Question of the Day

After my soul-baring post below about my time in Alaska (which really was not bad, but was, in fact, cold), I figured I’d throw out a question of the day.

The question: where was your school of hard knocks? Or what was it? Or who was it? Basically, what or where was the time in life that you learned the most about life, or grew up the most, or were taught the most.

Mine was definitely Alaska. While I’ve learned more about life in the five-plus years I’ve been married, Alaska was where I learned the hard way. It was where I had to grow up and began to form the person that I still strive to become.

And you?


Filed under 07_wolfrum

62 responses to “Question of the Day

  1. SAP

    The Texas border south of Laredo. A little of the old “best of times, worst of times”, those were.

  2. It wasn’t a place so much as it was a time. The first Christmas after my divorce: I’d quit my job because I was tired of being dicked around, and it was interfering with my classes, but I hadn’t gotten another one. The student loan money had already run out, and I was so broke I cashed a check at my university knowing it would bounce, but that I wouldn’t have to make good on it until the following semester started, and they’d take it out of my student aid–twenty-five bucks, and it got me enough ramen and mac&cheese to make it through the four weeks of winter break. I keep a box of mac&cheese in the house at all times now–not to eat, because I’ll never eat it again, but to remind myself of how broke I’ve been in the past and to not complain now that I’m doing reasonably well.

  3. nightshift66

    US Navy, age 18-22. Fresh off the farm kid converted into jaded asshole in 4 short years.

  4. I haven’t had an easy life.

    The thing that was the hardest and worst was certainly becoming a widow at age 24. Changed everything.

  5. A person — my redneck alcoholic father. Raged about him through my early teens, reached for a gun once when he ran into my mom on the street and screamed at her, generally hated the fact of his existence. And then someone told me, “you know, you’re not hurting him by hating him, just yourself.” I let it go and never looked back. Now, I don’t let anyone get under my skin to the point where I harm myself emotionally over it.

  6. Edo

    Living abroad in my 3rd year as an undergraduate. Or living without electricity from age 10 until I went to college.

    ..where was the time in life that you learned the most about life, or grew up the most, or were taught the most.

    Based on that question, probably the latter, though, the contrast (the phenomonal eye opening experience of living in a completely different culture vs. the unreal myopia of living in a forest with literally no modern conveniences–to this day I won’t go anywhere without something to read) is interesting, IMO.

  7. My school of hard knocks?

    Growing up with a violent, non-involved father and an alcoholic working mother, my entire childhood was a school of hard knocks.

    There’s nothing like having your mother show up drunk at your Little League game, getting into a knock-down drag-out with your father and then taken away in handcuffs.

    Ah, memories of a missing childhood.

    Perhaps my brother and I could have had some refuge at school — but we went to a Catholic school where the Irish nuns were meaner than our dad.

    I was writing my own notes to the school office by the time I was 12. If I stayed home sick, I had to nurse myself. No one ever helped me with my homework. We never had friends over to the house.

    Mom did help us with our reading. She’d drop us off at the public library every Saturday and then hang out at a local bar all afternoon. Then, she’d drive us home drunk. She wrecked the car once. Ran a red light and a car plowed right into the passenger side — where I was sitting.

    I could go on. But, I think you get the picture. How’s that for soul-baring?

  8. Obviously, I’m still in it. I’m wearing boxer shorts and a guinea T, my nails are wet and All My Children is about to start. I cannot drive to the liquor store for gin and tonic!

    Will I ever learn?

  9. Allie

    Post-college, pre-peace corps. Working crappy underpaying temp jobs, with other over-educated, underpaid types. I really saw how easy I had had it – and how much I needed to find work that meant something. It wasn’t hard in the same way as many of the previous posts, just soul-sucking (with a good dose of ego-reduction thrown in).

    Peace Corps was hard, hard, hard, in a different way – but also the happiest I’ve ever been.

  10. God, you people are depressing me. I guess my life has been pretty damn good. I always figured I learned the most between 20 and 23 when I was making the transition from conservative Republican to liberal radical (I won’t call myself a Democrat…ever). It happened rather quickly and painlessly so I guess it doesn’t count as a school of “hard knocks.”

