The 2010s: The Worst Decade Of My Life

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As we finish up 2019 I have gotten into a nostalgic mood (not that I’m ever in any other kind of mood) and have started talking stock of the past decade. As I am 42 years old, I have lived in 5 different decades, the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and 2010s. Naturally, I have no memories whatsoever of the 1970s, as my earliest defined memory would be my birthday in 1981, and my memories of it are foggy and disconnected, to say the least.

The 1980s, of course, were my “growing up” decade and I did love that era. The movies, the music, the cartoons, the toys, everything about the 1980s was incredible.

The 1990s, on the other hand, were my “grown up” decade. And still my favorite decade of my life. The 1990s began when I was in junior high, covered high school and college and really helped me to establish who I am today. The 1990s were the best.

The 2000s are kind of a mixed bag, and I would split it in half right down the middle. The first half, from 2000 to mid-2005, was great, right on par with the 1990s, or maybe just a notch below, but great, to say the least. The second half, from mid-2005 through 2009, was not. It was pretty unhappy. Not miserable, but a long way from pleasant. I have come to realize that my life took a nosedive after I began using the internet, which I started using in March 2005. At first I used it strictly for baseball info and downloading rosters, wallpapers and video game information. But once I started meeting people, it was all downhill.

That brings us to the 2010s. Without question, the worst decade of my life. Bar none. It’s not even close. The number of enjoyable things that happened to me in the 2010s I could probably count on one hand and have fingers left over. Truly the pits.

I was going to take a year-by-year look at the decade, but so many of the years run together because the misery stretched so far. I’m not saying it was a total loss, 2010 was the best year of the decade by far (until I hit November) and 2019 was a close second, but neither of those years would hold a candle to anything out of the 1980s or 1990s.

Being a generally happy guy, it’s difficult to look back and see how bad the 2010s really were, but there was nothing of any redeeming value in this decade for me. Oh, there were positives, don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying it was a 100% unsatisfactory decade, even in the worst years. But overall, I’d give the decade an “F” on a grading scale.

A warning in advance, most of this retrospective is going to be lacking in details. This is not because I can’t remember or because I don’t want to embarrass anyone. Quite the contrary, I choose to not remember some of the details because I don’t want to embarrass myself for having made such stupid decisions during this time period. So those details are lost to time.

The year 2010 opened with me in hot pursuit of a woman I had met on MySpace and within the first week I had completely blown that to kingdom come. The woman in question lived about an hour away and had four kids (which would break all kinds of rules I would set for myself later in the year) but she was beautiful and I really wanted to get with her. My refusal to sell out some friends of mine lead to our abrupt demise as a potential couple.

It turned out she was right in the long run, I should have eliminated those friends, both female. I ended up fooling around with one a couple of weeks later in spite of knowing that she was married. The other would cause me problems later in the year, but what’s done is (or was) done and I decided then that I was not going to get in a relationship in 2010. No matter who or what came along. As you’ll see, that wasn’t to be the case at all.

I started flying the flag of “social dating,” a concept I liked and a phrase I had coined at some point in the spring of 2010. Meet a girl, go out, have a nice time, go with the flow and let whatever happens happen, and then move onto the next one. Don’t date to find a relationship, date to have a good time. This was to take all the dramatics out of the equation because there would be no relationship and no one would “belong” to anyone else.

That all worked fine until June when I let a girl catch me who had chased me for around four years. She lived about an hour away and we only got to hang out together three times in the month that we were a couple, but even then I felt like I was a prisoner, I couldn’t do what I wanted, when I wanted, because there was someone else in the equation now. So I gave her an ultimatum in July, open relationship or no relationship and she chose none.

It was around this time that I created “the list,” which was a checklist of prerequisites for any woman I would take an interest in dating. This didn’t apply to hookups or one night stands, this was strictly related to being in an actual relationship. My rules list included no children, the woman in question would have to live within a certain distance, had to be financially secure on some level, have a working car, just something to kind of separate the garbage from the actual legitimate options. Not that it would matter in the long run.

