Brian was born in 1965 to clergyman John G. Wightman and former history teacher/future Catholic Charities director Marilyn Strahl Wightman. He grew up in Nutley, NJ, a modest suburb just 15 minutes from Time Square (if the traffic were moving). In his childhood he speculated he might be a teacher, actor, or engineer. He would settle for rock star, too.
In 1980 the family moved to Harrison, Michigan, so John could take a new job as Conference Minister. (The job is something like a Protestant Bishop, without the funny hat.) When Marilyn asked a resident what was the best thing about Harrison (population 1400), the woman thought awhile, and replied that it was conveniently located near highways that could take you somewhere else.
Graduating from high school in 1983, Brian took one of those highways to Oberlin College, in Ohio. Here he gained many useful skills, such as various elementary tala, the technique of playing the mrindangam, how to build a hammered dulcimer, how to cook like a Hare Krishna, and the exceedingly timely knowledge of Soviet Foreign Policy (on the eve of the collapse of the Soviet Union).
In 1985 Brian studied in Kyôto, Japan. He learned to speak, read, and write Japanese, and spent weekends at Hieizan, a Buddhist temple on Enryakuji, north of Kyôto.
Returning to Oberlin, Brian completed a major in East Asian Studies by flunking out of his Advanced Japanese class. During this time he also took formal writing studies with poet Stuart Friebert and fiction writer Diane Vreuls. Despite what many have to say about college professors, Brian says that Friebert and Vreuls can teach writing.
Graduating from Oberlin in 1986, Brian got a job in the field he was best prepared for: grill cook at the local greasy spoon.
Not satisfied with the career opportunities there, Brian did what so many of his generation did when threatened with jobs: he went back to school. Brian enrolled in Andover-Newton Theological School in Boston, intending to become a Protestant minister like his father. God apparently intended otherwise. Graduating in 1990, Brian got a job in the field he was best prepared for: bagel cook at the local Breuggers.
While at ANTS, Brian moved in with a friend of a friend named Carrie Rouillard. After six months of hating each other, Brian and Carrie fell in love while marching in Washington in support of Women's Right to Choose. They were married in 1991.
Fed up with food service, Brian finally entered the human service as a vocational specialist for adults with developmental disabilities. In 1993 Brian and Carrie moved to Barre, VT. Brian worked as the manager of a support team for adults with severe mental illness. Carrie is a maskmaker.
Brian reading to Isabelle (center) and friends
Everything changed on October 1st, 2003, when Brian and Carrie's first daughter, Isabelle Helene Rouillard Wightman was born, after a heroic endurance of 61 hours of labor trying to squeeze the 8lb. 6oz. tyke through the pelvic girdle. During the pregnancy Brian had frequent told Isabelle, "You can't get out that way" when she had kicked vigorously against Mommy's tummy. Is it perhaps a sign of things to come that Isabelle was right, and dad was wrong?
In 2005 Brian started on a second Master's degree, because he wanted to teach English to high school students — well, maybe teach special ed, since that's in demand and he doesn't want to end up at a restaurant again — except maybe Elementary level would be even more fun. In the Summer of 2007 he graduated, and was licensed, and soon started teaching — high school after all. Eventually, he became involved in alternative programs for students with emotional challenges, which has been a rewarding career.
So he finally ended up fulfilling one of his childhood dreams. Next up, rock star.
Writing? Oh, yes. Brian's always been writing. When he couldn't spell, he drew pictures and narrated them. Didn't we all? The only difference is that Brian didn't stop.
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