A Long Hiatus

July 24, 2020 at 11:19 pm Leave a comment

I can start writing again now about some real things as well as at least occasionally ‘publishing’ some poetry. I realized recently that I was being very egotistical when I judged my own poetry to be bad when others appreciated it. I know quite certainly I’m not my writing’s best judge, because I throw out most of it, and others have protested. It’s compulsive and obsessive. The real root is having been adopted into a Navy family, and making the rather startling transition in less than a year from a rural type (“country boy”, and quite literally) into a “rug rat” and within a couple of years I was a gang leader. I believe this is the first time I’ve admitted that. It wasn’t the last time. If I had been one my second year in Japan, it would have been a different gang. By gang I mean a bunch of people who have common ‘principles’, aims and goals mostly provided by their desperate need for a leader.

It’s rather difficult to stop that; yes, that’s a deliberate understatement. You can’t. I recently [oh, hell, I’m old; seven years ago is practically yesterday] found out that my classmates from high school remembered me. It turned out that apparently a lot of them were basically trying to copy me. My minor problem was that starting at thirteen, I really couldn’t communicate with my peers. That did turn out to be a misconception. The one person in the de Jong family to whom I was closest understood me. He merely hadn’t yet managed to find a way to express himself. When I saw him in 2013 and it was blatantly evident, I realized again how many bad mistakes I’ve made. “Why are you always so silent?” I suggested on Quora that it was “Because every time I do people tell me they don’t know what I’m talking about.” Although somewhat true, it’s much more “It’s because I hear so much better when I’m not speaking.”

At that age, it was true. I could talk with teachers pretty much on their own level.

At age 15, talking to my peers was indeed fruitless, and teachers started literally running from me when they could see I was approaching them because they knew I’d ask a question that wasn’t easy to answer and more often than not they didn’t know what it was. [I was 17 when I graduated. By all rights I should have taken summer class, taken the one class that only “seniors”–once you’ve graduated from junior you are that–could take and get the one credit I needed. However, I was determined to join the Navy as an enlisted man. How sure was I that I could have gone to Annapolis from the start? I wasn’t surprised the first day on the USS Oklahoma City (CLG-5) when I was offered Annapolis for my signature. I was four months out of boot camp. Having placed at the top .1% of the nation’s high school students in every subject but math–including subjects I’d never formally studied–and then having confirmed I wasn’t crazy (to myself, anyway) by having answered every question on the Stanford-Binet test correctly, which was supposed to be impossible and invalidated the test. However, I couldn’t join the Navy until I was 17 and my–adopted parents, aunt and uncle by blood, along with my ‘sister’ and the brother who turned out to be an incestuous pedophile and every tangled and twisted turn you can imagine–were simply not people I understood and entirely mistrusted. Waiting for a year (almost) wasn’t something I thought I could endure. Enough, I’m not in the least proud of this. In my experience I was normal. I didn’t feel abnormal.]

And, yes, by the age of 16 (when I took that test) I was already beyond desperate. I was taking honor classes and being told to never answer a question unless no one else could. Perhaps I should add that I had a November birth date. If you haven’t added the years up already, yes, I was 5 years old when I started in first grade.

All I wanted to do with that I.Q. test was ‘prove’ [the empirical scheme toward ‘truth’ only involves the transition of an hypothesis to a theory] that I was sane. My sociology teacher/counselor was the one who taught me that answering all the other questions correctly plus the ‘control’ question (anything less than all the other questions answered correctly meant that the chance of answering it correctly basically went from incalculable to one in five) invalidated the test. He also told me, after I told him I was going to take the test at the Navy recruiter’s office (why? it was free, and otherwise cost at least $75, and in the late 60’s that was a fair amount of money for most kids in high school–I blew mine, too, on books, mostly $.25 DAW (Donald A. Wolheim) paperback books–necessarily science fiction; at that time most nonfiction could be had free), to be sure and not answer all the questions correctly. Of course, when I found out I had, I told him; he shook (side to side, since that varies culture to culture) his head and frowned at me. “But I didn’t think I could.” He gave me a sad, understanding half-smile and just walked away.

When I joined the Navy I found out the reason for his reaction.

Entry filed under: Autobiography. Tags: , , .

An Addendum; a Partial Autobiography on presuming to be a poet

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

%d bloggers like this: