Many years ago, I found acceptance and a community of friends among science fiction fandom. For the first time in my life, I felt welcomed and accepted by a group of smart people who shared my interests. For several years, from 1980 until 1986, I flourished professionally and personally. I began to feel that I'd transcended earlier challenges in my life. I bought a home. I hosted parties. I danced. I enjoyed my friends. I had achieved a modicum of success in my life.
I also lived up to and beyond my means. After all, I was young and healthy, had a good job and excellent prospects for the future.
Then I got the flu, which turned into pneumonia, which became chronic fatigue syndrome.
Suddenly, the lovely life I'd constructed began to crumble around me. The self-reliance on which I prided myself also prevented me from asking for help from my friends. The partner I thought would share my life was shooting drugs in my basement (something I did not learn until long after I'd asked him to leave). The home I loved was in foreclosure. And I had no physical or emotional resources with which to cope.
Between 1986 and 1987, I became ill, lost a relationship, went onto long-term disability, lost my house to foreclosure, and stopped coping with world. For the next 6 years, I wandered somewhat aimlessly through life trying to find a reason for digging out of the rubble of my existence.
In 1993, I became homeless. For the next three years, I wandered the streets, eating freegan or soup kitchen fare, making a semblance of sanctuary wherever I could. During this time, I had minimal contact with those I'd considered my friends, but this was largely because I saw myself as without worth or value in the world. If I did not value myself, how could other value me.
Then, in 1996, I gained a bit of stability when I took up residence at the Tri-Cities Homeless Shelter. The combination of their comprehensive programs that help the homeless to help themselves and my own willingness to embrace live allowed me to take the steps needed to find work and begin the process of reconstructing my life.
In 2002, I began to reengage with old friends and establish new relationships.
Today, I'm a working professional in the field of cloud services consulting, graduated summa cum laude with a BA in Human Development and am a quarter of the way through my masters in Public Administration. I own my home and I carry only two major debts, my home and auto loans. My life has been transformed from chaos and ruin to a form in which I know that I am more fortunate than most. I try to return the help I've received from others by giving back to my community and to my friends. I hope that I give enough.
In the last several years, I have developed an increasingly strong interest in the process of civic engagement in a world that sometimes seems to be focused more on promoting alienation rather than shared values.
I hope to use this blog as a forum through which to articulate my thoughts on politics, policy, pets, community values, and other random issues that strike my fancy.