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ABOUT MICHAEL

Detailed

On this page you’ll find an autobiography. You’ll find I write about my early years in great detail. I don’t do this because I’m “full of myself”, although I may unintentionally be.

My intention in being so detailed in the beginning is two fold.

First, I know that when I’m interested in an author, writer, composer or whatever, I want to find out what makes her or him the way he or she is. The early years of my life shaped and, very much, conditioned me. I hope it gives you a good insight into why I write what I write how I write it.

Secondly, I wrote a series of essays about my conditioning and how I've reacted to that conditioning. I call this my “Father’s Gift" series. I really hope that reading the detailed account of the early years gives you a more intimate knowledge of those very personal and intimate essays.

One reason that I've laid my personal life out here in front of the whole world is because, if there are parents who believe that they are doing “the best they can do with what they know”, I hope that they will be inspired, by reading about my experiences and especially by reading the “Father's Gift” series, to step back and ask themselves if they are really doing the “best” that they can do with what they know. I've come to discover we don't realize how much we know until we take the time to take a personal inventory of how we feel about almost anything. Once we take that "ivnentory" and realize where the feelings are in our bodies and why they're there, we may be able to see ourselves from a whole new perspective.

I hope that I can provide somewhat of a point of reference so that other relationships between parents and their kids can be salvaged.

I realize that the detail contained in the first part of the autobiography is more detail than some of you wish to read.

Please don’t let this page discourage you from looking at the rest of the site. You may enjoy some of the writing and/or music even if you don’t read the “About Michael Page”.


The Earliest of Years

I was in the delivery room during the births of all three of my daughters. I always thought that it was an old wives tale that the doctor and/or nurse smacked the baby on the bottom to make sure that it was breathing.

However, during those deliveries, I saw that it was, indeed, not an old wives tale. The nurse and/or doctor, it was a nurse one or two times and a doctor one or two times, I forget which exactly, did slap my daughters on the bottom. And, amazingly, they gasped and started to breathe.

Looking back on the relationship that I shared with my father, I can’t help believing that, had he been in the delivery room when I was born, he would have gladly volunteered for baby slapping duty. Alas, on April 6, 1950, it was unusual for fathers to be in attendance during a child’s birth and I know my father would never have volunteered to be there. Had he been there, he could have started hating me a few hours earlier.

Granted, I was there at my birth, but I remember none of it. From what I hear, the doctor did slap me on the bottom, but I had a difficult time breathing. They placed me in an incubator and my parents called in a priest to administer the sacrament of Extreme Unction, otherwise known as Last Rites.


After The Earliest of Years but Before Adulthood

So, let's see. I'm 9 years old and I want to join the Little League. It's a baseball league for kids from the ages of 9 through 12 years old.

Dad's working in the yard and I ask him, "Dad, can I try out for the Little League?"

This is not a paraphrase. "You ain't playin' in no Little League!"

I asked, "Why not?"

I learned then that asking my father to explain any of his opinions was physically harmful. I didn't ask about the Little League for another 2 years.

I went to mass and Sunday School every Sunday. I learned that the Catholic god is the one true god and that anyone who knows about the Catholic god but doesn't convert would go to hell. I felt very fortunate that my parents knew about the Catholic god and sent me to Catholic services.

As I got older, what the Catholic god expected of a person if that person wanted to go to heaven became more and more difficult for me to embrace. When I veered from any Catholic law or dogma, I felt just horrible. I spent lots of time in the confessional, telling people that I didn’t know and who I’d only seen from a distance the most intimate parts of my private life. These were situations about which, if I hadn’t told the faceless priest on many Saturdays, no one would ever have known. But, I was lucky enough to be Catholic and at least had some chance of going to heaven.

At that point in my life, my parents never went to church.

One Sunday after Sunday School, I don’t know the exact year, I told my parents that the priest saw me in church and, after mass, pulled me aside and asked me why he never saw my parents with me.

