Where I come from

tl;dr: child abuse, punk rock, drugs, cancer, games, Quakerism, statistics, Zen, retirement.


Early child abuse led me to start acting out, so at age nine I became the “weird kid,” and was mostly ostracized. This was exacerbated in middle school by a block system that kept me from seeing any of my friends. In high school I got into punk rock and drugs. Ah, crazy times. I had to leave public school due to extortion threats from a football player. The administration refused to do anything about it, because it would have kept him from playing football. A private school full of weirdos and drug addicts worked much better than my plan involving a baseball bat with nails driven through it.

The summer after graduating from high school I had a seizure and nearly died. It was from a cancer that had spread from my testicles to my brain because I ignored the symptoms (check your nuts, guys). I lost both testicles and my long, black and orange hair (which never grew back).

When they heard about my cancer, people kept talking about God. I had given up on God at age nine, but decided I should maybe look into the possibility. But which God? To account for the many Gods, I hypothesized that God is beyond human comprehension, although accessible to human experience. Occasionally someone has a really deep connection with God, and founds a religion.

I went to college. Being in the game club had a bigger effect on my life than the education I got there. After screwing up my grad school applications, I couldn’t get a job with my education, so I opened up a game store. That transitioned into freelance writing for game companies, and then a job as an editor at a game company. That company went bankrupt, owing me lots of money in back pay.

In between that and going back to school to get a masters degree in statistics, I unexpectedly ended up in Quaker meeting one day. It felt so right to be in that silent worship that I became a Quaker. But a few years later, after getting a job with the federal government, I had a crisis of faith while studying the Bible. I gave up on being a Quaker and started practicing Zen Buddhism, based on a book written by a member of a punk rock band I remembered from high school.

Five years later, waiting at a bus stop, I experienced being one with everything. It was incredible. It was mind blowing. It was an experience beyond human comprehension. A few days later, I realized that “an experience beyond human comprehension” was the God I had hypothesized before starting on my quest of faith. So I went back to being a Quaker.

A few years after that I got a promotion into a nightmare job. I was basically doing three jobs by myself. I did it damn well, but it made me suicidal. However, partway through that my dad died and left me some money. I realized that combining that with my money, some basic investment skills, and some belt tightening would allow me to retire in a few years. So I did.