I am not a team player, nor do I think one should be. One must avoid playing for the team to work for the positive benefit of human society.

You all give me crap on a regular basis because I feel that bitching about my colleagues lax coding habits is the right thing to do, as well as my assertion that we would all be better off if you all joined me in my practice of resigning from what most would consider really great jobs in fiery storms of protest.

I'm not a team player, you point out. Every company needs team players if it is to prosper, or even just to survive.

It was once considered the right thing to do, honorable even, if one acted as a "Güten Deutschlander" despite one's moral and ethical doubts. In those days, that was German for "Team Player".

Had there been a few less team players back in the day, maybe six million Jewish people, most of Europe's gypsies, a boatload of queers and more than a few crazies such as myself might not have Sniffed the Zylon B.

Maybe a few tens of millions of others might not have been cruelly slaughtered by bullets and bombs, with so many others being horribly crippled or haunted by gruesome memories for the rest of their days.

I am Proud to Say That I am Not a Team Player.

My friends, allow me to explain why I am not, as well as to outline some examples of how one avoids Playing for the Team while at the same time working for the positive benefit of the one team that really does deserve our sportsmanlike loyalty, that being human society.

Editorial Note: I have made many minor edits as well as marked this up in valid HTML. I expect I can take care of any remaining minor edits on my own.

The advice that I truly seek from all of you is how to make this a stronger piece. How to make it more compelling, and to make stronger cases for my arguments.

That's all I ever want from the edit queue, as I am quite good at fixing typo and grammar errors on my own, and it is for that reason I often submit half-written stories to edit.

This afternoon I had a preliminary hearing before Administrative Law Judge Nancy Hoffman of the Washington State Department of Social Health Services' Office of Administrative Hearings. Hearing Coordinator Michael Thomas also participated.

Hay Rusty,

Please Don't Banninate Me For Naming Names. These people are government officials. The First Amendment applies.

The summons I got from DSHS said that the preliminary hearing was to determine whether I had a case to have the Medicaid benefits continued that go to pay for my treatment by the county mental health clinic here.

At issue in my hearing, according to Judge Hoffman and Hearing Adminstrator Michael Thomas is whether I refused to apply for SSI when I was told that I had to.

There's a problem with that reasoning though: I never did refuse to apply for SSI. I just asked that my cash assistance be terminated. That resulted in my Medicaid also being terminated.

I repeatedly and with increasing desperation struggled to make it clear to Judge Hoffman and Mr. Thomas that I never did actually refuse to apply for SSI. I have no problem with applying for it.

What I have a problem with, however, is allowing my SSI to be approved by lying on my application. You can be Damn sure that I'll point out that I'm not actually disabled, and that I'm only applying because DSHS told me I had to to continue my Medicaid.

That's Just Wrong.

They're burning me a CD of the hearing's audio recording. Perhaps You Could Help Me Have It Go Viral On YouTube.

I have the idea of producing a video presentation whose background soundtrack would be the recording of today's hearing, with the video being short video clips of myself discussing my own mental illness as well as historical events having to do with mental illness such as the largely unknown mentally ill victims of The Holocaust, intermixed with snippets of text such as some of the better bits of my various essays on mental illness.

No doubt the Tea Baggers and PaulTards would just eat such a video right up.

I wish to commit neither perjury nor welfare fraud, as all the mental health authorities in the God-Forsaken State of Washington want me to do in hopes that my monthly supply of very modestly-priced and totally generic psychiatric medicines will continued to be paid for by These United States.

My objective is not at all to cut off disability payments or government-funded medical care for those who need it and are too poor to provide it for themselves. My objective is to prevent Washington State employees, Washington State mental health professionals, as well as local government employees in Washington from using money that should go to those truly deserving of it, and giving it - or even, in my case, forcing it upon - those who don't need it, don't want it, and are certainly not qualified for it.

No doubt the Social Security Administration has some manner of investigation department. If they don't, then maybe the FBI would help out. Wouldn't it be cool if the Feds raided all of Washington State's Nuthouses, arrested all the Psychiatrists and Social Workers, then let all the incarcerated but perfectly sane people go?

