Who are these people? Your teachers, friends, significant others, romantic relationships. I'm not talking about political leaders who will never know they affected you or accept they have as you're being a part of a group. But those who have touched you directly even physically, who knew you, who were in your daily life.
Regarding family, my siblings, my mother and especially my grandmother (my mother's mother) were major influences. But I'm not talking about our parents, grandparents, or siblings. That should be a given. Rather those beyond your nuclear family and family in general.
Here is a chance to thank them in a public forum. They will never see this, some of them are gone now, but here is my chance anyway and the reasons I have to thank them for. I almost didn't post this because it's not a brag post. Some of what I say below isn't so great. I'm not perfect nor the best person I've ever met. I try always to be better, to update my life view. But it's all founded, as are we all, on our past and our choices.
I had ADHD as a kid and I guess I matured out of it into ADD, without the hyperactive physical concerns. But my mind still works in a not quite normal way. This has led to my excelling in many things. But it has also caused me, and others, grief, and difficulties.
For those few who saw something in me, who took that extra time and concern for me, it made my life just a little bit easier and overall, better. I remember after graduating high school, years later, considering who that was in my high school years and came to realize there were three teachers pretty much all the kids who knew them believed them to be the three smartest teachers in our school. And I realized those three were the only three who realized my potential and had patience with me and helped me along.
So just remember, you never know what you do for others that could change the course of someone's life for the better. Or the course of the world, for that matter.
Remember too, that in changing someone's life like that, we also can change our own. These are some of mine.
ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS - This is a difficult one to address for obvious reasons, but I'm brave and will do my best. I'll only mention a few major ones. I wish them all well and have always hoped they would do better after we separated.
--M., my first wife (yes, I had a few, see below). She was my best friend and we married (I married, she had pointed out that we didn't have to, but I had been raised Catholic, hadn't quite washed that out of my mind yet and so, we got married) undoubtedly too young (at 20). We went through our early 20s together and for that, I am forever grateful. We were a great match, until, as happens, we weren't.
--M., my long-term friend before, during and a bit after college. Never my legal spouse but I always credited us as a half marriage (not quite common law, not quite, not, and so I've always felt I've had 3.5 marriages) and she certainly deserves the credit. This was my most honest relationship in my entire life. Something I only realized in recent years. Even though we were both exploring our selves through our lives and through getting our university degrees in psychology, I wish we could both have been more emotionally mature. Especially myself. I have thought of her often all through my life and I know she was something extraordinary. Sadly perhaps other relationships after suffered in comparison. Not so much because I was thinking in comparison, but because I had seen what could be in a relationship. Even when it wasn't.
--K., my second wife who gave me an amazing albeit difficult to raise son. Actually exactly, according to my mother, like me...and it was then I began to appreciate how much I owed my mother for not having killed me as a child, but instead, found creative ways I could excel and she could retain her sanity. We had a great deal of fun in the beginning. She met me when I was at a point of growing somewhat suicidal after my previous relationship break up. I was partying myself to death over about a year and a half, on purpose and with intent. I was growing more serious about questioning my life and existence when she showed up and ... made me smile again. While we probably should have ended things before marriage, it happened. And I got my son out of it who has been my friend and a became a stabilizing factor for me until I grew into being a father.
--C., my third (and final?) wife who gave me an amazing daughter. I had thought maybe this marriage would finally be the one to last forever. But I can see now that was never going to happen. Still, I gathered many interesting and rewarding experiences from our relationship and for a few years, it was a great romance. Perhaps because I was more mature and educated by then? Raising a son with ADHD (especially as a step parent), while married to a spouse with ADD, never an easy thing to deal with and in the end it, among other things was our downfall.
Jimmy Snowberger, 3rd grade, he led to my character "Jimmy", in DEATH OF HEAVEN's first full chapter, The Conqueror Worm, available as a standalone ebook and audiobook.
James Snow, 3rd grade, he led to my character "James", in DEATH OF HEAVEN's first full chapter, The Conqueror Worm, available as a standalone ebook and audiobook.
Bill A. 5th - 7th grades (moved away), introduced me to Dave.
Dave H. 6th - 12th grades and beyond, a compilation character in my true crime screenplay, THE TEENAGE BODYGUARD.
Rod W. - 11th -12th grades and beyond, a compilation character in my true crime screenplay, THE TEENAGE BODYGUARD.
Curt W. - childhood until he died in the late 1990s, friend of my older brother and our family and my extra brother from another mother and father.
Horace Mann Elementary School, Tacoma, WA 1965-1966
Mr. Llewellyn (5th grade) - Aside from being a good teacher and a decent person, my mother paid him to tutor me in math after school. It was a painful and laborious process. Even he was surprised how hard it was for me to grasp certain concepts.
Mrs. VanArnum (6th grade), an amazing teacher who pushed me and put up with me and set me up for better success in junior high school. On our last day in 6th grade, she brought in caviar (I hated it), and other things to stimulate us and introduce us to new things and played a 45 records for us.
Stewart Jr. High, Tacoma, WA 1967-8, 1969-70
Mr. (9th grade Industrial Design (Mechanical Drawing))
Mrs. Arden (Earth Sciences), just a great all around teacher. We loved her so much, the entire class held her hostage and held a kangaroo court about her teaching. At the end of the class hour, she was pissed off, but hid it well, and we judged her a great teacher.
Mrs. X (Algebra) - I'd love to tell you who she is. Was probably, she was older even in 1969. She is listed as "X" on purpose, because in giving me a passing grade out of junior high school with all Ds and one B (mechanical drawing), she made me promise her two things: One, never ever tell anyone she taught me (thus the "X") and Two, promise not to go on in high school to take Geometry (I broke that promise and yes, though I loved that class, I got a D, and for two semesters. But I got through it, and never told anyone who my Algebra teacher was).