Well, my parents didn’t buy it and, of course, it never happened. I learned something then, however. I learned that lying to my father about priests looking for him and my mother in church was physically harmful. I never asked them why they didn’t go to church again.

I was a top notch student during my elementary school days. I was extremely interested in the lives of the presidents of the US. At one point, I could name each and every one of them in chronological order, from Washington to Eisenhower. In fact, when I was in fifth grade, my teacher had me stand up in front of the entire student body and do just that.

When I was 11, I tried out for the Little League. My father was one of New London, Connecticut’s finest and he worked double shifts almost all the time. I tell people today that we considered the day on which my father only worked 8 hours his “day off.”

I think I asked my mother about the Little League and I don’t think my father knew anything about it until it was too late. I guess he let it go.

I wasn’t quite good enough for a Little League team to pick me up, so I had to settle for the Minor Leagues.

Most Minor League kids were only 8 years old as the Minor League was where kids played before they joined the Little League. Consequently, I was pretty tall, 5’ 4” to be exact. Little did I know that I would remain 5’4” tall for the rest of my life.

When I was 12, I tried out for the Little League again and I made it this time. I was a star. I hit lots of home runs, but I struck out a lot as well. I did think, however, that, since I was so “powerful” and still relatively bigger than most 12 year olds, I would be a large, powerful man who would play in the real Major Leagues.

When I was 13 years old, I began to look at girls in a way different than the way I looked at them up until that time. I got weird “feelings” when I looked at them. In fact, not knowing what these “feelings” were from, I told my mother about them. I told her that they were very powerful and really bothersome. She took me to see a doctor. I forget what the doctor told me, if anything, but I bet I know what he told my mother. After all, she was probably old enough to know.

My next door neighbor was a cute little girl named Karen. We “fell in love”. Well I fell in lust and I don’t know where she fell. Karen and I fooled around, literally. I mean there was a lot of touching and so forth, but neither of us knew what to do besides touch.

One of my Little League team mates, Fred, finally talked to me about the birds and the bees. He explained things to me and showed me how to satisfy my “feelings”.

After that, I began to ask Karen if we could get “real close” every time we fooled around. She never did let me get “real close”. That relationship ended.

I was also of age to try out for the Babe Ruth League, a baseball league for boys from 13 to 15 years of age.

I was chosen by one of the teams and played left field. I was awful.

I was still 5’4” tall and I still thought that I was a big, strong guy. It’s strange that I didn’t see other kids getting taller than I was.

My baseball career ended in the Babe Ruth League. It didn’t go out quietly, though.

I played in two games. I struck out every single time I got up to bat in the first game.

In the second game, I got a single, a base hit. I was really proud of that.

Unfortunately, I didn’t make it all the way through that second game. Besides the fact that I got hurt, I found out what my father was made of on that day, as you can read in my essay, “A Father’s Gift”.


What About Music and Poetry? Starts, Stops and Discouragement

I began listening to 78 RPM records when I was about 4 or 5 years old. I would listen and sing along, trying as hard as I could to sound like the artists. I remember Julius LaRosa as one of the artists whose records I had.

When I was 8 years old, my parents saw that I took an interest in music and made me take accordion lessons. I didn’t practice as much as I should have, even though my parents threatened me. Ultimately, they decided not to waste money on lessons.

When I was 10 years old, I began to pay more attention to music and, like most people back then, really got off on listening to Elvis Presley. This time, I went to my parents and asked them if I could take guitar lessons.

After I assured them that I would practice for at least a half hour each day, they agreed to let me take guitar lessons.

All went well for a while. I didn’t know a thing about playing the guitar when I started taking lessons, so I had no choice other than to play what was written in the Mel Bay series guitar lesson books.

However, I got to a point where I could use the knowledge I was gaining through my lessons and expand on it. I began to play chords and figured out, by ear, the chords to many of the songs that were on the radio.

I also discovered that I could memorize the words and sing along with the chords I was playing.

The time I spent playing my guitar and singing increased dramatically and my parents, who had to force me to practice for a half hour each day at one point were now telling me I was spending too much time playing the guitar.

