Today is the 14th of June, the year 2002. I found myself a moment ago browsing the biography section of my website and found it pathetically out of date. It simply reeks of old cheese, dirty socks, and the moldy newspapers stashed away in the back sheds of the poor. A while back I gave a halfhearted attempt to spray some potpourri air freshener over the mess, but that failed miserably. Rank stench still crept out of the woodwork.
Iíve a lot of time on my hands in my current state, and I found myself inspired, for reasons I know not, to raise myself out of the quagmire of website stagnation and write a new explanation of myself. Mothers, please make sure your children are safely buckled in their seats, for Iím about to do something I rarely do Ė let the wall down. Prepare yourselves for a brief glimpse.
First, the vanilla-flavored abridged chronology of my short life thus far. Brooks Thomas Shannon rode into this world at noon exactly on February 16, 1981. For those without calculators or sharp minds, that means on this clear, calm Minnesota evening I am 21 years of age. I came into the world behind the walls of St. Alexius Medical Center, in Bismarck, North Dakota.
In this arguably sedate town I made my home for the next 13 years. About three or four years after my parents divorced, my father and stepmother made the decision to bundle our belongings and hit the road for a small little berg on the west coast Ė Eureka, California. My family and I left Bismarck on August 1, 1994 and spent just over two years living amongst the redwood trees and religious smokers of herb.
Living in California took some adjustment. People put up walls around themselves there, giving the appearance of cold indifference. I was used to the openness of the North Dakota folk. Only later did I realize that, in many cases, the perception of friendliness was just that Ė a perception. I found, after a time, people to be just a bit more true, a bit more connected to life in the redwood country. Nonetheless it took awhile to find this out, and just as I became used to a different sort of life, the worldís feet were pointed towards the sky once again.
Events transpired that led my parents to decide that North Dakota wasnít so bad after all. I was ripped from the life I had grown into and pulled back home Ė to the same apartment complex we had lived in before moving to the coast, no less. I had seen better days.
Once back in Bismarck Ė in December 1996 Ė I was able to reconnect with some people that I had lost touch with. This I am incredibly thankful for, as my life would be far less rich and meaningful without them. I am also indebted to fate in that it showed me how infinite positives can come from something that seems so dark, so evil, so desolate. Iíve experienced incredible things, and met so many wonderful, amazing people in the time since moving back from California Ė people I probably would not have met otherwise. In my impeccable 20/20 hindsight, Iím glad things worked out as they did.
In May of 1999 I graduated valedictorian from Bismarck High School, and that fall I moved east to the flat Red River Valley and the weirdness that is Fargo, North Dakota. I did this in pursuit of a BS in Computer Science. After a semester of being there I decided to tack on a minor in History to that, also.
Three years after this, and this is where you Ė the reader Ė find me. Iím still burning for my degree, and ought to be out of North Dakota State University next May. Life has a funny way of doing one-eighties pretty easily, though, so Iím quite interested to see what this upcoming year holds.
Understandably, the chronology Iíve just provided for you is nowhere near the complete story of my life. The thing is Swiss cheese, shot with holes throughout. Even though the wall is a bit down, some juicy bits have been omitted, while others simply arenít that important. And I can only type so much.
Biographies, however, aim to paint a picture of the person of interest, and a brief chronology can only gesso the canvas. As I just cannot fill all the holes in the slice of cheese that is this fine piece of work, what I will do is provide some topics, questions, and the like that I will elaborate on. Hopefully, in some way, these will shine a bit of light on who I am.
Songs that I find meaningful
Almost all of these songs are fairly simple to interpret if one gives them a listen or two. Do yourself a favor and check them out.
Loreena McKennitt, "Danteís Prayer"
Rush, "Time Stand Still"
Rush, "Middletown Dreams"
Rush, "The Fountain of Lamneth"
Rush, "Lakeside Park"
Dave Matthews Band, "The Stone"
Dave Matthews Band, "#41"
Dave Matthews Band, "Two Step"
Dave Matthews Band, "Say Goodbye"
Dave Matthews Band, "Big Eyed Fish"
Dave Matthews Band, "Grace is Gone"
The Smashing Pumpkins, "Tonight, Tonight"
The Smashing Pumpkins, "Stand Inside Your Love"
The Smashing Pumpkins, "Disarm"
The Smashing Pumpkins, "Today"
Incubus, "Wish You Were Here"
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, "Room at the Top"
Stevie Nicks, "Landslide"
What do I think about?
