I was born in a little town near the Oregon coast but mostly grew up in L.A. We moved around a lot as I was growing up. The place that will always be home is Paramount, a city across the riverbed from Compton. As the Neil Young song “Helpless” says, “All my changes there.” i.e. my teenage years. Was in the U.S. Army but when the possibility of being sent to Vietnam came up, I started going AWOL until I got out with an Undesirable Discharge. I wasn’t politically aware back then but trusted my gut instincts. Started hitch-hiking up & down the West Coast & in 1974 I hitched all the way across the U.S. to Boston. A year later, my brother, Tim, died from a heroin overdose & his death has had a very profound impact on my life. In 1976 I first started going to Europe. Sometimes I’d buy a one-way ticket and land with a couple hundred dollars in my pocket & see how long I could make it last. I slept on park benches, in train stations, etc. and did “black work” i.e. worked under the table.
My true education began when I met a guy two years younger than me, by the name of Ruedi, who was from Switzerland, and he knew far more about American history, literature, philosophy, politics, etc., than I did, so I started picking his brain by asking him to recommend authors I might find interesting. In between my traveling, I attended several different community colleges in the L.A. & Orange County areas but would often drop-out sometimes half way or even three quarters of the way through a semester. Studied business, oceanography, liberal arts, etc. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon philosophy that anything really grabbed me. Philosophy was a subject I could really sink my teeth into and see spending four years pursuing full-time. Unfortunately, the philosophy department where I was working on earning my bachelor’s degree wasn’t very good so I switched to English literature figuring that even if I got lousy professors, I could at least enjoy the reading. I continued to study philosophy on my own and began to get really interested in politics especially after Ronald Reagan became president. Reagan scared the hell out of me.
I eventually earned my B.A. in English Lit from California State University at Long Beach after only 14 years of attending college. I could probably be in the Guinness Book of Records for the number of odd i.e. Mickey Mouse jobs I’ve worked at. My true calling came about accidentally so-to-speak. My ex-wife, Jeri, suggested I become an educator and I got into working with multi-handicapped students. Jeri and I moved back and forth from L.A. to Portland, OR three times and in 1990 while we were living in North Hollywood in the San Fernando Valley north of L.A., I had the greatest job of my life. It only lasted six weeks but touched my heart forever. I was substitute teaching a high school ESL (English as a Second Language) class at Van Nuys High School and most of the students were from El Salvador & Nicaragua. I knew what was happening in Central America thanks to Reagan’s “freedom fighters” i.e. the Contras, and my heart went out to these kids & I guess they sensed it. The principal had offered me the position full-time but thanks to bureaucracy, I couldn’t accept it and had to move on. Several of the female students started crying and it brought tears to my eyes as well.
Jeri and I moved with our son, Ryan, back up to Oregon for the last time in 1992 because we wanted to raise our son in a less stressful environment. Ryan is now married and although Jeri and I are divorced, I don’t believe I would have ever become the writer that I am were it not for her belief in me. I continue to work in the education field and travel in my fifth wheel trailer during the summer breaks. My hope is to hopefully inspire others to pursue their own talents & dreams. I sincerely believe we are what our dreams are i.e. our only limit is our imagination and I dream of a much more equitable, just, & peaceful world.