The beginning of the illness is hard to remember, because for me,
while it was exciting knowing someone new who seemed to respect me
more than anyone else, I accepted it all as real. The more I think
about it, the beginning I mean, the more that comes back.
And I think the first progression of the illness was the L5. The L5
was a space station that was going to be built in the future. And even
though I was only about seven years old, I could sign on to be a
future member of the L5 team. Of course, I signed on. I was so excited
about it, I told everyone at home, and I'm fairly certain they chalked
it up to another of my crazy rantings.
In order to work on the L5 team, I had to learn about computers. Well,
we're talking about 1972, and computers were just simply not available
in public elementary schools. What I did, though, was read everything
I could about computers from the books in our school library. Granted,
these were not the most up-to-date resources, so the photos were
mostly of Burroughs and IBM hulking giants, men in white lab coats
checking clipboards and reading dials. Yes, actual dials. And lights.
I read about them, but there were no manuals, nothing instructional. I
had to wait.
In high school, I was off the medication, and now there was a computer
lab in our school. They had two computers, and only four students
could sign up. I didn't have the prerequisites for the class, so my
friend Jeffrey encouraged me to defeat the locking mechanism on the
classroom door (scotch tape did the trick) and break in after the
janitor had left one evening. Which I did.
Computers were my drug. I was hooked. I was also caught, but that was
a minor setback.
The following year, the school had plans to purchase 30 computers, and
I went right to the line to sign up for the computer class. The new
instructor didn't know me, but the former teacher sat next to him and
advised him to sign me up. "If you don't, he'll just break in to your
class." He was right. And in the infamous words from Tron 2, "I got
I shot past every student. They were learning Basic. I was hacking the
monitor and memorizing 6502 instruction hex codes. I was hacking
floppies and boot routines... I KNEW the computer.
In college, I was told that the L5 project was put on hold, suspended
because of the development of the ISS. Well, now that I'm on
medication and thinking more clearly, it seems obvious to me that
there never was an L5 project. The computer knowledge became useful
for the endeavors of the "HEX" project, another figment of my crazy
mind, translating numbers on a logarithmic scale across dictionaries,
making sense of the five-digit numbers from numbers stations, working
with RAND on projects using the Apollo Guidance Computer to track the
"HEX" megastructure (built by aliens, of course)....
This all made perfect sense to me at one time. And astonishingly, I
was still able to retain a sense of logic, at least enough to work
with computers, write code that worked, etc.
And now, today, I just remembered the L5 and the pivotal rôle it
played in my insanity. The L5. I remember actually signing the
paperwork, and I was only seven. What the hell was going on in that
twisted little brain? I don't know.