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Bruce Carleton (henceforth referred to as "I") was born at the crest of the Baby Boom, shortly before midnight on malam Jum'at Kliwon, which is a time of spiritual uneasiness according to the Javanese calendar, but at the hospital delivery room in Kansas City, Kansas, this was not a factor that was given much consideration...
I grew up just over the frontier, in Raytown, Missouri. Raytown is as much the epitome of a straight, conservative, middle-class American suburb as any place you're liable to find, and it wasn't a bad place to be a kid, if a bit boring at times. But I never thought of myself as staying there, and so I went away to college. First I tried two years at Grinnell, a little liberal arts school in Iowa, but I really didn't want to be there. My mom talked me into staying in school, so I decided to try out New York, and ended up doing nearly two years at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. That was better, but I couldn't see where it was helping me a lot, so I left school, but stayed in the city. At first that was very exciting, but after a few years it began to drag a bit, and after a few more I got really fed up. During that time I was living mostly on Forsyth St. on the underside of the Lower East Side. At that time it was an adventurous place for a non-Hispanic non-black guy to live. My building was locally famous: it was where the Purple Man had carved his garden out of the ruins. He had visions of starting a kind of colony of proto-new-age vegetarians there. (I don't know why he let me get my foot in the door... must've needed the $50 a month rent.) Anyway, after his wife left him and took the Purple Baby with her, and the few other tenants drifted away, it was just me and him in this five-story tenement, except when the junkies broke in to enjoy the amenities or an occasional bum found a comfortable niche on the stairs. I was working at Punk Magazine at this time, as the "Art Director," which meant just about anything it needed to mean. That was fun, and I got to jump the line at trendy clubs and stuff -- but there was no money in it. The neighborhood kept getting worse, and buildings kept burning down around me (a beautiful sight at night), so I felt the need to get out. Fortunately I got a job at Screw Magazine that paid enough to get a decent apartment in the Village. Screw was a nice place to work, pretty relaxed, nice people. As Art Director I got to do fun things with layout and give work to friends and others. But I was totally disgusted with NYC, so I made plans to go as far away as possible, which was along the meridian that happened to run through Southeast Asia. I initially aimed for Bangkok, which I had heard was not a bad place for a single male to be, but ended up establishing myself in Jakarta. It was a fun place to live, so I spent nearly nine years there... teaching English of course. Then some friends and I got the bright idea of starting an English school in Vietnam, which was just opening up a bit. We came in the early 90s and made a go of it for a while, but the business ran into several factors which kept it from viability. I came back to the KC area: Prairie Village this time, which is like Raytown only spruced up. Now, however, as I approach my dotage, I like it somewhat more. While visiting the East Coast not long after returning I got together with some old friends in NYC. Funny thing was, they hadn't thought it was at all strange that I lived in "Borneo" (that was what John had told them... he says he thought that's where I was living because I sent him a postcard from there, but I think he just liked the sound of it), but when I informed them I lived in Prairie Village KS, they looked at me searchingly as if to try to fathom why any sentient being would voluntarily submit to such a fate. I currently work at a printery, where I spend my days making decals out of sow's ears.
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