Whatever Happened to Whereaminow
Has it really been 9 months since I've posted here? It seems like just yesterday.
So, whatever happened to Whereaminow? So much has changed in such a short amount of time. But rather than bore you with that, why don't I really bore you? It's time I took off the mask, so to speak, and told you everything you ever wanted to know.
My life, where should I begin?
I grew up in Chicago, in one of the near north side neighborhoods that was a crack den back in the day but is now hipster central. I still can't believe it when I go back. When I was 12, my older brother ran away to go live with his drug dealer. My brother was a drug mule, and like all drug mules, a complete dumb*ss. I'm sure it wasn't all his fault. There are simply things we don't understand in our teenage years. By the time I was 14, he was in the big slammer down in Joliet, and locked up for a few years. That had a profound effect on me. I hated him and everyone in my family for a long time. It seemed that someone had screwed up, but I couldn't figure out who. It took me a long time to reconcile that a failed family didn't mean that I was a failure, or that my other family members were failures.
An aptitude for learning was never a problem for me. Keeping me interested was, however. I got bored easily. I never did a darn thing in school my entire life. I slept through high school and college. I never had any problem with the material (except calculus - that kicked my a**), I just didn't care. History inspired me, but it turns out all of that is one-sided at best, and a pack of lies at worst. I was one of those wimpy Betas that refused to challenge myself too much for fear of finding out that I couldn't actually do something. I played it safe by piling up excuse after excuse about why I didn't have straight A's like my intellectual peers. I enjoyed learning and I studied all the time, but I refused to apply any of it. And I smoked a metric ton of weed.
After dropping out of college, I enlisted in the Marines. I came from a military family. My father had enlisted in the Marines during Vietnam. My pops was always an inspiration, but growing up in his shadow was very difficult. He was an impressive man and until I could rationalize that he was just a person too, I had trouble being his son. I would put unnecessary pressure on myself to succeed. I spent most of my teenage years worrying about what other people thought I should be doing, and not about what I wanted to do.
The Marine Corps was surprisingly a good fit. I excelled. Following orders relieved me of the responsibility to think. Because of my intelligence, I quickly figured out "the game" - those things that made a Marine popular among his peers and superiors. I mastered being "that Marine." A f*cking man's man. The John Wayne type. And after years of being a Beta, I loved being the Alpha male. I was promoted rapidly, scored some awesome assignments, shook hands with Presidents, dignataries, etc., partied harder than I ever have, traveled the world, and made lifelong friends. More importantly, I learned I could actually do something if, ya know, I put my mind to it. But let's just say I was a little cocky when my contract was up.
So I got out and decided to take my shot at the real world.
Life's a b*tch
The real world wasn't kind. I didn't have any real skills, had never finished college, had no savings, and couldn't complete a sentence without dropping an eff bomb. In other words, I was barely employable. They have a name for those people. They're called protestors. But I was never the protesting type, so I tried everything I could. I went to Kuwait for a couple of years to work security for a defense contractor. It was a horrible experience, and the first to open my eyes to the gross corruption and tragedy of war. I was in Camp Doha when the Marines cut the fence and invaded Iraq in March 2003. What I saw over the next several months was friends dying for money, a country destroyed, and despicable people getting insanely wealthy on government handouts. And for what? A pack of lies and propaganda. After I came home, completely disullioned, I worked two jobs, and I got my real estate agent's license. I sold houses during the day and worked as a security guard at night. I lived in a studio apartment in the ghetto.
Things got bad. I couldn't manage that life. I didn't sell enough. Simply put, I was a terrible salesman. I got depressed. I started to lose money. I went in debt, bad. I was like the character in Hemingway's Sun Also Rises:
“How did you go bankrupt?"
"Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”
Staring at a checking account balance of $3, a pile of debt in the tens of thousands, no food, no prospects of any income (I had lost my night job due to oversleeping), I put my tail between my legs and knocked on a friend's door. My friend loaned me $3,000 to hold me over for a couple of months - one of the greatest things anyone has ever done for me. He was the first of my Guardian Angels.
My first of many fresh starts
As part of my deal to repay my friend, I went back into the Marine Reserves and got some computer training. It was a skill that I could use. I dove in headfirst as I always had and a year later was the top graduate in my class. As I said, aptitude was never an issue, it was application.
During this time in computer school I had met a retired Master Sergeant that opened my eyes in another way. He was like a crazy person to me. He said things I had never heard before: that the government had committed murder at Waco, that police officers are ineffective at best and tyrants at worst, that the U.S. government had no reason to be involved in any other country's problems, and that anyone should be able to do any drug they wanted, legally. As I had some real life experience from my childhood and travels, I loved to debate him. And he always won - because he knew why he believed those things and I just knew what I had been told. He was the first libertarian I had ever met, and my second Guardian Angel. He also helped me write my first IT resume and land my first IT job.
It doesn't happen overnight
I came home invigorated. I scored an entry level IT job at the naval hospital nearby, did my reserve work on the weekends, and created my first ever website in my spare time. I didn't wake up the day I got back to Chicago as the second coming of Murray Rothbard. I had been introduced to a new world but I didn't really understand it. Some things in my life made more sense and others made less. I lived with some friends for a while, in a terrible run down shack we now refer to as "The House of Ill Repute." It was that bad. I had my IT job and played a lot of poker. A couple years later, it was May 2007 I think, I was reading the transcipt of the Republican presidential debate and this guy named Ron Paul blew my mind. He was the only candidate who didn't have excrement coming out of his mouth. I wanted to know a lot more about him.
