Z Backgrounder

Beyond just getting off my ass and doing the writing I said OVER TWO YEARS AGO (I’m hoping to make the olympic procrastination team), I figure the best way to begin is to give a quick-ish background on the person behind the keyboard.

I was conceived in the back of a car in a monastery parking lot, according to my mother anyway.  I wasn’t exactly there at the time, so who am I to disagree?  The reason I start such a backgrounder with such a shocking statement is that it gives a hint at both my unique entry into this world as well as the dysfunctional family I was raised in.  Consider it foreshadowing. 😉

Mom was raised in a volatile, abusive home and was a petite, young, not-quite-20 hottie working at a doughnut shop. My biological father was a tall, burly man in his 20’s who had a penchant for cool cars, HAM radio and separated from his wife. This union occurred at the end of the 60’s where where conservative values of the 40’s/50’s were losing ground but still had a firm grasp. I’ll just say my birth was considered salacious at the time and take great enjoyment of telling people, “Don’t blame me for being a bastard. I was born that way.”

Mom resolved the “bastard” issue by marrying a really nice dude with a wickedly Polish last name who adopted me (a fact I was unaware of for the next 10-12 years).  From what I recall of my first few years of life were relatively normal. For around four years we were mom, dad, baby and doggie.  Somewhere around the time grandpa (mom’s dad) died in a car accident, life took another turn and suddenly “dad” was out of the picture and “step-dad” entered.  This is essentially where I consider my childhood ended.

The next few years were a chaotic blur.  I recall quite a bit of physical/emotional abuse, the arrival of a new half-brother, mom’s marriage to step-dad after half-bro’s birth (two bastards, great), and a lot of parental fights.  Personally I was out-of-control from anger issues and acting out at every turn.  Basically the opposite of how my life started.  During this time I developed a talent for playing the violin which was quickly supplanted by a passion for technology after I saw some kids playing an Atari 2600.

At some point, the physical abuse abated, though the emotional abuse never really did.  These were my pre-teen-to-teen years and, well, let’s just say it was the worst period of my life.  Having never learned proper social skills, combined with raging hormones and frequently being “the new kid” in school, this was a tumultuous period which resulted in many interesting, embarrassing, unusual situations I may or may not elaborate on in the future.

Having grown up a full-fledged-and-certified Wisconsin boy who only left the state for a couple trips to Six Flags Great America and a single trip to Florida (my first experience with heat stroke), once I became an official “adult,” I joined the Navy.   I spent the first couple years conquering Boot Camp, technical training (West and East Coast) then finally living 3 years in Japan then 1 in San Diego.

After that, I spent the next 10 years with my girlfriend and her children doing what I could to be a passing facsimile of a father-figure, partner and all-around-tech-guru (one, maybe two, of three ain’t bad).  We began in mid-California, eventually moving back to Wisconsin, a place I swore I’d never return to.  Within 6 months of returning to WI for a new, promising job, I was laid off.

I did what I could to keep food on the table, eventually working my way into a contracting job with the State of Wisconsin. After a few years, I was fired (awesome story), then re-hired, eventually becoming a full time employee. At this point I’m a Team Lead who helps build a new Enterprise Service Desk for the state. It was a stressful year or two, but one of the more fulfilling things I’ve accomplished in my career in IT.

Eventually the girlfriend goes crazy beyond my ability to cope and I lose the aforementioned nuclear family. I spend the next year dealing with the fallout, followed by another year trying to get my shit together. I lose a bunch of weight, fall in love again, then spend the next handful of years trying to live the best life I can.

That relationship eventually falls to pieces, due in part to my infamous skill of obliviousness. My on-again-off-again best friend then dies of an overdose, Scott Walker decides to screw over most Wisconsin State Employees, and I easily slip into yet another depression. In an interesting change of pace, this time the anxiety, depression and stress combines to create some physical issues. I spend the next 6-12 months in and out of the Emergency Room trying to figure out why I kept getting pancreatitis. To make a long story short, I (not my doctors) eventually figure out the cause and I eventually recover.

During the end of that fun-filled, eye-opening expedition with the medical establishment, I meet yet another woman and, despite our best efforts, we end up falling in love.  Fast-forward a number of years which involve many ups and a few downs, I eventually propose, I change my name and we get married. To this day, I still struggle with the reality that I, of all people, got married!

So that brings us up to today. I’m a grandfather of two baby girls and two teenage girls who are as fascinating as they are beautiful, a step-father to two wildly talented young adults, and an incredibly fortunate husband to one of the greatest women I’ve ever met. I’m not the most interactive grampa/stepfather out there, but I do like to think of myself as a good role model. I’m a bit older and a lot wiser, even though I still struggle with some of the seemingly most basic of things. I have no friends, do not socialize and only communicate with my extended family sporatically. Yeah, “dysfunction” is still in my DNA, though it’s played a smaller role as time has marched on.

After many decades working various technical help desks, I’m now an infrastructure technician, still with the State of Wisconsin. My hobbies are 3D printing, writing, virtual reality, repairing my massive collection of retro-tech hardware (old computers and other electronics), and slowly building out my personal museum.

So that’s the high-level overview of where I came from and who I am. If I can manage to maintain momentum, I’ll keep adding to this blog with other insights and stories from my life. Hopefully nobody gets offended or angry, but ultimately I don’t really care. This is MY outlet and is designed SPECIFICALLY for me and my mental health (take note the lack of a comment section). Nobody is forced to read this blog and thanks to the internet, not reading it is as easy as not pointing your browser to it.

~ Z ~