Saturday, December 31, 2011

Friday, December 31st, 1976

Below zero degrees!

At last I got around to my homework. More strip-cutting, too.

Gave in to IT one last time this year! I am weak.

Mom made chili today!

Tonight we put the lights in at the office.

Well, this is the final day of 1976 and in these last few hours I've been reflecting on the passing year. One year ago tonight I predicted great things simply because I had always felt they would come this year. And they did in a way.

This was the year I saw my first concerts--Dawn and Wings. Also saw lots of other celebrities including Bob Hope, Gene Roddenberry, De Kelley and a host of other greats and near-greats!

On the other hand, a good share of bad things hit me, too. The incident at TUNNELVISION, a turbulent battle inside my mind about the future and my role in it and the sad realization that the past is getting further and further away.

I suppose on balance the Bicentennial year was one of my better ones, though. The good things seem to have outnumbered the bad. I completed several comic book collections, attended several conventions, I saw Debbie again, I started whole new areas of interest including Jayne Mansfield, Laurel and Hardy and underground comix.

In spite of all this, though, I feel a disappointment. It's not the loneliness--I've learned to accept that to a large extent. Somehow, though, I feel lonely in a different sort of way. is an ending and tomorrow another new beginning. It all starts anew. My main resolution is to take control of my own hormones--to avoid IT or anything related to it for at least nine more days at which time I turn 18 and my guilt will hopefully dissolve since I'll be of age at that point.

In the meantime, here's hoping for a better year next year...tomorrow. Happy New Year.

NOTES: As I mentioned earlier, for this last day, I actually stapled in a new page. 

The sketches above are from the inside back cover of the '76 Journal and were made throughout the year. 

The fact that my Mom made chili was unusual. In fact, I don't recall her ever making chili. Chili was something my Dad made and taught me to make. I make an excellent chili if I do say so myself. My wife says its my best dish as a chef. I never make it the same way twice, however, and often toss in new stuff just to see how it plays. I got that from my Dad, too. 

The obsession and guilt over natural hormonal activities didn't go away. My parents, as wonderful as they were, never talked to me about sex or masturbation. While I picked up the details on my own a little at a time, the fact that it was so hidden always gave me that level of shame. I was in my twenties before that went away. I'm happy to say (Don't tell him I told you) that we never made that mistake with our son. He knew, on an appropriate level,  from the earliest point he was interested. 

Friends since third grade, Terry and I grew apart a little at a time and finally just stopped hanging out together in our early twenties, our paths having diverged from one another. I would see him on rare occasion come through my store in the late eighties. It wasn't until 2010 that we reconnected via Facebook and now speak from time to time on the phone. He remembers all this stuff, too, although sometimes differently than I do. 

I did go to Graduation and graduated 12th in a class of 200 plus. I could have been higher if I'd actually tried. I was given an award as the outstanding English student. My son is now in the same school and, grade-wise, as a Freshman, he is thus far way out in front in the # 1 spot. 

I did NOT attend college. Part of the reason was the fact that my innate shyness prevented me from taking the steps necessary to even find out what needed to be done. It's my biggest regret and yet, if I had taken that different path I would never have met my lovely wife of 20 years now and we never would have had our son. 

I worked through some of my shyness issues when I took acting classes in late 1979. This enabled me to get a gig as a writer/performer with a local comedy troupe in 1980 and then found a similar comedy group of my own. It also enabled me to get a real job rather than emptying trashcans and mopping floors in the middle of the night. I could never have done retail without acting classes! Later on, the acting classes came in handy when I started performing onstage annually at the Cincinnati Old-Time Radio Cons, too! The shyness actually remained, though, and still is an issue, but it could have been much, much worse...without the acting lessons.

 In 1978, my dad was hit by a car while walking home with coneys for me. It made the front page of both local newspapers the next day. He broke his arm and his shoulder and had leg and hip injuries. He never drove again and, because of my motion sickness issues, I had never learned to drive. He sold his car. It limited us severely  and for a solid year his arm was in a fleece lined brace and we watched him deteriorate. I was convinced he wasn't going to make it. But he did. He recovered almost completely. 