In June I closed my MySpace account, which was jarring in many ways. A woman I had dated in the late 2000s once begged me to close our social media accounts and I told her, point blank, “I will never close my MySpace account.” Less than two years later, it was gone. I also opened a new Facebook account and kind of reorganized my life at that point.

The next three months were similar to the “social dating” era, and much happier for me.

Then, in November, I made the mistake that not only ruined the decade but nearly ruined my entire life. A mammoth mistake I will probably hold against myself forever. This mistake doesn’t need to be delved into, just suffice to say a situation was presented to me with a number of options and I made the worst possible choice and it has haunted me since.

While 2010 was a decent year, all things considered, 2011 was a bad year, though it was far from the worst. There were some good happenings, for instance I bought my first iPod in 2011, and a stereo with a docking station to go with it. I also found my backward-compatible PlayStation 3 which allowed me to play PlayStation 2 games on it, toward the end of 2011. So there were some good parts to 2011, I’ll admit.

On the flip side came 2012, probably the second-worst year of the decade for me.

A near-mistake in August 2012 could have been the fatal mistake of my life, but God was looking out for me and thanks to luck or karma or something, that mistake didn’t happen. And by December, I had actually managed to work myself out of the mistake I had made in November 2010. Things were starting to look up, and I started feeling happy again.

As 2013 turned over, though, things took a drastic turn for the worse before January was over. I allowed myself to get talked into the same bad mistake I had made in November 2010. Only this time, it was going to be even worse and my life was at stake this time.

February 2013. I was told I was going to be a father. I had my doubts, given circumstances surrounding the pregnancy and whom I was dealing with, that lasted the duration of the pregnancy. But would certainly come to question it more extensively in later years.

In May 2013, my tabby cat, Bubbles, passed away. My plan had always been to string myself up when he passed so that we could both be cremated and our ashes preserved together. But now that I had a child on the way, that took the steam out of my demise.

Bubbles was 18 years old, and he passed when I was 36, meaning he was part of half of my life. For a good portion of that time, he was all that I had. I loved him unconditionally. And when he passed, and I needed, for once in my life, some emotional support, I got it from my best friend. A big part of me died along with Bubbles that day. Maybe all of me should have.

My son was born on October 22, 2013, and I had no doubt he was mine, based on comparisons of his baby picture to mine and the bond began to form, but I still ordered an online DNA test, I would swab my mouth as well as the baby’s and then we would send the swabs to the lab and the results would be mailed to us in a matter of weeks.

I had not signed his birth certificate, not because I had doubts to that extent at that time, but because I was deathly sick at the time. I had pneumonia and a temperature that reached 103 degrees. I was told I couldn’t be near him with a fever like that and I was mostly bedridden anyway, weak and going between extreme sweats and freezing to death.

The DNA test results arrived several weeks later in the mail, and I was not on hand for the opening of the envelope, I simply received a text message with a picture of the supposed “results” that could have been doctored in any number of ways, and this was supposed to prove something, which it didn’t. It just furthered my distrust for the whole situation.

The next four years (2014-17) kind of blur together. I loved my son and felt a feeling I had only felt for Bubbles previously, that of complete, unconditional love. He was daddy’s boy, if his mom was going somewhere and I was staying home, he wanted to stay with me. If I was leaving and his mom was staying home, “I go with my dad.” We had a bond I wish my dad had felt with me. I introduced him to things kids his age would never have been aware of because I grew up with them, like Pac-Man and Q-Bert. I bought him a PlayStation 4, and gave him a PlayStation 3 so we could play Ghostbusters and Lego Batman games.

My son was, by far, the best part of the decade of the 2010s. I just wanted to take him away from the people he was with and bring him to my house, where he belonged. His birthright. I never lived with his mother, and would have rather died first and nearly did. I just wanted my son, to make sure he was raised in a good home and wanted for nothing. That was all I ever wanted. I definitely did not, in any way, want anything to do with anyone else connected to the situation and, in fact, wanted away from them as quickly as it could be arranged.

