Sitting here writing an "about me" page reminds me of one of the rites in elementary school, the "what I did last summer" essay that elementary teachers love to assign as the new school year starts. Instead of just telling you what I did over the summer, I'm telling you what I did over the last thirty years. A somewhat daunting task, understandably, but also a good exercise in remembering what's important to me, what dreams I had back then, and trying to figure out where things went all screwy. Therapy? Perhaps. But, like therapy, nothing gets answered in one fifty minute session. (And I wont even charge you for the full hour.) Also, for the record, my name is David Hodgkins. And, yes, like the disease.It all started on a cold, snowy and blustery August day in the desert of California. Well, it probably wasn't blustery. I doubt it was too cold. And snow? I made that up. But it was August. So there I was, this newborn, at this defining moment in my life; in fact, it was the most defining moment. I was born in the Mojave desert (well, a hospital in the desert) and spent the first few months of my life with my mother and paternal grandmother in the San Jose area. (I'm sure that the fact that I spent the first few months of life with my mother who spoke broken English and my grandmother screwed me up for life.) (Actually, I think being born probably screwed me up for life... hmmmm.) My dad, during this time, was off at sea, doing his Navy thing. He eventually returned sometime during my first year and the three of us left California and moved to Washington state. Oak Harbor. And that's where I ended up spending most of my life.
I guess you could say I had a normal early childhood. I did the things most kids did. Rode my bike around town, had and went to birthday parties. Got in trouble. Normal things. We lived in downtown Oak Harbor for my first six years and life was, well, good. But what does a six year old know? (Especially a six year old now all grown up.) But at the age of six, we moved out into the sticks. Having bought acreage years before, my dad had a house built on his ten acres and we moved in before the house was completely finished. Instead of a front porch or steps to get into the house, we used a stump. We didn't have a back porch, but we had a door that led out over a ten foot drop. (Actually, they still don't have a porch...) But I had space to roam.
In town, as I'm sure most of you know, you have streets, parks, houses, stores, and traffic. Out in the sticks, you don't. (Mostly.) I traded in the suburban life for the rural. Now I had trees, trails, meadows, cows, ponds, anthills, deer, bike trails, and gravel pits. Fun for an eight year old, no doubt. But, as I got older, I began to dislike this place. It was far enough out that the local bus service.... oh, wait, we didn't have bus service back then. I'd have to *gasp!* ride my bike to town! And friends... well, they didn't live close by. (One did, but moved. The other kids near me were just aquantences.) I'm not saying I was friendless. Just set apart from my friends. (And I should say that my parents, who are still together, still own that house and live there.)
As elementary made way for middle school and junior high, my hobbies changed. I was into comic books (DC Comics, mostly. Loved the Teen Titans) and computers. (My first computer was the Commodore 64, followed by an Amiga 2000. I still have the Amiga.) It wasn't until I turned 16 and got my drivers license that I could experience freedom. (I'm sure that sounds familiar.) (I wonder if anyone's still reading this?) Junior High for me was fun. (In our school district, Junior High was 8th and 9th grade.) Good friends, bad burritos in the cafeteria, and one inspiring teacher, Mrs. Sundberg.
Ninth Grade English was your basic English class. The teacher, who had a book concerning fishing published, was filling our young minds with tripe. Parts of speech, how to conjugate verbs, shit like that. This went on for months until the day he got into trouble.
I'm not sure what really happened; only two people know for sure. The rumor, however, was he was talking with a student after school, got upset, and threw a typewrite either at the student or just on the floor. Either way, he was fired, and in comes the substitute to take over for the rest of the year (about five weeks.) But it wasn't just any substitute, it was Mrs. Sundberg, former English teacher and inspirer of young minds. She made writing fun. It wasn't the "read this chapter, do the questions at the end." It was writing. It wasn't about whether your writing was write or wrong (for the most part) it was about enjoying the writing process. And, to top it all off, she taught us all the word floccinnaucinnihilipilification. God, I loved that class! Mrs. Sundberg (who had a thing for The Great Gatsby) was one of the few real inspirations of my life.
