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The Last Days of Christ the Vampire
by J. G. Eccarius
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The Real Resume (an Autobiography)
July 23, 2023
by William P. Meyers

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I often thought, when writing or distributing resumes during a life of work, what people would think of my actual life history. My real resume. Being retired now, I think I will expand The Real Resume into a short autobiography.

My parents were both U.S. Marines. My mother, Bess, was born to tenant farmers in Texas east of Dallas. One of her parents was a conservative Methodist, the other was Baptist, so she got Bible, and racism, pounded into her from both sides. When she was about 16 she dropped out of school to work at a new factory, that had opened nearby, making uniforms for the military, in preparation for World War II. She advanced to the typing pool. When the Women Marines started recruiting, after Pearl Harbor, she volunteered. They trained her and shipped her off to Honolulu, where she ended up in the typing pool.

My father's parents lived in Chicago and mostly did factory work, though my grandfather also spent some time as a chauffeur. My father, also William, did graduate from high school, towards the end of the Great Depression. He worked as an usher in a movie theater. He got into some sort of trouble, and to get out of it he joined the Marines, in 1938. So he was already in the Marines when war started. He was in the signal corps. They shipped him out to the Battle of Guadalcanal, where he mainly counted and buried the corpses of Japanese soldiers. He also caught both malaria and amoebic dysentery; the combo almost killed him. Then the Marines shipped him to the Battle of Tarawa, which I suppose is where he got his PTSD. But he also got promoted, lots of officers were killed at Tarawa. And he coped well enough that he stayed in the Corps when most Marines were demobilized after the war ended. He got stationed in California and married my mother. He became a paperwork guy, so he did not see action in the Korean War. In 1954 they adopted my brother Tom, and surprise, after a long series of miscariages, my mother managed to birth me live in 1955. We lived on Marine Corps bases in North Carolina except for one year when my father was stationed in Japan. My mother, brother, I and my baby sister Lisa stayed in Texas, near mother's relatives.

My father retired in 1961. With no war on, they did not think they needed so many Marines, and my father, who had made Captain, was passed over for further promotion, so the rule was he was out. I remember my father, the last year he was a Marine, teaching me to write down numbers, how to go above 9 to 10, and above 99 to 100, and etc. Both my parents were quick to spank or even beat a child. Writing numbers was a safe activity. But we loaded up the car and moved to Jacksonville, Florida, where my father enrolled at Jacksonville Univerity as an undergraduate, and started working at Sealand Services, a shipping company, that was largely staffed by ex-intelligence types like my father. I remember both parents being in a very bad mood. Even perfect behavior did not spare me, or my brother, from punishments. Once my pet guppy had babies. She was in a small bowl and had no trouble chasing down the babies and eating them. I was under strict instructions to not touch anything without permission, so I believed I could only watch the slaughter. I started crying out of sadness. It was against the rules to cry. My father came home, asked me what I was crying about. I told him, hoping he would help me save any further babies. Instead he grabbed me and beat me, screaming for me to stop crying. It was a standard routine; crying only prolonged beating. I have many such stories, but the point is I was terrified of my parents and adults in general, and tended to freeze up when dealing with adults, and later with people in general. Another Meyers family crime was smiling. I learned to never, ever, smile, though strangely we were allowed to laugh during TV comedy shows.

I was sent to Catholic school. At first they thought I was stupid, but I did well on written tests and quickly learned to read and do simple math. Strangely, by the end of second grade the teachers thought I was bright. I was also good at sports, not so great on my people skills. My parents demanded straight A performance, and I only occasionally had trouble with that. I liked to read and learned I was unlikely to get in trouble with my mother if I was reading a book. I recall school was not air-conditioned, so in the fall and spring we would sit in the classroom and sweat while we worked.

