The Why of The Who

When I was very little, I thought I was a cat.  Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say I thought cats were people like me.  I wasn’t a hundred percent clear on whether the cats would grow up to be me, or I’d grow up to be a cat.

You see, I was the much younger (my brother is almost ten years older than I and my (female) cousin raised with us like a sister is fourteen years older than I, and our other cousin raised nearby/in interaction with us was yet older than her, though I confess I don’t precisely know by how much.  You see, to me he was always a grown man. Because even fourteen year olds seem that way when you’re a toddler.

Normally, I suppose, this wouldn’t be a big deal, except for where I lived.  In retrospect mom’s expressed instructions that I choose my friends from the “cleaner” children in the village wasn’t bigotry but exasperation after the third or forth time she had to rid my waist-long hair of lice.  (I didn’t get my hair cut till my teenage years.)

The formative sense of my childhood, given where I lived, was loneliness.  Not so much after I entered elementary at six, and made friends with my desk mate, a friendship that continued, despite distance and differences (she married a Frenchman) until a few years ago, when I got so busy I lost track of her or she of me (if you read this, Isa, I miss you.)

This is part of the reason that by the time I entered elementary, I was reading.  And even after I had friend(s) loneliness remained, because you see, I was very sickly.  And though this was the sixties, habits of the times without antibiotics prevailed in Portugal.  I don’t think I attended even 3/4 of a school year until 6th grade.  (For some reason puberty fixed a lot of my immune issues.  No, I don’t know why.)  And when I was sick, I might spend one or two solid weeks in bed, not allowed to go out or have visits (other than my brother who read to me, and did voices and who was probably responsible for my learning to read by memorizing what words went with which square in the comic book.)

Before I could read (and even after) I spent an enormous amount of my time building entire cities out of legos and imagining the lives of people in them.

I remember vividly the last phase of that, when I must have been twelve or fourteen, and used to go to my grandmother’s in the afternoons, and build those cities out of scraps of wood from grandad’s workshop, and bits of leaves, and stuff, and then populate them with tiny plastic dogs.

Okay: the plastic dogs were free giveaways with detergent.  In an attempt to get people to stop making their own wash soap, the detergent companies deployed the most powerful leverage they could.  Yep, that’s right.  They bribed kids.  It took me a while after being in the US to get used to the idea that it was CEREAL boxes that offered toys, not detergent.

Most of the time the prizes were, even by cereal box standards, totally lame.  (Though I DID get a decoder ring.) It was stuff like little plastic horses, or dogs, or figurines of “professions of the world.”

But it was a lame world, back when pictures were in black and white, and honestly, most of my toys (and we weren’t that poor) were found objects, including the boxes things came in.

So kids would beg and really want these lame toys.

And when I was fourteen, I think, I took the entire batch grandma had been collecting for me (put it this way, it was after I read City, which had been given to me by the father of a high school friend) and played a Simak-like dog-populated world.  For hours.

Mind you by that time I was already writing, though I can’t remember if I wrote science fiction.  I did write endless, very bad, YA mysteries.

So, what is this in the name of?

Well, if I’m not thinking, if I let myself just be, in many ways I’m still that lonely little girl making up stories and imaginary friends. Even though I have friends, and a family and am rarely lonely.  (If nothing else I have cats, who never grow to be humans, but are good company anyway.)


As a mother I look back and see all sorts of things that went wrong with raising my kids.  Things I did wrong.  I shouldn’t have put the younger one in school so early.  Or perhaps I shouldn’t have put them in school at all.  And I shouldn’t have been so demanding.  And I shouldn’t have…

But I wonder if given a choice, and the ability to do it over, my parents wouldn’t have chosen to raise us elsewhere, or at least raised me with more kids my age I could play with.  I seem to remember mom making some comments along those lines as to why I was insufficiently attached to Portugal, unlike my brother who would never leave the country because of his friends.

Oh, sure, it’s entirely possible if they’d done that, I’d have been a happier person.  Maybe.  I mean, the thing in Pratchett’s book (Lords and Ladies) about “what about when the house burned down and all our children died” if things had gone differently is a profound observation.  When we play “what if we’d done this instead” we tend to only see the rosier shades of that path. It could have gone disastrously, despite being the better path.

But let’s leave all that aside.  Let’s imagine my parents realized antibiotics made it unnecessary to keep me away from every living thing every time I was sick (Alvarim, if you’re reading this, you were clearly NOT a living thing.) Let’s say they actively went out of their way to get me little friends.  Let’s say the defining characteristic of my early childhood was instead “exciting games with kids my age.”

Would I be the same person?  Was who I am an inevitable result of my birth?  Or was it a result of where I was born and how it was then.  Or all of the above.

And I’m not saying I wouldn’t want to be … easier in the world.  More sociable.  Not overthink things so much.


BUT… would I still be me?

It’s hard not to believe that the stories come from that great, silent fund of loneliness at the bottom of who I am.

So — who are you?  There behind the eyes.  Who are you and why? For good or ill, I’m a little girl building imaginary cities (and worlds.)

Who are you?

191 responses to “The Why of The Who

  1. c4c

  2. I had very few childhood friends even though I lived in a neighborhood with probably 50 or 60 children within two years of my age. My parents spoiled us as much as they could. My sister and I attended a private Catholic girl’s school, we went on nice lake vacations, we had lots of toys. My mom worried about my shyness, and she tried to get me to make more friends, and failed.

    I was a bookworm, an introvert, and I was never comfortable playing with the other kids for more than a couple of hours, and that was pushing my limits. I had a lot of plastic model horses, and I spent hours in the backyard setting up corrals and fences with sticks, and I could play with the horses for hours.

    So I read books, played with my plastic horses and instead of writing stories, I drew pictures. My parents finally decided my lack of need to play with other kids was due to my artistic temperment, and they finally let me be me.

    And now, I’m a grandma, 62 years old, and I play with my goats 🙂 I’m perfectly content not having a bunch of friends. I am a fiber artist, I spin yarn, I shear mohair from the goats, I felt things out of their mohair and I dye stuff.

    I think this is just the way I was born. I am an introvert. I can go weeks without seeing human beings other than my husband, and I don’t feel lonely or unhappy about it.

    • Mohair goats. I have not heard about those animals in almost 45 years. When I was a kid in West Texas there was a local rancher who ran a small herd and had a federal permit to sell the wool. One day he dropped by the house with an orphaned billy kid he let my brothers and I raise. We bottle fed it and raised it with our dog. The damn thing thought it was a dog and was a much loved family pet. When it got about 18 months old, we gave it back to the rancher as it needed to be in a herd to breed. I remember shearing it at least once and he objected highly to the process.

      San Angelo used to have a mohair warehouse but I don’t know if it is still in business any more. I wonder if the feds are still subsidizing the industry, or has it pretty much died. I never hear anything about mohair any more.

      • There are still a lot of angora goat breeders in Texas, a lot in Hill Country. Mohair was originally subsidized because it was used in military uniforms – it is a very strong fiber that wears well.

