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Intro to Gary Kline's Autobiographical Brew
When my daughter was born, I started writing a brief autobiography so that when she was old enough to want to know why I was in a wheelchair, she would be able to read what I had (hopefully) thoughtfully constructed. In August, 1996 when Allyson was approaching her first birthday, in a few hours of furious writing one weekend I typed up my first thin-sliced account that covered the best-of my story, omitting large chunks of the ugliest parts of the tale. It was published on another website, and over the years went into an ink+paper magazine as well as being republished on a few other webzines.
After a few years I had a hodgepodge of stories from my growing up on a small, 50-acre farm, and driving my wagon miles to near and distant neighboring farms, to the time my piano teacher was preening me to be the next Van Cliburn. Plus when and how my disability began and the fairly damning experiences I went through until my parents got me to the doctors who correctly diagnosed my disorder.
I have never been that driven to write my bio; not even a memoir. Still, what I began in 1996 has morphed into a more-or-less formal series of outlines that I've begun filling in. Even if my mumblings aren't of interest until my great-grandchildren are around, that isn't a problem. Finishing even a rough draft of this will probably help vanquish the few remaining nightmares ... as well as give distant generations a laugh into the goings-on regarding the early daze of computers. One of my dad's grandfathers fought in the Civil War; I know virtually nothing about his life. I would like to have read at least something of him. Besides his having fought at Shiloh, TN and being injured and discharged as "disabled," zip.
Several years ago one book on memoir-writing cautioned to “keep your story to one theme; don't wander off on what happened with your Aunt Jane no matter how interesting you think it was. Your readers, including your children and grandchildren, won't stick with it!” This by a prof somewhere in SoCal. Everything this writing teacher said makes perfect sense. So: the full story (to-be-softened somewhat) for my daughter--Her Eyes Only; but then, that left the miscellaneous stuff. The Aunt-Jane events.
I will not share the nightmares of the years when my disability had twisted me into a pretzel or the misery of the first six brain surgeries--awake. What is interesting is how medicine dealt with pain only three or four decades ago. Not much different today, altho there are some pain-management physicians around. Dealing with pain, like dealing with life, presents intricate situations. Not worth dwelling on... .
I've had more than a few emails from people calling me a nitwit for not having just killed myself after the seventh (crap-out) brain surgery. I wrote this story "Adventures in Responsibilities" in mid-1996. Later titled simply "Responsibilities." (If I hang on to this ugliness, I'm tumbling before too long.) This first overview went to a small--and I thought--a very sharp webzine titled "Ben Johnson's Collective" or something very similar. A few years later, "Responsibilities" was re-published in "The Marpo Review", into ink+paper in a cryonic magazine, and other e-zines. The piece got enough positive feedback that I decided to let it be my lead essay
What I'll include in this section are the conglomeration of incidents that I've been through that are interesting-but-not-horrific. Like my years of Zen study before I lived at Zen Center. And even the 19 months I spent there. And the times I went camping with my best Zen buddy, Jim; we camped all over the state of California. (I was close to 20 years late but at least I had a chance at my hippie days:)
...Toward the end of August, 2008 I finished the last revision of my "Green Tea" story. This is the first of three essays on my time at Zen Center. The next of the bunch is about when I [helped] save the life of my baby-sitter.
Other quasi-interesting events may include Jim's and my rafting trip down [well, heading West] on the Russian River. And once just after Christmas when a California State Ranger at Anzo-Boregga damn-near threw us in jail for making a small morning fire to boil water for coffee. Once we spent a couple days camped out on the high desert (Mojave), but I can't remember anything exciting there ... . --Other than it was a break from my studies. I think Jim had begun his apprenticeship to be an iron worker.
Should I keep theses in my stash of yarns??
The first concerns a trip up a once-sacred mountain in Northern California. Jim and I were trying to get away from all the Dizzylands.