I grew up in genteel poverty in south L.A. county. We had two pianos (an upright and a baby grand -- I never learned to play either, sadly), a quite extensive library of decaying literature and medical texts (most of which I never read), an absurd amount of china that kept being destroyed in earthquakes, and regular stints without water or power. My father died when I was six, causing my mother to collapse into state of deep depression (and compulsive hoarding and crossword-puzzle-playing), only mitigated by surprisingly heavy cannabis use given her fixed income.
She took me out of school after 7th grade with the intention of homeschooling me, which amounted to giving me a copy of Wheelock's Latin and telling me to come back once I knew it. You can imagine what I did instead. That lasted until what would have been my sophomore year of high school, at which point she panicked and enrolled me in a dubious independent study program run out of an office building in Long Beach.
I managed to get out when I was 19. My family had spent a few months in San Francisco while my father was undergoing cancer treatments, and my memories of that time -- the happiest of my life until that point -- together with Berkeley being the best school that it was possible to transfer to led me to move to the Bay Area. As I'm sure anyone partially raised by a mix of Eastern European ethnic nationalists on strategy game message boards and sci-fi-obsessed shut-in cat ladies on online question-and-answer column message boards and then thrust into the big callous world could tell you, it was an awkward time, but I made more good friends than bad ones.
I also made the questionable decision of majoring in international development studies (I'd probably have gone into a science if my high school had offered any real science or math beyond algebra, but as it was I really didn't want to be stuck in junior college in South Gate until I was 22, and it development seemed like an area in which I could contribute to improving the world) and then graduating in 2008. I moved back home in 2009 thinking that, as an adult, I'd be able to get my mother's dilapidating house and long-delinquent finances in order. I did manage to keep the situation from completely collapsing (at least she still has the house), but I didn't make as much progress as I'd hoped and the price was that I stagnated for two years, so then I did what any reasonable person in the same situation would do and joined the Peace Corps.
I lived in a little village near the Black Sea coast of the Republic of Georgia (in Guria province). I mostly taught K-12 English, although I also did a good deal of university lecturing, human rights education, and rural development work. I built a road with stone from the ruins of a collective farm, drank copiously from the horns of various animals at more all-night Georgian feasts than I can count, stayed in a refugee camp, explored cave cities, talked to a few ambassadors and Hillary Clinton, and caught parasites while climbing mountains. It was cool.
I got back at the end of July and spent a month trying to find an apartment in Alameda with my best friend (the only person who came to visit me in Georgia, where I managed to pass her off as my cousin) and her girlfriend. We weren't able to find a place, so now I'm sharing a house with some other friends in Norwalk, since moving back in with my mother while trying to prepare for the LSAT wouldn't really have been realistic.
So now you know my life story and I didn't even have to buy you a drink.