Pre-2nd Grade (until May 1972)
(This is where my earliest coherent memories are set. I know we lived elsewhere before this, but I don't recall it. We were at the house on Clark Street until my mom and David divorced, in the spring of 1972. From there, we moved to apartments on Pinto Place, but I finished 1st grade at the George Street Elementary.)
2nd Grade (June 1972 to May '73)
(As I said, we moved to the Pinto Place apartments in spring of 1972. I went to 2nd and 3rd grade at Saggett Hills Elementary. As soon as school was over in 73, we moved again.)
3rd Grade (June 1973 until May '74)
(I went to the same school for 3rd grade as I had for 2nd, but we moved to new apartments. Our first apartment was furnished, and they had a no pets policy. For my mom, not having a cat in the house was a subtle form of torture. We moved as soon as she was able to afford furniture for us. She actually snuck a cat into the apartment before we moved. I was too young to know much of what was going on, but it's quite possible that the cat was the reason we moved. That was Piwaket - named after the cat from Bell, Book, and Candle (Kim Novak and Jimmy Stewart, 1958 - probably one of the inspirations for Bewitched). That cat lived to be about 17, and was very important to me. I was okay with the move because our new home - The Brentway Apartments - was already the home of two boys I knew from school. During this year, Mom met and married Ralph Regal, and we shared his trailer house after they married in February. Once again, I finished the year at the same school, and we moved as soon as school was over. Moving to a nice, fairly new home on the West (newer) side of town. This time, it took. Mom and Ralph are still married, and they still live in the same home.)
4th Grade (June 1974 - May '75)
(Life was a little more settled after Ralph and Mom bought the house. It was nice living in the same place and keeping the same friends. That's a bit funny, because today, one of my best friends lives in California, and we've known each other for nearly 20 years. Yet, as a child, it really is out of sight, out of mind. I don't know how many friends I lost from our moves during that time, but I am now only friends with two people I knew before this, and both of them come from accidental meetings. From this point, the friends I lost were due to growing away from each other, or them moving; which still hurts, but, it kept me from having to start from scratch every year or so.)
5th Grade (June 1975 - May '76)
6th Grade (June 1976 - May '77)
(Life was still pretty normal for me, but they opened a new elementary school, which changed the attendance zones, which meant I lost a few school pals and gained others. On the other hand, because of the new elementary, they also moved 6th grade back to grade school, to free up room at the middle school. That meant I got to be one of the 'big kids' two years running.)
7th Grade (June 1977 - May '78)
8th Grade (June 1978 - May '79)
9th Grade (June 1979 - May '80)
10th Grade (June 1980 - May '81)
11th Grade (June 1981 - May '82)
(After a long wait, I finally got my driver's license this summer. That allowed me the freedom to get a job. Not that I'd pursued one, because of debate and school, but one fell into my lap. Miles, the guy that owned Comics and Stuff was going to coach his son's soccer team, but needed someone to run the store on practice evenings and for games Sat. Because debate tourneys are scheduled so far ahead, I was able to work things out with him. If I wasn't going to be there on an occasional Sat., his wife could cover a few hours for him. It was no problem for me to be there every Tue and Thu, and that later expanded so I worked after school almost every day, since I actually kept the place neat, clean, and organized for him. I kept this job for almost three years, when I finally had to quit for personal reasons.)
12th Grade (June 1982 - May '83)
(Have you ever heard of comic conventions? They're often a great retail opportunity. Miles asked me to run a few for him this summer. I had some great experiences at them - some of a comic book nature and some you'll hear about. This was also my real introduction to 'comics culture' and turned me from a reader and a fanboy, into a real appreciator of the entire art and business of comics.)
College Freshman (June 1983 - May '84)
(I'd had a good idea of what I wanted to do with my life for a long time. Comics and Stuff wasn't exactly setting the world on fire, but it made enough money for the owner to have a nice house and a family, where his wife didn't have to work. And, for Christmas and my Birthday, Grandma had taken me into Dallas, to one of the bigger comic stores, so I'd seen the potential they had. Still, I knew opening any kind of business took money. I'd decided how to deal with that. I hit college running. To be honest, I had a lot of questions about the path I choose, but college was never about learning for me. It was about getting that sheet of paper. It's hard to explain that though when I was still spending the night with Toby every once in a while. Mr. Kirk always managed to give me the impression that I was letting everyone down. I felt a little bad about that, but you have to live your life for yourself first, or you want be any good for anyone else. Right?
Anyway, I managed to get a four year degree in three years, through a combination of AP tests and summer courses.. None of the classes I took in college were as hard as many I'd taken in high school. The only hard thing I did was to get an certificate to teach secondary math and a BS- Business at the same time. By being careful with my electives, it actually only cost me 12 extra hours. The BS of Business wasn't important, but the classes taught me a lot. The one 'mistake' I made during this time was worrying about my figure. I was working and going to school with a full-load of classes, but I still made sure to take some kind of PE class every semester. I even took a class on coaching, since I was working with Ben's soccer team a lot. That came back to bite me, but in a somewhat pleasant way.)
