Chris – An Irby Ranch Storyteller

March 3, 2021
Irby Ranch Resident Chris at computer smiling.

I’m so excited to introduce you to Sunflower Hill at Irby Ranch resident, Chris, who is a college student, writer, and the Resident Spotlight for March! As part of our person-centered program offerings at Irby Ranch, Chris and I have met one-on-one several times over the last few months – always masked and distanced – to talk and write about feelings. I genuinely believe that working together has benefited us both during these difficult times. Chris always greets me with his ear-to-ear smile and friendly demeanor. It warms my heart!


Chris is a storyteller with aspirations of being a published author. We are working on a writing project for Sunflower Hill together that we’ll be finishing soon. Be on the lookout in the coming months for how you can purchase some of his writing! Chris enjoys writing short stories and poetry and has his own blog. (NOTE: Blog contains adult content – language and adult situations.) He also enjoys theater and has written a short screenplay. Using his extensive knowledge of history, he likes to include historical references in his writings.

Poem by Chris titled JeanneI recently met with Chris to learn more about his life, his writing, and what it’s like living at Irby Ranch. Chris is currently attending Las Positas College, pursuing an AA Degree in English. This semester he’s taking math and political science virtually. He’s not a fan of virtual classes. More on that later.

Chris prides himself on having a strong memory. “I’m able to remember things from (a) long time ago,” he said. He enjoys hiking, swimming, and bowling. He’s won gold medals in bowling at Special Olympics. He also likes reading (Harry Potter and Hunger Games to name a few), and watching movies (Goodfellas, Star Wars, and Harry Potter.) He also enjoys TV shows like Rick and Morty and The Mandalorian – his favorite is Baby Yoda, who is so lovable and always smiling.

On Living Independently

Chris holding his bowling medalPrior to living at Irby Ranch, Chris was living with his mom. As his first experience living independently, he was surprised by how much paperwork there was to sign for his apartment! While he found all of the paperwork and process of finalizing his lease very frustrating, he’s now very happy to be living independently at Irby Ranch.

When I asked what living independently means to him, he smiled his ear-to-ear smile and replied, “being able to have (my) own things.” He loves being able to decorate the way he wants, not being bothered by anyone at night, and even being able to shower whenever he wants.

As living independently is new to him, I thought he would have some great advice for others who are venturing out on their own for the first time. Chris encourages first-timers to:

  • Take out the trash (very good advice!)
  • Try to do something new everyday
  • Be responsible
  • Try to find something to do around the house, such as read a book, watch TV, organize, and cook something (Chris likes to cook hot dogs and other things)

On Living at Irby Ranch

Chris and his family hikingWhen Chris got the call letting him know that he was being offered an apartment at Irby Ranch, he “couldn’t believe it – it was super exciting!” Chris has been living full-time at Irby Ranch since the end of November. He loves to sit in different places in his apartment. He says that Irby Ranch has “nice grass, nice building(s), close to (my) parent’s home, and a lot of free space.” Chris especially enjoys his loveseat next to the window that faces the courtyard. He enjoys being able to go out and walk whenever he wants and meeting new people. Since moving into Irby Ranch, Chris has made many new friends and joins other residents on a weekly Saturday walking trip to the Pleasanton Farmer’s Market.

On the Pandemic

When I asked Chris how he feels about the pandemic and how his life has changed, he lost his smile and became very expressive in his answers. Living through the last year with the pandemic has been very difficult for Chris. “It’s been very frustrating,” he said emphatically.

Prior to the pandemic, Chris had a job working at a movie theater. Once COVID-19 hit, and theaters closed, he lost his job. “I just spent the first few weeks thinking it was only going to be for a few weeks,” said Chris. “But it never ended. It annoyed me and made me cry. It makes me so upset.”

Poem about quarantine by Chris

In addition to being upset about losing his job, Chris has been frustrated navigating virtual learning. Not being able to go to classes in person has led him to feel agitated. He finds virtual learning “exhausting” and hard to focus and feels like there is no difference between class work and homework. “All the work piles up on you,” he said. “It’s like a stack of books that keep piling onto your hand, and go all the way up to your face.”

Chris in a suit and tieChris also doesn’t like the solitary nature of virtual learning. “There’s no chance to interact with people,” he said. “I barely get to see the teachers and classmates.”

Despite these challenges, Chris admits one positive outcome from the pandemic: he’s had more time to learn and practice math!

Chris has found many ways to stay positive throughout the pandemic. He lists many activities such as, getting outside to take a walk, taking a nap, and reading a good book (he’s currently reading Unholy Nights) as ways to keep himself grounded and calm. Chris also recommends watching funny shows because we all “need a good laugh” right now! One of the funniest shows he’s watched recently was Death to 2020, a mockumentary about the year 2020. Chris was cracking up as he told me about the movie.

Plans for 2021

Chris working on a story, typing on his laptopChris feels that the pandemic will be over soon, especially if everyone follows the safety protocols. In 2021, he plans to finish his classes, go back to college in-person, write something and get it published.

I’m so thankful to have met Chris and been able to work with him here at Irby Ranch these past few months. My conversations with him are always thoughtful and full of joy. We laugh a lot! His storytelling is the same – whether it be a short story or poem, he puts words to the page that are thought provoking, honest, and entertaining! I can’t wait to read what he writes next and see him officially published in 2021!


Story by: Pratimajit Kaur, Sunflower Hill at Irby Ranch Residential Programs Manager
Contributing Writer: Rachel Clark, Sunflower Hill Communications Manager

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