This year, I am returning to Oregon, for my 25th Year High School Reunion. I was asked to write an autobiography. I’m a decent writer, and an excellent liar: person would think I should have no trouble putting one of these together. I begged other people to write it for me, with no takers. So here it is: the bio was written with both hands tied behind my brain, and my head firmly wedged up my hind end. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I was born roughly 1300 BC in northern Egypt or 1968, in Sacramento; I forget which. I was whisked away by Gypsies who prefer to be called Roma now–be respectful, people–and was raised in Pistol River by Alvin and Eileen Carpenter. At some point in my youth, my sister Lori was born. She still lives up the North Bank of the Rogue because she didn’t suffer from a severe case of the Get the Hell Outta Heres like I did. Anyway, I went to Pistol River School where a pack of nonaggressive ferrets taught me to diagram sentences. In seventh grade, they felt confident enough in my abilities to promote me to be a “townie.” In 1980 I joined a bunch of yahoos at Riley Creek School, and tried to navigate the waters of junior high school. Didn’t do so well. I constantly mistook Roy Lanham for Kevin Jones; Mr. Fleshman thought I was some kind of psycho douche from Pistol River (I was…); Scott Coogan punched me in the stomach; and I accused Tammi Paul of stealing my très awesome Eraser Mate pen. It seems this all happened on the same day in seventh grade. I could have been wrong. I never was wrong, of course.
The universe was made cohesive for me by my religion, and Riley Creek was made miserable because of my narrowminded stupidity. My religion also kept me from having sex for 23 years; also from drinking, chewing, smoking, and using drugs, but that’s beside the point. I was a prude.
I also tripped a lot in Junior High, because I was 6’2″ and weighed 117 pounds. My wrestling team called me a fish. In a few years, I began to make friends. My friends called me Carp. Don’t call me Carp please. I have a name–it’s Mahershalalhashbaz Rumplestiltskin Carpenter. Since I turned 19, I’ve gone mostly by Brian. It takes less time to say.
I never really conquered the awkwardness. My sophomore year, I remember stating, too loudly, that some chemical compound “smelled like my grandma’s underwear.” I meant to say closet; really I did. I never really was any good with the ladies. Round about my senior year, I finally found my niche. Music was everything to me, and my French class. I was pretty good in most subjects, and didn’t have to exert much effort to get decent grades. After six years I started making friends: Kevin Boatman, Kelly Sthen, Solon Hansen, and Scott Coogan. I was coming out of my shell, but usually kept my mouth shut, and made smart-aleck comments to Scott, who announced the stupid things I said to everyone around me. Scott was hilarious. Scott had it goin’ on. He was good looking, and funny, and compassionate. I mostly hid in his shadow, there in Swing Choir, until I graduated.
I decided to take a year off, go to France, then come back to study Music Education. Mr. Fleshman wouldn’t live forever I thought (turns out this is EXACTLY what his plan happens to be), and someday I would return to Gold Beach and become the new choir director at GBUHS. So, I did exactly this. I spent a year in France, where all I have to show for my time a single recipe to fabricate uranium from mouse farts; oh, and I learned French. Afterwards, I began my BA in Music Education at Bethany University in Santa Cruz, California (which, incidentally, closed its doors after 92 years, earlier this month). I loved the scholastic atmosphere. I was a nerd and fit in quite well in academics. Nerds breed nerds, you know. My kids are both nerds. More on them later. I swore I’d never leave, and it I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those dratted kids and their meddling dog.
In 1992, I completed the music degree. My dilemma was pretty straightforward: either get a music job and live out of dumpsters, or find another line of work. I chose the latter, and took a temporary position in the tech industry. After three months of that nonsense, I took a job in the library of my alma mater, and I’ve remained in library-world ever since. In 2001, after cramming an 18-month degree into 7 years, I got my MLIS (Masters in Library Information Science), which is how you know I’m a librarian. We like to tattoo the initials on our butts.
Along about that time, I finally fooled a woman into liking me. I met Judi in 1991. WE married in 1993 and, for the better part of 2 decades, we’ve spent our off hours thinking of ways we can Give It To The Man. Also, we sit around and read and watch TV and similar nonsense. Judi is way, WAY smarter than I am. I asked her to write this biography, and her response was “If you can’t think of anything to say, make something up!” So I’ll let you sort the real facts from the made-up facts, and blame the latter on my wife. I always do what she says, or suffer The Wrath. It’s not a pretty thing, folks, The Wrath. I try my best to behave. She’s managed to hold her gag reflex in check, and stay with me eighteen years so far. I’m very lucky.
How do I look? More or less the same. I have a nice gap between my teeth for precision spittin’. This is because I broke my retainer (after 7 years of orthodontics), on the day before my flight to France. Also, around age 35, I managed to grow breasts. Don’t ask me how. I’m magic. They’re totally non-operational. They just hang there and amaze people. If anyone reading this remembers me as skinny, boy are YOU in for a shock. I also grew an Abraham Lincoln beard because I can’t for the life of me grow a mustache, so people generally think either I’m Amish or insane, or both.
I have two sons, Daniel and Alexander. At this time, Daniel is fifteen years old, and he tells me to inform you that “Male ferrets are called hobs; female ferrets are called Jills, and a group of ferrets is a Company.” Really, the last sentence tells you just about everything you need to know, in order to understand Daniel. Everything is relevant to him, and if it’s relevant to you? That’s immaterial.
Alexander is concocting new ways to breed exciting new life forms in his bedroom. He’s thirteen years old, and if time stood still, he wouldn’t notice as long as he had a something to play, and his brother to call foul names, when he loses a video game.
Judi works for the College Board (the folks who do the SAT and AP tests), in the software division. She took this job after 10 years as a Student Financial Aid director at various colleges and universities in California. Did I mention that she’s smarter than I am? She’s a numbers freak and makes sure the bills are paid, or I wouldn’t be typing this right now. I’d be living in a van down by the river.
Judi’s current job necessitated a cross-country relocation. We live near Washington DC now, in a suburban Virginia town. I work for the US Geological Survey as an Online Repository Designer. I build–really, I organize other people to do the building–Online Bookshelves to store documents and maps for the Fedril Guvmint.
I fiercely miss the West Coast sometimes, and… Yeah. I ran out of things to say. Holly — I bet you’re sorry you asked me to write this now.