Beginnings, as I was told by Chaim Potok, are hard.

Why am I doing this? At a basic level, because I need money. Need, of course, is a difficult word. Will I starve without the benifices I get from my patrons? No. I would be lying to say I would. But, even with the generous support of my partners, I can't do all the things I need to be complete.


That was hard to write.


It's complicated. I'm disabled. It's a subtle disability. I have a rare, and complicated arthritis, courtesy of the US Army. Back in 2003, when I got to take a paid vacation to the cradle of civilisation, I was unlucky enough to 1: breathe a lot of burning shit, and 2: have the misfortune to hit a jackpot on both genetic and temporal lotteries. So I manifested Reiter's Syndrome. Long story short, I'm a bit less than the hale and hearty person I still think I am.


That, to be sure, glosses a lot. Give it time and you will learn more. Buy me a few drinks and you're more likely to get the stories. Sadly, perhaps, I don't type so well when I'm drunk, but I digress. Truth be told, I digress a lot.


Where were we? Right, talking about me. A couple of lifetimes ago I studied journalism. I was good at it. I had the lucky misfortune to be good at it in both a tight market, and a terrible time. The late 1980s was the last gasp of print journalism as a decent middle-class profession. I was in Los Angeles, and the writing was already on the subway walls, but we weren't quite aware enough to see it.


I wasn't willing to move to Topeka (I'm not joking, if I had been, I'd not be where I am today, God only knows where I'd have washed up), so I didn't get my foot in the door. LA had three major papers when I was in high school, when I finished college, we had one and half... the market was glutted with writers who had more practice than I.


My next career was studio projectionist (with brief stints in pizza delivery, private; and then hospital, security). That was a fun job, but Hollywood is a strange town, and I wasn't quite the level of obsequious some directors (studio projectionists run a lot of dailies) required to be the sort the management is going to go to bat for. When you also factor in how small the talent pool is, and it was a dead end.


So I joined the Army. Being me I joined it in a controlled manner, by way of the National Guard, and then dove into the deep end. It was all going to be so simple. I found a unit I liked (a friend of mine was in it, the CO was a decent sort, etc. etc.), a job which seemed both interesting, and useful on the civilian side (legal clerk = paralegal) and went to see my recruiter, who promptly put all that into cocked hat by asking, "did you ever think about going to Monterey?" The only thing I knew of in Monterey was the language school, and there was no way I was going to pass the tests for that.


How wrong I was.


So I went to Basic, then to the Defense Language Institute. I spent 13 months there and survived the mixed bag of joy and horror which was iteration Russian Basic Course 44-93. After that it was on to Basic Interrogator Course 94-01, and, in theory back to one weekend a month, two weeks a year.


I got a job as an apprentice machinist, and went back to working the Living History Center's Renassaince Pleasure Faire (the ur-faire from which all others are descended. They started in 1963). It's also when I started teaching interrogation. Come 1999, when I was in the ranks of junior journeymen, insofar as machining went, the shop I was working for had a slowdown, and cash crunch. Happily the 40th Infantry Division needed someone to work in HQ, and that same friend who got me into the Army was there to ask if I wanted the gig. It paid better, with much better benefits, and shorter hours.


So I took it, which led to me becoming, for next 10 years, a "Guard bum". I was moving from one gig to another; doing missions, teaching schools, taking temp assignments as they came up. It wasn't the best of livings, but it did mean I got to do things I was good at, with people I, generally, liked. I spent a lot of time at home, and a lot of time on the road. The part which was always frustrating was the repeated possibilities of permanent assignments, which always fell through.


Come 2003 I got deployed.


That was it's own set of adventures, worth dozens of posts. Suffice it to say if I'd not been deployed I'd not be where I am today, because of the aforementioned disability. In 2010 the VA saw fit to decide I really did have a disability (and my owning up to it enough to pursue it, and bring it to the point of decision was a thing too).


The long and short of it is... the things I am good at, at which I could make money are either jobs which have no openings (journalism, 35mm projectionist), or things my spirit might be willing to do, but the flesh will not bear (retail sales, machining), or of very limited application; of a sort I find ethically marginal: I could try to get a job as a law enforcement interrogator, but I suspect my unwillingness to engage in what I think are, at best, shoddy; and shady, practice would lead to a less than happy parting of the ways, in pretty short order.


Which is, in a rambling, and incomplete way, how I come to be here.