's it.

Ben: But you like going to the movies?

Mike: Yeah I love the movies.

Ben: So what do you do on your typical day of the week, like a weekday.

Mike: I sleep in my bed and I eat my breakfast with milk and waffles, pancakes, sausage, any kind of food.

Ben: Anything else you do during the day besides eat breakfast?

Mike: Cleaning. I clean the bathrooms. I do a good job. Joe, he doesn't clean his bathroom. His is dirty. Mine is better. Downstairs two staff have bathrooms. Two doors, the back, the front, and (inaudible) downstairs and upstairs and then I wait 15 minutes and mop it. That's it. I've got two bathrooms. I do it again tomorrow.

Ben: But you do a good job?

Mike: Oh yeah. You know what? Joe first do it, he not clean the bathroom right. You know Joe, right?

Ben: Yeah.

Mike: He not clean it. My brother.

Ben: So how did you come to end up at the center?

Mike: What did you say?

Ben: How did you come to end up here at the center?

Mike: Center? I don't remember that.

Ben: Huh?

Mike: I don't remember.

Ben: Oh, you don't remember?

Mike: No.

Ben: That's fine.

Mike: It's OK.

Ben: So do you have a personal hero, someone you look up to?

Mike: I like Cody, Chrissy, and the two girls and my boss. They help my sugar. And Jessica... OK. I try to keep my sugar low yesterday. Peanut butter and crackers (inaudible).

Ben: So they're your heroes?

Mike: Jessica and my boss. They're checking me. I had to tell you that.

Ben: DO you have any hobbies?

Mike: Hobbies? Hobbies...

Staff: You like the video games.

Mike: Yeah, video games.

Ben: Do you have a favorite video game?

Mike: Mm.

Ben: What is it?

Mike: Let's see. Something like... movies. Oh yeah. Remember? I've got 30 tapes. Remember I told you? I have 30 VCR tapes.

Ben: VCR tapes?

Mike: I got it in my room. I have 30 tapes in there.

Ben: Oh.

Mike: 30 and I got movies in there too. In my room. I have a bunch. I got a bunch of games in there. I play them when I want to. They're in my room now.

Ben: Nice. What are things you look forward to? Holidays?

Mike: Yeah, holidays. Christmas and Easter and Thanksgiving and my birthday.

Ben: Oh, when's your birthday?

Mike: February 8th.

Ben: Oh OK, yeah, you told me that. How long have you worked at your job?

Mike: Oh. Good question. I can't tell you about that.

Ben: You don't know? Has your job changed at all? Did you start doing something that changed into something else?

Mike: I do orders. You remember?

Ben: Yeah, the orders?

Mike: Yeah, my job. I do rip the papers, get in the box, (inaudible).

Ben: OK.

Mike: I get the boxes, put it in the office outside.

Ben: yeah.

Mike: Put it in the box. Two boxes and put it away.

Ben: OK.

Mike: (Inaudible) I let him know. That's his job. It's three o'clock. They come at 2:30. You come today. That is too early. OK.

Ben: So I heard you like music.

Mike: I do.

Ben: Do you have a favorite artist?

Mike: Rap.

Ben: Raps?

Mike: And songs too.

Ben: You said raps, right?

Mike: Yep.

Ben: Any rapper that's your favorite?

Mike: MC Hammer.

Ben: MC Hammer? Can't Touch This?

Mike: I love Hammer.

Ben: Hammer Time?

Mike: Oh yeah. (singing) I had it in my room. I have every kind and my songs and I got games in there. I have games in there. I put my games in... I play them every morning.

Ben: Tell me about the people you work with. Do you like the people you work with?

Mike: I do the trash in the office.

Ben: Yeah.

Mike: Yeah I do it downstairs. I do the boxes in the truck. (Inaudible)

Ben: OK.

Mike: Yeah.

Ben: Is there any place in the world you want to visit?

Mike: Visit? Let's see... visit.

Ben: Like Europe or New York City, California, Disneyworld.

Mike: I like Wildwood.

Ben: Wildwood? Oh, OK.

Mike: I go to see my friend.

Ben: So you like Wildwood?

Mike: Yeah I'll go see my friend.

Ben: What's your friend's name?

Mike: He knew me a long time ago.

Ben: Oh.

Mike: I had to stay there. I got stuff to do. I do.

Staff: What kind of things do you like to do at Wildwood?

Mike: Anything in my room. In my room, in my house. I've got stuff in there.

