I began writing this as a wee lad of twenty-one. Reading it many years later, I am surprised by the detail I went into - but I will leave it, for the most part, intact (though I will remove some of the information that is not mine to share). And now, many years later, I am going to attempt to resume my narrative.
Where should I begin? I suppose there's really no better place to begin than the beginning...
I was born in La Mesa, California in 1969, where I lived (I don't remember much if any of this, I'm going on what I've been told) in an apartment until my family moved to Chula Vista - where my parents had purchased their first home - when I was about five or six. I have no clear recollections of anything that happened prior to the move to Chula Vista, so let's jump ahead.
I should probably also mention my siblings, since they are both in the picture by now, but I won't go into any detail - if they want to share details, they may do so. Anne, my sister, was born four years after me and Ryan, my brother, was born a year after her. So that makes me...the oldest, and best looking, and smartest, and...oh, yeah, the most modest.
I made my first friend in Chula Vista (at least the first friend I clearly remember - I have vague recollections of someone named Jamie in La Mesa, but I really can't remember anything about him). His name was Richie Burgos; we did all those fun things that kids do - at least I assume we did. I have hazy memories of Richie and other friends during this time, but thanks to a memory destroying accident I had a few years later (which I will get to shortly), I really don't remember any of them very clearly. Among the very few memories I have of my childhood friendship with Richie was our first meeting: when I moved into my house and first met him, he had really long hair and I, being the wide-eyed innocent that I was, assumed he was a girl - imagine my surprise.
I attended pre-school in La Mesa, and Kindergarten and First Grade at Cook School in Chula Vista - where I developed an affinity for Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts gang, creating my own stories and "books" with their adventures. More often than not, these were direct plagiarism of Charles Schultz's work.
My dad was in the army (he was the company radio guy) when I was born and for a couple of years after. Upon being discharged, he worked for Pacific Bell in San Diego. A little background about my dad to explain the moves to come: when he was younger, he spent all or most of his summer vacations in the Bear Lake (Idaho) area. Both of my grandparents are from Idaho, so there are a good many relatives there. It became his dream to live in this rural paradise - so we packed our bags and moved to Pocatello, Idaho (which was really nowhere near where my relatives lived, but I guess it was the only transfer location available to my dad).
We lived in Pocatello for about a year, the five of us squeezed into a tiny, musty little rental house. I didn't have any close friends that I can remember, but there was a boy my age who lived across the alley behind our house. I can't remember his name or much about him, except that his mom was the cub scout leader. One thing I did pick up in Pocatello (in second grade) was the ability to say the alphabet backwards; an ability which has somehow managed to stay with me to this very day - even after the brain damage to come.
Eventually, my dad managed to transfer somewhat closer to his dream destination - but it was as close as we would ever get. We moved to Soda Springs, Idaho where my parents managed to buy a large home with a huge backyard. The summer vacation before third grade began was exceptional. My cousin, Joel, came to stay with me and we had the time of our lives (although I have to admit that the details are not very clear - this will be explained momentarily).
When the summer ended, I was enrolled in third grade at Hooper Elementary School and had the most amazing teacher - Gary Brownley. Mr Brownley did everything he could to make his assignments fun. He had exceptional artistic ability (or so it seemed at the age of eight) and I became the teacher's pet. Mr. Brownley gave me my first introduction to algebra (although at the time, it was totally indecipherable to me) and I also recall reading, of all things, Greek mythology in third grade. Go figure.
During the summer following third grade, an event occurred which may have diverted my life to its present course (or maybe I was on my way here, anyway - who can say?). Practically everything I know about what happened, up to the point of several months beyond this day, is information I was given by family and friends.
Apparently, I borrowed a ten-speed bicycle from a kid that lived in the apartment complex on my street (I later learned that it had not even been his to loan) and used it to ride down the newly built, but not yet opened, overpass which spanned the railroad tracks that passed through town. On the way down, as I attempted to slow myself, I discovered that the application of force to the brake levers had no apparent effect on my speed. The railing of the overpass ended a good hundred feet from a busy intersection (the busiest road in this bustling metropolis of about four thousand people), so I decided to swerve into a driveway, which passed through a mobile home community, to gradually slow down. Unfortunately, I had neglected to examine the driveway as thoroughly as I should have. The front tire of the bicycle plunged into a cavernous hole in the pavement as I swerved, and I was flung from my bicycle - headfirst into the wall of the gas station on the corner.
