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Autobiography

Preface

Writing an autobiography is a work that's never done. Literally. Your last addition to your own biography is fairly guaranteed to occur prior to your death. The only way for your story to be finished is for someone else to write it. Then you have to remove the "auto-" part. I think that's a law.

In my case, "never done" means I don't even come close. I've started this thing over and over, and have never managed to get anywhere close to "now."

It's always the same. I find myself off to a good start but either something comes along that I'm not sure how to put into words, I can't figure out what else to write, or I get attacked by a horde of Nazi zombie cheerleaders. When I hit that metaphorical brick wall, my instinct is to work on something else while my mind mulls over the issue in the background. Soon, distraction kicks in and I completely forget that I was writing something. I'll eventually come back and try to finish but take one look at what I've written and produce some convenient excuse for not resuming or just starting over.

It is my belief that keeping a record of one's life is very important, for many reasons.

  1. I occasionally enjoy reading the musings and goings on of my own forebears. Even if there happens to be just one of those, I'd like to oblige it, in hopes of providing amusement through my incoherence.
  2. Looking back on my own past gives me a sense of perspective, to see where I am, where I've come from, and get a sense of where I might be going.
  3. Sometimes there are too many things swimming around the old noodle bowl and putting the thoughts down in some permanent form can sometimes, I have found, free my mind of some of the things I've written down.

This lengthy bit of prose is very heavy in my obsessional biases: science, technology, computer games, console games, arcade games, table games, role-playing games, and, most of all, beautiful, unattainable women. I've heard it said that a man remembers the women he couldn't have and a woman remembers the men she could. This is a bit of wisdom I can agree with.

I hear the hamster wheel squeaking between your ears. It sounds like, "nothing's unattainable if you try hard enough!" This notion, of never saying can't, is preposterous. "I think I can" applies to having the stamina to do something you can already do, not doing something you have neither done nor had any training in. A can-do attitude will never allow you to balance a forklift on your nose. Trying will result in serious injuries, known in the scientific community, as "pancaking." Some examples of unattainable is too young, too pretty, too gay, or too married.

To answer a common question (so common that I've never heard anyone in real life ask it): boobs, with a qualifier. You see, ladies, men ask each other questions while bonding. One of those questions is whether the person being asked prefers breasts or bottom. Picking one over the other seems, to me, like trying to decide whether the marshmallow or the chocolate are more important in s'mores. Remove either one, and it's no longer a s'more, it's a snack sandwich. Ever since I was a small child, it has been faces that I notice and "lock in" on. As I got older, I started to notice the gentler curves such as the waist, belly, and back. I love tits and ass but there's far more, physically, to a woman than those two areas. Now, you might be thinking, "my man is more refined, he doesn't think about those thing!" Make him read this and he'll be thinking, "big firm hooters."

Oh, and ladies, stop trying to be everything a guy says he wants. The description above shouldn't be board stating the minimum height for getting on a fairground ride. If a man's (or woman's) standards are unreachable or, at least, unreasonable, you'll never measure up, no matter what you do. You are not perfect just the way you are. You are a human being with virtues and blemishes. That prick is looking for a high-end supercar with enough money for an old beater. Whatever you think of yourself, you're probably not a supercar, but you're also not an old Gremlin. Maybe your trunk is too big but you've got a lovely interior or you're a Mini and are sensitive when people point out when you can't see over all of the SUVs, but there are so many types of car because there are so many types of preference. I used to live near a high-end luxury and sports car importer. I loved looking in the windows of that place. I also knew, if I owned a Maserati, that bitch would spend every last dollar I earned on herself and then break down. My car is a reliable mid-size sedan with nice lines and one owner, just my type.

Disclaimer: many of these events are out of order. The first reason for being out of order is that putting them in correct order would break events into a confusing jumble. Second, my memories are like marbles in a jar. You can group the marbles by color but there's no meaningful way to arrange them "in order." In cases where my memory contradicts with the "facts," understand that facts are occasionally wrong.

Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington

I recently learned a new term: crotch goblin. 

I'm second spawn of Jeff Donald Murphy and Helen Kathleen Sneddon. The primary brood consists of five children: Leah, myself, Laurel, Brian, and Erin. These are the people I grew up with. When I was eighteen, my dad remarried and brought about two more siblings: Asher and Luet.

The hour of my birth, by the Gregorian calendar, is 8 January 1977 at 8:48 PM in Seattle, Washington. I'm fond of telling people that I share a birthday with the famous singer, Elvis Presley, and jokingly adding that he died the year I was born then go on to ask, "Coincidence? Maybe."

Some other famous people, born on the 8th of January, include:

My personality, according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is INTJ.