In 2014, I bought my first flatscreen HDTV. By 2016, I had populated my house with them. In 2015, I bought my PlayStation 4, because I was afraid the MLB The Show series was going to be PS4 exclusive. I was a year or two off, but glad I went ahead and upgraded.

One of the biggest happenings for me in the 2010s came in late 2014, when AC/DC released a new album, “Rock Or Bust,” their first studio album since 2008. Definite high point at a time when high points were so few and far between that I was almost devoid of feelings.

My Jeep was involved in an accident in 2015, as I was driving a back road some punk kid in a sports car hit me head on and totaled my Jeep, which I had since 2001. I took the insurance settlement and had the Jeep repaired because my mission was to put 250,000 miles on it and at that point I was about 20,000 miles short and I wasn’t giving up that easily.

My mom had a heart attack on November 5, 2015. She was getting ready to go to a hair appointment and she ended up flat on her back in her recliner and my dad took her to the emergency room. A couple of hours later I got a phone call, that she had a heart attack. She was in the hospital for a little over a week and while she was in there, it was discovered that she had a cancerous lesion on her colon, so after a few weeks at home to recover from the heart attack (and subsequent insertion of stents) she was back in the hospital again for the removal of a couple of feet of colon that included the cancerous area.

My mom was always very youthful in spite of her age (she was 44 when I was born) and I can remember back in the late 1990s and early 2000s taking her to the grocery store and to places like Walmart, Ames and Kmart. At the time, Ames had a special on Tuesday’s, anyone over 55 got 10% off their purchases. Mom was routinely carded because even though she was pushing 65, she didn’t look it. I can honestly say she has aged 30 years in the past five, and her mental capacity has dropped beyond anything I could have ever imagined.

By 2017 my misery was overcoming the good in my life. I sat in my room one night in April and stared at 60 “ZzzQuil” sleeping capsules and a full bottle of Jack Daniel’s whiskey. I worked through the pros and cons of death. Physically and emotionally and mentally I was a mess. My hair was falling out, I had stomach ulcers, I couldn’t sleep, I was stress eating and had gained 80 pounds in about three years, my eyes were constantly twitching, I was sick almost all the time due to my immune system not firing on all cylinders, and finally I was diagnosed with migraine headaches. That was it.

My love for my son turned out to be stronger than my longing for the grave, thank God.

Malcolm Young, rhythm guitarist of AC/DC and my favorite band for decades, passed away in November 2017, casting more of a shadow on an already awful and miserable year.

I struggled through the summer and fall of 2017, trying to find a way out. One was found for me. And it presented me with the most difficult situation I would face the entire decade.

An attempt was made to file charges against me in December 2017 that could have lead to a lengthy prison sentence. And I fought those false charges tooth and nail, no matter what was thrown at me. For the better part of a month I didn’t know if I would live to see another sunrise. But I was not going to be beaten, and in the end, I was cleared of all charges. But the decision to not sign my son’s birth certificate came back to bite me at this point, as in family court, in January 2018, the judge announced that there would need to be a DNA test (an “official” one administered by the state) and a parenting plan for my son.

This didn’t happen, no paternity test was ever done. That spoke volumes, all I needed to know. My questions about the eagerness to open the 2013 DNA test without me there to see it and quickly sweep that under the rug suddenly made a lot of sense to me. So, I had lost my son, or what I was told and thought to be my son. I couldn’t do anything, I had no parental rights whatsoever since I hadn’t signed the birth certificate.

At worst, I had lost my boy. At best, I was out of a miserable, deadly situation I never should have been in to begin with, had I just used common sense way back in November 2010.

