From Graduation to Jan 2009

In this age of Facebook and MySpace, I regularly get friend requests from old friends who want to know what I have been up to. The first few that asked several years ago, I wrote long emails to. Since then my “catching up” emails have gotten progressively shorter. Whether it’s the baby needing changing or just a flood of emails I have to return, there is usually no time to share what’s been happening with me since high school. For that reason, I’ve written this post. In a way it’s a bio … but more casual and more personal.

1987-1997
Since this is 20 years total, I’ll cut it into chapters … Part 1:
Ch. 1 Rock-n-Roll – I played in my band the 63 Lipless Fish until 1992 off and on. In 1991 I approached Dave Sharp, guitarist of the 80’s alt rock band “The Alarm,” at a show he played at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano. In that approach, I made him a business proposition to produce one of our songs. In the next two years, he produced 2 with us and I hung out with him playing a coffee house and a few bars. He was and still is one of my heroes. That time was priceless for me. My apologies go out to my faithful band, we never became famous as I had promised.

Ch. 2 Back to School – I begrudgingly gave up my rock dreams and enrolled in college at 22. College fit me. I had my Master’s in English from Cal State Fullerton by 1998. This included a summer spent living in Mexico studying Spanish conversation at UAG.

Ch. 3 Fifth Grade Teacher – After that I subbed while looking into PhD programs. I wanted to teach college writing. Santa Ana Unified offerred me a contract teaching on an emergency credential and that began a long strange road of learning more than I ever thought I’d know about teaching. It was sink or swim. I sank at first, but somehow lived. Actually, I thrived and started what would become my current long-term career.

Ch. 4 Night School – I spent countless hours at National University getting my credential cleared.

Ch. 5 Coffee Houses and Bars – I stayed true to my wanderlust for places to play and sing in. I remember them all fondly. I played quite a few places in this decade.

1998-2009
Okay, now in pt. 2 we’re flash forward to 1998!
Ch. 6 High School and College Teacher – I taught one year of high school remedial English. Some kids were great, others carved bad Mexican words in my door. I also commuted and taught evening writing classes at Saddleback College. I did that for one semester before burn out set it like I really shouldn’t try to explain.

Ch. 7 Pizza Enterprise – I decided to leave teaching and try and make huge bonuses as a Tricon manager for Pizza Hut. I was the general manager in Dana Point from 2000-2002. Some of you may have seen me :) Guess what? The first bonus was nice but the second was NOT. By not, I mean NOT. I missed teaching and started working back to it.

Ch. 8 Adelanto Move Forward to Teach – I got an email from EDjoin about a 5th grade teaching job in a place called “Adelanto, CA” The word actually means “move forward” in Spanish. I felt it was calling my name so I drove 80 miles to the interview and was hired the same day. I had 5 other interviews scheduled in places like Long Beach, La Mirada, and Mission Viejo but I was done, I knew this would be my new home in the High Desert.

Ch. 9 High Desert Princess and Prince – I met my lovely high desert princess Sarah Youngs(Riley) on Yahoo! Personals. She is a bit younger than me (9 year gap). I was looking for a friend in this new place as was she. Her son was a Prince at 4 and almost instantly became my sidekick and son as well. At time of writing this he is 10 now and our girls are 4 and 18 mos. They’re all peaches!

Ch 10. Online Enterprise – I’ve been blogging since December of 2006 and written down many of my thoughts about life. I’ve also turned it into a business making upwards of $400 a month. In that respect, my bonuses are even better than the second year at Pizza Hut :)

Believe it or not, that’s the short version. I’d love to get in touch with my old friends from social networks. please leave me a comment or an email and let me know what your journey has been like.

Author: Damien Riley

I'm an online diarist, blog film critic, & podcaster. My views on films and life are often 'left of center' on, but I have respect for other viewpoints. I married my high-desert princess (now my queen). We have 3 children.