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Entries in suicide (4)

Tuesday
Dec182012

On a String at the Bottom of the World +20 

My First Rebirth Day

December 18, 1992 was one of my birthdays. Or I guess we need to call it a rebirth day since it really has nothing to do with departing the body of another human being. Until a somewhat early breakfast that morning, there was a creeping depression upon me. It wasn't that depression was new. There had been some precedent, especially in the period since about two and a half years before. But at this time, it was a new thing that I began entering the dangerous thought space of suicidal ideation. Now, remember we're talking about 20 years ago when I was 19. The facts show a pretty ordinary list of happenings and life situations that are almost painfully ordinary on paper. But when one is experiencing the stuff of life that is unfamiliar, maybe without guides or a map, it can certainly be nerve racking and scary. So that period was a threshold time. The particulars are easy to name: I was going through my first couple years of community college courses with no idea what it was leading to; I was not employed and my last job went south so fast and furious it ended in a restraining order against me which was in full effect; I'd just returned from Europe in the late summer and felt rudderless because that also signified the last time I'd see my friend Steve (and so far that has been exactly the case, despite some occasional talk on the phone or Skype). The distance of dear friends and the pointlessness of schooling, and the oddness of my new "friend" Matt and our exiled drummer status all conspired. Matt, in the shadows of people who did seem to be true friends, was just too odd for the first year or so for me to feel we were friends. He was more someone to pass time with. Starting to get a bit of carnal knowledge of my first girlfriend certainly fired up feelings in this period about to be chronicled. But then finding that she was not the panacea I needed to mend all the other disruptions of life was cause for more despair.

Melissa, or, Don't Climb the Orange Tree Looking for Apples

Melissa was 16 and I turned 19 a couple months after we started going out. The fact that she was sort of a sometimes friend from childhood was always in my mind. Was this just a thing of convenience? She'd made overtures even a year or more before we got together, despite an almost insurmountable distance of .... nine miles! She came onto the scene as a girlfriend at the very end of June 1992, and with only two weeks before I went on my six-week trip to Germany, we spent an inordinate amount of time together. The events of the year or so prior led me to be really needy after so many alienating experiences. So when she came onto the scene and we had those misty eyed experiences, I was rearin' to go with it. Nevermind it was the sappiest puppy love fluff you ever saw. Dang. I was already 18! I needed something to happen. The emotional center of my trip to Germany was an odd thing, as I've written. Prior to starting with Melissa, I was singularly fixated on making the trip to make good on a promise to come back and spend a more proper period of time with my friend Steve there. But instead, once on the trip, the whole focus shifted in a big way: get back home to Melissa. I did not originally plan to be homesick. I planned to throw myself headlong into my experience in Germany. Coming back then was odd because I didn't really have a plan except to go to school and look for some work, and spend as much time exploring the world with Melissa as possible. The rest was a cloud of variables I had no comprehension of.

I came home in late August and started strong. I went to school and did pretty good work. Matt and I resumed getting out to parking garages to make drum mayhem on Sunday afternoons or at night. We even started to shift our approach to accommodate sheets of ill-executed lyrical material that at least gave us some structure and something to focus on, and then maybe laugh at upon playback of our recordings. I looked for jobs mostly because the expectation was to get some work, but I was quite distracted by Melissa and of course prioritized time with her. In nearly perfect clockwork motion, weekends from Friday afternoon till late evening on Sunday were given to her. That entailed my riding my bike three miles over to my grandparents's place to pick up the Ford, then to drive it up to Mira Mesa, nine miles from my house in the other direction. I got to keep the car at home for the weekend. But I'd go up there each weekend day—yep, three times. And each time would be filled with as much as we could wedge in, most of the time. And since I had the car, I sort of was the chauffeur for her and some friends. There were some instances of off days or other spontaneous occasions when I got up there midweek for a little mice-when-the-cats-away kind of play. I even biked up there once in the middle of the school week. So it went for a while during the fall after I returned in late August. On top of all that, there were letters and journals written to each other. The fluff factor was high. Because "these are the moments you hang on to forever," to this day I have a calendar marked with numbers reflecting how many hours we spent that day. And this went on the entire seven months and three weeks. From that, I could tell you now how many hours we spent together. Sick, eh? Teen love.

The irony is that Melissa was really kind of a closed up case who probably had ideas and words waiting to explode out of her but much of the time I found she was either in awe of my greatness (er... she wanted me that whole year before we got together, dig?) or too intimidated by her dad and other voices that encouraged her to shutup and be cute as a girl. So she liked to spend time but rarely could say what she needed to say. Some letters broke some ground but really it was quite stifled. Attempts to draw something more conversational from her were usually frustrating. She was at that point where her curiosity was leading her farther from her young girl moorings and she only had a cousin to talk to about what she should be doing with me. Her mom a bit, but obviously less so. The fact that her parents were friends of my old man (and her dad worked in the same factory as he) meant that we knew each other enough to have some history, but of course, the risk was ever that they'd talk. Her mom loved me and gave me some kind nudging in the right direction. Her dad was a no bullshit kind of guy who didn't mince his words much. Melissa obviously had to fear him. Lots of time was spent inviting her out of that fearful silence so we might have a more interesting relationship.

What all that meant was that the one person I was investing so much time into was coming to be found as kind of a dead end. She listened to me tell tales of frustration with distance and loss but she herself could not fill the gaps, even conversationally. Being only 16, her level of experience was even less than mine, so that further limited what we'd be able to cover. Her world was that of a sheltered girl's: a busy school band schedule with other extracirricular activites. Many weekends during that season she had to go to her marching band meets all over the county. I went along to many of them. It was very foreign to me but it kept us together on days otherwise occupied. Melissa was fond of fanciful, fluffy stuff and listening to all the sappy radio dedications at night on the soft rock station. She and I did our own dedications on the air, and I think that was a way for her to get something of her message across to me. But it was no less sappy, and while I played along, I always wished there to be more substance.

That Damned Television

She watched lots of TV and movies. (With that mindless habit, she set a precedent for my generally despising television, but particularly when it seems to be more important than whatever relationship I am in at the time. More outrageously for me is when the TV is on and it's not even really being watched. It's just overstimulating aural and visual noise. There are enough cases of that over the years.) The TV proved to be a major sticking point, in the way that it seemed we could never connect when it was on. And I needed connection. One journal entry recalls a sort of passive-aggressive game played with channel switching from her choice of Fox showing Married With Children and my preference for PBS. After that exchange I found it preferable to leap to and to do her family's dishes rather than be sidelined by TV. And dumb TV at that. I even went to talk to her mom in the other room...about math. As the fall season went on and I didn't find work within biking distance, and all those weekends felt like sugar highs and their resultant crashes when I could have used some protein to sustain me. My mood shifted downward. With the march of time I felt like we should be getting more physical if we weren't going to be having great and profound conversations. I was 19 after all. She was willing to tease me some but then retreated. She was 16 after all. So for all the time spent there, on one level or another did not meet my needs.