By the time I was in fourth grade we moved into a somewhat large, air-conditioned house. My mother went back to work as a typist. My brother and I got skipped a grade, which added to my social awkwardness. It did not relieve my school day boredom because grades 3 through 8 basically repeated the same materials while the slower kids kept up. But for 9th grade I got a scholarship to Bolles, reputed to be the best school in Jacksonville. The kids at Bolles were mostly from professional families. After a bit of early friction I got along with them pretty well. In Catholic School I had been taught to be anti-Semitic and made the mistake of telling a Jew joke to my new friends. Turned out about a third of them were Jewish. But they forgave me, and that was a big lesson. I tried not to be racist or prejudiced. I also turned against the Marine Corps and the Vietnam War, but that took a couple of years. While I was mainly interested in science and math, I also became interested in history and politics. Being small and young and wanting to prove myself, I joined the swim team and did okay. We added water polo when I was a junior.

My first paid job was working at the Bolles summer camp as a counselor, really mostly a swimming instructor and lifeguard. The summer after my junior year I studied so I could get advanced placement credits and enter college as a sophomore. The summer before college I worked as a lifeguard at a public swimming pool. That was 1972, and despite the Civil Rights Act having been passed back in 1965, it was the first time I even interacted with an African-American, another lifeguard at the pool.

I was accepted at Brown University, but mother was mad because her whole plan was that Tom and I would go to Annapolis and get on the ladder to become Marine Corps generals. Tom had been accepted at Duke but my parents talked him into going to Jacksonville University. I got a scholarship to Brown but they decided my parents could afford to help me to the tune of $1,500 per year. My mother kept finding reasons to attack me until one day I finally realized I was considerably bigger and stronger than her, so I grabbed her fist and told her to never hit me again. Her revenge was refusing to give me my airline ticket (they were physical tickets back then) until I had a crew cut.

I arrived at Brown as the only freshman with a crew cut; long hair was still cool. No longer under parental control, I did not go to Catholic mass, or get another haircut. On the way to a water polo game I smoked cannabis for the first time. When I went home for Christmas, I refused to go to church, so my mother said she would not pay for college, and I said fine and went back. I started getting letters from Brown saying that I owed them money and would not be allowed to return in the fall if it was not paid. I started working as a lifeguard, and signed up to work that summer as a lifeguard. I used my wages to pay Brown. I ate beans and rice. I did not register for the draft when I turned 18. I figured at least jail would be free. But there was so much chaos in the country around the Vietnam War and the draft that nothing ever happened, except I became ineligible for federal student grants or loans.

I felt science was being misused by our government. I volunteered for the McGovern for President campaign. I studied political science and philosophy and a bit of economics, math, and computer science. I was determined to get through Brown in three years, I was determined to get straight A's, I was eating rice and beans and still swimming and playing water polo, life guarding 20 hours a week, sleeping 6 hours a night, except I was in my first relationship, so not every night. I asked for some help from Brown and was told I should do what my parents asked and get the money from them. I burned out. Poof, like that. I read On the Road and I decided to take a year off and learn about the real America.

So I took a year off. I worked in 2 factories and a restaurant, hitch-hiked a lot, then went back to being a lifeguard. I had heard about internships but did not realize how important they were, plus they usually required the kind of reference I did not have. So I got ready for a final year of college and a friend of mine, who later became a Doctor, gave me a hit of LSD. I took it, and it did blow my mind. I continued with philosophy (notably Wittgenstein) but I also joined a Zen group, a cult of sorts, the Pyramid Zen Society. And then Brown spit me out, fortunately with a degree in Political Science. It was the stagflation, jobs were scarce, Brown's placement help was useless, so I had nothing lined up. But I had a new girlfriend, a really great girlfriend, Patty Fishel of Cleveland, Ohio. She had two more years to go at Brown, so I was hoping to find something in the area. But first I went to the Zen farm in West Virginia and helped build a meeting house there.

