Well it wasn't supposed to happen this way, but too many things have changed in my life recently to ignore.
Although I have only been posting for about 6 months now, I have been visiting Hatrack for about 2 and 1/2 years now. I was always eager to read OSCs reviews and the Ornery articles each week, but was too introverted to post anything in the forum. One day, I started a thread about, "Hey! Who should play Ender in the EG movie?" I still slap myself for that one. But regardless of the poor planning of the topic, it broke the ice for me and I have been here ever since. But enough about how I got here, here is a bit about me.
I was born and raised in a small town along the Allegheny River in rural Pennsylvania. My parents have a rich family history between them and were chilhood sweethearts who ended up later marrying. My father traces his roots back to Europe where my Great-Great-Great Grandmother was a Countess of Switzerland, but was French in descent. It ends up she eloped to the U.S> with the gardener, my Grand (X3) Father. Needless to say, the whole event was a scandal. I have a cousin who was a priest in the Catholic Church (he has passed, God rest his soul) and reasearched our family history back to Europe and back through to Charlemagne. What is sad is that the Brulengs or DeBoulougnes of Gempen, Switzerland had an estate in France. All of the heirs had passed away and no one claimed the estate as theirs. Being a bunch of uninformed rural farmers in the Appalacian Highlands, my ancestors did not claim the estate and it was given to the country of France. The ruins of the castle still stand today, and I have them in a book of my family's history, along with the family crest and all the other lore.
My mother's heritage is not so regal but just as entertaining as my Great-Grandfather was a full-blodded Mohawk Indian, and married an Irish woman (my GG) in 1923. Because my Pappy's tribe wavered between the Buffalo, NY side and the Canadian side of Niagra Falls, my Pap was actually deported at one time because the US Government declared him not a US citizen. Evidently he was born in Canada and his sisters were born in the US. He worked on the Empire State building and various bridges in NYC, and was a professional boxer. His brother was actually the welterweight champion at one point. But my grandmother and her 3 siblings grew up in Brooklyn, NY. My great-grandparents started a restaurant in NYC and my Pappy's chilidog sauce is still a closely-guarded secret. I still have a wooden chair from the bar of the restaurant that has the face of a cigar-smoking man engraved onto the back of the chair. Needless to say, it is an object of contention among my grandmother and her siblings and I guard it fiercely.
My father was the first in his family to move off of the farm, and he fell in love with my mother in a small town of about 800 people. There is only one church in the town, a Catholic Church, and the whole town is predominantly descended from Catholic German immigrants. Even though my family was Swiss, they spoke German as their first language, as many Swiss do (there are 4 official languages of Switzerland).
Interestingly, I am the only one who has carried on the family name all the way back to my grandfather and all of his siblings. Sadly, of all my family's children born recently, my son is the only one who carries it any furthur. So for 2 generations, our family tree is looking rather vertical, with few branches.
I had a glorius childhood, but we were poor. My dad worked odd jobs and eventually became a hair dresser/barber (men and women). We lived on his income until my younger sister and I were old enough to go to kindergarten (the first 7 years of my life). I was never unhappy during my childhood, because my mother was very nurturing and our extended family members were extraordinary and fascinating people. I remember shopping at thrift stores with my parents for everything: clothes, toys, books, etc. There were two actually, Goodwill and the Salvation Army store. Our standard of living did improve though when my mother started teaching full-time.
I tell you now that I call myself the luckiest man in the world, and I sincerely mean it. I have been blessed with many gifts and I have had many unexpected, but wonderful things happen in my life.
I was raised Catholic, and I always told my mother that I had the best guardian angel that God ever had, and he/she is still as wonderful to me as the day I had been told that I had one. I was the kid that was ornery, not destructive as a child and always seemed to get away with being bad. I was always fortunate enough to have a pretty girlfriend, wonderful friends, and was more often than not, the center of attention.
But one day that all changed.
In high school, I was in every activity from student council, sports, band, yearbook and held leadership positions in all of them including President of SC and band, yearbook editor, and captain of the tennis team etc... I had a beautiful girlfriend that was more attractive to me than anyone else I had ever met. After about 2 years of that serious high school romance, it ended. I was devastated.
