Letting Go Of The Illusions Of The Past…

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Anyone who knows me has no doubt become annoyed at one time or another as I have reminisced on the happiness I had in 1995. It was truly an amazing year. For Easter, my girlfriend at the time presented me with the love of my life, my tabby cat, Bubbles, who passed away in 2013. I graduated from high school and started to college. I reintroduced myself to some of the classic TV programs I had enjoyed in my youth (particularly Three’s Company and Perry Mason).

I also began my lifelong love of sports simulation video gaming. Something that didn’t exist at the time but that like-minded people helped to bring to fruition in the following years. I also began my love of UCLA athletics. This actually started when I picked the Bruins to win the 1995 men’s basketball tournament in the pool at school, and they did, the first time in my life a team that I followed one any kind of championship. The UCLA baseball team would follow suit in 2013.

But when you brush away all the fluff, 1995 wasn’t the best year ever. By a long shot. There were still a multitude of annoyances. A relationship I was quickly growing tired of, that engulfed all my spare time and left me with little opportunity to enjoy any of my growing pursuits.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, since next year will mark 25 years since my most “incredible” year. And today I realized, I have had at least three better years than 1995; the earliest being 1982, followed by 2010, and amazingly, 2019, which may be the best year of all.

I started Kindergarten in 1982. My obsessions at that time were the Lone Ranger and the Dukes Of Hazzard. I would soon be introduced to Masters Of The Universe. It was a great time to be a kid. And I remember few moments of unhappiness. My uncle committed suicide that year, but at five years old, who has a grasp on the concept of death? I do remember sitting on his front porch, trying to play his fiddle as I saw the musicians do on Hee Haw every Saturday night.

My family took our first vacation in 1982, to New Mexico and the surrounding area. I remember it, but not clearly. Obviously there were more important things going on then.

To compare 1995 and 1982 is a bit like comparing apples and oranges, but taken in the right context, there really is no comparison for me. No doubt, 1982 was the better year.

The same applies to 2010. I had become a single man in November 2009 after a rather annoying three-and-a-half year relationship that was ill-conceived and ill-advised. I would spend a full year single, 375 days to be exact, minus a six-week period where I was in a “Facebook official” relationship that was anything but real. I had an amazing time and really started to grasp what it meant to live. I had good years prior to that (2000-04 were absolutely incredible and maybe equal to 2010, but included more minor aggravations) but 2010 was the closest thing to perfect.

Until now.

Today I elected to take stock of things and I realized that this is, without question, the golden year of my life. I should be happy beyond description. I have everything I could possibly ever want. In 1982, I had a 19” tabletop TV, a ColecoVision video game console and a small, handheld cassette player with three blank cassettes. The VCR hadn’t made it’s way into my world yet.

In 1995, things had expanded dramatically. I had a 25” TV, VCR, Nintendo Entertainment System, a 200-watt stereo with dual cassette deck and a Sony Walkman plugged into the auxiliary jack. I was videotaping Three’s Company and Perry Mason from TV and watching them at my leisure. At that time, it felt like I had it all and I had no idea what the future would bring.

Now it’s 2019. I have a 55” Samsung Smart TV, a DVD recorder, a PlayStation 3 and 4, a Retron 5 (which plays a multitude of old video game cartridges), a 400-watt stereo with a 5-CD changer, an incredible PC I built myself, a Samsung Galaxy S8, more DVDs and CDs than I could ever watch or listen to for the rest of my life, and enough money to have anything I want.

Even though that’s the case, I still find myself dreaming back to 1995. And I can’t stand it. The problem with me is, when I’m unhappy, I try to wish myself away to happier times. But when I’m in happy times, I do the same thing. I can remember back in 1995 reminiscing about happier days, 1982 and 1985 and 1989. Then by the time I got to the early 2000s, I was pissing that time away wishing back to 1995. And here I am, in my happiest period, still wishing the same.

In 1995, I didn’t have the luxury of pulling up any TV show in the world and watching it at any time I wanted, only the ones I had managed to tape from TV and even then, I had to wait to tape them day by day, because the concept of just buying a season or complete series of a TV show was non-existent. Cell phone? Nope. And the concept of a smart phone wasn’t even close. Back then I was at the mercy of whatever baseball game happened to be on at the time. Now I just turn on the MLB app on my Smart TV and watch the White Sox game when it’s on.

This is, literally, my time. Everything is in front of me. As happy as I have been in the past, in 2010 or 2002 or 1995 or 1989 or 1982, this should be putting all of those years past to shame. But I keep trying to sabotage myself, either through constant reminiscing of year’s past or trying to do stupid things to wreck the current wavelength I am living on, like introducing women into the fold. No woman has ever brought anything but misery and unhappiness into my life, yet I kept remaining open to allowing more and more of them into my life. Why I keep doing this is beyond my comprehension.

