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I was born in 1970, the second and final child of working class parents. When I was born my father was 23 and my mother was 21. In my first 7 years of elementary school I was generally reported to be well-behaved and several years was the winner of the "best all-around boy" award. At the age of 10, however, with a teacher I did not like, I received the lowest possible mark (a "U") for discipline. Socially I was reported to be normal with the exception of a teacher's comment that I "prefered to play with older children" when I was 7. In those Birchtown Consolidated Elementary School days I was academically ranked first, second or third I'd expect. I was not drawn to fighting or violence but due to my size and the boys' collective desire to have a "top dog" I remember always occupying that position through wrestling. Probably my biggest worry when I started junior high school at the age of 12 was that there would be other boys from other schools who might be bigger and stronger than me. Socially I was pretty normal through junior high school, drinking whiskey once or twice with some of my older friends, chasing girls and being scared of them at the same time. A memorable highlight for me from those 3 years was winning the 800m at the Nova Scotia provincial championships in grade 8. I then became very focused on this (not so great) talent of mine for about 5 years, dedicating much time to training myself to become, first a 1500m runner, later a 400m runner and finally a decathalete (track and field's 2 day - 10 event competition.) My last year of track and field was when I was 18. In that year I broke the Nova Scotia junior record for decathalon, while finishing eighth at the Canada Games. At the time, such things were of all-consuming importance to me. Academically I had no problems in the penultimate 5 years of public school, each year winning the math and physical education prizes, but never being the top student. However, in the final year, much could be gained financially (through scholarships) so I devoted some time to studying for exams (a first for me) and managed to graduate with the highest academic standing. This accomplishment raked in over $5000 and also meant something to me but not as much as the track and field stuff. In the background of all the "success" was a growing social problem. At the age of 16 and symbolised in my memory as starting with the cutting of my own hair I think I stepped over the line of normal social behaviour. I disliked more of my peers than what seems healthy and ofcourse, many of my peers in return disliked me. After 3 years of feeling too uncomfortable to attend the school dances, I started to attend, my only interest being to find a girlfriend. I took a firm stand against alcohol at this time, feeling that I wanted no artificial assistance in overcoming social awkwardness. Shortly after turning 16 I had my first date. The date was obtained through writing a letter to Wendy, a beautiful, shy, 17 year old preacher's daughter. I combed my hair and cemented it in place with some kind of foam in a can, put on a nice collared shirt and over the top of that, my rust colored wool sweater. I perhaps put some kind of good-smelling stuff under my arm pits as well. Wendy showed up for the cinema date, we sat silently through the Hollywood film and immediately thereafter I apologized for what I felt was a terrible date. I didn't have the courage to ask her out again...(more later)

Derek's Acknowledgements
Derek's Hopes for His Life
Why I Live this Way
Confessions of a University Graduate (Article by derek)