Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Two Biographies

I got asked for two separate biographies last week.   First, I'm running for Information Systems Officers (i.e. webmaster) for my West Point class, and the Association of Graduates asked for a short, fixed-format bio along with a picture as part of the election process.  The editor of the Army Swimming Newsletter then sent me a note asking for a bio and a little write up about my new book for the newsletter's alumni section.  That was really, really nice.

It was also a challenging writing assignment.  "Give me three or four paragraphs telling us what you've been up to since graduation (twenty years ago!), plus a little bit about the books and what they're about, plus your favorite memory from your time swimming at Army."


I put the following paragraphs together in response to those requests.  I've redacted some information about where I work because that's none of your business.  I also went a little long on the swimming stuff.  They wound up cutting that a lot, but I'm presenting the full write-up because space is not an issue here.

ISO Campaign Paragraph:
Dan & Sally at Eisenhower Hall during
the Class of 1995's 20-year reunion.
Dan Head graduated from Company E-1 and is running for Class ISO.  After graduation, Dan was commissioned as an Armor Officer and spent five years in the Army, with assignments that included the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, in Ft. Stewart, GA, and the 4th Squadron, 7th Cavalry in Munson, Republic of Korea.  After leaving the Army, Dan went to work for a company in New York City, where he started as an Overhead Construction Supervisor in the South Bronx before finishing his MBA at Fordham University and being promoted to Senior Planning Analyst in Energy Management.  He currently serves as Senior Engineer in the company’s System Operations Department.  When he’s not working, Dan is an avid triathlete and open-water swimmer, and he is the author of two novels and a graphic novel.  He is also an avid blogger.  Dan’s priority as ISO will be to organize the Class of 1995’s public website and social media presence, enabling the class to establish its brand, promote its annual “Mother of All Tailgates”, and occasionally scream “BEAT NAVY!”
Bio for the Army Swimming & Diving Newsletter:
I branched Armor and got to Ft. Stewart in December of 1995, where I served as a tank platoon leader, headquarters company executive officer, and staff officer.  I then went to the Career Course, CAS3, and the Cavalry Leader’s Course before heading to the 4th Squadron, 7th Cavalry in Muson, Republic of Korea, in late August, 1999.  I confess that I did not much care for rural Korea, and when I got the choice of either extending for command or rotating back to the rear of the command queue, I chose Option C and left the Army in September 2000.  
I eventually started working as an overhead construction supervisor in the South Bronx.  Writing has been a hobby of mine since high school, but I got more serious about it in the Bronx.  For whatever reason, the people and the atmosphere really spoke to me.  I scribbled most of my first book, an original graphic novel called Bronx Angel: Politics By Another Method, onto a yellow legal pad on the steering wheel of my car at odd moments during various storm and trouble jobs, while my guys waited for materials or for operating instructions for high voltage switch-moves.  I don’t know if Bronx Angel is art, but it definitely captures a specific time and place for me and for my family.  There’s a link to it up on my website if you’re interested (it’s free).
I met my wife Sally in the summer of 2002, and we were married that December.  We moved from Hoboken, NJ, to Fairfield and then to Stratford, CT, where we live today.  We have two daughters, Hannah, 12, and Emma, 10, and we’re two miles from the beach.  I like Stratford quite a lot.  I’ve moved more than thirty-five times in my life, but this is the first time I’ve ever felt truly “at home” anywhere.
The commute from Stratford is a long one, but I have to admit that it gives me time to write that I’m not sure I would otherwise have.  My most recent books started as short stories that I wrote as Christmas presents for my girls, but over time they’ve taken on a life of their own.  Sneakatara Boatman and the Priest of Loki came out in 2014, and I put out the sequel, Sneakatara Boatman and the Crown of Pluto just last month.  The books were supposed to be Young Adult fantasies, but the Crown of Pluto came out a little heavier and more seriously-minded than I’d originally intended, so that at twelve, my oldest is only just starting to grow into some of the subject matter.  I would truly love to hear what other Swimmers’ kids (or even other Swimmers themselves) think about the books, but I cannot in good conscience recommend them to readers under twelve.

The Head family in Maine, Summer 2015.
There were a lot of great moments in my Army Swimming career.  Great races and great friendships both.  I miss going to Puerto Rico and just hanging out with the guys at the Firstie Club after the season was over.  By far, the thing I miss most about swimming is the camaraderie of being on the team.  Still, the best moment for me as a swimmer was without doubt winning the 200 Fly at Navy my plebe year.  I was behind at the end of the third fifty by about half a body-length and was trying to convince myself that second place was acceptable for a plebe.  It wasn’t.  I decided to either win the race or die trying.  I hit the seventh wall dead-even with Navy’s Brian “Mookie” Blalock, who’d won the two years prior, and put absolutely everything I had into that last twenty-five.  The finish was so close that I couldn’t see who’d won until I looked up at the scoreboard.  Then my friend Paul hugged me, and I felt that great triumph that only comes from victory.  We lost that year, the beginning of a streak with which everyone reading this newsletter will be all too familiar, but that was one of the best races of my entire career.

If you're wondering, my dad taped that race, and my wife digitized it a few years ago as a birthday present.