So what happened in the meantime?
Well, I got off active duty (Air Force) and completed my add-on training, in Springfield, IL - the 183 FW. I met and trained with some fine folks down there - they know their stuff and did an excellent job of preparing me for working at the 182nd. While I was there - I bought a sax and taught myself to play. I could not make it sound 'great' - like the jazz recordings I listened to; not even close. I ended up selling the sax.
I went to college. I returned to Illinois State, where, after bringing my grades up from the series of class failures I had prior to dropping out, I got in my major the semester before I graduated. I got my Bachelor of Science in Philosophy, with a minor in Psychology. I had to retake some classes - but the professors were impressed when I was able to bring a grade from an 'F' to an 'A' - of course - that only averaged out to a 'C' - but that's passing.
I joined a frat. Sigma Pi. I met some great guys there - but, unfortunately, no long lasting friendships. I see some of the guys around occasionally, but thats about it. It was fun - a lot of work - and worthwhile.
Right before graduation, I was deployed - the Illinois river outgrew its banks - so I went with the Air Guard to assist. We worked hard - and we were bored, either one or the other it seems.... that lasted 2 weeks. I got home, graduated, and moved to Peoria to start my Masters degree.
Peoria was interesting. Needing work - I found a job at a Residential Treatment Facility for boys. The Children's Home of Illinois. I never knew how good I had it until I went there. I met some kids that had overcome some real adversities - that word hardly suffices for some of the things those boys overcame. Some of them may do well - some of them will not. The ones that manage to stay out of prison and live what we would consider a 'normal' live - have overcome nearly insurmountable odds, and are worthy of our respect.
So anyway - that job lasted about 8 months. Those boys are tough, and some of them mean - and the hours long - and the pay low. Frome there I went into social work case management - where I was for 2 years. I was able to become a therapist in the same agency and did my internship at the same place - as a job - getting paid the regular salary. If not for that fact - I would not have completed my masters.
All this time - no bass....
That was about to change.