I was quickly rushed to Soda Springs' only hospital, and then, when the extent of my injuries was determined, to a hospital in Pocatello which was equipped with better facilities - but was an hour away, even with extreme speed. The doctors discovered that I had crushed the side of my skull and caused serious damage to my brain. As the surgeon operated, he was forced to shave pieces of my brain away to gain access to the damage. I was in a coma for several weeks - the doctors had serious doubts that I would ever wake again. If I did come out of the coma, the consensus was that I would most likely be a vegetable...
I did eventually come out of the coma (I vaguely remember waking to find annoying itchy tubes in my nose and attempting to remove them). Unfortunately, my situation wasn't good - my entire left side was paralyzed (it was the right side of my brain that was injured) and I had lost, among many of my personal memories, the entirety of my mathematical education. Luckily, I hadn't lost my ability to read or to write. I was put through several months of physical, mental and occupational therapy. My mom wrote about the experience, if you are interested in reading her perspective.
While in the hospital, I think I may have missed Star Wars (I don't recall ever seeing it in the theater), but I was inundated with Star Wars toys in the hospital and for several years afterward - an occurrence that has led to an irrational need to collect toys, comics, and all manner of weird memorabilia.
When I was finally released for the hospital, I was placed, on a probationary basis contingent on my ability to catch up with the other students, in the fourth grade. I had missed several months of the fourth grade, and was placed in a special education class when the rest of my class was being taught math. By the end of the year I had caught my classmates academically, but I might as well have been in a new school as far as remembering any of my classmates (whom I had only vaguely known before these events had transpired).
I have always loved to read. My favorites in Elementary school (after the head injury removed all tendencies for Greek mythology) were Encyclopedia Brown, The Great Brain and The Hobbit. I didn't read Lord of the Rings (or even know anything about it) until I was much older.
There were many kids who played the role of "best friend" during the next few years: Steve Evans, Bryan Wright, Steve Mathias, Jim Hydzik, and Bryan Beus. I muddled through elementary school; had crushes on a few girls, got in quite a few fights with older kids
and spent my share of time in the principal's office. None of it (after the accident) was particularly memorable.
The summer before we started junior high, my best friend, Bryan Beus, and I started working on our Bicycling merit badges. We must have put over three hundred miles on our bikes that summer and the next. Bryan introduced me to a lot of new things: 8-track tapes, rock music, Monopoly marathons...he was a great friend. Unfortunately, I haven't heard from him in over ten years.
I also became close friends with an adorable girl named Jessica Zundel in seventh grade. I had a huge crush on her and we became good friends. In typical geekboy fashion, I endeavored to spend all the time with her that I could. Many were the days during the summer between seventh and eighth grade that I could be found making the trek on my bike across town to hang out with Jessica.
In eighth grade, I took a drama class and did surprisingly well. My teacher, Ms. Clack, who had also been my seventh grade English teacher, was great. She was smart, funny and seemed to see something special in me. She was the first to introduce me to Holden Caulfield; The Catcher in the Rye remains one of my favorite books to this day. Unfortunately, due to a mishap of boyish stupidity, I insulted my good friend, Jessica, and was ostracized by the drama class. I discovered, years later, that I had been one of the main causes for her becoming bulimiac. To this day, I don't think I have ever told her how wonderful she is or how much I have always thought of her - one of the many failings of my life.
I was introduced to snow-skiing around fifth grade and discovered that I wasn't particularly good at it, but it was something to do during the long, cold Idaho winters. I didn't ski much until I was in Junior High, and Bryan introduced me to the ski bus. Several weeks a year throughout winter, the school would drive a busload of kids up to to Beaver mountain (near Logan, Utah) to ski for the day. Bryan and I were were frequent passengers. I was, honestly, never a very good skier, but it was a lot of fun.