I took over the cleaning of the Social Security Office entirely as he was no longer in a position to help at all. With my pay, I was looking at an apartment across the street when suddenly my Mother took ill two years later. After yet another year-long struggle, she succumbed to cancer. My dad and I stayed there, same apartment, as roomies for another decade. Although greatly affected by her loss, his health improved amazingly. Although he never drove again, he began flying for the first time in his life, joining a couple of travel clubs! He even flew with me to Williamsburg, Chicago and San Diego (the latter two for comic book conventions, of course) in the eighties and nineties.

I never saw Debbie again and finally--FINALLY--stopped thinking about her all the time as my "ideal" girlfriend. I would not have my first date until I was 23. She was 20 and...experienced. It took a  couple of years of dating me but eventually she "experienced" me, too! After her, though, a couple of minor infatuations but no real relationship until I was 29...and I ended up marrying that one!

After more than two decades of managing bookstores, I became a victim of the economy...and then reinvented myself as a writer. One book that I did behind-the-scenes work on in 2011 was just today chosen by CNN for one of their year-end "Best of" lists! I'm not doing great at it. Right now we have less than 25 dollars to our name. But it's early yet. It's what I've always wanted and I'm NOT going to give it up now!

So I thank you one and all for embracing A GEEK'S JOURNAL-1976 in such an amazing and gratifying way. I honestly feel that seventeen year old me would have loved to have realized how universal his problems and obsessions were. How NORMAL he really was! The fact that my hated Senior Picture has been literally seen all over the world via the Internet thanks to AOL and the UK, German, Japanese, Spanish and Russian blogs that have linked this site...flabbergasting. It's going to stay up for anyone who wants to look back over the whole thing to get a fuller picture or for those who have yet to discover it. Again, though, I thank you so much...

And invite you to jump back a couple of years with me starting tomorrow to  find out JUST who I was at the ages of fourteen and fifteen as we do it all again with 1974--A GEEK'S FIRST JOURNAL!


  1. a great piece of work, Steve, and one of which you should be justly proud, my friend. thoroughly entertaining through-out. here's looking forward to another ( earlier ) year! well done, chum!

  2. So long, 1976! Hello, 1974!

    And here's hoping 2012 beats the daylights outta 2011 for all of us!

    All the best to you and yours, Booksteve!

  3. Steve, I've really enjoyed this blog, even though I came to it late in the year. I'll have to go back and re-read some of your earlier posts. Thanks for sharing your journals with us!

  4. I just caught up on the last week's worth of posts. Thank you so much for sharing this. I'm a couple years younger than you, but this brought back a lot of memories. My sincere best wishes to you and your family for 2012.

  5. Steve, more of what everyone else has already said. I enjoyed your journal greatly. I have to ask: did your days of journal writing really stop on December 31st, 1976? Was it just because you ran out of space? Or was it always intended to be a year in your life? Or like me, did you think you were getting too old to keep a "diary"? I kept a journal for several years in high school, but I must admit, I was never as honest as you were with yours. Maybe I'll take a queue from you and publish it someday.

  6. I think the reason I didn't keep one in 1977 was that we were doing the one for Creative Writing Class at school. In 1980, I joined a local comedy troupe and started keeping a journal of our meetings and projects and such...but as the troupe degenerated into personal and political issues, it turned into just a regular journal for me. And that was it!

  7. Hi Steve, a random search for a '1976 diary' brought me here and I am so glad I found your journal. I was born in 1976 and I have really enjoyed reading your posts. Nothing captures a time quite like a personal journal. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Ended my long 2nd run-through last week with The Donny & Marie Show special New Year's Eve Edition (aired this night) with Rip Taylor, Billy Preston and...
    (Well, this gets embarrassing. Here's how invested I was in this program: Also guesting on the program was Tina Turner (RIP). Wasn't reminded of that viewing by the sad news this week, had to be reminded of it from looking at my queue now. I am quite ashamed of myself really...)
    Well on to 1977...
    (**There are a few shows I chose to skip and may return...)
    Hope you're getting better!