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Who Am I?

by Cory Smith

No, this is not a review of the Jackie Chan movie by the same name.  This is a short explanation of just who is this Cory Smith guy anyway.

While struggling with some work related frustrations, I found that I was asking myself “if I were to leave my current employer, what is it that I want to do?”.  After some thinking, I realized that one of the main things that kept coming to the forefront is that I'd like to work somewhere where they were interested in me as much as they were interested in what it is that I could do for them.  Obviously a resume and a short interview aren't the best way to convey exactly who I am?  As for work related topics, having a blog serves to give a bit of insight into who I am, but still doesn't provide a complete picture.

So, who am I?

I was born in Sturgis, Michigan in 1970.  I don't really remember much of my early childhood.  I suppose that could be attributed to potentially blocked memory or the fact that I was deaf until the age of seven or eight.  Deaf?  Yes, deaf. 

For whatever reasons, people just didn't realize that I was deaf.  I learned to read lips and interact like every other normal child.  It wasn't until a couple of years into school that someone realized there was a problem.  Even after the initial rounds of testing, even the doctor thought that I could hear.  It was only until they put me within a sound proof booth that the doctor determined that I was indeed deaf.  The doctors found that my ears were full of fluid, something that is relatively common and normally corrected at a very early age.  Some of first childhood memories consist of hearing certain things for the first time.  Hearing people speak isn't what stayed with me, it was the sound of rain hitting the roof of the car and windshield wipers that I remember the most.  I think that speech wasn't all that interesting since it was pretty simple to associate the new sounds with the lip movement.  Rain and windshield wipers, I had no way of associating these with anything.  It was just raw noise.

I do have vague memories of my childhood prior to gaining the ability to hear.  My earliest childhood memories are related to my uncle.  Throughout my childhood, I spent a lot of time being “pawned“ upon my uncle and grandparents.  Although this sounds a little bad, in reality it's probably one of the things that helped shape who I am today and saving me from a life that I could only imagine; one that could have been significantly worse. 

I can remember my uncle teaching me mathematics and proper etiquette at a very early age (preschool).  More important than these, my uncle is probably the person most responsible for me become a “geek“ than anyone.  This is somewhat interesting since he, himself, would not fall under such a classification.  My uncle was the first person to expose me to the likes of Star Wars and the Atari 2600.  I've spent so much time playing games like Combat, Breakout, Super Breakout, Missile Command, Space Invaders, Asteroids and Chopper Command I can close my eyes and still play those games in my mind to this day.  It was seeing these colored blocks and hearing the bleeps and blips that caused me to be interested in computers.  I wanted to know everything about how this electronic box ticked.  Around 1982, life sort of got in the way.

Without getting into too much of the details, suffice to say that it was bad enough I've only seen my mother once in the last 22 years.  Between 1982 and 1984, I moved around so much that I actually think I hold the record of some sort for attending the most schools in a single month (6 separate schools, one of them twice).  When it was all said and done, I ended up just outside of Denver, Colorado with my ex-stepfather.  His new significant other didn't really want me around and, when they moved to Fort Worth, Texas, I ended up staying with her stepfather, mother and son.  Through the next 5 years, jumped around from home to home.  Prior to 16, I worked off-the-books doing roofing, painting and rebuilding starters and alternators. 

Doing this sort of work, it was pretty easy for me to decide that that's not what I wanted to spend my life doing.  I saved up some money and bought my first computer.  Of course, everyone around me said that was silly and that I should focus on a real trade.  That didn't stop me from investing a significant portion of my time learning everything I could from books from the public library, downloading code and interacting electronically with others through BBS's.  My first computer was a Radio Shack TRS-80 MC-10 with an astounding 4K of memory and a tiny chicklet style keyboard.  I spent a lot of time browsing through pawn shops and eventually built a pretty significant computer system based on the Radio Shack Color Computer 2.  Obviously, I knew that this is what I wanted to do, so while in high school I focused on classes that would allow me to interact with these machines.  I knew I needed to learn how to type.  I took two years of typing, two years of office education (more typing) and, instead of DEC, I chose to take the office related approach and worked in a mail room for two years.  After graduating high school, went to work at a Radio Shack Computer Center.

In late 1994, I decided that I wanted to learn self-defense.  I visited a somewhat famous Tae Kwan Do school here in Fort Worth and I felt as if I was being sold a used car.  I went home and picked up a phone book.  I decided that I was going to look for a martial art that I'd never heard of, visit them and see what they had to offer.  I came across an ad that had several styles listed that I'd never seen; Jun Fan Gung Fu, Jeet Kune Do and Kali.  This was the beginning of what would become another passion in my life.  I didn't know it at the time, but Jun Fan Gung Fu and Jeet Kune Do were the names of Bruce Lee's martial arts and Kali was generic game given to the various styles of fighting originating in the Phillipines.  I had found what I was looking for.  A martial arts school that was about self-defense, not about sport, competition and “style”.  Using these styles as the core of my martial arts, I've explored many others including Thai-boxing, Silat, Brazilian Jujitsu, Judo and Boxing to name a few.

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.