July 10, 2012

Some Things You Don't Know...About Me

Blogging is an interesting process. It involves some research and a lot of writing. It involves remembering events and decisions that might prove useful or helpful to others. It also involves exposing details of one's life that usually are kept private, especially on an Internet platform. A blogger must open up enough with readers so a virtual connection is made.

Regular readers of Satisfying Retirement know a fair amount about me, my wife, Betty, and our retirement lifestyle. But, something I read on another blog recently got me to think about some other parts of my life that may give the BRITW a clearer glimpse into some of my motivations and personality. Without getting too personal here are some parts of my life that have made me who I am today. Maybe you can see some similarities.

I quit my first job as a camp counselor in training. The reason says a lot about the strength of my ties to family (and something about my maturity level at the time). I quit because I was homesick. At age 14 that might strike you as a little weird. I had been to summer camp as an attendee for several 2-3 week stints and did just fine. But, suddenly being in charge of 11 younger boys for 8 weeks was more than I was ready to tackle. After a week I called my parents to come and get me. To their eternal credit they did not discuss my "failure" but simply took me home.

As these things sometimes happen, being home that summer meant I was able, a few months later, to find a small local radio station that would hire me as a part time janitor, opening the door to my eventual 35 year career in broadcasting. That "failure" ended up being a life changer for me.

My college degree had absolutely nothing to do with my career path. By the time I was ready for college I knew what my career would be. I was fully committed to radio. I was accepted at Syracuse University and started attending in the fall of 1967. I applied because Syracuse had one of the top broadcasting programs in the country. But, after attending a few of the classes and seeing their facilities it became quite apparent that area of study was going to be bad choice. The techniques I was being taught were old-fashioned and not practical, like how to produce radio dramas. The campus radio station was set up like stations in the 1940's, teaching skills that no longer existed in the real world.

So, I ending up switching majors to International Relations. Syracuse had a strong reputation for training diplomats and those in government service who worked overseas. When I told my fellow students I wanted to play records on the radio they wondered about my sanity. But as it turns out, that college major was an excellent choice. I studied political science, political geography, history, social sciences, research and public relations, art history, plus a smattering of debate techniques . I wanted a well rounded liberal arts education and got it. The fact that it had absolutely nothing to do with my job was a plus.

I started to smoke for an incredibly dumb reason. Both my parents were smokers during the period when virtually every adult did. But, they both quit sometime in late 1950's. I never learned why but they showed me it could be done. Later I would use that strength to help me.

I began smoking at age 20 for the dumbest reason in the world: so I would not cough when I was handed a joint at a party. I took up a habit that is dirty, dangerous, costly, and makes you smell like an ashtray so I could smoke an illegal drug with friends. My only excuse was this was the 1960's: joints and college students were good friends. Couple that with my job playing rock records and partying with rock artists and smoking a "J" was almost a requirement.

A few years later the joints disappeared from my life when I grasped how stupid it was. But, by now I was hooked on cigarettes. My constant travel, being alone in airplanes and hotels for days at a time keep me puffing away for years. Finally, a combination of events and a desire to not have my growing children aware that daddy smoked lead me to quit cold turkey. It was miserable but necessary. That was close to 30 years ago and I haven't been tempted since. Looking back, the reason I started to smoke seems so ridiculous. But, at the time it was a completely logical choice!

Not quite as interesting but still part of the story I came from a family of librarian's which may explain my love of books and reading. I am a ham radio operator which allows me to still "be on the radio" but in a very different way. I am a dog person and believe that cats are not mentioned in the Bible for a reason. OK, that last sentence is a bit snarky. Cats have their place, just not in my house.

So, there you have it: a bit more about the the person who fills this blog space. What do you think? Are you now a little worried about me? Do you fear I may be a bad influence? Or, can we all agree growing up involves a fair number of wrong choices? By the way, Betty and I celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary two weeks ago. None of this is new information to her!
Anything you'd like to share? Feel free to make up a fake name or use the anonymous choice if you'd feel more comfortable!

25 comments:

  1. Bob, I've just come across your blog the last few weeks.

    I want to give you a big thank you for your blog and what a refreshing post.

    Sometimes it's good not to learn anything, but just enjoy the person and his writing skills. Thanks again.

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    1. Welcome, Michael. I like writing and am happy when someone else finds something I have written helpful or enjoyable.

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  2. Definitely agree that growing up involves a fair number of bad choices. My consolation is that I do not make the same mistake twice. But there are so many new mistakes to be made. :)

    An interesting tidbit about me is that I have read some of my favorite books up to a 100 times. It helps that my "superpower" is the ability to read incredibly fast.

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    1. "There are so many new mistakes to be made." That's great....it gives us so many opportunities to change and grow. I re-read favorite books every so often, but you have set a new record! Thanks, Kelly.

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  3. Let's see . . . quit my first job. Check. College degree had nothing to do with career. Check. Started smoking for incredibly dumb reason. Check. You and I have a lot in common! (Although my dumb reason for smoking was simply that I wanted to be cool, and I only stopped much later on when my kids told me I'd never be cool.)

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    1. Smoking so as to not cough up marijuana was "cool" in its own twisted way. My kids thought I was somewhat cool when they heard me on the radio. But, then, they decided that was definitely uncool when disc jockeys became passe.

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  4. I am still recovering from laughing ! Think less of you? NEVER...You have lived so what? My husband and I have been married 34 years so congrats on your 36 year anniversary!My fear is growing apart in marriage.No one talks about good marriages and how it is always evolving.