I wrote some little ditties about girls I knew and fantasized about in elementary school and junior high school.

Some of the songs were “Karen Forever” (remember my neighbor?), “What If Ruthie Saw Me Now” and, a little later, after I got into high school, “Roseanne”. To say that they were “rough” would be an understatement.

Of course, as time went on and I realized I was never going to be that giant of an athlete, I got more and more interested in music and began to write songs inspired by the likes of Bob Dylan, The Beatles and others whose careers were just taking off.

My years in junior high school, which encompassed seventh and eighth grades, were transitional years. In junior high school, I morphed from outstanding student to extremely poor student in high school.

I attended a catholic high school, much to my dismay at the time. I did well enough in all of my courses to earn promotions each year, but I truly sucked in the fields of science and math. They bored me to death.

English courses, on the other hand, interested me. The creativity of classical poets like Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats and, of course, Shakespeare, inspired me.

I became extremely interested in the tools of writing but never memorized any of the classical poetry. I loved metaphor, personification and, my favorite, alliteration.

I began to write my own poetry. Just as with the guitar, I learned enough to use the tools and lost interest in reading the works of those who first used those tools.

The Vietnam War began to capture the back pages of the newspapers in 1963. I understood perfectly well that we had to stop the commies over there before they invaded us and forced us to stop them over here. I was a domino theory enthusiast for about a year.

Then came the Gulf Of Tonkin incident and I really got pissed at the Vietnamese. How could they do this with no provocation?

I was only 14 at the time and didn’t know about the protecting the South Vietnamese government part of it.

Luckily, a teaching sect called The Christian Brothers made up a good deal of the teaching staff at St. Bernard High School. I really think that, judging from their outlook on society, The Christian Brothers had no right to call themselves Catholic.

It was under the honest tutelage of The Christian Brothers that I learned about racism, the lie that was the Gulf Of Tonkin incident and began to question, at their exhortation, the Catholic Religion. They outright encouraged it.

I wrote my first poem in 1964 and it was inspired by the nascent backlash to the war in Vietnam. It was called “And Now She Knows”.

I showed that and some of the other poems that I wrote to my mother.

My songs also began to take on a social theme and I played my first few compositions for my mother.

She was impressed and told me that I “should do something” with my art.

Not surprisingly, when I tried to show my work to my “patriotic” father, he became outraged. How could I write such things about my country? I didn’t know what I was talking about.

My father was in the army from 1946 to 1948. He got out just before the Korean Conflict got into full throttle.

I wish now that I had thought of asking him why, if he was so patriotic, he didn't volunteer to "reup" so that he could exhibit his patriotism in Korea. I guess it's much easier to be patriotic when someone else is fighting the war. Come to think about it, it was probably healthier for me not to bring that up back then. It does, however, give me pause now and then.

Of course, the decline in my scholastic progress made it very easy for him to tell me to stop my foolishness, writing poetry and songs, and prepare for a life as a teacher. Oh, yes, Dad was convinced I was going to be a teacher. Teachers only work nine months out of the year and they make “good money”. Teaching was a clean job, I wouldn’t have to “dig ditches”. I firmly believed that my father made up my mind for me to be a teacher long before I was born. I needed to stop the foolish music and poetry and study hard and get good “marks” so I could be a teacher.

My mother changed her mind about my “doing something” with my art and began to refer to it as “foolishness” as well. I don’t believe my mother changed her mind at all. I know exactly what happened as my father did everything he could to command worship from my mother, and from me as well. It worked with Mom, but not with me.

My high school years were hell. I played in several rock bands throughout high school and continued to write poetry. I even wrote a couple of short stories, one of which earned me an “A+” in my senior year English class.

I had to try to hide my involvement with rock bands from my parents during my high school years. Not only were my grades such that they thought that I shouldn’t waste my time playing music, but the lyrical content of the music I played did not set well with Dad.

In addition to the music, I was always “in love” with some girl or another and was sure that each one of them was the one that I was going to marry. Of course, there was no good reason for any of them to stick around and wait with me as I had picked up my father’s propensity for maniacally loosing the temper.