College Sophmore/Junior (June 1984 - May '85)
(This is the year that I moved in with Dad. Amanda wasn't even a toddler, so Mary had her hands full with her. Jason was having trouble with his new step-dad, and wanted to move in with Dad. Dad was doing really well at work, but he had to travel some. They found a 'new' place, that was in really good shape, and also had something Dad had really hoped to find: a 'maid's apartment'. It opened to the rest of the house, but also had it's own exit. That became my room Mike, Ben, and Jason had their own rooms on the upper floor, on the same hall as my room. Amanda and Aaron shared 'the nursery' which was downstairs, right next to Dad and Mary's room. By the time they were old enough for it to bother them, I was long gone. I moved in during the summer of '84, and it was my home for the next three years. I lived rent free for that entire time, unless you consider that I was the built-in, primary care-giver for three pre-teen boys (If you don't feel like doing the math, Ben, Jason, and Mike, were 10, 11, and 12 when I moved in.)
College Senior (June 1985 - '86)
(This is when I gave up the job at Comics and Stuff. I loved the job, and had lot's of friends there. Still, it was on the other side of town. That's not like saying on the other side of Houston, but I had tons of demands on my time, and I had to cut things somewhere. A convenience store barely a mile from the house was hiring this summer, so I left Miles. I continued to do conventions for him when I could, and kept doing it for several more years.)
Teaching: My First Year (June 1986 - May '87)
(I'd made it. It'd been hard, but I'd actually been able to get both pieces of paper in three years. With some grants, scholarships, family help, and continuing to work, I'd done it without going into debt. Actually, I even had savings left, and hadn't had to cannibalize my comic collection. Even though I had a princely income (hey, I was 21 and single - for someone who'd been working minimum wage for 5 years, $28,000 and benefits is impressive), I continued to live with Dad. Ben was nearly 13, Amanda was definitely getting around now, and Aaron wasn't a year old yet. I think Dad would have paid me a salary to stay. His promotion the previous year meant he could come home almost every night, but he also had to spend more time in the office on a daily basis. Plus, I knew what my goal was, and the chance to put aside all that extra money was a good thing.
Remember me telling you that taking the coaching class and all the PE classes would come back to bite me on the butt? Well, I got a job at the first place I applied - my old middle school, well, actually that was the year they opened the new middle school, and I ended up teaching there. The only things was, the extra classes I had taken qualified me to be a gym coach. Our town was growing, and they were trying to find ways to compensate for the rapid growth of the school district and the difficulty in finding teachers.
Teaching: Second Year (June 1987 - May '88)
(I got my first apartment as soon as school was out. I love my family, but I was ready for real privacy. Aaron no longer needed constant attention, and Amanda could do a lot of things for herself. Mary had decided to spend a last year as a housewife before she went back to work. I took her liberation as a sign for my own. It wasn't a huge place, but was big for a one-bedroom. I wanted a separate place to put my desk and a filing cabinet, so I could keep school somewhat separate from everything else, even when I had to grade papers at home. I've always walked a line between wanting to save money and wanting to have things; so, I try to make those things on which I do spend money the important ones., Anyway, I'd only had two major expenses in my entire life: the apartment and a new car. The car was nothing fancy, but I was the original owner and it still had that new car smell, so I loved it.
My schedule got a little better every year. To be honest, it wasn't too bad, even the first year. I guess they knew they'd dumped on me with the gym classes, so my 6th grade classes weren't for underachievers. This year, I became the official soccer coach, and my team had first period athletics. They arranged my schedule so all my gym classes were in the morning, so I did't have to worry about changing back and forth or going to class smelling.
Teaching: Third Year (June 1988 - May '89)
(By halfway through the year, things were a little crazy for me. I saw the anticipation for the Batman movie, and I knew that, if I was going to make my move, it should be now. I spent the first half of '89 getting everything ready to open my comic book/gaming store. If you haven't opened a business, there's a lot of work and preparation that just wouldn't occur to you.
I lost my unified schedule, but for a good reason: I was now coaching two soccer teams - advanced in last period athletics, and the younger kids first period. I also now had one period of gym - mixed 6th and 7th graders. They were going to give me no 6th grade math, but I like those kids, so I kept one advanced 6th grade math, and got a regular group of 7th and an 8th grade algebra class. The old math department head had retired, and no one else wanted the job, so I did it, because the algebra class came with it; but, it was a real pain, with all the paperwork I had to do for the store. The raise was nice, though.)
Teaching: Fourth Year/ Store: First Year (June 1989 - May '90)
(I only thought the previous year had been crazy. There was really only one reason I was able to run the store while still teaching. That was because Jim had just graduated high school, and he wanted to get away from his mom. He and I worked a deal for him to live with me He worked the store while I was in school, then I took over in the evenings and weekends. He was supposed to be going to school, but it didn't work out real well. Jim never had a good idea of what he wanted to do with his life, so he didn't have much drive to go to school. And, as much as I cared for Jim, I'd been way to harsh on him, and that made it hard for us to settle into an adult friendship. Half the time, he acted like he expected me to care for him like he was still a child. The other half, he seemed resentful of me. We managed to make it thru, but I think that was largely because we actually spent any time together.