Ah, The Boot Heels of Justice. I can hear Western's heavy, spring-loaded steel doors being kicked in by the G-Men even as I write this.

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Program For The Following Annoucement From Our Kuron:

I mixed up some fresh salsa before I sat on my bed to write this. When I sampled it it didn't have much flavor yet. I really didn't want to cook it, so I figured it would help to just let it sit for a while, to allow the flavors of it all to mingle.

How's it taste now?

Progress, but not there yet.

I realized that fresh salsa has much better mouth-feel when it is cold rather than at room temperature. As I am quite hungry, I popped it into the freezer all the quicker to chill out.

Please don't let me neglect it by falling asleep. I've been up since yesterday brushing up on my ARM Assembly Code. If I fell asleep, the salsa would freeze, the water in it would expand and it would crack the ceramic bowl.

Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Bitch-Fest:

My very annoying pest of a Case Manager at the County Mental Health Clinic, on my behalf, asked for this hearing in hopes that my mental health care would continue to be paid for.

Very annoying as I have told her many many times that I work all night and sleep during the day. Even so she telephones me several times a day if I don't respond right away, then will eventually show up in person on my doorstep, banging away at my doorbell button just to make sure I get my weekly medication ration.

I have yet to clue in to why my medicines must be personally delivered by the mental health clinic staff, why I only get one week's supply at a time, and why I cannot take a written prescription from my p-doc to the pharmacy I used before I got assigned to Ms. Annoying Case Manager.

Say what you will about my management or not of my own mental illness, but I have never, ever had a problem with taking my meds reliably. It's a real hassle for me to take the bus to the clinic every week to pick up my meds, but the pharmacy I prefer is right next to one of the Starbuckses that I like to hang out at when I hack on Warp Life.

You will recall that a while back I asked Bill Weeks of DSHS to discontinue my GA-X Disability Cash Assistance. While I am without a doubt mentally ill, and in all manner of spectacular ways, I am by no means disabled.

It seems that the Washington State Medicaid coverage I get is bundled with the GA-X Cash Assistance. It is not possible to stop the welfare fraud that I committed under duress so I could get out of that damn nuthouse without also cutting off funding for my drug habit.

I own and operate Dulcinea Technologies Corporation. Through my company I offer custom software development for Mac OS X and mobile devices. I am nearing the second beta of my iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch App Warp Life.

I have a Bachelor of Arts in Physics the University of California Santa Cruz. (Yes: Arts, not a B.S. It really is better that way.) I received a US Department of Energy Grant to write my undergraduate thesis at CERN, in Geneva, Switzerland. Most UCSC Seniors have to stay on-campus to write theirs. While I never completed my doctorate, I did attend graduate school, and got pretty good grades.

I just completed my twenty-fourth year as a software engineer. Y'all claim I am incable of shipping product. In reality, I have shipped so many products that I really cannot remember them all any longer. But I do know that all that were reviewed by the trade press got excellent marks.

To continue receiving both GA-X and Medicaid, the State requires recipients to apply for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) that is provide by the US Social Security Administration. That's paid for by US workers out of the FICA deduction from their wages and salaries, with an equal amount paid by their employers.

One doesn't have to actually receive the SSI money, but if one's SSI application is denied, one is required to appeal. The appeals process can go on for some time and quite often is decided by a judge. Truly disabled people often have to retain expensive attorneys to get their SSI approved despite it being plainly apparent to the simplest fool that they really are incapable of providing for themselves.

In my increasing desperation to win my freedom from Western State Hospital, and in hopes of resurrecting the smoking crater that my little company had become, as well as to prevent the loss of my most valuable domain names to cybersquatters, I finally succumbed to the pressure I was subjected to by the Ward C-3 Social Worker and Psychiatrist and agreed to sign the GA-X application.

(I'd give their names too but I have a bad memory for names. I realize it has not been that long. I'll be able to dig up their names for the YouTube video.)

Anthony Degue of Patient Financial Services at Western handled my GA-X application. He did not believe me that I really was self-employed, and that I'd had a long and largely successful career as a software engineer. But as part of the application process I had to give him permission to research my earnings history going back fifteen years.

He was quite dumbfounded that I had earned as much as a hundred and fifty grand in just one year. Patient Financial Services clerks at State Mental Hospitals don't often make that kind of bread.

