What a pretentious heading this is!
I AM THAT I AM! The original name God gave himself before Moses. Well, I too am what I am. I AM NOT the religion of my fathers, the whiteness of my skin and the grayness of my hair, the job that I perform daily, and my psychological quirks. They may be attributes of mine, but they are not me, they are not WHO I AM!.
Herman Melville, the author of the great American book Moby Dick, insists upon the coexistence of causative forces that man have argued over for millennia: chance, necessity / fate (determinism), and free-will. In modern times the argument is often cast as Nature or Nurture. Among Big scientists the question is: can the universe be explained by one elegant idea (super-string theory). I contend, as should be obvious by now, that the universe is not so simple as to have one neat explanation, and neither am I and neither are you. And James Hillman, a modern-day Freud, agrees with my assertion that I am MORE than the sum of these three forces, there is actually a ME lurking somewhere inside.
Having said this, here are a few passes at Who I Am.
I am a nominally Jewish man in his second half-century, living (alone) in New York City's Upper East Side. I am 5'10" and weigh 170 lbs, blue-gray eyes and gray hair (a full head of). I wear glasses but I can see close-up without them. I am highly intelligent, smart, thoughtful, and well-read in many subjects of more than daily (I read books more than magazines and newspapers) interest. I have been a PC Database Consultant but now I am a cog in a growing Business Consulting firm in Mid-town. I am highly cultured but with an edge and I don't much care for sports. I love movies and I watch little TV, and precious little of that is before midnight. My favorite things are my daughter, my volunteer gig at the Rose Center for Earth & Space, my reading and writing, and my persistent fantasy that I will one day (soon!) find the girl of my dreams, the woman of my future, and explore and experience the planet with her. My identity is infused with my political values which are traditionally Liberal. And I believe that we are in a Great Depression that will not begin to recede until our political leaders face certain nasty realities: the human costs of computer automation, the societal costs of our vast inequality of income, wealth and power, the costs to average Americans of globalization, and the implications of a world of ignorant masses populating nominally democratic societies. And I call myself a GAIAn, someone who believes that the major object of worship for the next millennium must be the planet, not the rock but the super-organism, and ALL of its life forms (if we hope to survive our technological future).
I believe in a Star Trek future: that is, I believe humankind will not destroy its home and it will achieve Exodus from the planet, colonizing perhaps Mars and Titan and then the galaxy. Why do I believe this? Because otherwise we will have stopped evolving and exploring. I also know I will not be part of it, I'd be scared shitless to get into a rocket-ship. Another persistent fantasy is to witness a launch in Florida.
I was born in 19xx, on Long Island in New York, to nominally Jewish parents. I was brought up in a VERY well-to-do, mostly Jewish neighborhood but we weren't wealthy and I was unaware of my community's status. I was raised in a LARGE house (basement, 1st and 2nd floor, and an attic with 3 bedrooms and a full-bath) on a small amount of property. I was brought up as a Christian Scientist and had to do 10 minutes of reading per night, my mother never failing to be on my case until I did it, as I never did it by choice. I went to public school in a community (Woodmere-Hewlett) that was VERY high on the importance of education, sending 198 of 199 High School graduates to college. I graduated 20th in my class, just outside the top 10%. I hardly ever did my homework. I was the Captain of my High School's Math Team (sic). We, and I, did pretty well. I was a French and Latin achiever, winning several state-wide competitions. And I was a Merit Scholarship Finalist, due mostly to super-high Math College Boards. Even though I was "conscious" of girls from about age 10, I was so shy that my first date was my own Senior Prom. I attended Columbia College, having a remarkable first term that re-shaped my life, being for the first time in my life surrounded by my intellectual peers. I danced with the Freshman Queen, putting aside my shyness for a time. I involved myself in the campaign for Freshman Class President, in the College radio station, in its Debate Club, in its political clubs (going from Republican/Conservative to Democrat/Liberal in one explosive Eureka!), in Fencing (the sport for mentals!), and in seeing the world thru new eyes. What a wake-up that term was! It was more formative for who I am today than was my DNA, my parents and my high-school contemporaries. My mother passed prematurely, at age 50, of breast cancer, on the morning of my first day back to school after the Christmas break. I was never the same. From then on, college was a struggle that I avoided, as I resorted to bridge and poker instead. I can only imagine who and what I might be today had my primary support, my mother, not died, or had I been able to grieve properly, or at all. I graduated college, Adelphi College, nearly seven years later, having been suspended from Columbia after one complete year and dropped after two lackluster years following one year of work-probation. Adelphi let me in with no credentials except my potential. At Adelphi, I was part of the school's (unsuccessful) College Bowl team, I even had a groupie who wanted still-a-virgin ME to teach HER about sex. I changed my major from Political Science / Economics to English Literature because of Herman Melville and John Bell. John, an English Instructor, was a "queer" leprechaun of a man, who allowed that one could have one's opinions in Lit but that some opinions were demonstrably WRONG. How liberating that was to me who had always felt some kind of un-ease with Lit as it SEEMED to suggest that the opinion of a stupid ignoramus was as valuable as that of a lifelong reader. I have always felt that opinions are NOT created equally and that one man's opinion is clearly worth heeding (not following, but respecting) while another's is not. While I have my opinions (taste) in many areas, I never confuse them with my judgment (value). For example, I love sci-fi flicks, but I have no need to argue that sci-fi flicks are more valuable or somehow better than, say, chick-flicks. Anyway I fell in love with Lit as it was able, every now and again, to touch my deepest soul. Melville, Archie, Twain, Homer, Miller, Wordsworth, Tennyson, Dostoyevsky, Hugo have all communicated with me profoundly, moreso than any friend has. After college, I fell into a bad publishing job, working for a small shop that published two trade journals that I am embarrassed to name. I was fired after 6 weeks, but because I was really hired to help them manage an annual crush. I fell into Computers as an on-the-job trainee. I was instantly successful as computer programming demanded understanding, logic and facility with languages, all strengths of mine. I also lost my virginity, finally, at age 25. And I also discovered that sex was NOT better than chocolate for a lot of women. Thanks Claire! How successful I might have been, in corporate terms, had I followed a corporate path, I'll never know: guess IT Department head. But I was NOT corporate and I took off after 1 1/2 years on the heels of a 50% raise, took off for drugs (pot and LSD) and poetry, and went a bit crazy (in a 19th century Russian kinda-way) at the end, taxiing myself into a local hospital's care for a few weeks. No, I probably didn't have a nervous breakdown, I had a seizure of despair and emptiness, and no Buddha to help me cope with it. But I graduated out of there soon enough, not "cured" but clear that I was not a real candidate for a mental hospital. I returned to writing computer software and to more dating. At age 30, I married the woman who would mother my children, on the heels of bedding the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. I went ahead with my marriage, sans passion, but with what I thought of as love. The marriage produced 2 children, Daniel Malcolm in 1973 and Sharan Rachel in 1976, both on February 3rd. My son stopped speaking with me some eight years ago, the day his mom drove him back to school near his 21st birthday and despite my trying, scores of times, to get through to him. My daughter is a freshman in Fordham Law School and I see her as often as she has time for me.
Since I quit my marriage in 1986, I have made up for lost time socially. First I dated New York for nearly two years, mostly women I saw once. It was not my intention to find a girl-friend, I was having too much fun, but I finally discovered myself seeing a woman for 13 weeks, mostly once a week,