I think I was sitting in Mr. Klevos’ “20 MAL” class ─ 20th Century Music, Art and Literature ─ when I saw a photo of a little boy at a candy counter, taken from the point of view of the cashier, as the child paid for his penny candy with coins from a grubby fist. The accompanying quote was: “A child thinks 50 cents and 50 years will never be spent.”
As I sat in that classroom in 1970 or ’71, I doubt that, likewise, I ever would have thought that 50 years would transpire … of what would happen to me, the things I’d do, and as Dr. Seuss wrote, “Oh, the places you’ll go!” ─ that I’ve been to Mount Everest twice and passed by it a third time on my travels in Tibet ─ and there are still things on my bucket list to do.
I’ve done what interested me: from traveling around the world by myself, hiking the John Muir Trail, black-water rafting through glow-worm caves in New Zealand and pony-trekking in the Himalayas to watch the sun rise on Mount Kailash and sleeping in monasteries at night.
If you have memories of me in high school, I hope I was kind to you; if not, I apologize for being a stupid teenager. Those were some awful years for me: After several years of declining health from Alzheimer’s, my dad died on the first day of our senior year. He’d wander away from home, and I’d have to go get him, begging him to come with me, trying to get him to remember who I was, hoping none of my friends saw us.
I didn’t feel like I had much of a normal teenage life, and I may have acted snobbish to avoid talking to people. Mr. Rowe let me stay in his classroom at lunch every day after our newspaper class (I was the Saxon Shield editor) so I could hide if I didn’t want to be around anyone. I broke my hand very badly shortly after that, had my whole right arm in a cast for a while and had to have surgery to reset my hand, so my senior year was physically and mentally painful.
I turned out okay: My interest in writing and photography with the school paper and yearbook transformed into a bachelor’s degree in photojournalism, a master’s degree in public relations and an award-winning career in all three talents. I took a photo that won a first place in national competition and is in the U.S. National Archives: “Fossil Seller, Tibet,” which you’ll see here on my Web site, along with some of my writing.
Presently, I am an elected official: This is my second term as a trustee, and I also am president of my local board of education for the Jurupa Unified School District, which has about 20,000 students in transitional kindergarten through adult education. It has been a hideous year in which I have received hate mail from parents who disagreed with our unanimous decision to close our campuses in favor of distance learning (students already had district-issued Chromebooks), but I lived. More importantly, our students, teachers and staff stayed healthy.
I’m also a grant writer for a therapeutic horseback riding center that serves children and adults with physical, mental, emotional and intellectual disabilities. It has two unique programs: for persons with autism and military with PTSD, so I get the funding to help underwrite the ranch.
Please sign my guestbook to let me get a start on what you’ve been doing the last 50 years! (How can that time span be possible?) The reunion site was noisy and distracting, and there’s never enough time for paying proper attention. As a writer, I think of myself as professionally curious,” so I am interested …
Tiger's Nest Monastery in Bhutan.