"Look man," he said in apology, "We get people in here with all manner of delusions."

I agreed at the time to allow Tony to file my SSI application. But he called the Social Security Administration to ask whether I still qualified as being disabled when I was writing my own iOS App. He pointed out that I was not earning any money from it yet, and would not until after it had been on sale for some time.

They replied that despite the fact that I was not earning any revenue from my software development work, I was in fact working and therefore did not qualify for Federal disability benefits. Tony didn't even submit my SSI application.

He did submit my GA-X application, and after a wait that was quite a lot longer than I was told to expect, it was approved. When I asked him whether the Washington State DSHS was cool with me receiving disability pay while developing my own software product, he replied that he just didn't mention anything when he spoke to the DSHS people.

The Pest at the County Mental Health Clinic was quite desperate to get my medical benefits back. I really, really could not see how it was that big a deal. If I had to pay for my meds out of my own pocket, they wouldn't cost more than fifty bucks a month. I only see my p-doc once a month for a period of ten or twenty minutes, for what is called a "Med Check", or properly a Medication Adjustment.

Psychiatrists are fiendishly expensive if you require much of their time, but I don't. What really eats up money is long-term psychotherapy, but I'm not doing that these days. I don't feel the need to. Neither has anyone who would know the difference suggested that I should.

Ms. Case Manager told me I could get my Medicaid temporarily reinstated, and that it would be permanently reinstated if I had what she called a "Fair Hearing". I had no problem with that, but my understanding was that I would be receiving Medicaid because I was busted flat, and not because I was disabled. She specifically told me that would be the case.

Eventually DSHS sent me a letter to say that my Medicaid would be terminated unless I filed a new application form. I stuck it in my laptop briefcase then forgot all about it, until Ms. Case Manager asked me if I had received it. I gave it to her, figuring she would fill it all out and send it in.

The next time I saw her, she gave me back the Medicaid application and told me that I needed to fill it out myself, as it required information she did not have.

I was quite dismayed that she had made one entry on the form. She had entered a checkmark to indicate that I could not work because I was disabled!

"Why did you mark that checkbox?" I demanded to know.

"Well you are disabled."


Look man, it's no shame to be disabled, but it's a real sore point with me to have government officials claiming that I am. Because the Shrinks at The Special Motel refused to discharge me until I agreed to perjure myself by claiming that I was disabled, it's become a bit of a sore point with me.

The Shrinks at Western even agreed that I was not disabled.

They just had the idea that blowing five hundred thirty dollars of the taxpayer's money per day for three damn months so I could qualify for one hundred and twenty dollars per month in cash assistance, plus Medicaid benefits that in my case are no more than a hundred dollars per month, and that I could damn well pay out of my own pocket, was some manner of God-Given Insight.

I contemplated cooling down so I could finish filling out the Medicaid form, but in the end I got really, really pissed off, crumpled it up and threw it at her, then stormed out of her office. Other than early yesterday morning when she unexpectedly woke me out of a much-needed sleep to drop off my medicine, I have refused to see or even speak to her. She leaves me voices mails all the time. I just delete them without listening to her.

Now this does not mean that I'm being a non-compliant patient. That County Mental Health Clinic has other staff. I think the lot of them are the best thing since sliced bread, and am always happy to hear from them. I don't make them drive over to my house to give me my Happy Pills. To the extent I possibly can I take the bus to the clinic. That way they can use more of their very limited time and resources visiting more severely ill patients who can't get around on the bus.

I just had a taste of my salsa and gave it a good stir. It will be ready to eat by the time I post this.

Ice was starting to form on it, so I broke up the ice chunks with my spoon then put it in the fridge. No worries about falling asleep now, but that's not likely as I really am ravenously hungry.

Judge Hoffman was very businesslike. She wasn't particularly interested in hearing about the fact that my GA-X application was filed fraudulently, or that I was not disabled, or hearing any of my reasoning in support of my claim that I am not disabled.

"The matter at hand is to determine whether you refused to file your SSI application," she said, maybe four or five times.