You see, I was always strangely mature for my age, and usually too intelligent for my own good. I tested at gifted level, MENSA level and was always trying to improve my learning and logic skills, well until 8th grade, anyway. As far as my emotional commitment to my relationship, I loved this girl enough to marry her. Sure, in hindsight, I know that I was foolish, but at the time I was dead serious.
I became depressed. I stopped eating. I went to doctors. Because I was such the wonderful student and person, everyone expected me to pull out of my sorrow. I didn't. I was never suicicidal, but I simply wished that I had died. The pain was unbearable. I type now with tears just on the verge of weeping, because I had truly seen the very bottom of my soul. Even my wonderful family could not rescue me. Something strange happened though.
I was voluntarily admitted to a physciatric counciling center, to work on my condition and hopefully start eating. I had sat in a regular hospital for a week with IVs and nurses and doctors, but was not 100%. The doctors decided that I was stable enough to go to the center. Can you imagine how disappointing and frustrating it was to see all your friends in your hospital room visiting and there was nothing you could to want to leave? to improve? to get better? For me, I kept asking myself, why bother?
When I got to the center, I was really thrust into the real world. Children who were sexually molested, alcoholics, organically insane individuals, and well, me. I sat in my room and wrote in my journal nonstop. I met children (I was still 17 when this happened) that had lives that made mine look like the life of a Prince (or a Count, to me more accurate . I then decided that I was going to tell all these girls whose fathers had raped them, these girls who had been assaulted by parents or siblings just exactly how depressed I was and why. I was the catalyst and the start of all of my fellow inmates breaking their silence and progress was made, not just for me, but for all of them. The councelors later pulled me aside and told me in reality I did not belong in there, but it was for my own good and unexpectedly, the good of others.
I even stayed in touch with my new-found friends after I was released, but it was not my own situation that still haunts me about that place, but the children that were 5 and under that were just hopelessly insane or disturbed. They never had a chance. I will remember their faces until the day I die.
When I came back to high school, I felt very strange, like floating in a dream. Sure I was already popular, but everyone had rallied behind me and was glad to have me back. I truly didn't know how to feel. I figured that I had let them all down, but everyone, and I mean everyone, was there to support me. As I came to terms with my 2 million various activites and situations, I was like a phoenix from the ashes.
I am disappointed with myself now, but not afraid to say that my newfound freedom brought all sorts of perks, especially with girls. All these girls came forth with their secret crushes and I was a very pampered man until I graduated. You see, this whole series of events started before Christmas of my senior year, and resolved within a few months of my graduation. But college was more of a learning experience in other ways.
I went to a small Presbyterian College for the first 3 years of my education, and I very nearly failed out my first year with a cumulative GPA of 2.2. I was still enamoured with women and did not have the patience to study. The end of my freshman year was a big wakeup call, as I finished my next 2 years with GPAs well over 3.0 and left college there with a solid GPA. It was one of my proudest moments, because like my reawakening and rebirth in high school, I was able to battle adversity and triumph. That part of me is still as strong as ever, as I seem to not know how to fail anymore.
I was a Biology Premed major and had decided that I was too family-oriented to commit to medical school and the life of a doctor, so I was really in a quandry.
On a lark, I discovered pharmacy and fell in love with the business and medical sides of the profession. Since my dad owned his own business, I always respected the retail side of what he did, but knew in my heart that I wanted to be in healthcare (imagine my experiences with my sorrow and the hospitals and psychiatric centers factoring in). Anyway, pharmacy allowed me to do both. Local schools were not accepting students into an already ongoing curriculum, so I had to come up with something. I was advised to finish my bachelors in biology and start pharmacy the following year, but that was a wasted year of my life.
This is when my guardian angel stepped in and I was guided in a way I cannot explain. My parents' pharmacist had recommended a school that was brand new and was accepting students for the fall. Well, it was March and I was not very concerned about my situation to be brutally honest. If I had a lax senior year of college, who cares? Well my mom did. She MADE me sign the application she filled out and I applied at The Chicago College of Pharmacy.
I heard nothing.
