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Living with Schizoaffective Disorder

Let's Play Twenty Questions

This idea of mine, for oh so long I have told myself, that was a dream for a much younger Mike.

May 12, 2009

Copyright © 2009 Michael David Crawford. All Rights Reserved.

I have a secret plan. Let's see if you can figure out what it is.

You shouldn't have to ask me anything to figure it out for yourself - I have left clues about my plan scattered about, much like Hansel and Gretel's breadcrumbs.

I was all set to post a diary all about it, but it's been a long day, I'm totally beat and very very tired.

While I have been toying with this idea for quite a long time, in recent days I have been considering it with increasing seriousness.

But it has always seemed way beyond my reach, in much the same way that all the girls on my school's cheerleading squad were beyond the reach of my younger self, despite being the star student on my school's Mathletes team.

I'm forty-five years old now: I can't see things close up anymore. I have all manner of unexplained aches and pains all over my body. My GP says I gotta lose fifty pounds or the first symptom of my heart disease will be my sudden death.

This idea of mine, for oh so long I have told myself, that was a dream for a much younger Mike.

Well I guess I better buy a shovel, so I can start digging my own grave. Getting old, you see.

I will give you one clue though: quite a lot of you have gnashed your teeth over my trait of starting many projects that I never finish.

You say that like it's a bad thing.

I've been wracking my brain over it for weeks, but for the life of me, I simply cannot fathom why.

I've been that way for as long as I've had conscious memory. It drove my father bananas too - he was a very diligent sort, and got much better grades than I ever did in school.

His last job before he retired from the Naval Civil Service was overseeing the maintenance and repair of the control systems in nuclear submarine reactors. He did stuff like that all the time. Very diligent and thorough, yes.

He, like many of you, often expressed his heartfelt wish that I would be more disciplined about, not just my schoolwork, but just about every activity that I pursued.

But here's my take: if I had ever been the sort to carry out all of my projects to completion, I would have been exposed to only a tiny fraction of the new ideas, information and insights that I actually was - as a direct result of my admittedly, not merely scattershot, but outright scatterbrained approach to things.

I wouldn't know how to do even a tiny fraction of the things that I actually do know as a result.

I can tell you one thing for sure, I would never have been admitted to Caltech, had I been the sort of youth that you all seem to wish I was.

The valedictorian of the other high school in my town, who had a 4.0 Grade Point Average (perfect grades, in the American system) didn't even get an interview for Caltech.

I had only a 3.6 GPA - I wasn't even in the top ten for my school, let alone the valedictorian, but a Caltech professor drove up from Pasadena to interview not just me, but the three of my teachers who wrote my recommendations.

I only got a 3.6, you see, because I was always off Doing My Own Thing(TM) instead of attending to my studies.

Damn near everyone I met at Tech was just like that - many of us did poorly in school, yet Caltech was then and still is widely regarded as the top school on the planet for astronomy - the major for which I was accepted - physics and computer science, among others.

No One at Caltech ever got accepted there because of what they learned in school.

But here is why all this scatterbrained and scattershot approach, not just to my education, not just to my personal life, but also to my whole twenty-one-year career - why this trait of mine, of never finishing the things I start, is actually a good thing:

A particular mental ability I have, that I do see in some other people - but only a few - is that I can take a whole bunch of seemingly completely unrelated things and synthesize from them something which is not at all obvious to anyone.

These sorts of insights are largely unavailable to The Square Pegs who fit so well in Their Square Holes.

I'm a Round Peg, Dammit. And I refuse to be hammered into Your Fucking Square Holes anymore.

So there.

Your turn: what's my secret plan?

After I post this, I'm heading home from the cafe and going right to bed. I know very well not to stay up all night, when I get really excited about something.

It's a good thing, I can assure you of that. But there would be sadness too - I already feel that sadness, even today - because of what is know to economists as "Opportunity Cost".

Opportunity Cost is is what you lose by a choice you make, because by making that choice, you are no longer able to do something else.

Nighty-Night! Don't Let The Code Bugs Byte.

Oh yeah I almost forgot: my interviewer had my three letters of recommendation in his file on me. I was able to read part of one, despite being upside-down. My trig teacher wrote it. The one word I remember, after all these years, is that she described me as...


That was in 1982. It's been twenty-seven years - I wonder if I can find her again, and tell her what eventually became of me, after attending Caltech?

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