Ninth grade was pure misery. I had, by then, begun moving in other social circles. My new friends, the D&D-new-wave guys, were less than popular in small town Idaho. If you have seen the movie Footloose, try to imagine Kevin bacon as a skinny fourteen year-old kid who doesn't know how to fight, dance or do anything cool.
That was me.
During the summer following ninth grade, my parents decided that Idaho might not be the place to be (mainly due to an economic downturn that was actually nationwide), so I was packed up and taken to Tucson, Arizona. My brother and sister were sent to stay with other relatives. While my parents looked for jobs, I enrolled in Canyon Del Oro High School with my cousins, Joel and Jodie. I stayed with my Aunt and Uncle for the first semester of the school year (until my parents decided the quest for Arizona employment was futile) and made a few friends I will remember for a long time. Mr Frozen Stiffs himself, Greg Segalini (who for years was referred to here as "Greg Sigalini"), if you're reading this - send me an email.
Though Joel would vehemently deny this now, he and his friends introduced me to personal computers (Atari and Commodore back then) and to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (the Infocom version). The game led to reading the novel, which led to a new love of silly story-telling (the beginning of my affection for the Pythons). I developed a fondness for Douglas Adams, Infocom text-based games and computer programming (I acquired a desire to learn how to program, anyway).
Having given up their search for employment, my parents returned to Idaho, where our home remained unsold, and I re-enrolled in Soda Springs High School. Somehow I had managed to jump ahead of the other kids academically and found myself enrolled in three math classes concurrently. Difficulties with the no-necked, small-brained Idaho thugs ensued upon my return. I got my first computer, an Atari 800XL, for Christmas that year and created many a game in Atari Basic. I modeled them after the "choose your adventure" novels that were around back then. No graphics, of course - just text. Interestingly, I never enrolled in a computer class of any kind during High School.
Fortunately, my family moved - for good this time - from Idaho during the summer after tenth grade. My parents found employment in the Ontario, California area and we were packed up and moved again. We moved into a small condo in an older complex and, during the summer before I started attending Chaffey High School, I made a few friends at the pool: Greg, Jeremy and Matt. Greg and Jeremy were brothers, but attended Damian, a private school. We spent a great deal of time together that summer, but drifted apart as we returned to school. Matt (AKA Punky - his last name was Brewster), attended public school, but was three years younger than I was, so we didn't go to the same school. But he was a good guy and we had some fun times together.
I made several friends during my Junior year at Chaffey High School: Steve O'Connor, Alan and Alvin Pepito, Leo (sorry Leo, I can't remember your last name), Dale Boedry...and had at least one "girlfriend" during my Junior year: Stephanie (her last name has also faded from memory). She was a sweet girl, but my awkwardness kept the relationship from getting very serious - my first kiss would have to wait. Unfortunately, very nearly all of my friends that year were seniors, so they left me high and dry, friend-wise, the following year.
The summer after my Junior year, I met Downs Deering through Punky. He was a bit odd, a lot loud, surprisingly intelligent, and quite personable. He was a year younger than me and had recently moved to Ontario from Texas (although I don't recall ever detecting a Texas accent). I learned a lot of things through my association with Downs...
Shy was not a label that anyone would ever pin on Downs. I was, if not shy, very introverted. Downs did everything he could to help relieve me of that burden. He was one of those guys who could just start talking to anyone on the street without reservation. During my
senior year, he introduced me to many girls that I would have never had the courage to speak to, otherwise.
Amy Olsen was my first kiss. Her friend approached me (after noticing me incessantly staring at Amy during lunch) and asked if I wanted her phone number. Of course I did, though I would never have had the courage to ask for it, so I eagerly took her number and called her that very day after school. I spent many a school day ditching at Amy's house (just a couple of blocks from the school), but my insecurities and over-attentiveness drove her away within a few weeks. We were supposed to go to my senior prom together but, as you might guess, we did not.
