Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Born in 1967, I still remember the Vietnam war, Richard Nixon, Watergate, and the Cold War. I grew up in a time when the pledge of allegiance was still a mandatory part of school, and attending parochial school from fifth grade until I graduated high school, I also experienced prayer in school. It was a different time.
We had telephones that were attached to the wall and phone booths scattered about the cities, towns, and countrysides for making calls when out of doors or in public places, such as malls. For mobile communication, it was CB radio or walkie talkies. We had no video games until various pong games and eventually Atari. Arcades were mostly pinball machines. Mostly, we played outside, read books, and played board games. There were no VCRs, DVDs, or streaming video. The internet did not exist. If I wanted to see a movie, I had to go to the cinema. Television was limited to three or four channels and cable television did not exist. If I wanted to see a program, I needed to catch it when it was on or wait for it in a rerun. Movies that I missed I might be lucky enough to see on television a couple of years later.
It was a time of Americans with no hyphens; African-American, Asian-American, Irish-American, such terms did not exist. We were all just Americans, though the lack of such terms did not make us any more united. Evangelicals were still calling themselves Fundamentalists, and "spiritual, but not religious" was a term yet to be popularized. Culture and religion were, at least on the surface, simpler things back then. It was also a time of uncertainty about the Soviets, nuclear proliferation, and the far off threat of Arab terrorists (we did not call them Muslim extremists back then). Our nation was somewhat schizophrenic, and I grew up with mixed messages of unbridled patriotism and deep seated cynicism. Religion was still more a part of public consciousness than it is today, though again, this was a cultural matter and does not imply an innate holiness or spirituality.
Growing up in a Roman Catholic household and attending parochial school, God, Jesus, and Mary and the Saints were always a part of my life and the concept of guilt was constantly reinforced. It also made for a schizophrenic morass of mixed messages and conflicting ideas. Both far left/borderline "communists" ideas were espoused in equal portions alongside hardline conservative ideas. Forgivness and faith alongside the tallying of every misdead (remember that guilt thing?) and constant worry. Endless criticism alongside unrealistic encouragement. The worship of money alongside messages on how unimportant money is. And the most maddening of all enforced conformity alongside messages of 'be yourself.'
All of these things influenced what I read, and how I read, how I wrote, and how I interpreted the things that I read and saw. It took many years, decades in fact, to finally start to strip away the parts of my person that were not really part of me at all, but which had been superimposed upon me by family, teachers, and society. To strip them away and to reveal who I was before I was told who I was supposed to be.
And so, here I am now. I am not a single defining thing, a nice neat category. I am a single father of two, I write, train and teach the martial arts, draw, paint, game, ride, and drive. I also work a day job as the inventory manager of the PC Technical department of a large data collections company. I am no one single thing. I subscribe to no political party. Yes, I have a religious affiliation, but it is my personal choice of how I connect with God, not the category that I fit into.
And my site is as multifaceted as I am. No, I'm not conceited. You are just as multifaceted as I am. None of us are neat categories. None of us are 'types.' None of us are defined by our ethnic or cultural origins.