I tried at first to correct her by pointing out that I had *never* refused to file my SSI application, as I had requested my Cash Assistance be terminated well before the deadline for applying. I told her that I had no idea where she had gotten that impression. I never told anyone that I would not apply. I suggested that either Ms. Case Manager had lied to Mr. Weeks, or that Bill Weeks had given Mr. Weeks incorrect information.

I kept trying to explain that I was saying everything that I was saying in hopes that by doing so, I might put a stop to the practice of costing the Washington State Taxpayer tens of even hundreds of thousands of dollars so that perfectly sane and healthy patients can be kept in State Psychiatric Hospitals against their will, and so that disability payments would stop going to non-disabled people.

When I asked Bill Weeks to terminate my Cash Assistance, I got really, really upset about all the poor fuckers who stand around all day and night on traffic medians and at highway offramps, in hopes they might get enough spare change for a bit of food, or maybe a few hours of low-paying labor.

Many of those people are mentally ill, and severely so. Quite often they are completely unaware of that fact. Even if they do know they are mentally ill, quite often they are too sick to know that there is taxpayer-funded food, housing, medical care and mental health care, all there for the asking, but they are too lost in their world of delusion to know that they even could ask, and receive.

"Why don't you go find some of those poor fuckers, and give the money that's going to me to them instead?" I was bursting into tears at this point. It's been a long, long time, but I really have been there. The Thought Police seem to be gone for good now, but there is no doubt in my mind that they could return any time they wanted to.

"Oh we do," he replied. "And it's not like giving you money means there is less money for them."

He was quite insistent about that point, and repeated it a number of times.

Look Mister Bill: Did You Study Arithmetic In Elementary School? Do you know how to Add and Subtract? I Thought Not.

Damn near the whole time I was at Western, from January through July, the Washington State Legislature was in a special session attempting to eliminate a billion-dollar shortfall in the state budget. Washington is not by any means a populous state, so a billion dollars is a lot of money cut from government services and infrastructure funding for our largely rural population.

The damn Republicans refused to allow any manner of tax increase. Washington has no personal income tax of any sort. Instead the state is funded largely by very steep sales taxes. Because low-income people spend a greater proportion of their income on the bare necessities of life, while high-income people have a great deal more left over after purchasing their food, clothing, transportation, entertainment and the like, Washington State is therefore funded by a heavily regressive tax.

The Fucking Right Wing of Washington State thinks that it's really cool to tax the poor to pay for the state government operations, while Bill Gates, the world's wealthiest man, as well as his highly paid employees at Redmond's Microsoft, pay no income tax at all.

In the end they raised a bunch of fees. Donnalee is no longer able to visit state parks for free, he has to pay an entrance fee. The cost of publicly funded higher education in Washington absolutely skyrocketed. The long-term effect of such tuition increases will be to depress the state's economy even further, as well as make it far more difficult for the children of poor families to find some way out of their poverty by doing well in school.

Elementary school class sizes were increased. Hundreds of teachers were laid off. Despite loud public outcries, a number of schools were shut down completely.

And Bill Weeks tells me that if I receive government disability pay that I don't want, don't need and don't qualify for, I should be cool about it and accept it anyway because doing so won't make less money available for someone else?

Look Bill, why don't you shoplift a Sharpie, pick a scrap of cardboard out of a dumpster, write "Will Work For Food - Please Help!" on it, then hang out at a highway offramp to see who cuts you a little slack.

Not a lot of people will.

But I will.

Even when I have good work in, I am perpetually busted, so I cannot always do this, but to the extent I can, I offer those poor fuckers a good meal, a friendly conversation, and if only for a brief time, a bit of genuine friendship.

A while back I was driving around in Sacramento, the State Capital of California, dressed in my pin-striped business suit, when I saw one of those poor fuckers with the hand-lettered cardboard signs.

That morning I had withdrawn two hundred bucks from the ATM at the Sheraton where I had whiled away a few days of waxing eloquent about Medical Malpractice, jacking off to the wide selecting of high-quality pr0n that the Sheraton supplied at a reasonable price to its honored guests, and trolling Kuro5hin.

I'd only spent a few bucks for a coffee and a sandwich at Starbucks. I whipped a big pile of cash out of my wallet, held it in my fist before his amazed eyes and shouted:

"No Drugs, No Liquor, No Cigarrettes!"