One of the many girls Downs introduced me to was Disa Rauch. I had a huge crush on her and, in my mentally unstable teenage mind, couldn't see that my interest was not returned. She was gracious enough to go with me to my senior prom when Amy bailed. Ever the awkward doofus, the night was not especially memorable.
Another girl I had a crush on, though not one I met through my association with Downs, was Kelley Shamblin. She was quiet, cute, and smart - but I never had the courage to do anything about it, even with Downs' encouragement. I actually managed to contact her many years ago (through Classmates), but evidently said something to offend her, because she responded once, but never again.
There was, believe it or not, actually a girl who was interested in me in High School, Heidi Seyforth. She was a very nice girl, but (as I couldn't understand with Disa) the chemistry just wasn't there.
It's funny that most of my High School memories are centered on my "relationships" with people of the female persuasion. Maybe not "funny" so much as...sad.
Another favor Downs did for me was to introduce me to the bigger world of Science Fiction. Downs had hundreds of paperback novels in his room and loaned them to me freely. I devoured them nightly. I have since managed to accumulate an impressive library of science fiction/fantasy novels (as well as a great many other non-sci-fi novels).
Clay Petry was another of my friends who pushed me into social circles I would not have otherwise dared intrude upon. He had moved to Ontario from Florida his (and my) senior year. He was smaller in stature than me, but was an accomplished martial artist and was also very intelligent. It was interesting to see his martial arts abilities in action - he even tried to teach me a thing or two. Downs and Clay were the two I spent very nearly every weekend with that year. Unfortunately, I haven't heard from Clay in over ten years and Downs appears to have likewise dropped off the map (although I saw him once around 1999).
Mrs. Puckett was another of those amazing teachers who opened my eyes. She introduced me to Albert Camus (through The Stranger). I admit that I didn't love the book upon my first reading, but I felt inclined to read it again and have since read it many times (as well as many of his other works of fiction). Camus led to Sartre and I quickly became interested in existentialism.
I was leaning toward Civil Engineering as a future career by the end of my senior year of High School. I had done well in Calculus and Physics and thought I would enjoy this field, so I entered Cal Poly Pomona the fall after graduation - although this was tricky. I had neglected to apply before the deadline for new student applications, so my parents intervened on my behalf and spoke to someone in the admissions office who assured them that if I was accepted for the summer quarter, the deadline for which had not passed, I would be in for fall. What they neglected to mention was that I needed to attend summer quarter, which I did not, in order to be eligible for the fall quarter. Somehow, though, I managed to get in Fall quarter of 1988.
Meanwhile, my parents had decided to uproot the family again and move to another rental - in Covina,CA. This was fine with me since it cut my drive to school in half (and was actually closer to the Mervyn's that I was working part-time in). Through a weird association of friends, I managed to meet a girl at this time, Heather Graham (no, not that Heather Graham). We saw each other for a few weeks (we even went to Disneyland together), but my neurotic behavior quickly drove her away.
As I mentioned, I was working part-time for the West Covina Mervyn's in the children's department. Soon after I started, this single department was reorganized into a Boys' and a Girls' department - and I found myself in Boys'. I made several great friends there: Albert, Pete (who taught me how to tie a bow tie for the Mervyns' company Christmas Party that I'm sure impressed my date to no end), Mike (all their last names have faded from my memory - I blame the brain damage), and Renee Duross (who was the unfortunate girl who attended the company Christmas party with me). Awards for various things were handed out during the party, and I received a certificate that declared me to be The Zaniest Male." I really enjoyed working with that group - there were some really good people there.
Cal Poly Pomona was a beautiful school, nestled in a slightly wooded area with all the amenities a college kid could demand, and I really enjoyed the short I attended school there. I was living at home and commuting to school either by bus or, for a short while, on an old, past-its-prime scooter, so didn't really get the full collegiate experience. One thing I didn't enjoy was my declared major: Civil Engineering.