I think about how beautiful the act of creation can be, what amazing things can be made by us simple folk - from nothing but our dreams. Iím also a guy, so I think about cute girls now and then, and long for the day when Iíll find that special someone that will show me contentment in life. I also daydream about fate Ė how things somehow always seem to work out in life, no matter how bad things can be. How events and people are all interconnected, and how seemingly chance encounters can have such a lasting impression on the course of your existence. Perhaps Iíve already met that special someone! And now and then, I think of lighter things. I burn for a piece of tiramisu, a cold Killianís Irish Red, a lovely back massage, a hike in the redwood forests, or some cinnamon and brown sugar toaster pastries. Sometimes I wish that I could just get out of rush hour traffic faster, and be home, to rest, unwind, and talk with those that matter to me. And sometimes I wish I could just throw it all away Ė just walk away from it all, head west to the mountains, and build myself a place of my own, a place where I can gaze upon the sky and stars and be happy.
You might be thinking, yeah, this stuff is all philosophical and yadda yadda yadda, but where in the living fuck does this dude work? What does he do for a living? Well, hang on just a second Ė first, sit back and listen to where Iíve worked in the past. Way back in 1997 I acquired my first job at Montgomery Ward. Whilst in employment there I sold consumer electronics and fine home appliances on commission. At times pure living hell (pushing the extended warranties was not fun), the job actually benefited me quite a lot Ė it opened me up. Before Wards, I was quite the shy character. I sill am, but far, far less. I remained at Wards until 1999, when the store closed permanently. After the closing I shifted to a wage job, selling music at a local music store Ė Disc Jockey. That autumn I moved to Fargo for college and took up commission clothing sales at JC Penney. I had a blast at that job Ė wonderful people and an overall positive experience. In the summer of 2000 I returned to Bismarck and worked a few months as a driver and warehouse bitch for the Dakota Boys Ranch Foundation. A definite departure from retail sales, the job was refreshingly pleasant and I had a wonderful time there. That fall, upon returning to school, I became a tutor of the Java programming language for the Computer Science department. The summer of 2001 then became an interesting one, as I took my first internship with Cargill, Inc. in Minnetonka, MN. There I developed some software and had an amazingly fun time (at work, mind you Ė outside of work was a different matter). When I returned to school that fall, I took a position as a computer cluster consultant in the main campus computer center. I still hold my position there.
At the current moment, though, I am on my second internship. This time I am with West (formerly West Group, a Thomson company) in Eagan, MN. West is a legal information provider, supplying all sorts of United States law in print, CD-ROM, and online form. Specifically, I work on the E-Commerce Systems team, dealing with some of the backend of the westgroup.com online store. This, too, I enjoy, but it is a bit different from Cargill in a few ways. Each was fun in their own right.
Whew. There you go, the short history of my slavery to employers.
Things I dislike
Most pop music, low-grade beer (Keystone, Old Milwaukee, Coors, Busch, etc), mosquitoes and the thick muggy air they love so dear, and bleu cheese. Iím also not terribly fond of waiting Ė melting minutes away in the line at Rainbow Foods or eternities in rush-hour traffic. Nor am I keen on Ben Folds (Five), Tool, and Nickelback - although I will not hesitate to recognize the musical talents of the all but the last.
I also dislike those many souls who insist upon bending the truth and manipulating others for their own perceived benefit. Iím also not the worldís most enthusiastic fan of hypocrites, religious extremists, and carnies.
Oh, asparagus is pretty nasty, too.
Things that scare me
I usually donít scare that easily. Last time I checked, though, I did notice that I was still at least half human. So things like insects can scare me, or almost losing control of your car on the highway, or seeing naked man-ass. Particularly my naked man-ass.
Other things that scare me include earthquakes, awkward moments of forced small talk, and, hell, many social situations. Simply put, I am one of those people that after twenty-one years of being on this bloody planet still cannot seem to wrap his mind around matters social. They rather buffalo me, and if I donít bungle them completely I end up making myself look like a quadriplegic riding a unicycle. Itís not a pretty sight.
I find myself often quite scared of failure. Of all things I am scared of, including the male tongue, this ranks the highest. I am deathly afraid of letting my true self come out, the worthless sack, and will take great pains to conceal him through tireless toils in school and the workplace.
For me, failure is a black or white, all or nothing sort of affair. I know that if I fail to give due attention to tasks at work or assignments in school, that I will most certainly fail the class or get fired (or, at least, be made fun of by my colleagues). Itís an A, or a B (in rare cases, Iíll allow a B if I feel the class is hard enough), but anything else is simply failure, failure on my part. I know that I could have done more, put forth more effort, but I failed to do so.
Failure is the owner of the two ruby eyes that pierce me from the dark of my bedroom at night.
More to come, when I feel like writing again.