Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Ronald J Rossmann Jr.: A Brief Autobiography of Sorts

     Who am I? I am everybody and nobody, and I know how exceedingly pretentious I sound. I firmly believe in the simplest of life’s goals, being a good father, loving husband, and loyal friend. I have enjoyed performing and writing throughout my life, even at a young age.  Literature and cinema are escapes into my own gardens of peace, sanctuaries of pure joy.  My persistent desire is to construct epic tales of trial and tragedy, heroics and morality, crushing fears and triumphant emotions.  To create characters that face incredible obstacles and challenges, forever molding and shaping who they are as they forge an undeniable legacy, whether or not they achieve the goals or victories set out before them.  One of the few, of a nearly extinct species, who enjoys writing happy endings but leaving the definition of happy to be loosely interpreted.

     I am living proof of the undeniable effects of can and will, proving each day that past cycles can be broken through God’s grace and strength. A hopeless romantic who embraces the ideas of chivalry, as well as, the total value of ethics and integrity, lamenting the idea that I may have been born in the wrong century.  I have always had an elaborate imagination and, from the beginning, a “go big or go home,” mentality.  There are seven key principles that make up who I am: 1) God is in control,  2) however; you and you alone are responsible for the legacy you leave behind,  3) honesty is always the best policy (lying requires too much memory), 4) common sense is not common at all,  5) don’t shit where you eat, 6) one person can make a difference and forever change history, and most importantly, 7) faith is not revealed at the end of the journey but in how it's traveled.

     I was born on November 3rd, 1971, to Ron and Rosemarie Rossmann.  My mother's family emigrated from Italy.  My father's lineage included descendants from Germany and a North American Indian tribe called the Lenni Lenape.  Growing up in Toms River, NJ, my dad was a code enforcement agent, my mother, an English teacher, and sister, a lovable pain in the rear end.   To say I was a unique child would be a tremendous understatement.  An example of this, while some might have just one imaginary friend, I, on the other hand, had an entire posse.  Each day I would work out epic scenes with them from some of my favorite movies and TV shows, directing each moment until choreographed perfectly.   With all of the hard work, long hours, and retakes I am surprised my invisible counterparts didn't demand to unionize.  Even then I knew I wanted to be the next George Lucas or Steven Spielberg.  

     I read constantly, relentlessly.  My love of literature led me to begin writing numerous stories rich and complex in detail, several I am still developing to this day.   I am enthralled by stories that profoundly affect and challenge you.  I possessed a deep love for classic and unique movies and literature with my favorite authors being; J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S Lewis, Ray Bradbury, and James Thurber. I became fascinated with science fiction when it was introduced to it by my Uncle Phillip a professor of microbiology at the local college where we lived. Together, we enjoyed such classics like The Thing From Another World, Them, and The Forbidden Planet (among many others).  Films I still cherish to this day.   Thanks to my uncle, I also became deeply fascinated with real science, immersing myself in books, articles, and classes about astronomy, biology, and zoology.  I lost him to cancer several years ago.  Although he is gone, he is never forgotten.  I see and hear him in every word I type.

     A loner throughout my younger years, I preferred the solace of my writing to real and social interaction.  I wrote fervently and tirelessly, stories, poems, and even plays, finally putting my novice skills to practical use writing children book reviews for a local newspaper.

     My parents had a remarkably successful youth ministry at our home church for several years. They reached out to both suburban and urban youth and turned strangers into friends, partnerships that seemed inconceivable to the outside world.   I became a Christian at a young age although I cannot remember the exact date and time which apparently is an anomaly compared to others of my ilk.  The commitment to my beliefs was unmistakable, ministering to other children through bible studies, conducting elaborate Christian puppet shows, and clowning for charity events.  Even as young and naive as I was, I longed to reach others for Christ and to serve God anyway possible wanting intensely to be a help to others.  To assist those around me to understand how remarkable they are and how real Christ's love is. It was then that I dedicated my life to building up and helping others, determined to live an authentic Christian life.

     I attended public school up to the sixth grade and then mostly private schools throughout Junior and High Schools.   During my middle school years, my family became involved in the Fresh Air Fund, when Earl, an African American youth, came to stay with us over multiple summers. He quickly became one of my best friends, the brother I never had.  He grew up in a harsh and unforgiving environment, surrounded by crime and drug use, but each summer he was able to escape that reality and hardship and enjoy the fellowship and family of our home.  I remember one of the most remarkable moments of his time with us was when we attended our first rodeo.  He observed a black cowboy, someone, by his own admission, he could not believe existed.  He stared in amazement as he watched him, “bust a bronco” and talked about it incessantly afterward.  After several years of his visits, the Fund lost track of Earl and so we never saw him again. I was devastated; I had lost the dearest friend I have ever had.   To this day I still feel that same way.   My relationship and the guilt and loss of losing touch with him has inspired several of the characters in this first, and many other unfinished novels.

     My family and I moved to Charlotte, NC when I was seventeen, where I finally graduated high school at Paw Creek Christian Academy.  It was there, through church leaders and teachers, I learned what not to do as a Christian and how judgment and piety can be so immensely damaging.  It seemed throughout my life every negative example I encountered, I used as a chance to grow and mature rather than becoming injured or swayed.  The navigation of my spiritual journey was through constant stormy seas, but I never allowed the surging waves to alter my course, instead; I learned to steer through the raging currents and chart a better voyage.  