It seems that season of 1992 started to disabuse me of the lofty ideas I had of what a romantic life would bring. I mean, popular culture paints a pretty picture of it all, and while we had our fluffy expressions of fondness, at least doing it in a paint-by-numbers kind of way, I was finding that the kind of relationship I was longing for was not going to come from anyone three years my junior, particularly with her set of interests. I think it was the onset of this realization that started to take me downward more than I tended to. For all the time prior to Melissa, the imagination of some kind of love relationship was free to wander, unmoored to reality. The lofty visions of what might be possible with Shelby, for example—a smart, engaged and socially aware peer of mine (only nine days younger, even) —were met with a dawning reality that Melissa, the consumate couch potato and homebody with little girl dreams—would be only a way point on the road toward something deeper and more fulfilling. On the surface, frustration might have been because of the pent up 19 year old male energy to get laid and being "stuck" with a girl who wasn't going there yet and who could barely be persuaded to shut off the TV and be present in the relationship that she herself pined for, but who kept feeding a bit of carnal experience out then withdrawing. But seeing the journals now, it's quite evident that far bigger issues were trying to be met and enacted but with a partner who had utterly no ability to do so, if only because her life experience was as sheltered as mine, and a few years less, at that. The discord between us was barely understandable and I got to acting out some things that later on proved to be patterns that needed addressing, and some I'm ashamed to say, persist when I wish they wouldn't.

The Revolving Door of Friends

I never really bonded with anyone for the long term while taking classes at Mesa. Having no more than three classes at once kept the frequency and repetition of encountering people somewhat low. Since people there were no longer my peers from within a few miles of my house, there was little chance of crossing paths with these new classmates. In the same way, there was no history to draw upon. I liked school well enough but obviously I waited for it to be over with so I could get back to Melissa or to my silly songs and playing drums. I didn't retain much connection with anyone from high school either. But by the end of 1992, the social patterns were disrupted enough and that caused concern. It felt like someone else's life I was leading when confronted with my new options.

The life I'd grown to like included pursuing Shelby, despite her being so fickle and doing such a thing as returning a couple years' worth of letters to me in February 1992 for crossing her sense of moneylending decorum. Obviously, the pursuit of Shelby had to be put on hold while with Melissa. But that felt odd to me, and sometimes I resented that Shelby got a little too excited for me and Melissa hooking up, for that was to mean that she was demonstrating some relief that I'd not be able to pursue her. Shelby herself was in northern California by then and so the physical distance was then, as usual, a bar to doing much with Shelby anyway, even as friends.

Matt was a newcomer as of a year before and certainly a wildcard but shortly after my trip to Germany he had expressed some sentiment that we might be becoming friends—maybe because he was finding some home strife and he was eyeing the spare bedroom at my house just in case he needed an out. Since we didn't work together any longer, most of our time was spent somehow linked to Rhythmic Catharsis. We had one of those kinds of mutually abusive "friendships" but he weathered things better than I did, at least outwardly. I didn't always know what to make of it. Was it good natured ribbing that he was pulling on me, or worse? And some of the things he did to be antisocial... oy!

Returning from Germany was a troublesome thing because it closed up the in-person friendship with Steve. Once a fellow student (exchange) at my school, doing fun things and gettting to know each other on weekends for a semester, and chumming at school, that was now all over with, particularly after two trips to Europe. Who knew where the future would lead, but to this date, we've not seen each other in person since then. He is an intelligent, articulate, and balanced male peer of mine who also demonstrated perhaps the best openness of them all. (Funny, during the writing of this entry, Steve called me completely out of the blue. I can't recall talking to him for two years. He'll later make my point behind this entry.)

The Old Man

In scanning my journal from the period, I was rather surprised to have penned the following about my old man on October 5th, 1992:

I woke up. William gave me shit. Like usual. I asked him for an allowance for food. He gave me a lecture on getting a job. He just doesn't listen to me. Or if he does, it means so little. Or he reinterprets it to mean I'm stupid or whatever. After two or three tries, I just lost out on the allowance, and certain grocery items he doesn't like me to have. And I got the job lecture anyway. God, I hate it when he tells me that everything I know is wrong. I'm out of money [I find that a bit much, but Europe and months of unemployed time did wear things down] and all he's worried about is making a return in his motorcycle seat business [something he bought in early 1989 from his friend who made the company name, but that was never maintained enough to be more than an also-ran in the business]. Bullshit! He's got to pay himself off before he's going to help me. Maybe he'd rather not have my help. Does he deserve it? If he won't support me in something so simple as eating, should I help him? I'm almost getting to the point where I'd like to leave this ouse, perhaps in favor of my grandparents' house, where at least I'd be needed [ironic I'd say this since I used to be rather mercinary in helping them so I could borrow the car so regularly]. And it would almost be convenient. At any rate, I'm tired of being less than I am. Maybe I'm not much, but do I need to be told so? Can he encourage me rather than tell me I'm all wrong? And he also is trying to restrict me from using the car.

In 1992, I didn't yet know how some of those same things would play out over the years in ways that seem even more savage. At the time it was just maddening. Who was he to obstruct me in such ways? I watched him do a poor job of keeping a business even in his chosen field of interest. It was a precedent for watching the things he did as a landlord, driving me to more complete madness a decade later, while I indeed did live in my grandparents' house, having moved there and for some years feeling he held no sway over my housing. This habit he has of outright declaring things "wrong" to my face—stuff that interests me, that I enjoy—has been around for a long time and always came wrapped in a rather smug delivery style. And this talk about wishing he might just encourage me is nothing new, either. By the time I wrote this entry, the various ways he tried to get me to think of music as "just a hobby" and not as something worth my total devotion, were already well despised. Here I am these 20 years later and that damned voice still buzzes my ears like a fly I can't kill but that I keep swatting at. Sad as I know all you kind people would say it was, it's been the gift that kept on giving. And yet, for all his talk about education and "you can never learn too much," and other such talk and other admonitions to get a real job, he never saw fit to actually finance my schooling at a level beyond Mesa. These days, with such sickening comments to reflect on, it's easy to see how such crap kept things destabilized just enough. He could cast just enough doubt to weaken trust and thwart enthusiasm.

Drifting from the Woman who Loves Me

In another ripple, it was also becoming harder and harder to spend the time I spent with my grandmother, indulging in talk of life and relationships. With the unfolding events with Melissa especially, I found myself not able to let her in on the big news of my life. My grandmother, while as much of a confidant as I ever had, was 64 years older than I was. She was conservative but tolerant. It's hard to say what mind I had about reporting to her about Melissa. Maybe it was so simple as to expect that she knew what kinds of things would be entailed. Or maybe I realized well enough she might cast some disapproval upon the news of getting familiar with a girl so young. At any rate, this certainly began a period of increasing opacity. At that time, it might have been harmless, but in retrospect of course, that worked against us in later events. So I lost that vital connection with the one woman left in my family, and the one person who did not talk in doublespeak and sarcasm and did not rely on intimidation by a chosen word or look in the eye. I guess that's just the agony of growing up and getting oneself formed by the other things in the world. With the creeping depression, it would seem foolish to have not kept transparent and honest about how life was going. Major loss not welcoming input from her.