        The mohair that I shear, I process myself – sometimes I sell the mohair locks to doll makers and hand spinners, sometimes I use them in felting and I also spin the mohair into yarns that I sell.

        They are pretty friendly goats, I have one who I am training to walk on her hind legs – she will do anything for a peanut. 🙂

        I believe there are some subsidies still, but I cannot imagine why. I don’t take any!

        Once the government starts to subsidize something, it literally does take an act of Congress to stop the subsidies.

  3. Who am I? Good question – I am also a loner. Although being the oldest of three kids (each only 3 years apart) and growing up on a block with numerous kids my age – I was still (and am to a certain extent) a loner. I was always happiest doing my own thing. Even in high school – very rarely did I go to parties. I was not in any of the cliques – although I probably could have been if I thought it was important – I just didn’t care.

    I have pondered this often – sometimes I thought I wanted to be involved – and would go out (mostly cast parties after drama productions) – but mostly I wasn’t interested to even show others I was interested in going out. I don’t think I ever asked the kids I knew to be ringleaders where the party was going to be or where to bring the beer. And I was varsity in sports – so I knew the kids – I was just never that interested.

    Even now I have the same issue – I push to become more active in church – because I see what is happening with my grandmother (95) who is alone (she lives with my dad, so she is with family – but I am talking about being alone in a crowded room). She has hearing aids, but never seems to be able to hear anything – we have talked to the ear doctor, and he says she should have perfect hearing – but that she isn’t concentrating on what others are saying. She lived her life surrounded by people – but not being friendly to anyone (in all my years of going to her house – there has never been a none-family member over. Even when we stayed with them for a week – she never left to go have lunch with the girls leaving us with Grandpa). Also Passive-Aggressive and very self-centered/proud. The living with my parents thing isn’t going smoothly. But that is life.

    Now I don’t think I will end up on that path – but it is something I try to protect against.

    Anyway – sorry for the length of that post – but I wanted to give you enough to show that even if your parents had increased your exposure to others – it still might have turned out the same way – we are born certain ways and sometimes no matter what happens around you – you stay true to yourself.


    PS: I would also qualify that there is healthy aloneness and unhealthy aloneness – my grandmother being an example of unhealthy. While our aloneness drives creativity (books for you, various crafts from woodwork to counted cross stitch for me – although maybe books in the future) and produces other things that we then interact with others over.

  4. I have said that there is only one of me and I am all of them (there are several variants I can slip into, but I am still me, really). Sometimes I’m still the kid who wants to be alone – or rather, wants to be left alone by certain others. I have this suspicion that a move from a small(-ish 10,000) town to the country where there were fewer people and smaller class sizes (and one teacher who happened to be my aunt, or some sort of relation I am not fully sure of) did much to help me. Perhaps I would have grown out of the relative confusion even in town, but so much felt easier when there wasn’t a crowd. I still feel that way. Small gatherings are great, huge ones… need to have bits selected to emulate something smaller.

    One thing Pa saw to, that almost certainly had significant influence, was that many toys were of the constructive type, from blocks, through Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs, to Erector Sets (Mechano), to electronic kits, and then when the early home computers became affordable to my folks… well, I learned down at the machine code level out of necessity – with pointers in hardware (see: RCA 1802). Curiously, the one notable absence in all that was LEGO. The result that I have a decided dislike of generally destructive activities. We had fireworks, for example, but it was about making the display or getting a particular effect (even if it was waking every dog for miles, at times) not about blowing stuff up.

    And there is much of the times I grew up still in me. If I think of levels jumping on something, I mentally ‘see’ analog meters as the indicators for such. I am sure there are many other things, but that’s the one that leaps immediately to mind.

  5. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    With my asper tendencies, I’m not sure how much my child-hood could be changed.

    Of course, with my tendency to “brood”, I find it dangerous to think about “how my life would be different if *that* didn’t happen or if “this* happened”.

    There are things in my adult life that I’d love to tell my younger self to do differently but he was so stubborn that I doubt he listen. [Very Big Grin]

    • And such is the real truth of ‘if I went back in time to my younger self…’ musings. Odds are, we wouldn’t listen to our future self anyway because our future self would sound a little creepy and more than a little crazy.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Besides the stubborn part, he was somewhat paranoid (more so than I am now) so he wouldn’t trust the future me. [Sad Smile]

      • Yeah I’d be fascinated to have a chat with my younger self. But I’m sure he’d tell me to shut up if I tried to get him to do things differently

        • Yeah, my younger self was a real know-it-all, unlike my current self.

        • Me, too. Which is something I think is insufficiently explored in time travel stories. It’s EASY to screw things up there. 😉

          • Plot bunny: You go back in time, not to try to get your younger self not to do something he wants to do (or do something he doesn’t want to do), but to ensure he properly does something he wants to do anyway. He’s going eat at a restaurant anyway; so future self simply suggests a particular one (where younger self will meet someone/do something/see something that’s pivotal in putting younger self on track to become a happy, fulfilled future self).

            Of course, it probably had been done before. Then again, lots of SF works use tropes similar to those in earlier works.

            • If you get a date with Brandy,
              make sure the tank is full
              On second thought, forget it
              that one turns out kind of cool

              Thing is, you don’t know all the (unexpected) consequences for minor decisions.

        • I would have listened because I learned early that I didn’t know everything and it was usually smart to listen to people older than me. And then I’d probably think “Ah, what the hell. Let’s do it my way anyhow.”

      • Eh, the thing that would have helped most was anti-depressants in my teens. But I’m not sure a teen could have gotten anti-depressants if she knew what the problem was.

      • I’d have glared at future self and said, “Five more years of this [radio edit]? Sod off, jerk.”

  6. I am the emergent product of a biologically complex organism, where the ability to symbolically process concepts is sufficient to allow self-referential symbols.
    When I was a kid, the detergent boxes contained plates, bowls and glasses. Cracker-Jacks had toys in the box before cereals did.

  7. This strongly echoes a book I just finished re-reading; Robert Paul Smith’s “WHERE DID YOU GO?” “OUT” “WHAT DID YOU DO?” “NOTHING”. It’s a rambling account of what his childhood was like, and what he was doing when he was “Out”, doing “Nothing”, which included wondering who he would have been if his mother hadn’t married his father, and other puzzles of that nature.

    The books was a big sensation when it was published, in the 1950’s. In a later book, he told the story of how he was approached by some publishers who wanted him to write another such book, but for girls. Smith wrote “I’m afraid my only reaction, after pointing out that I had been a little boy, was to get drunk.”

  8. No one of any consequence.

    But I think you choose the wrong Pratchett reference. The climax of Witches Abroad seems more directly relevant.

  9. I have long ago concluded some questions are better left unasked, because there are no answers to be found in this world. Mostly I am simply grateful that my life hasn’t been far worse than has proven the case. The whichness of the why is simply not where answers are to be found; it is a labyrinth in which you wander forlorn.

