February 13, 1957– Born in Fitzsimmon’s Army Hospital although biological father was in the Air Force: confused ever since. Not a ‘Friday the 13th’ but might as well have been. Hospital later closes when truth about birthplace leaks out.
1960 – 1969 – Lives in southern California, contracts a strain of liberality that later survives stints in the Marine Corps and repeated residencies in Nebraska.
April 1969 – Moves (back) to birthplace of Colorado. Finds September snowstorm (1969) fascinating. Awe and wonder at storm dies when introduced to snow shovel. In 7th grade starts realizing girls are different than boys beyond matters of dress; approves of difference.
Spring, 1971 – Adopted by stepfather to enable legal use of last name already being used needing to be legally used. In response to snide attitude of lawyer, also changes first name and adds middle name thus becoming one of very few 8th graders to actually name themselves. Conflict with lawyer reflects life-long issues with condescending authority figures (See Marine Corps and teaching careers).
1972 – Discovers Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill. Ruins any chance of ever developing an educated palate.
1973 – Discusses and argues theology with Mormon and Catholic friends without drawing any meaningful conclusions. See previous entry.
August, 1973 – Moves (again back) to Nebraska. Meets the girl who is to be ‘love of life’. Unfortunately girl in question does not fully grasp concept for about 6 years. Decides definitely that ‘there is a God’.
1973 -1974 – Makes mercifully brief appearance as a high school basketball player. Painfully clear that a worse basketball player has never, and will never, disgrace the court.
August, 1974 – Becomes first person in the history of the world to be cut from the high school basketball team during pre-season of the football season. Fails to appreciate the uniqueness of the event.
May, 1975 – Due to lack of academic standards, graduates from high school. Love of life still not cognizant of fact.
August 17, 1975 – Slipping under the radar of Paul VI, joins Roman Catholic church.
August 18, 1975 – Survives 30 foot fall when scaffolding at frat house collapses with only a broken nose (2nd time) to show for fall. See previous entry.
August 1975 – May 1979 – Attends University of Nebraska-Lincoln majoring in Social Studies and English but spending most time in Duffy’s Tavern on O Street.
1976 –Due to need for scholarship money and lack of ability in chemistry and math, switches from Navy option to Marine option in NROTC unit. Gets scholarship and changes life. Spends first scholarship check at Duffy’s.
June, 1977 –For reasons known only to God decides paying own way to Ft. Benning to jump out of airplanes is a good idea. Dents C-141 with helmet on 3rd jump. Resulting bad ankle reminds him of this episode every time the weather changes.
Spring, 1978– Love of life accepts proposal of marriage offered during commercial in TV show “Love Boat’ with an emphatic “I guess so.” Belatedly realizes more time should have gone into planning proposal. Wisely decides to keep good news from future in-laws for as long as possible.
June-July, 1978 – Attends Officer Candidate School in the lovely environs of Quantico, Va. Graduates due to shoddy paperwork and desperate need for manpower of any sort. Mistakenly feels able to handle anything, even potential in-laws.
Fall, 1978 – Unwisely breaks happy news to future in-laws. Future father-in-law walks out. Insightful enough to realize this could be interpreted as lack of approval.
May, 1979 –Graduates from third tier public university with a solid ‘B’ average thus proving not applying to Harvard was good decision 4 years earlier.
May, 1979 – Commissioned as 2nd lieutenant in United States Marine Corps when Corps reluctantly concludes that ‘looking for a few good men’ and finding them are two different things.
October, 1979 – Successfully completes 2 weeks of intensive instruction crammed into 5 months at Marine Corps officer’s entry level school known officially and imaginativly as “The Basic School” or”TBS”. Known to all graduates as This Base Sucks, Tax money Being Squandered, etc. While there learns the joys only a block of plastic explosives and a length of detonation cord can bring. Also develops life-long aversion to sleeping in several inches of muddy water.
October 1979- February 1980 – Discovers a relative kind of poverty when Marine Corps takes 3 month’s worth of car payments out of 1 month’s salary after already paying that month’s bill. Shops exclusively in the ‘white label’ section of the supermarket and loses 25 lbs. Fiancee/new bride (aka ‘love of life’) gets to make last 3 payments on engagement ring on the lavish salary of a 1st year teacher back in Nebraska.