I went to school and learned about social injustice and the insanity of the war from The Christian Brothers and came home and foolishly used the knowledge I’d gained in school to debate the legitimacy of the war with my father.

My father was, by far, the better “debater”. He had a lot more “debating tools” than I had.

As I mentioned, I remained 5’4” tall for the remainder of my life and, consequently, never rose to his 5’11” stature. That was probably his “best debating tool”.

He took my disagreeing with him very personally. I thought the war was wrong and he thought that meant I hated him.

I thought Dr. Martin Luther King merely wanted total equality for African Americans and Dad thought that meant I hated him.

His retaliation against the perceived “hate” was potent. He definitely made good use of his “debating tools”.


College? – You Gotta Be Kiddin’!

As I said, my grades were barely passing while I was in high school, but I was going to go to college come hell or high water. I couldn’t go out and get a job. I wasn’t allowed to leave my home, my parents’ home, unless it was for the purpose of getting married. This was true even after I was finished with school. Unbelievable! I guess I would still be living with them at the age of 55 if I hadn't gotten married.

So, I applied to the four state colleges, Eastern Connecticut State College, Southern Connecticut State College, Central Connecticut State College and Western Connecticut State College. I even applied to The University of Connecticut.

Each rejection was accompanied by a diatribe and revisiting the reasons why I was “no good”.

Amazingly enough, I was accepted by Western Connecticut State College.

I ended my freshman year at Wesconn with a 2.3 grade point average. Considering how many classes I drank or drugged my way out of, it was no small accomplishment.

When I was away at school, I could actually carry on a civil phone conversation with Dad. However, it didn’t take long after I arrived home for a week-end or a school break for us to resume the position.

In my final year of high school, Christian Brothers from The College of Santa Fe visited St. Bernard's and talked about their college. At the time, I knew that I’d be lucky to be accepted by any school, so I didn’t pay them much mind.

However, as the summer break wore on the “fighting” (that does inaccurately imply a reciprocal situation) just got worse. I remembered The College of Santa Fe promotion. I could be a couple of thousand miles away from these people if I could somehow talk them into letting me go to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

I don’t know how it happened. I must have dished out enough bullshit to convince them to let me go. This move was extremely incongruent with anything else I’d wanted to do previously. But mine was not to understand why they let me go. Mine was to go and I went.

I studied in New Mexico less than I studied at Western Connecticut. I “experimented” with mind altering stuff while I was there as well.

My room mate was Chris McCarty and he was a “free soul”, so to speak. He was very “street wise”. I learned a lot from Chris.

I remember Chris asking me, after he’d heard me play guitar, if I wanted to go to Colorado or Arizona, I forget which, to meet and jam with his cousin. I told him that, if I did that, my father would kill me.

Chris said, “OK, but I’m sure you’ll be hearing of him someday. His name is Steve Miller.”

My foot hasn’t stopped kicking me to this day.

At Thanksgiving time, for some unexplainable reason, I began to miss Connecticut and my family. Very strange, indeed.

One of the other guys in school who lived in Pennsylvania started to feel the same way about his home and family.

So the two of us began to hitch hike east with the hope of surprising our families for the holiday. We actually caught rides with pitots of small aircraft.

We never did make it back east. In fact, we realized that we’d never make it home in time and turned around to hitch hike back to school. We never made it back there either. “A Father’s Gift – Part 2” explains what happened.


Another “Gift”

Although I didn’t actually flunk out of college, it was obvious at the time that, if I continued to attend, I may have. My heart just wasn’t in it.

I quit school and got a job at the local hospital as a supply clerk. I actually wheeled supplies around from floor to floor delivering them to the appropriate department. It didn’t pay well and I had my application in elsewhere.

I got a job with a Fortune 500 multinational corporation in December of 1972. I was employed with that organization for 25 years (you’ll find out my feelings about that organization later in all three forms of expression, essays, poetry and music).

I met my first wife during this time.