    • Just because there’s no answer doesn’t mean it’s not a worthwhile question.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        There are times when “asking what went wrong” is helpful in “not making *that* mistake again”. [Smile]

        On the other hand, brooding over the mistakes of the past can prevent somebody from “going forward” with one’s life.

        • Especially when they’re brooding over something with no actual evidence that the past decision was a mistake.

          • Indeed, it is a ‘fork’ in the decision tree, but the desired final destination may not be reachable any other way. Hindsight is perfect in determining what you did ‘wrong’, but foresight of where the ‘right’ decision leads is dubious.
            In any event, for most of us, the important decision was to be born in America. That way, we have the affluence and leisure to sit around wondering what we could have done better. When roof over head and food on table are the decisions you must make, you don’t have the luxury of second guessing your decisions.

  10. Larry Patterson

    I was always me. Too odd to fit in, and frankly, never wanted to fit in. A loner, too.

    But I always had friends who put up with my egoism. (I was my favorite subject of conversation until a sharp rebuke from my oldest gave me pause.)

    This is a strange world, and, as Jim Morrison sang, “People are strange when you’re a stranger / Faces look ugly when you’re alone.”
    Is this due to growing up in the 60s? Perhaps not, but we did “Question Authority” like no generation before.

    Lucky me, found a wife whose motto is “If I wasn’t crazy, I’d go insane.”

    • But he got one thing oh so wrong:
      “When you’re strange no one remembers your name.”
      Oh yes they do!

      • TRUTH!

        How did he flub “when you’re strange, everybody remembers your name when you can’t even get close to theirs to save your life”?

      • Depend on the sitch. A newcomer who asks “Do any of you know that lunatic?” may find that no one’s ever LEARNED your name.

        • True, if you are strange enough you are simply known as “the lunatic” or “the crazy lady”. Everybody for three counties around knows who we refer to as “the crazy lady”, but I have actually worked for her, and still have not a clue what her name is.

        • Well, there are times when some won’t admit knowing it, too.

          • Yeah, that’s what I was thinking of. “Him? No, don’t know him at all, don’t even know his name.”

      • Larry Patterson

        Oh, yes! Haha.

    • I get a little weary of the “60’s Generation” mythology. A political faction that had a use for images of rebelliousness made use of a statistically small bunch of spoiled brats. The ’20’s kids were at least as rebellious, and smarter with it.

      BTW, I Was born in 1961. I’ve been following in the wake of the ’69’s generation all my life, and I’ve never been aspecially imoressed.

      • Born in 61 as well – same impression of the proclaimed “children of the 60s”

      • 1967 here. And while some of the ‘free spirit’ or ‘do your own thing’ or ‘be yourself’ is certainly appealing, there is much to filter out. One must be selective. Some signals should be shorted to ground. Mind you, having my memories largely start in the 1970s, there might be some bit of hopeful nostalgia or such, since the 1970s can be described as, well, a sort of hangover. Not just the hippie stuff, either. Wage & Price controls? Whisk(e)y Tango Photon-torpedo?!?

        • 1968. “Be yourself” is a phrase of many meanings. Only some are valid.

          • Aye – and who else could I be? (Oh, a good many, really… I can vary in species.) Though the complaint about “Generation X” not having some lockstep thing to define? Gee, tell a generation of kids that individuality is just dandy and this is any surprise? Too bad it was only individuALITY and not individuALISM, The result would have been… likely better. Of course, I could be wrong.

            • Though I have read a work in which a princess tried to claim that whatever she did was acting like a princess by definition. It did sometimes have me muttering, “Dearie, you aren’t fed, clothed, sheltered, and educated at public expense for your own amusement.”

          • “Let it all hang out”

            No, please, don’t. It’s raw and messly and nobody wants to see it except the predators who will use it against you. Let little bits of it hang out, in selected company, under controled conditions.

            Nobody without inhibitions is fit for poite society, so please develop some. Then if you want to BREAK those inhibitions with a close friemd or three, it will be all the more fun.

          • Of course I am myself – everybody else is taken.

          • I’ve been beside myself a time or two.

            I once looked into hiring somebody to be myself, but there apparently actually are some jobs Americans won’t do. So I ended up hiring me to be myself, but I’m a lousy employee, inclined to coming in late, leaving early and taking naps while on the job. So I’ve cut my benefits, don’t allow any PTO or vacation and have delayed retirement possibilities and otherwise tried to create incentives to get me to better on the job performance.

            Frankly, if I wan’t personally fond of myself i would fire me, but I don’t think my margin could withstand the raise in the cost of unemployment insurance that would cause.

            • Frankly, if I wan’t personally fond of myself i would fire me, but I don’t think my margin could withstand the raise in the cost of unemployment insurance that would cause.

              Frankly, if I wasn’t personally fond of myself I would fire me, but I doubt my margin could withstand the rise in the cost of unemployment insurance that would engender.

              Do you see the kind of shoddy work up with which I have to put? I may have to cut those coffee breaks from fifteen minutes to ten.

      • 1964 here. My father was in the AF so we were never really exposed to the 60’s stuff. .. .. Unless you count that Mom was a sorta early stage Equalist. (as opposed to a bra-burning feminist) She took karate, wanted to be a police officer, learned to shoot and still raised her kids. ((never got into police work but she did become a police dispatcher.))

      • This is a Great Myth of the 1960s “generation” – look, Woodstock at 400K attendees was a big darm concert, and I’m sure a lot of kids from NYC went, but out of a generation that the infallible wikipedia says is 76 million strong 400K is a vanishingly small percentage. Same story on the Summer of Love – thousands of kids went to SF, but not everyone.

        The defining unifying factor was the media, which spent the period from the mid 1950s onwards telling kids they were the center of the universe in order to sell them Sugar Puffs and Captain Crunch. The resulting self-centralness and self-obsession of a significant and annoying fraction of the baby boomer cohort has remained like the sweetened ceral hangover well into their retirement age.

        Born in ’62,I’ve spent my entire life in this cleanup-cohort, sometimes counted in and sometimes out of the boomers, but always dealing with the mess they left behind. And now they are the generation in power, and look how that’s turned out.

        I just hope to be able to avoid the oversplash damage when some younger generation turns on the Boomers and deliver that which the hippies have sown for all these long decades.

        • Actually, I suspect it had more to do with parents that came through hard times and war, and wanted their children to have it better, and found it easy to do. Too easy.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            IMO the Hippies were children of well-to-do families who let their kids run wild. [Frown]

            • Not only rich kids – one of my babysitters in the neighborhood when I was little ran away to go be free and all that around the late 60s. Working class dad and stay-at-home war-bride Mom. Not by any stretch rich. But she left to go put flowers in her hair etc.

            • Larry Patterson

              A good friend who spent summer of 68 in San Francisco was not well-to-do. He and his dad serviced oil wells.

          • There is also the fact we’re talking about a generation with no idea of “normal” (a boy born in 1925 would have as earliest memories the Depression already in effect, followed by global cataclysm) trying to parent a new generation. Many of them had no idea that the idyll of the late Forties and the Fifties, when the US was the only First World industrial power was an aberration.

