I could be among the middle class today; I was just damn unlucky. I've achieved perfect records in so many different arenas, but there's always that one misfortune or coincidence that deprives me of the cheese at the end of the maze.
I think it's fair to say I'm unlucky. I had the bright intuition to buy gold when gold was cheap, $300/oz., in fact I imagined my dead grandfather (he was keen on investments) whispering in my ear, "Buy gold with every spare dollar at your disposal, now," but after buying the gold, I double-guessed myself after reading magazine articles about the invulnerable, infallible, reliable then-soaring stock market, and I sold most of my gold on Ebay, typically for the starting price with no bidding. (As we know, Ebay sucks.)
I almost got accepted into nursing school with my academic record and great score (99) on the entrance exam, but there were two grades from twenty years ago that, I suspect, nixed my chances, along with my lack of prior medical experience. Everyone encouraged me to go back and take those old classes over again and volunteer at a local hospital, but you know what, that's a lot of sacrifice combined with the $30K price tag of nursing school, money that I don't have to spare. Used to be the government helped out poor nursing students, but all that money dried up after the wars, and it never was enough anyhow.
I guess I've got a lot of "almost-wons" to my credit. I almost got a decent job up in Vermont. Spent about a dozen hours filling out applications & questionnaires and responding to emails and conducting telephone and a webcam interview. Nothing. Not even an email saying sorry, we passed you by. I don't mind so much, though. I guess some jobseekers get bitter and bite back when they receive those "Sorry" emails. They shouldn't. Sorry is better than silence. Silence leaves one wondering if the game is still on.
Back in the day, I almost got accepted into graduate school, in fact I was accepted, and my generous parents offered to foot the bill in full, but my stupid morality got in the way. For one thing, I balked at the cost ($15k for living expenses and additional for tuition), knowing that my Mom hated her job and my Dad was retiring. It seemed to me I would be asking them to make a huge sacrifice, and that caused me to scrutinize the curriculum closely. I felt that most of what graduate school was teaching was crap. I perceived some, not all, of the same criticisms that Gore Vidal expresses far more eloquently in his essays and interviews. Probably I should have swallowed my reservations along with my pride and just held my nose and scored an easy Ph.D., because it would have been awfully easy for me. Then I'd have a relatively cushy academic job at some state school or technical school somewhere, much easier that the demanding programming jobs I worked after abandoning grad school.
What I did with computers, I don't think many people could do. It wasn't easy, even for people who live and breathe tech. There was a great deal of skull sweat and cold sweat trickling down the neck at 3 AM in the office as millions of dollars are contemplated at stake. I pulled it off though, all of it, somehow. That does give me satisfaction, even if no one remembers or cares at all (water under the bridge). Put in a situation of crisis, I performed, which means I'm a good soldier. But I suppose that's not valued anymore in today's economy, today's world.
I did have a taste for drama in the younger days, unlike today. I remember the head of the program at grad school calling me up on the phone to ask me why I hadn't paid the fees yet. I guess head count was down, student quality was poor, and I looked good enough on paper to justify a personal phone call.
I indicated I was not interested, that I had changed my mind, and she wanted to know all of the reasons why with as much detail as I could offer. I told her my opinions of the program, which pretty much dovetail with Gore Vidal's, although I had not yet read him on the subject. I had just formed my own opinion after lengthy reflection. She was infuriated and declared that I would never be permitted into the program while she was head, or dean, or whatever it is. She paused for about five seconds, expecting me to mend the rift I suppose, and when I didn't, she concluded that I was not interested in her program anymore, and asked me if that were so. I confirmed. We never spoke again. I imagine I was blackballed or put on some list at that particular university, but it didn't matter. She's probably retired or dead by now, but I don't have any plan on doing the grad school thing now. It's a bit late in the game for that, I think, and there's just no money to help with tuition or any other costs.