I was born into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more commonly known as the Mormon Church. My goals in this autobiography don't include proselytizing and I won't be writing a thinly-veiled religious tract here. I find it sufficient to state I have a testimony that the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true, that Joseph Smith had a true vision of our Heavenly Father, and his son, Jesus Christ, and that the Book of Mormon contains records of a remnant, the house of Jacob, who left Jerusalem in 600 BC.

My activity with the Church varies widely over my lifetime because, simply put, I don't fit. I have been single, for the vast majority of my adult life, and swimming in a cocktail of major depression and schizotypal personality traits. My friends in the church have all grown up, gotten married, had kids, and stopped having time for anything else. The restrictions on their time makes them prioritize their friends, by necessity, and the ones with their own spouses and kids come first. I spent a few years trying to get together with my LDS friends, all of whom had more important things to do so, eventually, I stopped trying.

The Church has a number of programs for single adults but they bore me, at best, or give me anxiety. The few times I have gone to one, I usually end up sitting at the loser table that women avoid, watching every woman I'm attracted to walk around with her boyfriend, seeing a large number of women (or is that a number of large women?) I'm not attracted to, in an uncomfortable folding chair, in a huge open room. When I decide to attend a normal Sunday service, my Sunday-only friends come out of the woodwork, displaying an eagerness to welcome me into their lives, as long as I happen to be in the same room as them. That behavior is abhorrent to me and, sadly, I'm guilty of it as well because I try to be nice to everybody but I don't have much in common with a lot of them.

Putting my butthurtedness aside, we shall continue with the attention seeking.

Houston, Texas

My Earliest Memories

I don't remember Seattle, because I was zero-to-toddler. My parents moved around a lot and, as children often do, I decided to go with them. Though unclear on the exact dates, my earliest memories are of Houston, Texas, sometime before the age of five. The apartment was down the street from Wilchester Elementary School, where my sister, the oldest, went to school. It was just outside the apartment complex but, when you're less than three feet tall, a walk to the neighbor's house seems like miles. Wilchester is still there. So says the great oracle, Google.

I recall one birthday, which must have been my 4th or 5th, where I had been given some Hot Wheels cars in a blue vinyl case. I remember thinking that it was normal for car cases to come with cars so, whenever I saw them in the store, I looked to see what kind of cars they had in them and somebody was stealing all of the cars! Some of the assumptions we make as children are amusing many years later. Now that I think about it, maybe my mom picked them up that way at a garage sale. That's a good place to get toys for kids that will be abandoned when the kid gets a different toy.

Another memory is of a red plastic fire truck I had gotten for Christmas. I liked that fire truck. One day, I left it outside and never saw it again. Apparently, it was upset that I had abandoned it and left for greener pastures. That's good as green complements red.

Falling under the category of "things parents would never do these days," my dad knew a young couple who had emigrated from somewhere in Asia. The specific country didn't matter, I was four (or so). This couple had, apparently, arranged to borrow me overnight. While readers of these sorts of stories expect the narrator to break down in tears and explain how they had been violated with a turkey baster, I must ask, "what the hell is wrong with you?" They never touched me in my special place, teach me how to massage a prostate, or even watch dirty movies.

The couple was nice and treated me well. I'm sure they fed me but I don't remember if it was at their home or if they took me out for dinner. As they tucked me into bed the man said we'd call my parents the next day. Being a cocky and world weary four-or-five-year-old, I checked to see if he knew the number. He recited three digits. It never occurred to me he might have it written down somewhere so so I provided the whole thing. Because I remember that event clearly, I also remember the phone number of our apartment in Houston correctly. I can't tell you what the number was because, in the unlikely event that time-traveling assassins kill me, the universe would become unraveled from the paradox of having written and, not written, this account.

TRS-80 by Radio Shack, courtesy of oldcomputers.net

My dad had a filthy habit. Not drinking, smoking, or main-lining powdered Cap'n Crunch into his cephalic vein. He was a technophile. Technophilia is a disorder characterized by the uncontrollable urge to acquire objects that blink, beep, move, or simply collect copious amounts of dust, all on their own. Extreme cases are known to bankrupt families and require the services of a HazMat team when the technophile has to move or passes away.

Unfortunately, Technophilia is often transmitted genetically and I'm no exception. My gateway drug was a silver TRS-80 we'd had as far back as my memory goes. I remember being able to write PRINT "JOEL". I could also type LOAD and press play on the tape recorder (this was the thumb drive of the early era of computers).

Sibling numbers one and three, both sisters, had already been born by the time I started remembering things. My brother came along while we were still in the Houston apartments and, sometime after his birth, my parents moved us out to a mobile home outside Houston.

It's here you might ask, "But Joel, you promised girls! Where are the girls?!" I'm with you. I don't count my sisters as girls either. At this point my only lady love was TV's Wonder Woman. I was still somewhat unaware that the people on the TV had real names. That didn't matter, though, since she had bracelets that could stop bullets. Realistically, I wasn't in love. I just wanted to be able to stop bullets.