I decided, after my first full year of classes, that I was more interested in computers than Civil Engineering; you would think that would have been a no-brainer, given my experiences in High School, but I think I was still a little intimidated by the little beasts. Desperately in need of a change of pace, I re-declared my major as Information Systems (a school of business degree program) and began taking programming classes. I had never used a "real" computer (the Atari 800 XL and Commodore 64 were the extent of my computer exposure), so PCs were all new to me. Luckily, my parents soon shelled out some major coin for their first computer - a 286 with a whopping 40 MB hard drive, monochrome monitor and about 2MB of RAM. I quickly became as familiar as I could, by playing with the operating system (a much simpler beast in those days) and by playing my beloved Infocom games. Back in school, even writing COBOL programs on mainframe terminals (at all odd times of the night in eerie, empty science buildings) was enjoyable for me that first year. A point about COBOL: I have never had occasion to use it since and it's unlikely I would be able to write a program without a lot of review at this point. I've never even seen a job listing with COBOL as a requirement.
While living in Covina, my parents invited some family friends, the Martins, to live in our home while they recovered from a financial downturn of their own. Their brief stay turned into an extended stay and we were soon all at one another's throats. Billy Martin was the closest of their family members to my own age, being a year younger than me. While he was staying with us, I soon learned that he collected comic books. A lot of comic books, thought mostly superhero-genre books. This was my introduction to the wonderful world of comics. I was, of course, aware that the things existed - I had read man an Archie comic on family roadtrips, but I had no idea that so many different titles were out there or that they varied so widely - keep in mind that this was 80s, the golden age of independent comic book publishers. TrollLords was the first comic book I ever read, and I was forever hooked.
Once again, my family decided to pack up and move - this time to San Diego. We moved to a rental in the Mira Mesa area and I transferred to a Mervyns that was, luckily, a few blocks from my new home. I had planned to attend San Diego State University, but the tuition was much higher than Cal Poly's had been and the drive (not that I could drive - my car had died a few months before) was intimidating. So I enrolled in the San Diego Community college system and took classes for the next two years there. The programming classes continued, and I found myself enjoying programming much more than I had enjoyed Calculus, Chemistry, or any engineering class. I also took a drawing class and improved my limited drawing ability; my interest in drawing had peaked around this time due to my new hobby: collecting comic books.
While working at Mervyns in Mira Mesa, I met, as seems to be the pattern, several people that I became close to.
Earl Bartholome worked in the Receiving area and was exceptional on many counts. For starters, he was a Filipino guy who was around 6'5", Impressive in itself, but he was also somewhat of a redneck - driving a lifted red Jeep. We went on several ski trips in the mountains of LA with other co-workers while I was there. he was also the "Ted" to my "Bill" (if you don't knw what this is referring to, it's probably pointless to try to explain).
Later, I met Mariam Walleh, a young woman of Afghani descent who worked in the women's department. She was slightly odd, but personable and...well, female, so we hit it off pretty well.
Miki Hackler was the younger sister of another co-worker, Yuki Hackler, and worked in the Children's department. We also seemed to get along pretty well and ended up speding quite a bit of time together for a brief while. Miki and her sister are both of Japanese and Italian descent - a beautiful genetic combination.
Eileen Gamboa, cruelly nicknamed "Slimer," was a close friend of Mariam's and often came along when we all did things as a group. She is a very bright girl and I stayed in contat with her for a while, after she moved to LA to attend UCLA.
Bernadette (Bernie) Apodacah was another friend of Mariam who ended up being a very close friend to me. She was a sweet girl who was a bit of a doormat for her friends.
There were others during this time who also left a mark, but my faulty memory can't recall much about them. One of theses friends borrowed my copy of A Clockwork Orange (the original American version that was missing the final chapter) and never returned it. That's about as much as I remember.
Just when I had again become comfortable, my family was once again uprooted, mid-semester, and transported to Lakewood, Colorado. This time, I opted to stay in San Diego to finish my education - or so I planned. Homeless, I moved to Chula Vista to stay with my Grandmother until I could find other lodging within my meager budget. I also had to find a new job (I was unable to transfer to a closer Mervyns due to a problem with late arrivals). Which I did - The Broadway in Chula Vista (the only job from which I have ever been fired. I had, by this time, received my dad's old Ford Escort, complete with bald tires, worn shocks and a million miles, for transportation. Of course, once I was living in an apartment and paying rent, tuition, and all those other expenses that go along with "living," this wonderful vehicle proceeded to have mechanical problem after problem: fuel pump, alternator, tires, battery, transmission...you name it. I finally traded it in and got a new car - a Daihatsu Charade.