    That has come more recently when I brazenly set out to do what I’d wanted to do for years — start my own ad agency so I’d never have to work for anyone else ever again. It probably wasn’t a mistake to try it — certainly not, but I sure as hell made some idiotic mistakes in the process and I am constantly asking myself, “what the FUCK were you thinking?” I ask myself every time I get a credit card statement I can’t pay, I ask myself every time the phone rings from a creditor, (and honestly, I’m actually getting tired of that Billie Holiday ringtone since I now hear it 5 times a day and will forever associate “if I get the notion, to jump into the ocean, ain’t nobody’s business but my own” with an ocean of unpaid debt.

    I also learned you can’t trust anybody in the business world — even people you consider friends — shit happens, and if shit happens to them and they can’t pay you, then shit happens to you too. And it will turn ugly.

    And I’m learning that I can’t ignore these problems. I’m going to have to take it to the next level, which is humiliating in one sense because I’ve always been honest and paid my debts.

    And as if that’s not enough, turning 47 when you have a brother who just turned 60 (and a father who died at 60) will certainly start making you think about mortality and what you plan to do with the years you have left — and there ain’t many in the grand scheme of things. Most of ’em are shot already.

    Fun, fun fun.

  11. Misty

    Having my (our) first child two weeks shy of my 20th birthday.

    Well, actually 2000-2002 was a time period of great highs and the lowest lows I have ever seen–and never hope to see again.

  12. Betsy

    I think if I rephrased the question to be “What most changed you as a person,” my answer would be the experience of my parents’ (relatively amicable) divorce when I was 6-7 years old and my subsequent move with my mother from upstate NY to TX for her job. Lessons: I am not the center of the universe. It takes a hell of a lot of work to make and keep friends. But one can consciously learn to be a better reader/projector of social cues. Being an outsider can be really hard and lonely, and I should reach out to others when they’re outsiders and I’m not.

    The two other experiences, in chronological order: moving abroad when I was 21 without any institutional support and creating a life, including great friends, for myself, which taught me that I’m capable of more than I knew; and doing a yearlong internship that involved living and working at a homeless shelter in Santa Fe, NM. Taught me more than I can say at present.

  13. Misty

    Thinking back further, all those weekends where I’d look forward to seeing my dad and he just wouldn’t show up or wouldn’t be there when my mom’d drive the hour to his place.

    That a lot of heartbreak for a four year old (and older…). You learn to deal.

  14. txrad

    Hard knocks on the ranch.
    I grew up on a farm/ranch very near the badlands of North Dakota. The ranch was 20 miles from the nearest town which had a population of about 2000. I had to leave at 23 years of age in 1985. There were not many gay brothers there with which to share my woes. No brokeback mountain tales to tell thank god.

  15. Gin! I don’t have any gin, people!


  16. Shit, Tata, the Discernibly Turgid Pub might have a shot or two left. 🙂

    If you find some give me a holler.

  17. Fritz (and other who had issues with parents drinking and/or divorcing), I find this very interesting since my parents were relatively stable and I never had to deal with any of that shit, thank God, but I’d love to hear about what kind of impact it had on your life, your viewpoints, etc.

    I guess that’s for another QotD.

    About the worst thing I ever experienced as a teen was to hear the snickering and finger pointing at the local token “queen” hairdresser who would saunter flamboyantly through the grocery store letting his rainbow flag fly. I may not have known I was gay at the time, but it struck at my heart nonetheless.

  18. The best answer I can give is: Everywhere and everywhen I’ve been.

    I’ve been pondering this for almost two hours now, and I must admit that nothing rises to the top. I suppose that instead of a period of hard knocks, I have experienced a constant moderate drumming….

  19. Phydeaux, much like the drone of experimental Enya music I was hearing in my head all day. Or was it Eno?

    Everywhen you’ve been? What? Are you an existentialist?

    Suddenly I’ve redeveloped an obscene interest in Kierkegaard and Nietzsche.

