by Jon Sullivan - 2019.08.25
You're really interested in some rambling autobiographical rantings? You have nothing better to do? Okay, fine. Please remember that this whole thing is quite biased. I'm sure others have different recollections of events.
The stuff below got written in the last century. So it's less about who I am now, and more about how I got here.
Life started for me in California in 1963. Memories from that time are sketchy of course and I can't think of anything that anyone would be really interested in. I remember my parents were loving and caring but that they argued a lot. To my mind they were hippies in the stereotypical 60s sense, which I didn't really know at the time. Things were very Height Ashbury for us, but it seemed normal enough to me. In retrospect, there were some very strange people and some very strange times.
We went to the mountains a lot and I have very powerful memories of that. I remember several years when we lived in a tent in the mountains for two or three months at time. My sister and I would get home schooled by my mother who was a teacher (dad was a postal worker).
We also went to lots of rock concerts. My parents would turn me loose at the concerts when I was seven. Which might sound like poor parenting, but that's just the way things were back then. It was safe I assure you. I remember roaming among all the hippies, waking into a group and making myself at home. Those people where really cool until the seventies. It took them that long to get through college, get slapped around by reality, and become just like their parents. Anyway, it was fun.
When I was nine we moved to a small town in Montana which was very traumatic for me. Going from Height Ashbury to red neck land was bad. Very bad. The first town we moved to had a population of a few hundred. Every single resident was not only ignorant, but proud of it. I remember my grade school teacher asking us to compile a list of reasons Nixon should get reelected. I'm not making this up.
After one year there we moved to a slightly larger Mormon town. Surprisingly enough people were much better here. Looney as all hell, but they were better at hiding their bigoted, ignorant attitudes. Mostly.....
I also had a slight weight problem, I sucked at anything athletic, and Montanans hate Californians (at least back in the 70s, these days most Montanans are Californians). Needless to say I didn't fit in. I decided the best option would be to crawl inside my shell and never come out. I started reading a lot. Mostly science fiction. For some reason I can't explain, I also read encyclopedias. By the 7th grade I had read three. If you're thinking "nerd alert", you're right on the mark.
After a couple years, I finally found a couple people who I had a certain kinship with. Friends. Esoteric souls like myself who were smarter and more sophisticated than your average Montanan. We're still friends all these years later.
Things went on like this until I got to high school where I actually came out of my shell and started doing something with my life. I got involved with the speech team and joined the track team. You might not be seeing the irony here so I'll beat you over the head with it.
I started high school as a pudgy, introverted bookworm. Yet for my extracurriculars I decide to give speeches in front of strangers and run long distance events. This should give you a deeper understanding of my character.
"Like what? Your brain is totally geeked?"
No smartass. Okay, I'll spell it out. I liked speech because I was smarter and more confident than everyone else. A better way to say it would be that my ego was very, very large. Most of the people I really hated at that age (jocks and cheerleaders) would have gone into gibbering spasms if they had to write a speech, much less memorize it and impress a group with it. It was something I did well. I finally felt like life outside my shell might be interesting. For the first time since we moved to Montana, I was able to be comfortable socializing with others.
Running was the same sort of thing. The jocks were into sprinting and middle distance. I was never fast, but I could always run farther than they could. Plus distance running is great for someone who likes to be alone with their thoughts.
I have lots of happy memories about high school. The friends I made through the speech team were some of the coolest and most creative I've ever met. If you were in speech then you know what the the tournaments were like, if not then just imagine a sort of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" kind of thing involving several hundred people.
My peers couldn't wait to graduate and get out of school, but I was having a blast.
Just so that you're getting the whole picture, I'll back up a little here and tell you about some of the books I read and how that effected me.
I'd read about 500 science fiction novels by the time I was a junior (if I wasn't odd before I certainly was after this), but my favorite author was Robert Heinlein. Two things combine to make this important.
First, Heinlein includes some very un-Mormon ideas in his books including free love, individual dignity and the supreme value of personal liberty, the virtue of independence, science as a liberating factor, the perniciousness of bureaucrats, and the hypocrisy of organized religion. Heady stuff for a thirteen year old. Heinlein's heros and heroines were also usually snobbish about how much smarter they were than everyone else and of course I had no trouble identifying with this. Another feature in many of his novels were large familys of adults all married to each other.
