Once upon a time, there was a handsome little kid, loved by his parents and spoiled quite well. A middle-class boy who had a passion for comic books, building model cars, anything related to the USA’s budding space program, and watching horror films on the family’s black and white TV. Growing up in the sixties wasn’t as challenging as being a kid in this century. There were the Beatles, Captain America, and the Apollo program. But I guess the media shaped me pretty well. One of the first things I remember was the assassination of JFK. My mom, who often took me to see the newest Disney release, also took me along when she went to see Gone With The Wind, Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte, and Night of the Living Dead. It’s no wonder that as I grew older, my fascination with Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolfman gave way to Alice Cooper and heavy metal.
Back and Forth
When I was fourteen, my father died of colon cancer. We had moved from Southern California to rural West Gerogia, and I had just begun to build my adolescent identity. Not having the money or ability to survive in Georgia (she could not drive), my mom moved us back to L.A. – at least for a while. Over the course of my high school years, I relocated between Georgia and California several times, and finally graduated high school in 1977. I had quite an abnormal life during my teen years, and eventually wound up moving back to California, where I got my first real job, and married my first wife, Debi. We had a son together, and named him Christopher. Life was good. For a while.
Although Debi and I had been best friends in high school, and we followed the natural progression to lovers, when it came to parenting, we did not agree. We had other issues, as well, and as the marriage progressed, I began to feel trapped. One of the things we did as a pastime was play Dungeons & Dragons, and we had a pretty interesting group of friends. Of those friends, Cameron and Michele were fairly close, at least to me. They were also having problems, and Cameron left Michele shortly before I left Debi. The story of how I fell in love with Michele is more complex than the subject of a website, but fall in love I did. Hard. We lived together for a few years, then married, and moved back to Georgia after visiting there for a reunion.
I could have a Wikipedia entry
Michele and I were great together. We could have lasted if not for two things. I got a break in the game design industry, and she developed carpal tunnel syndrome. I coauthored the Mythus™ fantasy roleplaying game with Gary Gygax, and what should have been pursued as a team went to me. I worked long and hard to finish my end of the game, and after three years, Michele was disenfranchised. Even though I made sure she was included in the next contract, the damage had been done. Along the way, she got carpal tunnel at her day job, and was injured for life – this was followed by clinical depression, suicide attempts and adultery. There were so many mistakes made, and so much heartbreak, the marriage ended. Hard. We had come full circle.
I cast about for direction for many years afterward. I became something I wasn’t very proud of. It was almost impossible for me to live without the person I had loved so much for so long. But I survived. I co-wrote another game with my former friend Liam Hale, and came close to publishing an anthology called Twisted Bedtime Stories™ – but that’s a different story. And just when I began to like myself again, I found her, quite by accident.
An Angel, by mistake
I remember reading her profile online, while browsing through pages of losers. I had found the site by mistake, and read through the ads with growing amusement. Until I found the one labeled “Beatrice seeks Benedict” – a reference to Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. I e-mailed her, I found her phone number, I called, and I won her. I knew from the beginning (don’t ask how) that she was the one. And now, we are married with two kids.
In 2005, I got a job at NASA, and my mother died at age 85. In the spring of 2006, I had a heart attack two months before my daughter was born. I tried changing my diet, exercise, and quitting smoking. It was a struggle, but in 2013, I finally quit smoking for good. I want to be around for my little girls, to see them graduate and dance at their weddings.
I thought I’d be at NASA until the end, but the contract soured, I got a great offer in Denver, And frankly, I’m loving it here. We have new friends, new hobbies, and new things to do. Life goes on. And I’m writing and designing games again, so there’s that.