Then I stuffed it all into his outstretched hands.

"You just got me off the street!" he shouted with incredible joy.

"I was once just like you!" I shouted, overcome with grief.

"Pay it forward bro! Pay it forward!"

I gave him my business card and asked him to call me. He said he would, the next day.

After the light changed I sped away. Too overcome with emotion to pay attention to the cars around me, I damn near totalled three different cars simultaneously.

That was the last I ever saw of him. He never did call. Do I miss the money? No. I just hope that he really did get off the street, if only for a few days, and that he got something good to eat.

Let's get back to Judge Hoffman and her clueless insistence that the matter at hand was that I had refused to apply for SSI payments.

I keep trying to get her to understand that I never had refused to apply for SSI, but that my Medicaid had been cut off because I asked that my Cash Assistance be stopped.

Both the judge and hearing coordinator always replied by insisting that the Cash Assistance and Medicaid always go together. One cannot have one without the other. To cease one of them always means that the other will be cut off as well.

She thought I had applied for this hearing on my own, to appeal the consequences of refusing to apply for SSI. I kept insisting that not only did I not refuse to apply for SSI, I did not ask for the hearing. Neither had I ask that my Medicaid be continued.

You see, when I was at Western, while the staff their were heavily into how GA-X would get me this metric fuckton of cash that is about one-quarter of what it costs me to rent a small apartment that I share with a young warehouse laborer who is far more busted than I am, the Western people never did think to mention that my GA-X would also include medical benefits.

When I asked Bill Weeks to terminate my cash assistance, I did not actually know that I was receiving medicaid funding. It was complete news to me when My Pesky Case Manager told me that I had just cut off funding for my mental health care!

They must do things differently here in the State of Washington. While the US does not in general have publicly-funded medical care, in California and Maine at least, mental health care is readily available free of charge. One only has to pay if one has to means to do so. You can walk into a mental health clinic in either state, tell them you need to see a shrink, and you'll get in to see one, and likely get your medicine for free as well, without any questions of any sort being asked about either your disability or your income.

When Judge Hoffman flatly refused to shut up about how the issue at hand was that I refused to apply for SSI, and that, this being a preliminary hearing, now was not the time for her to hear any testimony, I finally got pissed off, but good.

"Look, do you know what I did with my last GA-X payment? There was an Automated Teller Machine in the strip club I was hanging out at," - Mary's Club in Downtown Portland, Oregon, on Broadway and Burnside - "So I withdrew my whole month's payment in cash, a hundred and twenty bucks, and blew it all at strip clubs and porn theatres all over Portland!"

That was when I met Lucy. I meant to tell her that I also paid thirty bucks to get a really nice lap dance from an extraordinarily lovely, tall young woman named Madison. Lap dancers in San Francisco stay fully clothed, but I was quite pleased that Madison was buck naked long before my time was up.

Judge Hoffman changed the subject before I could continue.

I don't actually visit the clubs as much as you might think, or as much as I would like. One can get away with purchasing just a Coca-Cola or maybe a small cover charge, but it is not only rude but quite cruel not to tip the ladies, and generously so. So I partake only when I have enough that I can spend some time sitting right up front, in the "Tipper Only" seats, with each lady getting at least a dollar a dance, even if she remains fully clothed.

If work is good, and the dancer takes pride in her work, I'll tip her five, or even twenty. A five-dollar tip back in the day resulted in pr0n legend Madison, who in my honest opinion has the finest Mounds of Pleasure in the business, rubbing Day-Glo yellow body paint all over my face and my glasses with those Mounds of Pleasure.

On another occassion at that same club - the New Century Theater on Larkin Street in San Francisco -I paid ten bucks for a private conversation with Cameo, as a muscular young gentleman watched over the two of use like a hawk.

It's not what you think, not quite anyway. I don't hang out in strip clubs as I do just to get turned on, get my rocks off, or have someone to think about while I wash my hamster.

I've been doing mostly pretty well for quite some time, even during my recent hospitalization, but there was a time when my life was quite grim. I was once refused entrance to a fine men's clothing store because, I am quite certain, the clerk could see that I was mentally ill.