Distance from Church Life

Having been at some distance from church for about a year or more by the time this depressive episode was taking hold of me, I was at some loss, at least relative to the days when I used to be a regular participant. Work at Subway put the first crack in the wall when schedules overflowed on Saturday nights and kept me up way too late to get sleep and feel like getting to church on Sunday. And of course, if there were other things at church, scheduled later in the evenings on most any day, I passed that up for the newfound earning potential. It was a sad trade but certainly a needed misstep to ultimately shape the course of later, more redeeming events. Then, after Subway, it was just a period of drifting, and then Europe, and then Melissa. All that was the stuff of distraction from living among folks who at the time often demonstrated a lot more love and acceptance than the home life I knew. My journal tells me that in November I went to the first Shalom group meeting since January. That group was one I helped to found and for a while was the safe spot where those of us in high school tried to share and make sense of our evolving lives and struggles. (It was in that group where I got to know something of Kelli when she joined in 1990.) No doubt that staying away from that group helped isolate me, but since I was a graduate, I was nearly aging out of the group, and so it wasn't impossible to reason being gone. But in retrospect, I really could have used that setting to voice my increasing concerns.

Unmasking the Evidence of Despair

I was feeling pretty lost as the end of 1992 approached. My journal from November 26 that year was brief and to the point in one of the purest expressions probably found to that point. In giant scrawling, I wrote: "I hate this fucking life!!! and no one seems to understand it." And then, in my usual way, I went on for a few pages in some detail. (All were very original thoughts, I know. I suffered alone, yup.) Melissa and I had gone to the mountains one cold autumn day and I was feeling I should get out and just do some primal screaming. Maybe even she would like to do so herself. But at the stop we made, she retracted and we stayed in the car. The placid exterior that passed for my default identity was chipping and cracking. Melissa started to register some fear at what my various mood swings and talks were pointing to. The same journal from November 26 was grappling with what later was known as the shadow and feeling that the masks I'd worn for others must come off. Melissa would be one of the first to see the new, hurting, angry, confused me. It was the first real identity crisis. Not knowing who I was of course made it hard to articulate what I needed. It made it hard to see any role I might play as being worthwhile. Around this time, I had written a poem that bore the title of this blog post, trying, in fewer words than usual, to capture my feelings. The medium was only starting to become appealing to me. All of us who have passed that point can probably chuckle at how worked up one gets during those times. But at the time, those are the biggest questions. The darkest places. The mightiest challenges. In spiritual language now available to me, it's the agony of new birth into something else. Back then, maybe it would have done some good if someone stuck a copy of Catcher in the Rye before me.

Crisis of Faith

Perhaps the only safe harbor I had wasn't with family. It wasn't with a girlfriend. It wasn't in a work life. It wasn't even my "friends" such as they were then. It wasn't church, per se, but it did turn out that I'd need to call upon figures from church who had looked after me before and had a bigger picture for me to fit within. I did go to church with great regularity for the period of mid 1989 into early 1991. I say it was with "regularity" because it'd be misleading to say I went "religiously." That's because in the church setting where I went there was a very heady atmosphere that is still apparent these days, but more so then when certain figures were present and a certain dynamic formed around them. The effect was particularly notable because the pastor, Jerry Lawritson, has often been seen as intellectual in his liberal theology. At any rate, as a teen I barely understood a word he said but knew he had my back from some very key pastoral moments. He surely thought of the Shalom community in part because he saw need from some of us in high school who had deeper streams of concern than could be let to see the light of day in regular activities around church.

His associate pastor, Judy Slaughter, arrived on the scene at the same time in the mid 80s. She was a gregarious, attentive presence in my life. Early on she picked up on discord that I was far from being able to articulate and she let me tell it to her straight. Better still, she responded straight. Over time, the two of them operated in loving ways to nudge me along in a better direction as living in a home with just a dominating father and having recently met my mother for the first time, with the struggles that accompanied that reunion after the party favors were put away. They knew my dark side before I knew it and tried to hedge against it with only some help from my grandmother.

I was not really a believer even in the better times, and by this period, I made an early declaration that I was having a crisis of faith and starting to get nihilistic. I saw others' faith turning up good fruit, but I was not able to see it myself. Or maybe I was expecting the the apple while climbing the orange tree? Yet, in the same journal from late on Thanksgiving Day, I did express thankfulness for Melissa's family's taking me in (one time even letting me stay over when things got real hot and testy at home with the old man), and even her aunt's contribution of $10 when at the time I understood her to not really have a lot to give. (Years later, a picture emerged of her life then: living in a part of town known for being a meth alley, some notable dental issues, and then some talk from other sources, I came to think she might have been embedded in that scene. Hard to say for sure, but in my journal from December 14, 1992, she and I had talked about all sorts of things for hours and with regard to my jobless state, she offered help if it meant "lying, cheating, or stealing." Hmmm...) The last part of the paragraph ends with:

I'm not used to that generous behavior. They may not be saints but they all have warm hearts and take care of people when they can, even if they shouldn't. They treat me like one of their own. That's about all I have to be thankful for.

Even a few lines like that, following the lines above them, show what a confusing world it was then. Was that all I had to be thankful for? Was that not something pretty nice, for which I ought to give thanks? Such nuances were far from my mind then. Even now, I find myself in similar situations.

An interesting thing happens in my journals from time to time. I might write one of those despairing messages one time and then not write for a few days or weeks, maybe feeling I said all there was to say. And then the very next entry would start with some disclaimer kind of message announcing "what a difference a day makes." And then an entry would flow, celebrating all sorts of inversions and pleasant surprises and developments that somehow renewed me since the entry before. That has been the push and the pull of life for me for a long time. I suppose it's that way with everyone else. But I didn't really see it. It was just confusion. It took someone else to interpret such a thing in a way that I could digest.

Jerry and Judy to the Rescue

For the time I was involved extensively at church, I was a big participant in life there. In some ways, that might be far more evidence of meaningful belief than just intellectual assent to theological ideas. All that tended to be over my head, but I felt that in that community at that time, I was welcomed and offered an alternative path to get through the minefield of adolescence. Calling on that sense that there is some alternative to the world I knew, by the time December 18 rolled around and I was feeling at the end of my string at the bottom of the World, I called and asked if Jerry and Judy could give me some time to vent and seek some counsel. I met with Jerry for lunch on December 4th but don't have any record of what was taken from that meeting.

On December 7th, 1992, I got an hour to talk to Judy and I'm sure I spilled all the frustrations and internal mayhem before her. The journal says it was a day of some great relief, particularly since Judy was a real trusted person. Taking in all this mess I poured out, she used the word "depression" to sum it up. While I might have used the word before that, I suspect for me to have written it down, it would suggest that for a trusted adult to use it meant I felt validated, even if it was just in naming the beast. She had some things to offer as ways to meet it. Getting a job of any sort would help put the brakes on the emotional slide. It didn't have to be career stuff, just something to give shape to life, get some independence back, get out of the spiraling thoughts.

After being kind of a Subway snob and trying to get a job at any of the very few stores I could readily ride to from either school or home, but not being able to on account of being sort of blacklisted from the restraining order put on me by the Levys, I had to look at other options. In mid December, I paid a visit to the Jack In The Box on Genessee, perfectly between school and home. The Subway snob in me declared it unclean and beneath me, otherwise there was no reason not to have applied any time in the several months prior. Who knew that some clown would end up saving my life?

Let's not get ahead of the story here. This is pretty much why this entry was written, anyway. 