I took advantage of my newfound freedom in 2018 and tried to do a complete life overhaul. New TVs, new stereos, a new PC, a new cell phone, I upgraded everything I could think of, right down to a brand-new desk chair and recliner and stand for my new TV. I did not, however, do as I had in 2012 and start new social networking sites. I wish I had. I met a number of women in 2018, all of whom would show themselves to be flakes or liars or something almost as low as the garbage I had left in my rear-view mirror. But not quite. I was ghosted or lied to or lead on by a number of women and finally just stopped altogether, I decided in November 2018 that I was not going to date anyone for at least one year.

While discussing it, I told a friend that 2018 was no better than 2017 or 2016 or 2015, it just had a different cast of characters in it. And I knew that needed to change in 2019.

I made the final major change of my life this year, I bought a new Jeep. I sent my old one to the scrapheap 18 years after buying it and with almost 257,000 miles on it. My new Jeep is an upgrade in every way, and a good symbol of where I want things to go in the future.

While 2019 has been far superior to every year back to 2010, it has still been a clusterfuck in many ways and I’ll be glad to see it, and this decade, come to an end. I hate it.

In 2019, I was placed in Facebook jail four times for mundane memes I posted and am now locked out until December 18. None would have been found to be “offensive” in any other medium short of a church bulletin, but that doesn’t matter. This put a major roadblock in front of my decision to start all new social networking pages. I still may do that, in fact, I would like to start a new Facebook account and simply update the screen name and URL of my other social networking accounts. The problem comes in here, with my blog, which uses the JasonConnor612 URL, which I also use on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

So, as I close up the final five weeks of 2019, I have high hopes for the 2020s. There will clearly be some bad times coming up, I don’t see any way my elderly mother (or father, for that matter) will live through the next decade, as my mother is 85 (86 in January) and my father is 81 (82 in September). That’s just something I’ll have to deal with when the time comes and I’m hopeful I have the good fortune to live to a ripe old age as well. But I’m hopeful the good times in the 2020s will outweigh the bad, unlike the horrible 2010s.

I always try to see the positive side of things, and in this case the only positive I can come up with is I’ve almost lived through the 2010s, in spite of twice pondering suicide and dealing with health problems brought on by stress that could have easily killed me. I always say that everything happens for a reason, and I’m still standing today for a reason I don’t know.

In closing, here’s to a bright and happy future and a whole new era in my life. God bless.

 

Facebook: Where Common Sense Goes To Die

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One week ago tomorrow (November 18), I was put in Facebook jail for the fourth time this year, over a meme that was not the least bit offensive to anyone but someone took the opportunity to report it and based on that, I was back in the clink.

This is the meme that “earned” me 30 days:

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That meme was so offensive to someone that it was worth 30 days in Facebook jail. I can only imagine what kind of gutless, worthless, sorry-excuse-for-a-human-being was offended by something like that. But it was through this that I discovered something.

In the world today, your post doesn’t have to actually be offensive, if someone just doesn’t like it, they can simply say that they are offended and heads will roll.

In Facebook land, your first offense leads to a warning, second is 24 hours in the can, third is 3 days, fourth is a week and fifth is a month. Beyond that, I’m not sure, as I have heard conflicting reports, some say 60 days and some have said a lifetime ban.

On that note, here are a few of the other memes I have posted that were considered so vile they were worthy of putting me in Facebook jail over. Pure and total filth:

So, yeah. Those memes were so over-the-top offensive that I may sit one bad meme away from a lifetime ban despite the fact that in the previous six years I posted numerous memes (including the bacon one, which had been posted on my own wall several years ago) and had never once received a stretch in Facebook jail. But I’m more philosophical about things now than I have been in the past. Jail will do that to a man, even Facebook jail.

As I said earlier, as long as someone announces that they are offended, that’s all it takes for Facebook to drop the hammer. The bacon post? All it takes is for some muslim to say “I don’t like bacon, it offends me” and it’s Facebook jail time. I do admit that I’m curious as to whether or not a straight, white, native-born, employed male like myself would be able to get anything blocked due to being offended, though, given the state of the world.