Staff: You have things in your house from Wildwood?

Mike: No. My house now. I got my room in there. I've got clothes in there in my closet, my clothes, my shirt and my pants. I got a wallet. (inaudible)

Staff: You got your clothes at Wildwood, New Jersey?

Mike: What's that?

Staff: You got your clothes from Wildwood, New Jersey?

Mike: No, no, no.

Staff: I don't fully understand.

Mike:  My friend call me New Jersey at Wildwood. Anything at me in my house. I've got stuff to do in there. I have a basement in Wildwood, New Jersey.

Staff: The basement near Wildwood, New Jersey.

Mike: See? I got a basement. I've got a big large basement.

Ben: Yeah?

Mike: My truck is with me. Everything. My TV. I've got cable in there. I've got no Cinemax. I've got no HBO. I'm not in there. My TV. My TV is OK.

Ben: You watch a lot of TV?

Mike: I got HBO in there. I got Cinemax in there and I got (inaudible) in there. You know my song? My TV.

Ben: Yeah. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Mike: Oh. Good question. Oh. A baby. A long time ago. I had a baby a long time.

Ben: You want a baby?

Mike: No, no, not a baby. I was a baby.

Ben: You were a baby?

Mike: All the time.

Ben: If you could change anything about your life, what would it be and why?

Mike: I didn't hear what you said?

Ben: If you could change anything about your life, what would it be?

Mike: Good question. I'd change my clothes.

Ben: Your clothes?

Mike: Change my clothes.

Ben: Get nice clothes or?

Mike: I got a basement. Last night he gave me an iron.

Ben: Gave you an iron?

Mike: This and this to iron. Get the clothes out. I do it myself. Clothes need to be ironed. I'm going to do that on an ironing board. You know hats weird. You have the ironing board and you iron. Pants and a shirt and that's it.

Ben: What is something in your life you're proud of?

Mike: What did you say again?

Ben: What is something in your life you're proud of?

Mike: They're not checking me.

Ben: I'm tricking you?

Mike: No, they're not checking me out. Remember the sugar level?

Ben: Oh they didn't check your sugar?

Mike: I've got...

Ben: Mm-hm.

Mike: it was 32 yesterday at lunch. I got a snack. I've got to try again in 15 minutes. Then they gave me peanut butter crackers and orange juice. He had it in his office. I check it and wait to see my sugar level. I get my sugars down and I've got to get my sugars up. I've got to watch my sugars.

Ben: You have to watch your sugars?

Mike: Yes. I got 151, that's good.

Ben: Yeah?

Mike: I've got to watch my sugar down. I've got to watch it myself.

Ben: Is there anything else you want to say?

Mike: No, that's it. I got a vacation coming. June 4th, vacation.

Ben: Oh vacation. You were talking about vacation. Where are you going for vacation?

Mike: Pensacola Beach.

Ben: Oh, nice.

Mike: I'm going there June 4th.

Ben: What are you going to do there?

Mike: Anything.

Ben: Anything?

Mike: You know. Rollercoasters. Men are scared, not me. I like height. The rollercoaster goes all the way to the top. They're scared of heights but not me.

Ben: You're not scared of heights?

Mike: I'm not scared of nothing and I see my friends there. My friends are afraid of heights on the big rollercoasters. I see my friend on there. He knew me a long time ago. He knew me. I'm going to stay in New Jersey. I'm going to stay in New Jersey in Wildwood. I will stay there.

Ben: You're going to stay in New Jersey?

Mike: I've got stuff to do.

Ben: You've got stuff to do?

Mike: I've got a basement; big, large basement and a nice room. I know that. I got a bed in my room. (inaudible) I need a room. I've got stuff to do. And I got a dresser, I got games in there, I got cable. Anything and that's it. Yeah.

Staff: There's nothing else you wanted to talk about today?

Mike: I work hard.

Ben: Hard worker?

Mike: Yeah.

Staff: I gave a question. Do you remember when you started the job here? Do you remember learning the job?

Mike: Yeah I do.

Staff: There are a lot of different parts to it, aren't there?

Mike: Yeah.

Staff: Yeah? So you remember learning it?

Mike: Yeah, I do.

Staff: What was that like? Did you think this seems hard or this seems easy?

Mike: Yeah, easy. It's an easy job to me. I do the boxes, the tape, UPS. There are two men. He knows.

Staff: Can you say that again?

Mike: UPS.

Staff: Oh, the UPS and the postman.