The record shows that December 15-16 reached a pretty low point where I was getting the first ideations of suicide. Apparently a friend of Melissa's had done the deed a week or so before and that sort of paved the way for me to ruminate and entertain such ideas myself. It was probably abusive but it was inevitable that I'd have to let Melissa in on this. This opened up a testy but revelatory conversation with her. In some ways, it might be seen as the first with that kind of honesty, forcing aside the puppy love which had become by then so nauseating to be surrounded with. She said she'd hate me if I went through with taking my life. That didn't register, especially since the six months before was all about loving me, blah, blah, blah. She couldn't really handle the talk and sort of froze up. I later heard she turned to some other dude, a mutual friend of her suicidal friend, for some ear time. For my part, I even found that a bit of a breakthrough with Matt took place when I let him in on what I was feeling and experiencing.

I at least had the sense to call Jerry and ask if we could get together with Judy. The next day, we did get together for breakfast at the Broken Yolk, a popular breakfast joint not far from the church. It was sort of like the paramedics arrived on the scene to defib and resuscitate me. These were two of the people for whom I had the most respect and trust. For them to take such an interest in my life has always registered in a big way with me. Both had recently been briefed on my increasingly confused and fragile state, and surely part of the morning was given to the latest news and confused perspective I bought that day.

Jerry in particular, being a pastor, knows the world hurts. He'd see it from working with his people for days after weeks after months after years. But his philosopical background and his interests in the massively disruptive 20th century and his "Jewish soul" no doubt give him profound insight into the kind of mental anguish that is the hallmark of our time. Since he realizes the world is plenty messed up, he doesn't need to be surprised to find it at the more granular level of the individual. I suspect to know the darkness like he seems to, he must surely have his own brushes with such existential despair. One can't just know what this is about having read it in books alone. Most of this I found out about him years later. At the time, I thought he just knew this because he was a pastor. Jerry got his place as pastor in no small part because he was asked why he should be the guy to pastor the church. He replied that he was a good listener. And so I could vouch for that, time and time again. A day like that Friday at the Broken Yolk is as important as it is not because anyone rolled up his or her sleeves and got to work under the hood of my life, but that he and Judy took the time to really listen and help me get things out of my head. But on a day like that, when the talk of suicidal ideation is more than garden variety downer talk, they needed to do more than listen.

Judy was always able to bring the down-to-earth, friendly, nearly motherly approach to her work. She had been ordained more recently while serving the church, and so people like me and our youth group were part of her educational and formational experiences as a professional. I probably gave her more than my share, but she was ever keen on helping any way she could and always was very appreciative of my trusting her to help.

The takeaway lessons that came from that day were perhaps few in number but great in import. All the things I said were validated and I felt heard. A great lesson from the day was one that I don't seem to have learned anywhere prior. Jerry said suicidal ideation is one thing, and perhaps far more common and normal than anyone lets on. He wanted me to know that to hurt is to be human, and to not wish that away. He cautioned that when that hurt is not accepted and aired is when things go tragically wrong. To hurt is human. It means one is alive and sensitive to the world. It's not a fault or a shortcoming. People who don't feel, don't hurt. But that's not the human lot. What he did want to clarify is that while the agony of existence is great, to snuff oneself is a selfish act, one that forfeits a hard won position of resistance against all that darkness that is already so prevalent and ready to move in on those who don't remain vigilant. It's as if to say "all hands are needed on deck for this life."

Another major lesson was just that if we take life as a book (where we simply can't skim ahead), we just don't know what the next page will bring. Or the next chapter. Well, hasn't that been the truth? Yeah, kid, what a difference a day makes. I left the breakfast with a renewed spirit, thanks to a steroidal dose of empathic listening, encouragement, advice, and a lot of love.

The Clown that Saved My Life

It wasn't merely abstract talk. The lesson of "what a difference a day makes" was about to be embodied in the day itself. Just the day before our breakfast meeting, I'd gone to Jack in the Box and after applying there got a callback with an interview offer for later on the 18th—hours after the breakfast wound up and left me with more determination to engage in life. I had thoughts about how the interview would go. Probably some question about why I wanted to be there, etc. What would I say? Since this was really the first job interview that seemed normal after the first two jobs I had, each with their own oddball ways of getting hired, how much of my life would need coverage? What if they found out I was depressed? Does that help or hinder? I'm sure when I got there it was far simpler than I would allow it to be in my head, and certain questions were to get certain answers and that's that. I got lucky. They had expressed at some point later on that they were looking for a friendly looking, white, native English speaker for their counter/register work. I got the job. What a difference a day makes.

So it wasn't the job that launched me on a glorious career in management at a major fast food company. Nope. I worked there for about a month, starting just the week following the booster breakfast. The five weeks that I did work there seemed rather lighter, like life was okay. Then the national e. coli scare happened and the company pared back their crews, and guys like me with no seniority were given several weeks off during the entire month of February. I would ride by to check in a couple times a week. And when I did get back, I was in there for a month or so and then with no real back up plan but feeling at some distance from the life I had when I started there, I turned in my notice sometime in April. Yeah, the job was not career stuff but it did do what I needed it to do: give me something to fill time, get some money for a while, start to see life differently. After a few weeks off, I happened upon another Subway that I could get to if I drove. I applied and got that job and it launched me into yet another major phase of life. But that's for another journal.

During that period of the layoff from Jack's, Melissa and I broke up and I was pretty torn up about that but not so much that I turned back to my despair before December 18. It was dark, but the lessons resonated in me: who knew what the next page brought?

As if to Prove the Point

This is a bit of a distraction from the core of the story about how fuggin' depressed I was at the end of 1992, but it makes a good point. Consider this. Just at the end of the year, in the last few days, I got a new boombox that featured a dual cassette player/recorder and a simple input for a microphone. In only a week, Matt and I went out to play some Rhythmic Catharsis songs out in our favorite parking garage. I took that boombox along and got a sound that surpassed what I ever had. And then most especially, the day after we did that, my life changed. It changed because for the first time, I was able to bounce the tape we made while adding new sounds of some additional percussion instruments and some voices. It wasn't what is properly known as overdubbing but it accomplished the layering of sound that gets you to the same place. That then was the bug that bit me, drawing me into the world of recording. For at least the next ten years from that point on, recording and creating music was a huge part of what I felt I was. The past ten years a bit less so but I still do it, and really, I have to say it was from that early time, just a couple weeks after I thought I was spent on life.

Keep turning the page. Keep turning those corners...

