As you know, if you read my sister’s bio, which I kindly wrote for her, relieving her of the responsibility–little brothers do these sorts of things–I struggled mightily learning the English language.  Not the speaking part.  That I had/have little trouble with. But writing, spelling especially, is difficult for me.  It reminds me of being really constipated.  I’m jam full of stuff that needs to get out but it is SOOOOO PAINFUL. I pretty much grunt and strain while typing, haltingly, at my lap top.  This  can be a problem. Trendy coffee shops aren’t in the cards for writing sessions because it isn’t socially acceptable to sound like a dying cat in public.  It’s a good thing I live in a very accepting town in Maine.

I grew up in El Paso, Texas with my genius older brother and sister.  In first grade, I was a very nice, very bewildered boy trying to figure out why everything in school was so confusing.  Why did people yell so much in the cafeteria?  Why were kids so mean to each other?  Why is reading impossible for me?  Why can’t I write my letters in the lines like I’m supposed to?  Why is this so boring?  Anyway, my body physically rejected being in school and I got sick.  My mother is a woman of great wisdom and decided that I needed a different environment and that’s how our family started down the homeschool road.  I’m not gonna lie.  I loved it!  Pretty soon both my brother and sister joined me and we were one big happy homeschool family hoping not to be prosecuted for truancy.  This was before the laws were very clear in Texas and so we would come up with funny names to tell people if they asked where we went to school.  My mom liked “Powerhouse of Learning” which even as a 7 year old I thought was a little corny.  I think we ended up having Academy in the title but I can’t remember. {Note from Jessica: We told people Lincoln Academy and so they all thought we were going to Lincoln Middle School, even when we clearly weren’t old enough.}

It wasn’t long before homeschooling was legal so we could tell people about it.  I liked telling people I was homeschooled because of the reactions.  My favorite was when a friend found out I was homeschooled and asked me, “Do you have any friends?”  I got asked that question so many times that I started replying in a stony face, “No, I have no friends and my parents chain me to the wall in the basement and beat me until I get my schoolwork done.”  And then I would laugh and laugh and laugh until they left.

Unfortunately for me, I was homeschooled.  A contradiction, you say?  No.  It is not.  Because I was homeschooled, the only people I had to compare myself to were my ridiculously smart brother and sister.   Of course I thought I was stupid!  But I ran out of things to do (like tickling a naked Japanese stranger in Osaka on accident, a very embarrassing story bound to make it into a book or short story no doubt) so at the age of 19 I figured I’d give University the old college try and I started at UTEP! Although petrified in my first classes, to my great relief and amazement it turned out that extrapolating the intelligence of a general population from a very biased sample with an n of 3 will give you a very distorted result with no actual relation to reality. The upshot being that I did just fine my first semester.  I was so relieved to find out that I wasn’t that stupid that I decided to go a second semester and then a third and so on until I got my undergraduate degree. (Jessica’s note: The boy who didn’t read until he was 10 graduated Magna Cum Laude of the College of Science. Yeah.)

I didn’t know what to do after that.  So I worked with cabbage loopers in an entomology lab as a tech.  I would infect the pupa with bacula virus until they melted into a grey pile of sludge which I would periodically liquify in a blender and use to infect more cabbage loopers.   I liked working in the lab a great deal but I didn’t particularly like work. (I have this thing about having to be somewhere for eight hours a day.  It’s not natural). (Jessica note: Not for a homeschooled kid, it’s not.)

(Below is me giving the Thumbs Up in graduate school!)

So I went back to school as a graduate student at the University of Utah.  I was cool.  I studied cancer.  Not any cancer.  Breast cancer.  I figured the cure was around somewhere and all I had to do was find it.  It turns out I’m really bad at finding things. Somewhere towards the end of my scientific tenure when I was hunched over the lab bench furiously pipetting minuscule amounts of liquid from one tube to the next under the hum of phosphorescent bulbs, I began to dream of writing. Did I dream about writing the next Great American Novel?  I did not.  Did I dream of writing a scintillating exposé on the state of cutting edge biotechnology?  I did not. No, I dreamed of writing the next hit Broadway Musical about a crazy scientist, replete with mistaken clone identities, murder, intrigue, love and a chorus of dancing lab monkeys. The view of majestic sun drenched Wasatch mountains out the lab window would inspire me to burst into songs with titles such as “I have a gene!” and “A 37 degree petri dish of love!”  I survived and I ended up with the PhD in oncological science although I have yet to write any of my musical songs down.

(This is me rocking the flip flops and socks in desperate need of rescue from myself!  Although there is some fine scotch whisky I’m drinking from that mug…)

Fortunately my sister rescued me both from the lab and from my delusions of great musicals.  I am so fortunate to team up with one of my childhood heroes and work with someone who actually knows how to write!

I now live in Orono, Maine!  One of the coolest towns in Maine if you like outdoor things.  Which I do.  I chop wood. I paddle canoes.  I ski and ice skate with my wife and three children.  And now, I write.  Or at least I give it the old college try!

(Me doing cool outside stuff with the kids)