Through the facilities of Facebook, I’ve been put back in touch with people from all the periods of my life, with the inevitable “What have you been doing?” that follows. I decided to post this skeletal outline of the highlights for anyone who wants to catch up — jump in wherever you lost track of me!
I was born in 1971 and grew up in Mannington, West Virginia, the youngest of two brothers and three sisters. There was a lot of disco and bell bottoms, so the quicker we skip by this time, the better.
I went off to high school for two years in [Parkersburg, West Virginia], then two in [Princeton, New Jersey]. I enrolled at [Saint John’s College], Annapolis, Maryland in 1989 and spent two years reading “the great books” before deciding to pursue a music degree. I transferred to UMBC, where my guitar teacher taught, beginning a couple of decades of hanging around Baltimore.
I met my first partner, Dan Callahan, in the fall of 1993, and began practicing with a Zen Buddhist community that winter.
Joining the music program extended my college years as I caught up the required courses and prepared for my recitals, and I graduated with the class of 1996 with a Bachelor’s Degree in classical guitar performance. I gave my senior recital that Spring, and Dan died of a heart attack a few weeks later.
This was the beginning of five dark years for me. I stayed on in our home in West Baltimore. I taught music for a couple of years, but drifted away from it for a number of reasons. In part, I couldn’t muster enthusiasm out of my depression, and couldn’t face an apparent future of teaching unmotivated students and playing wedding receptions. (In this vein, I’d like to recommend Glenn Kurtz’s memoir, “Practicing“. It’s a short and touching read so eerily familiar that I could have ghostwritten it.) I drifted for quite a while.
A bright spot in this time was discovering the Linux operating system and helping to found a Linux Users Group back at my alma mater. Through the LUG, I met Robin Miller as he was looking for people to work with him in his new job as Editor for andover.net. I took a copy editing position and moved to the staff of freshmeat.net soon after it was acquired in 1999. I worked there until 2010, managing a crew which kept the site updated around the clock.
I only started to come out of my grief over Dan in 2001. Like 1996, this was a year when big events lined up together, this time three of them. Within two months, I bought a house in Catonsville and moved out of the city, met my second partner, Glenn Peters, and went to my first Zen retreat, beginning a relationship with my Zen teacher. I [took lay vows] in 2002, making a formal commitment to trying to live as a Buddhist.
In 2003, Glenn suffered a stroke. I moved in to take care of him and lived with him in Glen Burnie until 2011. (I rented the house in Catonsville for a few years before selling it.)
Sometime around 2004, I took up [Tai Chi] and trained in it fairly heavily. It and music are my main hobbies these days. I hope to get back into music on an amateur basis when circumstances permit, and to study the piano and cello.
Glenn’s health declined rapidly in the Fall of 2008, and I eventually had to drop my other engagements and take care of him fulltime. He spent four months in a hospital and a rehabilitation center that Winter. He was able to live at home after his discharge, but developed dementia, and needed 24-hour care.
My parents and one of my brothers suffered a series of crises in the Summer of 2009, and Mom & Dad moved into Assisted Living just after Thanksgiving. Our family spent most of 2010 settling their affairs and closing the house where they’d lived for almost 60 years. That June, one of the rounds of company downsizing caught me, and I was laid off from freshmeat.
Glenn and I returned from nine months in West Virginia in October 2010, and spent a peaceful Winter and Spring at home.
In June of 2011, Glenn became ill again, and this time wasn’t able to fight off his infections. After a month of ups and increasingly deep and frequent downs, his sister, friends, and I decided he’d been through enough and had little hope of recovery, and let him go quietly to his rest. Thanks to everyone for all the support and kindness given to both of us, especially all the love and tender friendship which reassured Glenn in his last confused years.
I’d hoped to take my time with settling Glenn’s affairs and settling myself into life on my own again, but my parents continued to have health crises, culminating in two heart attacks my father suffered in October. I turned our home over to a realtor and moved to Morgantown, West Virginia to lend a hand. Both of my parents were in and out of the hospital all through the Fall. My mother’s condition worsened at the start of 2012, and she died in February with all of the family gathered around her.
My father managed to live on his own for a year and a half, a great change after 63 years of marriage. I was able to rent a house a block from him which became the new family home for a while, and we did a lot of things together. His own health took a turn for the worse in the Fall of 2013, and he moved into hospice care in a nursing home. His conditions waxed and waned, allowing him some times when he could be quite active and some long periods of difficulty, until he died peacefully in March of 2015.
After so many years of caregiving, I decided to sell everything and go on the road for a while. I’m looking forward to seeing some more of the world and meeting friends old and new, combining periods of travel with housesitting in interesting locations. If you have some ideas for me I’d love to hear — looking forward to seeing you!
I hope that fills you in from wherever we parted ways. I’m glad to be back in touch. What have you been doing?