read various chapters of this autobiography by going to the Individual Stories menu to the right.

Friday, September 24, 1976

Learning to Type -the crucial skill that decides ones opportunities and class

Timeline: 1975. My age: 14. 9th Grade. Location: Little Rock Arkansas.

In 8th or 9th grade my school -Pulaski East Junior High- offered an elective course for learning to type. I really wanted to take it.

My father said no.

Snap to the present. My father has been dead for over a year. I've refrained from dwelling on or writing about negative things he did out of respect, and also he became a different man in his last years, he was a lot nicer than the person who raised me.

Back in 1975 I was going through the roughest of times -the skinniest and possibly most bullied kid at my junior high (see this entry). At home my dad was equally hard on me. He routinely told me I was ugly and dumb. So when I brought up I wanted to learn to type, I can still recall the words he said verbatim: "Typing is for people that work in an office, you're never going to do that, you'll always work on a dock or some other manual labor".

I didn't have the imagination or will to overcome his verdict. Now I know I should have ignored what he thought and filled out the paperwork to get myself in (though maybe I needed my parents signature, not sure on that).

But I didn't fight his verdict on my abilities. I accepted it.

Me, the eternally bookish kid, clumsy in everything physical, the one that even as a teen loved to watch the national and world news every night and talk about every issue the news focused on. Me -the kid that read the whole Bible several times over, the Odyssey, Naked Ape and Future Shock. Me -the inherently text focused person. Banned from clerical work and careers by my dad's opinion.

Through my whole 20's I worked as a dishwasher on oil rigs (see this entry), finally finding meaningful work as caregiver and teacher aid at multi-handicapped institutions. But never in a clerical position.

Finally I broke through a mental barrier and got in college at 29 years old. I made good grades, even a 4.0 while taking a massive 21 hours of credit one winter semester. But one aspect was painful: I had to get others to type up my essays. Luckily I had people that would.

Snap to 35 years old and in Antarctica. I had a lot of free time, access to computers connected to the Internet. I spent my 15 months there learning to type via writing emails.

When I left Antarctica I moved to Seattle (October 1996), where I immediately got a Unix shell account with, and by 1998 got my first computer. Once I had my own personal computer I made a plan to seriously learn to type with speed and proficiency. I did by seeking and getting a job as a phone sales rep for Ticketmaster -a job that required taking calls and entering the data of a customer purchase. I know this is going to sound crazy and like an exaggeration, but I had a mandatory regimen I implemented on myself to spend 8 hours on my computer at home learning Linux command line programming and also making HTML web pages. My thought was 16 hours everyday typing would force me to get better at typing.

It did.

Looking back at me at the age of 15 to 30, I see now I could have been more resilient, more creative, more tenacious. I could have bought a type writer or word processor or Commodore 64 and learned to type. I could have overcome.

But I didn't. Yes, there is something to be said about the hurtful words coming from my dad, and how that was poison for my self-image. It's all a long time ago and the opportunities are lost, and I got to see other things, and live the life I did, which is something.

What we can gain today, right now with your reading this, is the object lesson of rise up, figure out how to get around such a hurdle, ignore the wrong and the hurtful, do the thing you need to as soon possible to get past whatever is causing perpetual misery....if you can. There are people to talk to, things you can buy, roads you can get on, planes you can get on, that can literally take you to a better place.

A final word. My son. North. I tell him when he is correct, I tell him when is right and I was wrong, I tell him he is smart. I am doing everything I can to make him the most literate and math capable person on this planet. I would die if it got him in MIT or Stanford. There is nothing I wouldn't do to get this kid smarter at 15 than I ever was. Love is an inadequate word, I give him my love, but more than that, I want to give him the world...and by that I mean I want him empowered to go anywhere in it...full of the healthiest self-esteem.

The author of this blog also has two books available on Amazon. Athena Techne uses some of the autobiographical content of this blog and adds a philosophical perspective utilizing the ancient Greek god Athena.

Athena Techne :: Page

Autistic Crow Computer is a fiction set in Seattle, about an autistic boy and two crows. The book was written for young autistic readers, although reviews by non-autistics have been positive.

Autistic Crow Computer :: Page