A Mirror into Ken's Past -- 1987

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At this point I had a job and I was living in an apartment with Donna. Things were a bit stressy between us as I was still not all that happy. On the other hand I got a credit card (I had already had some, and kept the balances down or at zero most of the time, but this was a MasterCard, as opposed to Sears or American Express ...). I bought a VCR so I could rent videos and tape shows. (I've become a bit of a "videophile" over the years ...)

Donna was still trying to make things work. I have to give her a ton of credit here as I was not making it easy. We had one spat at an SCA event (can't remember which one) where I was not helping, and she broke down and told me that if I was really that unhappy she'd do what she had to do to get me back to Alaska. I'm not sure why, but I didn't take her up on that offer. (20-20 hindsight time -- I am glad in retrospect that I didn't take her up on the offer, I believe now that you can never truly "go home" again -- it's never the same. After many visits back to Alaska, it would take a bit of work if I ever moved there to fit in again. Things change, people change, it's never the same again.)

She threw a birthday party for me that was quite nice. It was my 30th birthday. It wasn't a heavily attended party because I didn't know that many people, and there was some big SCA event (a war or something) happening that weekend, and a lot of folk went to that. But all of that aside ... Gerald (SCA: Gerald of Ipsley) and his boyfriend (yes, they are gay) came, and Robert (SCA: Robert of Coldcastle -- the boyfriend) who didn't know me at all (Gerald had met me at events) had done up a HUGE birthday card. Robert's a commercial artist, and is pretty good. I have it framed and it's usually hanging on one of the walls wherever we end up. There were a few others there, but I honestly can't remember who. It was a nice little party though. We watched some videos, chatted, ate cake, the usual thing.

Financial nasty: When I had filed my income taxes that year I went through some paperwork for the previous two years and found I had NOT filed the taxes that I had all sealed in an envelope (stamped and ready to mail!) from two years earlier. Being a good American citizen I sent that in with that year's paperwork. The IRS in March or so put a lein on my checking account with no warning (the first I heard of it was when a check bounced)! I owed them over a thousand dollars!

Frederick came to my rescue by loaning me the money I needed. We were careful and laid out a contract with a payment schedule -- he'd had problems with friends in the past, or had seen it, or something. That was fine. I was able to pay the IRS off. I tell you ... never get in trouble with those folks!

I got laid off at JALCO in April. I wasn't real amused by that as I was doing more work than my manager. I was unemployed again and Donna was carrying the rent and such. However, I had sent my resume out to a lot of places before I got the job at JALCO and one of them finally came through.

The Computer Learning Center in San Francisco needed a PC instructor. That was RIGHT up my alley! Even better -- it was only a little over a half day, and I got paid as a full-time employee, benefits, the works. This job was one that I loved. I taught a three week class for the students at the school -- all of whom were training to be either computer programmers or operators for mainframes. It was felt that having a working knowledge of PCs was a good thing (I agreed). I worked from 7am until 1 or so. I usually had the rest of the day to myself, unless the afternoon instructor wasn't able to teach (rare, but it did occur). Of course, this doesn't take into account the time spent on class preparation, grading people's work, and so on, which is why the day was shorter than an eight hour day, but I got paid for eight ...

I only had to take a bus to BART, and walk a couple blocks in San Francisco to get to work. None of this multi-bus stuff ...

I think the stress between Donna and I just wasn't going away. This again was largely my fault ...

I visited Alaska in July for Summer Coronet. It was great to see people again, but I honestly believe that I discovered "you can't go home again". Everyone made me welcome, but I didn't really feel I was home. It was an odd feeling actually. I mean, flying in to Anchorage my heart leapt into my throat -- not because of the flight (I enjoy flying), but because part of me wanted it to be home. But talking to people, hanging out with people, things had changed. Despite that, it was a good trip, and I did enjoy myself, but it was a bit sad to find that things had changed so much in such a short time.

Coming back the airline did something I doubt I will ever forgive them for. I had the same guitar that I'd bought in high school. It was a really good guitar (especially for the price). Not only did they break it (with a decent case), they destroyed the gearbox. You cannot just replace the gearbox on a guitar. I was crushed. I actually cried ... (Krys Wagner, Eric's wife, can attest to that -- she picked me up at the airport). Having had the guitar for 13 years, and to have it destroyed like that was really painful, especially considering how much it meant to me. I never took a guitar on the airlines again after that.

Summer came and went. That summer Steve made Kathy Queen again. I made another set of cyphers for her (these turned out better, but I never got photos of them).

Phil (Phillip Harlech of Exeter in the SCA) loaned me a guitar that he had. That was great as it meant I had one I could use at events! He let me borrow that guitar for a year ... I never found a great way to thank him for that.

In early September Donna found an apartment in San Francisco, and with very little notice moved out. This was hard because I had to move out, not being able to re-up the rental agreement, and frankly, not really wanting to.

