I’m Jeff Rogers. This is my blog.
That’s me in the picture above. I’m the one with the beard.
The gorgeous thing next to me is my wife, Ruth. Besides being beautiful, she’s extremely smart. Scary smart. I’m smart, but just the normal kind of smart. I could ask why scary smart was attracted to regular smart, but why even think about it. If I were just nothing more than some sort of cosmic error in Ruth’s space-time continuum. I would be fine with that. In fact, much more than fine.
I grew up in the South. Note the capital letter at the beginning of the word. That stands for the southern region of the United States before it became enlightened. That’s obvious from my name, Jeff. It stems from my grandfather, Jefferson Davis Brame, whose first and middle names are the name of the President of the Confederacy. And when your name is even partially derived from the President of the part of America during the Civil War that wanted to keep slavery alive, it’s hard to rid yourself of that heritage. Especially if you’re from Arkansas. Which now claims to be part of the south. Note that it no longer starts with a capital “S”. That’s because we’ve conquered bigotry and racial prejudice and even had a President who wasn’t “of the Confederacy” like the one I’m named after. In fact, things are so much better now in Arkansas and the south (little s) that I decided to put half the United States between me and my former home state. Now I live in Vancouver, Washington, just across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon. But why would I do that? Didn’t I say things were so much better now in the south. Yeah, but that was pretty much a lie. It might look better on the surface but, all in all, it’s still the South. And it still starts with a capital “S”, the only difference being that it’s now in a slightly smaller and less radical font.
Being far away from where I was born and raised isn’t anything new for me. I actually left the South when I was 18. I joined the Air Force and, for some strange reason, did really well. I became a Chief Master Sergeant, something that is akin to being a God, except with stripes instead of pillars of fire and plagues and stuff. I was in military intelligence, which is this cool thing that you’re not supposed to tell anyone about. They trained me in foreign languages like Bulgarian and then German. It’s really secret. You’re a German linguist sitting in what was then West Berlin on a big hill that’s covered in giant antennas and looks out over East Berlin. I mean, who could figure out what you’re doing up there 24 hours a day, seven days a week, holidays included? I was in Berlin when the Wall fell. This simultaneously ended communism as a viable form of government and left me with pretty much nothing to do. So I retired in 1993. Now I’m better off than most Americans. Why? Because I’ll always have health care. And a retirement. And, having actually traveled to other countries and even lived in one of them for eleven years, I know America isn’t quite the shining city on a hill it thinks it is. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a bright light in a sometimes dark world. But sometimes it’s hard to tell it apart from the headlight of an oncoming train. Or cars driving the wrong way in your lane on the freeway.
Now I’m what’s called an Involuntary Civil Commitment Investigator. I think it’s an odd title, since it sounds like I don’t really want to do my job, but someone makes me do it anyway. But they don’t. I do it because I like it. And because it pays fairly well. To do my job, I had to become a Mental Health Professional, meaning I had to go to about seven years of graduate school where I learned why people do things that are bad for them. I already knew why they did that, having done many of them myself or watched my family and friends fill in the blanks. But inexplicably, in a country that for some reason prides itself on wanting stupid people to be in charge of their lives, or at least that was the case between the years 2000 and 2008, I had to go to graduate school for seven years so I could officially why people do stupid things. My job takes that to perhaps its highest leve. Basically, what I do involves keeping people in the hospital if they’re suicidal, homicidal, or just so impaired they can’t take care of themselves. And releasing everyone who doesn’t meet that description. I’m kind of the honest broker in a complex process. And I really, really like that. And the best part? I get to tell doctors they made a mistake. How good is that?
I spend my spare time driving Ruth crazy by getting involved in all sorts of political stuff and writing editorials against things I don’t like. From 2000 through 2008, that’s been pretty much everything. And, surprisingly, a lot what I wrote got published. Some of it was even read by literate human beings. Of course, if they were illiterate they wouldn’t have been able to read it. But that’s why I love America. We have lots of literate and illiterate people.
Ruth is like me in that she used to be one thing and now she’s something else. What she used to be was an electrical engineer turned computer programming wizard. That allowed her to climb the ladder to where she was making a six-figure income, only to see that terrible thing called 9/11 take it all away. So now she’s a nurse. A psychiatric nurse. She’s happier. I’m happier. We’re happier. We live a quiet life in the midst of the beautiful Northwest (which also begins with a capital letter, now that I think about it) along with a Pomeranian, three cats, six parrots, and a couple of corn snakes.
Life, as they say, is wonderful.