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I wasn’t sure what to write about today. I have an idea for a post but it requires research and whatnot, so I saved that one as a draft. This one is just going to be a simple list for now. I’m going to answer the question, what was happening the year I was born? What’s changed?

1964 was a leap year, apparently. That doesn’t really affect me, though, because I was born in December; no extra days for me until 1968.

I was born on a Monday. According to Wikipedia, no important world events happened on the 28th day of December, 1964. The day before that, the Cleveland Browns defeated the Baltimore Colts by a score of 27-0. Two days later, the UN established the UN Conference on Trade and Development. OK, those are boring.

The month I was born, the second James Bond film, Goldfinger, was released in the US. Oregon, my home state, was experiencing one of the most destructive floods of its history. The Steel Bridge’s lower deck was submerged by the Willamette River, and the waterfalls in Oregon City were apparently not a waterfall at all.

On the radio, the #1 song in the US was “I Feel Fine” by The Beatles, which had beaten out “Come See About Me” by The Supremes the week before. On TV, were shows like “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” and “No Time for Sergeants” on ABC, “The Andy Griffith Show” and The Lucy Show” on CBS, and “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” and “The Andy Williams Show” on NBC.

I had several more paragraphs here, but an accidental swipe on my trackpad wiped it all out, and I’m too tired and sad now to re-create it. Maybe tomorrow.

Since my 50th birthday is approaching, I’ve been thinking about milestones in my life. The events or decisions where life changed for me. I wonder how many I can think of and name?

My earliest memory is clearly my first conscious milestone. While there are events important to me that took place before my earliest memory, like being born, my older sisters’ births, or my parents meeting, the first thing I can remember must have been the start of my conscious, continuous existence, right?

Unfortunately, I can’t think of when my first memory actually occurred. And since memories are made in the same area of the brain as imaginary thoughts, I can’t be sure it even happened at all.

The memory is of me, standing near a swing set, in a fenced in yard. The swing set looms high above me, and the fence is taller than I am. I’m wearing a warm, comfortable, blue corduroy hooded coat. It’s cold out, gray skies, windy, and mom is approaching me. I believe, since I’ve talked about this with my parents in the past, that the memory is from when we lived in Seattle or the Seattle area briefly, and I must have been very young, 1 or 2 maybe.

That narrows it down to 1965-1966, I suppose.

I vaguely remember, later, the family moving to Kalama, Washington, and into an apartment building near downtown Kalama. That’s the first place that I thought of as “home”, and that I can remember the interior of.

I have a lot of memories from that home, but they’re discontinuous. That’s where mom found me, around age 3, reading the Sunday comics to my year-older sister, and not just looking at the pictures. In my experience, I’ve always been able to read; I learned how to do it at such an early age it just feels like something I was born doing. If I was 3 years old, then those memories take place in 1968 (since my birthday is so late in the year).

I also remember watching the Apollo astronauts launching on television in that living room in Kalama. I don’t know if it was Apollo 11, though, the first manned landing on the moon, which happened between 16 July and 24 July 1969, or one of the earlier non-landing missions, which started in 1968. My memory is that I was watching a manned mission, though, because I remember telling my mom that I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up; what could be more natural than a kid named Moon, going to the moon?

Screen grab from Google Street View for Kalama apartments.

Kalama apartments from N 2nd Street, looking toward downtown Kalama. The one we lived in was below street level on the left side of the building. I think. (Click for full image)

The apartment was below street level on one side, and I remember windows placed up high looking in to the kitchen area. One October, as we were bringing in groceries from a trip to the store, mom pointed up at the window and me and my sister were shocked to see a skeleton in that window. I’m sure it was a kid in a costume, or dad playing a prank. It shocked me but didn’t really scare me, at least as I remember it now, 45+ years later.

I could probably draw a map of that apartment now, although I have no way of knowing if it would be accurate or not. I can find it on Google Maps, however, and its satellite images tell me that the apartment building is still there. It’s an L-shaped building, with a shared patio inside the angle of the L, and from the patio there is a stairway that leads down to an alley, and from there to the main street of Kalama, right next to the Post Office.

View from N 1st Street in Kalama, looking east. There is a staircase going up next to the green building, and that reaches the alleyway and patio for the apartment building. (Click for full image)

Hopefully dad or my sister will pop up here and fill in the details and dates of when we lived here, and correct my unreliable memory, or maybe confirm it. It felt like a brief time; soon after, we moved further away from downtown Kalama (which is tiny, even today) into a fourplex that felt like it was out in the country, and Google Maps tells me is 4.2 miles from the Kalama Post Office, or an 8 minute drive.

But those memories are for a different post.

In exactly 30 days I will be celebrating my 50th birthday. That’s a lot of birthdays.

In 1989, I turned 25 years old. Half my life ago.

In 1989, I was working at a near-minimum wage job, in a shopping mall, selling games. The store was, in fact, called Endgames, which was supposed to be a Samuel Beckett reference, one I’ve never bothered to look up. Minimum wage in Oregon back then was $3.35 an hour. According to my annual Social Security letter, for calendar year 1989 I earned $11,391. Assuming a full-time job, that means I worked for around $5.47 an hour. Considering how lazy I was, I doubt that I worked any overtime at all.

With that money I paid for my car, a nutmeg brown Porsche 924, ate a lot of fast food, and bought comic books and gaming stuff. Maybe some clothes now and then. I still lived with my parents (I wouldn’t move out until the following year, into an apartment I would share with two high school friends, Andy and Rod). I had no steady girlfriend and went on, maybe, one or two dates with women I met at the mall. I had no ambitions at all. I just wanted to keep working at the games store, playing D&D, watching TV, and eating delicious food that was terrible for me.

As I look back, I think I took the idea of not having any ambition to undreamt of levels. The entire concept of dreaming of doing something else didn’t even cross my mind. It feels alien to me now, just thinking about it. I had a vague sense that my mom, dad, my sister, all of them were frustrated with me, but for what I had no idea. My friends all seemed to accept me as I was. But if you’d asked me what the future would hold for me, I would have just shrugged and changed the subject, or talked vaguely of having more money at some unspecified point, without any real sense of what I could be doing to reach it.

If someone had suggested I go to school and get a degree, it felt like an unreachable goal to me. The money I made flowed through my hands like water and I rarely had anything left from one paycheck to the next. School costs money, and I was working 40 hours a week already; if I took time off to go to school, how would I earn the money I needed?

I was ignorant, and I think, now, that I was ashamed enough of being ignorant that I didn’t ask any questions that might have cured my ignorance, or even led in that direction.

I had a whole lot of failure ahead of me before I would ever learn to plan ahead.

Compiling paperwork for my lawyer is something I never, ever, ever imagined I would say.

This headache is probably because I haven’t put any caffeine into me, and not the outcome of the two delicious Jubelales I drank last night (thanks, Ken!).

I only realized I hadn’t turned on the heat when I noticed my phone is overheating. It’s the warmest thing in the apartment.

My apologies. Been working hard at my day job, plus caught a cold. More stories are coming. Just need a little rest.

Thanks for reading!


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