My mom was staying in North Carolina with my sister for the summer to get her set up in an apartment for college. She called me and told me to call the school to have them keep my application active for the following term. So I did, and I was told by the Registrar that they were not done accepting applications. I told her I was interested and I got a call. My mom talked to the dean and told him all about me. It ends up that he was the former assistant Dean of the Univ. of Pittsburgh College of Pharmacy, and knew of my undergraduate college very well. I hate to mention this, but I was accepted as a candidate to attend West Point Military Academy, but I turned them down. I spent the better part of a year trying to get into the naval academy to study medicine throughout, and during my panel investigation by my state senator (Bill Clinger at the time) the board offered me a free trip to West Point. I respectfully declined. They said, "Why"? I then explained that I wanted to go into healthcare and not what the Army would teach me at West Point. I remember one gentleman with a big furry mustasche say, "Hell, son, you could be a helicoptor pilot for crissakes!" Still, I held on to my beliefs, and did not succumb. I took my chances with Annapolis and made it all the way to the final selection of 500 prospective students out of 15,000 applicants. They only took 250 and I was not one of them. I guess you could say that I missed Battle School, and passed on another. In hindsight, it was for the best though. For some reason, this struck a heartstring with the dean of my Pharmacy School though, and I was in.
I regained my stride in Pharmacy School, and took on more of the leadership positions that I was used to doing in high school, but had passed on in college. The only thing I did in college was play my saxophone. I was blessed in that regard too. I usually was first chair or lead in every band I ever played in. In high school, I took honors at honors band. I took first chair at district competitions. The one opponent I beat at districts happened to beat me at regionals. I missed states. The next year I beat him at districts again. We both lost to a new face who went to states. Our common misery was great company though as we had a blast. And I will never forget Jerry, the guy who hosted me and let me stay in his house. He drove an old Lincoln LTD with a glass of Johnny Walker Black Label Whiskey in his left hand, and steered with this right. He turned left on red lights, and bought us some Straubs Beer from the local brewery in St. Marys, PA. That was a strange and wonderful time.
But the point to make was that I was a bio major in college and I was ousting saxophone majors in the college jazz band. That was not easy for me to do. I had no intentions of ever teaching music or performing, but I managed to steal the spotlight. I suppose I have a very guilty conscience, and I felt awkward and out of place with my peers. I did not fit in very well there, and that was strange for me too. At least there was nobody to blame but myself for my own idiosyncrasies.
So jumping ahead in my life story, I stand here in the pharmacy, 32 years old and all my dreams have come true. I made life-long friends in grade school, high school, college, and pharmacy school. I actually have 4 other close friends that I went to elementary, HS, and college with. We even joined the same housing group and lived together. They are truly like bothers to me. They have seen me at my best and they have seen me at rock bottom, in tears as a lump on the floor. I haven't felt sorry for myself since high school though, and I consider it the one time I failed. I fell in love and I paid the price. I just didn't know going into the relationship that the stakes were so high. You see, I let my life spiral out of control. Sure, there was a lot of pressure in high school from peers, class, activities, and just being a teenager. But I lost control, and I could not reestablish it without help. I am proud to say that has never happened since and will never happen again as long as my lungs breathe air.
I married my friend. A woman that is not only beautiful in appearance, but is the most sensitive and wonderful person I have ever met. She is not only a delicate flower, but she can be a cast-iron b*itch when she wants to be. She is a tiger when someone threatens our children, and she is a beautiful kitten when I need her to be. She too has seen me laugh and cry, and is my biggest supporter. I have found a life as complete and pleasing as I could have hoped for even without my wife, and since I have met her, I have opened my heart so that I am not complete without her. The pain I felt in high school was like a flame that burned me beyond recognition. Even though I had relationships in college, I was never truly in love, until my wife. She cured me and made me forget all the horrors of being alone and not understood. She was there for me when I was down in a way that I had missed for a very, very long time. We were friends for 3 years before dating and it has been a wonderful 8 years of marriage.
In high school, I was a huge Iron Maiden fan and they called one of their albums Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. I naturally had to buy the book when I saw it on the shelf at B. Daltons. I was hooked, I stayed glued to the epic saga and loved the characters OSC had created. But not until a few years ago did I stumble upon the Enders Game series. I traveled for my job and would read books every evening at work when it was slow. I read and reread Herberts Dune and was running out of books to read. I had read everything my pharmacy sold that caught my eye. It was paperback after paperback. I had to start going to the library. I remembered a book I loved in high school by some guy named Orson Scott Card. I was tickled with myself for remembering the author.
I was blown away.
