I know now that I was ADHD, biplor and had an IQ of 145+ but except for the latter things would only be explained years into the future. All I knew was that I seemed to be smarter than everyone else but strangely lost and alone. I felt like aliens dumped me off here and never came back for me.
As a kid I heard all the talk about Loch Ness and Bigfoot and the Bermuda triangle. Plenty of ghost stories, too. I was somewhat baffled by it all. I hadn’t yet figured out that grownups lie, especially for money. In Sunday School they said that didn’t happen.
One day I heard of a book entitled “The Bermuda Triangle Mystery Solved”. Man, I wish I could have read that book but no. Years later I ran across an essay in Penthhouse magazine (January 1982) by Isaac Asimov. In two pages wedged between naked chicks he decimated Creationism. I was stunned by the fact that he pulled it off with so little effort. I wanted to see more writing like that. I wanted to be like that. But I didn't know where to look or what to do. My world was self-enclosed.
I spent the years in school just sort of drifting along. Nothing was that much of a challenge—more of a nuisance—except for writing. My mind would whiz along so fast that I couldn’t begin to write a sentence and then I’d forget all of it with no hope of ever thinking of it again. When I took the SAT I was the only person in the room who wasn't sweating; I didn't give a damn. Without trying I scored 1335. I never saw so many words I'd never heard before and I don't think I've heard any of them since. And math problems on a level way beyond anything I saw in the back of a math textbook that we never got to. I've had really high regard for the system of education in this country ever since. I'm sure it's far worse now (this was 1979). One quarter at college was the icing on the cake. The only instructor smarter than me was the head of the english dept. I came home utterly depressed. The only bright spot was running into Steve Slack and picking up some good music.
Everything ground to a halt not long after that. My mental state was playing hell with me. I was only sleeping six hours a night and couldn’t focus to get things done. I got to a point at work (an electronic repair company) where I couldn't remember if I was taking the screws out or putting them back in. I went home and never came back. At least I bought a lot of good LPs while I had the cash. I drifted.
I installed satellite dishes (the ten foot kind) and injured my back. I stuck with Apple computers. I worked for a graphic artist as his in-house tech support. I paid attention to everything. I'm not an artist but I know the graphic, pre-press and vinyl sign businesses because of that experience. I made eyeglasses for a major optical retailer (fuck you, doc) and learned that trade as well (it's a racket). I found myself right at the start-up of what is now a major and well-known software company (oh, the stories I could tell about those guys). I was still getting paid to fuck around with Macs. Because of my work experience I was the only person there who do page layout, typography, databases and programming and pull them all together at once. But it got too intense. I had to quit because I couldn't drag myself in everyday anymore. A familiar pattern was repeated.
In the mid-ninties I worked in the junk business for a while. We did a lot of dumpster-diving. We found stuff you wouldn't believe. I shudder to think of all the rare, valuable, historic stuff that's in a landfill somewhere. Around the same time I ran across some copies of the magazine Skeptical Inquirer and was enthralled. I’d heard of it before but didn’t know where to get it. As I read I saw one mystery after another was solved. I got angrier and angrier with each page as the bullshit I’d heard my entire life was exposed. By the time they’d finished explaining the non-existence of spontaneous human combustion I was pretty much there. I’d read enough but I was only getting started.
Not that things changed much overall. I couldn’t keep myself going. I fell into the same rut every time I tried “get a job” like everyone else. Things would go OK for a while and then slowly grind to a halt.
In 2001 I made my last stab at a career by going to neon school for six weeks of intensive training. Fascinating stuff and I did fairly well at tube-bending but my eyesight was troublsome. Afterwards I was all set to go to work for a neon shop about two hours away from home when it suddenly hit me—I couldn't go any farther. I simply couldn't do it. I had to stop before I dug a hole so deep I'd never get out. I had been pushing myself to the limit for two months and was on the brink of total collapse. This time I knew it was happening and the scale of disaster I was headed for. I could feel it.
I know now that I had been seriously hypomanic the whole time I was at neon school and was on the verge of a major crash into depression. I filed once again for disability. In 2003 I became officially disabled. Note that the SSA defines "disabled" as "unfit for any available work available within a certain radius of home". It isn't a question of what injury or syndrome you have, it's how the whole picture impacts your employability. And there's no such thing as "legally blind" although the term gets used all the time. [This is a contentious point. There is a rule of thumb floating about that says if you're 20/200 with corrective lenses you're "blind". The SSA does not use such a standard.]
Getting disability is a fucking nightmare, BTW. Unless you're blind or a paraplegic or something similarly obvious that a doctor can write you off on it can take two or three years. I suspect that even a dead man would have trouble. The entire experience is like freshman year at college—designed to weed out as many applicants as possible. They send you form after form with only so many days to return it then you don't hear from them for two or three months. If I hadn't had friends to help me I would never have made it through the last round. Note that I'd been in psychotherapy since '89. My shrink in 2001 was convinced I wasn't bipolar let alone disabled. Thanks a lot, Nick. Fortunately, my PCP and my lawyer thought otherwise.
With the benefits I bought a new Mac and then didn't use it for a year. I lost the love of my life. I had a heart attack. I made some new friends on line. I got a new shrink, new PILs, and another new computer which I am now actually using.
So here we are the on the cusp of 2011 and I'm starting a blog. I guess the time is right. Maybe something will come of it.