After a month I packed my stuff up (with help from someone with a vehicle -- might have been Jeff Boylan, I'm really not sure at this point) and put most of it into a storage unit until I could find an apartment. Lee Forgue let me move into her place - I stayed on the living room sofa. Her daughter Danielle and son Christopher both were living at home at the time. (Dani was 17 or so, and Chris was ... I dunno, 13, 14?) Looking at my diary to get the dates straight, I moved to Lee's late in October. I was only there a week or so before I got an apartment (see below).

I was getting rides to events with different people ... sometimes with Keith (Cynan) and his lady (Enid), sometimes with Kevin (Harold in the SCA), and the other times with Jeff Boylan (Seamus).

The SCA event "October Crown" happened. It was literally a "Hell" event (it's sometimes referred to as "Hell Crown") -- it was held in King City in a place with a single tree that was 1/4 mile or more from where the main camp was. It was in the very high temperatures (close to 100) in the shade! The good thing that happened (or at least mostly) was that I met Dawn Davidson (in the SCA: Eveline of Shoreham). We met at the bardic circle and one thing led to another, and I didn't sleep in my own tent that night.

I started dating Dawn which got sort of complicated ... she was engaged to someone that she wasn't comfortable with, she was interested in some other guy that she couldn't have at the time. Confused? I was, and I was in the middle of it. Felt a bit soap-opera-ish.

A few weeks later one of my students was the caretaker at an apartment complex in Berkeley, and somehow I had let slip that I was looking for a place to stay. An apartment had opened up in his building and he asked if I was interested. I gave an emphatic "Yes". I had a date that evening with Dawn, and when I went to Dawn's apartment, I met up with Franklin (the student/caretaker ...). AT THE SAME COMPLEX. Dawn lived on the third floor, the apartment that was available was on the first. What a weird coincidence.

I was able to move from Lee's house to the apartment. A bunch of folk helped, heralds mostly. After the previous apartment, this place was a luxury! It had two bedrooms, one main bathroom and the main bedroom had a half-bath (shower ...). I was in heaven! The kitchen wasn't huge, but that's ok -- I'm not much of a cook. Best of all: no cockroaches, and I made sure I didn't bring any with me! I was able to get cable in there, so that was nice, too. The place was in walking distance of BART, of a good grocery store, several other really good stores, a great bakery, a great hamburger joint, and more. And finally, it was in rent-control Berkeley! They couldn't raise the rent on me.

Dawn and I had copies of keys made so she had a key to my place and vice-versa. We still had (and would for some time) an odd relationship ... basically this was a situation where I could see her when she wasn't seeing someone else, and I wasn't seeing someone else ... I would rather not do that kind of relationship again -- it was way too rocky and weird for me.

On a little side note, I read (still do) a lot of science fiction and fantasy, watch a lot of movies of that genre, etc. I'm not as "geeked out" as some folk, but it is something I enjoy. I had been buying from a variety of places a bunch of patches (the patches from the uniforms from 2010, that kind of thing). I bought a green blazer and sewed all of these patches on the jacket, put other SF related pins and stuff all over it. I had it for years. This jacket was a trademark thing for me for a long time. It died a few years ago (it was starting to fall apart) so I removed the patches and threw it away, and haven't tried to resurrect it. I still have the patches and pins in a 'safe place'. I do wear some of the pins on other coats or vests or what have you, but the patches are all "put away".

I was going to the weekly SCA fighter practice at the Rockridge BART station on Thursday nights, which was the big social night. There was fighting practice, but a lot of SCA business got done at those practices as well as a lot of schmoozing. I met Carolyn Eaton (SCA name is Aldith Angharad St. George) and her roommate Kay Boatwright (SCA name is Kathrine of Bristol) somewhere in all this. I am pretty sure this is where I met Jeff (Seamus). Keith (Cynan) was usually my ride to BART, even though he lived in San Franciso. I think Keith just liked hanging out with folk, so he did this trip weekly.

One of the folk in the SCA, Michael (commonly known as Michael the Lemon-Freshened), had written an "opera" -- Echo and Narcisuss. I was asked to direct it. This was one of the weirdest experiences I've ever had in the theatre. The music was surreal. The songs were odd. And frankly, I really wasn't really allowed to direct. It was Michael's show, starring Michael. Dawn and a bunch of other people were in it, but this was about Michael. I tried to direct, and everything I did was shot down by Michael. I gave up, and ended up posting notes (that people actually used) to help out. I still have the script and score as well as some rehearsal tapes (the music on piano) somewhere.

The performance of Echo was truly astounding (and I say that with tongue planted firmly in cheek). I think that the audience stayed to be polite. I remember that most of the audience were SCA folk, including Kay and Carolyn. I also remember that when it was over most of them walked out with a glazed look on their eyes.

Reading through my diary (well, skimming, some of it is just too weird to really read), there was a TON of angst over Dawn. Dawn was having a really hard time because I wanted more than she could give me, but she didn't just want me to go away. She was trying to break things off with Randy, she was trying to have a relationship with Mark. There I was trying to have a relationship with her. Mark was toying with her ... (I did mention earlier that this was very soap-opera-like, right?)

