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Ian’s Memoirs

“I have a photograph.
Preserve your memories: they’re all that’s left you.”

“Old Friends / Bookends,” written by Paul Simon

Simon and Garfunkel sang that, in 1968. It’s a poignant start to these memoirs, a reminder of what it can mean to grow old.

Not for me! In my sixties, I was lucky enough to meet and marry Lisa Valenzuela, an amazingly smart and fun woman with a very big heart. And I have my four sons – older and more independent now, but still there – and even a welcome granddaughter! My long-lived hobbies continue in large part unabated. In my seventies, I still live in the present and in the future, making amazing memories and dreaming on.

Lisa and I celebrating my 71st birthday with champagne high teas at the Compleat Angler Hotel on the Thames in Marlow. I lived only perhaps six full years in Marlow, between 1966 and 1973, but it’s where I go most often when I go “home.” California comes next, and here I share a toast with Lisa, my own personal Californian import!

In short, there’s a lot happening alongside my memories. Lucky man!

But the past has become increasingly important for me since graduating from Berkeley in 1979, complementing an active present and perhaps enriching it. I don’t really understand why I started documenting memories so soon, when the present and future were both so full, but over time have focused on the past more deeply and now find great satisfaction in building this site and visiting the people and places who made the memories.

Preserving the memories, to the extent that is really possible, is now my most rewarding hobby.

To give you a flavor of this website, here are a few samples of these memories: Beatlemania, and the hysteria of my first concert; a miserable year at boarding school; a hippy thumbing across Canada at 17; my children, four sons and a stepson and daughter, fooling around; our 1990s summer home in Brittany; halloween for the blended family; a one-page summary of our family history; a little adventure in the Sierra Nevada; some modest internet detective work and, if you want too much information, there’s always Dating After 60!

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The first 18 years of my life in the Stock family are elaborated in If I Only Knew, the First Volume of these memoirs. Here is a peek at those years:

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I had the amazing good fortune to be educated at UC Berkeley in California and Yale Law School in Connecticut, after dropping out of Imperial College in London in a prolonged hippy fervor. Those were fruitful and enlightening years, the thrill of a time of hope, peace and love, the joy of a free-wheeling American liberal arts education, and the discovery of one of the great modern socio-political experiments, the US Constitution.

I traveled extensively, mostly in Canada and the US, before restarting my formal education. A variety of jobs funded these travels: my favorite was lorry driver. Other jobs helped fund the education itself. These years, from 1970 through 1983, will be the subject of the Second Volume of these memoirs, Gimme Some Truth, currently, but intermittently, in progress.

In the meantime, here’s a small sample:

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Since September 2020, I have been married to Lisa, she with the incredibly infectious smile!

Our amazing wedding overlooked Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe, and was followed by an equally amazing honeymoon, spent dodging the pandemic on a road trip around the western US States. If you’re interested, a few of the stories are here.

Here we are, in front of our ten guests (pandemic maximum) and the minister, who doubled as our photographer. It’s a beautiful spot, isn’t it? We were the only people present allowed not to wear masks!

It only took Lisa two or three weeks to organize the wedding, which included obtaining the license, arranging for the minister, deciding on a location (I did help there!) and getting herself and me dressed appropriately.

Part of what made it amazing was avoiding the complicated buildup, and most of the complicated politics, that weddings often entail. The guest list was limited by law, and by the dual natural disasters afflicting California at the time, the pandemic and numerous enormous wildfires.

We were able to focus on what counted.

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The Third Volume of these memoirs, still in the planning stages, will run from my father’s death in 1983 until 1994.

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My children are the centerpiece of the Fourth Volume of these memoirs, Zinzins, which runs from 1994 through 2009. This volume started as an online photo album of their childhood, and was expanded after the family broke up when I tried to understand where we’d gone wrong.

Nick was born in New York City in July 1986, about three years after Sunshine Britton and I got together and six months before we moved to Paris. Arlo (fka Tom) was born in Paris in October 1989 during the week of the Loma Prieta earthquake.

Charlie was born in Brittany in August 1995, a year after Marie-Hélène Berhaut and I got together, and Alex was born in Santa Cruz in January 1998, seven months after we moved there.

For over fifteen years, I raised Marie-Helene’s two children from the prior bed (“le lit antérieur,” as the French so endearingly put it!) Daphne was born in Brittany in August 1987, and Alban was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine in September 1989. Sadly, both cut contact with me after their mother and I separated in 2010.

Here’s a foretaste of the children:

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I exercised my profession of corporate lawyer in New York City (for four years), Paris (for ten) and Silicon Valley (for twenty-one). I worked for three law firms, in-house for three corporations and independently under my own shingle, the latter for about half the time, or seventeen of those years.

I retired at the end of 2018, although my professional website remains, if in poor condition!

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The Last Volume of these memoirs is a series of blog posts, here called somewhat hopefully “Aging Gracefully,” which I started after moving out of the then family home in 2010. It’s a series of diary entries, with the most recent appearing first, chronicling my life in its twists and turns and other anecdotes.

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The whole memoir can be a bit of a challenge to explore! The About page offers significant guidance on how to do it, under the Heading “Ways to Navigate this Site,” as does this page with respect to the Zinzins volume, under the Heading “How to Navigate.”

Annual Updates for each year from 1994 through 2023 – Good grief! Thirty of them! – are listed here. “Wow, what a ride!” comprises the zinzins diary pages for each year between 1994 and 2009, and they can be found here.