School was much better though. I'd actually enjoyed my gym classes for the obvious reasons. The school district had continued growing, though; and, they'd hired a new coach to take over as soccer coach, handle the gym classes, and ease the load on the other coaches. That left me free to devote my full-time to being a math teacher, which I did enjoy more, except for the scenery.)
Teaching: Fifth Year / Store: Second Year (June 1990 - May '91)
(This was my last year teaching. Part way thru the year, Mr Brantley, who'd been the vice-principal when I attended Paulette, was diagnosed with cancer. He didn't retire, but his treatments made it impossible for him to handle all his duties. Because I had a business degree and had proven able to handle paperwork, they hired a sub to take part of my classload, and made me assistant vice-principal. I think it was largely because our principal at that time was a woman, and they needed someone to handle the boy's discipline.
The deal I'd made with Jim didn't really work out. He didn't go back to school this year, and was becoming unreliable for working the store. I finally asked him to move out as the new year started. It was okay for me though. I'd come to know several regular customers over the year I'd been open, and was able to find a couple of college students who could handle things for me.
I had moved to a two bedroom apartment when Jim moved in with me. I no longer needed it, but was tired or apartment living. The store was now making enough money to support me, so my teaching salary was gravy. I decided to buy a condo. The only problem was, they were still being built. About February of this year, I moved into a duplex, where I stayed about 7 months.)
June 1991 - May '92
(This year was actually rather calm. I moved into my condo, where I lived for several years. The comic business was booming. They'd tried to talk me into remaining as a teacher. I enjoyed it, but comics was my first love, and it was nice to have a little time that I didn't owe to one job or the other. The only real change that occurred was that I had to find a new employee, and that's a pretty constant change in my line of business.)
June 1992 - May '93
June 1993 - May '94
(I didn't know it when it happened, but my life was changed this summer. If you've never heard of a game called Magic: the Gathering, then you should check out www.wotc.com. It's a collectible trading card game, and it changed the face of the fantasy gaming industry. It's also one of the things that kept me in business during the industry wide slump that closed a lot of comic stores.)
June 1994 - May '95
(I guess you could say something life changing happened this year. I won the Texas lotto. It wasn't a huge purse, compared to some I've seen, but it was more than enough for me. After taxes, I took home almost $6 million dollars. That gave me the freedom to totally change the way I ran the store. I'll tell you more about the store in another place, though.)
June 1995 - May '96
(I moved again this year. Stevie was living with me now, and the third bedroom in my condo was really split between Amanda and Aaron, when they would visit with me. When it was decided that Seth would live with me for this year, I knew something had to change. I'd spent a fair amount of time and money on moving and renovating Magikat's, but hadn't spent much on myself. I rectified that by finding a nice, roomy house for us. The house was a five bedroom, which was really the minimum that we needed (me, Steve, Seth, Amanda, and Aaron), but it had room for a table in the kitchen and a separate dining room, which gave me room for an office and for my friends to game, when they came over. Because of my personal money and the slump in the comic industry, this is also the time that I started expanding my businesses)(On a personal level, this was a weird year for me because I did two things I'd never thought to do. Read Corey Seaton for the details.)
June 1996 - May '97
June 1997 - May '98
My nephew Tommy had moved in with me just prior to the start of this period, and later both Mikell and Cal moved in. That seemed to be the signal that began my stint as head of an unofficial orphanage.
June 1998 - May '99
(By this spring, my home was just too crowded, so I looked around and found a housing development that I really liked. We moved into Arbor Grove as soon as school was over ,and stayed in that house for two years. The only problem with it was, when we moved in, the community was unfinished. That became a bigger problem later.)
June 1999 - May '00
(Things were actually somewhat stable at this point. Stable is something that I have come to value in my life. The worst thing that happened was, I learned that the developers of Arbor Grove had gone bankrupt, and they weren't going to complete the community.)
June 2000 - May '01
(One of my long-term customer and a close family friend was the son of a contractor. Tired of driving thru the half-completed Arbor Grove, I bought the property and entered into a deal with Mr Hunter to complete it. I actually made a pretty good amount of money off of the deal, but that wasn't the best part. As the owner, I was able to select my own property and design my own house. That's how I ended up with a double lot in the corner of the development, and living in a huge home that's roomy enough even for the mess that I have here now.)
June 2001 - May '02
June 2002 - May '03
June 2003 - May '04
June 2004 - May '05
June 2005 - May '06
June 2006 - May '07
June 2007 - May '08
June 2008 - May '09
June 2009 - May '10
June 2010 - May '11
June 2011 - May '12
June 2012 - May '13
June 2013 - May '14
June 2014 - May '15
June 2015 - May '16
June 2016 - May '17