I read them all. Then I read them all again: every single one the library had on the man. He bacame my favorite author and I bagan to search netscape at work when I was not busy to find other works I was missing. Then I found a place called Hatrack. I was a lurker for about 2 years and just read the weekly essays that OSC wrote. I would peek in parachat and find no one there. I would peek in the forums and run back out again.
But here I am and I finally got the nerve to start communicating. I suppose since high school, I have become more and more introverted. At work, in dealing with the public, I have to be very gracious and empathetic at all times. Needless to say, when I come home, I need time to readjust. I didn't want to start something I couldn't commit to.
But then things started changing very quickly.
My wife had asked me if we could look at a new home. I was completely against it, but succumbed. This post is already too long, but to make a long story short, we went through hell. This was the hardest thing I have ever done since getting married, and the decisions we had made very nearly tore our marriage apart. This was the woman of my dreams and here we were screaming at each other over something not as important as the things we were risking to lose, namely all that was dear to us and each other.
We would come to an understanding, then one of us would change their mind. Then the situation would reverse. This whole situation started in January and will finally resolve this Friday.
I am happy to announce that we are buying the house of our dreams. This is a house that I would not normally even consider, but the interest rates and market played into our favor. Remember how I said I was the luckiest man in the world? Here is an example:
The house has about 35 acres of land and is about 5500 square feet, 3 stories high. There is a commerical building I call the shed that is 36' by 90' that is big enough to hold 4 city buses and is wired with 25 phone lines. I promised the gamers on Hatrack that if possible, I would host a LAN party. If the phone lines can be run with cat. 5 wiring and I can establish a server, then I will do so. Because the deal was coming close to not happening due to the fact that my house was not selling, the seller of this house gave me $15,000 to reduce my house. Recently, we had storms that felled several trees. The cleanup was expected to cost me money. A logging company is ending up paying me $30,000-$40,000 for the timber that can be removed.
I simply do not know what to say. I am going to finish this in another post though...
I apolozige, my mozilla-based browser was beginning to get a bit unstable at work and I did not want to lose what I had started...
So here I am with a house that is too big with a building that I intend to use as a barn, but that has 25 phone lines, in a secluded country setting with 35 acres of privacy. What do I say?
I already lucked out in high school and avoided my biggest failure in life, I came back from a very disappointing freshman year in college to get accepted into a pharmacy program that I had thought was closed, I met the woman of my dreams and was smart enough to marry her, and have had the wonderful joy of fathering two children, a boy and a girl.
Sure the road was not easy, but I had an easier time than others. Sure there were setbacks, but there was nothing that my will could not break through. I do not know how to fail, and now even when on the brink of disaster, I find a way to make things work. Then there is that inexplicable thing I call my guardian angel. Maybe that is what it is, maybe it is just luck, by I have had more than my fair share of fortune. You might say, "Hey, you earned every bit of it", but I didn't in my opinion. I even have my dream job in my dream store, the pharmacy of my home town, the place that I grew up in. The adults that used to be so kind to me as a child are now my patients and I get to do them the ultimate kindess that I possibly can. I care for them the best way I know how, as a pharmacist. I am trusted by the very people that watched me fall, and that fact alone means so very much to me! Far more than all the homes and cars and toys and gadgets we all become so attached to in life. In comparison, these things are just that: things. I have been blessed with so many kindnesses that I feel guilty far too often. I take care of my fellow townspeople and get tears in my eyes at the ability to make their lives better. I pray that every day I can do the best in whatever I attempt, and I promise myself that I will pull through when it counts.
In looking back on my life thus far, I have been a mediocre father. I work too much and I am too hard on my 7-year old son. I just want him to succeed and I want him to have the same drive that fuels me. I pray to God that I have the patience to not drive my son that way, because that may not be the right thing for him even though that mentality has saved me numerous times.
I have not been the best husband, but I can't say I haven't tried. I love my profession, but I would not wish the hours I work or the time away from my family on anyone. The only thing worse would be if I still traveled afar.
I haven't been the best-behaved member of Hatrack either. To be brutally honest, I came on Hatrack because my wife and I were arguing so much. I figured that if I debated extensively on Hatrack, my wife and I would not argue so much. So much for that theory. It did not pan out in my marriage, and I was nothing but egotistical to my fellow Jatraqueros. For that among many other things, I apoligize.