            They harkened to the voices of “experts” who promised enlightened education and could honestly believe in a world government conducted according to rational self-interest. The crafted an illusion of what they imagined “normalcy” should have been, luxuriating in the wealth peacetime brought, with its industrial production of consumer goods, electric washers of dishes and clothes and affordable housing* for all who accepted the terms.

            No wonder so many of their kids turned out crazy. No wonder they took the advise of those praising the enlightenment and wisdom of their children (while encouraging their kids to despise them.) They had never had childhoods, so they thought it their duty to provide those to their kids.

            *Somebody ought make a film about William Levitt and the wonders he and his brothers wrought in affordable housing.

            • Talked with a friend of my mother’s. He’s older, born in 1923. Joined the Army to get off the farm – wanting off the farm so bad he did it full knowing what was coming. Spent the war stringing wires through trees in the Philippines and such.

              I mentioned a suspicion I’d had for some time, that someone like him would have become aware of the world beyond home right as the Great Depression hit (and the Farm Economy was lousy even before that, and even if not – ponder all the work involved with the nearly barest minimum of 20th century automation), then that followed by the biggest war in history. making it to the 1950s.. well, having survived THE Depression and THE War, the rest was easy! And suddenly it was The Golden Age (in the USA): Antibiotics (and vaccines) and diseases that plagued mankind for ages fell one after the other, entire hospital wards closing, the promise of atomic power and well-nigh endless energy, the promise of rockets into space. Fiction, nay, Fantasy was becoming reality. Sure there were still problems (Jim Crow even after dealing with the racial purity nonsense of the Nazis? WTH?!?) – but it’s easy to work for the power company stringing wires, and this time nobody’s shooting at you. It couldn’t help but be an optimistic time. The reaction to my musings? “Yeah, that’s about right.”

              • as one old racer said when someone commented on the old, dangerous race cars and tracks with someone getting killed nearly every month (or week it seemed): “Well, you must understand, old Chap, it was the first time in years, that no one was shooting at you”

                • So nowadays they make everything so safe that people have to go find “extreme* sports” in order to get an adrenaline rush.

                  *A lot of these may have been considered stupid in the past, but not excessively dangerous. They are just considered so in todays bubblewrapped world.

              • It is easy to miss how much has changed and how rapidly.

                Lest We Forget, a Short History of Housing in the United States
                “In 1940 nearly half of houses lacked hot piped water, a bathtub or shower, or a flush toilet. Over a third of houses didn’t have a flush toilet.”
                “In the 1940 Census over half of housing units used coal as their primary heating source and another quarter of housing units heated with wood.”

                Even into the Seventies most houses were built with only one bathroom. Air conditioning was not common in homes in the Fifties not many of the other amenities so taken for granted a few decades later. It is very easy to underestimate the degree of material wealth that accrued in the first few decades after WWII and the way such obscured more philosophical problems.

                In spite of the myths of the Sixties and Seventies, there was also major civic achievement in that post-War period, the ground work largely laid for the battle for Civil Rights and an end to serious invidious discrimination.

                A lot of people ignore that the world didn’t come into being the day they were born, and danged little effort is made to learn their history.

                • The Other Sean

                  My experience on the more than one bathroom thing is somewhat different, based upon what I’ve seen in central New Jersey and southwest Ohio. Basically, in those areas, for most middle-class and working-class subdivisions, it was one bathroom through the 50’s. My mid-1950’s house and and those of similar vintages in many suburbs in OH and NJ reflect this pattern. Plan books from earlier years also reflect that pattern, with often only one bathroom even for a four bedroom, two-story home.

                  Then it was 1.5-2 through the 60’s, with a full main bath and then half bath or small full bath attached to the master bedroom. The house my Dad grew up in in NJ, and one I grew up in in NJ, fit that pattern (1.5 bath), as do the houses in the 60’s subdivision across the section line road from mine. The homes in another section of my current subdivision in OH, dating from the end of the 50’s to the middle of the 60’s, match the 2 bath pattern.

                  From the 70’s onwards, 2-3 bathrooms seems relatively common – and the houses get larger, too. Usually its a half-bath in the “public” living spaces, a full bath for kids/overnight guests, and then a master half or full bath.

                  • The thing to note is why indoor plumbing was rare in 1940. The answer to that was access to water under pressure. There were windmills that filled tanks on towers, and that both provided water in quantity when needed and under pressure, but you couldn’t heat it and it was expensive. Indoor plumbing really didn’t become feasible until widespread electrification, and that was still underway in 1940. By 1950s, electricity and plumbing were common outside the city limits, but you still had many old houses built before plumbing. That meant indoor bathrooms came only after remodeling or with new homes.

                    For all but the last home my grandparents lived in, there was a “compromise” where you had a pump on a shallow well and a spigot on the back porch. That was their running water. I remember, around the mid 1960s, a well curbing built out of concrete blocks at a home that still drew water, and when a moccasin got in the well. I also remember my father was very particular to keep our old farm wells functioning, in case of disaster. Like the ice storm that knocked out power for a week.

                    Anyway, in the country, 1950s/1960s saw single bathrooms. 1970s saw “mud rooms” where washed off after working on the farm without walking through the house. Then came two bathrooms. My house built around 1990, has three.

                    BTW, if you young whippersnappers wonder how we managed with one bathroom in the 1960s, well, let’s just say the woods were close by.

                    • While I have lived in houses with multiple bathrooms, those were always houses I shared with other people. Both the house I grew up in, and the one I built and live in currently, are one bath homes, I’ve simply never seen the need for more, although if I had half a dozen kids I would no doubt change my mind. Of course if I was to get married and have half a dozen kids, adding on a bathroom to the house would be a very minor change in lifestyle. 😉

                    • Having two bathrooms means never having to wait for a bathroom. It’s just the two of us.

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                (Jim Crow even after dealing with the racial purity nonsense of the Nazis? WTH?!?)

                The WWII generation probably dealt a mortal blow to Jim Crow before the Boomers were really around. Politics is downstream of culture, and the veterans had their culture shaped by the funhouse mirror image of imperial Japan and the third Reich. A Georgia farmboy who participated in Market Garden hadn’t spent that time gaining political seniority at home.

                Absent the war, local politics in the South probably would have stuck to narratives about the tyrant Lincoln and monster Sherman.

                Those local veterans instead helped the NRA win a number of victories in the ’50s.

                The Boomers probably only could have changed things if they had all decided to favor segregation. If one has a hostile enough view of LBJ’s Great Society, they did.

                • We also have the fact that many Americans for whom Jim Crow was merely an ill-understood phrase got direct, in-their-face exposure to the realities of that during the war. For men (White & Black) from NY, Ohio, Wisconsin, Montana, California and elsewhere who got their basic training at Southern bases — Fort Hood, Fort Benning, Fort Knox, Fort Bragg and others — it was no longer such an abstract idea.