Tuesday
Apr202010

Walter

Oh, man of mighty intellect
Oh, man with the brain
Oh, man with all the answers
Oh, man in silent pain

If you were only half the man you thought you were
With only half a brain
There’d still be plenty enough to go around
Then half as much again

But now we see you’ve gone away
By some oddly ordained plan
The hole that’s left’s an unholy one
Shaped wholly by one man

Sad the way this open mind
Somehow has failed to see
What life awaits just steps ahead
Life that won’t ever be…

Oh man with brains that go on for days
And laughter just the same
There’s more to life than intellect
But I’ve no chance now to explain

Sunday
Apr182010

Walter

IDONTUNDERSTANDTHEDEATHOFAMANWHOWASSOSMARTANDHADSEEMING
LYSOMUCHGOINGFORHIMBUTCOULDNOTACCEPTALIFETHATINVOLVEDAFAULT
YBRAINLOTSOFPEOPLEHAVEFAULTYBRAINSBUTDONOTBRINGTHEJOYTHATYO
UDIDANDTHATYOUWOULDHAVEBROUGHTEVENWITHHALFABRAINBECAUSES
OMANYPEOPLEWORKWITHSOMUCHLESSBUTWESOMEHOWLOVETHEMANYWA
YBECAUSEGODSEEMSTOLOVEPEOPLENOMATTERHOWTHEYAREMADEORMOD
IFIEDBECAUSEGODISLOVEANDJESUSISMERCYANDTHESPIRITISGRACEAND
WENEEDTHEMALLTOLIVEORELSEWEHAVENOTHINGTOLIVEFOREVENTHOUGH
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SEVENIFTHATMARKISNOWAHOLECUTOUTLIKEACOOKIECUTTERSTAMPONO
URHEARTSANDNOMILKCANSOOTHTHEHURTFORSOMANYOFUSAREINPAINT
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OTINCHARGEOFTHINGSANDSOOFTENTHINKWEAREWEJUSTARENOTORELS
EWEMIGHTDOSOMETHINGCARELESSORFOOLISHORDESTRUCTIVELIKETHI
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EARTSARELIKEMEATBALLSANDALLWEREALLYWANTEDWASTOSITANDLAUG
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SEITISSOBIGANDGRANDWECANTCOMPREHENDITALLNEITHERDOESANYO
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OFTHESTRUGGLETOSURVIVETHISMORTALCOILTHATYOUSHUFFLEDOFFOF
BEFOREYOURTIMEWASUPMAKINGUSLAUGHANDCRYBUTCRYWEDIDTODAY
YOUSHOULDHAVESEENITBUTIFYOUHADYOUWOULDHAVEBEENTHEREWIT
HUSANDTHATWOULDHAVEMADEITALLREALLYUNNECCESARYWOULDNTIT?

Wednesday
Jun121991

Life At The Top

The following is where my introspective journal writing career started. I am posting this exactly 20 years to the day after I first wrote it on a small pad of paper on the day following my graduation from high school. I had been so surprised at the stream-of-consciousness recollection of thoughts and feelings and memories that within the next week and a half, I typed it on my word processing typewriter. (It had about two lines of text viewable before committing to ink, and a bad set of punctuation keys that didn't actually register the mark properly so periods and other marks I had to put in by hand.) I gave that typed copy to a few people mentioned in the journal. What I didn't realize when I did this new transcription of this entry was that the manuscript and the typed version were rather different. I was working from the typed one and only found after all but a page or two that I really should have used the original! I immediately set about reviewing and fixing things so they more closely resemble the manuscript. However, since it was pretty sloppy and written so fast, there are a range of small fixes I decided to implement, but the spirit of the original was reinstated, even as it is sometimes rather unflattering. I was surprised at how much the typed version deviated from the manuscript: cleaner and better structured at times, but there were some notably distorted parts that I wanted to bring back. Interesting to see how much of my present concerns or insights were in place at this early date. There are a few [bracketed editorial marks] to fill in some of the incomplete references, but pretty much this is what I wrote that day. Pictures that appear here might be found in the Skool Daze gallery, with even more notes. Thumbnails here will pop up upon clicking.

scan of the original manuscript of my first epic journal entryLife at the Top original manuscript

June 12, 1991

("The Day After the End of My Life")

Dear Reader,

I've given it much thought, what it is I've felt so good about in the past few months that should so compel me to want to pass it on. I am a very reflective person, some would say, who is living in the past. But with a past such as mine, who can't help but appreciate the present and look forward to the future?

I've never experienced a turnaround quite like that of my transition into high school, and later, my senior year at Madison. I've had so many people tell me what a change they have seen in me. (99% is for the better.) I usually think a great deal. I began thinking some two years ago about an event that happened some four years ago, about a month before I began high school. I had been a less-than-desirable person to know until that point. Looking back, I can see in 20/20 that what went on one August day on the grass at a church picnic was nothing short of incredible. And who knows? Maybe an act of God? Let me tell you about it. Inevitably it will be very detailed and nebulous as I try to make a connection of two in this, my little record of my thoughts.

I was never too well liked by many people. I was the type who could draw dissent. I was the opposite of charismatic, whatever that might be. I was making wrong turns at every corner. I imagine it was a leftover from elementary school experiences. I just did many things that made me disliked. Comments, actions, and so on. That day in '87 at Crown Point, I had been up to my usual mischief, being myself. I was being reckless on my bike around people, perhaps even endangering them. At the same time I had to choose between having "headgear" or having teeth pulled as part of orthodontic work. (As it was, I opted originally for pulling teeth.) I didn't want to wear headgear for the simple reason of the looks of it (certainly not at high school!) and for all the embarrassment that was sure to follow. Anyhow, everyone suggested to go the headgear route and take a little embarrassment. So I decided to take it up with Jerry in a talk. Well, to make a long story longer, I'll say that the problem with my attitude and my orthodontic decision came together that day.

scan of my report cards from 8th grade to 9th, with a wild upward shift evidentMy grades from 8th grade to 9th grade... notice the radical changeJerry took me aside to talk to me about my concerns over the headgear, as well as to tell me that he'd gotten a few complaints and/or suggestions about what directions my attitude about things was going. Needless to say, much got said that day. I can't remember what we talked about, but when we were done it was clear that something in me had changed.

Upon entering ninth grade, I had noticed a change. I had my braces, my headgear and a refreshed attitude toward some people. The thing that comes mind was a personality change that had come over me. Granted, there was some old me lingering, but I had a new chance to do things. The most noticeable change was my grades, which had been in places I had never seen. And the grades continued on the way up. I got some respect from people. I'll be back to this…

Quickly skimming through school...

shelby duncan in one of her goofy i-can't believe-i-am-with-ed-in-this-pic posesAll I needed to know about Shelby, I knew by my graduationOne of the other important people in my life is Shelby Duncan. Shelby is one of the most important people in my life, and one who I love very much. She was a major trauma [sic—people have asked me about this word but I knew what I was talking about] in my life. Life hasn't been the same since the night that I met her. December 18, 1988 was a turning point. If 8/5/87 was my entry into learning to be better liked, 12/18/88 was the night that taught me how to love. Arguably so, but I think June '89 wouldn't have happened if I didn't meet Shelby.

Shelby is the one girl that is my age that I loved the day I met her and continue to love. My love for her isn't for the way she looks. There are other places I could go to find better looking girls. Shelby is…Shelby, and I love her for it. She is a good person. I will always remember when we met, and under what circumstances. I'll remember what we did and talked about; how I felt; how inspired I was in a sea of insecurity. I could see that what went on that night was the start of a new chapter for me. The strangest thing is that she seemed to take an interest in me, which is what we all need. We talked about much. I told her things about myself that next to no one could have known. It was an amazing, free feeling. Something I had never been able to manage was actually communicating (a basic human necessity) with people my own age. Now there was not a problem with it. I miss those older days when we first met. There were some disappointments and more than a year went by before we actually talked like that, person-to-person, via AT&T. In February of '90 I expressed my concern for our friendship. We began to be able to talk seriously once again and in doing so, cleared some air.

