How I became a person of adventure.
Posted on June 18 2015
Note: Ugh. I've gone back and forth about this post and whether I should even write it. I mean, how fucking arrogant to call myself "a person of adventure." But Russ told me he was reflecting on how he saw me before we hooked up, and, he said I was kind of legendary to him.
I've never been legendary to me. From my perspective, it's just one disconnected adventure and then a completely separate adventure. It's just stuff I do.
But anyways, the truth is that I've gotten a reputation as a person of adventure. And here's how that started out.
My childhood wasn't normal.
It wasn't really hard, by any kind of measurement. Lots of people had harder lives than I did. My mom, to this day, is one of the most incredible people I have ever met. She's like the ocean.
No, she's not huge.
She is solid and dependable. Even though storms may come and go, there's my mom. Her principle philosophy in child rearing is that an adult needs to be dependable. They don't need to be perfect, or dazzling, or a great provider, or thin, or stylish, or any one of the complicated things that many parents try to be... she just believed in the importance of being dependable.
That's not to say she isn't amazingly accomplished. Like water, she found a way to do everything. She's a Senior Technical Fellow at Boeing, has a PhD in Audiology, and did her post-doc work at MIT. Like... holy shit. Oh wait, I totally neglected to mention that she retired from Boeing and started teaching English to Chinese students in universities in China. For six months at a time, for many years. Overseas. In dorms. Business English and customs to the people who are ultimately going to take over the world.
But she doesn't see it like that, because to her, we are all one world, populated with individuals. She is easily in the top five most compassionate people I've met in my life, and I've met Oprah.
My dad, on the other hand, was (and is) a rock star. He is easily in the top five most charismatic people I've met in my life, and, let me remind you again, I've met Oprah.
He has worked on almost every major real estate deal in Los Angeles (yeah, like Staples Center and the main Metropolitan Water District Headquarters), and, as if that wasn't enough, he served as chairman of the board of the Community Redevelopment Agency. Oh, and he was on the board of the Metropolitan Water District, which, in Los Angeles (the desert), is a pretty fucking huge deal.
My dad can sell anything to anyone. Everyone loves him. He's like the mayor of everyone in his life.
We go through our phases of getting along and not getting along, but one thing is consistent: he is amazing.
It should be obvious to everyone at this point that my parents divorced. You can't take the most dependable person and pair them with a rock star. That is just never gonna work out.
And independently, they are brilliant in their own ways.
Their divorce probably was the best thing that ever happened to me. And I had nothing to do with it.
Side note: If you're in an unhappy marriage and you're staying together because of the kids, just don't. Seriously. Some of the most fucked up people I know are children of parents who stayed together "for the kids." Ugh.
And sure, being a single parent is no picnic, but kids need less than you think. They just want dependability, and that doesn't cost anything. Even if you're dependably not being awesome, that's ok. They just need one person who's honest and dependable.
So, my childhood wasn't normal.
And that was fine.
No friends. Almost.
I grew up not having many friends. Until 8th grade, the best friend I had in the world met me in the pediatrician's office when I was four months old and she was a newborn. She lived more than a thousand miles away in Claremont, CA (I lived in Boston and Seattle). And this was before the internet or even free long distance, so we weren't what people would call "close."
Side note: My best friend from almost birth is still a great friend of mine and is now a Methodist minister in Canada. Isn't that cool? Here's a photo of us at my wedding!
I had one friend, Nike (pronounced "nick-kee"), in Boston. Nike could fill a whole blog post, so I'm just going to say that I had one other play friend from K - 3rd grade.
Where as most kids would be out playing in the sun, I was physically challenged by asthma and powerful allergies. Plus, playing was really for people with friends. The extent of my "friends" in grades 4 - 7 called me names and threw pine cones at me while I waited for my babysitter to come pick me up.
I was pretty universally ignored at best, not ignored at worst.
No TV. Almost.
My mom and I lived in an area without even the most basic channel reception.
So I read a lot of "Choose your own adventure" books about pig farmers on adventures.
Huzzah, pig farmer. You can do ANYTHING we choose!
I switched schools in 8th grade, and I knew I had my chance: I could totally become a different person! I could be that outgoing person who was friends with everyone!
Except I was helplessly socially awkward except for things I read in books about pig farmers, dialogue I heard on Michael Jackson records, and my dad's personality coaching (which included such things as "when you meet someone, look them in the eye and say 'nice to meet you.'" Trust me, this goes over AWESOME in 8th grade).
But I somehow managed my way around the social gauntlet of 8th grade and high school in this way.
I mention it only because it was the transition I made from being completely alone in the world to being someone with friends.
Side note: During that time, I met Teresa, who is still one of my best friends to this day. Yes, since 8th grade. We're meeting in Tilamook, Oregon in a couple months. We see each other at least once every year.
The years from 18 to 28 could pass in a montage that included the following:
- went to college and DJed at the local radio station
- had a child and gave her for adoption (she's awesome and we're pals now)
- worked at Microsoft
- finished my Communications degree and decided to go on a road trip
My Life with the Thrill Kill Cult.
It's not as weird as it sounds. In fact, it's not at all as anything as it sounds.
I started an e-zine about the Seattle night life scene. And then I started making friends. And then we started going out to different places. I'd review them.
And then other people started writing with me.
And before I knew it, I had more than a couple friends, and that was pretty cool. And most of these friends, as if by magic, were equally thrilled to have me as a friend. Weird.
So I did what any person with friends would do: I started a cult.
We called it a cult as a joke, but yeah, we met every wednesday... about 10 people, sometimes more, sometimes less, and we'd go to a different bar and just kind of take it over.
It was fun leading stuff. And at that point, I became a leader.
And then there was Santacon.
Fuck. I hate to even bring this bullshit up because it's so played out, but yeah, in 2002, I went to an event where 100ish people dressed as Santa and went around to various places in Seattle.
The magic thing about Santacon is that if you ever feel at risk (from the cops, from other Santas, from mall cops, or whatever), you can just step backward into the sea of other people dressed like you, and no one will ever find you.
This, my friend, is liberating.
It's like being Jason fucking Bourne for weird people.
From that, I learned that if you were weird and in a group, no one could or would stop you.
Image note: I did a search for 2002 Seattle Santarchy, and one of the only images from that night has me in it (far left). What the fuck? What are the chances?
I could continue this story about what other individual adventures I led, but that isn't what this is about.
This is about how a human being could become this person running a soap company that you hopefully buy soap from.
Some other stories... like this one about Bees or this one about people coming out to a camping trip that almost got us killed are going to come in the next couple weeks.