The story of me, part 2

[This blog post covers the period of my life from 1999 to 2008. Before you read it, know that this is not a happy Facebook status update. Issues of mental illness are discussed here.]

In my previous post, I mentioned how, when I was in college, I wrote some short stories and did a few other creative endeavors.

As college graduation approached, I gave some thought to what I should do with my life. One thought I had was to get a job in book publishing.

To that end, I did an internship at Milkweed Editions in Minneapolis. This was in the summer of 1999.

After graduation, though, when push came to shove, I didn’t put as much energy into landing a job as an assistant editor as I might have. I felt I would have had to look pretty hard, maybe around the Midwest or around the country. I just wasn’t passionate enough to make it happen.

I got a job at a bookstore, but you know what? Over the long haul, I didn’t care to keep this job, either. I quit after a year.

Why? Good question.

The truth was, I wasn’t feeling that great a lot of time. For years I had been dealing with depression. Maybe not as bad as some people. But I did feel down a lot of the time. And I did feel hard-pressed to enjoy any moment of the day anywhere near so much as the moment I fell asleep.

This is a self-portrait I drew once when I was feeling depressed.

As my twenties went by, I isolated myself more and more.

Maybe the worst period was one winter when I lived in an office that I rented for $110 a month. That was also the period when I tried to make a living donating plasma. Even with the low rent, it didn’t quite work.

Eventually I fell upon second-shift janitorial work as I job I didn’t mind so much. It was a job where I didn’t have to talk to people.

So yeah, I isolated myself.

I didn’t write much during this period, and I didn’t do many other creative activities. What did I do? Well, I read some. And watched movies. And I also played computer games.

Does that sound insignificant, computer games? Well, it was, in a way. And yet it wasn’t. It became quite significant, actually.

I joined an online community for those who like to play interactive fiction, or text adventure games. If you’ve ever played games like Zork, with its text input and text output, you know what I’m talking about.

This gaming community contributed to my story in no fewer than three important ways:

I learned to develop computer games using object-oriented programming languages that I found elegant, powerful, and easy to learn. My imagination exploded and I started programming.

Soon I had nearly completed a game called Nothing but Mazes, a game which has still not been released in its final form, but more on that later.

I met Daphne Brinkerhoff, who also belonged to the same gaming community. The two of us struck up an online friendship. Before long she moved out to Wisconsin, where I was living at the time. And then, in 2007, we got married.

Click here to see the very best photo ever taken of me as a computer science student.

This is it! The very best photo ever taken of me as a computer science student! And that’s Daphne, sitting next to me!

And I went back to school for computer science so I could get a job as a software developer. And that, believe it or not, leads to the most interesting part of my story.

But before you go on to that next part, be warned — my story does not get to its destination in a straight line.

This has been part 2 of 4 of my story.

Part 1 covered 1976 – 1999.

Part 2 covered 1999 – 2008.

Part 3 will cover 2008 – 2017.

Part 4 (if I decide to create it) will cover the future: November 2017 and beyond.