The other thing that made my love of Heinlein important was that I had no interaction with woman till I was a sophomore. Women despised me. Which was fine with me since I despised them first. In fact I had very little social interaction at all which lead me to draw all of my values and social skills from counter culture science fiction novels.
I read plenty of literature and philosophy as well. I was especially fascinated with Zen Buddhism. If you don't know much about Zen, I'm not going to explain it here. In Zen you're expected to understand the sound of one hand clapping. That should be all you need to know about it.
When I was a sophomore a girl caught me completely by surprise by deciding to chase after me. Since I was socially warped and she had some major emotional problems, it was total disaster. Despite that however, we lasted about four years. It was lots of good times and bad times, a couple separations, a few fights, and lots of misunderstandings.
The summer after I graduated she broke up with me and started dating one of my friends. We got back together later (and I made up with my friend), but it was all down hill after that. I started to get antsy since I had never dated anyone else. She got more and more possessive. I'm sure you know the score. Our break up was really nasty.
I started chasing another woman I knew, a country girl whose father ran a cattle ranch. We decided to get married after about six months even though in retrospect we had nothing in common. I realized that if I was ever going to stay with one woman for the rest of my life, it would have to be someone who could accept my strange, idealistic ideas and not be put off by my brooding, introspective manner. As well as inject some responsibility into my life, as I had none. Since I figured I knew everything, I decided that this was the one.
The marriage lasted seven years and until the end I was very happy. She wasn't everything I dreamed of, but she was smart and responsible, and we were always able to have fun together. I'll get to the breakup later as it's a ways down in the time line.
After I graduated I went to college to get a chemical engineering degree which turned out to be a bad idea since I hate calculus. After the first year I dropped out and worked some odd jobs, got married to the cowgirl, moved a lot and then got a job at Domino's Pizza. This turned out to be a very good thing since it turns out I have a stronger work ethic than I realized. This goes over well in fast food places and a year and a half after I started as a delivery driver, I was area supervisor over most of the stores in Montana.
Domino's is a great place to work. There aren't any customers in the store (it's all delivery) so you can have fun and enjoy your self, and since I was in charge. I could run things however I wanted.
I was working 12-15 hour days at this point so there isn't much to tell about my life outside Domino's. We got involved in the SCA which is a medieval re-creation group that fights and drinks a lot. My wife got a good job so we had plenty of money and did a lot of traveling. After seven years we were all set to snuggle down and live the good life.
Then I decided to fuck it up.
A woman I thought was just a friend started flirting with me. She was a babe, I was weak and ended up sleeping with her. At this point I need to apologize to my ex-wife, even though I'm sure she'll never read this. I'm sorry. It was immature and irresponsible. I wish it had been different, and I wish I hadn't hurt you. I do things differently now and I'll never do that to a woman again. Sorry.
All of a sudden I felt really stupid for getting married to the second person I'd dated since here I was alone and I didn't have a good idea what I needed in a relationship. I knew I wanted to be married, but I didn't want to get divorced ever again. After the affair my needs were completely different. I'd been exposed to raw passion for the first time and I knew that I needed more of that.
I spent a couple years dating lots of different sorts of women searching the answers, getting an education in relationships I guess. I had lots of fun but wasn't ever really able to nail down what I needed, what qualities a woman or a relationship needed to have so that it would last. It's easy to say that true love is what matters, or chemistry, or communication, or "keeping it fresh", but none of those things really seemed like the answer. "What makes love last?" is still one of those questions I lie awake thinking about. (editor's note : At 56, no, I don't.)
In the process of getting myself educated, I asked an incredibly sexy woman out for lunch so that I could pick her brain. I really didn't think anything would come of it since she was a bit out of my league and way to fast for me to trust. We had a long lunch where we shared lots of personal thoughts and insights. I left thinking that I'd learned a lot and that it would be nice to date someone that wonderful just once in my life. Oh well. For some reason I still don't understand, she started chasing after me. A few weeks later we were engaged to be married. Since she appears again in various places in this narrative, let's just call her "Betty" (Which isn't her name. But apparently she got really pissed when I was trashing her on the Internet using her real name.).
We didn't end up getting married. We lived together for a year, but in the end, she wasn't ready to settle down and she claimed that I didn't make enough money and I was no good in bed. This is of course ridiculous since I'm incredible in bed and I made a very decent living as a web designer. Anyway, it was the most magical year of my life.
