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Beagle

Almost unremarkable defining moments in your life

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So I'm interested in hearing if anyone has had a really pivotal or powerful moment in their life that isn't linked to a 'dramatic' moment. So no deaths, births or marriages, near death experiences etc. Instead has there been anything quite unremarkable that has shaped you?

 

The one instance that my mind keeps going back to is my final day at university. I loved being at university, it was up to now the best period of my life.

In the final year 7 of us lived together in a student house, all good friends. On the day that we were due to hand in the house keys and move out our parents came to collect us and help move all of the stuff. I remember this with mixed emotions as one by one my friends drove off to the next stage in their life. 

My dad arrived two hours after housemate 6 had left, and I spent that time walking around the house re-visiting everyone's bedrooms, the kitchens and our communal living room. The huge contrast between the lived-in house of the day before and the now dark and empty place was overwhelming. I clearly remember sitting on the steps near the front door, crushed by melancholy as the house demonstrated to me that uni really was over. For years after, an irrational part of my brain was convinced that I would one day be be going back to uni and that I was just on a long sabbatical, but eventually the memory of sitting on those steps would return and reality would be reaffirmed.

The delusions of returning to uni have gone, but those steps haven't, I feel liked I anchored my soul to them with some bungee cord and I always get drawn back to them and critical points of my life, and my memory serves them up as a baseline to my emotions so that I never become too happy or sad. Whenever I reminisce I end up back at those damn steps

That's not to say it's a bad thing, and I'm not wishing it away as such, it's just something to me that is profound.

 

Anyway, just thought I'd mention it.

Edited by Beagle
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I would say it was the day I stopped trying to please my mother. She was perpetually unhappy with everything from my hair to my choice to go to college, to my relationships with others.  One day I realized that nothing I would ever do would change that, and I could just get on with my life without guilt.  And a huge weight came off me.  She's still hyper critical, but a few years ago she did begrudgingly admit that I "came out all right". 

 

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I'm there with Inarah.

The first thing that springs to mind was when my sister took up the guitar.

My parents were musicians, and pretty good ones. Dad in particular was a bear about music, and felt that I needed to develop my talents and skills in music. My folks started me on piano lessons at age six, voice lessons around the same time, and since Dad's great love was the guitar, he would periodically pound on me to learn the guitar.

I hated it. I felt pressured and pushed. It didn't help that I do have a little talent... I can sing pretty well, and have a good sense of tempo and "perfect pitch." And Dad believed that this meant I was destined to be the next Elvis, whether I wanted to or not. Other children got to play; MY time was eaten up with practice, lessons, practice, advice, practice, practice, practice, and practice. I hated it.

As I got older, we actually had some tangles about it, as the main thing I was learning was "Music sucks, I hate practice, I hate music and musical instruments, and my old man's a damn tyrant." It led to some seriously unpleasant tussles about whether or not I would be in band in junior high and high school; he simply insisted that I was going to be in band, and that was that, and got VERY unhappy with me for simply refusing to improve, challenge for first chair, or show any love or fondness for the whole thing.

Sure, you can make me march. You can make me sing. And I will hate myself for submitting to your poison tyranny, and you won't care, because you are getting your rotten way. But every note I EVER sing or play will say, "I hate this, I hate this, I hate this," and you WILL know it, and you CAN'T make me LIKE it. Hate. Hate. Hate.

And it drove him crazy. "What are you doing? You sing like you hate it! Why can't you put your heart and soul into it?"

"I'm sure I don't understand a thing you're saying, father. What do you mean? Is my music somehow flawed? If flaws are perceived, will you not correct your rigidly obedient student?"

"$%@&#, you KNOW what I'm talking about! Why do you play so dratted flat? Why do you sing like you hate every note? Why?"

"I do not understand, o father dear. The notes are the notes, and I have played and sung them in the proper pitch and tempo, have I not? In what way is my music incorrect?" (tack on a broccoli eating grin)


And because failure was not an option, it continued to be an issue for several years in the middle of my childhood. He wouldn't give up, and I wouldn't give in.

I was around thirteen when my sister picked up my guitar and made up a song on it. It was a cutesy little thing, and had about three chords, and was about what you'd expect an eight year old with some knowledge of music to come up with on the guitar.

My parents lost their honkin' MINDS.

And on that day, all the pressure and tyranny was gone. Doc's not a musician, he doesn't wanna be a musician, he hates all this crap, and we will FINALLY let him out from under it. Now Little Sister is the big musical prodigy, and we're gonna dump it all on HER!!!