Shelby (God, I love that name!) returns love in strange a strange manner. Shelby, to me, is one of those people whose love doesn't come back in what might be thought of as a usual way. Shelby is one of those people who makes you feel good about yourself—gives you confidence just by knowing her. It's all weird. Hard to explain. Sometimes it seems as if it's one-sided but now and then we in some way reaffirm our friendship for each other.

I know that in tenth grade, another change over me. I'm not sure if I should attribute it all to Shelby. Maybe, but we'll let historians figure it out. (Me, in five years!) [That's actually part of the original entry!] I'll return to Shelby for the section on 12th grade.

ed at drums, 1989My first drumset, dug out of the corner where it sat for five years

Eleventh grade was an improvement on tenth, but still had more shocks in store. I went into 11th grade with two significant things having taken place: I went in 100% dependent on church and its activities (church junkie). I also made the transition away from building plastic models to enjoying music and playing it (mind, I wasn't very good). I had been pounding around on the drums and got hooked on the stuff. People gave me more respect.

I took morality seriously. I also gained insight into peoples' actions because I was involved with people. I had personal problems that surfaced. I became much more human than before. I got acquainted with emotions. It was a growth-ful time. The summer of '90 was stressful, to say the least. I had been depressed since May that year. Problems with work, boredom at church and church activities, other people's bad news at Shalom group, routine… it was all getting me down and I didn't have an outlet for it. The car accident on August 1st and the resulting tension in the family wasn't helpful. Everything ganged up on me at once, including problems with my dad. It all got me down. I wondered about suicide. I wondered if I could keep all this stuff with me. I talked it over with Jerry and I came out ahead once again. I guess I felt detached from my church, see how much time I'd lost by being at work. Looking back, if I had seriously considered the other side, I'd have missed so much and I can't bring myself to consider what would not have happened if I did kill myself. All I can say is that summer '90 sucked and I came out a wiser person. business card to the command post store where I workedThe Command Post where I worked my first jobYes, I lost my job, but it really wasn't for me any longer. I never thought I'd say this, but I didn't appreciate life until I got back into school. Let me tell about 12th grade.

TWELFTH GRADE!!! I can't believe it. All of it was incredible. I wasn't a dynamic year [with the heaves and sighs of the prior year], but it showed off for the first time what I could do and be. It wasn't dynamic; it was awesome. Twelfth grade started for me when I got the senior pictures taken. It was then that I realized what I could do as a senior. It foreshadowed what '90-'91 would become for me. After canceling the session twice earlier in the summer, I finally went in late August. And I'm happy I did. The experience itself was one to make me happy. I walked out of the studio with a smile (a leftover from the session). I finally felt the urge to do the things my dad told me to do…that is, to get involved. I never denied how much better things would be if I was active in school. a respectable pic from my senior poses. sorry for the glasses. the drum was nice and new thoughOne of the posed shots that came out pretty alrightI just made excuses. In my senior year, I decided there would be no more of that. I walked into a world of things and feelings that had been unseen, and unexperienced by my senses. Let me try to describe 12th grade.

I started it with an enthusiasm that I imagine all seniors have. It was the "last year" attitude. The Senior Ego, if you will. Whatever it is, I caught draft of it. In class, I became more assertive and too more risks than before. Big risks—like talking to people and being myself. The best part of it was that I didn't feel insecure about doing it. I became much more outgoing for the better. I met new people and older acquaintances became closer. I lost a great deal of my fear of people. school newspaper with article on the new exchange studentsTALON article on the incoming exchange studentsOn the first week or so, I met Stephan Rau. He is (was) a German exchange student. I didn't get to know him well until February. In the mean time, we talked and got to know something of each other. I didn't give it much thought that he'd become one of my closest friends, and I his. I'll return to Stephan in more detail. How couldn't I?

Back in class, I became more assertive and took more risks than usual. They were risks such as talking to people, answering questions, being myself and being proud of it. Basically I became much more outgoing. I met new people and became closer to older acquaintances. I lost fear of people. a progress report from journalism class with a rather undignified C- grade and a needs improvement mark for citizenship. also mentions making some trouble in the editing roomI wasn't always the objective journalist you see before you...Accidentally I became a member of the school paper, the TALON. Also accidentally I ended up on the drum line, until the season was canceled. I joined the Future Educators of America group out of an interest in becoming a teacher, partially inspired by my third grade teacher, Mrs. Charlotte Eastland.

I remember one night in the first week of the senior year (September 2, 1990), when I laid awake thinking until 2 am. I must have thought about a million things. I know I had history and its importance on my mind, inspired by government teacher, Mr. Steinmetz. I thought about love: who I love; who loves me; how it can touch you. I thought about how insincere relationships are. I thought of so many things I wanted to say. I also thought of my past, of Eda, whom I love very much and how I've been touched by her love. [We were in clandestine, secret correspondence around this time, and reunited openly early in 1992.]

Once I got up the next day, I made it a point to confront Mrs. Eastland with the idea of passing my thoughts onto her kids. She and I talked for a few hours one day after school. She and I talked about things for hours that day. Eastland has made a bigger mark on me in a few days than the year that I was in her class! It was another one of those talks—one that gives you the strength to do anything, and anything less is criminal. It was so inspiring that I'd feel bad if I didn't do my damnedest to live up to their hopes. I had felt so good that others had sincere confidence in me. The talk never happened in the classroom but I dropped in on my days off to help out in class. I enjoyed working with the fourth graders. I've always been a person who looked up to role models and I fully understand how important it is to kids to have one. I wanted to much to become one, and to pass along what's been given to me.

In the real world, I was enjoying sharing my Rush or Jethro Tull. I was somewhat proud of seeing my work in the TALON. Drums Across California (DAC) taught me a little about drumming before the instructor dropped it on account of people goofing off. All my other classes were okay. Computer class sucked but I became a minor cult figure in there, as in others. Teacher Mary Wavrik was a bitch, but hey! She's entitled to be. Math I had to work on, with a lot of Phil Calabrese's help. Government class was a great experience. I was about #3 in the class and many looked up to me, which is a great feeling for those who don't get that kind of treatment often. Mr. Steinmetz is a care-full teacher who has a great deal of love for his students and wants to see them succeed. He is well liked and I'd rank him one of the top three teachers I've had, if not #1. If I ever become a teacher, I'd like to be like him. This is the class in which I met Stephan. We both think Steinmetz is the best teacher.

steve rau at dinner the night before graduation. handsome fellow, he.Steve RauRight now I am finding it hard to go not telling what a great year I had without mentioning and indeed telling about Stephan Rau. So much happened after I became acquainted with him that it is not easy to not say anything about him.

In a sea of superficiality, there lie islands of sincerity that lie uncharted. A friend. None of us can do without one. This what I discovered, and wondered how I ever got along without one. I found out what it is to have and to be a friend.