Betty is so magical that at times I've wondered if she's even human. She has the power to make a person feel like they are the center of her universe, like they are her savior. Like the moment could last forever as if in a great romantic painting. I've been with many very wonderful women, so please don't get the impression that I'm naive about this. No matter who she is with, she brings out the best in them. The problem is that in the end, after she's tired of the love and the sex and the charm, she brings out their worst and they get abandoned when they are at their lowest, when they've tried as hard as they can to keep her love. After they've crawled and pleaded and made complete fools of themselves.
It's mean Betty and all the happiness you bring people will never make up for all the pain.
About the same time we broken up, I quit my job at Domino's so that I could go back to college and get a computer science degree. Computers had always fascinated me and I knew that this was the career I really wanted. I'd been toying with game programming and computer graphics for a while and simply couldn't stay away from it any longer.
I enrolled at the local university and got a night job delivering pizzas at a local pizzeria; Zimorino's. At this point I need to expound on the restaurant I worked in because it was the best place in the whole world to work. The food, the people, the beer, the pizza (the PIZZA!), the parties, the after-hours. Scott, Amy, Hank, Jon, Judy, Laird, Keven, Lisa, Jody, Charlie, Bob, Les and all the others, I really miss you guys.
When I was in high school we used to go to Zimorino's all the time, and I'd watch them spin pizzas and think about how cool it would be to do that. Before my first marriage when I was broke and idealistic we'd save our money to go to Zim's every weekend. Man what a great place. I finally ended up waiting tables there and making some pretty good money.
I spent more time trying to educate my self about relationships, finding unique women and wondering if they would be the person I could spend the rest of my life with. Maybe I'm too sensitive, or maybe everyone goes through this, but this was a trying time for me. I dated (sort of) a lesbian for a while who turned out to be a very good friend. I dated a virgin 12 years younger then I was (which is wrong, but I was good to her). I flirted with a women 12 years older than I was who taught me a lot about common sense. I learned a lot but I wasn't any closer to finding what I felt I needed. I was searching for the right person, searching hard, but not finding.
Eventually Betty came back and we got together again. To head off any tisk-tisking from the peanut gallery, just let me say that I can NOT say no to Betty. I'm under her spell. That doesn't make me happy, in fact it makes me feel a little pathetic. It's just that when she's in love with me she's better than even my best fantasies. I knew it wouldn't last and that I'd end up crushed and bitter and pathetic. I did it with open eyes, clear understanding, and a hunger to drink from that fountain once more.
After she was done wringing every drop of happiness out of me (Are you picking up on the bitterness here? So I don't need to be more obvious? Good, so...) we both moved on.
At this point the Internet started to grow out of it's "nerds only" phase and the World Wide Web emerged. The timing couldn't have been better. The people who made those first web sites lived away form all sunlight, sleeping two or three hours a day, and only eating food they could hold in one hand (so they could type with the other. I'm not making this up). Anyway, here they are creating something that would become one of the pivotal inventions of the last 1000 years and they were total left brain, weaned on FORTRAN, tech weenies. Their web pages looked like drek. What they needed was someone who knew computer graphics and wasn't afraid of a UNIX server. Hey, that was me!
As soon as I designed one web site things took off in a very surrealistic fashion. It was sort of like Dorothy being carried away by the tornado. Everywhere I turned, people wanted me to do graphics for MONEY! A few months earlier friends and family had been smiling and nodding politely when I showed them the graphics I'd been spending the last year slaving over. I quit Zimorino's and started doing web design for a living.
At this point things in my life got very odd. I was dating a woman who was so right for me that it was scary, but for some reason I couldn't see it lasting. It was so close. Damn. Anyway at the same time I was with her, my First Love from high school decided to divorce her husband and get back together with me, AND one of my dearest friends became a lover, AND Betty came back into my life. Shit... Fan... Splat.
Perhaps I should be drawing some significance from the fact that these four woman were in my life at the same time. Surely the Gods where trying to teach me something. If they where, I'm sorry to say that I didn't learn a thing. I was having too much fun reveling in the love and sex and chaos. Wow. Let me assure you, no matter how much whining I've done in this self-indugent narrative, it's good to be Jon. Fat, stylin', snuggly.