Mike: He knows about that. Sending out boxes.... He's the boss. I have to let him know. It's my job.

Staff: Yeah, you're a hard worker.

Mike: Yeah, I have to do.

Staff: DO you have any other questions or things that you were curious about that you heard that you wanted to know more about? You can always go back if there are things you found interesting or Mike thought was interesting. You can go back and ask more questions about it. If you want but we also can be... you know it's OK to be done. How are you feeling, Mike?

Mike: It's OK.

Ben: You having a good time?

Mike: Yeah.

Ben: I'm glad to hear. What makes you happy?

Mike: Happy for... let me see. Happy. Happy. Vacation.

Ben: Vacation?

Mike: Yeah.

Ben: Anything else make you happy?

Mike: Courtney, my boss.

Ben: Courtney makes you happy?

Mike: Yeah. ... sugar. I've got to watch my sugar. (inaudible)

Ben: Yeah.

Mike: Check for me...

Staff: What's that buddy?

Mike: My sugars. Remember up and down.

Staff: Yeah it goes up and down.

Mike: Yeah, did you tell Chrissy about that?

Staff: Yeah.

Mike: (inaudible)

Staff: Yeah, he reports to us every morning when his sugar was before he came in.

Staff: Oh, great.

Mike: Yeah. I got my sugar in there.

Staff: Yeah. He keeps track of it himself.

Staff: You have a book with you.

Mike: Yeah, in my bag.

Staff: Oh, that's smart

Ben: Yeah.

Mike: Yeah.

Staff: Thanks Courtney. So what makes you happy, vacation?

Ben: Anything else?

Mike: I like the beach.

Ben: Beach.

Mike: Ocean.

Ben: Ocean.

Mike: Walking around.

Ben: Is there anything you do?

Mike: Shopping.

Ben: Oh, shopping.

Mike: Yeah. I got nice clothes in there.

Ben: What are your favorite stores?

Mike: OK. Sport. Michael Jordan. You know Michael Jordan.

Staff: Michael Jordan?

Ben: Michael Jordan.

Mike: Yeah. He's my friend.

Ben: Michael Jordan is your friend?

Mike: Basketball.

Ben: Yeah.

Mike: Michael Jordan. I know him.

Ben: Yeah?

Mike: Yeah. (Inaudible) Number six... Michael Jordan. (Inaudible)

Ben: Yeah.

Mike: I know him. Papa Johns and ... Michael Jordan.

Ben: So you're a basketball fan?

Mike: Yeah, any kind of basketball game. I do.

Ben: Do you play basketball?

Mike: I'm good.

Ben: You're good?

Mike: I play basketball in my gym. I play. I play a varsity game and JV too. I'm good. Long shot.

Ben: Yeah, you got the three pointers going?

Mike: Yeah.

Ben: Yeah?

Mike: I'm a good player.

Ben: A lot better than I am. I'm not a very good player.

Mike: Ill teach you.

Ben: Yeah you must be good if you know Michael Jordan.

Mike: Yeah I know Michael Jordan.

Ben: Do you like any other sports?

Mike: Let's see... sports, sports, sports. Number 10 (Inaudible). Basketball. He is ...

Ben: Yeah.

Mike: You remember that? Long time ago. I told my friend. I see him. I do. I see him a long time ago. I do. (Inaudible). Number 6.

Ben: Yeah.

Mike: That's it.

Ben: DO you have anything else you want to say? Anything you want to tell the people that are going to listen to this?

Mike: I listen to my TV, play my games, lay down in my bed. I listen in my house to my TV and I go to sleep. I listen to the TV and go to sleep and take 15 minutes. I wake up at five o'clock in the morning and take a shower.

Ben: That's early.

Mike: I have to do that.

Ben: That's really early.

Mike: I like early. I have to get my sugars down and eat and back to work.

Ben: So you're busy.

Mike: And tonight I'll go to a shower. I brush my teeth. Myself.

Ben: Alright. Do you have anything else?

Staff: We're done.

Ben: Alright. Weren't we ending at 12:30?

Staff: Yeah. I think that's it. Is that right? Is that what time it is now? 12:30?

Ben: No it's 12:20.

Staff: Oh, that's OK. If you're done, you're done.

Photos by JJ Tiziou

LOGO: The PEW Center for Arts & Heritage logo

A Fierce Kind of Love has been supported
by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

GRAPHIC: visit our blog    GRAPHIC: Like us on Facebook.      GRAPHIC: Follow us on Twitter.