Who Am I?

Marriage and family (2 of 4)

The story of how I met Diane is told in the book, so I won’t repeat it here. She wowed me. After clearing a number of obstacles, we were wedded 10 months after we met. We had a small reception at her parents’ house near the little chapel where we married. Someone gave us a large bottle of champagne as a gift, and Diane drank a lot of it. I drove our camper to a small inn for our one-weekend honeymoon. Diane had too much champagne to eat dinner in the restaurant, so we ate in our room, then went to sleep. The wedding was anticlimactic since we’d been living together for months, and we were relieved to have it over. The following week, we embarked on a trip in the camper, just the three of us, to the Pacific Northwest, stopping briefly at my uncle’s house in Vancouver.

In our life together we moved a lot—to Colorado Springs, Minneapolis, Vancouver, Renton, Seattle, San Gabriel, Medford Lakes, Long Beach Island, Haddonfield, and finally Cherry Hill. I remember one morning during those moves, waking up and staring at the ceiling, with no idea where I was. We finally spent more than half of our lives in New Jersey, which was the last place we ever thought we’d live.

In college I didn’t exactly flounder—I graduated in the top half of my class—but I drifted through majors: mathematics, philosophy, French, humanities, sociology, and film. After the tumult of 1964 and 1965 I transferred from Berkeley to UCLA, and I was a film major when I graduated. Above all, I wanted to get a job and become independent from my parents. That year at UCLA I began to try dating. A crude computer dating service existed, and I signed up. I matched with bright girls mostly, but that service had no guarantees of compatibility. Muriel was one girl I dated. She was a producer’s daughter and lived in Bel Air. She broke up with a boyfriend and I met her on the rebound. She was interesting.

One evening I took her to a party where her ex boyfriend was present, and he mentioned working as a programmer for the RAND Corporation. Color me competitive.  I was in my last term of college, and somehow that gave me the idea that programming was a good job. I was totally clueless about landing a job in the film business, and it wasn’t working for me. I started looking around for programming jobs and landed a job as a programmer trainee at a company that was building an air defense network for the USAF.

They gave me a draft deferment—that was important because the Vietnam war was raging at the time, paid me to train full time, and taught me computers and programming languages. It was unlike anything I ever studied before, and I was very good at it. During the next five months I learned the equivalent of a master’s degree in applied computer science. Later I went to night classes and picked up an actual computer science degree. In 1982 I was between contracts, and the next thing that came up was a new networking company that was created by the breakup of the Bell System. They needed technical writers who could understand computer systems to create written instructions. I convinced them that I knew how to write, and started another career. For the next thirty years I wrote technical manuals and managed writers For the Y2K effort in 1999 I became a web developer and did some work in that area as well. I retired in 2012 after 45 years in the computer business.

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