Part 5. My Story – The Great Escape

Escape, originally uploaded by SM Photo

By Neal Stone

First off sorry about the delay on this next part. Been a busy week and kind of lost the writing bug for a bit.

You read all the time on the news how someone escapes from jail, but ends up being recaptured right away. Why? Because they failed to prepare for AFTER the got away. You spend all this time on getting free, but not what to do next.

When I graduated it was assumed I would never go to college so I never had an S.A.T. And for a while that was the case. I did get some schooling eventually (GPA 3.5) and took other courses related to work. Turns out I can sit in class, daydream, not read one word in the book and still pull off a B grade average.

After graduating from high school I had no job, do direction and no idea what to do with my life. No one seemed to care and my parents suck at teaching life skills. All this had to be learned on my own.

All the while the dragon was still in hot pursuit. From 1983 to 1998 I fumbled around in my life living mostly with my parents. In 1992 I did have an apartment for year with a friend who turned out to be an arogant ass. I joined a popular MLM and spent 30 days gungho at showing “the plan”. If you are familiar with MLM, then you know who I am talking about. I would eventually drop the whole thing and go to a seminar that was based on Christian values (or so they claimed) but was more psycho-babble mixed with religion. I would buy the books and turn my back on MLM resulting in my roommate treating me like a loser because I didn't do it his way. Turns out that was his biggest problem. Be a total failure and yet expect people to learn from you. NOT! He was very judgmental, but had no problem of accusing you of his own faults. He hasn't changed last I checked.

I won't go into the full details of this time period as too much to cover. But stuff happened in my family that just shouldn't happen in any family. All because of my parents.

I would bounce from one church to another before finally going to one In Lacey, WA. Things were fine for a while. But eventually two people there would result in my eventual leave of Christianity. One was a church leader who's only solution for my search for life meaning was to have me get on my knees and pray for me to speak in tongues. WTF???? The other was also a leader in the church and she disliked me because I was too weird, insecure and didn't fit in. On one church camp out she shared a sleeping bag with one of the popular guys. Yep a real spiritual giant she was.

Gee, all I needed was the Lord right? After all isn't that what she was there for? To minister to people like me? She was a total snob and if you didn't fit into her social club, God didn't need you. Fine with me. In the end, they did me a big favor.

At this point I moved back in with my parents hoping to “be a good testimony” so that I could change their lives for the better. I was about as annoying as a new Christian. I tried for a few years to change them and get them out of their rut and would be really into this seminar I attended each year. I even had a mentor who would give me advice only to up and move away leaving me hanging without any real strength to hold my own. Seems this happens a lot in Christian circles. Start to build someone up, then dump 'em when they still can't stand on their own. Gee thanks!

Finally in 1997 the company I was working for went under. I landed a job at Kinko's and was making enough money that I decided to get my own apartment. Just me and no one else. I was still attending church at the time and my job soon required me to work 12:30pm to 9pm on Sundays. I got the next three days off though which was nice. While living with my parents I commuted across town via bicycle and would pass this dance club called “Thekla's”. It was mainly for gay people but us straight people were allowed to attend if we promised to be nice. I used to stop each night and pray for it to close up until a month or two after getting my apartment. Then thing started to change. I stopped going to church and started to go to this club and go dancing. I LOVED IT AND MISS IT TO THIS DAY! The club eventually closed and now runs under as different name at a different location.

After quitting church I would go through my darkest time in my life. I would slowly become someone I and no one else like. I just became a real jerk and as a result lost some friendships. To this day I hope they can forgive me. Some were Internet friends, but still I don't like being not liked. My health went down hill as I had bad teeth. It runs in the family and you end up with dentures by the time you are 30. Mine had gotten pretty bad and I was skinny (also runs in the family) so I looked bad and like a druggie, except I didn't do drugs.

I would work for Kinko's for two years and live in the apartment for one year. All this time e-mailing my old pastor in trying to get him to understand my decisions and requesting removal from the church membership. I was finally free of church and religion. I used the title “A Good Things...” in my e-mail titles. If you ever saw the last episode of “Start Trek the Next Generation” then you know what I really meant. It had to do with seeing beyond boundaries and doing things you normally couldn't do.

I then decided one day I would move away and change my life. So I moved in with my sister while waiting for things to fall into place. Never did happen and I was unemployed for a while and living in my sisters basement. I had hit rock bottom and my life was as bad as it was going to get.

I finally landed a job at Sears. I was working early in the morning and at least had a job and some co-workers that liked me. So things got a little better. After a few months a friend came in and I was offered a job at full time starting at $12 an hour with benefits. My current job was $7 an hour, no benefits and part time. Of course I needed time to think about it....NOT! I had just been turned down for a promotion just before he came in. The guy who's uncle was the boss got it instead. This guys was a total brown noser who chatted up the supervisors and management while I quietly did the work.

He quit a week after I did which I found out when I came in to buy $300 in new tools. I worked for this company for a year before they went under. It was run by a Christian and he was very dishonest, but that is another bog by itself. 6 months into working for this company I joined a local singles club. Little did I know that the woman who gave me a ride. Elaine, would soon become my girlfriend and eventually my wife.

Even though the company folded and would lay me off, it changed my thinking about my life, my future and my attitude about my career.

After getting laid off I was unemployed for three months. The attack on New York (911) happened right in the middle of that. I tried to go back to Sears but my future wife would have none of that. She felt I was too good to be working dead end jobs anymore. A couple weeks later I started work as an Administrative Assistant for a local non-profit company. This isn't a career populated by men. I have been to two training seminars and only once met another guy in this field and he left half-way through the seminar.

Before I lost the previous job, my wife insisted I get over my fear of dentists and get my teeth fixed. So we charge some on the credit card and paid off the rest and I got dentures. This and the job at the local non-profit would change my life forever. I had a new smile, gained weight to a healthy level and would win over the respect and admiration of my new boss and co-workers. For the first time in my life I really had something worth living for and the adventure had just begun.

Next. Part 6 – 42 or So Long and Thanks for All the Fish.

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