    For me sex,drugs, rock n roll were the times although truthfully I probably would be the same " growing up now" just maybe a "tech twist".I am one of the lucky ones you hear about, no illness, no addictions(hmmm coffee count? I love it but can go a day without).I grew up to be a very responsible adult with long term marriage,raised a child, fully employed(what does that mean any way?)....my point? I am a rock solid adult who was a wild teen-no regrets.I maybe wild again some day who knows.Love the writing, keeps me checking for next topic,next thought.Keep up the good work for as ling as you can- and thank you

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    1. The "sex, drug and rock n' roll" lifestyle was what I lived for several years as a DJ on a rock music radio station. It was a dangerous way to live and I am darn lucky I didn't get in trouble or pick up a disease. But, at the time it was so much fun.

      How any of us survive our youth must be due to a loving God...it certainly isn't due to our native intelligence!

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  5. I was born in 1962. My Dad smoked. He quit in the 70's.
    I started smoking in 1977. Reason?
    My boyfriend smoked. Dumb.

    I quit smoking when I was 24. I too didn't want my children
    to see me as a smoker. To this day they are amazed that I was
    a smoker. :)

    However, my oldest went into the military and, came home a smoker.
    I am sure he too will quit in time.

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    1. I remember almost being caught by my young kids while smoking outside. I quickly stuffed the cigarette in a wooden planter. An hour later the planter caught on fire. I blamed it on an ember that leaped from a grill into the planter 15 feet away. That might have been the low point of my smoking career.

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  6. Hi Bob, I'm new to your blog and I've really enjoyed reading your past few posts. I love that you want to connect with your readers on a more personal level and share some of the things that made you who you are today! I think it is admirable that you want to open up. Thanks for sharing, you really have an excellent blog. Keep up the good work.

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  7. Love this one! Made me laugh a lot. It's funny how getting married at 18 and having 2 kids by age 21 can put a damper on your wild and crazy days. I spent more time trying desperately to be a 'grown-up' in my 20's and 30's than any serious partying.

    On the flip side, by the time I turned 40 my kids were on their way and we pretty much partied... hell we're still partying. No drugs, mind you, but we have enjoyed our belated crazy teen life. And now we're better able to afford the good stuff...like good wine!

    As a matter of fact I was 40 when I got into radio. It's a kids game, radio sales, but it was a blast. We missed the Stones 'Steel Wheels' tour because we had been to 4 concerts in 5 days and just couldn't handle it. I'm still kicking myself over that one.
    b

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    1. I was the most buttoned-down party person ever. No one would have described me as wild and crazy but it was a fun time of life.

      I still remember being at one of the first Stones concerts in the U.S. in 1965 in Lynn, Massachusetts in the pouring rain. The Stones were actually the warm up act for Herman's Hermits!

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    2. Now you've truly aged yourself! ;)

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  8. Bob, thank you for opening up parts of your life to us. Let's see now...quit first job? No, but that's because my mother wouldn't let me work until I went to college. First job was a summer job at a pharmacy typing up prescription labels (this was way before computers). I learned how to decipher physicians' handwriting, which has always been a useful skill.

    Never smoked, but I did start drinking in college, mainly to be cool. I was about a year younger than most of my classmates, some weird thing about my mom not wanting to follow Texas rules about age when starting first grade, so I was always playing catchup. Took many years and many close calls before I finally gave it up. Only the grace of God kept me from jail, the grave, or the mental asylum.

    College degree? English/history with a minor in education. Got my teaching certificate but never used it. Eventually went back to school to get a B.S. in computer science, which then led to jobs as a programmer and a technical writer. The fact that I had any degree always stood me in good stead in job interviews.

    It's always interesting (and amazing) to look back and see the twists and turns our lives have taken, the forks in the road we did and did not take. Wouldn't change a thing, though!

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    1. Great story, Cari. I never drank much. I just didn't like the taste of beer or hard liquor and no self-respecting college student in the late 60's would drink wine!

      Like you, I would have zero interest in going back to change anything. It all added some color to my life and gave me an appreciation for each stage I passed through.

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  9. I loved the bit about smoking. I managed to miss most of the drug use during the '60s (I was in college/grad school from '67 to '73--prime drug years) because I didn't smoke and didn't want to admit that I didn't know how to smoke.

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    1. My college years were 67-71, then rock radio until the late 70s. My kids still have a hard time picturing me as a long-haired (to my shoulders), pot-smoking rebel. So do I, to tell you the truth.

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  10. Just when I was beginning to enjoy the post, you had to make that comment about cats. I think I'm going to have reevaluate my time on this blog. :)

    It's good to know that you've lived a rather "colorful" life.

    As someone who lived a good part of my young life in the library (and still do), I can only imagine how great it was to have librarians as parents.

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    1. I have friends who are cat-lovers....and they are still my friends!

      I seriously considered being a librarian as a youngster, but radio captured my attention around 12 and the die was cast. My grandfather and uncle's homes were a book-lover's paradise. Bookstores are my drug of choice now.

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  11. No way, not gonna confess my sins! But I will say that I never smoked. Yuk!! Everything else....well....I did have big hair and shoulder pads in the 80's.

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    1. Isn't it interesting that you can guess when a movie is made just by women's hair styles or clothing styles? If you see big hair on the women, then think 1980s. If you see pants and shirts in conflicting patterns on the men, then 1970s!

      Oh, come on Suzanne. One little "sin?"

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  12. Funny to see that so many of us began smoking for all the wrong reasons, but is there a "right" one? I started at 16 and smoked at a family Thanksgiving dinner. When nobody noticed and I was allowed to smoke at home it took all the danger out of it and I quit.

    I started college at 18 but never finished until I was 34. A bit of a late bloomer to say the least. I'm glad I got to live my dream of teaching school for 30 years. Now working on a satisfying retirement. It's good to have a goal.

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