Back in Providence that fall I kept applying for jobs, including as far away as New York City, but there were like a thousand candidates for every opening. I got a part time job at a convenience store near the University and figured I could make some extra money writing short stories. Fortunately Providence had lots of cheap housing as its factories had mostly closed. Some friends found work in Wyoming building a railroad line, they said it was brutal but they needed workers. So I got on a bus and went out there and sure enough they hired me on the spot. It was brutal. My friends got tired of it, they had what they thought was a pile of cash because we were living in a tent, so they quit. I had left my car in Providence, so had no car of my own to get to the work site, so I headed towards California with them. Then, out of the blue, Patty says I got a letter saying I was being offered a job by the federal government. It had been well over a year since I took the Civil Service exam.

I hated the civil service job in Washington D.C. It was like a parody. I sat in a large room with lots of other civil servants sitting at desks. I took a file folder from the inbox, the employment record of a civil servant seeking a pension, looked at it, determined what was missing, and put it in an outbox. A phone near my desk rang constantly. No one wanted to answer it because it was always someone pleading to have their pension processed. A giant wall of files contained those condemned to purgatory because some essential record could not be found. I began to have nightmares. After six weeks I gave two weeks notice. I figured working at a restaurant or in the brutal Wyoming weather was better than working at the Civil Service Commission. Now you can see why I have had to fudge a bit on my resume.

Fortunately, despite my quitting, under the D.C. rules I was able to get unemployment benefits. I kept applying for jobs. Surely someone needed a Brown graduate with a Political Science degree in Washington D.C., other than the Civil Service Commission. Finally I was offered a Data Monitor job at Biometric Research Institute. They said I was lucky. They showed me a stack of resumes from people with PhDs. People have forgotten the Stagflation now, but jobs were really, really hard to come by. I worked on collecting data on the lenses used in cataract surgery. It was boring, it did not require much intelligence, but I decided I had stick with it. I continued to try to write short stories, but mostly I was dissatisfied with the results, so did not submit them for publication.

Seeing no way up except graduate school, and not having the money for that, I decided I would write a novel. I had no idea how hard it is for an unconnected person to get a novel published. I ended up in a small room in a house in Emeryville, California, then a rundown area between Oakland and Berkeley. I met a kind of people I had not met before: dropouts who used crystal meth. I did finish a novel before I ran out of money. So, after a brief trip to London and Paris, I moved to New York City, into a tiny room in the floor my friend Mark Josephson rented for his home and business, Rockpool Promotions. I started doing temp work as I was rejected for full time work. I switched to paralegal temp work. I would learn a lot from paralegal work. I also did some work for Rockpool, helped make an early rock video, and hung out with music people. Patty had broken up with me, so I had a few not very successful relationships. This was when the HIV/AIDs epidemic was putting a damper on the free love idea. Surprise, even though I did end up with a literary agent, I did not find a publisher for my novel.

Nothing was going right for me. The Rockpool complex was beside eight lanes of traffic and over a subway line; it was crazy loud. One day while out walking I thought, let's just see what happens when I don't have an Ivy League diploma stinking up my resume. I went to the airport and decided to fly to Seattle. I decide to call myself Jack Straw. In Seattle I found a room to rent in a house easily enough, but could not bring myself to apply for many jobs. But I was hired as manager at Northwest Nuclear Xchange, an anti-war monthly. As a non-profit it could pay me less than minimum wage.

I should add that while in New York City I had joined in civil disobedience actions, then started helping to organize them. I talked to a number of radicals from different Marxist and Leninist groups. In Seattle I started going to meetings of the different groups. By then it was the 1980s, yet Seattle was a hotbed of radicalism. There were over a dozen Leninist groups, plus all sorts of peace and justice groups. At first I mostly was around Trotskyist groups, but as I got angrier I drifted over to the Revolutionary Communist Party, a Maoist group. I started dating a woman in the group, then went with them to a series of protests against U.S. cruise missile placement in Germany. I stayed in squats in Germany and talked to a lot of radicals, including anarchists. Back in the U.S. I used my legal name to get a paralegal job working on the lawsuit that was the aftermath of the failure of a nuclear power plant construction project, WPPSS.

