Biography of Michael A. Crane, Jr.
I was born in Everett, Snohomish County, Washington on May 02, 1962. My first home was in the small city of Snohomish but my parents moved from there while I was still basically an infant. The next home was the place I first remember being at, a small red house deep in the country. I lived there until I was about 5 (minus a few months at another place in the country, a few miles away). Then it was back to the city of Snohomish again, at least I was old enough to remember living there that second time. We lived there for about a year before my mother and father ended their relationship.
After my parents broke up, my mother took us kids to California, then Wyoming, for a pit stop, and then it was on to St Paul, Minnesota. After a few months of traveling, we came back to Washington State, but never to settled down in any one locating for very long. I had lived in deep country, rural communities, and cities, back and forth, and sometimes back again, all of my younger life.
There were times when I stayed with other family members in the Everett and Snohomish areas of Washington State, away from my mother and siblings, but I always ended up back with Mom again, until I was finally old enough to go out on my own. Although my mother and I did not get along all that well when I was growing up, I did love her and missed her when I was away. I also missed my brother and two sisters.
The first time I was really away from my family, all of them, was in 1982 after I joined Job Corps to train as a carpenter. I chose the Angell Job Corps Center in Yachats, Oregon and I was there for almost two years — minus a few months away for Basic Training. I had joined the Oregon ARMY National Guard while still in Job Corps.
Angell (with the extra l) Job Corps Center was good for me. I achieved a lot there. I received my GED, driver's license, Recreation Aid of the Month award, Corps Member of the Month award and I was a Student Carpentry Leader, Student Education Leader, and Dorm Leader, and then later, Dorm Captain. I was also a Corps Member Judicial Vice President, and then later, Judicial President; corps members who got in trouble had to see me and my judicial team. I also volunteered time with the Red Cross for blood drives, and to help teach first aid (I had previously taken courses in first aid and CPR). Job Corps is also where I met my ex-wife.
As mentioned above, I had joined the Oregon ARMY National Guard while I still attending Angell Job Corps Center. After taking an extended leave from Job Corps, I went to Basic Training at Fort Benning, Georgia in early January of 1983. I trained as Infantry but not just as an ordinary grunt. My training was with the anti-tank TOW Missile, as part of a four man team, to blast tanks to smithereens. Rather ironic that when I transferred to the Washington ARMY National Guard, after I graduated from Job Corps and moved back to Washington State, I became part of a tank team. I have to say though, driving a tank is more fun than driving a jeep (the military still used jeeps back then).
I was invited twice, while in the Oregon ARMY National Guard, to take officer's training but I turned them down, I just wanted to do my time and get out. I was asked again to become and officer while I was in the Washington ARMY National Guard, but I turned them down too. Looking back on it now, if my life had not been such a mess at that time, I think I should have taken their offer.
Notes about the two pictures above. Since I was splitting my efforts between two majors, Computer Science, and The Written Arts, I chose one picture to represent both majors.
The top picture was taken by one of the other students, and I was given a copy. I hope I have permission to display it here. Unfortunately, I do not recall the name of the person who took the picture. It is a group picture of our class, Intro to the Internet, CIS (Computer Information Systems) 116, and I was well overqualified for this class, and in fact, I helped to teach it, although unofficially. The instructor is in the back row, on the left side.
The second picture is one I took myself, with my own digital camera. It is of Rick Ives, my creative writing instructor, going back to 1998. This picture of Rich was taken in April of 2007, while enroled for the last two class I took with him (both at the same time), Fiction Writing III, and Poetry Writing II.
In 1987 I wanted to be a writer, but I had a problem, I could not write. I was literate, and in fact, had an above average vocabulary because I loved to read and had been doing so avidly since I was a kid, but my skills with the mechanics of writing were very rudimentary. To this day, my spelling and grammar are still not my strong points, but I have come a long way since 1987, thanks to select English instructors at Everett Community College (EvCC).
I began taking college classes the winter of 1987. However, due to severe emotional problems that I had developed after the loss of my children, I was not able to stick with college for more than a quarter or two at a time. I tried several times, over the next years, with limited success to complete my education. It was not until 1998 that I was finally emotionally strong enough to go back to college and stick with it.
Not only was I finally strong enough to stick with college, I was also able to take on campus jobs. I worked for several quarters in the Open Computer Labs as a Student Lab Tech. Basically, my job was to baby-sit the computers (make sure that they did not wander off) and keep the printers stocked with paper. The unofficial job was also to help other students with their computer homework; this is where my mostly self-taught computer skills came in handy. I was often in demand from students, instructors, and even other lab techs. Eventually, I became tired of working in the computer labs. It was not the students, or instructors, or the computers, but the IT staff that, I felt, failed to utilize my skills in a meaningful way, often leaving me feeling undervalued.
For my last two quarters at EvCC, I worked in the Writing Center, as an English tutor. I felt respected there, by the staff and students, and I was paid more. I earned two certificates while working in the Writing Center, making me a CRLA Certified Tutor, for regular and advanced levels. If my college funds had lasted longer, I would have gone for that third, and final, certificate in the series as well. I was liked by most of the students and often in demand as soon as I walked in the door. I also worked well with ESL (English as Second Language) students. Even though my spelling and grammar were not perfect, and still are not, I was very good at helping people write essays and short stories. I was also good at teaching English to people learning it as a second, or third, or fourth (and so on) language. I do not shy away from people from far away places who were raised in different cultures, and I think it is sad that so many people do shun them, or worse. Much can be learned from a person who is different from you, if you only listen to them. They are not so different once you get to know them.
