My return from missionary life was a weird time - it went by fast, and was a swirl of new and old feelings alike, along with increased pressure and expectations. All of a sudden, I was back to being expected to do certain things. My mission president told me my next calling was to get home and get married, and it seemed my parents were standing by ready to do whatever was necessary to get that done. This was not a new posture for them though - they had been plowing that field for 18 months in my absence. I'm not going to bore you with various miscellany here, but just will say that I was engaged within four days of my return home, and was married four months later, the day after my 21st birthday in September. Looking back at the pictures, I looked like a scared 17 year old whose prom date had somehow taken a horrific turn to the left.
The year was 1984, and we served a sit-down roast beef dinner to 400 at our wedding reception. We registered for china and silverware, and got 5 settings of each for gifts, along with every other sort of household gadget one could think of. We moved into a one bedroom apartment, and got down to the realities of life.
With the accomplishment of my marriage, everyone around us felt that their jobs had been successfully accomplished and they basically stepped back and left these two idiot children to figure it out from there. My bride had contracted mono during the engagement, and our honeymoon consisted of her sleeping for 20 hours a day, being drugged for the other four, and me watching this new show on TV called Cheers. But somehow, when she was sleeping, she was also expecting that I should be wanting to ravish her sleeping body for hours at a time, and was VERY disappointed that I was trying to be the gentleman and let her rest.
She was basically unconscious the entire time. This would turn out to be a major source of contention many times in the ensuing years. She was off work for about 6 weeks as she recovered and all in all, it was a pretty rocky start to what would eventually become what it was from the outset: a doomed relationship.
As I stated previously, my parents didn't really take an active part in the education of their kids - I had never really had a job, a bank account, a sexual education, or much responsibility to speak of at all. That was pretty much all left up to the church to handle. And when I got married, that was the end of whatever interaction in these areas I would get. I entered school with the intent of being a music teacher like my dad.
You will previously remember that I had grandiose dreams of becoming the next Luciano Pavarotti, but the chilling gravity of my life's responsibilities suddenly brought several things into cruel focus, and I swallowed a bitter pill of reality. To say this was a major realization on my part would be the understatement of the year. I began to realize that I had, and would soon be expected to have more, people for whom I was now responsible, and trying to be an opera singer, which was a goal lauded by my proud parents earlier, was not going to cut the mustard in every day, actual LIFE. I toyed with the thought of becoming a musicologist (a pursuit that lands you solidly in the world of academe, not necessarily a bad thing), but decided on secondary music education.
I didn't totally finish that before I realized that while I liked to be around kids and people in general, teaching high school music wasn't going to satisfy me musically, or emotionally. I drew this conclusion from reflecting upon having watched my high school music teachers, and spending time in the classroom as a university student. While the band teachers were all very accomplished musicians, each gigged outside of school, and seemed to gain immense gratification from doing that, more-so than teaching half-interested kids in school. That was the band teachers.
The vocal teachers were simply miserable, and seemed to simply hate their lives in general. And it unfortunately showed in their teaching. It was then that I did some serious self evaluation for perhaps the first time in my life. That process yielded more questions, but also ideas, and direction. I decided that what I really wanted to be was a recording engineer. This way, I could stay musically engaged, and work with a mix of professional and hopeful musicians. I liked the idea that I could both teach AND learn from a group like this, and so I set out into another degree program.
By this time, we had a young son. Also by this time, I was starting to get used to having a wife, and being responsible for my life. I had student loan debt, I had summer jobs, a crappy car, a second apartment subsidized by a student family housing program. And the trials and tribulations that come along with being generally unprepared for life. but we went along. The birth of my first child was a pretty amazing experience, one that I won't soon forget. I remember it as if it were yesterday. But it wasn't - he turns 21 in two months. He's the one now on a mission in Fiji, and suffice it to say, his eyes are a little more open than mine were, and believe me, there will be more talks to come after he gets home. He's on a similar path to mine, but I will do everything I can to give him what I didn't have 25 years earlier.
Anyway, I auditioned to get into the music school I wanted to - one had to have a principle instrument in order to get in. I sang 8 bars, and they stopped me. I thought I had failed miserably, had done something wrong, had forgotten to follow some critical instruction, like no singers allowed. But all they said was, "stop right there, you're in."
The success of that audition was the first of many real successes while I was a student at that school and totally validated my previous misgivings with where my education had been previously. The education was intense, and I learned from great people who had forgotten more about music theory, composition, training, performance, and technology than I will ever know. As my second year took shape I was accepted to the recording major, a given as far as I was concerned, and I totally ate it up.
Having had no success in math earlier in my life, I immediately grasped the physics and math as it pertains to sound properties and production. Finally, it was logical to me. We started in the studio almost immediately and it was like a light went on for me. I was at home for the first time in my life, and was met with immediate success. As recording students we were allowed to book studio time at our leisure, and I found myself booking the last time of the day, and barricading myself in the studio for the entire night. I did this weekly.
I logged double the studio time over anyone else. I recorded and mixed everything I could put my hands on, knowing that I needed to build a portfolio of work that would land me a job as a staff engineer. Doing this was cathartic for me, because, as you know, music has a special power to move me. At the same time, I was an intern at a local recording studio as well, doing anything and everything they needed me to do, from emptying the garbage to striping tape with timecode (a new thing then...) It became clear to my fellow students that I had skills they did not have, and MANY of them came to me and paid me to do their projects for them. And I took them up on it.
Anyway, the career thing was moving along nicely. I ended up in the US as a result of my tenacity, a strong portfolio and strong recommendations from people around me. And that's not really what I am here to talk about - I've done that before. So, we'll move on to other things.