It was like the opposite of sibling rivalry. I didn't hate her for taking all the attention away. For the first time in a decade, I felt free... right at the beginning of my teen years, too. It led to way too little supervision for me since the spotlight was on HER, but I rather liked it that way, and luckily avoided jail time or accidental death a number of ways, but I loved her for it.

I also learned I had a knack for writing, around that same time... but that's a different story.

 

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I had one of those moments back in 2001, that completely changed my life's course.

 

A client called, irate about the new lead generation system he was forced to use. He thought it was the worse thing ever. He was angry, and slightly rude. However, I could tell under all the bluster was a fear for his livelihood and compensation for computer illiteracy. I knew there were people out in the world who needed the "This is a mouse, there is a left click and a right click." type of computer education. By asking him questions, and giving him non-judgemental support, I was able to demonstrate the power of the new system. If he wanted to send mailers about the new line of disability insurance, he could select people 35-50 who lived in affluent zip codes and/or made a certain level of income. By the end, he could see the power of the new system, and was excited on how it could grow his business. He thanked me profusely, and said that I had been the best technical person he ever had spoken to. 

 

It was that day I realized, I could not be a computer programmer all my life. I needed to pursue changing my career. Yes, I liked the problem solving and solution building, but I needed to deal with people as part of my daily job duties. Because I began looking forward to angry people calling me. It re-energized me and brought me immense satisfaction. 

 

Also, about the same time, I realized I didn't want to be remembered at my eulogy for making really great direct mail marketing software. 

 

Last week, I finished the trek that moment put into motion. 

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And Thes has reminded me of another moment:

There was an assistant professor where I went to school to get my teaching degree and certification.

Now, nearly every SPED professor I ever had there was the soul of education, passing on vital information, clever tricks, neat ideas, and stuff I would NEED if I was to be a Special Educator.

Not this one. Main thing I remember about her classes was:

1. Teaching consists of assigning a thing without explaining anything or setting criteria, and when your student turns in a screwed up project? Point out all the mistakes. People learn from mistakes. So don't bother teaching anything, just point out the student's mistakes.

2. It is important to scream at your students for using improper nomenclature. "IT IS NOT AN AUTISTIC CHILD! IT IS A CHILD WITH AUTISM! THE CHILD COMES BEFORE THE DISABILIIIITTYYYY!!!!!"

As a teacher, if I fail to teach you anything? Well, that's on me. But you're sure not going to remember me ten or twenty years later as "That shrill broccoli hat who was a broccoli, plus he didn't teach me anything." I will not be that.

 

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When I was ~12, I was enrolled in a writing class (homeschooled, with supplementary classes). We had to do some sort of research paper. I chose to do mine on how original vampire myths influenced modern depictions (I was watching Buffy at the time, Twilight - ick - wasn't a thing yet, and most of the research was actually with books in a library). 

 

Most of the time, I BS'd papers. The instructors we checked up with were silly and assumed I was good at everything because I was good at math. So I had a habit of writing poor stuff out of laziness. My dad gave me plenty of broccoli for that, critiquing it hard. 

 

This paper was different. I worked my bum off on this paper. It was great - I had an interesting topic, the reading I found was fun, my paper was structured and thoughtful. I think it ended up being a glorious 7 pager (not too shabby for age 12). It was the only paper my dad ever told me I deserved an A on. 

 

The instructor decided it was a B paper, because he didn't like the topic. He told me to rewrite it to his modification of my topic. I told him no. 

 

That was a key moment for me, in that I stopped trusting humanities and social topic instructors and courses. They're subjective. Not to say they're bad to study - they absolutely are. Much to my surprise in college, I even enjoyed a few of my core required humanities courses (disliked others, but had fun in most). But I turned pretty hard onto the math and science side because of this experience. Math and science are objective. There is interpretation needed, of course. But "I don't like it" won't be a big problem. Math problems had solutions. Science had definitive experiments (especially at middle school levels - I know now how murky some experiments can be). So yeah, I'm likely a scientist because a middle school instructor didn't like my vampires paper. 

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Well, I would say the one time I was fired from a job, but that implies drama.

 

I moved 1200 miles away from my family after college.  Not as rebellion; my family is mercifully short on drama.  Instead, I helped a friend move to Colorado, and decided I'd move too.  Of course, that friend became a roommate, and that went south in a few months.  I arranged to move back to Michigan that summer (about four months away).  One night I was driving back from work at about 9pm.  I didn't want to go back to my apartment and deal with the drama that was no doubt waiting for me, so I stopped by a country bar.  Grab a couple sodas, listen to some mediocre music, head home.  Instead, I was asked to dance by one of the local dance instructors.  Naturally I sucked at it, but enjoyed it enough to go back the following week.  Eventually, I screwed up the nerve to take a lesson.  The lead instructor and I hit off a friendship, and she invited me to a dance retreat in Breckenridge that was happening in a few weeks. A bunch of dancers was heading up to effectively have a long weekend skiing and drinking moderate amounts of adult beverages.