There was also a brief flirtation with Jennifer Keaton, but that didn't last.

Incidentally, Lynda Carter is still beautiful. This is of note because I don't generally go for older women. Growing up, I found girls to be generally bossy and fond of inventing arbitrary rules designed to exclude me.

Tomball, Texas

School n' Such

Our mobile home was a double-wide on a long dead-end street called Country Meadow Lane. The community was supposedly called Whisper Meadows but there weren't any signs anywhere verifying that. I assume that's what the marketing brochure said when my parents were shopping for a new home. Our half acre abutted Country Meadow Lane, which was paved. Our driveway wasn't. At the back of the property was a dirt with more trailers.

I had a friend named Thomas who lived across the dirt road from our place. He had a sister named Tawnya. His mom was weird though. She kept saying "dinner" when it was lunch time.

My parents hung a simple rope swing in the tree just outside the front door. While I didn't use it much, I liked swinging on it.

At the standard age of five years old, I was sent to Brill Elementary School for Kindergarten. It was there that I was diagnosed with an affliction called gingerphelia. There was this redheaded girl in another Kindergarten class, whom I always tried to look at when I could. I never knew her name. Maybe it was Michelle. Or Unice. Or Snacks-With-Paste. Whatever it was, she was the first symptom, of the terrible disease that afflicted Charlie Brown. Fortunately, I wasn't bald and didn't own any yellow shirts with jagged stripes. Through counseling, I have learned that blondes and brunettes are people too but it took a lot of work.

When first grade came along Krahn Elementary. With the opening of a new school, boundaries got rearranged and I found my Bronco self mutated into a Cardinal. My main squeeze didn't live in the restructured area so I never saw her again.

I had a friend down the street named Glen. Glen was a bad crowd. He would sneak cigarettes and dirty magazines from his parents and we'd go off into the woods to partake of both. Glen would actually smoke (i.e. inhale) while I would just suck smoke into my mouth and blow it out.

Glen had a sister, Laurie, who was about a year older than me. Together, sometimes with one of my sisters in tow, we'd go into the woods, run around naked, and then we started experimenting. Looking back, it's clear to me that those two were heavily abused, probably sexually, by their own parents. Experimentation is normal but, because of the circumstances, it's my opinion that they molested me, acting out what was happening in their home. I sometimes wonder what became of those two. For all I know, one or both are dead. That's more than any child should ever have to deal with. We kind of stopped hanging out after we started a small forest fire but that's another story.

In the summer of 1983, on my older sister's birthday, my youngest sister came along. Their having a shared birthday was amusing when we were quite young but, for the period of a few years, it was an unspoken source of tension between them.

There was a decided lack of spaying or neutering in that part of the world and, shortly after we moved to Tomball, a guy down the street had some puppies. Well, his dog had the puppies. At least, that was his story. My dad procured one. Aside from a couple of goldfish, this dog was our first pet. Daisy, for that's what we called her, bore a passing resemblance to Lady, and was of questionable pedigree. She spent only a few days inside and then, instead of just teaching her not to crap on the carpet, my dad exiled her to the backyard. Looking back, I feel really sorry for that poor girl. She spent long hours chained to a tree without any company. I was afraid to go near her, though, because she would get so excited that she'd knock over a little six-year-old and I didn't want to get hurt.

On a couple of rare occasions, she got loose and invariably found a fun play toy, in the form of a kitten. I'm not sure how long we had her but I think it was a good long while. The conclusion was reached that our yard was not the right place for her and my mom arranged new masters.

My dad had difficulty holding a job. In addition to his aforementioned technophelia, my dad was born with a defective filter. He was let go from several jobs for making inappropriate comments or kissing noises. At the last job I remember him having, he claims to have been fired for telling a woman she had a nice blouse. I've given him the benefit of the doubt but I am curious if that was an isolated incident or if he had been complimenting her previously, she'd told him to stop, and he hadn't. That was a very long time ago so no sense worrying about it now.

During one of the occasions my dad was without work, we had no electricity. My mom did all of the cooking on a small grill, outside the front door, and we illuminated the house with candles and an oil lamp. One night, I was running around without shoes and didn't notice the hot grate my mother had placed in the grass to cool. I only got two line-shaped second-degree burns but they hurt and viewed them as major wounds. My mom took me to see a man at his house. He took a look at feet and prescribed a bottle of happy pills. The pills tasted suspiciously like jelly beans. I assume he was a doctor and an acquaintance of my parents, possibly from church, and had offered to help my parents out.