I had also transferred to Southwestern junior college, to be closer to my new "home," wich was a good ten miles away up a long, winding hill. I mention this hill because it became my nemesis as I was forced to find alternate transportation (a bicycle) when the Escort became inoperable. As I found myself ever more strapped for cash, I realized that I couldn't afford t stay in San Diego and continue going to school, so I eventually packed up when the semester ended and headed for Colorado to mooch off the parents.
Not much worth mentioning happened in Colorado. Though one very, very sad thing did happen: my beloved friend and constant companion since I was nine, Benji, suddenly began to show signs of failing health and lethargy. She had always been as spry as a puppy, so the behavioral change was alarming. My parents eventually took her to the vet (her - funny, huh?) and found out that her kidneys were failing. The vet informed us that she could go under the knife and have her life lengthened by a few months, but there was no guarantee that the operation would actually help. So we reluctantly agreed that putting her to sleep was the best thing to do.
I held her in my arms as the vet administered the lethal injection, and watched her life slip away as I bawled like a little girl - this is not something I do regularly. Or ever. She was a true friend and I still miss her greatly. I always will. I've never met a dog that was as special as my Benji. It's weird that a dog holds such a special place in my life.
While in Colorado, I also briefly dated a girl my sister introduced me to, Tara, which went badly, and hung out at the Comic shops a lot. But money was tight and I need a job, so I began working for my dad's employer - a hardware company called ACPI. I traveled constantly and became miserably lonely. The job was mainly manual labor (not my favorite kind of labor) and the occasional sales call (another field in which I am not particularly adept).
While working for ACPI, I met a girl during a hardware setup in the Chicago area. Her name was Julie Alm. She also worked for ACPI, her dad held the same position that mine held - but in the midwest region, and I obviously saw her quite a bit while as we worked together. She was a bit heavier than girls I would otherwise have considered attractive, had a harsh Chicago accent that I found offensive, and listened to Rap music that I abhorred, yet somehow I became interested. She did have beautiful green eyes set in an attractive face under a brown mane of hair. I suspect that was the spark that did me in. I've always been attracted to brunettes with light eyes (my wife has brown hair and green eyes).
I became engaged to Ms Alm within a few months of meeting her (while still working on these midwest projects). Deep down, I knew it wasn't a compatible match (the warning of my frineds may have contributed to this) and a wedding date was never set. I eventually returned home (to be sent to many another remote locale), to continue this relationship via the telephone.
While constantly traveling in this position, my family was once again uprooted and moved back to the San Diego area (Ranch Penasquitos, this time). I spent very little time in San Diego while my family lived here - I was constantly traveling and really began to hate my life, though I did have the opportunity to see many places I, otherise, would have never seen: Seattle, Oakland, Nebraska, Illinois, Indiana, New York, Kentucky, Alabama, and many other less memorable locations.
I had, by this time, grown very weary of my current lifestyle and knew I had to go back to school to get a degree before all hope was lost. Once again, my family had relocated - this time to Provo, Utah. I told my dad that I needed to get back into school and he found local ACPI work for me to do while I applied to the local colleges. Luckily, by this time, I was 25 and was no longer required to include my parents' income when applying for financial aid, so I managed to get a loan. After checking out the local schools, I began attending Weber State University in the Summer of 1994.
I commuted from Provo to Ogden during my first quarter (the drive took around ninety minutes each way)
and quickly decided that I needed to move into student housing for the Fall quarter.
So, with my financial aid secured, I moved into the dorm and began my education in earnest.
This was when I started to have very serious doubts about my engagement to Julie.
Now that I was developing a new network of friends and felt grounded again, I knew that I couldn't marry her.
I finally let her know with a phone call from my dorm room. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.
