Dear Mr. Hamilton,
I am eternally grateful to you and the Neothink Society for having been invited to join the Society. My life has been enriched beyond measure! I have found the answers to questions I?ve had for decades, answers that were not available anywhere else. And I had looked in a lot of places. I?d find little bits of what I thought ?truth? here and there but not know how to carry them forward beyond a few steps. My life is now on track.
I had been creative in bits and pieces over the decades, but never steadily, continuously. I had some successes in life but did not feel successful. I did not know what I wanted to be when I grew up.
I married when I should not have, thinking that what I wanted in the main relationship of my adult life did not exist in the real world, and just a ?nice man? was all that I could expect. Although I abhored the thought of arranged marriages that went on in parts of the world, I somehow managed to ?arrange? my own (of course, the marriage did not work out and was unfair to both of us).
And yet I saw apparently happy couples around me (although sometimes the ?happy couples? eventually divorced. I remembered my mother?s statement that nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors..that what appears ?happy? in public might be anything but in reality.)
I wanted a marriage like the ones my parents and most of their friends had–loving, cheerful, giving, would do anything for each other, family-oriented. Down deep, I did not feel loved although I thought that I was lovable and loving (at least others told me that I was loving in nature).
The oldest of four children (my sister and I are the ?bookends?–she?s the youngest–with two brothers in-between) I was the ?smart one?. The brother next to me in age and my sister were the outgoing sociable ones. My second brother was discovered to have learning disabilities and all of us helped him with his studies as much as children could.
As grade-school pupils in the 1940?s, the brother just two and a half years younger than I and I used to love to create things–concepts only; we had no way of actually building what we ?invented?: moving sidewalks (now a reality in airports the world over); heated sidewalks so one would not have to shovel snow in the winter; devices installed in all automobiles so that it would be impossible for autos to collide (being worked on now I?ve read in very recent years) .
Not knowing anything ?officially? about the binary system–it was not a topic in elementary schools in the 1940?s- we nevertheless knew that we had two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, and so forth, and that a generation was generally 20 years. On our home blackboard we?d like to figure out how many ancestors were alive in any particular year in history and what life must have been like for them. We came to the conclusion that the planet having had smaller populations in the past, that many people alive then in the 1940s all over the planet had to be related to each other and did not know it!
My future goals as a child were all over the map–I wanted to be a fine artist, a physician(psychiatrist), writer of a profound novel that would be read for centuries to come, fashion designer, film actress, writer/lyricist/costume designer/scenery designer/casting agent–everything but the performer–of an upbeat and successful Broadway musical.
My parents did not encourage me to go to college–I insisted that I was going and would not accept ?no? as an answer. An honor student in high school, I applied for scholarships and was awarded a full scholarship by the university I eventually attended, a scholarship (the first offered) by the teachers? association in my hometown and a National Merit Scholarship.
Although still interested in art I never took a single art class in college.
Good in languages, I added German to the French and Latin languages I had begun studying in high school. I had loved algebra in high school but took only one additional math class in college.
I decided on pre-med and ultimately to become a psychiatrist. Biology class brought a rude awakening–I would get A?s in tests based on lectures, but like the author James Thurber, never knew what I was looking at through the microscope.
I switched majors to psychology. My university?s psychology department required a double minor in biology and physics. (the department was hard-science oriented not clinically oriented. It wanted us to be real scientists not pseudo-scientists like the sociologists). There I was back in biology. Physics was the only class I ever received a ?D? grade in and had to repeat it. I just didn?t get it. (Five or six years later I did ?get it?
and re-read my physics college texts, utterly fascinated.) In my senior year I took a class in astronomy as a sop course (as we called it then). The only girl in the class, I received the only A?s in the class. I ?got? astronomy right away. and wondered why I had not majored in it.
In my senior year the head of the Psychology Department recommended me for a research assistant position at the VA?s Neuropsychiatric Research Labs which I took part-time until graduation and full-time thereafter for the next four years. We conducted one of the first nation-wide studies on the effectiveness of tranquilizers (new in 1958) on outpatient veterans.
While at the VA I became aware of computers (computer classes had not yet begun to be offered in colleges), took a class on my own, loved it and began seeking a position in the field.
I landed a programmer trainee position in an R&D facility for a computer manufacturer that provided systems used by the U..S. military for its command and control systems. I had found my niche!–art, mathematics, language (albeit not human language) and creativity all tied together in one package!
When that company?s division folded a year later, I was hired by the R&D firm that actually designed and developed the command & control systems. I was a member of the design team of 15 (and the youngest member) for one system, and a member of the design team of 3 (all women!) for the second systems. (I recall looking at the 2-inch thick requirements manual and my blank piece of paper and wondering how I was going to do this. What I did was envision a completed live system and then set about describing it and the flow of information into and out of it. That worked! The programmers loved it.)
Later versions of both systems are in use today–four decades later.
I moved to California with that company, to its headquarters where I stayed until the company changed direction several years later.
I moved to another computer manufacturer where programming was no longer the joy it had once been. I transferred into technical writing where my programming experience was a benefit in performing my work. (The department stopped hiring English majors and began recruiting programmers to write.)
Eventually at yet another R&D company for a large NY bank I eventually headed the technical documentation department.
After a few years I wanted a change, and frankly, recognition. I was hired and trained in project management at a California bank. This was challenging and creative and again one got to see something that had not existed before come to life.
It was at another subsidiary of the same NY bank, responsible for providing systems to the securities industry, that my IT career came to an end when the company was bought out by Reuters who already had a staff that duplicated ours. I was spent. That same year, 1994, my condo was destroyed by the earthquake and my brother died of cancer. I took early retirement (I was 58) to decide what I wanted to do.
I enjoyed my few years of ?retirement? taking the oil painting classes I always wanted to take and volunteering extensively for the local chapter of a charity I joined. This was the first organization I had ever joined!
Two paintings I donated to silent auctions sold quickly, one after a bidding war! Several were exhibited with my class’s paintings in the lobby of a local bank!
The charity put on annual design houses where I headed the silent auction my very first year, chaired group sales for several years after, was a docent, as well as participating and for two years chairing my auxiliary in providing a full week?s wardrobe for children at risk (to keep them in school). I loved the people I met in both of these endeavors (art classes and the charity) and we are friends for life. I am closer to them than to anyone I ever worked with over several decades.
Neothink found me at exactly the right time. When I realized that I needed to return to work I was too far out of the loop to return to IT after seven years. A member of my auxiliary who had an event planning and catering company offered me a job. I, of course, accepted it at a salary a fraction of what I had been used to earning.
Because of Neothink I grew to delve deeply into the business and find out all about it. With not so much as a day?s study of accounting I nevertheless handled the accounts receivables and payables, handled all of our corporate customer?s orders, streamlined some of our operations (where I was allowed
to) and came up with ways to differentiate us from competitors in the customer?s mind. And I have been rewarded.
Neothink has provided me with answers to lifelong questions and stimulated me to focus and think hard on problems that I need to solve and encouraged me to create. Creation is, after all, the province of human beings.
I love the people whom I have met in Neothink every bit as much as I love my friends in the charity and art class. I?m spending most of my ?free? time in Neothink now. I would much prefer to teach those in need how to fend for themselves, how to get past (not avoid) their current situations and grow into the people they were meant to be.
I am growing into the person whom I was meant to be and am happy beyond belief! I expect that I shall find that special someone in Neothink…maybe it’s someone I’ve already met. Time will tell.