Enough of You, Let’s Talk About Me

Newsweek Cover 10-20-1967

This is the third, and last part of my mini-memoir that includes, The Way I Was, and Me two.

Talking to my mother recently I brought up my scholastic experiences. Her insight surprised me. “I could tell how your year would go by October, after the Teacher-Parent Conferences. Your teachers all said one of two things. Either you were ‘extremely creative,’ or ‘a trouble-maker.’ It told me all I needed to know about them and how you’d do that year.”

It had to be tough. I was unfocused and alternately craved attention or to be left alone. School was prison and I constantly dreamt of breaking out. On the first day of the school year, entering the classroom, I grabbed the desk furthest from the teacher, closest to the window. I’d angle the desk, pointing it toward the window. And then the teacher would tell me to turn it  back toward the front of the room. So I would. And then begin inching it toward the window in an epic, nine-month battle of wills.

I often stayed home. My mother saw how miserable I was. My father left for work long before I’d feign a stomach ailment. I wasn’t idle while home. There were no video games. No Cartoon Network. I watched two or three movies a day. I read Newsweek, cover to cover, along with Mad Magazine, which my father enjoyed as well. I read “adult books.” I was articulate, comfortable conversing with adults. I don’t think my parents were concerned I wasn’t receiving an education.

Eventually I ended up in a hippy boarding school, where I received a high school diploma. My journey included four elementary schools, one junior high and three high schools. Like most kids in my universe I survived school. And I appreciate everyone has struggles as well. I hope I haven’t given the impression I believe my journey was more arduous than yours.

Fast forward to 1994. I was in charge of consumer multimedia for Sprint International. The Worldwide Web had gone live three years earlier. There were fewer than one-hundred commercial websites. I voraciously consumed anything about the web as I could find. Wired published an article, Interrupt Driven, which led off by saying, “see why Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) should be dubbed the official brain syndrome of the information age.”

I remember reading the article, particularly the twenty questions the article proposed for diagnosing ADD. But equally meaningful was how perfectly designed the web was for people like me. For instance, I won’t detail the process, but just finding the Wired article, started with a long walk down the hallway of Wired’s archives, a visit to a few other websites, a stop at Facebook City where I said hello to a couple friends, followed by a not-so-brief detour to Twitter Town.

In midlife. I am at peace with the good, bad, and the challenges that is my lot. It is who I am. When I’m not posting here I’m working on a long-form piece of fiction set in 1967. The challenge is minimizing the time I spend in the deepest of rabbit holes as I research, trying to keep the story historically accurate. I’m not complaining. The process is  tremendously challenging and satisfying.

Anyway, that’s enough of the memoirs for now. Thanks for listening.

Stay in touch. Connect.

Jon

P.S. One of the great pleasures about researching 1967 is reconnecting with the groovy jargon which makes today’s idioms seem dullsville. For those who care, the music Mrs. Robinson puts on is Sunroom Cha-Cha-Cha written by Dave Grusin, credited to Simon & Garfunkel, though I’m extremely skeptical they performed it on the recording. But I digress. As usual.

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