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I was born in San Diego but I remember little of my native city. I remember citrus, as large as my own head. And the sunset-orange beaches littered with black, sea-smoothed rocks. There were the family dogs, two eager and bushy Norwegian Elkhounds. I was just a small child then so the butts of these curl-tailed Norwegian Elkhounds—eye-level and unavoidable—lent an early and impressive lesson about the things you love: to throw yourself at them with pragmatic abandon since it is both right and necessary to love all things, but sensible to keep a watchful eye on the gruesome, sobering details. The air of San Diego was cream-heavy with sea salt and eucalyptus and jasmine.
Then, thank God, the Barber family picked up and moved to Lynnwood, Washington just before my fourth birthday. It was one year after the eruption of Mt. Saint Helens when the whole Pacific Northwest, or, at least the rest stops along I-5, seemed still buried in its volcanic ash. It was here I learned about seasons: the blistering-hot and stupid suburban summers and the cruel, humbling soak from mid-September to May. Here I attended schools that varied from fantastically doting schools to schools that seemed to only specialize in the wicked trade of endless loathing, ineptitude and failure. I was lucky to have attended both. There was some little league in there, too. As well as a series of horribly disfiguring bicycle accidents.
I followed a girlfriend further north, to Bellingham, Washington. I won a long, hard-fought lawsuit against a pederast and enrolled in college to pursue a useless degree. I eventually married that girlfriend. It was a marriage I jokingly refer to as a ‘training wheels’ marriage. We graduated college with our useless degrees and promptly divorced so I moved to Portland, Oregon to work myself to the brink of physical and mental exhaustion. Somewhere in there I met the love of my life (sometimes it takes the wrong marriage to illuminate the right one). We live somewhere in North Portland with our daughter who recoils in horror every time I shave off my beard.
Some people will warn you away from non-fiction authors. They’re rumored to write only non-fiction because they have no imagination and they’re foaming with venom for all the perceived wrongs they’ve suffered. I don’t know about all that. I think my stories are beautiful, even if they are humiliating and difficult to tell. I hope my stories are enjoyable. After all, I’ve worked very hard to make them read okay.