A peak inside James Bonner

Celebrating Identity: Exploring the Essence of My Journey - Welcome to My About Me Page

The things that I value about myself, and those that others might value about me, sometimes seem to be very different. That or I struggle to simplify who I am in a coherent way. Perhaps, that’s why my collection of writings and stories is so important to me. I believe that people, when characterized as “the mob”—our communal behaviors; you know, the dissected scientific methodology of who we collectively become on paper, and then concertedly accept as arbitrary truths—are way too oversimplified. Nevertheless, we rely entirely on those defined personas when we are trying to relate with one another. We forget that we are not a compilation of “if x is true, then y = E.” I suppose that what I’m essentially saying is that we’re layered, complex and yet presently bare things. There’s no way to present even an idea of who I am, and what this website is designed to be in a simple three paragraph structure. I, just like everyone else, have to be pieced together. With this website I am going to try to express the essence of who I am, and who we all are as my experiences and purview allow me to perceive us to be. Through my complete collection of essays, stories, photographs, and through my love for books, ideas, art, behavior, travel, food, and music.

            I began as a military brat, in the most literal sense. My dad joined the military, but not because he wanted to, he joined because he struggled early in life to find direction. He struggled to see what the sum of his dreams, ideas, and experiences were becoming up to that point. When I was born, he was obligated to find direction and, at that time—in the early 80’s—the military is where a lot of the people with a less than a certain idea of their consequent futures ended up. He hated just about every minute of his experience in the air force. Nevertheless, it did give him direction. Outlandishly intelligent people have a difficult time fitting in, and my dad is an outlandishly intelligent person. Nowadays, people with a less than certain idea of purpose tend to find themselves in retail. Which is exactly where I found myself. I wasn’t always directionless. I loved writing, even at a young age. However, I was led to believe that my passion for writing was aimless. I was told that writing was, “OK,” as long as it remained a hobby. When I was 18, I took a job at a Borders, Books, Music, & Café in San Antonio, Texas, and I enjoyed it. While I was there, I inherited a passion for books. I have since worked at a Hastings Entertainment in Idaho Falls, Idaho; a Barnes & Noble’s in Salt Lake City, Utah, New York City, New York, and Bozeman, Montana; I worked at Op. Cit. Books, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and I opened my own bookstore in the Texas Hill Country. Communitea Books, an online bookstore, writing digest, and photo gallery began after I closed my bookstore in 2015.

I managed the Barnes & Noble’s in Bozeman, Montana, after managing the Natural Grocers in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I was miserable and I was angry, and this negativity had been consuming me for years. I was hoping that I would find a comfort zone in retail management. It took me several years too long to recognize that I wouldn’t. Twenty years had passed since I first took a job working at Borders, and I was starting to feel that sadness that shadows you when you ignore your passions. I shifted my focus toward working on myself. And that meant to explore my traumas, mistakes, angers, fears, doubts, beliefs, and my overall purview. I began to explore my memories, and more importantly, my gaps in memory. I came to recognize exactly what I’ve always known, and that is that I still have a passion for writing. I realized also that I had passions I wasn’t yet aware of, a passion for travel and for food (I don’t really like cooking, which sucks because I do care about eating healthy). I started taking steps to turn those passions into my reality. The internet seemed as good an outlet as any. And I already had the basic infrastructure of this website. Throughout the course of the next several months, I incorporated several collections of writings: essays and stories (I dislike even just the word “blog,” let alone the fact that what I’m writing is not really a blog) on travel, food, music, and film, as well as editorial and biographical essays and stories.

In between, and sometimes supplemental to working at a bookstore, I have also worked a variety of “odd jobs.” I’ve worked as a caterer, I sold aluminum siding door-to-door, I worked the graveyard shift maintaining a packaging machine at a potato processing plant in Idaho, I was the marketing director for an art gallery in Santa Fe, I was a host on an excursion train, and I also worked as a staff writer, columnist, and reviewer for magazines, newspapers, and literary journals. While working as a writer and columnist, and earlier in life recognizing writing as a passion—because I had a talent for writing—I never actually studied writing: the rules, the grammar, the style, and the structure were all relatively foreign to me. I recognized that if I was going to truly explore and realize my passion for writing, that I should make an effort to understand the elements of writing. In the meantime, I started building a collection of travel, food, music, and film writing 1.) as a means to measure my progress as a developing writer, and 2.) because I am, and will continue to build not only a comprehensive collection of essays and stories—as well as new ideas and perspectives on: behavior, politics, education, psychology, spirituality, mental health, work/passion, art, communication, people, and kind of life in general—but also an anthology of who I am, and who we all are—explored and dissected, accumulated and matured, and hypocritical and unimpeachable.

            I discovered too that I appreciate photography. The idea of capturing moments in time, throughout our lives, and the experiences we have as an impression of art. The recognition that beneath everything about our generally unexplored lives there is emotion, and passion, and artistic expression. How a single photograph, even a bad photograph, will capture what exists beneath the thoughtless, everyday tedium of our otherwise angry, fearful, and controlled lives. It’s beautiful. My mom is a photographer. She began studying independently, later in life and made a practice of photographing people at work. My mom’s interest in that area began after working as a freelance sports photographer in, and around San Antonio, Texas. She helped me to see things from different angles, and that would eventually translate into my life in ways well beyond the scope of photography. I think very differently than most, with reason, passion, and balance still, although I do struggle to understand the behaviors of people. How different our conscious behaviors are from our unconscious, and how in the discontinuity between the two lies the overwhelmingly indifferent and hypocritical. I think another reason I like photography so much is that even the unpleasant sides of us, when photographed, come across more often as beautiful than hateful.

            My experiences have both unplugged and imprisoned my emotions and perspectives, ebbing and flowing at different times throughout my life. I have lived lives that have been influenced by great highs and demanding lows. My purview has been, at times, severely bound, when my neuroanatomy and subconscious have coped to safeguard me. In my early twenties I packed my car and started driving aimlessly westbound in search of a way to express myself freely. I am married and divorced. I have moved cross-country several times uncertain of how things might turn out, each time I ventured into that unknown with a little more maturity. I was homeless, living on the streets of New York City for three months after, uh, we’ll call it a “miscommunication” with a faceless landlord. I found myself in a shockingly, life-altering emotionally abusive relationship that continues to affect me, almost ten years later. I lost five days of my life to a county jail in New Mexico, after a manipulated series of events during that same devastating relationship. I quit what would have been a financially stable career in order to pursue my passion, leading to uncertain possibilities. As a result, I sacrificed a comfortable home in Montana, and then moved into a suite in a famous, historic hotel. As a condition for the suite, I work part-time in the evenings, at the hotel. My days are spent, near tirelessly writing, creating, and developing my livelihood. I have so many things rattling around in my head: stories of my experiences and travels, counterculture perspectives, and more than half a lifetime left of experiences to experience and to share.

            So, why do I express so much of my life story online? I think that it’s because within every page and every photograph is another chapter of my life. It’s not just about the places I’ve been, the reviews (which is another word, and concept in general that I dislike), the products, and the essays. It’s about the experiences, the people, the stories, and the development that unfolds within me, and within all of us. From managing bookstores to capturing these moments in time, this journey is a patchwork quilt of experiences, and one that I’m inviting you to explore with me. It's a celebration of the written word, the visual feast of photography, and the serendipity that arises when we embrace the unpredictable. Grab a cup of coffee, flip through the digital pages, and join me in this tale where literature, photography, and the joy of discovery collide. Let the Chronicles continue! 

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