Unfortunately, there weren't enough open spots in the dorms for new residents, so I was stuck in an unused wing of the
girls' dorm with another lost soul while we waited for a spot to open up. I met many fine young women, as you can imagine,
while living in this dorm. I started seeing one of the girls, a freshman named
(sorry, her last name is no longer with me, but it started with an "S").
Eventually, I was moved into a new room with a new roommate in the Promitory Towers.
My new roommate was an eighteen year old, acne faced, kid from Idaho. He was trying hard to get into a fraternity and live
the "wild life." He eventually left school and was replaced with a Japanese foreign exchange student who didn't really speak
English very well. My first day in Promitory Towers introduced me to
who was working the front desk. I immediately had a huge crush, even though she was many years younger than me, as were most of
the students in the dorms. She somehow managed to ignore my clumsy, moronic advances and made it clear that friendship was all
that she offered.
A student my own age,
(last name also missing from the memory banks), also living in the dorms who was interested and even asked me to the
Sadie Hawkins (girl's choice) dance. But the chemistry just wasn't there.
I Soon met another girl,
Mary Abigail Alsop
, who lived on the floor above me in the dorm, but would watch TV in the "community room" on my floor between classes. I was
initially much more attracted to her friends than I was to her, but somehow, we became
for several months (until pressure from her parents caused her to drop out of Weber State and enroll at BYU).
My closest male friend during this time was
, or "Ted" as I called him (a recurring theme - Billy Martin had been a Ted, Earle Bartholome had been a Ted, and now Kevin was my Ted).
He was, and probably still is, a really great guy. He got married and dropped out of school after the first year.
I haven't heard from him in quite a while. Ted, if you're out there, send me an email.
Also during this time, I managed to secure a job in the business department computer lab (being a CIS/business major,
myself) to pick up a little money between classes. I made several great friends in the computer lab and learned more about computer
hardware and networks than I had in any class - it was a great experience. One of my co-workers, Kayla Hall, even assisted me
with obtaining my first post-graduate employment with 3M HIS (as a helpdesk/support guy). She probably felt sorry for me after our one
With my usual lack of timing, Wanda decided I was interesting not long before I graduated from Weber State with my bachelor's degree.
But it was too late - she was already serious with some other guy and I was still dating Abbie.
Of course, not longer after this was Abbie's unilateral decision to end out relationship.
Abbie had been working summers and
weekends at a department store, ZCMI, in Salt Lake City (where her parents lived) and after dumping me,
she took pity on me and invited me to hang out with her and her friends from work.
Having nothing better to do on a weekend evening (and still a little too hung up on Abbie), I agreed, although I was uncomfortable.
Before the gang went out, we (Abbie, Julie, Patty, Christina, Dave, Ears, myself and maybe one or two others I have forgotten) met
at Abbie's house to have some pizza. This was the first time I saw my future wife,
. She had short reddish brown hair,
big green eyes, a cute splash of freckles and a cute little figure.
To top things off, she was even more uncomfortable being there than I was. I
made every effort to amuse and engage Julie in conversation that night, but she rebuffed my every attempt.
I constantly grilled Abbie for information about Julie. I figured that since she worked "with" her and was a girl,
she would be able to get the information easily enough. It proved a daunting task - Julie was a very reserved girl.
I did eventually learn that Julie was unattached. I was shocked that such a cutie would be available and Abbie obtained
Julie's phone number for me. I called her and after a few phone conversations and surprise visits at the beauty salon
(inside the department store where she worked), I built up the courage to ask her out on a date. Our first official date
was on July 4, 1995. We went miniature golfing, had some food and went to
watch the fireworks on a hillside overlooking
the park from which the fireworks were to be launched. We talked for hours that night and Julie opened up to me and told
me a lot of surprisingly personal things.
We continued dating for three more months and then I decided that Julie was the one for me. We were engaged in September of 1995
and set the wedding date for February 3, 1996 (I graduated from Weber State in December of 1995). We saw each other every chance
we could and I couldn't wait to be married.
was a freezing Utah winter day. Our noses and cheeks were bright red from the exposure to the cold.