But I was also living in poverty. Even though I had a decent job and steady income, my debt load was crushing me. So I took an IT job with a defense contractor and packed off for Qatar. That turned out to be a blessing and a curse. The job was over my head and the office was extremely political. There were military folks that hated us for how much money we made. There were other managers that wanted you canned so they could steal your contract for their company. It was very miserable. And of course, my libertarianism was growing as I watched this sick inefficient show happen during a supposed war. People were dying, both fellow troops and innocent civilians, and all these jack*asses cared about was their little fiefdoms. I got depressed again. The stress did me in. I finally had a nervous breakdown. I remember leaving work one shift late at night, and I sat in my car frozen, unable to put it in drive. And I started crying. I cried for what seemed like 30 minutes. I just couldn't move. From that point on, I started crying for no reason, just uncontrollable sobs, usually back in my apartment late at night. Then I found my third Guardian Angel. I fell in love with an Air Force girl and that started yet another journey.
In 2008 I returned to the States to live with her in Tucson. She had gotten orders to Davis-Monthan and we decided to give love a shot. It was never easy and there were good times and bad. I was still struggling with the after effects of my nervous breakdown. I still cried for no reason, often. I had trouble being close to her and spent a lot of nights on the couch. I even would lock myself in the closet when I got real depressed. I contemplated suicide often. Towards the end of 2008, I was certain of one thing - most of what I had been told my whole life was total bullsh*t. I was semi-certain that I was destined for a life of misery.
Doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results is the definition of insane
Money was still a problem in Arizona. The stock market crash wiped out what little I had. I hadn't been in Qatar long enough to have a big safety net, so I did a very dumb thing. I took a job back in Qatar without her. She wasn't happy, but for some reason I'll never understand she accepted my marriage proposal and we got engaged. For the next three years, I worked in Qatar and flew her around the world trying to make her happy. You can't make other people happy. I couldn't even make myself happy.
We were never the same and whatever we had was just a memory of our time together in 2007/08. But I worked hard to fix my problems, both financially and emotionally. I got out of debt completely in early 2009 and never looked back. (I'm still debt free.) I saw a psychiatrist for a short while. He was nice, but not very helpful. I continued to work hard and studied more than I ever have. One of the interesting things I learned from being in communication with libertarians and reading their books was how markets work. That changed my view of employment and helped a ton. I found that the IT security field was hurting for qualified professionals and paid very well, so I dove in and spent those three years in Qatar studying IT security in every waking moment. Distributed Denial of Service attacks were really growing at that time and companies were starting to throw money at the problem, so I learned everything I could about how to stop them. I became a subject matter expert before I had even witnessed an attack. I also changed my diet, getting rid of the sugars and carbs that were killing me in exchange for proteins and vegetables. My mood, heath, and confidence changed dramatically as a result. Most importantly, the depression was gone and it seemed I was in control for the first time in my life.
In late 2011, it finally looked like I was at the finish line. I had been offered a position in California to do some cutting edge network security work for a bank. By this time, I was a well read libertarian and my eyes were wide open to the cozy state-banking relationship in our world, but it sure as heck beat working for the military industrial complex. On top of that, I'd be back home with my fiancee, who was transferring to Cali as well. It couldn't get any better. I was ready to start the next chapter of my life - marriage, a family, and a great career. It was perfect.
Not so fast
About a month after I took that job, and before she had moved to California, we got into what I thought was a very minor fight. She disagreed and ended the engagement. It was crushingly abrupt. The next time I saw her, I was handed our engagement ring. I slipped back into depression, probably the worst of my life. I didn't sleep. I cried endlessly. At work, I would have to slip away to the bathroom and cry silently in the stall until I could compose myself. The job was stressful and I worked endless hours. I was in over my head. And my personal life was crumbling again.
If the good life were easy, everyone would have it, right?
That's when I found out that Guardian Angels are all around me. I reached out to friends I hadn't spoken much to for years. I got closer with my family than I ever had. My new boss had taken a keen interest in me due to my intense commitment, so I opened up to him about my failed engagement and the toll it was taking. He took me under his wing and we have a relationship now that will never be broken. He was recently promoted, and I was his hand picked successor to his previous role. I guess I'm "corporate" now.
Life isn't perfect but it's better. About six months after I started at the bank I was given the green light to become a permanent work-from-home employee. So I packed up and moved to San Diego. I lived next to the beach for a while and now I live in an apartment downtown. I love this city and wouldn't leave unless I absolutely had to. I'm still recovering from the breakup, even though it's been almost two years. It's never easy. I haven't met anyone else, but I've started putting myself back out there, which is often frustrating and humiliating. I'm almost 40 and being single is not something I have much experience with. I don't really know how to be single. To make matters more difficult, my job is no less demanding today than it was when I started two years ago, leaving me with little time to experience the social side.
I stopped posting here because well, as you can see, there are more important things that I needed to work on than arguing this or that. And for all of my love of debate, there was simply no reason to ever get under each other's skin like we did. That was an important lesson too.
So I guess all I can say is that I'm where I always have been: on a crazy f*cking journey that doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
The only sense it does make is that life is about being thankful for family, friends, and Guardian Angels. I could have been in a gang and busted for running drugs. I could have been homeless. I could have been killed in some dumb war. I could have blown my brains out in a closet one night. I could have given up. But I didn't. And whenever it looked like I might, someone was there to help me out, to give me a hand. And they didn't have to do it. They did it because they wanted to, because they cared about me, and because they are good people. And thank God for that.
David in Gratitude