 

I came back from that weekend and cancelled the rental truck.  I fell in to a great group of people, and it turned out I was really good at dancing.  I ended up competing and teaching (both lead and follow roles).  I became friends with people I never would have, learned a lot of new skills, appreciated music more . . . just because I took a right turn into a bar parking lot.

 

 

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5 hours ago, Cyradis said:

When I was ~12, I was enrolled in a writing class (homeschooled, with supplementary classes). We had to do some sort of research paper. I chose to do mine on how original vampire myths influenced modern depictions (I was watching Buffy at the time, Twilight - ick - wasn't a thing yet, and most of the research was actually with books in a library). 

 

Most of the time, I BS'd papers. The instructors we checked up with were silly and assumed I was good at everything because I was good at math. So I had a habit of writing poor stuff out of laziness. My dad gave me plenty of broccoli for that, critiquing it hard. 

 

This paper was different. I worked my bum off on this paper. It was great - I had an interesting topic, the reading I found was fun, my paper was structured and thoughtful. I think it ended up being a glorious 7 pager (not too shabby for age 12). It was the only paper my dad ever told me I deserved an A on. 

 

The instructor decided it was a B paper, because he didn't like the topic. He told me to rewrite it to his modification of my topic. I told him no. 

 

That was a key moment for me, in that I stopped trusting humanities and social topic instructors and courses. They're subjective. Not to say they're bad to study - they absolutely are. Much to my surprise in college, I even enjoyed a few of my core required humanities courses (disliked others, but had fun in most). But I turned pretty hard onto the math and science side because of this experience. Math and science are objective. There is interpretation needed, of course. But "I don't like it" won't be a big problem. Math problems had solutions. Science had definitive experiments (especially at middle school levels - I know now how murky some experiments can be). So yeah, I'm likely a scientist because a middle school instructor didn't like my vampires paper. 

 

Harlan Ellison had a creative writing professor who told him he couldn't write and shouldn't even be trying.

 

I understand Ellison sent the man a copy of every story, book, and screenplay he ever sold...

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I was 25 and finally into my last semester as an undergrad (some people spend seven years in college and are called doctors; others spend seven years and are called, generously, reformed dipbroccolis). Spring break hit, and I was holed up in my third-floor walkup studio apartment with no company but my year-old cat Selby. I'd heard back from three of the four grad programs to which I submitted, and I'd been rejected by each. I was reeling. School was running out, and real life was approaching fast. I was a good writer, I knew that, but I'd bombed the GRE and wasn't getting so much as a sniff. I didn't know what I was going to do.

 

I got drunk on a Tuesday night and popped in a DVD I'd had sitting on the shelf for weeks: Sideways. It turned into a magical evening. If you're unfamiliar with the movie this probably makes no sense. But Miles's journey as a writer and man really hit home with me, and by the end of the movie is I was fired up and ready to hit real life in the teeth. I hit the phone and started setting broccoli up, even. My plans weren't what I thought they'd be, but I realized I could handle that. I'd be fine. Better than fine.

 

Woke up in the morning to an email from my first-choice school (after the prestige of Iowa anyway) telling me I was in. Really felt good after that.

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In '93 I was leaving the city after my first year of university. I'd applied for a bunch of summer jobs but didn't get any of them so was going back to the farm to help my parents. Never really wanted to be a farmer and was looking to try something else out. An hour or so before I left I got a call offering me a job. Only had a few minutes to think about it but turned it down. I went back for a couple more years after that but that one snap decision is what made me choose farm life over the city. Went through hell supporting my dad after that and fought hard to keep the farm for him and now for myself. Hard to say if it was the right or wrong decision but it is what made me who I am.

 

Another one was in 2002. An acquaintance offered to hook me up with a girl she knew in her home town and her parents would help me with a vacation there. I sent a letter to the girl explaining I was going to be in her city for a few weeks and would she like to meet me. The girl wasn't interested but her mother was. She forced the girl to reply and she reluctantly agreed to meet up with me. We hit it off instantly. The weeks with her were some of the best in my life. I went back for another visit 6 months later for a month. 6 months after that we were married and we've been together for almost 15 years now. We've had a few ups and downs but who ever said life was easy?

