Welcome to bunt sign. My name is Michael, and I'll be your host. You can probably get to know me better by reading the entries than by anything you're likely to find here, but I'm willing to provide some background, for quick reference purposes.
This is simple, really. I've lived in Northern California all my life, except for a few months in the southern part of the state when I was too young to remember, and four years in college in Santa Barbara. My mom worked for a mortgage company until she retired. She now lives across town. I talk to her every day and see her once or twice a week. She's the person most responsible for making me who I am, for better or worse. I think I have solid moral values and a compassionate disposition, and I give Mom the credit for that.
My dad was in the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II. He went to barber college and practiced on me when I was too young to protest. Since he died in 1987, I haven't had a decent haircut. He was born and raised in Iowa, and I have closer ties to family there than I do to most of the relatives who live here in California.
I have a younger sister, Suzanne, who was the bane of my existence when we were children, but now I have no better friend. She went back to college as an adult and got credentialed as a preschool teacher, a career she now devotes herself to with passion and commitment. She and her husband John have raised two of the finest young men I know, my nephews Eric and David.
My older nephew, Eric, is a systems administrator for a software company. He's also a black belt in tae kwon do and a guitar player. He shares my passions for baseball, Buffy and the Beatles. He's such good company and so easy to be around that you'd probably enjoy hanging out with him as much as I do.
My younger nephew, David, is in college and working full time in construction. He's looking forward to a career in law enforcement. He's also one of the most talented people I know. He can draw. He can write. He can build a house. If you were in trouble, you'd want him in the trenches with you. If you were looking for fun and adventure, he'd know where to find it.
One of the turning points of my childhood was when the Giants moved from New York to San Francisco. I was nine. They say that you never get over your first love for a team, and that's certainly true in my case. The Giants were mine, and whatever changes they and I have gone through over the years, the nine-year-old that knew every statistic and could name every player on all eight National League teams is still alive in me.
We moved around a lot when I was young. I once tried to count the elementary schools I went to, but I'm not really sure of the number. Two in Sacramento, I know, two (I think) in Ukiah, and two more in Santa Rosa. I guess that makes six. I was always the smallest boy in the class until sixth grade, when I found myself in the same class as the kid who became my best friend during our three years at Santa Rosa Junior High. That's where I first learned that I wasn't the center of anyone's universe. I wasn't even the smartest person in the room most of the time. What a revelation that was.
At Santa Rosa High School, I was near the top of my class academically and near the bottom socially. If I made it through without scars, it's because I kept my expectations low. I rarely see anyone from that part of my life, even though I still live in the same town. I've never been back for a reunion.
I spent four years plus at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where I got a highly valuable bachelor's degree in English. Any grammatical or spelling errors on these pages are deliberate. (Probably.) I took the maximum amount of time, but I paid back every penny of my student loan.
Although I loved the concept of being a teacher, one semester of student teaching convinced me that the reality of it fell somewhat short in my case. At 22, I was a little too intense. I would stay up all night perfecting a lesson plan, then be so exhausted the next day that I would snap at the children. Besides, there was a teacher glut at the time, and my chances of landing a job were slim.
After college, I spent a dozen years in retail, mostly clothing and shoes. At one point I was part owner of a shoe store chain and thought I was set for life, but I fumbled the ball. Inventory in my store got out of control and my partners voted me out. Retail taught me people skills that I never learned in school, but my favorite part was stocking the shelves. Sometimes I miss it, but I hated the hours.
Since the mid eighties I've worked in the office of a construction company. I work at home. That's good, because I don't smog up the air commuting to the office and I can sleep in some mornings and still be there to answer the phone. It's bad because I often spend the whole day alone, and because the job can take over my life. Equipment, furniture and files take up so much of my living space that I sometimes feel as if I'm at work twenty-four hours a day.
My boss has a name, but here I just call him The Boss. His office is in another state, and I almost never see him in person, although thanks to the phone it often feels as if he's here in my living room with me.
In books, my tastes run toward the intimate rather than the bombastic. I'd rather read one of Oprah's selections than the latest techno-thriller. I enjoy English mysteries and literary fiction. I've read everything by Elizabeth George, and everything I could find by my favorite writer, Anne Lamott. I've also read all four Harry Potter books, the early Stephen King oeuvre, and most of John Irving. (Actually, that's not quite true; I'm still working my way happily through the Irving opus.)
I also like movies, even though I don't go often enough. My favorite TV shows are serious ensemble dramas like The West Wing and ER, but I indulge myself in a weekly dose of Buffy. I watch Hallmark Hall of Fame for the commercials, which make me cry. I loved Roots, but these days nothing longer than two hours can hold my attention. The only soap opera I'm addicted to General Hospital, but I sometimes watch telenovelas on the Spanish language channels.
My musical tastes are all over the map. I listen to anything from classical and jazz to country and blues. I'll listen to any kind of rock, from fifties doo-wop to the latest top 40. Don't get me started about music; that's a whole different essay, one that I might even write one day. It's very important in my life, and I demand variety - not because I get bored, but because I don't want any limitations on what kinds of music I can enjoy.
Politically, I'm an unashamed, unreconstructed liberal. I chose to be idealistic, because that made it easier for me to look at the world and see something worth living in. In high school and college in the sixties this attitude seemed right. Now it's out of fashion, but nothing has happened to change that part of me. I hold on to those values I learned then, believing that people have better natures than their worst actions would seem to show. I think there is a better world ready to be created out of cooperation, communication and commonality. It may take a thousand years to create this new world, one brick at a time, but every choice we make that brings it closer is worthwhile.
On a somewhat less sublime note, if I could change one thing about myself, I'd like to be able to sing. It's not that I want to be a professional singer, it's just that I wish I could carry a tune. I'd like to sound good enough that people wouldn't shudder, shake their heads, and make rude comments as soon as I open my mouth. But my voice is so bad that I don't even hold it against them when they do these things.
I'm a creature of the night by nature. The very opposite of a morning person. I resist going to bed every night, however tired I might be, finding one excuse after another to stay up a little longer, just as I did when I was a child. It all seems so rational, until I try to pry myself out of bed the next morning. As much as I hate sleeping at night, I love dozing in the morning. I used to want to change this about myself, but I've given up and accepted it as part of who I am.
Some things I hate: practical jokes... driving behind someone who doesn't use a turn signal... unfairness, injustice, especially when someone I care about is the victim... wrong numbers who hang up without at least saying, "sorry, wrong number"... yellow squash... my own fears and insecurities that keep me from being the person I want to be... system crashes at exactly the wrong time... confrontational talk shows... embarrassing situations (for other people as well as myself)...
I've been writing in paper journals almost every day since December, 1986. The entries were similar to what you'll find in bunt sign. I've changed a few names and omitted some details, and I've reviewed and revised the way some things are written. And I've tried to make a virtue of getting older by drawing on what I've learned over the years. I can't say I'm any wiser, but I'm more patient, with myself as well as others. Otherwise, the style and content of my online journal doesn't differ much from what I've always written privately.
Why do I do this? It's fun, and sometimes it's therapeutic. I thought I might meet some new people, but I've made so many more friends than I ever dreamed possible. My voice here has changed a bit over the time I've been writing online, but my hope is that it's been for the better. I'm not an accomplished web designer (obviously), but I still hope to get better at it with time. Of course, the best thing would be to get a life worth writing (and reading) about. I'm still working on that.