Where do I start.... I guess I've been into programming ever since Mega Man 3 inspired me to create games at around age 12. Of course in those days all I had was a 286 with DOS and BASIC to program on. I did it anyway because I loved figuring things out (which was probably the same reason why I was so obsessed with Legos as a child too). I also loved to draw as a child. I usually drew space scenes because I was obsessed with it for as far back as I can remember. I had plenty of time to pursue these tasks as I wasn't the most popular kid in school (especially since I was living in the south at the time and was from Connecticut). Overall I was a pretty withdrawn kid.
In highschool I took on a number of tasks to keep myself from getting bored with the failure of an education system I had to go through. I wrestled in the 120 through 135 varsity weight classes, wrote for the school newspaper, was in the art club, helped create the varsity soccer program, was in the local knowledge bowl chapter, took some college classes, did an internship, maintained a website, had a few jobs, and of course programmed as well as played a lot of games. I graduated with honors but then again high school isn't exactly hard.
After highschool I had a full scholarship to High Point University so I went in hopes of pursuing a double major in CS and Art but lasted only a semester after finding out about the one and only DigiPen. The faculty at High Point seemed really intent to keep me and offered all sorts of interesting things to try to get me to stay but I had my mind set on making games at DigiPen so I left.
DigiPen classes didn't start till the next fall so I moved back home to Hickory and helped mom start an internet cafe she named Gamerz. It was her dream to start her own business and she was finally doing it. On the side I was taking classes at community college and training in psi. It was around this time I discovered I was an Indigo with natural abilitys in psychism and energy in general.
Unfortunately Gamerz ended up failing and I moved to Seattle to go to DigiPen. It was at this point that mom decided to leave the south and go back to Connecticut thus leaving the house my brother and I grew up in. I never really have had a real sense of home since then.
DigiPen was a dream come true meeting so many socially akward nerds like myself. I was let down a minor amount at first though because I was one of the smartest kids there (even at DigiPen) and I still felt alone to some extent. Overall though I had an awesome time watching anime, making games, learning japanese and nerding out in general. DigiPen was incredibly hard though and required our full dedication if we wanted to make it through. We would work around 10 - 12 hours a day on school work; there was no time for parties or clubs. We didn't mind it though because it was like our dream come true: making our own video games.
After my sophomore year things took an unexpected turn for the worse. I had just attuned myself to the japanese healing art of reiki and had just finished what's known as the hell semester where everyone has to take 21 credit hours. I was sitting around waiting to start my job teaching game programming to highschool students when it struck.
The first thing I noticed was strange pains in my stomach. I thought it was some sort of weird stomach ache so I kept taking Tums for it. Then I started noticing blood. I tried to not think about it and continue my life but things got bad real fast and I ended up having all sorts of invasive tests. I remember when the doctors finally figure it out. I was at the doctor's office and he said matter of factly 'You have ulcerative colitis. It's uncurable and you will have it for the rest of your life.'. Then he just gave me some pamphlets on it and left just like that. I was in shock the rest of the day.
At this point I began a quest to search for any and every remedy possible now that 'it' had a name. I was put on the worst medicine ever: prednisone and everything went to hell. Before long I was hospitalized with severe emaciation, malnutrition, loss of blood and pain. During this time I had a Near Death Experience which I later wrote a 70 page book on but kept it to myself out of fear of invalidation of my experience. After the NDE I mysteriously got much better for several months and went back to school.
I ended up fighting the ulcerative colitis for the rest of my stay at DigiPen with around 10 hospital checkins a year and on a dozen or so drugs with a severely limited diet. I still don't know how but I managed to graduate with honors and a minor in mathematics in the top 5 of my class (did I mention only around 30 kids graduated from my entering class of about 150).
At this point I went to Connecticut to live with my mom because I was for all intensive purposes disabled even though ironically I couldn't get a handicapped sticker for my car. No matter what I tried I wasted away and ended up in the hospital with only 1 option left: surgery. It's what they called a j-pouch surgery and it took 8 hours; it was unknown if I was going to live or not. During the surgery my lungs collapsed from an overdose of anesthetics and pain killers and I had another Near Death Experience. I remember waking up in pain that is indescribable; inhuman; otherworldy. I had nightmares and hallucinations for days after that.... I still have flashbacks.
My weight had dropped to 85 lbs and it took a very long time to recover. Looking back on those days with colitis is like looking back on a living nightmare too unbelievable to be real.
The next summer an old friend from school got me a job programming cell phone games at Glu in California thus was the start of my career. After regaining confidence in myself I met my soulmate Daniela in a strange synchronicity shortly after attaining my mastership in Reiki from Barbara Kay.
Every day I wake up in wonder. How surreal this life has been. Every day is a day I could have easily not had. I never realized how much I had until I had nothing at all. I don't know where life is taking me but I'm going to enjoy it where ever I go.