My life in 60 seconds

14 Jun

I was born a bull in the year of the snake. Atlanta, 1977, and I lived down the street from my cousins. Felt like a big family. Entered special ed in first grade. Issues with phonics, reading. Road that short bus. Learned how to sight-read beneath an enormous oak tree.

Mom read the Bible every night. I was saved at 6. Told my sister. Thought I had a choice.

Moved to Pensacola when I was 7. Redneck Riviera. Military town. Too small, too many churches.

I started playing soccer. I started reading. I wrote my first novel when I was 12. Title: Sword and Sorcery. Cheap Tolkein knockoff. It was terrible.

Worked hard. Got better at soccer. Got better at writing, too.

I discovered girls. I discovered movies. I attended a Catholic high school. Lots of religion. Some math. Plenty of classics.

Moved up to varsity my freshman year. We made it to state. We lost.

Two girlfriends, lots of late nights, Gulf Coast heat, underage binge drinking, rumblings of existential despair. That’s high school.

College: picked a school for the wrong reasons but made out okay. Soccer scholarship. Burgeoning social conscience. Plenty of self-inflicted heartache. Learned how to be awkward and uncomfortable. Drank too much, then didn’t drink at all, then drank too much again.

Living in the heart of Dixie. Re-discovered books. Decided to become a writer.

Graduated in 1999. Worked in publishing. Had a knack for editing. Didn’t understand business.

Worked as a writer. Moved to Atlanta. Heart of the New South.

My wilderness years: worked in a bookstore; worked as a part-time custodian; reviewed movies, interviewed movie stars, traveled to New York and L.A., scrabbled for money to pay rent. Wrote and wrote and ghostwrote, too.

Met my future wife, fell in love.

Moved to Spain. Broadened horizons. Moved to Illinois. Flat earth and grungy politicians.

Moved to Iowa. Didn’t like it. Continued writing. Rejections piled up. Worked as a security guard, as an essay scorer, as a librarian. Somewhere lost my faith. The religion was gone, and only the weirdness remained.

Moved to Chicago. Felt at home. Got married. Worked for an educational publisher and didn’t like it. Applied for an alternative certification program to teach and got in. Student taught on the north side. Got a job teaching sixth graders at a school named Disney. Worked hard. Loved and hated it. Principal disliked me. Wasn’t rehired. Some times assholes win.

Became a wandering teacher. Economy bad, distress everywhere, wife got pregnant. Hired at the eleventh hour as a school librarian. Like it a lot. Once again in graduate school. Had a child, named her Simone. Still writing. Published some books but no novels. Scared of the future, unsure of the past. Outlived Jesus, my childhood idol.

This is the story of 34 years.

Seems both longer and shorter.

— B.W. Beard

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2 Responses to “My life in 60 seconds”

  1. AA June 18, 2011 at 1:08 am #

    Very powerful thoughts, young man.

  2. Jeanine Barone (@JCreatureTravel) February 17, 2013 at 12:48 am #

    Hi b, was trying to connect. had a hard time. hope to hear.

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