                  Many a “Negro” who had only experienced light discrimination suddenly was running into the real thing, and the Military was having to deal with the consequences.

                  Such was the basis for the 1944 court martial of Pasadena-raised Jackie Robinson:

                  In his official Statement (see Pretrial Investigating Officer’s report below), Captain Peelor L. Wiggington stated:

                  When I entered the Guard Room Lt. Robinson was talking in an insolent manner and directing his words to the Sergeant of the Guard, and a Pfc. Ben W. Mucklerath. I inquired of Sgt. Painter as to the nature of the trouble , and he informed me that Lt. Robinson had been picked up at the Central Bus Station upon the request of the dispatcher there, for creating a disturbance. I then asked the Lt. to give me a resume of the incident, and he gave me the following story: that he had boarded a Camp shuttle bus outside the colored officer’s club, and saw a colored girl, a Mrs. Jones, wife of an officer on this Post, sitting about half-way down the aisle of the bus; he sat down with her and before arriving at the next Bus Stop the bus driver told the Lt. that if he did not move he would make plenty of trouble for him when they arrived at the Central Bus Station. When they arrived at the Bus station the driver asked the Dipatcher to call the MP’s and Lt. Robinson told me that he then told the bus driver that “If you don’t quit fuckin’ with me I’ll cause you plenty of trouble.” He said that the white soldier, Pfc Mucklerath, and some others were standing there and that they called him a nigger, and that some white lady said she was going to report him to the MP’s and that he told them he didn’t care what they did, that he didn’t know what a “nigger” meant, and that anyone who called him that was going to get into plenty of trouble.

                  I then asked Pfc. Mucklerath for his statement regarding the incident, and he gave me the following story: That he was standing outside the Bus Station waiting for a bus when the bus on which the colored Lt. was riding pulled into the Station, and that there was quite a lot of loud and vulgar talk going on. That he saw the colored Lt., Lt. Robinson get off the bus and was following a white lady toward the Bus Station, and that he heard the colored Lt. say to the lady: “I don’t care if you do report me, and if you don’t quit fuckin’ with me you’ll get into trouccble.” At this point in Pfc. Mucklerath’s story, Lt. Robinson interrupted and said that he was not addressing the white lady, but was addressing Pvt. Mucklerath because he had heard Mucklerath say something about a nigger. . . . While he was talking to me and while I was talking to him, Lt. Robinson was leaning on the high desk in the interior Sgt of the Guard Room, in a very disrespectful manner. His attitude in general was very insolent, disrespectful, and smart-alec, and certainly his actions were unbecoming to an officer and a gentleman, particularly in the presence of the enlisted men together with other officers.

                  In the official Statement (see Pretrial Investigating Officer’s report below) from Mrs. Virginia Jones, the woman Robinson sat next to on the bus:

                  I got on the bus first and sat down, and Lt. Robinson got on and came and sat beside me. I sat in the fourth seat from the rear of the bus, which I have always considered the rear of the bus. The bus driver looked back at us, and then asked Lt. Robinson to move. Lt. Robinson told the bus driver to go on and drive the bus. The bus driver stopped the bus, came back and balled his fist and said, “Will you move to the back?” Lt. Robinson said, “I’m not moving,” so the bus driver stood there and glared a minute and said, “Well just sit there until we get down to the bus station.”

                  “If Jackie Robinson had stayed with the 761st—and if the court martial had not taken place—he would have headed to Europe with the 761st and engaged “the enemy for 183 straight days in six European nations. No other unit fought for so long and so hard without respite . . . [and] participated in four major Allied campaigns, including the Battle of The Bulge.”

        • Two great books deflating the Baby Boomer balloon:

          Joe Queenan’s BALSAMIC DREAMS


          P. J. O’Rourke’s THE BABY BOOM, HOW IT GOT THAT WAY

        • Born in 62 also. “Cleanup cohort” is a great name.

      • Well, you’re a year older than I. I’m also singularly unimpressed with the “Summer of 68” people — particularly those in my field still trying to “recreate sixty eight.”

        • Larry Patterson

          A lot of us from that time are also unimpressed. Especially the ones who try to fantasize on the clapfest that was Woodstock. As said above, many of us only knew of this event when the movie came out. And being young and stupid, the images of everyone smoking dope and going naked in the rain fooled people who should have known better. We all had health class in high school, even in those dark ages.

  11. Reality Observer

    The only use in ruminating over the past is to inform the future. I am what I am – which is certainly not (IMHO) the very best of what I could have been.

    That is not changeable.

    What I will be… Now, that is completely up to me.

    • “The only use in ruminating over the past is to inform the future.”

      I believe Orvan Taurus would disagree that that is the ONLY reason to ruminate.

  12. > BUT… would I still be me?

    That question depends entirely on, “Who is Sarah Hoyt?” Or perhaps “Who should Sarah Hoyt be?”

    Some people drift through life, formed by random experiences. Others *choose* who they are. They create their own character. And then they follow that template.

    • “Who is Sarah” is a moving target. Our Sarah of today is certainly not that young Sarah in Portugal, although our Sarah of today would probably recognize who that younger Sarah is. Sarah of tomorrow will be different than Sarah of today, albeit in a very minor fashion.
      We are molded by events, some of our choosing, others the choice of Kaos. (When he isn’t making morning deliveries for Soak’s Dairy in Ankh-Morpork.) Change is inevitable until the day we die. Since I can’t see through the veil to the other side, I don’t know what happens afterward; however, some have speculated that change is slower after death.

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      I once saw someone with a bag reading ‘Who is John Galt?” Now I’m tempted to have a “Who is Sarah Hoyt?” bag made.

  13. I’m the guy who wanted to go into space, go to the moon, and who spent twenty plus years of his life trying to make it happen.
    Sadly, because we pretty much axed our space program (the competition to get into the astronaut corps is beyond fierce, because there are so few of them) I didn’t make it.

    • I wanted to go to… then found out that you had to be chosen. Or especially brilliant with a degree. (I couldn’t afford the degree even if I had the brilliance) *sigh And space ship kits never came to Radio Shack. even worse.

      • Space ship kits were sold by Estes, Centuri, Cox, and a host of smaller companies for use by kids and adults. I built a lot of rockets in the late 60’s and early 70’s……….

  14. I can see spots where things could have been different. As a young kid I was apparently a gregarious boy who liked fights but I turned into a shy one who got bullied when we moved and I changed schools at age 11. Part of it was probably that in the new school I was a year or more younger than almost all my classmates and still smarter than most of them. But even if I could avoid some of the bad bits I think the bad bits taught me stuff that has been useful since so I don’t think I’d change it.

    But changing school at say 13 instead of 11 and not taking the job I took in Japan would have made a big difference to me.

  15. My parents tried to find me a little friend… Unfortunately we were not suited and didn’t like each other lol. So no you’d be the same. lol

    • Where have I read this? Some work of fiction that ‘the timeline heals itself’ and is fairly elastic and will snap back, unless a BIG change is made.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        It’s been used by several authors.