I admit that I stay for the fluff threads, and I love the humor and wit the Hatrack abounds with. I was saddened to see members like Jettboy leave, but I can only hope to behave in such a way as to not offend any Hatrackers to the best of my ability. I recently saw threads by Thor and Synesthesia about truly saddening events in their lives. All I can say is do not give up. Sure it sounds corny, but I think this thread is testament to the fact that I believe in it, and I only offer anyone on Hatrack my deepest heartfelt concern when you too suffer from the twists of fate that life burdens us with.
A special thanks to the Hatrackers who have been nothing but gracious to me. I cannot remember everyone but the ones that I think of every day are:
Bob Scopatz Mackillian T_Smith ak TomDavidson Pop ayelar kayla ralphie TAK CT slash khav zotto HDD fugu bannaOJ dan raven belle jon boy caleb varns Stormy aka waltdisneysfrozenhead
even newcomers like Ryuko :-)
Gosh there are so many others and I do apologize! Each of you are special in your own way, and I find each of you to be like fellow adventurers to have found Hatrack as well. Some are just faster than others..
I consider Hatrack to be a truly magical place, and I am thankful to be here. I hope this story of mine helps even just one person to find hope, because then, I would feel nothing but elation that my prior experiences have saved someone the trouble of repeating my mistakes.
I hope I do not hurt anyone's feelings because I left them out of my post, but I just tried to remember all the names I could. I did not leave anyone off intentionally, and I consider those who I do not know by name the friends I have not made yet.
I just found out that the whole house is wired for broadband and cable, with jacks everywhere. I'm going to need some routers, or maybe a server.
The owner just told me there is over a mile of wire in this house, and 5 phone lines as well. Talk about overkill.
Posts: 1870 | Registered: Mar 2003
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Congratz Alucard, on reaching 600 and on an amazing life so far.
For a long time I thought you were a distant Card relation, considering the last four letters of your name. I didn't realize it was a Dracula reference until people pointed it out to me.
Posts: 11895 | Registered: Apr 2002
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quote:The adults that used to be so kind to me as a child are now my patients and I get to do them the ultimate kindess that I possibly can. I care for them the best way I know how, as a pharmacist. I am trusted by the very people that watched me fall, and that fact alone means so very much to me!
Oh wow, that's the best. It says a lot about you, too.
So glad you're here. What a fantastic landmark post!
Posts: 13854 | Registered: May 2000
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Wow I made the list! I've always liked you Allucard. You inspire me. I still haven't written a true landmark post. You took your own complicated life and boiled it down to its essence. I wish I could do so half as well.
I really haven't been here as long as you think I have though, only about a year and a half so I don't qualify as a true Elder. Not like Ralphie or Tom!
As you can see, me relatives on both sides of my family are unique enough. I claim no relation to the esteemed Cards of Hatrack (blessed as they are!).
The reference about my ancestor being a countess is true though. That is part of where the odd screenname comes from.
CT, you are too sweet! As I eluded to in my post, I have basically cemented myself in this town of mine. I have a job I could never give up and bought an house that I could truly never resell. I just hope everything keeps going as well as it has lately.
Thank you. Hope to see you around!
Hope all is well in The City of Big Shoulders. My father-in-law is here now from the Windy City, and mom-in-law is due in Friday.
Yesterday was not only my 600th post, but my daughters 1st birthday. It was a day of both extreme joy and just a hint of sadness at the speed in which a child grows. Times like these make me wish for number 3, but as I have eluded to about a guilty conscience, we have 3 close couples as friends who are having trouble conceiving at all. If I had only one wish...
Thank you very much for reading. I read your post about you and storm saxon always getting confused, and I was one of the ones who might have done so in the past! I was a bit too shy to admit it though.
I spent most of yesterday and today moving things into my big garage. I have a lot of work to do. Yes there are 25 phone lines and industrial-grade power, but they are still external and I have to pay to have the lines brought internally. That will cost money... Then I have the challenge of deciding whether or not I want to insulate and drywall the interior and finish off the ceiling.
I pulled in my BIG, fat gas-guzzling SUV with a 10 ft long trailer attached, and, well, it looked small.
I think I'm in over my head, and I think I like it that way.
But I have a dream, and it is several LANs daisy-chained with some PC game blaring through the building, and it is glorius.