Aunt Priscilla and Uncle Hollis were living in San Jose still. I think their son Rob was living with them. Their daughter Lucinda had married and they were living in San Jose in their own place.

They invited me down for Christmas. Well, what the heck? Dawn was going to Georgia for Christmas to see her family, so I didn't have anywhere else to go. I hopped on BART on Christmas day and went down to the end of the line (Fremont) and was picked up by Uncle Hollis. Now keep in mind I hadn't seen these folk for MANY years -- my diary says 15 or 16, it may have been longer -- it was before my family moved to Alaska. It was a bit uncomfortable. We had a pleasant day, although it was a bit weird, because I didn't have all that much in common with them ... but it was nice.

My diary notes that I destroyed a medallion I was making the day after Christmas. Too much heat, melted it a bit .. duh. I spent most of that time (it was a break from work, as the school was taking a break) working on medallions for people in the SCA. I saw Dawn a bit after she came back from Georgia, but my diary notes that I was starting to realize that things weren't going to work out long-term with Dawn. (While I was "starting to realize" this, it took awhile for it to really sink in.)

Regarding the jewelry stuff, a weird little story pops back into my head: In order to clean something after soldering, I used a trick of working with nitric acid -- I would drop a piece in the acid (diluted with water), and let it clean all the carbonization off. (You had to be careful of course, I lost a piece in College -- I got sidetracked and forgot about it just long enough that when I came back there wasn't much left ...) Then I could sit down and buff away and polish the piece up really well. A friend who was studying geology in Davis at the time got hold of a gallon jug of once-used mostly pure nitric acid and gave it to me to use on the jewelry. For some obscure reason I wasn't keeping the acid itself out on the patio of the apartment where I worked on soldering and such. I was carrying the jug one day across the apartment from the kitchen and dropped it. The plastic lid came off, and a bunch of this nearly-pure nitric hit the carpet, a bit landed on me, and some on my furniture (not much). I ran to the bathroom and got out of the jeans and rinsed them fast (they had nice white spots on them until they died) and rinsed the acid off my arm in the one small spot it landed on there. Then I panicked -- I had no idea what to do about the stuff on the rug! It ate a huge hole in the carpet. I phoned Jeff who suggested I use laundry detergent on it which is base enough to counteract the acid ... It was a bit weird. When I moved they were going to replace the carpet anyway, so I got my whole deposit back! This incident led to the joke that I "dropped acid in Berkeley, but didn't get a buzz ...".

Well, as you might be able to see from all this, it was a rather tumultuous year. Lots of folk came and went in my life here. When Donna and I split up I really wasn't a part of her circle of friends (Steve, Kathy, Toni, etc.), so while I remained friendly with them, I wasn't real close. That was "her group of friends" and it was easier to not try to be part of it at the time. I've gotten to know some of them better since then, but at the time, well, I was under a lot of (self-induced) stress.

Donna Green -- I have noted several times that the stress in our relationship was mostly because I wasn't handling things well. I want to note here that Donna and I worked out all of that a couple of years after we broke up. I had a talk with her, and told her that I realized what a shithead I'd been, and apologized. I didn't ask for forgiveness, but she forgave me anyway. We've been pretty good friends ever since. She later met Andrew Tye, and married him. I am very happy for both of them and wish them the best. My wife (Carolyn) and I get along great with them, and have had them over to dinner, gone to dinner at their place, and hang out in the SCA with them sometimes.

Jeff Boylan -- over the years I've found that there's usually one person I can call my "best friend", although there have been periods where there was no one in that "position" (for lack of a better term). For awhile Jeff was "it". Jeff's SCA name is Seamus Padraig O’Baiogheallain ḿ-Nàrach. He and I have similar senses of humor and similar tastes in a lot of things. He was my ride to a lot of SCA events.

Lee Forgue -- Eilis -- stayed at her house for awhile, generally she was pretty helpful in here throughout some of my crises.

Dawn Davidson -- well, there's enough description above, no real need to go into it again here.

Cynan and Enid -- I lump them together because for this part of the time that I knew them, they were together. Cynan is a fairly large guy, fairly well-read, but no real direction in his life. He has the potential to do more, but just doesn't. He and Enid lived together in an apartment in San Francisco, a very small place that was cramped (I only was there once that I can remember). They had a minivan, and were happy to take me to events before Jeff started doing it. My getting to events with "who" was largely a case of who was available. Sometimes Jeff didn't want to go (or couldn't) to an event, and vice versa. Sometime after this (and I don't recall exactly when) they broke up. I think that was great for her, because she got a better job, got a better life going. Cynan is still around and still not going anywhere. Pity, that.

A Few Photos
(These are thumbnails, click on them to see larger versions with text explaining them)


David and
his kids

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