I think it was during this same summer that my parents received a phone call telling them that we had been approved for the free lunch program at school. I was excited. Adults always seem to complain about the food they ate at school but I liked them. Packing a lunch wasn't all bad, though. One time my mom sent me to school with my lunch packed in a Cheerios box. The teacher from across the hall noticed and asked if she could have my box top. I had no idea what she was talking about but I agreed since I didn't intend to take the box home. I related the story to my mom after I got home and the next day she sent me off with a big stack of box tops. I took them to said teacher. Later in the day, I got a thank you card from the teacher saying she could get her flatware now. I didn't know what flatware was. She included a stick of gum.

There was a period where we had another computer which was probably an 8088 PC-compatible no-brand. One game I remember was a set of Interactive Fiction stories which included

How do I remember all of that, you might ask? I don't. Google does. In case you're curious, interactive fiction (IF) is a game driven by the imagination, like a book, but uses simple commands like GET HAT or GO SOUTH. It didn't understand instructions like IM OUT OF IDEAS. Probably the most famous IF game is Zork.

We also had a game named QWERTY where you moved a little bucket around the bottom of the screen, catching letters until you caught Q, W, E, R, T, and Y. I think we had other games but, if we did, I don't remember any of them.

Another shared toy we had was an Atari 2600. My favorite games on the Atari were Adventure (play Adventure online) and Superman. In my opinion, Adventure still holds up. Superman doesn't.

Intellivision by Mattel Electronics, courtesy of oldcomputers.net

A "friend" of my dad's had a quite a lot more toys than we did, such as an Intellivison, a ColecoVision, and some sort of computer, I'm not sure which, that my dad liked to play Temple of Apshai on. I most remember the Intellivision because we borrowed it for a while. Some of my favorite games included Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Utopia, and Microsurgeon.

One evening, my parents called me to the living room and introduced me to a lady who showed me a badge then proceeded to ask me questions about this so-called friend and my interactions with him. I don't recall having much to say on the subject. It was then revealed that he had done things to two my sisters. Things that leave scars no one can see. He went to prison.

Not long after sibling number five was delivered by the buzzard (we were too poor to afford a stork), my dad got on a plane to leave for Oregon. He was headed out there for a new job. The rest of us would follow when he had enough the money to bring us out. Knowing that Oregon was "way up north," my mind's eye was filled with images of blizzards and shivering all the time. My mom had to reassure me that Portland was close to the coast which meant a fairly temperate environment. Well, she didn't use those words exactly, but I know more words than I did when I was seven so I like to use them.

Left for several months with five children, each with numerous issues, my mom dropped further into insanity. It's a wonder she didn't drown us all in the bathtub. In due course, my uncle Larry arrived to drive the moving truck that would carry our all of the worldly possessions we could fit to Oregon. Mom would drive the aging Dodge Aspen with most of the kids but, the day of the move, the Aspen fired its last cylinder. My mom and three youngest siblings got on a bus while my sister and I rode in the moving van with my uncle.

I hated my uncle. I didn't know him well, he wasn't very patient, and he made fun of me when I showed any weakness. He had a thing for foods that didn't sit well in my stomach, such as hamburgers, and forced me to eat them. This led to some vomiting which earned the ridicule mentioned earlier. In later years, I would come to enjoy hamburgers and learn to value Uncle Larry but, on that trip, I hated him. I also like hamburgers now.

I think it was six days later, we arrived in Estecada, Oregon. I remeber feeling very odd riding in a normal car again after having spent all that time in a moving van. I met my Aunt Irene whom we were to stay with for a little while. I also met three cousins who had already moved out.

Sellwood Park, image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Portland, Oregon

Welcome to 1985

The city of Portland has five quarters: north, northeast, southeast, southwest, and northwest. You can tell which quarter you're in by looking at any street sign. The reason for the fifth quarter is the Willamette River (wĭl-ă´mĕt, goes like "pill SCAM threat"), which divides the city, flows northward halfway through the city then turns northwest. Anything north of the river bend and west of N Williams is North Portland.

We moved into a duplex, on SE Clatsop street, in the Sellwood neighborhood of Portland, Oregon. Sellwood is nestled into the armpit where where the Willamette and the south border of Portland meet.

My birthday conveniently occurs one week after New Years Day. The convenience lies in the fact that 98% of the year happens on or after my birthday so, when figuring out how old I was in a certain year, or what year it was when I was a certain age, is made easy. My middle sister's birthday is four days later. She and I celebrated our birthdays very shortly after moving into our new apartment, placing us neatly on the cusp of 1985.

Two-thirds of a block down the street were the first corner stores I ever lived close enough to walk to on my own. One of them was called My Food Market and the other was, conveniently, called Convenience. When we were moved in, my aunt and/or uncle gave each of the three older kids about 50¢.

To Be Continued...

I stopped existing here until further notice.

While you're waiting, look at this baby.