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July 24, 2009

Just Who is This Blogger? - The D&D Childhood Years

I started this blog a week ago tomorrow, but I just realized that most of you don't really know anything about me. You know what genre of books I prefer and that I'm a reviewer, but what else? Just who is this guy who is blathering on about anything and everything? What is he hiding?

Ok, he's not hiding anything, but let me tell you a little bit about myself...

My earliest memory is of waking up with Mama nuzzling me and licking me in the face. She was the head of the pack of wolves that I had been left with when I was a baby, and she took really good care of me. She taught me to run through the forest, to hunt, and to clean myself with my tongue....

*shrill sound of needle being scraped across the record*

Whoops, wrong history. That's the history I use when I post anonymously on the Genus Canis message board. But I don't like to talk about that.

Anyway, I grew up in Davenport, Iowa in a family of four, one brother who's five years older than me. I had a fairly normal upbringing, none of the drama that many kids have to go through, especially nowadays. I honestly can't remember anything unique about my elementary school days other than having a massive crush on Mrs. Canada (no, not a beauty queen; that was her actual name), my 5th grade teacher.

I do remember playing a lot of Dungeons & Dragons at the time. My friends and I were very advanced in school. In math class, we had worked so far ahead in the book that the teacher allowed us to play in class sometimes because she didn't want us getting too far ahead. We also played in other classes occasionally, and of course after school. Even when my circle of friends changed in junior high school, I still fell in with a D&D crowd, so we kept playing.

Around 8th grade, something really changed, and I sort of became an outsider looking in. I'm not sure exactly what it was, but suddenly I was being teased a lot, including by my friends. I found a new circle of friends (the second D&D crowd mentioned above) who accepted me. Of course, they were kind of outsiders too, which gave us something to bond with. They were good friends, though, and were a lifeline in what otherwise would have been kind of a lonely time.

Things changed back in high school, around my junior year. I do blame those three years at least partly for how shy I was (and still am, to an extent) thereafter. While I was never that outgoing before that, I was in a shell for those three years, and only emerged very slowly from it over these many years since. In high school, even as people started to actually seem to like me again, I was never the life of the party or anything like that. I no longer felt like an outsider, though, which I was very thankful for. Some of my old friends had gravitated back to me, no mention of the junior high years being made, but I was fine with that. I was included again.

I joined Yearbook and, in my second year, edited the Sports section of it. That brought me out of my shell a little bit, working with very good people on something concrete. I enjoyed working with everybody (for the most part, anyway), including my excellent photographer Leslie Hickenbottom. My senior year of high school was the best year I had since elementary school, and I'm so glad that I've hooked up again with many of them on Facebook as well as personally.

This is already very long, so I'll post more later. Coming up: The College Years and More.

But just a note to end this on. I don't have kids, so I have no idea what being a kid in today's world is like, but I think some things are universal. Bullying is a huge problem, but there are more ways to cause emotional distress than just bullying. Shutting out friends or turning on them for no apparent reason can be just as hurtful. If you're a kid, or if you know of any kids, remind them of that sometimes.


  1. It's amazing how much I have in common with you. Everythign from the bullying to the D&D. Though I still play the D&D. Last night in fact.

    It's a shame I'm just now figuring this out. I would have dedcated more time to getting to know my cousin a lot sooner.

  2. It's probably the distance (both in age and in miles) that contributed to that. By the time you were starting to grow up, I was already starting my adult journey and not really looking back.

    It's a shame that, generally (and I know there are exceptions), cousins never really get that close. You're not alone. I don't really know any of our cousins that well, or as well as I'd like to, anyway.

  3. It didn't help that you and I are both so damn shy so neither was up to putting forward and extra effort.

  4. That's certainly true too. Of course, we had the "MOM" news network for updates on each other...or at least, I did on you. :)

    I know Mom was still writing your mom letters at that time (I forget when she stopped).

  5. Count yourself lucky you didn't have to deal with me during my awkward teenaged years. Most the family didn't know what to think.

    She stopped when you dad finally got her to sit down and compose and email. She use to hand write them and make your dad type them. Now she's on facebook. Never saw that coming. Not in a million years.

  6. Yeah, you can blame me for Facebook. I tried for a while to get her to give it a try. Took some time, but now look. I've created a monster!


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