  20. choey

    Unfortunately, that one questions is all too easy to answer.

    For me, it was the early 20’s. I was out of school and on my first few jobs and had crossed the line from alcohol abuse to full blown alcoholism and drug addiction. I got the weird idea in my head that I would be dead by my 30th birthday (Hey, wouldn’t that be cool!) and then proceeded to carry out my plan.

    Fortunately, I woke up one day in a pool of my own sick and realized that this wasn’t so glamerous and that it wasn’t my parents or siblings fault, and that life would be OK without the booze or drugs vomit. AA’s not a bad place for an idiot in his 20’s.

    I also now have a rule that the statute of limitations for blaming your parents for anything in your life runs out at age 25. The 20 somethings I work with really hate that!

    Thanks for bringing back the memories. It’s not depressing, really, it all depends on how you look at it.

    Hey, I bet most AA’rs are libs, but you’d never be able to poll them. That’s kind of cool!

  21. ArchTeryx

    Pretty much my whole adult life…

    Kicked out of grad school. Unemployment for 3 years. Temp working (which is one of the few bright spots) in my field, science. Nearly dying for lack of health insurance. 8 years of grad school with three separate times I narrowly escaped death from serious illnesses….and, save those 2 years as a temp, always, always, being the financial 8 ball.

    I’ve forgotten what “good times” are like. I hope that better times come, but with the political news always being what it is, I have little hope that a virologist not from China or India has much of an employment future here in the U.S.

  22. Duck and cover.

    Here come the Indigo Girls.

    It’s only life, after all.

  23. Angelos

    Now, every day, with the most wonderful woman in the world.

    I honestly don’t know how I’ve made it this far, with the crippling depression, ADD, social anxiety, and on and on. How I haven’t killed myself, or died from some stupid drinking-related incident, I have no idea.

    Every day she sticks with me as I sort all the messes out with counseling and various attempts with drugs (I’m trying my 4th different one), is a wonderful day, and a lesson in love and commitment.

    We’re celebrating our 2nd anniversary tonight. 37 years old and I’m finally heading somewhere.

    The bizarre thing is, by my estimation, I’ve had a great life. More true friends than I can shake a stick at (thank you Delta Phi and Domino’s Pizza), good family, surrounded by love, nice house, car, decent financials, etc.

    Amazing, considering my brain stuff. I fought and fought and fought, and soldiered on best I could. At least with the public face of things. But 4 or so years ago, the fighting got too hard, and things started going downhill. I don’t want the think where I would be right now without Erica, as fast as the crash was coming.

  24. I have a tequila cap on my beer bottle to keep the flies out. :-0

  25. Angelos, I thought I was a late bloomer. I was 31 at least before I thought I was heading anywhere. And here I am!

    Good luck! I mean that dude.

  26. Bitty

    As a child, I lived in indescribable poverty (in a few words: we had an outhouse; three squares were unheard of). It wasn’t that there was no income, but my stepfather drank and gambled it all away.

    But that wasn’t it, not exactly.

    I married an alcoholic, not unusual for those of us who grow up with them. His employer forced him into (successful) rehab, and rehab pushed him to have me attend the last two weeks.

    Rehab and follow-up care changed my worldview utterly. I went from professional victim to relatively together person, and it all started in those two weeks. The 24 years that I lived before rehab were the school of hard knocks, but those two weeks were the graduation ceremony.

  27. shit, bitty. Are you on fire?

    Indigo Girls now have to come OFF the CD player.

    I need something stronger, more brutal. And from the gut. (Only because I could not spell guttaral, and still can’t.)

  28. This is Abbey Road?

    I can’t believe it.

    The Beetles walked across



    Where is the magic? I’m hearing.

  29. The sun has been commanded behind the earth

    and everybody’s laughing

    So, I will leave you now.

  30. I know it’s early but Mean Mr. Mustard just fucked me up the A$$.

    Such mean old man.

  31. Such a dirty old man.

    She’s so good lookin’ she looks like a man.

    What kind of gay line was that? Who were these “BEATLES” anyway?