        Now Leiber had an “interesting” short story where a time traveler was trying to prevent his suicide (he had been recruited by “time agents” seconds before he died.)

        He finally unloaded the gun that his other self had used but his other self was killed by a billion-to-one mini-meteorite that perfectly mimicked a gun-shot death.

        He gave up then. [Very Big Evil Grin]

      • Poul Anderson’s Time Patrol. Mind you, they concentrated on the big ones.

      • True. And big changes are at CROSSroads. 😉

  16. You are the sum of your experiences. In some way everything you’ve gone through has gotten you to this point. If you’re happy right now, then it was worth it.

    I can look back at several points in my life where I KNOW the universe split and there is another universe where I chose the other path. Some led to a happier result of THAT decision but who knows after that?

    I’m happy and life is mostly working. I know that some of the decisions I’ve made where bad but I ended up here so I’m going to call it a victory.

  17. I HATED the movie “Heaven Can Wait.” For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s a story about a quarterback in the NFL who is about to be killed when the bicycle he is riding on is hit by a truck and his guardian angel yanks him out of his body because he can’t bear to see him suffer the pain of the accident. Except…because of his extraordinary reflexes as a trained athlete, it turns out that he was going to be able to avoid the truck and live for many years after. The angel screwed up.

    The movie is then about the quarterback inhabiting various bodies of people who are about to die of various things and put a life together. Finally, at the end of the movie, he is able to find another NFL quarterback and he takes over his body. Except…he becomes the person he inhabits, and all his old life is forgotten.

    The movie is supposed to be a light romantic comedy but I found the ending horrifying. The idea that I would be wiped out, all my experiences, my friends, my family, my enemies, my likes, my dislikes would just disappear was one of the most profoundly disturbing concepts I could imagine. Even death would be preferable to erasure.

    So, I have to agree that, although there are some things that I wish I had done differently, ultimately, we are shaped by our experiences. I remember the old saying: “Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement.” There are a number of things I didn’t learn until I had been hit over the head so many times I finally got the message. I would hate to lose that.

    Oh, and have I mentioned that I finally finished my novel?

  18. Thinking back on how I ended up the way I am, I’m reminded of the line from Maud Muller…

    For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: ‘It might have been!’

    There are so many things I’d like to change, but I can’t.
    On a less depressing thought… if none of your cats grew up to be people, does that mean you’re a cat? Does anyone have a laser pointer or ball of yarn handy to test?

    • That line can be taken the other way. The time that one Soviet soldier thought better of the missile orders? “It might have been” that he followed them, unthinking.

  19. But I wonder if given a choice, and the ability to do it over, my parents wouldn’t have chosen to raise us elsewhere, or at least raised me with more kids my age I could play with. I seem to remember mom making some comments along those lines as to why I was insufficiently attached to Portugal, unlike my brother who would never leave the country because of his friends.

    A couple of times, my mom has commented that she wishes she’d “pushed” me to be more social.

    I remember some of her attempts to get me to be “more involved.” Even if we imagine that I dove in full bore to try to please her… which is possible, if I’d figured out what she wanted… I wouldn’t have been willing to do what I’d have to for the result she’s envisioning. “(Foxfier), but with lots of local friends, and not being so lonely!”

    Some of the details would’ve been different, and I would’ve realized some stuff more quickly– but I also would’ve missed out on a lot of stuff I found because I was socializing online, not in person.

    Not sure what your changes would’ve resulted in. Given the luck you have with health, you’d probably have gotten an antibiotic resistant infection….


    Sort of related:
    been having a phrase going around in my mind, looking for polish.
    Be yourself, but be the best self you can be.

  20. I would conjecture that a strong majority of writers are persons who, from childhood onward, were alone most of the time, and eventually grew to prefer it.

    Solitude frees the mind. It removes the shackles of social acceptability, provides scope for the imagination, and tolerates flights of fancy that others would spurn or deride. It lacks only one thing: an audience for one’s eventual creations.

    Loners don’t even cotton to other loners, most of the time. (“Anarchy rally disorganized. Film at 11”) When we’re with others, we tend to be silent observers and listeners…and we remember everything.

    Thoreau believed solitude to be wholesome and enlarging to be alone most of the time. I think he had something there..

    But what was that you were asking? Who am I? After all the guff about solitude and the loner psyche is out of the way? Oh, that’s simple:

    I am the thing under the bed, the formless dread at the back of your closet, the terror lurking in the shadows that makes you fear to turn out the light. No living man has seen my visage or heard my footfalls. Turn your head as swiftly as you may, you will catch only a fleeting glimpse of my wake…and you will never, ever know when I am near.

    (Available for children’s birthday parties and Bar Mitzvahs by appointment. References available upon request. Serious inquiries only. No actual terrors of the night were harmed in the making of this comment. We are an Equal Opportunity Employer.)

    • > When we’re with others, we tend to be silent observers and listeners…and we remember everything.

      I no longer try to claim that I remember everything, but there was a time I could quote back a conversation (nearly?) verbatim. Which made being called on in class as the supposedly inattentive student rather amusing – to me. But there are still times (birthday, Christmas, sometimes other Events) where someone is stunned to receive an item that they said they wanted/needed/could use, exactly once – and thought nobody picked up on that, if they remembered saying it themselves. For the ACME shtick, it’s a Very Useful Thing Indeed – but I do get how data mining is spooky, and I am not automated (or at least *I* like to believe so).

      > I am the thing under the bed, the formless dread at the back of your closet…

      Yes! Those where my spaces as a kid, I knew darn well there were no ‘monsters’ there. The real monsters? They were the things at school when there was nobody looking to see that they weren’t up to no good. In broad daylight. Give me “the dark, sacred night” for there there are stars and moonlight and things that are good. And the odd wild creature – which generally only wishes to be left alone, and an Understanding is usually readily had.

  21. amiegibbons15

    Same here. I’m an introvert that grew up telling stories to myself. I read and played by myself a lot of the time despite a sister practically the same age and friends in school. (It was Utah so kids your own age within walking distance was guaranteed 🙂 and now? I’m still on my own, making up stories. Perfectly happy to be alone or have the other people (or cats 😉 in the house doing their own thing in their own space

    • A work in progress. Even if that progress seems to be two steps forward, one step back.
      And also a fan of musicals.

  22. It was probably in psychology class where when the question was between genetics or upbringing determines how an individual turns out the answer was always “both.”

    I didn’t go to kindergarten; when asked if I wanted to go, I vehemently declined–I still remember the curve where my uncle’s green International truck was when my father asked me. I also missed thirty-six days of school in first grade due to pneumonia. I stayed with my class due to my mother helping me and my school being private. I dare say I would have had a better bond with my classmates if either I had attended kindergarten or not had walking pneumonia; but you never know.

    “They’ll be surprised when my clone turns out to be six feet tall” (if I got that right; and irony, retroactively.)

  23. Hmmmmmmm. Who am I? That’s an interesting question. You may have just given me an idea for a blog entry, Sarah. As usual, you are an inspiration.