Stephan helped bring out the best in me. He is like Shelbdweeb (sic) in that I could be completely at east and be much more relaxed. I felt good by just knowing he was there. Happily we became good friends…well, in one night. For most of the first semester, having him over at lunch and stuff like that. I told him about my experience taking German class and all that stuff. I told him that I'd be sure to go see a movie or laser show with him, etc. Except I had no transportation [he lived about seven miles away in Tierrasanta] so nothing got done. Sadly we lost some valuable time. (My name, Edward "procrastination" Loring Lucas.") That seems to be my life story but as is my senior year, I made the best of what I had. Fortunately, not too late. Finally I decided that time was being wasted and I would not let that happen. His American stay was nearly half over and all I did was make lame excuses. Over the five or six months that we really became better friends, we've do so many things it's unbelievable. We've seen movies, laser shows, races, car shows, Balboa Park, Seaport Village, Julian. Pacific Beach… so much it's hard to believe. And that's only scratching the surface. That's only the things we've done. Talking with him is as easy as talking to Shelby, if not easier.

Thinking back to one Sunday in February—the 17th—I can remember when I realized Stephan would become one of my closest friends. It was completely amazing. I am rarely at ease quite like I was that day. We talked about everything under the sun. We spoke of religion (which I rarely talk about), friendship, love, God, spontaneity, education, intimidation, music, not having a mother, family, careers, life, philosophy (our own), and the list goes on and on. As you can infer, anytime you can talk like that to someone about all that, you're bound to become close. We talked about things we've never mentioned to others before. Of course, we were stuck for something to say the next day, but there was a bond very well established.

One of the most noticeable qualities about our friendship has been that when I am with him, I can do anything. I'm not scared. We functioned like a team. Sidekicks. I was confident. We became like brothers and began to think alike. He was something of a brother to me. But more than a brother. Knowing him freed me from a binding shell that kept me to myself. I'm not sure whether I would have been able to free myself. It was something I'm not sure if I could have broken out of. But now I am much more sure of myself. I felt so much better about myself and others, and I'm sure it rubbed off on him. He was here at a crucial time in my life. Many elements in my life came together.

February 10th was one of my favorite memories from 12th grade. It was the first time I'd seen Shelby in eight months. She had been going to night classes near my house so I got a chance to see her twice a week for a precious few minutes. But from the end of her classes about this time last year until February, all I communicated with her was over the phone. So as you might imagine, February 10th was a very happy day for me, being able to have two of my closest friends together. I also met Trudi Lepique, another exchange student from Germany who later became my prom date. Shelby is always pretty to my mind but that day was even better. It was classic. We went to Balboa Park and enjoyed a few hours together. The four of us… we were only four one other time, but for me it was absolutely lovely. It was an inspiring day. Stephan and I continued to do stuff on the weekends.

the two performance wonder band subliminal gestures, formed just for the talent show and named well after the fact.Subliminal GesturesSometime in February I was asked to play in the talent show at school. Once again, I took up the invitation. Carpe Diem, as I learned from watching Dead Poets Society with my youth group just a couple years before.

TS '91 marked what I'd say was my highest point in high school, socially speaking. It was a #1 desire to get up and play live in front of an audience at school. I had the strongest desire to do it for nearly a year. I'll tell you now, it was simply a dream come true. The show kicked minor ass and boosted me to a small time celebrity status which was nice. A new thing to me was people I didn't know telling me what they thought [specifically a girl I'd never met complimenting the show later that same weekend at a carnival event held on campus but otherwise not a school function]. I didn't hear any negative comments. I wanted it so badly but it [forming a band around Tull and Rush influences] kept eluding me. Finally, when it did happen, it happened. We did it royally. But alas it was over.

the infamous have you seen me poster with giant print and one picture of katrina foster the australianKatrina Foster, aka WombatOut of the TS '91 came the infamous HAVE YOU SEEN ME? poster. That was great. I won't go into it except to say that if a little stung for April Fool's day did something like lose me some "friends," well, I'd like to offer my thoughts on how superficial friendships are here. It was fun, and I don't really care if I don't know Kate and Wombat (Katrina) because it was a joke and meant to be taken as such.

A prom. You are supposed to go to yours in 12th grade or be a loser ("Huh!" [an in-joke saying with Ross Shekleton from the Command Post, "Huh! Loser!"]). I had been warned by my dad to make all efforts to go. I didn't have a clue who to ask. I asked Shelby but got the response that I expected. However she thought it would be cute for me to ask Trudi while she was interested in Stephan. Well, that's not what I had in mind. After asking about five girls, I eventually got Trudi [thanks to Shelby setting us up]. I have no gripes about that. putting on trudi's corsage at her house. she looks pretty angelic with her pulled back hair and black dress and red corsage.Trudi LepiqueI had a fine time and think it was more special for the two of us. Over in Germany, they don't have such things. I mean, an American can go to as many proms as s/he wants but it wouldn't be the same. I got my answer a short week before prom. Time enough to get dressed up nicely and get fixed up with a cool car and dinner at Tom Ham's Lighthouse. No, I didn't get laid, but hey, that's okay. I'll live. (Well… she would not get any complaints from me.) Actually Trudi was very beautiful. Shelby was good to me and fixed me up with three rolls of pictures. It was enjoyable. I had warned Trudi in advance that I couldn't dance, and I guess I proved it! Oh well. Big deal.

Getting back to serious stuff. I'd like to talk about the last few weeks of school. Particularly Tech Math class.

a progress report for algebra class: F in academics, Excellent in citizenship.Here is why I needed the tech math (geometry) class: I can't hack algebra!I took tech math in order to pass high school, and it seems the whole class did too. Much of the time I got the highest grade in class for the semester I had the class. That took some getting used to. As you may know, I am no math genius. Usually I never get the highest grade in math! The high grades put me in demand in that class for the cheaters. The teacher, Fred Hueneberg, is not known to be anyone's favorite teacher. Generally, far from it. The whole class took the course in hopes (assumption?) that it would be incredibly easy. For me it was almost that, but most people there didn't get it and blamed the teacher for their crappy grades. It they want to screw around, fine. Most of them did, but only a few actually made an effort to pass, although it was pretty late to do any good. I was volunteered to tutor Tina Murphy and Tina Moraga when they decided that the time had come to get out. I agreed because I had known Tina Moraga since first or second grade and I felt for her. I didn't want to fail, nor did I not want to not help her. I seriously thought she couldn't she could get by, but I was in for a surprise.

The week before school got out I tutored those two Tinas in geometry. It was pretty basic stuff but they didn't have a handle on it and I did. The test that we took the next day was nothing short of shocking when we got it back. One got the same grade as me—an A—and the other got one point less, still an A-. I used all the positive encouragement that I could, for at times it got a bit hairy. Tina Moraga lacks a lot of basic understanding for math and admits defeat early and gets emotional. Needless to say, I was pretty pleased with the chapter test results, and was willing to do more. All we had to worry about was a little final. We met three more times and crammed. In the end of the math episode, I don't think either of them passed (certainly not well), but math is not what I wanted to teach them.

Ed (not Ed) Guerra joined us and we enjoyed some math. The tutoring was therapeutic for me. I got a chance to learn about my students. Tina Moraga is a fragile person. She doesn't have self confidence. She doesn't believe in herself and I think no one else but her very closest friends do. Sadly, Tina has been told that she can't do stuff. Even more sad is the fact that she believes the ones who tell her the negative things. She's playing their game. Her boyfriend isn't terribly supportive offer and I've watched how he can (possibly) unintentionally hurt her. To me it is a shame that Tina is being so mistreated. She is a good girl; I love her because I understand what she's going through. I've had people tell me what I can't do. And if that's all you hear, you begin to believe it. Tina isn't all brains but she has a youthful energy that I believe if she puts it in the right direction can take her anywhere. I am her friend and am concerned about her.