I went to the local Holiday Inn lounge with a friend one evening in August of 1972 and I spotted her across the room. She was as cute as a button, or so it seemed to me then. It has to be remembered that during “then” I was always under the influence of whatever influence I could get my hands on.

To be fair, though, Molly was, and still is, attractive.

There was a band playing and I asked her to dance.

We fell in love, or so I thought.

Molly went off to college in September of 1972. I missed her terribly and used some pretty underhanded tactics to facilitate her quitting school, coming back to Connecticut and, ultimately, marrying me. We were married on January 20, 1973.

The marriage was a lot less exciting than the courtship. I merely thought that this is what happens to marriages eventually.

We never spoke and, well, our relationship was distant at best.

We did manage to conceive two of my three daughters, Jessica and Jackie, during the six years that we were married.

I loved my daughters, and still do, but, as I mentioned above, the explosive temper that was part of my father’s character was part of mine as well.

I don’t blame Molly for ultimately leaving me. I do, however, to this day, resent the way it happened.

There was never any marriage counseling of any sort. As I said, I just thought that was how things were and Molly was miserable.

The third essay in “The Father’s Gift”series, “A Father's Gift - Part 3”, explains how I was abandoned.


From Then Until Now (And The Final “Gift”), A Brief Overview

As I wrote at the top of this “About Michael” page, I would write about the first part of my life in detail. If you’ve gotten this far, I’m sure that you agree with me. I hope that you can understand why as well.

I won’t say that the rest of my life to this moment has been totally uneventful.

My third daughter, Leyna, was born during my second marriage.

I’m on my fourth marriage and this one is a record breaker, both for my wife, Tina, and me. I’m sure it’s the real thing for so many reasons.

I've also put to bed for what I hope turns out to be an eternal sleep the guilt that I've felt about being me in the last of the "Father's Gift" series, "A Father's Gift - Part 4 (An Open Letter of Closure and Finality)". This may be the most significant thing that's happened to me in the second part of my life thus far. I've hoped for a very long time that he who holds the key to assimilating me back into my birth family would complete the simple task of turning that key. But, in the final analysis, in keeping with his belief that being him means never having to say "I'm sorry", he has refused to do so.

I write "assimilating me back into my birth family". In fact, I would not be returning to my birth family. If he would simply turn the key, I'd be entering my birth family for the first time, excluding the obvious entrance on the date of my birth. It wasn't long after that that I began to feel as if I didn't have what it takes, whatever it is that it takes, to belong to that family.

There have been one hell of a lot of ups and downs during the 20 years that followed my second divorce. I hope that my writing takes you through those years in a way that’s vivid and revealing or at least somewhat entertaining.

This site is not just about my personal life. As I say on the home page, most of the prose, essays, letters, etc., deal with social issues, governments of the world, especially the US government, war and peace and other issues.

I hope that you’ll give this site a chance.

I do have a blog. In fact, I have three to be exact, and I realize that I could use them for my writing and have.

However, this site gives me space on the net on which I can post my music. Happening upon a site through a search engine is more likely to occur than happening upon a blog, unless you use blog specific search engines.

I guess those are the main reasons why I chose to create this site in spite of the fact that I have blogs.

I received the kind of message I was thinking about when I talked about “mature” messages. The message tried to intimidate me into removing my web site and blog.

Another request I recently received was to change my last name. In Sicilian circles, my last name, Bonanno, is very common. Yet, the person who requested that of me must think that he owns it. My suggestion for him is, if he doesn’t want to share a last name with me, he can remedy that without my help. I didn’t get my last name from him. I got my last name from some clan that lived where Sicily is now hundreds of years ago and called itself Bonanno. The chance that he and I received that very same last name was just that, a chance.

You can see how immature it is to try to intimidate a 61 year old man into giving up doing what he loves to do, that is, writing, and giving up his surname. I really don’t wish to see comments like this again. Yet, if they continue to me made, I’ll merely do as much as possible to ban those IP numbers from making comments. I certainly hope I don’t have to go further than that.