Unfortunately, by the time I was emotionally ready, and willing, to stick with a degree plan, I had already wasted too many credits with incompletes and withdrawals from classes that I had not finished. I ran out of financial aid before I could complete a degree plan. It did not help that I had also been switching back and fourth between degree plans, between computer science and the written arts. In the end, I had accumulated 101 college level credits when most degree plans only require 90 credits here in Washington State. I had more than enough credits for a degree, but I did not have the right credits for any one degree plan. It would only take three or four quarters to earn the right credits to qualify for two or three small degrees though. Unfortunately, I do not have the funds for college at this time, and it is likely that I never will again.
In more recent times, I have focused my energies on my own projects, my art, my websites, and my writing. At times, I am also scanning huge numbers of family pictures and researching my genealogy (family history). And, I am writing two books, a creative non-fiction story about my life, and a sci-fi story about a far distant future. Unfortunately though, both books have been placed on the back burner for a long time, but I do want to get back to working on them eventually.
Another project that I have been working on is beefing up my arms and chest. Since about 2002, I have been pumping iron on a fairly regular basis, with stops and starts here and there. I did pause my workouts in about 2006 or so though. I had stopped to focus on my work, by my health was going downhill fast, and I didn’t know it. In 2010 had a mild heart attack, that lead to a cardiac triple bypass operation a few days later. I try harder to keep up on my workouts since then.
More About Me:
I have always found that people don't quite know how to take me as a person. I guess it has always been this way. I seem to be somewhat different from most people, and I am as alien to my family as to everyone else. All I can say is take me as I am for I can be no other way. I make no apologies for the way I am, for I have learned to enjoy being this way. I just wish that others would try to understand me, and accept me as I am, even though I am different from them.
I have never been good at socially interacting with others. Although I can do well one to one with most people, if they give me a chance. In general, I am not be good at making friends, but I am a good at being a tutor. Give me facts to deal with and I can function a lot easier than dealing with challenging, to me, social situations. There seem to be too many quantum fluctuations at play, with the rules changing too fast for me to keep up with, when dealing with more than one person at a time. Like an older computer with too much information being entered at once, I sometimes freeze up.
I think part of the problem may be that my mind tends to race too fast, and tends to wander down too many pathways. What to me seems an eternity is for others, but a moment? I tend to get lost in learning new things all the time. I can get totally absorbed by what to others is trivial, while I tend to get bored with the types of trivia that most other people like. I once stood staring as a slug worked its way over my left tennis shoe. I continued to watch even after it had completed its journey to the other side, and then back to the ground after that. I noted with interest as it turned its head around, all the way to its back end, to the slime trail at its back. I was fascinated as it started to eat what, to me, had looked like tiny wads of rotting flora and soil stuck in the goo at its tail end. My mind raced as I took it all in. I was younger then, but similar thing can still happen to me.
These days, now that I am getting older, I have become a shut-in hermit. I rarely go or do anything away from home anymore. I spend my time alone working on my own projects, keeping my mind alive, learning to play the violin again (I took lessons for a time when I was in elementary school), and working my body to keep it in shape. I have drifted too far away from family and friends, and lost contact with them, or just do not talk with them much at all anymore. I love my time alone, but it does get lonely sometimes. I do want to have friends, and be close to family, but that gets harder for me to do all the time. I guess I do not try as hard as I used to, to be sociable. I still do try sometimes, but the more isolated I get the harder it is for others to find a way inside my walls, to find out just what all goes on inside. I think most would be surprised at how active I am inside, when outward, so little shows.
I suspect that I have a touch of autism. High functioning, and mostly capable of seeming normal from a distance, or a brief encounter on one of my better days, but get too close, or linger too long, the more alien I may seem to a normal person. There are special “normal” people who are able to get through my walls to see the inner-me, but they are too few, and far between. Some extroverts can be good for me, but it is other introverts who better understand me.
I do love and care about people, family and friends, but it is very difficult for me to show it. Right now, I feel that I could use more friends in my life, but I have drifted so far away, emotionally, that I can’t seem to connect with new people very well anymore. I need people who understand, and want to try, to connect with me, and bring me out, at least a little way, from my inner-sanctum that is hidden so far behind my walls. You are welcome to try, if you like.
My life has become my work, but was that to fill the void left by friends and family who wandered off, or did they all go away because my drive to always keep myself busy drove them away? Or was it just that I became too cranky and opinionated as I grew older, and now few can stand to talk with me anymore? Perhaps all these things are connected, and all are true.
There is at least one person who does keep in constant contact with me, but our communications are almost entirely over the phone. We almost never see each other in person, and she lives very far from Everett, WA, where I live. We have met on a few occasions over the years, but those visits are far apart and few in number. Without her though, there would be no one left that I talk with on a regular day to day, or night to night, basis.
Michael A. Crane, Jr.