    As to who I am, I’m a painful introvert, a generous human being, a scared child on occasion, a Soldier, a fighter, a Momma Bear (my daughter always calls me that), a glutton for punishment, a singer, a writer, a ginger… Maybe Dr. Doolittle.

  24. Quick announcement for all the Utah Sad Puppies in the thread:

    Sad Puppies Utah Meetup

    Friday Oct 9, 7pm

    In the Salt Lake City area? Come join in!

    Contact for details.

    (Sorry for the mildly OT post.)

  25. And we are happy you turned out the way you did, most noble Space Princess lest otherwise we would be without your most entertaining sagas!

    • Oh. Thank you.
      OT my clone MIGHT be six feet tall. I was born at 11 inches (or I fit in a size 11 shoe) and I had tb and probably smallpox. if you factor two inches for each incident (on average) lost on adult height… Well… I’d be pretty close to six feet.
      I’m not fat. I’m undertall.

      • Heh. I’m disappointed that I’m not as tall as my dad, except when he was alive we were the same height when seated–my legs are that many inches shorter than his, but my longer torso made up for it seated.

        Oh, the National Hurricane Center’s projected track for Hurricane Joaquin seems to be pointed at the Iberian peninsula. Then again, Monday night or Tuesday morning (can’t remember), I read it as pointing to the Bristol Channel. Note, the NHC is *not* saying that it’s going to get to Portugal nor did they say Bristol yesterday–that’s just the way it looked / looks to me. Of course, the thing could keep curving and go to the equatorial waters off African and become a hurricane again; it seems like there was one that did that once (or maybe almost did that–maybe that year the NHC ran out of names and was into Greek letters in December). See The Hurricane Center’s projection only goes five days out and as of the 11 PM Eastern Daylight Time advisory the five day projection has Joaquin as a post-tropical storm with winds of up to 73 mph (sustained) off the northern tip of Spain at 8pm Saturday.

  26. Who I am? in a comment on a blog post? You gotta be kidding…. I could write for pages and not scratch the surface. Let’s see. I grew up in a small Mormon town in the southwestern Arizona desert, born in ’58, old enough to watch the rebellious 60’s, and decide the rebels were fools. (Nothing about watching the fruits of that rebellion ripen has changed that early opinion). I decided to side mostly with the conventional and conservative, although I have something of a stubborn and rebellious streak of my own. Oldest of a family of 8. Reader and son of a reader. Diagnosed with Asperger’s (at age 46 or so…which explained a very great deal about how and why I have always been a misfit.). Very high IQ, good at math and interested in science. I could probably qualify for Mensa, if I bothered to try, but I’m too rebellious about doing assigned homework to succeed in school. I escaped from academia with an associate’s degree, but have been self-educating all my life. That will do, for now.

    • I had a co-worker once ask me how could so terribly liberal and so terribly conservative at the very same time. I had to explain that in general Democrats (US – liberal) had a HALF a good idea, “Stay out if my bedroom” and Republicans (US – conservative) had HALF of a good idea, “Stay out of my wallet” but people had this odd distrust of libertarians who had BOTH halves of the idea, “Dear Government, stay out of my life in general.” I am not an anarchist. I do see a role for government, but it’s not to meddle in every damn thing it can. It’s to do “just enough” and get the hell out of the way.

      It’s a “The dose makes the poison” thing. Government is like vitamin A; it’s necessary, but too much is toxic.

      • Southeastern Arizona, was what I should have said. Dad was interested in the John Birch Society in the early 1960s, and left his material around for me to read. I thought they went a little overboard, but enough of what they said made sense to me that it left a permanent imprint, so I’ll agree with the dose makes the poison. I also never believed that the sexual revolution was a good thing: When someone preached that the “new morality” was the same as the old immorality, I saw no reason to disagree. When I was called a “male chauvinist pig” by a sister’s playmate when I was at the mature age of six, it turned me off the radical wing of feminism for life.

        • Reality Observer

          I’m thinking Thatcher?, but that’s more middle-east to me… (About the same as Globe, my home town.)

          If you’re still around these parts, hope you have high ground; looks like more rain today. Just got the last jungle chopped down, and here it comes again…

  27. What am I? Depends on where I am and who I’m with. I developed a bit of chameleon over the years out of self defense. Generally restrained and quiet, until you look closely; introvert; know what I’m capable of doing if forced but prefer never to have to do it; overly fond of good chocolate and prime beef; exceedingly wary of the Establishment and of anyone who says “trust me;” and hairball free for three months now.

    • I am not sure what I am capable of if forced. I fear finding out. I suspect it’s either that I am far too wimpy for my own good, or precise opposite which is, “You really, Really, REALLY do not want to press that button.” I don’t know which it is.

      Chocolate? Yes, good and dark. Beef? (Erf, conflicted here. $CHARACTER says, “NOPE!”, human behind it says, “You are what you eat, right?”) And I am more likely to trust someone who admits that they cannot be trusted, as at least they have that much honesty.

      The idea that I can trust people to act in their own best interests is wrong. I can trust people to act in what they believe to be their own best interests – even if what they believe is dead wrong. This is an important distinction.

    • I have a customer service face and a relaxed face. Only my nearest and dearest ever see the relaxed face. It has more wrinkles, some worry lines, and doesn’t smile as easily but the smiles are genuine and the tears, though rare, are real.

  28. I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot recently. I’m not disappointed with the way my life’s turned out (thus far), but things haven’t turned out the way I expected (not bad, just different). I find myself wondering, “why did I decide to do X and not Y?” (yes, I’m really interested in time travel lately).

    In terms of temperament, yet another introvert (that seems to be a common theme), who was always quite happy to curl up with a book and was never very sociable. I had little/no interest in parties (I could never understand why getting drunk was a laudable goal); I might take a class here or there (exercise or continuing education), but I’m not inclined to socialize with the other students — I just gather my things together and go home.

    • When I was in what is called middle school these days, I dreamed of universes without end, all coexisting together, with both variations and sameness, and when I woke I wondered what such a thing would be like.

      Yet when I made a quip as I dropped our eldest off at high school for the last time and my wife repeated it to an aunt, my aunt said it sounded just like her father-in-law – my grandfather. My handwriting looks exactly like one of my grandparents. One of ours is more like my father than I am, except they get their sociability from their mother. We have more than we think hardwired into us.

      Such as being a loner. My father is one, as apparently most of our family to some degree. We came out of the hills only about half a century ago, and my wife declares we still have “mountain” ways. But I think some of it is just genetic. That would mean it wouldn’t matter if we’d lived in town and had different circumstances. I’d still be a loner. And I’d still pull up a chair to hear the old stories told by family and neighbors, and read and draw and tinker and build, and try to imagine what things were like before the universe itself was, and dream of a multiverse before I knew the term.

      • Reality Observer

        Your ancestors moved up into those hills for a good reason. Like mine moved to isolated Midwest farms. A good fence doesn’t make a good neighbor, five or more miles does (or the next holler, in your case).