Her life has been—pardon my French— shitty. She has had incredibly family problems that obviously left their mark on her. It's just a shame that Tina is so taken advantage of. It now bothers me when I hear someone talk about her negatively. Just yesterday I hear someone call her a bimbo. If it wasn't ten minutes from graduating, I felt like knocking that guy around for offering the unsolicited comment. It's just that I know what she is going through and couldn't stand for it to happen me, and I hate seeing it happen to her.

During the tutoring, I didn't allow negative comments. I told them to think positively and advised them on how to take a test. I offered my complete faith in them. I drew strength from Tina, Tina, and Ed (not Ed). I hope I inspiring for them. While we had those three hour sessions, I gained an understanding of them and myself. I saw myself in many people this year, those three included. I knew what it was like to be where they were and I put myself in their shoes. If I were them, I'd not want to be let down.

The three of them passed school but I don't think they passed the test. I hope I instilled some self confidence in Tina Moraga. I am so happy for them and am glad that I had a chance to be a part of their success. I just want to be a friend. Good luck to Tina (x2) and Ed (not Ed). Thanks! [The Ed (not Ed) think is a slight reference to the band Was (not Was), but without knowing anything about them but their odd name.]

Well, twelfth grade has been a relatively uneventful year. —NOT!!! To the contrary. It combined the finest elements from my life. In it can be found renewed friendships with people from my childhood, academic success, youthfulness, seriousness, and the love that's been given to me all along that only recently I've been able to give back through new outlets.

[Here's where I am profoundly embarrassed to have transcribed this so faithfully in 2011. Just suspend your disbelief! I'll pardon your groaning. I am groaning myself. I told you I came from a conservative family, pretty well shaped by the military.]

me at my drumset with a small flag stuck into the hardware in front of me, and on the wall behind is a pretty big american flag. during the height of the Persian Gulf war.Trust me, I'm groaning too!One thing that often goes through my mind is the way we fought and won a whole war in less time than one school year. How many senior classes can claim that? The war had such a positive impact. It was incredible. The successes created a bonding between people. It was obviously more than a strategic victory; it was also a victory for everyone at every level. It created a good feeling that everyone benefited from. I suppose a little of that feeling was contagious and I guess I caught it. Oh well, if that is sickness, I want to be sick!

[Alright, if you want to go out for a smoke, or to spit, meet back in a minute. I'm gonna go wash myself.]

Another big part of my life is church, although I've been less active lately. Here is a little history of me and CCCPB. As I said in depth in my 1989 memories, I got quite involved in church that year. In January of '90 I was elected as a deacon. I did what I could as a deacon. Looking at it from now, I think I tried too hard to please others and not look out for myself like I should have. That got in the way when I got the job at Command Post and tried to form the band, which became a driving interest. I got terribly confused, which led to my depression. Anyway, I enjoyed trying to be a good deacon. I did what I could with the church sort of set it first. When I became interested in forming a band, I made that a driving interest. In the mean time, I lost some of interest in the repetition of preparing for church every week. I was becoming more selfish, but to the point where I was getting what I needed to keep myself going alive. I mean, take some time to get a rest. I lost the drive to push for others.

the page out of the church newsletter with me and jenny slaughter as the year's graduatesJenny is daughter of youth pastor Judy. Shelby came to our church on Jenny's invitation.I decided I'd surprise everyone and not show up for one week. I must have said that for seven or eight months. I set dates when I'd skip a week (after my birthday, after Christmas…) I never did skip… until February. I became increasingly dissatisfied with church. Shalom group was boring. No fun activities. Adventure class was a drain of my energy to get up and go to. One person even started probing me when I skipped class and didn't give an answer. It sort of bothered me having to support my case every way I turned. All I wanted was to see Shelby. [She lived five blocks away from the church so I went to pay her a visit but apparently she wasn't home. So we went to Balboa Park the next week—the first I saw of her after eight months.]

me and steve at the senior breakfast at humphrey's by the baySteve RauI turned some heads when I finally skipped a week in early February. I wanted to find out what it was like to exercise my freedom. I got a couple calls from some in the church, but I was unimpressed. They offered some of the support that I thought had fallen off since the zenith of activity the year before. I showed up the next week for convenience and decided to keep away for a time. Sure enough, no one missed me the next time. I was enjoying Stephan's company. I was eager to make friends with him. And a good thing it did work out. The people at church said they wanted me to rejoin them. So I tried it out and gave it another chance and got another negative response, so I decided to stay away for even longer and did so until I came to a few Shalom group meetings in May. Now I am on better terms now that Stephan is gone and I have no excuse (other reason) for skipping so much. I may not be in church on sunday but I'll try to get into other stuff.

I suppose I'm nearing the end of my paper. Conclusion time. I don't know how I'll be able to try and sum up the time I've had at high school and certainly in 12th grade. The last few years have been pretty remarkable. It is tough trying to sort out things that "aren't important" because all of it is. It's just that some of things will get lost. I learned quite a bit about others, God, friends, parents, and above all, about myself. "Those who say the sky's the limit are limiting themselves." Who said that? Someone in the class of '89. What can you say when so man open up so much? Thanks? That hardly seems appropriate. What do you say to people like Stephan and Shelby or Jerry or Judy who have somehow brought out the best in you…The stuff you didn't even know you're made of. How does one express the love for everyone who has somehow touched my life? "Uh, I love you"? So naive, but effective. Do I say it or show it? I think the best way to show your love for someone is to be yourself. Make them proud of their contribution to you. I can't say thanks enough to those who played a part in my life. I can't say, "you know who you are" because they probably don't. I've had a revolving cast of characters, with many starring roles—many are people I just look up to, silently.

trudi, shelby, steve, and me in a goofy lineup at shelby's house a couple days before graduationTrudi, Shelby, Steve, MeLeaving the Madhouse [Madision High] and high school in general won't be easy even if it is necessary. I'll be missing a few of my dearest peer-friends. Stephan and Shelby at the top of the list. Trudi to a lesser extent, but all having their part in my mind. And heart… As a group, or individually these are the people who left a mark on me. Thank you so much, people!

There is so much that I've failed to include in this little work. (Little?) Some of it will be forgotten, or other parts will remain vivid as if it happened to me yesterday. All of it is me. I've tried to make all of this so sincere as possible. It's race that I am so liberal with my thoughts. But, it's a good thing. I hope this has offered a taste of what life was like at the top with me, '87-'91. May there be many more.

steinmetz our government teacher, steve's dad, me, and steve immediately graduationHarry Steinmetz, Gerhard Rau, me, and SteveI'm glad it's over. Sigh of relief. Actor exits stage left… [Yes, a Rush reference.] but it will be a bittersweet ending (ending?). Thanks reader, for wading through this shit.

That's all, folks!

Edward Lucas
June '91

Ich liebe dich, Shelby. 1988-?