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I was sitting in an annual meeting for a company I worked for just out of college.  It was poorly paid, but I had had trouble getting or keeping other jobs, with poor grades and little work experience my BA was doing nothing useful.  

 It was an auditorium full of people, and management was trying to kill us with powerpoints. On the screen was a picture of a red truck, some words and numbers, and no matter how hard I tried I could not understand what they were talking about.  It was like my brain was fighting me,  refusing to concentrate or pay any attention to what I wanted.  I'm a smart guy, I graduated 11th in my HS class and had scholarships that paid for my education, but it fell apart in college.    I realized that this struggle was beyond what everyone else was facing.   

 

I had started taking Ritlin for ADD in 4th grade, and I went from remedial classes in 3rd to advanced everything in Jr High.  At the time the theory was that you grew out of ADD.  so I stopped taking medicine in college when it was inconvenient.  I had not "grown out" of it. Lots of little memories and problems came into focus.   I had learned some coping skills but not enough to get good grades in college or pay attention in boring meetings. 

 

I haven't always used it since.   There are some jobs where it is unnecessary (construction, parenting, what ever parts of a job that I love) 

but even as an adult there are times I need to keep using it.   In grad school I graduated with a 3.8. 

 

Everything fell into place trying to understand a red truck on a power point slide. 

 

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For me it would have to be when I raised my hand and Took The Oath making me a member of the United States Navy.

It was at the peak of the Vietnam War and my college grades in the Electrical/Electronic Engineering Program weren't high enough for a deferment, due to my difficulties with Mathematics.

I signed up for the Advanced First Term Avionics Program, which guaranteed me up to 2 years of schooling for a 6 year term of active duty service.  I completed the program early due to my growing up with a Heathkit catalog in one hand and a hot soldering iron in the other plus my already completed Electronics courses.

Made Petty Officer Second Class [E-5] in just under two years, and then was frozen in rank.:angry:

Had many adventures and the education I received, both classroom and life as a sailor, have served me well throughout my life.

GEM

Edited by Green Eyed Monster
stuttering fingers
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Getting an MRI scan of my spine was what set me on the path to practice Medical Imaging - at the moment, Radiology - and either MRI or Interventional Radiology in a couple years.

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I think I will agree with GEM...

My enlistment in the Army was a point in my life where I was going nowhere, and I needed the discipline....

Throughout my time, I learned a lot of things, but mostly Tolerance.

i learned how to get along with Co workers that I couldn't stand, but didn't have any friction with during the duty day...

Afterwards, they went their way, and I went mine....

This is still applicable to my life in my current position...

 

Also, I groused a lot about never being a Lima Delta....

Lifer Dog

But joined the national guard for the free college tuition...

By the time I was done with college, and my current enlistment ended, I had 12 years in...

Seemed silly to not do my 20....

 

So now I have a pention coming when I reach retirement age from a great ful Uncle Sam, plus VA benefits etc...

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Mine is sort of a three parter. 

Two months before I turned 18, I went to my parents, told them I had decided to join the Navy, and asked for them to sign the waiver so I could go on delayed enlistment at the age of 17, and leave after I graduated high school.  They said "No."  I was mad for two months, and I spent my 18th birthday at the Military Entrance Processing Station enlisting in the Navy. 

But that's not the mundane moment. That came later, in three parts 

First part - while I was on delayed enlistment, before I graduated from high school, a broccoli head manager at the movie theater I worked at told me, and a fellow co-worker who was joining the army that "the military was for losers" and that we were both too wimpy to make it.  

Second part - during boot camp, about 3-4 weeks in, I was miserable, and ready to give up when two thoughts came to mind .  One - it was solely MY "fault" that I was there, my parents didn't even give me permission or want me there.  And Two - there was no damn way I was going to give that broccoli head manager at the movie theater the satisfaction of being right. 

Third part -  Shortly after bootcamp, during a brief break in my Navy electronics training, I went home on leave.  While home, I went to the high school graduation of a friend, and guess who I ran into there? The broccoli head manager. He was no longer a manager at the theater, but scraping by working part time jobs as an usher for concerts (and high school graduations). He recognized me first from behind, and started to give me crap, making the assumption that since I was home just a few months after leaving, that I had washed out. I stood up and took off my jacket, at which point he got to see me while I was in the best shape of my life (to give you an idea, I lost 4 inches around my waist and gained 30 pounds of muscle in boot camp.) I eventually ended the conversation and made him blanch when I told him to shut up or I would kick his butt. 

It was at that moment that I realized I had turned a corner in my life. I wound up graduating 2nd in my ET class, and making E6 in almost minimum time possible before getting out. 


 

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