  32. This is from an actual interview between the NY Times and Jack White:

    Mr. White said that the Beatles set a near-impossible expectation that rock bands need continually to change to remain creative, and that Madonna upped the ante by making perpetual reinvention the very point of her work. “I told someone that one of these new songs could be an old 45 of ours,” he said. “And they said, would you want the Beatles to have ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ on the White Album? And I said, yeah, I would love that — what would be wrong with that?”

    You’ve got to carry that weight.

    youg’ot (hell yeah) if you want the cojoined twin version.

    And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.

  33. Sorry, I’m so busy watching (mostly lesbian) women’s wrestling on some informational channel, I would scarcely have know my services were drastically needed here.

    OK, who has a wound?

  34. As a homo,
    I never had time to read “The Book of Girls.”

    Tell me, did I miss anything?

  35. Pardon moi. They call it “lady wrasslin.”

    Now I know how I got those fucking bruises on my left knee.

  36. Angelos

    Thing is Kona, I made the leap to self-employment at 25, and had a really good run of it for 9 years. I was always fighting myself though, and finally lost. I know exactly what you mean with the creditors, the clients going under and not paying (I have to pay the vendors though, I can’t screw them too), etc. I watched it all happen, and was powerless (or at least felt that way) to stop it.

    I was so crippled, I couldn’t find the strength to make the extra marketing push, the extra this, the extra that. I was watching myself swirl down the drain.

  37. Who knew that 1950s female wresslin’ was a precursor to 2000’s politics. My, how we’ve grown.

  38. Angelos, thanks for another “feel good” moment. Thank God I didn’t do this for 9 years. Good run or not. I burned out VERY quickly. I may have another go at it some day.

    Fancy that last line. What a sucker.

  39. Constant Comment

    Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, my father was transferred a lot, the result being that we lived in five different states and I ended up attending three grade schools, two junior highs and three high schools.
    He always felt guilty for making us move but, on the positive side, we were able to see most of the U.S., and always being the new girl in school forced me to be outgoing in a sink-or-swim kind of way.

    Nothing has had an impact on me, however like the last two and a half years of my so-called life. After being unemployed for almost a year, I have been working the last two years at the same salary rate that I was paid sometime back in the 80s. Being in the pit of despair has forced me to be resourceful as I never have before. However, I am SO over this not having any money phase and am ready to get back to my old life. I just need a light at the end of the tunnel….

  40. however like the last two and a half years of my so-called life. Wait until you call it the last 17 and 1/2 years of your so-called (and called by WHOM?) life.

    I have been working the last two years at the same salary rate that I was paid sometime back in the 80s. Welcome to the new Chinese economy.

    I just need a light at the end of the tunnel….

    When you find it I trust you’ll shine it my way, and I shall do likewise. We got to cover each other.

  41. Depends on what I learned when. I learned fear real, real good from ages three through twelve. When I was twelve, my grandparents decided that it’d be a good idea to pile everybody (everybody being grandparents, mother, aunt, her two (at the time) children, three years and sixteen months, my younger brother, me) into the RV. It was summer, in Dallas, and they figured we’d drive north until it was cool enough to go outside. The baby was, y’know, a baby, and colicky and cried a lot. And by ‘a lot’ I mean all the time. You’d think his throat would give out, but noooooooo.

    We got as far as Nebraska when mom flipped all the way the fuck out. Ninjas wish they could flip out like my mom. Screaming, throwing things, stomping up and down the aisle of the RV. Most everybody had already fled, but I was young and dumb and unconvinced of my own mortality. I said, “Mom, you’re being really childish.”

    I swear on everything that’s unholy that time slowed way, way down while mom swiveled her head around to give me a look that chilled me to my very bones. I’ve been shot, I’ve been suicidal, I’ve been in four different car wrecks, I fell down a waterfall once, I’ve spent a week in hospital where they took a liter and a half of green murky fluid out of my pleural cavity, and I have never feared more for my life. She didn’t say a thing, the grandparents bustled her into the car towed behind the RV, drove her to Omaha, and put her on the next plane to Dallas.