"What do you want?" he demanded to know as he blocked the store entrance.

"I want to buy a hat," I calmly replied. I once favored the Flat Cap; I've owned several over the years. They are popular in the British Isles, but it's hard to find quality Flat Caps in the US.

"We don't have any hats," he angrily replied. I looked over his shoulder at the opposite wall where I saw a large shelf competely covered with Flat Caps.

Sadly I turned away, without complaint. The laws are different now, nowadays the Federal Government would haul that fine men's clothing store into court for its violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was passed specifically to get people like me off the street, into decent housing, and off the government dole and back into rewarding careers.

I was very shy and awkward when I met Cameo. She really is a lovely woman, at the time still very young and in the prime of her life. She was also very kind and gentle.

I was completely unable to speak for some time. Finally I stammered, "I was hoping that I might meet you someday." That was the honest truth. Despite the nature of her work, she always struck me as a truly kind-hearted woman when I would see her in her films.

When I said that she was quite overcome with emotion and gratitude. She thanked me profusely, then explained, "This business can be very hard."

Now it's not like one can ask a major Pr0n Starlet for her phone number while she's sitting buck-naked in front of you in a San Francisco strip joint while the club's bouncer waits patiently to beat one senseless the instant one attempts to, uh, "sample" the merchandise.

But even so, I wish that I had given her my name, number, email and address. I really do expect that I would have heard from her.

On another occasion, I attended a show, also in San Francisco, by the Old-World German Lili Marlene. After her performance, for ten bucks she would sit on your lap buck naked to pose with you for a Polaroid photo.

I've lived in Europe and traveled extensively in Germany. While I never got anywhere with my studies of the German language during High School, I do have a fair understanding of German culture. Despite the fact that Miss Marlene had just been jumping like a fucking Kangaroo all over the stage with a couple big, black dildos defying Newton's Laws of Motion as she danced, it was plainly apparent to me that I was standing before A Proper Lady, and one who deserved to be treated with the respect that one accords to one's superiors as well as, due to my youth, one's elders.

"Pleased to meet you," I said with a polite smile. Then I took her left hand in my right and gently kissed her fingertips.

Hot Damn, she was so overcome with joy that she kissed me smack on my lips. She jumped off her chair, insisted that I sit down, then spread her legs wide and gave a great, big smile as I peekd out from behind her side for the photo, her arm around my shoulders.

Those were some hard times for me back in those days. I lived with damn near continuous suicidal depression for about five years. There was an entire year that I did not laugh in the least little bit. If was everything I could do to show the faintest of smiles.

But I still have that Polaroid. I don't know where in Creation it is, but I am quite certain I still have it. Thank God Almighty that Bonita never stumbled across it!

"You Look Happy!" Annie Brolly shouted with great surprise when I showed her the photo. She did not seem to even notice that there was a classy, refined, genteel, Old-World German Wide Open Beaver Shot sitting right in my lap. Annie and I were the closest of friends back in the day. At the time, I don't think she had ever known me to display any manner of genuine happiness.

I'm saying all this to explain why I like to hang out with so much not just with strippers, but all manner of people who are on the sexual fringes of society.

It's because, as a severely mentally ill man, and as one who often endures crushing poverty, not because I am unemployable, but because I flatly refuse to file for the bankrupcy that would lift much of the heavy burden of debt that I bear on my shoulders, I feel that I have far more in common with the strippers, the prostitutes, the queers and the transexuals that I do with all but a very few of my fellow Kurons, or all but of few of my colleagues in the software industry or in academia.

I hang out as much as I possibly can with strippers because I enjoy their company, and they enjoy mine.

I know very well that they work for a living. For me not to tip would be like a stripper coming my place so I could disinfect her Windows box right at the same time when I am struggling to get my ARM Assembly Code to accellerate Warp Life.

Just about always, during the breaks between their dances, I ask the strippers their name, then introduce myself as well. Never in my entire life have I ever made the least bit lewd comment to a stripper, a Lady of the Evening, any of the transexuals who frequent the Power Exchange, the Sex Club I once attended in San Francisco, or any of the gentlement with whom I exchange Wide Bathroom Stances.