What amazes me more than what I have posted being considered so vulgar it was worth Facebook jail time is the stuff I have seen that never gets reported. Full-on nudity, Full-on pornographic images, video of legitimate suicide by rifle shot, clear threats of violence and racism on every level against every imaginable race. And who can forget the wave of political nonsense that has to be the most disgraceful thing I have ever seen.

That’s all fine, none of that is anything to worry about. Perfectly acceptable. Guy blows his head off in a posted video? No problem. Man beheaded by radical muslim terrorists? That’s probably a free-speech issue. Calling people every name in the book and threatening physical harm because you are a member of an American political party? Nothing to see here. Jason J. Connor post a meme about people being butt-hurt?

Now that’s something Facebook would apparently go to war over. And that is pathetic. So while I do feel I was treated unfairly, taking me out of the opportunity to talk baseball with my Facebook friends during the most important period of the offseason (the GM Meetings are the first week of December, I am not paroled until December 18) I also feel that Facebook should feel just as stupid as they look and I am all too happy to share my story.

Perhaps someday, someone will be offended just by the very existence of Facebook, and they’ll have to decide if they should take the entire site offline for an extended period, after all, we can’t have anyone getting offended by anything, no matter how mundane.

Keep fighting the good fight, Facebook. You’ve now got the John Dillinger of social media in Facebook jail for 30 days. I bet the world feels a little safer right now than it did before. You just never know when someone may become offended and that’s just too scary to contemplate. Congratulations, Facebook. Never stop fighting for what’s right.

Oh, and up yours.

Peace.

Chicago White Sox: Offseason Update (November 12, 2019)

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An important week in baseball, the general manager’s meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona began yesterday (Monday) and last through Thursday. While not nearly as important in the big picture as the Winter Meetings, which take place in San Diego, December 8 through 12, the general manager’s meetings help set the foundation for the Winter Meetings.

The White Sox are in the news quite a bit as Bob Nightengale of USA Today has tried to again fan the flames of importance around the Chicago White Sox, as he did last offseason by announcing, at one point, that the White Sox were not only the front runners for shortstop Manny Machado, but that they were also the favorites to sign outfielder Bryce Harper!

Those two combined for $630 million over the length of their respective deals, which last 10 years (Machado) and 13 years (Harper), a bit above the White Sox pay scale.

Now Bob is pushing the concept of the White Sox being all in on every available free agent on the market this offseason, though he was quick to pull back on the top player available, pitcher Gerrit Cole. But continued to push the assertion that third baseman Anthony Rendon is a viable possibility, and maybe even to go so far as to say a legit target.

I don’t want any misunderstandings here, I have nothing negative to say about Rendon whatsoever, he is a legit MVP candidate (.319/.412/.598 with 34 home runs and an MLB-leading 126 RBI in 2019 as well as winning a Silver Slugger and making the All Star team) but he isn’t a fit with this White Sox team. I HATE this idea (which is bandied about regularly on the Sox Talk Podcast) that you just sign the best available players you can get and worry about where to play them later. That concept is totally insane in my opinion.

You build a team and fill in your needs. If you don’t need a third baseman, you don’t sign a third baseman. You find the best player available, either by free agency or trade, at the position you have a need. So as great as Rendon is, you just say “I don’t need a third baseman” and you move on to where you do have a need. It’s simple.

The Sox have three major needs: Starting pitching, right field and designated hitter.

In my perfect world, the names you fill in are Zack Wheeler, Yasiel Puig and Edwin Encarnacion. You’re getting a good strikeout pitcher with outstanding control (195 K’s versus 50 walks in 2019) who will be a perfect fit in the ballpark and the rotation, a right fielder who you can pretty much pencil in for 20+ home runs (maybe 30 playing 81 games a year at Sox Park) and 15 steals per season and a DH who has hit 32+ home runs 8 years in a row.