I will speak to the typically thoughtless, and I mean that literally, comment that was made.

I included my personal relationship with my family, especially my father, in the hope that, if you are a new parent, you’ll see that what may seem like the right move or the right word at any given time may become tattooed, so to speak, in your child’s psyche. It may even follow her or him into adulthood. Of course, this is going to happen if you aren’t mindful of what you do to your kid and even of what you say to your son or daughter long after they’ve reached adulthood. If your son or daughter wishes to exchange small talk with you say, when she or he is 47 or 48 years old and your response is, inconceivably, a personal attack, an attempt to make your son or daughter feel stupid, you are not being a parent. You’re being an adversary and you may find that your son or daughter finally cannot take it anymore and stops communicating with you.

For example, if your daughter or son is a baseball fan and says to you, “I wish the Red Sox would start winning” and your response is, “You’re too old to wish”, you’ve not only given him or her an inappropriate response, but, if this is how you’ve spoken to him or her, in the best of times, throughout those 47 or 48 years, even this small indiscretion is a message.

“You’re not worth a benign yet pleasant adult conversation. You don’t know enough not to wish at the age of 47 or 48.”

Folks, these are all messages you give to those who, from birth, looked to you for encouragement and support.

If you can learn anything from what I’ve written and, now, from what was “requested” of me, learn that you must be sure that your kid understands what you’re doing or saying isn’t meant to hurt and don’t make it hurtful or irrelevant to whatever the subject matter is. Make it about the subject matter, not about your kid’s personal defects. Reinforcing your kid’s defects is a self fulfilling prophecy. You say he’s an ass-hole over and over and over and over again throughout his life and it shouldn’t be surprising that he begins to believe it.

Yes, my mother recently died. I am deeply troubled by that. I am deeply saddened. I’m not sad because she died as I feel I lost her a long time ago. I feel guilty that I’m not sad that she died.

I “divorced” my nuclear family in 2000 and sometime between 2000 and 2011, I asked my mother to intercede on my behalf with my father. I did not ask my mother to disown my father, to dislike my father, to “take my side” (sounds so infantile) or anything of the sort. I just wanted to talk to her to see if she could speak to my father and maybe reunite my family. Her answer was, “I will not speak with you without my husband being present.”

I found that odd in so many ways. Both parents said that they were hurt by my departure, yet, my mother and, more recently, my father had a chance to reunite us and refused to do so.

Secondly, my mother spoke of “her husband” as if he was not related to me. “Her husband”, of course, is my biological father and is the reason I couldn’t bear to be near my family any longer.

Thirdly, I was part of my mother at one time. I was divorced twice from women with whom I had children and the law told me not to even bother trying to gain custody of my children. You see, there’s this myth that’s called “mother love”. It goes like this. Once a woman has a child, that child becomes more important to her than any other human being, including her husband. I know several women who weren’t gifted with this “mother love” which kept me from even attempting to gain custody of my children. Unfortunately, one of those women was my own mother.

Finally, and the most amazing fact of all, was, of the three people my father could have abused in my nuclear family, only one was exempt and it wasn’t my mother and it wasn’t me. Yet, she stood by “the love of her life” in spite of his less than loving moments.

So there are so many reasons to be careful of what you say or do to your children. I’ve hurt my children because I was never ready to be a husband. The revolving door of step mothers, and, in the case of two of my children, stepfathers is not an injury which I’ve had to suffer. I have apologized to my kids for hurting them. I have apologized on many, many occasions and still keep in touch with two of my daughters and my stepson, who I consider my son because he never really knew his father. I’m telling you, folks, if you’ve done something to hurt your kid, tell her or him you’re sorry. Don’t continue to insist you’ve never done anything for which you should be sorry.

In my case, you can read “A Father’s Gift”, “A Father’s Gift - Part Two” and “A Father’s Gift - Part Three” and you can determine if the father in those very short stories had anything for which to apologize.

I hope that my moments are teachable moments for any parents who read them.

To friendship,
Michael

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