And might as well, if it interests you.
I was a disabled child. Since my parents never taught me to feel sorry for myself, or that I was disabled, I remember it only dimly and not with pain.
Very quietly, I provide proofreading services to my alma mater’s premier sports fan news site. It feels good.
One of my oldest and dearest friends advises me that I am living proof that Rasputin engaged in sexual intercourse with grizzly bears.
My skull seems to have the density of lead. I once hit a man with it by accident, full tilt, and I felt awful. He was such a nice guy, and he could have died. There is a bone ridge down the center of my forehead, like that of reptiles one normally expects to extend long forked tongues. Evidently, even a casual glancing impact from my skull feels like being hit in the head with a mallet. I’m sorry to anyone to whom I accidentally did that, especially my wife that one night when I was getting into bed and it was dark.
A formative event for me was the Monday holiday law. Until then, my birthday had coincided with a national holiday. When I was about five, the government made a law, and my birthday wasn’t a holiday any more. Before I attended first grade, I learned that not even one’s birthday was sacred, that government could violate it at will, without consequence.
I was raised by religious fanatics in an abusive household. None of that is any excuse for any of my mistakes, but if you ever wonder why attempts to push a religion on me can meet with such a chilly or even fierce response, now you know.
At twenty, I seriously considered whether I were redeemable or not. Thanks to some good influences around me, I decided that I was. The hidden tale of my life is living so as to show proper thanks to a number of people for their compassion and support and wisdom. You know who you are.
I was not an easy birth. I was an induced-labor and salad spoons birth. The first photograph of me shows a little potato-dented head and one eye swollen completely shut. I was born as obstinately as I would live, declining to cooperate with a birth for which my permission had never been sought, raising my battered little noggin for the first time to look about and vow to get even with everyone who put me through this. Given how difficult I was to raise, by age two I think the bill was paid with interest.
Growing up, my parents kept a lot from me. I have a half-brother somewhere in the Ohio Valley whom I’ve never met. The ‘rheumatic fever’ episode of my mom? It was a little more psychological than that. All growing up, I was presented with this fiction that we (our family) were exceptional, superior in morals and culture. Then I found out my father grew up in a brutal household and was now acting it out in adulthood, and that families that made fart jokes had love and fun and joy, and were not low forms of life. If anything, our pretensions–which we could not back up with reality–made us the low forms of life.
I have accumulated some damage over life. One ankle will probably always pain me. One achilles is shorter than the other. One shoulder bends in ways that it should not. I have hearing damage. My knee cartilage is more or less gone. And I’m luckier than I deserve to be, considering my years of hockey and baseball.
I was an amateur athlete, on some level, for thirty-five years, in which I never argued with an official on the field of play. I believe in automatic, immediate ejection for bickering. I’m in the minority on that and am fine with it. Arguing with officials on the field of play is for losers, and when I see someone doing it, that’s what I’m thinking. If they would take half the effort they devote to bawling and bitching, and direct it toward playing better, all the close calls would now go their way, and a whole bunch of new close calls would arise–of which they’d get more than their half, because they didn’t show up the officials. But no. They whine. Boo hoo hoo. Shut up and go to the box like a big boy.
Until forced by circumstances, I will almost never move to a new version of software. Most ‘upgrades’ bring no benefit. They move stuff around, add features no one wants, and ‘change it up’ so that some exec has ‘put his stamp’ ‘on the brand.’ All bullshit. If it works fine for me, and the new stuff gives no benefit, keep the marketing hype.
I bleed easily and quickly if cut. I used to sell plasma in my college days, until the day the needle gradually worked out and I didn’t notice the yard-wide pool of blood until it was, well, a yard wide. I’m a very easy stick for blood tests, but I hate being stuck in the elbow. I prefer to be stuck in the veins on the back of my hand. It eludes me why someone would, when other choices existed, voluntarily have a needle in a joint that would mean you could not dare move that joint.
Dumbest question I field in life? About my beard: “How long you been growing that?” And I get it mainly in checkout lines, from older men to whom life seems to have taught little.
Stuff I could eat daily for the rest of my life: all seafood, Kansas steaks, Stilton cheese, almost any sandwich on grilled sourdough, scrapple, Taylor pork roll, Caesar salad, the potato skins at Goodwood Barbecue in Boise, tirokafterí, falafel, dolmathes, my chorizo chile, and just about everything that constitutes the full Irish breakfast.
Stuff I’d have to be starving to eat/drink: coconut, cauliflour, lima beans, cole slaw, black licorice, ouzo, plain cooked spinach (looks like what I used to clean off my hook after I’d accidentally dragged my fishing lure in the muck at the bottom of a Kansas pond, and couldn’t possibly taste better),
It is true that I speak an above average amount of languages, but it’s not that impressive. In the first place, it wasn’t hard. I know people who can rummage through any random kitchen and, without visible effort, conceive and present incredible meals. I know people who can’t spell, but who just intuitively know the plant and animal worlds. I know mechanics who can’t write, but who feel auto repairs somewhere in a part of the brain I lack. My gift may be less common (or more likely less commonly discovered), but it’s no more special.
I am immune to a need to remain current with fashion, pop culture, etc. I lived in Seattle during the early 1990s, even doing accounting work related to some major artists, without knowing what grunge even was. On the day I was authoring this para, Alan Rickman passed away. My Facebook wall erupted in waves of grief, and I had to ask around to find out who he was. Several months passed between that day and today, when I am giving it a final once-over, and I have already forgotten who they told me he was.
I am also immune to the idea that some living combinations are so fundamentally odd that they are impermissible. Today is a good example. In sweats and a t-shirt, I pulled into a burger bar. I ate my cheeseburger and onion rings while reading a book about Mycenaean Greek culture, which was especially interesting to me because the author had worked with Michael Ventris. Michael Ventris was to Mycenaean studies as Einstein was to physics. The notion that I shouldn’t be reading a book while I eat lunch, much less a book on such a subject while eating that sort of lunch, is alien to my mind. Reading is allowed at any time when one is not operating a vehicle. Note that being stopped at a light does not count as vehicle operation until the vehicles begin to move.
I watch trashy reality shows. I intended to say that I watch the trashiest ones I can find, but that’s not true, since I don’t watch Jersey Shore or anything Kardashey. Just some of the trashiest ones.
My life was first threatened, with a weapon drawn, at five. It wasn’t that traumatic. Happened again in college. That also wasn’t that traumatic. I gain more PTSD from ten seconds in the dentist’s waiting room than I ever did from mortal physical danger.
I attended a grade school in which Biblical guidance induced the principal to lash us with a 1/2″ rod for misbehavior. It wasn’t that traumatic. Pisses me off, and if I ever find that principal still alive he’s due for a bad day, but it’s not like I need trigger warnings or other such nannying.
The worst job I ever had was cleaning up a basement full of dog turds. It was also my first full-time job in the working world. I had been told I was being hired to paint a house. Thereby was my view of employers formed for life.
I don’t remember learning to read. Reading was just something I had always known, or so it seemed. In reality, my mother taught me. When I got to kindergarten, and even first grade, it stunned my little brain to realize that some children could not read. I did not understand how it could be. Want to see me doff my hat to someone? Show me an older adult who grew up illiterate and now seeks to learn to read. I find the entire concept inspiring.
No matter how hard you try, you will be unable to imagine the sheer awfulness of some of the writing my profession has forced me to see. And that’s all right.