All of us are struggling against some manner of Daemon, with it is a mental illness such as I have, homelessness, poverty, or acceptance of one's sexual identity.

After quite some time I did go back to the club where I met Lucy in hopes that I might make some progress at winning her friendship. You need not tell me that strippers are paid to be Professional Friends. The difference is plainly apparent to anyone with half a brain.

But it was in the middle of the week, when the club had few clientele, and late at night, so not many of the ladies were working. I was crushed to find that Lucy was not there.

Madison was, though, the lovely tall young woman who had given me such a fascinating lap dance. She greeted me at the door, then spent some time chatting with me.

The Kindness of Strangers

It's very lonely for me where I am living now in Washington State. I am not far from my mother or my sister, but I am quite far from all of my close friends.

In just the same way that I make a difference in the lives of the insane, the poor, the unwanted, the outcast, the hated and the perverse to offer them, if only for a few minutes, my genuine friendship, it makes a real difference to me when some stranger I do not know from Adam makes the effort to strike up a conversation with me.

Because I feel that I have one of them, I have a far, far easier time chatting up a buck-naked stripper, a scantily-clad streetwalker, or a drag queen than I do chatting up someone who most people would consider perfectly normal.

I attempted suicide in quite a serious way in October 2010, just over a year ago. I tell most people I did so because I got fired from Microsoft. That's not actually the reason I tried to do myself in; by that time I'd been contemplating suicide just about all the time for several months.

Before I moved up to Redmond I had the idea that I would stop my car at the highest point of the Interstate 405 bridge over the Willamette River in Downtown Portland, then leap to my death before any passersby could save me.

My mother lives near Portland, and one of my best friends from high school lived here at the time. I had gotten to be good friends with a chatty Starbucks Barista who was quite interested in my work on Warp Life because she and - to my crushing disappointment - her fiance both owned Android phones. I also spent a lot of time chatting up the attractive young night manager at a Shari's Restaurant here. All the Shari's' are open twenty-four hours, and they all have free wireless, so they are ideal coding hangouts.

But in Redmond, I knew no one. I rented a room from a young Indian immigrant who also worked for Microsoft. Deepak tried to be a friend to me, he really did, but even before I worked my first day at Microsoft I was too far into my Abyss of Sorrow to respond to his kindness.

There was a Starbucks with similarly friendly Baristas, as well as a Shari's quite close to our place in Redmond. I went to one or the other every night, intending to work on Warp Life, but I was so far gone as to be completely unproductive.

Last week I answered a multiple choice questionairre for my psychiatrist that made it quite clear that I am now quite depressed. But somehow I am not unsatisfied with my life. Quite often I experience great joy.

You all give me no end of crap for not shipping Warp Life, but frankly You Can All Take A Flying Fuck At A Rolling Donut. Warp Life will ship when it's good and ready. For now it gives me great joy to tinker with it.

I already know a great many ways to speed it up as well as to use less memory. I have in mind some improvements to the user interface.

I was advised by a Mobile App marketing specialist to give away Warp Life for free in the Apple iPhone App Store, so that it wil become popular enough that Apple lists it as one of the featured Apps. Rather than charging $4.99 as I reasoned it was worth in comparison to its competition, I will earn money by unlocking certain features in response to In-App Purchases. I've put a lot of thought into what features to provide for free and what to provide in response to purchases. I'll bring those up later in a diary.

What makes the difference to me now, that did not in Redmond?

It is the kindness of the strangers I meet as I go about my day.

I had not yet totally destroyed my Chevy Prizm when I lived and worked in Redmond, so I got around everywhere by driving. I have always enjoyed driving long distances alone, as it gives me the time and serenity to contemplate whatever comes to mind at great length, and to pass into a near-hypnotic trance, lulled by the hum of my car's engine and the soft music that I always have playing as I drive.

As my time at Western drew to a close, I knew that to work onsite after my discharge, whether I continue to consult or obtain a permanent position, I would have to ride public transportation. I was terrified of that prospect, as the public transportation in Silicon Valley is just awful. I simply could not tolerate living there until I bought the car that I wrecked last year. When I lived in Sunnyvale after moving back to California from British Columbia, the round trip on the bus and light rail to the nearest pharmacy or grocery store was well over four hours.