Holy Rosary Catholic School
Ms. X, I do not remember her name. She did not normally teach at this school. I had the principle and head nun of that school in my only grade there, eighth grade. I went only for that last year they taught, then returned to public school. Why, is a long story. My younger brother five years my junior started there in first grade until he died of liver cancer. Ms. X was a teacher for Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics and taught it to us in 8th grade. It was an amazing time and experience. I read 60 novels that year. My reading went from what I found to be a disappointing below average 280 words per minute at 60% comprehension, to 20,000 words per minute at 80% comprehension. But I settled into a comfortable rate of reading a novel in about an hour. And I was already a comparatively voracious reader compared to children my age. Over time I found that, even though reading a novel in an hour was like watching a movie in my head, I really did enjoy taking a week (or two) to read a novel, to savor it over days, rather than have it over in an hour. Reading dynamics was better suited to what JFK used it for, reading newspapers.
Mr. Coe (Literature, 10th grade), was helpful to me in my reading in independent reading and literature classes.
Mrs. Barden (English Comp., 10th grade), saw I could be a writer and tried to invigorate that side of me.
Ms. Wooten (Civics / World Problems during the Watergate years, 12th grade). She actually met Zhou Enlai. She was an amazing teacher during things like Nixon, China and Watergate.
Willie Stewart, principle. Just an amazing man. He was black thankfully as we had the largest percentage of black students in the city and a very volatile time in our history, when there were still civil (race oriented) riots downtown in the hilltop district. Everyone loved him. Yes, I got to know him better than many, in visiting his office more than once.
|1973 Lincoln High School Rifle Team|
EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES. My mother always said to get the best possible teachers in anything and she did that for me. Because I was so active, she knew she had to wear me out and get me out of the house a lot to save her sanity... and mine. So I took guitar lessons (2nd grade), tap dancing and acrobatics (4th grade), foil fencing, and other things. I was also in a variety of organizations like YMCA Indian Guides, Cub Scouts and so on.
|Me and Steve Armstrong Sensei day of my blue belt|
|Dan Delaney Sensei, his wife (bowing), visiting Lorraine DiAnne Shihan, and myself|
Mr. Ekes, private youth gun club leader. One day in junior high, about 8th grade, I don't know what sparked it but my mother said, "I've had it with you're being gun crazy. I called the police department and they suggested a guy who has a kid's gun club and they highly recommend him. He also reloads some ammunition for the police and uses their gun range downtown Tacoma. You're going." He was an inspiration. In the actual handling of guns, I learned to respect and got over my fascination. Guns he said are a tool, not a toy.
|Flight Commander, I'm on left, my First Sgt. on right|
USAF 1976-1979 (my service began in 1975 Vietnam era, ended in 1981)
TSgt. Pete Pettina (Fairchild, AFB, Spokane, WA 92nd FMS, Survival Equipment Shop, he was like a second dad and even told me on my last days in the service that I was like a second son to him.
Dan M., my best friend at that time. I'd tell you more but I could go to jail. Kidding. Sort of. I was also his parachute shop Sgt. though I think he was actually in the front shop in Fabric and Rubbergear (life vests, 20 man and 1 man life rafts, environmental suits, and Thermal Nuclear Flash Barrier Radiation curtains for nuclear weapons platforms (B52 Stratofortress bombers).
Craig T., my other best friend at that time. Again, I'd tell you more but I could go to jail. Kidding. Sort of. I was also his parachute shop Sgt.
Ft. Steilacoom Community College (now Pierce College), Steilacoom, WA 1980-1982
Prof. X - English Composition. I simply cannot remember his name but can see him in my mind. He was an ecologist and was building a replica of Henry Thoreau's cabin from Walden's Pond. This was my first professor to actively try to engage me to become a writer saying that I simply had to become a writer and he could see that clearly, because my writings "sparked with ideas". When I rebuked that belief and he asked why I said because I was terrible at the rules of grammar. His response was that was why we have editors and I should forget about that and just write. Thereby for the first time really as an adult giving me license to go for it. I owe him for that.
|1984 University graduation with siblings|
Prof. Rod Rees (Psychology Dept./Phenomenology Bellingham, WA), my departmental advisor. A massive brain who attended Brown University in the 60s and who's student think tank was instrumental in the famous shut down of that campus in protest. Through his guidance and advice, I learned so much about myself, psychology, the mind and brain, and life.
Prof. (now) Perry Mills (Theater Dept. Bellingham, WA), another massive brain and aggressive dynamic teacher who I couldn't get enough of. To sit in his presence and listen was to go on a journey into history and brilliant academics.
Instructor Bob Schelonka, Theatre Dept./Team Script & Screenwriting series of classes. He was my introduction to writing in this format and had a gentle and incisive style that led with humor and dealing with the eight rabble-rousers that we were.
Prof. Cvetkovic, Linguistics. Wow, I forgot all about sentence diagramming. I also took linguistics at one of my universities. "Alveolar fricative", that just stuck in my mind. lol
Fascinating stuff I was lucky enough to have an amazing professor for during the year I graduated, in a class that could have been dry as dist with another instructor. I remember he had an accent. He was passionate, energetic, funny, like a kid teaching something he was fascinated by. I don't know how I could have gotten through that class without him. My gf had the class with me and she agreed, he was amazing. At graduation he was given a professor of the year award or something like that to my surprise, and we both had to fully agree.
Stanley Kramer, film director. Bellevue Community College. I took a serious of film production classes from him in about 1985 and only on Saturdays for a series of weeks, he was an amazing and impactful teacher and storyteller. Amazing stories.
These were many of if not most of MY personal heroes from my life.
Have a great New Years in 2019!
And, remember those of your own personal heroes in YOUR life.