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Jan062011

« 1991 »

With the coming of 2011, we now reach a year 20 years removed from my high school graduation year, with enough pivotal events and feelings and new experiences that some of it might crop up for contemporary reflection. It was the first year when I journaled my life. I had written smaller, one page deals for a few years prior to that, each chronicling the school year just ended. In keeping with that relatively short tradition, I wrote a journal on the day after I graduated in June, 1991. That was a rather sprawling thing that spanned something like 12-16 sheets of letter stationery. For its time, it was a huge document that might have trumped the length of any school paper I had written to date. Some of it is rather embarrassing now, but there was a good deal of it that is clearly the start of my particular style for writing long blog entries now. Telling the story of my senior year was not just a matter of telling a story of the nine months leading up to that journal; I had to tell some of my history from childhood, and particularly to trace a path from one experience with my pastor in the summer of 1987, just shortly before I entered high school. I suppose I might dig this thing out for a re-read since it did function as a turning point in my life, particularly as a way to self-reflect.

Oh, then I suppose maybe there might be something said about my trip to Europe. I am glad it happened, but it always seemed like a very engineered experience on the part of my old man, but even more so now that I have more clarity about the manipulations he made to help me finance it. It was something he always wanted me to be able to do, based on his experience doing something similar at about the same time in his life. I actually had little interest in making the trip until by total coincidence, during my senior year, I met up with a foreign exchange student, Stephan Rau, who came to my school for that year and became a great friend. We had some in-class chatter and maybe ate lunch together sometimes, but it was in the second semester in the winter-spring of 1991 when we spent time outside of school, seeing laser shows, going to races/smashemup derby, and other outings. The one that put us on the map as solid friends was an all nighter watching Monty Python movies (that were totally lost on me then) and talking till the wee hours about the sorts of inner life that had gone largely undisclosed with anyone by that age, and especially a fellow male. It was unique. Even though I had taken two years of German in school I spoke none around Steve. I could read some and had some affinity for the culture, but I had no interest in a trip to Europe until about April 1991, scant months before I actually went there in June. It was a taste of things that demanded to be sated by a return trip the following year, with a goal to spend a suitable time wrapping things up with Stephan, knowing (rightly) that it would be a long time before we saw each other again. A recent Skype call left me with some hope that he might come to the States for a honeymoon trip this year.

There is the matter of getting my second job at a Subway sandwich shop, but it was the first job I got without being a sycophantic kid at the hobby store for years before being invited to come fill in for a few months. That job at Subway was more than a few bucks for my time; maybe now I can reflect on some of the soft lessons that went along with that.

Related to Subway is my almost schizoid friendship with Matt Zuniga, whom I met there. We started out with his announcing an interest in playing drums just at the same time as I was faced with a moratorium on playing them at home in a space that could not contain the sound adequately. That led me to seeing our little drum-vocal duo as some of my first "band" and first experiences with recording and publishing—something I still understand myself to be doing in the form of podcasts and websites. Matt and I have had intense on periods and more intense off periods. Right now we're in an off period.

1991—and particularly the second half—was also a year of complicated feelings and an inner life that was in turmoil. I spent the first half of the year and then the month surrounding my European trip just about exploding with anticipation for a relationship with my then-friend Shelby. A huge reason for the ongoing journaling was to make sense of the minutiae surrounding every conversation and glance and gift that passed between us. Really, I was pretty much aware of all I needed to know about her by the end of 1991 and all the other nine years I continued on were of no real help to advance my cause. But I spilled a gallon of ink over the years trying to sort it all out and make my case in my head for how she'd be my savior.

I needed one because of the shock of being out of my world of high school. It wasn't that I was so deep within it. Usually I was just skated by or was a total wallflower, except for some transcendent experiences in my senior year. But all of a sudden, that ordered life of classes and familiar faces was a done deal. So I found the summer to be rather depressing and melancholic, particularly after coming back from Europe, and particularly after some souring times with Shelby not long after. I was trying to hang on to my place in church life, but by that time, the new independence from school, and the job demands at Subway (particularly the midnight closing hour that meant I left at 1 am) ate away at the regularity of church attendance, and by early 1992, I was sort of out of that too. What started out as a social and friendly time with Steve and some of the folks at school gave way to a downright depressing time filled with emotional distance from a lot of people, and insecurity about how to engage in my new life of Subway work as a de facto shift leader/trainer and the classes at Mesa College.

Not going out of town or out of state to attend college has always left me feeling that I didn't commit because Mesa College seemed at the time like an extension of high school work, but with fewer classes. So I took eight units, six units, nine units until I just kind of cut out after four semesters. I still don't have a degree, despite all the semesters I have taken there back in 1991-93 and from 2003-2006. I've had to rely on being a part time auto-didact and upon my good looks (!) to get by. With Mesa, it was just classes I was taking, repeating a longstanding pattern in my life of not really pursuing extracurricular life to enhance the stuff the school serves up. Selling myself short, I know.

However, a small bit of celebrity came my way when I played drums in a band for the school talent show in the spring of 1991. We played "Walk This Way" in something more like its RUN-DMC incarnation. That was a blast, and it was good for the ego to have some peers recognize me as someone to play the drums, but also for me to finally get something accomplished in the extracurricular life. It had the unintended consequence of reintroducing me to one Melissa McCain, a girl I used to know as a kid (our fathers were work buddies with a bit of neighborhood history), and who later on became my first girlfriend—a whole year and more after graduation! The breakup following in 1993 led me to some confidential and trust-building conversations with one Kelli Parrish, another girl I knew as a child...

On reflection, 1991 was a year that in some ways still resonates in interesting ways. Some of this will get unpacked over the year. I feel it.

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