December 27, 1979 (7:20 P.M.)- Although allegedly on bedrest for various ailments, marries love of life after seeing her once in the previous six months. Sees her exactly twice as many times in the next six months. Craziness of this arrangement can be explained by fear of in-laws and possible reaction to changing wedding plans to something more likely. (see above).
December 29, 1979 – Becomes one of what he hopes are very few people to be accompanied on honeymoon by entire immediate family of love of life. Realizes that nobody in their right mind will believe this story but swears then and now it’s the absolute truth.
April, 1980 – Acquires first family dog without knowledge of ‘love of life’ understanding only later that this was a mistake. Names dog after her brother, a bigger mistake.
June 1980 – July 1981 – Despite being almost but not quite terminally uncoordinated, makes way through flight training in Florida. Gaining coveted ‘wings of gold’ not without cost as graduation is accompanied with acquired life long aversion to people who scream irrelevant questions about intelligence and ancestry instead of providing proper instruction in the fine art of flying.
May, 1981- Receives bewildering promotion to 1st lieutenant. Understands better when told ‘everyone makes 1st lieutenant’.
September 11, 1981 – Meets first real princess when first child, a beloved daughter, is born. Slowness in arriving in the world (several weeks late) more than compensated for by her approach to driving starting 16 years later.
October 25, 1983– Participates in Operation Urgent Fury (aka “Urgent Hurry” to those of us present for the planning and carrying out of said operation). Learns the joys of being shot at while flying something built by the lowest bidder.
January, 1984 – Due to clerical error in Washington, D.C., promoted to captain, the best rank in the United States Marine Corps. Dimly understands this string of unlikely promotions cannot continue due to law of averages and the possibility of intelligence being discovered at Headquarters, USMC. A whiff of nostalgia and panic occurs as realization takes places that this career has peaked at age 27 and retirement is not yet an option.
November ’83 – April 84 – Learns the limits of American power and the heartbreak of doing the right thing while knowing it is futile by participating in the Multi-National Peacekeeping Force in Beirut, Lebanon. Develops lifelong suspicion of peacekeeping missions and Renault automobiles which were frequently used as car bombs. Fails to appreciate the chance to be in on the ‘ground floor’ of what will become known as the “War on Terror” when we finally realize those who don’t like us might try to do something about it.
April 27, 1984 – Ten days after arrival home from Beirut experiences the birth of second child and favorite son and first flashback. Passes time with ‘love of life’ during labor by explaining the underlying reasons for flashback as she already understands the reason for being in labor.
Spring/Summer – Made life-changing decision by acquiring first Golden Retriever (Josh). Slow to housetrain, quick to love.
Spring, 1985 – Became a ‘dead man walking’ in the eyes of the Marine Corps by resigning ‘regular commission’ to become a teacher. Resulting accusations of ‘treason, disloyalty, and ingratitude’ unmerited in view of my service record; they should have been throwing a party not the cold shoulder.
August, 1985 – While on ‘terminal leave’ from the Marine Corps, begins teaching career as middle school social studies teacher on the Omaha Indian reservation in northeast Nebraska. The term ‘culture shock’ becomes immediate and vibrant in a way hitherto unexperienced in relatively sheltered life.
August, 1985 – Suddenly finds self assigned as head volleyball coach instead of assistant football coach as promised. Lifetime record as a coach goes on to be 11-6; that is hired 11 times, fired 6 times. Kimball Public Schools (1994-2000) sets record for inconsistency by hiring as coach 4 times, and firing as coach 4 times! Even more remarkably, the same administrator at Kimball does the hiring and firing!! Note: At least the other schools could make up their minds.
1985 – 1987 – Learned the intricacies of being a racial minority and not necessarily loved while teaching and coaching on the Omaha Indian reservation. Quite possibly one of the best learning expereinces in this hitherto sheltered life.
1987-1994 – Develops a lifelong distrust of pathological liars while working in Maxwell Public Schools. Nasty administrator is more than balanced by the best students any teacher could ever ask for, living in hometown, and birth (1989) of third child and second daughter. Impression of being being irreplaceable is remedied by being ‘riffed’ in 1994. Discovers the joys of needing a job, badly, and not being sure if one was available.