I considered becoming a lawyer, but again the obstacle was poverty and three years of law school, after which I could look forward to at least 7 years of being a mere assistant. Then I had an idea. Jesus Christ did indeed rise from the dead because he was a vampire. I started writing what would become The Last Days of Christ the Vampire. My law firm refused to give me a raise after my first year there; they knew about my radical political activities. I got sick of the inner-party bullshit of the RCP. My commie girlfriend and I broke up. I decided to start an anarchist group, but one more action oriented than the ones that existed then. I put a down on a pickup truck and planned a move back to California. Driving south I, along with a dozen or so other vehicles, spun out on ice. It was going to take a while to fix my car, so I took a plane to New York City. A friend had moved into a house with her new husband, and they were renting out rooms, so I rented a room from them. I easily got a long-term temp job doing intellectual property paralegal work, then a permanent one.

So I had a college degree and nothing much on my resume except paralegal work. I spent as much time as I could on my new novel. I was going to wow the world. My political orientation shifted to something called anarcho-syndicalism, which is a reasonable compromise between anarchism, unionism, and socialism. I took the test to go to business school, did well, but just could not make myself apply to schools.

Breaking up with the latest girlfriend I decided I would try California again. I drove my Nissan pickup across the country to San Diego and quickly found a cheap apartment there. Then another paralegal job. I kept working on Last Days. And when I sent it to Dell (the book publisher, not the computer company) I got an acceptance letter! Triumph at last.

Followed quickly by bitter disappointment. Corporate higher-ups killed it. The acquisitions editor was apologetic. I could have tried more publishers, but the incident soured me on the corporate publishing powers. I decided to self-publish. This was before you could publish to the Internet. I needed to get a physical book printed. That was hard. Then I needed to sell. Surprise, most bookstores are not interested in new publishers, much less a book that might get their store fire bombed by crazy Christians. [In that year, 1989, San Diego abortion clinics were bombed by Christian anti-abortion terrorists].

I had printed 1000 books. I had sent some out to reviewers, with no results. I sold about a dozen to bookstores. Even the anarchist bookstores were not sure what to make of it, since it did not have the word anarchy in the title. In San Diego I had continued to organize with anarchists and anarcho-syndicalists, but I had also added Earth First! to my repertoire. Judy Bari called for a big Earth First! campaign to protect the redwoods of northern California, so I decided I might as well go.

I only did volunteer work during Redwood Summer. I met my wife, Jan. I moved to be with her in San Francisco. And lo, Last Gasp wanted to distribute The Last Days of Christ the Vampire. I did some temp paralegal work, but I focussed on my new publishing business. I eventually sold over 10,000 copies, and published 9 other titles, but on the whole it was a break-even headed to money-losing business.

Still, it looked relatively good on my resume. I studied book indexing and then went looking for clients. Eventually I was making a living indexing computer books. Then I accidentally gave some good advice to an old friend who was investing in computer companies. He hired me, hourly, to research stocks and bonds. So I had two businesses going that each paid over $50 an hour. My wife and I bought a house, I paid down the mortgage, and I started investing in stocks.

So I ended up okay. No graduate school, nothing fancy, just okay. Living mostly on Social Security, in a paid-off house. I gave up on the radicals, was active in the Green Party for about a decade, served on a local public school board, then was active in the Democratic Party for about 6 years. I have written another novel and am looking for a publisher. I don't expect to be published, much less famous. I expect the world is going to be a very difficult place for humans and other life forms, soon.

I wish we had been able to prevent the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I wish we could have created a just society. I wish we had been able to stop global warming and the many other forms of ecological war. Some of us tried, but too many humans profit from destruction. Now we will all reap the results of the destruction of our earth.

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