Yes, each has their negatives, Wheeler has had Tommy John Surgery twice (but worked 195 innings last year and has less than 900 innings on his arm), Puig can be an attitude problem (which I think would be remedied by the strong Cuban culture within the organization) and Encarnacion will turn 37 in January, so he’s not a long term solution, but I think he can help a guy like Jose Abreu adjust to being an everyday DH and that’s a win/win situation.

As starting pitching goes, I just don’t see the White Sox going $250 million (or more) for Gerrit Cole or $150 million (or more) for Stephen Strasburg. Not only is that not something they have done in the past, but I don’t see the Sox spending that kind of money (more on that later). The next group of starters includes Madison Bumgarner, Dallas Keuchel and Wheeler, guys who you could get for under $100 million. While I am a big fan of Bumgarner, I see him staying in the National League and the 1,800+ innings on his arm is a concern. Keuchel is a guy who probably slots as a #4 within the White Sox rotation and I don’t see what’s to be accomplished paying $60 million over three years for a number four who pitches to contact in a hitter’s park and who has never been much of a strikeout guy.

Right field is a conundrum because the Sox have been linked since the offseason began to Nicholas Castellanos. While I am a big fan of his bat (.289/.337/.525 with 27 home runs and 58 doubles in 2019) his defense is well below-average and he’s only been slotted at DH 40 times in 839 career games. So you’re giving up something with him either way, you’re guaranteeing yourself two below-average gloves in the outfield (along with left fielder Eloy Jimenez) or you are giving yourself the unknown of what he can produce at DH.

The DH position is a bit of a monkey in it’s own right, due to the lack of productive ones (Kendrys Morales, Justin Smoak and Mark Trumbo look to be the only full-time DH options outside of Encarnacion. Morales hit .194 with two home runs in 53 games, Smoak hit .208 with 22 home runs and Trumbo hit .172 with no home runs in 31 plate appearances.

I’ll pass on all three. And that leaves Encarnacion and guys like Avi Garcia.

There is also the possibility of rotating the DH (which has been about as productive as the past few full time DH options the White Sox have signed) and letting Zack Collins, Jose Abreu and the right fielder (Castellanos or Kole Calhoun or Corey Dickerson) to split time at the position. Not something I am a big fan of, but I like to have a set lineup every day.

As I have been writing this and doing my research prior to, one guy who keeps catching my attention is the aforementioned Corey Dickerson. While he is a left fielder, not a right fielder which the Sox need (and he has only six games of experience in his career in right field) I realized he has 128 games of experience at DH, mostly during his two-year stint with the Tampa Bay Rays. In addition to his left-handed bat, he also carries a .286 career batting average. He’ll turn 31 in May and maybe could be a good option as an everyday DH.

I hate feeling negative about the team, especially this offseason because the position player that is considered the #1 free agent plays a position they don’t need and if they don’t pursue him fans will take that negatively and I don’t think that’s fair. I wasn’t big on last year’s pursuit of Manny Machado (and was active about pushing that fact in my blog) because he didn’t fill a need; I knew they planned to play him at third base but that wasn’t his preferred position. I don’t want to see the Sox spend money just for the sake of saying “look, we signed Anthony Rendon, now we have to change our infield around to fit him in because we signed a guy at a position we didn’t need to fill, let’s hope Moncada is OK with another position switch.”

That doesn’t work. Spend the money, but spend it responsibly. Spend it on need. But don’t sign the cheapest player available and hope he’s a bounce-back candidate. Don’t sign an outfielder because he had a good season six years ago. Don’t sign a pitcher because he won a Cy Young award five years ago and he’s been awful since then. That doesn’t work.

I am 100% convinced this team can, with the right additions, contend for a Wild Card spot in 2020 and then for a division title in 2021. But there are holes that need to be filled and they need to be filled properly, with players who play the position and have been successful, recently. Winning teams have winning players. Let’s go out and find some.

Thank you for reading. Peace.