  29. Who am I? Someone with similar experiences to yours.

    If you’re talking about me as a kid you are talking about the 12-year-old who carried paperback books up to the top of a 50-ft oak to read and be alone (okay, my cat climbed up to keep me company). Why? I needed the quiet. And books were my main friends. My father worked two jobs (and drank too much) and my mother was very ill most of my life (bad blood transfusion), and as the eldest most of the chores fell to me at far too early an age. I could not have friends over due to her illness and my father’s nastiness. I made it through my childhood in one piece because of friends like Robert Louis Stevenson, Louisa May Alcott, Charles Dickens, Agatha Christie, Andre Norton, Isaac Asimov, JJR Tolkien, and the host of other authors my school and public librarians introduced me to.

    I probably would have been a very different person if I had not been one of the few protestants in a very catholic neighborhood, or mom was well, or dad did not drink or…but you don’t get do-overs in this life. And I like how I turned out. I think you turned out well, too, Sarah.

  30. Who am I?
    A twenty-three year old graduate student whose goal in life is to try and hold the line against the crazy. Maybe even push back a little.
    A Christian who believes in Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Solomon and Job.
    A history buff who thinks that neither Bush nor Obama nor Kratman nor Chomsky know how the world really works.
    A Southerner who distrusts anyone who wants me to give them power.

  31. Who am I? Evidently my backstory is not complete yet … ahem ….

  32. I always wanted to be a hero; but I’m not. Especially not when compared to Real Men like Gary Mintz. Or anyone else who “ride to the sound of the guns”. I did have my 15 minutes, when I was younger. In-between wars. No medals. Got to keep a few of the friends I made along the way. Maybe that makes me a solid B, not quite B+…

  33. Nature or nurture? Is what we are shaped by events, or is how we react to events shaped by what we are? If we filled an auditorium with versions of ourselves that might have been, would each be recognizable as us? What would that say about what we are? Identical twins separated at birth tend to take similar paths, and I suspect we would remain who we are regardless of what it is we do.

  34. Whenever I see the Regis College sign I wonder what could have been. I was accepted there and at UW-Madison. I chose Madison and 10 years later ended up in Denver, which I plan never to leave. I probably would not have joined the Air Force, as that decision was driven by how much I disliked UW-Madison, in which case I probably would not have the job I do, but I might still have ended up here. It’s entirely possible I would still have met my spouse.

    Time travel is overrated. Future-self is an ass; I try to ignore him. Past-self is also an ass, always trying to ignore me. I sense a common factor.

  35. I suppose I can answer the question “Who were you?” reasonably well, and to the extent I am the sum of my choices and experiences, that is an answer to “Who are you?” as well, but I like to think I’m still figuring out the latter.

  36. BTW – the Why of The Who is all timey-wimey, wibbley-wobbley, obviously.

    Or perhaps it is Roger Daltry.

  37. Jeff Duntemann

    Writer. Editor. Tinkerer. Contrarian. Vintage 1952. Met my soulmate at 17. Have lived nothing if not a charmed life. Retired last year. Intend to spend the rest of my life writing starship stories and making metal shavings, probably in Phoenix. The End.

  38. I’m still that girl who used to lock herself in her room with her books because the rest of the house was taken over by other people’s children. Who hid all her toys because the other children kept playing with them and breaking them while she was at school. Who desperately wanted people to like HER, not her things, not her parents, not her brother.

    And so, I build a family and play with my imaginary friends.

    • And so, I build a family and play with my imaginary friends.

      All of my imaginary childhood friends have wandered off into the woods, shot themselves in the backs of their heads and buried themselves in unmarked graves. There will be no tales told of our youthful adventures … which never occurred and all the imaginary pictures to the contrary have long since been destroyed..

      • Lol, I was so anti-social, I couldn’t make imaginary friends as a child. They wouldn’t play with me either. Now, I torture them ruthlessly for my own amusement.

    • We might be up your way towards Sat. or Sun — will email if we have time to be sociable. If not, will email when we’re up there and free to be sociably. (Sat. is a mercy run, taking food to him who forgets to eat while studying.)

  39. In retrospect mom’s expressed instructions that I choose my friends from the “cleaner” children in the village wasn’t bigotry but exasperation after the third or forth time she had to rid my waist-long hair of lice.

    I can only imagine. (I recall The Daughter’s hair, so long she could sit on it, and shudder at the thought.) I doubt that either of you appreciated the process.

  40. I…am a man of mystery. To myself, and others.

  41. Meredith Dixon

    When I was a senior in high school (i.e., age 16-17, as I was a year ahead of myself in school), I suddenly began to buy dozens of small plastic figures, cheap competitors to Fisher-Price, and create a cardboard town for them out of old boxes. I remember I had a cardboard one-room schoolhouse with tiny books for the students and a cardboard church, among other buildings. My mother, in one of the few decisions about my life that she was absolutely correct on, managed to dissuade me from writing at length about this hobby on those college-admissions exams that asked about one’s favorite hobby. 🙂

    I have no idea what prompted me to build a model town, but I began it, I think, the summer between my junior and senior years, and spent all my free time on it, leaving it behind forever when I went off to college. I found the remnants of it and threw it out years later, when my mother passed away. At least, I threw the cardboard buildings out; I believe I gave the the toys to a charity. It was nothing much to look at, even when new, because I have never been artistic, but it was important to me at the time.

  42. Born in 1958. I always resented being called a Boomer, as they were taking all the good stuff before I got there!

    Always reading. I used to take a book and climb on the roof of our house to get away from my younger brothers. There was a flat spot between two ridges and the chimney that was often shaded and very peaceful.

    • “Born in 1958. I always resented being called a Boomer, as they were taking all the good stuff before I got there!” THIS. Absolutely this.

    • Jeff Duntemann

      True enough, with a caveat: The early Boomers (1945-1952) got the cheap mortgages and the cheap houses, but they also got Vietnam. Everything is a mixed bag. Even the mixed bags are a mixed bag.

  43. I was talking to a gal I went to school with, years later, and she called me a “social butterfly.” After she explained the term, I had to admit it fitted about as well as anything. I am very sociable when I want to be, and with who I want to be. During the latter part of my high school, this expressed itself often enough by my going to parties and at times being the life of the party. I was about equally as likely to be sitting off to the side, sipping a beer and quietly talking, as I was to be the one standing on the tailgate and loudly proclaiming, “Watch this!” On the other hand, I had no need to be social, I was perfectly comfortable being a loner and alone, and far preferred it to being at any sort of social occasion that I didn’t choose to be at, or with those I didn’t choose to be with.

    I can and do (seldom, more than once or twice a year, since I have gotten online) spend weeks by myself, without any real desire to see or talk to someone else. But when I stop by to visit someone, it tends to involve pots of coffee and often manages to kill the better part of the day. But only if I want to see and talk to the person, I feel no desire to make conversation with someone, just to interacting with ‘someone’, I only like to interact with those I want to interact with.