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HEY, MIKEY'S HOME !!!
THE BIG MOVE

Knight and Pawns Chess Pieces Moving

(No, not THAT kind of move...)

It was Friday the 13th (I know, I know) of June, 1986. I had ended a 17-year marriage, quit practicing and teaching judo after nearly 20 years, and now I was saying goodbye to Exxon after 27 years. And what's more, I was leaving my home town and my home state for the unknown and scary land of the Ozarks. WHY???

Well, ending the marriage wasn't voluntary at first. She kicked me out. But once I had lived away from it for awhile, I decided I was getting too old to continue in a cold, unfulfilling marriage. I told my then-wife that I wanted to share my life with someone who wanted me, loved me, and needed me, and wasn't ashamed to admit it. If she thought that could be her, we could talk. She said, "I'm sorry." The next day, I filed for divorce.

Judo had long been about the only thing that made me feel worthwhile. Now in 1985, it was becoming less fun and more of a job. I could tell that my heart just wasn't in teaching, and worse, it showed. I quit.

As for Exxon:
I had dreamed all my life of being an artist. But my first wife and I married young and had a baby on the way. So when my grandmother pulled some strings to get me a job at Exxon in 1959, I took it. I was 19. Now in 1986 at age 46, not only that marriage but two others were things of the past. I no longer had judo and aikido students to think of. And Exxon had decided it needed to "downsize" and made us all a wonderful offer. I jumped on it.

But why move away?

For years, I had tried to help my students develop a sense of self-worth and direction. But my own life was a train wreck. I hadn't become an artist. I hadn't completed college. I had a nothing job with a company I hated. I couldn't even make a marriage work. I had really made very few choices of my own. I had merely drifted through my life, with no direction. I had no sense of of my own self-worth.

Now, before I died, I wanted to dare to take the leap. I wanted to rely on myself to succeed or fail. In other words...

MID-LIFE-CRISIS !!!

...so I left it all and stepped off the ledge. After the security of Mama Exxon and a lifetime in one town in Texas, I moved to the Ozarks. Now this may not seem like a big move to you. But to me it was sink or swim time.

Oh...One thing...I hedged my bets.

I had met this wonderful woman named Bertie. I tried to convince her to come with me. She wouldn't move, but she did agreee to come with me for just a few days. So we left one day in late June. As it turned out, the omens weren't with me. No. Leaving Exxon on Friday the 13th wasn't enough. The day Bertie & I left, I had been having these terrible pains in my back. I thought it was just my body trying to tell me,

"MIKE, YOU'RE CRAZY".

Whatever my body was trying to tell me, I wasn't listening. Besides, a moving company had already taken off with all my belongings. Too late to turn back now. We got in my brand new white Mustang with red interior & took off.

We didn't even make it out of town. The pain got so intense that I couldn't drive. In fact I couldn't even sit up. Bertie helped me lay down in the back and rushed me to the emergency room. As we were waiting, I passed smooth out. Woke up on a table with Bertie & the doctor telling me about my kidney stones.

KIDNEY STONES???

Okay. Whatever. I still ain't stopping. Gimme something good for our trip, Doc. Boy, did he ever. I didn't need a car. I FLOATED to Arkansas, grinning all the way!

OZARKS, HERE WE COME !!!

EEEHAAAH !!!