Some have said it’s just a part of my life that’s missing. I disagree. From 1996 to 2005, I was single. I spent nine glorious years as a single man. And that’s what 1982, 2010 and 2019 all have in common, there is no woman taking over my life and making it unhappy and dramatic and boring and miserable. That’s how 2010 came to a grinding halt, I allowed a bottom-of-the-trash-can greaseball to come into the picture and it was almost instant misery for the seven years that followed.

So why would I be stupid enough to even consider allowing that to happen again?

I am NOT a good fit for relationships. For one thing, I am extremely selfish and protective of my time. I have things I want to do and one of those things is watching White Sox baseball, a privilege for which I pay money. If I am doing so, that is going to take precedence over other less-important things, like whatever some girl wants to do. I also enjoy spending my money on me for a change, so I have spoiled myself to the ultimate degree. Not just the smartphone and stereo and TV and game consoles and DVDs but all the other little purchases that make my day seem a little happier.

And then I realized just how much women can negatively affect my life, as this past Friday I allowed a female to corrupt my schedule, missing Friday night’s White Sox game to watch a movie. It took me three days to get myself back into my groove, and to what end? What was the point of spending my Friday night doing anything other than what I want to spend my Friday night doing?

Now, understand, I’m not saying I am 100% anti-woman, if I ever met a woman who enjoyed baseball and video games and Star Trek who cooks like Nigella Lawson and is built like Raine Michaels I might give it a go. But until that time, why should I sell myself on millimeter short?

I have taken great pains in the past week or so to detach myself from anyone who brings anything but happiness into my life. This has included pretty much every local single woman in my area. Whether they had an interest in me or not (not in 96% of the cases) didn’t matter. I needed to build a wall and they needed to be on the other side of it. I have changed my Facebook settings so I am almost unreachable unless you are a Facebook friend or you know my cell phone number.

And even those who I know had it are finding themselves blocked and unable to use it.

I just can’t let this time period be corrupted. This is MY time. This is my golden hour. This is the point in time that my whole life has been focused on. When all the parts come together and make a complete picture, this is it. I will not do anything to ruin it, and that includes spending it reminiscing about times in the past that don’t hold a candle to what I have right here in front of me.

From this day forward, and maybe through the end of my life, it’s all about me. I cannot have it any other way. I nearly ruined my life a number of times, and I managed to extricate myself from those dilemmas and reach the point I am at now. And I am going to make the most of every second. Everyone deserves to be happy. And now, finally, it is my turn. It’s all about me.

Thank you for taking the time to read. Peace.

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The Best Years Of My Life: A Retrospective

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As I reach what could be considered my “mid-life” point (40), I have been taking stock of my life and doing a lot of reminiscing.  And the more that I think about it, the more I can say, without hesitation, that three years of my life stand out above all others:  1983, 1995 and 2010.  In those years, I turned six, 18 and 33, respectively.

1983

Naturally, 1983 is the most difficult to fully put into perspective, on the basis of the fact that I was six.  But, I can clearly remember some aspects of that year.  I “graduated” from Kindergarten and started first grade.  The most important happening that year took place in the summer, when I discovered He-Man and the Masters Of The Universe.  I saw the cartoon on TV and immediately needed to go to the store to find the action figures, which I saw during commercials.  I can remember this vividly.  Mom and dad took me to a local store and I got the Skeletor figure, though I wanted the He-Man figure, but it was not in stock.  In fact, it would be several months before I finally found a He-Man figure.  But I would spend the following six years as a fan of the franchise, and now I own the entire series on DVD in a limited-edition, numbered boxed set.

I was also a huge fan of The Lone Ranger and The Dukes Of Hazzard.  The Lone Ranger had a momentary resurgence of popularity in the early 1980s due to the release of the film “The Legend Of The Lone Ranger,” released in May, 1981.  The release of the film lead to the old 1950’s TV series seeing air again, as well as the release of an animated series, both of which I remember well.  I can remember going to the store and getting caps for my cap guns and plastic Lone Rangers masks.

The Dukes were another matter entirely.  I was completely obsessed with the Dukes in 1983.  I couldn’t wait for Friday nights.  And then Saturday mornings, when The Dukes, an animated version of the show, was airing.  I had Dukes action figures, posters, cars, play-sets, shirts, pajamas, lunchboxes.  You name it, I had it.

I now own a limited-edition boxed set of The Lone Ranger, which was released in 2013 to coincide with the release of “The Lone Ranger,” a Disney film that was a box office bomb, which lead to the boxed set being pulled from shelves sooner than expected.  I also own the complete Dukes Of Hazzard series, and films, on DVD.

I got my first bike in 1983, for my birthday.  It was, surprisingly enough, a Dukes Of Hazzard bike.  The good news was, I had a new bike.  The bad news was, I had to ride that bike for the next six years, because I didn’t get another bike until I turned 12, and my Dukes bike was so small it barely held me anymore.