    When they got back, I told them that they could send me away to school or not, but I wasn’t going back there. I wasn’t kidding either. I was fully prepared to run away and live on the streets. Not that I had any idea what I was getting myself into, but I couldn’t live with my mom any more. The grandparents had the money to send me and my brother to boarding school, so I didn’t have to go be a street kid. It’s for the best, really.

    There were other times I learned other lessons, but that was the time I was getting beat up the most, and not just at home. Hard knocks, right?

  42. I would say being in love with someone who didn’t really care about me taught me a large amount about life, namely that it’s too precious to waste on being sad that there are things you cannot change.

  43. I also had an abusive alcoholic parent. I learned how to be secretive, how to reject help from others, how to read people’s moods so I knew whether I should say something to them or disappear and hope they forgot I existed. I also learned how to occasionally be courageous – my sister remembers when I stepped in front of a wrench my father was about to swing in her direction, an event I cannot recall.

    Even when you think you have recovered from that kind of upbringing, it can come back to bite you – one night, Loki locked himself out of the house, and he was pounding the door to get me to let him back in, and some primal part of my brain took over and I thought it was my father, mad at me for something, and I hid in the closet. I was 29 when that happened.

  44. Oh, I just want to hug ALL of you!!!!

    It certainly makes my own period of growth pale in comparison. I was hit with a mammoth attack of depression, undiagnosed and untreated at the time. I was in college. I dropped out and moved into my own apartment, and then proceeded to do my best to self destruct.

    I then met a guy who I was infatuated with and moved across 5 states to be with him. It became easier to live with him than to leave him, though I wasn’t truly happy. We moved even further away from family – the opposite coast. He proposed, I said yes – what else could I do when I got to that point, though part of me died inside when I did it.

    We moved some more, and I was desperately lonely. His work consumed him, though he hated it. I missed my friends and family at home, but every trip home I made was resented. I gained weight, and heard “If I met you now, I wouldn’t date you.”

    After six years total I got tired of this not being good enough. Did a terrible job of it, but managed to leave the relationship with emotional strength, if not most of my possessions. (I still mourn some of those books, but at least I took the PS2!!!)

    I learned that life is far too short to let people tell you you’re inadequate, or to settle. I thank my lucky stars that I managed to learn this lesson in time to meet my husband – perfect man (for me) that he is!!!

  45. Betsy

    I would also add, that that the last 3 years and counting of being with a wonderful man who’s spent the last 2.5 years or so on a downward slide into a profound and debilitating depression has taught me a lot, though I don’t really know what yet. He’s finally getting treatment after hitting rock bottom, and it’s already made a big difference (though not complete, not yet, if ever). I still don’t have answers about the right things to do. That’s about all I know now. But I’m guessing that in several years I will realize it’s taught me some stuff. Right now I mostly feel uncertain most of the time.

  46. To all of you who cited something from your childhood — let’s just look back and heave a collective sigh — the good old days, eh?

    I would say my first 5 years of life (they were the hardest knocks, I’m sure) — but I managed to dissociate a lot of that for a long time — so I would say that my “I’m conscious and fully aware that I’m going through a gauntlet” time was when I began healing from my childhood trauma, some 32 years later.

    I went from type triple-A personality (the soul-sucking job at which I excelled, the house, the kids, the cars) to type triple-F personality (unemployable, homeless, and certifiably insane) in less than 2 years, after I was done raising my kids. I got through it, and am now a type C with A and F overtones. Just like I like it.

    I think (having experienced both) that having a “soul-sucking” job can be equally as traumatic as no job at all.