     It was at Paw Creek, I met my future wife, Tammy, although it would take one extremely rocky road for us to reach that destination.  I fell in love with her at very first sight as she walked across the quad wearing a purple suede skirt supported by two of the most incredible legs I have ever seen.  I chased her for two years, rejected too many times to recall. Finally, by our senior year, I wore her down and she agreed to attend the prom with me, our first date, and so the love story of my lifetime began.  She was and is to this day the embodiment of sincerity, integrity, grace, beauty, and femininity. She is truly my muse, and I find I fall more in love with her every day.   

     Despite my love for writing, I sidelined it in order to seek out a more realistic career goal. Although, I desperately wanted to become an author, actually publishing one of my novels seemed unreachable.  A decision I regret to this day.   Instead, I chose to study to become a veterinarian because of my love for animals. I attended Barton College, in Wilson, NC, to complete all my general courses with the hope of eventually attending North Carolina State University or Clemson. It was there I met one of my best friends, Nick, and we had an unbelievable time. Whether constantly “pranking” our friends and enemies or playing countless hours of billiards, I squandered the academic possibilities and financial support, but made memories I will treasure for a lifetime. 

     With my grades continuing to deteriorate and the girl I loved so far away from home, I decided it was time for a much needed change. I left Barton College to return to Charlotte to attend East Coast Bible College.  Even with a change of scenery, I could not lock down on my studies.  I was such a reliable student throughout my younger years; I was puzzled as to what was happening.  I gradually discovered that I just didn't enjoy college despite the fact I knew I needed a degree.   In the end, I ran through all my financial aid and resources, so I went and joined the workforce.   My hope was to save up enough to return or so I convinced myself. 
      Tammy and I married on August 29th, 1992, one of the greatest moments of my life. We paid for most of the wedding and honeymoon ourselves and resided in a one bedroom closet of an apartment. Our honeymoon had been an utter disaster complete with invading palmetto bugs, pop up crocodiles, and finally my unfortunate contraction of an aggressive stomach bug.   Despite the rough start to our marriage, we just celebrated our twenty-second anniversary, and I fall deeper in love with my wife every day.   

     We were struggling, but we were doing it together, and we never ran short on hope.   Writing, again, became my escape. I had created eleven incomplete concepts with the wanting to become an author stronger than ever.    But the bills had to be paid and that kind of goal seemed more of a luxury than a reality.   So I began a “real” career in retail management, beginning as a green assistant but quickly moving up to General Manager, a position in which continues to this day although through multiple venues. 
After scrimping and saving, we finally were able to purchase our first home.  After years of unsuccessful attempts, our first child was born on August 3rd, 2005, my daughter, Jessica Kayla, who is the absolute apple of my eye. We shared our first dance together the day she arrived home.  She has been dancing ever since.  Then in July of 2008, I received a delightful surprise. My wife gave me a son, William Spencer. He is the original wild child who loves using his father as an organic jungle gym. He is extraordinary, already smarter than I ever will be.

     Around that time, I was presented with the opportunity to work in professional ministry, another lifelong dream, by the greatest mentor of my life, Pastor Mike Gibbons, at my home church. He helped me understand what it truly meant to be a real man, husband, father, Christian, and friend through his example, acute interpretation of the scriptures, and compassionate advisement. I used my performing and writing skills to create a youth ministry that opened the doors to children who may have never heard the gospel before. I developed my own curricula, choreographed elaborate praise routines, and tried to make a real difference in the lives of a diverse group of children.   It was there my Christian life eventually became, just that, a life and not just a struggle. However, all good things must come to an end, and due to inner conflict within the church, I decided to leave and return to the corporate work force. I loved being a youth minster, and my exodus was one of the worst experiences, leaving many wounds that still have not healed.

     I have lost so many family members to cancer, including, most recently, my mother who imparted to me my love of literature and teaching children.  I became involved in the fight against this disease through my participation in the local USBC’s Bowl for the Cure, a Susan B. Komen event, hosting their charity bowling tournaments, and the privilege of MC’ing some of their dinner events.

     I went to work for an independent F.E.C, Lake Wylie Bowl and Bounce, in 2012 which is truly the best job I have ever had besides my ministry work.  I was fortunate enough to find an amazing boss who not only provides me extreme amounts of autonomy, but encourages my creativity and values my experience.   I have an incredible staff that feels much more like an extended family. 

     In summarizing myself, I enjoy the processes and results of uplifting, counseling, teaching, and developing people to succeed in their careers and hopefully their lives.  The greatest achievement in my life is that I have become a real dad to my kids and a devoted husband to my wife.  But there has always been something missing. I needed to write, it is an undeniable part of me, and now with the experience and maturity I have gained, I think I am ready to share this passion with the world.   I believe in writing stories and developing characters that the audience can connect  and identify with and root for. To actually “flesh” out every word, I write, giving my readers something uniquely tangible that I hope will remain with them long after placing the book back onto its shelf or the coffee table.

     If I succeed, it will boldly broadcast to others that an ordinary, everyday, common guy can achieve his dreams and hopefully encourage them to do the same. I do not possess any pedigrees or remarkable and widespread accolades.  I’m just a man, like many others, trying to find a way to own his dream.  As a writer, my stories speak to those who have had similar experiences or the same longing to be more than they are.  I understand literature and the cinema as both an art form and business and the ability to balance the two.  I want to create a product that entertains, engages, and entices. Writing is not just an outlet anymore; it is my soul on display, a reflection of my life's experiences, and a call I can no longer avoid.

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