I also got my first “personal” TV in 1983.  It was a 13″ color TV with wood-grain housing and no remote, because it had knobs as opposed to buttons.  I got years of usage out of that TV, in fact, I still had it in the late 2000s, when I went HD.

Kindergarten was great, I have nothing but good memories of it.  First grade, not so much but nothing bad.  I would have many betters years in school.

I went on vacation in 1983 with my family and we visited one of mom’s friends who lives in Michigan.  She had the coolest electronic gadget:  A VCR.  I can clearly remember being amazed at the concept of putting a tape in this machine and then watching a movie.  With no commercials and to watch at any time, and stop at any time.  We got home from vacation and went straight to the Magnavox dealer and bought one.

1995

Naturally, what stands out here is high school graduation and starting to college.  I enjoyed high school immensely.  At the time, I was happy in all facets of my life.  And I was looking forward to getting out of high school and moving on.

My home life was great, my love life was great, my academic life was great.  My two obsessions at the time were playing Tecmo Super Bowl on the Nintendo and collecting AC/DC albums on cassette.  I had gotten Tecmo a couple of years previously but my playing really hit its peak in 1995.  I played seven consecutive seasons with the Cleveland Browns, winning three Super Bowls.  And one of my fondest Tecmo memories was an all-night season my friend Joe Nunez and I played, he with the Cleveland Browns and myself with the New Orleans Saints.  We still mention it to this day.

I had been collecting AC/DC albums since 1993 but in 1994 Atlantic Records re-released the band’s first 11 albums, digitally remastered.  So I kind of had to “start over” to an extent.  Then, in September, they released their first new studio album in five years, “Ballbreaker.”  I played the cassette completely out in no time.

One of my favorite memories of 1995 was my TV show collections.  In June, I started taping Three’s Company every day, as two episodes were shown on TBS every morning.  Later that year, in December, I started taping Perry Mason.  I watched those tapes until they were so worn out the sound was pretty much gone and the picture was quite snowy.  I have replaced both with complete series DVD sets over the years.

I was such a fan of these two shows that I wired my TV through my stereo and recorded the soundtrack from episodes of each show onto cassette to listen to in bed or while I was driving.  When I started to college, I would take a cassette with two episodes of Three’s Company on one side and a single episode of Perry Mason on the other.

I LOVED college.  It was the happiest era of my life, bar none.  Life was constantly in motion and I couldn’t wait to get to each and every day.  Couldn’t wait to get up and go to class.  Couldn’t wait for class to be over so I could go home and watch that day’s Three’s Company and Perry Mason episodes.  Couldn’t wait to play Tecmo Super Bowl after dinner.  Couldn’t wait to go to bed and do it all again the next day.

What’s odd is that as soon as 1996 turned over, everything went downhill and 1996 will forever be known as the second-worst year of my life, after 2017.  My girlfriend and I split, my best friend at college just up and quit without a word, my parents lost their jobs when the company they worked for closed the plant they worked at.

But 1995 was absolutely exceptional from the beginning to the end.

2010

Wow.  What can I say about 2010.  I had one obsession in 2010.  Girls.  All girls, all the time.  I had two or three dates every weekend, sometimes two in one night.  At times, it might just be a girl coming over to watch TV.  Sometimes it was a legit dinner-and-a-movie date.  Sometimes it was a straight hook-up.  Sometimes it was a platonic dinner.  Sometimes it was all of the above.  Whatever it was, it was great.

I was made to be single.  This is the life I would choose if I had a choice.  As Benny Hill said, “why make one woman miserable when you can make so many so happy?”  And in 2010, I did my best to make as many women happy as I could.

The only thing that stands out to be in 2010 as far as entertainment goes is that I discovered The Rifleman, and bought a bootleg DVD set on eBay.  And yes, I had a girl over to watch a few episodes of the series after it arrived in the mail.

Speaking of bootleg DVDs, I also found a guy selling a set of Marvel Comics animated shows that were produced in the 1960s, based on the actual comic art.  These programs are well known among Marvel fans but they have never been released on DVD in the United States, though a European release does exist.  So I found a seller who had gotten a hold of the European DVDs and burned them, quite professionally, onto Region 1 DVDs.  We negotiated a price and I was thrilled to get those in my collection.

My average 2010 week was spent at work during weekdays and in the pool every evening, blasting AC/DC and watching the sun set behind the house.  Then on the weekends it was restaurants, movies, shopping and girls, girls, girls.

The only bad thing about 2010 is the way it ended, the last six weeks of the year were nothing like the first 46, which included a broken ankle and several months spent in a walking boot.  But I won’t let that stain the year, overall.

EPILOGUE

I have said on many occasions I would not trade my life for anything or to anyone.  I have had the most enjoyable life, with so few exceptions, and the memories are priceless.  And 1983 (childhood), 1995 (teenage years) and 2010 (adult years) are the pinnacle of each era of my life.  I’m hoping that 2018 will measure up in some way to these three years from my past, and so far, its doing pretty well.

Peace, and God bless.