    As for the “school of hard knocks” in its most traditional sense (career/work) — it was definitely working for 10 years in a federal program as a social worker. There I learned the difference between actually helping a person and appearing to help them, the depths of depravity that is bureaucracy, and that politics is, essentially, a steaming heap of shit which is excellent for breeding maggots

  47. Where do I start? How about parents split the blanket when I was five. And from that day my life turned to shit in a big, big way. And kept going down hill till I met SWMBO. I was 26. She truly saved my life as self destruction was the obvious, (To me at least) next step. I won’t go into detail as you’ve read most of it in all the above but I will tell all of you this is the first time and place in my whole life where I have ever felt at home enough to even discuss some of it. I will tell you one little example though. Try living knowing you have dropped two 500lb bombs into a village full of innocent men, women and kids for no good reason other than they were paying you to do it. I was 22 years old at the time and this is the very first time I have ever mentioned it to anyone since. But it’s been in there chewing away all these years. Hell, I was so fucked up that I developed an ulcer when I was 16 that I still live with. It came from suddenly having to live with my Dad for the first time in my life. Only managed to stick that 2 years. To say he was not easy to get along with would be to xseriously under state the case.

  48. Oh fer god’s sake — I will NEVER get HTML in a bone-deep way!!
    Let me try that again:

    Dear Grumpy — Thank you for talking about your experience as a soldier. The Cunning Runt put up a post on Memorial Day that brought me to tears. It was about his dad in specific, and about all the soldiers who return to “normal life” (as if) and never speak of their experiences.

    TCR encouraged me, in the comments, to keep my dad talking about his war-time experiences, and, for me, reading your post opens yet another window to the real cost of war.

    Thank you for your vulnerability.

  49. GOM, I second PortlyDyke’s recommendation.

    And also, after more reflection, I dredged up (out of the morass of my brain) a hard knock that almost ended me. When I was 24 I was madly in love. I had moved in with “L” a year before and at Christmas popped the question, gave her my Mom’s engagement ring, the whole nine yards. She said yes and the wedding plans began. On New Year’s Day, she started a new job and met “T”.

    Less than a month later, I was moving out and “T” (whom she married a few months later) was moving in. And I mean that literally. As I was carrying boxes out, he was carrying boxes in. Crossing paths on the front porch and all that.

    I was a complete and total wreck – you know, curled up in the fetal position on the floor for hours at a time, not giving a good goddamn about anything. I would have lost my job if my boss hadn’t been a good friend who cut me lots of slack, and about 2:30 one morning I would have ended my life if not for my best friend talking to me for over three hours on the phone.

    I can’t tell you what he said to me, because I honestly don’t remember, but he got me to put away the gun.

    Over the next few weeks he helped me to realize that no matter how bad things seemed, life could and would improve if I took the initiative to make it so.

    That was twenty years ago – hard to believe – and I haven’t thought about it in quite some time. Thanks, Wolfram (no snark, I mean that seriously), for helping me bring it back to the surface – it’s amazing to me that I can think about the whole thing so ‘clinically’ now, it hurt so fucking bad back then.

    I’ve had relationships go south since then, though none so spectacularly, and the things I learned at that time made a big difference in my being able to move on.

    OK, I lied a little bit about the clinical thing: I really hope that “L” and “T” have had a shitty life together. 🙂

  50. Thanks PD. But if you had any idea of just how hard it was for me to write that little splurge you would be in tears as I am now. We’ve got another Soldier that comes around here that has had it a lot worse than I and I’ll bet my hat there are a ton of things he can’t make himself write about either. I at least, was very privleged in a way as I went to war up in the sky so I really never saw the death and damage I was doing. But it has been in my mind all these years. So, for me to see on a daily basis the horror and gruesome results of bomb explosions, (They show all the blood and guts on TV over here.)all the old horrors come welling up. Like; “You did the same thing to people.” And I find that things I have not thought of for years and years, (Obviously I blocked them out of my mind to save my sanity.)come welling up to the surface. And not only things I did but things like seeing your best friend disappear in a ball of fire right in front of you, literally about 20 yards away, is devestating also. And the worst of it is that I can’t even discuss this with SWMBO as she, although she did not have an easy childhood either, due to the fact that if you have not been there there is really no way you can understand which is why so many vets from this horror of a war we are involved in have serious mental problems when they come home. And I can tell you that I just heard from the son of a friend who was a professional soldier in the Danish army and who has been both to Afghanistan and Iraq a number of times who has just resigned after 10 years service which means giving up his job with nothing in sight, his home which was supplied by the military because he refuses to go back one more time and now is a 30 year old with no future but he says he just couldn’t live through another tour. He also says that what we see on TV is not even close to the reality of what is happening out there. In fact the Danish dept. of defense sent as group of Psychiatrists out to Afghanistan to try and help these guys before they came home and after less than a month the Psychiatrists fled home. They couldn’t take it! But we expect 20 year old kids to take it for months on end and come home sane.

