Day #16 – The Me Thing, Part 1

Did you know that “pulling mussels” is a British euphemism for sex?

Now that I know, this song makes so much more sense.

Now that I know, this song makes so much more sense.

Got that song stuck in my head this morning. It’s very catchy, and with the new-to-me meaning, there’s an added layer of titillation on top of the political critique.

What to write today? I have an “About” page to write so let’s try that.

I was born in Portland, OR more than a half-century ago, on what was apparently a snowy late December night. My parents drove all the way from Gladstone to St. Vincent’s Hospital—not the current location in practically Beaverton, but the old location, in Northwest Portland. Although I was present for that, I don’t remember much. Seriously, the next thing I remember was being able to read.

I read the Sunday funnies to my older sister. I’d read the traffic signs as my parents drove me around. I’d read the graffiti in restaurant bathrooms and, loudly and in public, ask my parents what it meant, to their amusement and embarrassment.

So they’d buy books for me to read. Comic books, those Scholastic books they sold at school, paperback novels. I’d read it all. I read Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles in 3rd Grade because the teacher was dumb enough (or perceptive enough) to put my desk right next to the bookshelf. I just picked it up off the shelf and dug in, ignoring the teacher completely until I had finished it. I wouldn’t say I understood it all, but I devoured every word.

My first 20 or 30 years are mainly a tale of me reading everything I could get my hands on, and everyone else trying to get me to do something useful instead. My dad would go fishing on the weekends, driving way out on the Upper Clackamas River or out to a lonely creek near the Oregon Coast, and I’d spend the whole time with my nose between the covers, happily perched on a rock near a gorgeous stream until it was time to go home.

It all culminated in me getting a job at Powell’s Books, which was a dream come true. Within 2 years, I was fired from there, largely because I spent my money on books instead of bills, which led to depression and apathy, which led to not working. Fired.

What happened next is also kind of a blur. I had to figure out something I could do for money that wouldn’t distract me from reading. As it was the early ’90s and tech was on the rise, I got my first computer-related job packaging up replacement Pentiums for Intel customers, where I met a man who looked like Kingpin and sounded like P. T. Barnum. He took me under his wing and mentored me through the process of job hunting, using Richard Bolles’ “What Color Is Your Parachute?” as a guide.

I landed, eventually, a job at Multnomah County doing IT work. A union job, with great pay, great benefits, and protection from most of my screwups. It was a good job, and I stayed there 13 years.

More to come…