Apr 24, 2016


This weekend marks the 10 year anniversary of this blog, Here in America.  My first post was dated April 14, 2006.  There were a few posts from March detailing our recent 8th grade class trip to Seoul, South Korea, but these were copied and pasted from my now-defunct journal on Interference, the U2 fan site, and I'm pretty sure I uploaded them at the same time that I posted my first official entry.

Me in a photo originally posted in one of my first blog entries from April, 2006. With me is my former colleague and always friend Vince Asanuma Starmer.  For me ten years and whole lot less hair means more than just a changing hairline!

Ten years.  A lot has changed in the past decade.  When I first started this blog, high-speed internet was a luxury,  not a given.  I mentioned in that first post that we had dial-up internet at home and so uploading pictures for the blog would not be practical there.  I also mention linking to my Myspace page (though even then, I think Myspace's relevancy was already fading) and to Interference.  Facebook was still in its infancy and I wouldn't get an account for another two years.   Even the concept of blogging was different then.  It was hot thing to do back then, to be blogging.  Since then the blog has been eclipsed by Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat.  I'm sure there are even newer, hipper social media platforms that have passed me by in my middle-age.

I've also recently reached my third decade milestone of journaling.  Last summer I blogged about my 30th year of keeping my paper and pen journal which I began in the summer of 1985.  However, once I started school my daily journal writing came to a standstill before picking up again at the end of March 1986.  Since then, I've been writing more or less continuously.

While it's much has changed in the past decade, much more is still the same.  I'm still a middle-aged adult, I'm still married.  I'm still a teacher.  Perhaps the biggest change--and it is significant--is that when I began this blog it was just me and Babs and now ten years later we havetwo sons aged  seven and 3 and a half year old.  But beyond that and a 7,000 mile change of address, I feel pretty much the same now as I did a decade ago.  The last ten years feel like they've flown by.

On the other hand, it's incredible to note how much had changed at the end of my first decade of writing in my pen-and-paper journal.  When I began I was twelve years old, soon to turn 13.  I was a sixth grader, living at home with mom and my grandparents.  A mere ten years later I was a 22 year old adult living on my own, dating the woman I would soon marry.  Maybe the only thing entries at the start of the decade and at the end of decade had in common was the lack of commentary or insight into my life at the time.  My early journal entries were a rather dull, straightforward listing of every single thing I did from after breakfast each morning to bath time each day.  Here's a sample, written exactly 30 years ago yesterday (originally it was all one giant paragraph, but I've broken the entry up for easier reading at each point where I've inserted commentary):

Wednesday, April 23, 1986, At Home

This morning after breakfast I read. [In those days every entry began with "This morning after breakfast"] 

Aunt Colleen came earlier than usual and we got to school at 8:15.  I played soccer.  Bell rang and I went in. I read. Worship. She read from "Cheaper by the Dozen". [I always referred to my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Taylor as "she"--the literary equivalent of Charlie Brown's disembodied adult voice]

Did Reading. Had recess.  We won 15 to 8. Finally! [What game were we playing? I can't recall. I guess all that mattered as that my team won.]

Read. Did Spelling.  Did Math.  I missed 5 and got an eighty percent.  We had lunch. She read from "Cheaper by the Dozen."  Did Language. Read. Did SS. Did Math. We gave our science reports orally.  I wrote one on Louis Braille.  A lot of people didn't do it. [Sounds like the work habits of many students haven't changed an thirty years, if my classmates then and my class now are any indication].

School dismissed. Dean cut his finger so I carried his book bag. I took it to his bus.  Went home. Did exercises. Grandma taught piano. I  didn't pass on to the next song.  I told mummy and she told me to use a different note system. Looked at "Time" magazine. [That hasn't changed in 30 years.  Back then it was my grandfather's subscription, now it's mine].  

 Made school lunches.  Watched "Donald Duck Presents" and "New! Animal World."  Hung up school clothes.  Supper.  I washed the dishes.  Read Dawny her story.  Read "Rebel Raider".  It's good. [Civil War  non-ficiton undoubtedly.  I was major history nerd.]