  51. There aren’t any big reasons I didn’t kill myself, back when. All the big reasons pointed in the other direction. The reasons not to were all stupid little reasons. What if the bullet goes through the wall and hits someone else? Who’s going to feed the cat if I’m dead? What about the mess I’d leave for someone to clean up? What if I fuck up and don’t kill myself properly? What if it hurts? I guess that’s a lesson, that the little stupid things aren’t unimportant.

    I’m glad I didn’t, now, but it was a very, very close thing some times.

  52. Grumpy, I don’t understand and can’t, having not lived through it myself, but my dad has started talking about his time as flight mechanic for a medevac unit in the last couple years of the Vietnam war. I do my best to shut up, listen, and not pry. Thank you for sharing with us.

    And yeah, we’re fucking up a whole lot of kids. I don’t know how they’re going to handle coming back to the world after three or four tours in the Middle East.

  53. Thanks, Wolfram (no snark, I mean that seriously), for helping me bring it back to the surface

    Ok, you know what, if you can’t get my name right, I withdraw the question.


    Seriously though: Wow. The last thing anyone can say of the Shakers is that we’re naive, it seems. The roads we’ve all taken to this place are diverse, and obviously some much rougher than others.

    But the fact that so many have overcome their own “school of hard knocks” and ended up growing as a result is inspiring, to say the least. As is everyone’s ability to share with such depth.

    And all these roads have ended up leading us here, where so much positive happens and is discussed.

    Well done, Shakers. Once again, I’m proud to be part of Liss’s, and your creation here at Shakesville.


  54. Being gay. In high school. In Iowa. Early ’90s, before being gay was cool. Boy, was it not cool. But those years were very important in ushering me toward who I am today, and I’m generally pleased with who I am, so joke’s on them, I guess.

  55. Being the only blond kid in a Sicilian neighborhood.

  56. Wow. Everyone has had their experiences. Mine, well–I am a domestic abuse survivor. At age 19, I met and married my first boyfriend, bore his child and embarked on what became a journey of nearly ten years of fighting, abuse, fleeing, dealing and ultimately healing.

    I left him in 1997 and endured years of his continued control through threats and fear. I distinctly remember the day I stood up to him for the very first time. It was a such a release, too. I found this inner strength after that and started becoming more bold. Soon, I realized that he was just a coward and he was never going to hurt me again. It was very easy to stop him from abusing my daughter, too. I fought back with logic, intelligence and simply let him destroy himself in front of the judge.

    I’m now remarried to a wonderful man whom is currently adopting my daughter. The ex disappeared when he realized that he was never going to control me again. Currently, he owes me about $17,000 in backed child support. Thank god the state of Maryland uses failure to support as a precedent to involuntarily terminate parental rights.

    Would I go back and do it again? Yes. The man did give me one thing I cherish—My daughter.

  57. growing up on an indin rez as a halfbreed during the 50’s, oh yeah and it was alcoholic not only in the home but pretty much in the culture. that was followed by viet nam. after that, pretty much easy sailing. my own alcoholism, four failed marriages, heroin addiction, some college degrees (where i’ve never, ever worked in any of the fields i studied) to now.

    14 years clean and sober. single parent for 13 of them.

    yeah, i gots scars (inside and outside), i gots issues, i walk with a cane and a limp. but all in all i’m with billy pilgrim.

    everything was beautiful
    nothing hurt

    ok that’s a lie but fuck it.
    don’t mean nothin’
    saddle up,
    press on

  58. WKW –


    I was speaking elementally, not literally! I got Tungsten tied! Yeah, that’s the ticket!

    (That’s why I shouldn’t comment at 3am, my time!)

  59. Phydeaux, you make my brain hurt. 🙂

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