My Name is Mark Halliday (Staff Sergeant, US Army Retired).
I grew up in Garden Grove, California. I had piano lessons as a kid, and played flute in marching bands for 4 years. My first college attended was Santa Ana College, which was interrupted for two years while I served as a Mormon missionary in north-eastern France and southern Belgium. While finishing my first AA in Liberal Arts, I played keyboard synthesizer with my friends in a band that focused on Beatles songs, surfer music, oldies, and pop songs from the 80s. I started learning to play guitar around 1985.
Besides being involved in music, I also like to draw. Often my pictures have the same theme as my lyrics or poetry. I have a series of drawings of musical instruments in fantasy/science fiction settings, for example a picture of a bass guitar fighting off biplanes from on top of the Empire State Building (based on the original film King Kong), and others of primitive man surrounding a giant set of keyboards (similar to the opening of 2001 A Space Oddessey).
My favorite hobby is reading. I especially like military-science-fiction writers such as David Weber, David Drake, John Ringo, and Eric Flint. I'm also fond of books by Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Tom Clancy, Harold Coyle, Harry Turtledove, Frank Herbert, Ian Fleming, W.E.B. Griffin, Clive Cussler, Jack Higgins, Arthur C. Clark, Jim Butcher, George R. R. Martin, and writers for Star Wars novels such as Kevin Anderson.
I enlisted in the US Army (1987) near the end of the Cold War to be an Intelligence Analyst/Russian Linguist. I later cross-trained into the Serbian and Croatian languages during the Bosnia and Kosovo conflicts, and spent time with UN Peacekeepers in Macedonia. I also spent a year in Mosul, Iraq, helping train the Intelligence section of an Iraqi infantry battalion staff. I spent about a third of my service time in Germany, as well as Missouri, California, Texas, Massachusetts, Arizona, and Maryland. I taught Russian, then Serb-Croatian, then French at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC) in Monterey, California, where I finally retired in 2007.
I met my wife Nelly while visiting Paris, France, during the bicentennial of Bastille Day in 1989 (see my quatern poem A Soldier's Foreign Woman). We have two sons. We are still together, and happily still best friends.
While still in the Army, I earned an AS in Ornamental Horticulture at Monterey Peninsula College (and have enough credits for another in Business Administration), and a BS from Excelsior College in Liberal Arts with an emphasis on European languages and culture.
I work full time as an Army civilian Supply Technician at the DLIFLC in Monterey, and for a few years on call as a commercial charter bus driver for a company in Marina CA (see my poem The Butterfly Flutters by). I've been learning bass guitar the last few years and also using a keyboard workstation. I'm slowly learning to record my songs on computers, too.
This is how I got into poetry. I was 'in-like' with one of my French converts back in the 80s; she sent me a poem or two, so I reciprocated and started writing sonnets and songs (see my lyric Odessey), ever since about 1983. Today my normal focus is on writing songs instead of poems, so in a sense many of my recent poems are ideas that I could not easily make into lyrics....not quite failures per se, but not successful towards my first priority. As of this writing (January 2015), I am working on recording my songs Tropical Getaway, Something you Left Behind, Egyptian Dancer, Lady Luck Stomped Out, and the children's song Blow More Bubbles.
My dream is to create a band called the Retropolitan Underground, which plays new songs using older musical styles, probably heavily into old pop-jazz fusions. We just bought an older quaint house in Salinas, California, near Hartnell College. I want to apply some of my education and skills to upgrade the house, by 1) turning my garage into a home music studio, 2) organically growing vegetables and fruit trees everywhere around the house with enough sunlight, and 3) painting some murals inside. So far I'm working on an image of a pergola covered with flowers in the master bedroom.