We eagerly moved into a one bedroom apartment in Salt Lake city and paid a whopping $400 a month for rent.
Believe it or not, this stretched our meager budget considerably.
During our time in this apartment, I changed jobs from the helpdesk/support position with 3M-HIS to become a programmer/analyst
for GE Capital Financial Services. The job paid more and allowed me to do what I really wanted to be doing - programming.
The people I worked with were great and are sorely missed. GE was a fantastic company to work for and if I hadn't heard that
all my co-workers' jobs were sent to India soon after I left, I would still regret leaving GE. One of the many fun times
with my friends at GE was Halloween - very nearly everyone was comfortable enough to dress up and have fun. My manager, Jeff Gurr,
did an impressive
, he even had the
. I also found a costume with a Star Wars theme, becoming
. We put on a
for the other geeks. "And who were the other geeks?" you ask. Well, one was Macie, who also stuck with the Star Wars theme as
. And of course, you had to get the three Star Wars geeks to
. Not everyone there was a Star Wars geek, though. You also had Chris, who was just a
. And Travis, who was a big
fan, apparently. Even the contractors got into it. Here's Suzanne, who stuck with more of a
When our first apartment's lease expired and we discovered that the rent was being raised to an unsightly $450 a month,
we sought out alternate housing and found another one bedroom apartment that was
only $400 a month with a lesser chance of rent increases. The down side was a bathroom (there was only one in the apartment) that
was smaller than most closets. The kitchen was barely bigger and had no shelving or cupboards for storage. We put a few shelves
in and made the apartment more livable...and then we discovered that our little family was about to grow from 2 to 3 members. We
started looking for a bigger place and thought that it was probably time to find a house. We finally found a place when Keli was
about 4 months old (in March of 1998).
One of the other programmers I worked with, Macie, was selling her home on the other side of town (in Kearns, a less desirable
suburb of Salt Lake City). She assisted us with our down payment and we moved into our first house.
It was a split level (4 levels) with 3 upstairs bedrooms, two bathrooms, vaulted ceilings on the main level, a huge family room,
two bedrooms on the bottom level and a two car garage with a
and Jacuzzi in the back yard.
It wasn't a bad little house and was quite liveable after we removed the cow wallpaper in the kitchen, the floral wallpaper
in the master bath, repainted, replaced the cheap plastic blinds with
, put in ceiling fans,
and enhanced the landscaping with flowers, rose bushes and even an apple tree.
Julie never felt comfortable on this side of town, though. Almost two years later, she was pregnant with our
second child and really wanted to relocate before Keli started school.
I could understand her feelings - other than our immediate neighbors, we didn't know or feel very close to
anyone in the neighborhood. So we were looking for another place on the east side of Salt Lake when I discovered that my
uncle Larry was working as a programmer for my uncle Brent's company, ADCS, in San Diego. When I discussed the possibility
of moving to San Diego with Julie, she was very enthusiastic, to say the least.
She had never lived outside of Utah and loved the San Diego area (our
I called Larry and discussed the possibility of getting a job with Brent's company.
He told me that he was desperately in need of a programmer and asked when I could start.
I was under contract (this was during the boom days for programmers, Y2K) so I had to wait a few months before I could leave GE.
As soon as I could, I put in my notice with GE and moved to San Diego.
Luckily, my cousin Joel (also an ADCS employee) had a room in his house (in Poway) that I was able to stay in, rent-free,
while Julie sold our home in Utah and had our second daughter, Emeli.
Since there seemed to be no hurry to find housing in San Diego (Julie was determined to have Emeli in Salt Lake City), I didn't
really look into the local housing market very thoroughly. When I finally did, I was amazed by how much more expensive housing was
in San Diego and how difficult it was to find anything to rent (buying was out of the question since we had lost money on the sale
of our home and had little to spare) with even two bedrooms. I was finally able to locate a two bedroom apartment that seemed
livable. The rent was more than our Utah house payment, but I was making more in San Diego, so I took it all in stride. Julie brought
the kids from Utah and we settled into our
And here I will conclude...for now.