Played stick game with Vincy.  I fell on a stick and hurt my side.  But I finished the game with him. It still hurts. Bath. Journal. Had the Hay Fever all day.

It was a simpler time, without question.  While I provided little emotion and virtually no reflection, reading between the lines, you can learn a little about what I was like as a child:  Studious, nose always in a book. I seem to have been quite aware of success and failures, wins and losses.  My few commentaries were on winning or losing at a game, my score on my math, and my failing to move on to the next song in piano lessons.  After school was a healthy balance of chores, piano lessons, and free time to play some sort of "stick game" with my brother.  It's interesting to note the lack of homework and how little screen time I had. As far homework goes,  I don't know if I just did it all at school, or we weren't assigned any.  I know in other entries around this time I often mentioned working ahead in spelling, reading, or social studies during the school day.   As far as TV goes, don't get me wrong, we loved TV.  There just wasn't that much to watch.  We had just gotten cable TV, including the Disney channel, and had also purchased our first VCR, so a lot of the time we were watching programs that had been recorded.  Still our entire screen time consisted of two shows, probably less than 30 minutes each.

 It seems idyllic in my memory, but there's little to indicate how I felt at that time to determine if my life felt as soothing and peaceful then as it seems to now.

The house I grew up in: 905 Hart Blvd, Orlando FL. We lived here with my grandparents from the summer of 1983 to Christmas 1987, not quite five years.  I took this photo last summer while visiting Mom in Florida.  My grandparents, both gone now, lived here for a few years more after we moved out and then sold the place.  My grandfather custom-built this house for our family's unique needs (note the two front doors. One opened to the living room, the other to the home office that my mom and grandmother ran their court transcribing business out of).  I think he'd be pleased to know it's still standing and in good shape.  Those trees in the front yard were planted when we moved in also. It's amazing how big they are now.

Fast forward ten years later, and my journal entries still provide little color, although this time for an entirely different reason.  By the spring of 1996, my journals had become mostly devotional reflections with writing on what was actually going on my life being quite rare.  Still, reviewing my entries from April 1996, some 20 years ago, there are clues to who I was and what was going on in my  life.  On April 19, Barbara and I celebrated our six month anniversary as a dating couple, and marked the occasion with a small spat and some soul-searching over how things were proceeding in our relationship:

Barbara and I have a special, beautiful relationship--one I can praise God for--but one that like everything else, needs the power of the Holy Spirit to keep from going astray.  In the end our calling is much higher than this.  Through Christ we will be found worthy.
                                                                                              --Journal, Friday, April 19, 1996

Young Love: Babs and I, Spring 1996

This entry is accompanied by several pages of notes written back and forth between Babs and I as we worked through the issues in our relationship.   A later entry, dated April 27, is a passionate prayer for a deeper, closer walk with Jesus and a heartfelt plea for God's closeness to a classmate from high school who had lost his fiance in a horrible car accident the night before and who himself had been seriously injured. Looking back now, it's gratifying to know that prayer was answered as my  friend made a full recovery and eventually found love again.  As for me, the journey with God is still in process.  There are days when I read these entries from two decades ago and feel I've not progressed much at all, and indeed I fear I've lost some of that innocent fire for Jesus that I had then.  But I also see how He has never let me go, and blessed me in ways I could never have predicted back then.  My prayer is still the same, and perhaps it always will be:

Finally, Lord, be with me.  Bring me into a passion to know and serve You.  Lord, I don't have it and yet when I try to have it, I just feel end up feeling guilty. Lord, God, I need you and I ask you  to come into my life.  Do whatever it takes to bring me closer.  Lord, without you, everything else in my life is unsure. Help me to seek you and know you.
                                                                               --Journal, Sabbath, April 27, 1996

Looking over the decades past, I mostly feel grateful.  And when I consider the decades to come, I trust that He'll continue to lead me and care for me as he has so far  along this journey.

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