The idea of writing an autobiography by creating a collection of memoirs is not something I came up with on my own. I fell into it quite by accident, wandering aimlessly on the internet while minding everyone else’s business and reading the pieces of their own life stories.

Several people I follow are telling their life stories in Snippets or mini memoirs if you will. This fascinates me and makes me want to do something similar. I am neither an inventor nor a thief; I am a nobody from nowhere who has done nothing more than anyone else who, nonetheless, feels like telling his story on his own terms and in his own space whether anybody else ever reads it or not. The internet, after all, is forever.

I was born in Washington, DC, in 1958 in a hospital that has since been torn down and rebuilt elsewhere in the city. I grew up in a Maryland suburb, a bicycle ride away from the city line, part of the busing and desegregation era for junior high school, and I graduated from a high school a couple of miles away from the University of Maryland. I was a soccer star of sorts, and the only other thing I was halfway decent at was all things English: reading and writing, love poems, and English literature and composition/ comprehension. My only real claim to fame, if you want to call it that, is that my people have been here since well before the American Revolution and I am proudly descended from Generations of Appalachian culture and family trees.

That point in high school, when each of us was forced to answer the question of what we wanted to be when we grew up, was easy for me. When my brother, five years my senior, asked, I told him that I wanted to be a writer and that my high school English comp teacher, Mrs. Summerall, had told me I was incredibly talented and should get a degree in English and become a novelist. I explained that writing was the only thing I ever gave a shit about in school… the only happiness and joy I ever got out of the otherwise inane drudgery of my public education… and that the only thing I loved in my life more was my high school sweetheart.

On the outside chance that he ever reads this, I want to make sure that I state in the clearest of terms that his response was not wrong and that I’m glad I took his advice and decided to pursue an engineering degree instead. I put aside the”dumb” idea of chasing my dream, although I can’t help but wonder if I might have been a world-famous novelist if I hadn’t because I might very well have turned out to be a homeless person on the streets of Greenwich Village wishing I had chosen otherwise.

Though not a rabid follower of astrology, having been born a Pisces (big ‘D’ dreamer, small ‘a’ achiever), the odds are better than good that he would probably have been right. My teenage affinity for mood-altering chemicals might very well have sealed the deal and led me to a life of poverty and addiction. Further, coming from a long, long line of Alcoholics, dancing all around the edges of being one myself during several stretches of my life, the odds were not in my favor. Accordingly, I have no regrets.

I entered the post-college workforce in 1981 as an electronics technician and, by 1997, had achieved the level of Director of Engineering. Along the way I was a programming engineer, a manufacturing supervisor, equipment engineering supervisor, electrical engineering supervisor, a training manager, and all sorts of other things in between. Nowhere in this list do you see any mention of the word “writing” and yet writing, be it memos, technical papers, business and Engineering presentations, specifications, technical procedures, course material, and any other number or type of written material required, most of all clear and concise and effective composition. In a way, I was writing the entire time, and I wasn’t an actual writer. It’s more than a little odd, looking back on this last paragraph, to consider that I was actually fulfilling my life dream all along although it was entirely nonfiction and all of the characters were real.

I found myself in 1997 at Robert Johnson’s Crossroads. Like him, I was down on my knees looking East, and looking West, risen son going down on a failed marriage, and “Asked the Lord above, Have mercy, now, save poor (David) if you please.” The marriage was over, I had been laid off, and the career was over, and I felt as if I had fallen face first into a 2-inch deep puddle of water, drowning, and not terribly sure if I cared very much about summoning the necessary strength to roll over onto my back so I could avoid drowning in my own misery and self-loathing.

And then shit got serious.

Because I am planning a mini-memoir on the subject of love and relationships, which I promise will be dark and cynical, with a splash of bitterness and a pinch of disdain, I have consciously decided to skip over the details of the death of my first marriage. The sorts of things that happen between couples and to the children they conceive are relevant here, however, because- in the case of my first divorce – the events that followed became the turning point… The Genesis, if you will, instigating the writing life, such as it is, that I have committed whatever remains of my life to pursue.

Once the smoke cleared after the legal divorce process, I looked over the carnage left in its wake and picked up the few salvageable pieces of my life. I set out on the new course of every other weekend visitation routine. I called the kids at night and on the weekends and tried to engage them in their school work, Sports, and daily life… from a distance. They rarely had much to say, and more often than not, their mother would tell me they weren’t home, they were busy, or that I needed to call back at a better time. After a few visitations into the new arrangements, they told me about things their mother told them. Apparently, I was the fucking Antichrist.

This all went on for quite a long time and, as you can imagine (and as I’m sure you have heard about amongst family and friends in the case of other divorced parents), there wasn’t much that could be done in the late 90s about the issue of something known as parental alienation syndrome. A lot of that has changed in the decades since. Thank God, but it took acts of Congress in state legislatures all around the country a very long time to catch up with what custodial parents were doing to their children to get even with their ex-spouses.

Back in those days, as the internet was starting to blossom, things like message boards and group chats were beginning to spring up. I came across one that was a support group for fathers dealing with these sorts of issues, and I joined one. That particular group was working with a subcommittee on family issues in the state legislature, and one thing led to another; I became involved with this group and their efforts to petition lawmakers and give input to subcommittee members on how the laws should be changed. Of all the ways to kick off a writing career, I would never have expected this set of circumstances to be what kicked off mine.

Now that I’ve done an updated word count and find that I’m over 1200 words and barely getting warmed up, I guess I will have to split this up into several parts. To provide the reader with some closure, I will say that we successfully affected change in the legal system, at least for the divorces that came after ours. For whatever small part I played in it, I’m proud to have been part of a process- however small that might have been – to bring a little sanity back into a clearly broken system. While it is true that little changed for our specific issues, by the time our kids grew up and had kids of their own, they had learned, watching their parents, that every child deserves to know, love, and enjoy loving and productive relationships with the parents no longer living in the home.

In part two, I’ll tell you how I went National and discovered an incredibly beautiful and heinously ugly world where good and evil constantly wage war with each other to this very day in a fight over the very soul of humanity.


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