The public transportation where I live now is not great, but at least I live quite close to a bus stop. There's nothing at all to do and nowhere of interest to hang out anywhere near where I actually live, but if I ride the bus about ten miles in either of several different directions, there are same things to do and places to be.

That Shari's with the night manager I like so much is a short walk from a Portland Tri-Met MAX Light Rail station. If I miss the last bus home from the MAX station, I walk over to Shari's, sit at the counter, introduce myself to the waitress, ask for coffee and a glass of water, request the use of their power socket, and await the early morning twilight when the busses start to run again.

By the time the sun rises, I will have made at least one new friend, maybe several, and eaten a good meal.

I have several mental health and neurological diagnoses, each of them quite severe:

Each one of those has been at times severe enough that I really was disabled. But there is no real reason that I have to accept the crippling disabilities imposed by my brain's ailments.

This afternoon, before the hearing before the judge commenced, I pointed out to Mr. Thomas that I work as a software engineer because it accomodates my mental illness. I can be quite totally batshit out of my tree with vivid paranoia, the flashing squad car lights of The Thought Police just outside coming through my tightly-shut window blinds, and still write good code.

What is really hard to bear, what in the past really did result in my complete disability, was to be completely isolated from the rest of humanity because I was to shy to ever overcome the abject terror I experienced when I was forced to speak to other people.

I'm not that way anymore. I've come a long ways over the years. While I am very angry with Bonita for many quite justifiable reasons, I have Bonita to thank for much of my recovery. When she and I first met over the Internet on October 6 1997, while the worst years were behind me, I was still quite shy, awkward and lonely. Throught our eleven years together, she drew me far enough out of my shell that I could cast it off completely then leave it behind.

I'm Very Sorry To Say That I Have No Tortilla Chips. I'll Spread My Salsa On Whole-Wheat Bread Instead.

I have a simple request of my many Kuron friends:

From here on out, as you go about your days, look around you for the lonely people. Most of them won't be homeless, mentally ill or impoverished. The vast majority of them are perfectly ordinary people, but who lead lives that deny them much genuine human companionship.

Introduce yourself to some of them from time to time. Make it clear that you're not trying to get something from them. If they are of the attractive gender, make it clear that you're not just hitting on them.

"Hi," you might say with a gentle, warm smile. "My name is Del Griffith. What's yours?"

Offer to shake your hand, tell them that you're pleased to meet them. Even if you then just say you have to be elsewhere, you will have given a complete stranger what I first grew aware of consciously during my time writing The Vancouver Diaries, but experienced from the kindness of many strangers many years before, is really the greatest gift, not just that any man or woman can give to any other man or woman, but I am completely convinced that ...

... That the greatest gift any member of any mammalian species can give to any other mammal, as well as members of may other species...

... is our Attention.

The mental illnesses known as Neuroses are the result of our survival strategies in the face of deep and unresolved trauma. All the Neuroses can be cured through Psychotherapy as well as a number of other means, but few persist through to the cure, as reaching it genuinely requires that we face our deepest fears.

Bipolar Affective Disorder - Manic Depression - Schizophrenia and my Schizoaffective Disorder are all biological in nature. Most are thought to be genetic, but there is some possibility that some may be due to infectious diseases of the brain. While the symptoms of the biological mental illesses quite often can be relieved with medication, none of them can be cured, nor is there any prospect of any cure on the horizon.

While it is quite unlikely that the scourge of mental illness will be wiped out during any of our lifetimes, because of my own experience of recovering from my own disabilities, as well as my experience with other disabled people, as well as the various outcast and unwanted people I discuss above...

... I remain completely convinced that the disabilities imposed by severe mental illness can be completely eliminated, if we were all to show other people - not just including complete strangers, but *especially* complete strangers - the very same kindness that so many others have so many have given to me over the years, and that I show to the hungry and the homeless by offering them a meal, or if I'm busted flat, a warm smile, a friendly conversation and...

... An Offer to Shake a Hand that Society fFels is Unworthy of being Shaken.

Thank You, and Good Night.

--- Michael David Crawford

Copyright © 2011 Michael David Crawford.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported license