Overview & Background: 1975
It is hard for me to remember, describe, and place
into context for you my life for the year of 1975.
I was in 10th grade. I was 15 years old, turning 16 in
July. I had fallen madly in love with a girl in my English class and
was tormented when she dated another but sat directly next to me
(enjoying the shower of dual attentions). I was gawky and goofy, but
witty and intelligent. My family had raised me to be both trusted and
spoiled (as the youngest and most responsible) and suppressed and
oppressed (by my older rivals). I learned early to live within
myself, my room, and my own mind. Nobody knew to show me what was
possible, what I might do or choose to like. It was a year spent
riding my new 10-speed bicycle (freedom!), pondering my future,
feeling the strength of my own self authority, and tripping over my
lack of confidence. In many ways, I was an adult in a child's body,
thinking and asking questions that nobody felt responsible to answer;
searching for solutions that were discarded out of hand by the grown
up world. Many things that I am today were set into place during that
year, and I can recall through my writing the slow progress and
changes as I became who I am.
While I learned to write in English class, my other
grades suffered as A's turned into B's. I had no mind for what I was
being taught, either picking things up immediately or procrastinating
them out of existence. I had taken to going to sleep at 6pm (before
dinner) and arising at 1am to read and write. My parents seemingly
accepted this without question. I spent the summer lost, grieving my
unrequited love, playing baseball with my friends, and sorting and
selling sets of baseball cards through the mail. I returned to school
no less shy, having still never attended a school dance or a football
or basketball game.
During the first semester of 11th grade (Sept 1975), I
so quickly finished the assignments in my "computer
programming" class (BASIC) that I requested and received
permission to attend ungraded instead during that hour the
"creative writing" class that was offered three doors away.
It must have been weird to everybody first that I finished the weekly
assignments during the first 30 minutes each Monday so that I could
easily excuse myself the rest of the week and second that I would
take that freedom and apply it to attending a different class (you
can imagine the feedback that my fellow 11th graders provided -- from
both classes). At the same time, there seems to be no mention or
recognition of this from the teachers, my school counselor, the
administrators, my coordinator for my gifted program, or my parents.
How bizarre to act so strangely and have it seemingly go completely unnoticed.
I read voraciously any poet I could find, simply going
down the bookshelf and leafing through anthologies. From Langston
Hughes and e.e. cummings to Robert Frost and Edgar Guest. In the end,
I fell in love with the surreal bites provided by Stephen
Crane, and research into analysis of his writings drew me also
to Emily Dickinson. It is funny that I did not read "The Red
Badge of Courage" for another twenty years, and even then only
out of a sense of duty during a round of perusing famous American fiction.
I met Lyn in December 1975, and my formal poetry
collection (entered here) runs out shortly afterward. I know that I
wrote her poems and sonnets and stories and plays but they are now
kept only in hand written manuscripts in well-traveled shoe boxes. My
writing continued, but developed into something more nebulous, with
more novels and plays started and less simple poetry.
dated during my 11th grade Spring (Jan-Jun 1976) when I was out of
the building attending a class at the off-site computer center from 8am-10am
each morning. From here, I eventually entered a gifted program
allowing me to spend the following year, 12th grade, in the building
only 2 hours per day. I received a new-used car and went to the
community college to take Economics, and Programming, and Calculus.
During this time I became a charter member in a program for gifted
students, being allowed to enroll in the local community college. I
aced the SAT, sat for over a dozen CLEP exams and received
recognition for the Teachers of English writing award. Yet, I did not
belong anywhere. I never joined a club, racing home when the bell
rang. I never found a cause, or an interest except riding my bicycle
alone in elements, and sitting in my room and composing verse. When I
met Lyn, I transferred that personal solitude to her, spending every
waking minute possible in her presence, testing academically gifted
but failing at anything that required follow up or attention to detail.
I attended classes straight through from September
1975 until I took my first job in May 1979. I took summer school
between 11 and 12, then left early and started college in June, too
impatient to wait for September 1978. After one year at college (Sep78-May79)
I decided I could wait no longer and took a job writing computer
code. It was a strange time in America, early in the Carter
administration, and just before the Iranian hostage crisis and anyone
that could code had a job. By then, years had passed without writing
poetry and I had squarely pointed my intellect to the lucrative field
of coding. It would be 20 years in the future before I would
rediscover the release in putting pen to paper (fingers to keyboard)
writing fiction, family histories, and now web pages. But I have
changed very little from the young man that can be found in these
decades old verses. While I was working so hard to discover who I
was, I found exactly what I sought. Although decades have elapsed, I
can still remember the angst, the joy, the fear, the elation felt by
the person that someday would be me. While you might say (as some
did) that I had the mind of a forty year old back then, others
instead now rightly say that today I carry the spirit of a fifteen
year old in my heart.
My year of 1975 was amazing to me. I share it with you here.