What makes a man? Is it this sum of his decisions? Or the sum of his experiences? Or a sum of the guidance he has received?
It’s probably a combination of the three. Without making this too journalistic, let me try to decide who I am.
I am the oldest of four boys. Then my parents divorced, my dad remarried and they had a boy. I’ve only seen this brother a couple of times in my life, because divorce is ugly. Then my dad remarried again and adopted his new wife’s 5 children. That technically makes me the oldest of 10.
I was raised in San Diego. I’m the only one of my brothers to be born in a hospital (The other three were at home with a midwife). I was 7 when my 2nd brother was born, and that night I was sleeping in my parent’s closet (because I loved being near them). I woke up in the morning and surprised my parents utterly because I’d slept through the entire birthing process. I was, in turn, surprised to see a doll on their bed (which turned out to be my brother Zackery).
My parents were brutal disciplinarians for me (the oldest) and complete slackers on my brothers. That’s not perception; that’s fact.
After my parents’ divorce, I ran away from my mother’s house twice, then my father’s house and struck it out on my own. I healed the rift with my father but will likely never be on loving terms with my mother for the rest of her natural life.
Schooling and Music
I skipped Kindergarten and 5th grades. I could have skipped another but I’ve always been terrible at doing homework. I went to 11 years of private school, the last 4 in an all-boys Catholic high school. I took 13 years of piano lessons. I competed a lot (and won a lot). I loved competing and winning. Piano stopped being fun and just an obligation somewhere along the way. I wanted to go to a nice college (University of San Diego, because I was too young to go away to college) after all of that nice private schooling but my parents never saved a penny for it, I didn’t have the grades for a scholarship, and my parents had no free cash flow when I graduated high school because they were divorcing.
I thus started at SDSU as a piano performance major with a little scholarship. I quickly learned how much fun that degree wasn’t. I signed up for an aggressive 17 credits and failed almost all of them, and did it again the next semester (I had a 0.7 GPA after that first year). Then I signed up for Grossmont College and dropped out. Then I took classes in Korea through the University of Maryland. Then I signed up for Honolulu Community College and dropped out. Then I finished my Bachelor’s in Information Systems at BYU-Hawaii in record time! Then I started law school at USD (where I wanted to in the first place), and decided to get my MBA while I was there. I’m a terrible law student and a decent MBA student so I got both degrees in 2005.
I was raised being taught by my parents that the military is for people who have no options or ambition. I never considered it an option for myself till high school, when I thought I might get the military to pay for college through ROTC. It would have happened, except that I was too young to get into the program and had to withdraw my application.
When I had run away from both parents’ homes, I tried working in a Sony factory. I lasted 3 days. I tried getting and doing other work, but nothing worked out and I was quickly becoming a deadbeat. I was living at a friend’s house, and his dad sat me down and told me I needed direction in life, that I was going nowhere fast, and that I should consider the military.
I made appointments with recruiters from every major service, drew up a spreadsheet outlining the differences, and ultimately chose the US Air Force because it had the shortest boot camp. I spent 2 years in training and almost 4 years in the field as a Korean linguist.
I tired of the military by my 3rd year in. When I finally got out, I was paranoid that I would get called back if North Korea attacked, and did everything I could to rid myself of my Korean language skills. I can sound out words if I see them, but I’m no longer conversational by any stretch.
See all those degrees? I am the only person I know who used every cent of his GI bill – I got $1k/month through the end of my Bachelor’s and for most of my grad school. I’m very grateful for it.
I was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Yes, I’m a Mormon. My parents were very religious in my upbringing (and again, slackers with my brothers). I grew up very comfortable with the Church and frustrated with hypocrites. So, when I was in the military, it didn’t take a lot of convincing to leave the Church while I was living a life not in accordance with Church beliefs. I came back long enough to get married and have kids.
When I filed for divorce, having resolved never to return to that marriage, I moved in with my new girlfriend. I turned myself into my Bishop, who turned me over to the High Council, and I was excommunicated (for violating my temple covenants). I have married that girlfriend and am working through the steps to return to the Church. I love the gospel, I love my Heavenly Father who through seemingly impossible means has wiped me clean of my sins and made me feel pure again. To feel clean I needed to be out of my old marriage. To feel pure I needed to be freed from my obligations to the Church until my life was in accordance with the rules once more.
Marriage, Children and Divorce
I was married for 12 years. I have a daughter born in 2000 and twin boys born in 2009. I was a good husband. I am a good father.
I am married again, to the woman who will hold my hand for the rest of Eternity. She is a wonderful guide, partner and mentor for my children. She treats me like a prince and something precious. I love her for 100 reasons, and aim for her to love me more at the end of every day. We read scriptures together, and pray more than I thought was possible.
I worked in a factory. I hated it.
I served 6 years in the military. I hated the last half of it.
I worked in law firms. I hated it.
I did lots of things I hated, and then I lost the first civilian job I’d held for awhile. I quickly approached bankruptcy.
My ex-wife thought there was something wrong with me. She never lost a job of any kind in her life.
Then a wonderful friend, Mitch Thrower, connected me with his friend, Scott Dunklee, who took me under his wing. Scott taught me a wonderful trade – executive recruiting. I get to talk to captains of industry about their next great financial and career opportunities. I love every moment of it, and there are an inordinate number of highs and lows on a monthly, weekly and daily basis.
I have started and stopped at least two other blogs. I often stick to very political subjects and say things in ways that infuriate those who disagree with me. I may touch on political subjects here and there, but that’s not the purpose of this blog.
I have formed philosophies of life over the years. You’ll see them unfold in my posts. I believe my thoughts and experiences can inspire some people to avoid my many mistakes, and to embrace and experience my many successes.