With no regrets in all corners, things eventually settled down. My high school sweety and I moved in to a bigger place and started the settling down thing. And just as quickly started the breaking up thing. After living together for a few months we remembered why we'd broken up 12 years earlier, and unfortunately things hadn't changed. I'd politely burned some bridges to make things more stable for us so I had now gone from love overload to being very alone.
I spent a year alone, working on websites, learning cool computer stuff, settling in to the idea that maybe I wasn't going to find the person I was looking for. For the first time in my life, I started thinking about celibacy. I mean, hey, I've always been a hermit, and the sex was never the most important part of my relationships. I had some women that I was just friends with and I enjoyed those relationships very much. I thought that maybe fate was leading me to the conclusion that I needed to stop looking for a soulmate. I'd found a couple soulmates and it hadn't worked out. Casual sex had ceased to intrigue me several years ago. So I figured, okay, this computer stuff will never screw me over, let's just do that.
When I got divorced four years earlier, I felt that I needed to educate myself about women and relationships, and here I was with lots of experience, tons of advice, and a clear understanding of what I needed from a women and what I had to offer. I'd had the women I wanted to have, won the hearts of the women I'd admired, and explored all of my sexual fantasies. My conclusion was that experience and knowledge are no better than intuition when it comes to relationships (just more fun).
I mulled this over for a few months 'till Betty called.
We hadn't talked for a year or so and I had assumed that this meant that she'd finally buried my memory and steeled herself against my charms. Not to be. She wanted to get together to tell me something important. After some transparent playing about, she asked me to marry her.
Ya, whatever. Like I'm going to marry someone who had treated my heart and soul like a cheap gift.
I meant to say no, I really did. I tried to say no... I said yes.
At this point I need to apologize to Betty. I haven't been very kind to you in this piece. I feel bad about that, but I'm bitter. You and I know the truth, and as much as I've tried to explain it, no one else seems to. My family, my friends, our friends, your friends. No one understands. I'm telling the truth here, forgive me for that. It's my truth, and I'm sure yours is different. I never said anything to you that I don't still feel, both in the beginning and at the end. (editor's note : I feel nothing for her as of 2019. Good riddance to bad rubbish.)
So that she could get a good teaching job, we moved to Bakersfield, California. I got a web design job at an ad agency there.
Let me take the time to expound on how awful Bakersfield is. Bakersfield is the fucking asshole of the US. I have never been surrounded by a worse tide of swill. Racist, ignorant, ugly, boring, fucking swill. If you don't know how to read and you aren't really concerned about that, you'll find a home in Bakersfield. If people have always treated you like an idiot and you don't understand why, Bakersfield is the place for you. Holy fucking shit what a god-forsaken wasteland. I'm not making this up. People warned me, and their rantings seemed so warped that I didn't listen. Trust me, it's true.
We moved to Irvine California where I was able to get a really (as in very) good job as a web page designer for a hot dot com company.
So... Here we are in Orange County. Beaches, museums, theme parks, great dining, great shopping, great music, smart people. Wow. I love this place. The politics are whacked, but who cares. Everyone is snobbish, but who cares. It's a great place.
After less than a year of marriage, Betty decided she'd had enough. She moved back to Montana.
So here I am. Emotionally I'm in the same place I was a year and a half ago. Be celibate or not? Stay or chase adventure? Who knows. Today I went down to the beach to go swimming as I do every weekend. The surf is usually fairly calm, but today it was very heavy, 15 foot crashing waves. I walked out in to the ocean and battled the waves to make it past the breakers. Nearly killed myself. One of the things I've left out in this narrative is all the times I've nearly killed myself chasing experience. Experience is the key, and hard driving, skiing, mountain biking, drinking, drugs have all failed to kill me. I've loved the best women, ate the best food, heard the best bands. I've stood on the mountain, looked over, and come back. Life is good.
Please resist the urge to respond to this page by sending me chatty, helpful emails with greeting card advice on how I should live my life. I've moved on. If you want to get a more accurate idea of who I am now, please read the homepage.
And of course it was 20 years ago. A lot has happened since then, and I don't feel like writing another 5000 words on it. Let's just all agree that I'm now happily single, and the Internet has been very very good to me. It's sunny and 75 in San Diego. Nuff said.
The Sony a7r iii is so awesome I've completely switched over from Canon. Highly recommended. Using with mostly Sony GM lenses. All photos here since 2108 were taken with it. Have had zero issues with it.