And I almost died during Junior High, too. My friend Brian and his family took me along camping somewhere near Mt. Baker. The days were absolutely beautiful; bright sun, clear sky, cool river to play around in. The first day was spent playing around in the river and running around the campground. The usual stuff you do. The second day, however, was the canoe trip. I remember being in the canoe, then I remember being under water. The water gave off a green tinge, with spots of yellow where the sun refracted through the river. I wasn't that great of a swimmer, and none of us had life vests on. I saw air bubbles flow around me. I tried calling for help. Then someone grabbed me and pulled me up. It was the closest I've ever been to death.
Junior High led into High School. I hated high school. Been there, done that, didn't get hazed my first year there (unlike my friends.... sorry, guys.) I stayed out of trouble (mostly). Pretty uneventful, really.
It was during high school that I got my first rejection letter from a comic book publisher. Mrs. Sunberg inspired me to write. In high school, my English teacher had a student teacher who have us fun writing prompts and really encouraged us to write. So I wrote for a n assignment a proposal for a comic book series. (I believe it was either Firestorm or Gemworld. And I mailed it in. And it got rejected. But I at least tried.
High School led to college, which led me to The Evergreen State College. I was definately an oddity there. The school was very liberal, and I wasn't. I was much more conservative than most, and an active christian. But I managed to survive. I was active in church and decided to become a youth minister. That led me to Oklahoma and a private college there. Now why would a person go to Oklahoma? I went to see the world.
During my first year in Oklahoma, my mom's neice in the Philippines was getting married, and my parents wanted me to go with them to the wedding. (And this, I might add, was the first family vacation we went on since I was, oh, two years old.) The wedding was during my spring break, so I only had to take another week off school. And it was an eye opener.
Abject poverty. Whole families living in small shacks, no running water, no septic systems, farm animals' feces outside your front door. No medical or dental care, because you can't afford it. You aren't able to send your kids to school past the elementary level because that costs money, so they may end up like their parents. And for a lot of Filipinos that's their normal life.
Now I've seen poverty in the states. I've worked with homeless people. But they've got nothing to bitch about when it comes to down to it. I mean, if you're on welfare and you've got Cable TV, you're living the high life. Your kids can go to school, and there are a lot of grants and scholorships to help make sure your child is successful. But I digress...
Returning from the Philippines, I decided to change my major to Elementary Education and move back home to go to a community college for my math and science courses. At the end of my third year of college (first in Oklahoma) I packed up and went...
The college offered a foreign exchange program with a sister school in Omika. It was a six week program that included a stop in Hawaii and a week in Hong Kong. And it was the best summer of my life. And it was probably the last time I felt "alive." Personally, I feel every American should go abroad at least once (and I don't mean Canada or going into Mexico just to get drunk.) It's an eye-opening experience as you see other people who look and dress and talk differently than you, but are just like you inside; they have the same hopes and dreams and fears. It's also exciting and frustrating to try to communicate with someone when neither of you speak the other's language. (Americans are just so full of themselves, and I can say that, being an American.) And ever since I left, I've wanted to go back; still do. Just waiting for the right time (and money) to do it.
After spending a month eating real sushi, riding trains to school, sleeping on futons, using heated toilet seats, taking a bath in water other people had used and climbing Mt. Fuji (didn't get to the top, though; weather was too bad up there) I went home and took my math and science classes at the community college and I got a job at a department store. Then I decided to go back to Oklahoma to finish my Elementary Education degree. Bad mistake.
I think I went because of my friends there, although I've lost touch with them. I did the student teaching "thing," which was actually fun. I spent about a month with a first grade class in a poorer school district, then antoher month in a more well-to-do area with fifth graders. Those fifth graders were wonderful. But the whole experience was expensive. And I'm not sure worth it. But I prevailed and graduated with my BS in Elementary Education. After gradution, I was coerced into coming back to Washington. I spent time working in sales, as a substitute teacher, and spent a couple years teaching. I'm currently still in Washington working with the family business. For now.
*Hodgkin's lymphoma, formerly known as Hodgkin's disease, is a type of lymphoma described by Thomas Hodgkin in 1832, and characterized by the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells. From Wikipedia.
Misguided Thoughts is my personal online journal. Here I'll post about my trials and tribulations of getting a comic book series published, as well as rant and rave about things in general. You'll get to see some of my photography works, too.