April, 1994 Breaks out a map to find a place called “Kimball” which has jusst offered a job interview. Subsequent career as teacher, coach, administrator, and teacher in Kimball again is ongoing and may require asbestos paper should it ever be published. Similarity to rollercoaster ride by be aforementioned fact of being hired, 4 times, and fired, 4 times, as a coach, by the same man. Still fails to appreciate the uniqueness of this as name is not Billy Martin. Second indicator about these days may be the fact that seizes chance to be in on the ground floor of the incredibly not popular school reform movement known as “assessment.” and also served as the incredibly not popular first assessment/curriculum coordinator for a district determined to remain in 19th century as the 21st century dawned.
January 11, 2009 – Made lifetime profession to the Secular Franciscan Order. St. Francis? St. Francis? Peace, love and garden statues? That St. Francis? Quite a stretch, but what can you do?
January, 2009 – Acknowledges a bit of wisdom learned and relearned over the centuries. Finally understands that ‘own country’ really does not want a ‘prophet’ (or assessment/curriculum director). Resigns to return to full time teaching duties starting in the fall of 2009. Resignation is ‘gratefully accepted’. Notes that failure on the local level is more than balanced by the chance to work on the state level with the finest professionals he will ever meet, including the state director of assessment.
May, 2009 – Acquires ‘sea’ kayak for bargain basement price!
August, 17, 2009 – Returns to full-time teaching and finds out you can, indeed, ‘come home again’! Notices that this event occurs EXACTLY 34 years after being baptised. Remembers that coincidences are really just God’s way of remaining anonymous.
December 20, 2010-January 1, 2011 – Visits Germany and Italy three weeks after major surgery. Thoroughly embarassed by wheelchair ride through Denver International Airport. Conquers pain and disapproving wife by refusing all wheelchair assistance for remainder of trip. Achieved a lifelong goal by visiting Tuscany including Florence and Assisi. Other highlights included Cologne Christmas Market in the snow, Trier, and Rome. Painkillers and caring family produce lifelong memories and gratitude.
May 2, 2011– Becomes a grandfather for the first time and realizes another benefit of growing older. Ranks this as tied for the happiest day of his life.
May 13-14 2011 – Combines an evening in the French Quarter on Friday night with graduation from Loyola-New Orleans the next morning. Having 4 years to get used to the idea, family and friends cease laughing aloud at the idea of a master’s in pastoral studies? Who? YOU? A MINISTER? Also realizes that beloved wife has accompanied him to every important graduation in his life. Note (OCD alert) – 33 years, 5 universities/colleges, and 103 graduate hours to achieve what youngest child did in 1 year, 1 university, 36 hours, and FREE. Reflects that doing things the hard way continues to be hallmark of journey through life.
Made it to the top of Estes Cone, not a 14teener but still respectable at 11,000+ ft. Picture used for header of this blog shows me looking proudly and confidently, year, even manfully, at the vista. A closer look revels the fact that I was so damned tired that I forgot to take my pack off at the top.
Asked to be the guinea pig in a diocesan pilot program for pastoral ministers. Accepts despite being well-aware of the fate of pilots in experimental programs.
If one ever needed proof that God writes straight with crooked lines, a former Marine pilot being commissioned as a ‘lay eccelsial minister’ by a bishop who is a retired Air Force general ought to provide some help.
The gift of a GPS, and the discovery of geocaching, adds whole new dimension to capacity for Obsessive/Compulsive behavior.
Visits Europe again! Amsterdam, Paris, Salzburg, and Munich survive visits. Surprisingly falls in love with paris, and red wine.. Since Americans are allegedly not welcomed with open arms in Europe pretends to be Canadian for two weeks.
Endures 4th invasive procedure in 4 years to replace aching left knee with a titanium model that aches in a much more advanced way. Has the sound of a bone saw permanently impressed into memory.
Imitates many farmers who get a subsidy to ‘not farm’ accepts a subsidy in return for ‘not teaching”. They call it ‘farm program’: teachers call it “retirement”.
To be continued….