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.

 

What’s Next?… My Future On Social Media And In Life

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With this whole “Facebook jail” thing about to end by 10:00 AM Eastern Time tomorrow, I have found myself spending the past week looking at how Facebook has affected my online time as well as my time offline, in terms of what I was doing in relation to Facebook. Like most everyone else, I tended to share pics of certain meals I had prepared, what movies I was watching as well as songs and quotes that fit my mood.

After a week of not doing that, I find myself in the odd spot of not knowing if I’ll ever do any of that again. Some shares were kind of “expected,” for instance I enjoy sharing my cigar selection with the “Cigar Obsession” group when I get a chance to smoke. I enjoy sharing as well as seeing what other group members are smoking and getting feedback on various sticks. But that’s different than posting for posting’s sake.

But it’s not just social media. I have a different outlook on everything.

First, I’ve decided that now is the time to knock off all the “not dating for a specified time” nonsense and just accept things as they are; my “dating” days are over. At 42, my best days are long past, and my options are so few that it’s not worth wasting my time. Every day I see women dating men with police records, no money, drug problems, bad teeth, you name it, and for whatever reason they are a better option than I am. Fair enough. From this day forward, no matter who you are, consider me to be unavailable.

The upshot of me being unavailable is that I am going to dedicate my spare time to many of the things I’ve wanted to do for years and didn’t have the chance to do because of ugly, complaining, exasperating women. There are no more of them in the picture, so now I can focus on my video game pursuits (MLB The Show and the Batman Arkham series, in particular), watching movies and shows I haven’t had the opportunity to see in years (or maybe ever) and spending my money on myself rather than some skank.

Two weeks ago at this time I was in love; one week ago at this time I had a feeling I would be completely taking myself off the market permanently. Today, I have.

I feel like a failure, and most of my problems in life were self-inflicted. I wasted 10 of my prime years in relationships with women I shouldn’t have even given a second glance to. Disgusting, worthless women. That is 100% on me. Instead of pursuing women that were on my level, I consistently aimed low and settled for far less than I should have.

This past week has allowed me to look deep inside my own soul and I am so ready to change the way I live and how I interact on social media and in person with society. I feel happier already and have definitely enjoyed my day. I’m ready to watch DC Comics shows and movies, play video games, smoke cigars, cook, go for long drives and just be happy for a change. I haven’t been consistently happy since 2005. I’m long overdue.

Thank you for reading.

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.

2019 [redux]

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I have updated this article since it was first posted.

There are 23 days remaining in 2018, as of the time I write this blog entry.

I want to address my New Year’s Resolutions, and what I hope will be a personal New Year’s Revolution. While 2018 was a good year in many ways, and one of the best I have had in many years, it still came up well short in a number of areas. The way I figure it, 2018 was for licking the wounds of years’ past. In 2019, it’s time for me to take a big step forward.

Here are some of the basic changes I want to make for 2019 and beyond:

I. Get my body back in working order

I know that it’s a common practice for people to plan to get themselves into better shape when each new year rolls around. In my case, it’s more a matter of survival. I’m 41 years old and I’m around 60 pounds overweight, maybe as much as 80 pounds. I certainly can’t continue on the path I am on. Most of this weight is due to a decade-plus of overeating due to an insane amount of stress and unhappiness.  Now that I am at a happy place in my life, it’s time to turn things around and put my broken body back together.  I want to look like I did when I was 22 again.

II. Get my mind back in working order

This could easily cover two resolutions. First, I want to do what I should have done in 2018 but didn’t due to the fact that I didn’t know what was happening in my life for the first several months of the year. I was going through a period of trying to “re-establish” myself, so to speak, rebuilding friendships that had been lost over time, and gaining new friends. But I didn’t take enough time for myself, as I tried to navigate through a world I was unfamiliar with. I had a hard time getting my “sea legs” under me and learning what it was like to be social again.

Second, I want to start learning again. I didn’t pursue my passions for years and I have a lot of regret inside of me because of that.  And I don’t like carrying regret with me.

I have a thirst for knowledge, and in 2018 I started studying some of my favorite subjects again, from mathematics to physics to anthropology to engineering to astronomy. I want to expand that exponentially in 2019, and soak up as much knowledge as my brain will hold.

III. Learn to leave the past in the past, and concentrate on the future

This is a BIG one, and I’m not just talking about the unhappy parts of my life, either, few as they may be. One of my problems is that I spent way too much time sitting around reminiscing about 1982 or 1995 or 2002 or 2010 instead of focusing on the time at hand. This is a mistake I have made all my life. I long for happier days, instead of making the present day happier. In high school I longed for my childhood. In the early 2000s I longed for my high school days. In the late 2000s I was yearning for the early 2000s.  To this day, I still find myself reminiscing about happier times.

Living in the past has eaten me up at times over the years.  Back on December 29, 2008, I tried to relive December 29, 1995.  Yeah, I went to the same places and did the same things to the extent that I bought the CD copies of two albums I had bought on cassette on that same date in 1995.  While I can’t deny that 1995 was the happiest year of my life, I absolutely have to let it go.  I spent times that were just as enjoyable (the early 2000s, for example) longing for 1995.

IV. Clean up the trash in my life and put it where it belongs

As I have brought new friends into my circle, I realized that not all of them are on an acceptable level, and some cleaning will need to be done. Two years ago, at this time, I had 162 Facebook friends and around 200 Twitter followers and I didn’t even have an Instagram account. As of now, I have over 1,100 Facebook friends, nearly 1,300 Twitter and 600 Instagram followers.

While I managed to clean out the gutter trash, there is still some sidewalk trash that needs to be swept up and thrown away. I have an excellent and well-earned reputation and I intend on keeping it, which means eliminating the riffraff from my life. Permanently.  So, I see a mass deletion in my future, and I’ve already begun to compile a list of people who won’t see me by 2019.

V. Learn to forgive, by trying to forget

I carry grudges.  And sometimes, those grudges completely eat me alive.  I can’t eat or sleep, all I can do is picture justice being served.  I still carry grudges against people who wronged me 35 years ago.  And that is completely ridiculous.  This goes back to leaving the past in the past.  If someone wronged me in first grade, or as a high school freshman, or when I was 28 or 41, it doesn’t matter.  The bad memories and injustices need to be left back at the point that they happened.  Being annoyed or carrying hatred for things that happened in the past doesn’t do any good for anyone.  Especially when I let it eat at me day in and day out for years.

VI. The UCLA Conundrum

This will make no sense to anyone who reads this without some explanation.

And frankly, I don’t want to dive too deeply into it. I’ll simply say this: In 2019, I want to make a decision once and for all as to whether I am going to get NCAA Football 14, NCAA Basketball 10 and MVP NCAA Baseball 07 out of my attic and play a full career as a three sport student-athlete at UCLA. This project has been done twice before, once in the late 1990s and once in 2004. I have wanted to do it again in the 14 years since, but have never had a better opportunity.

The problem lies in the fact that I’m 41 years old and I haven’t watched a single college sporting event since the West Virginia vs. Marshall football game in 2012. I’m not only out of the loop, I’m not even in the same area code. And I don’t know if the desire is even still there. It may be time to put my UCLA project out to pasture. I’ll know better around April of 2019, because if I do decide to go through with the project one last time, I’ll want to start in August 2019.

VII. Decide once and for all if I want to be a single man for life

I have debated with myself on every side of this issue. Yes, I want to get married and have a family. I think. The fact remains the best thing that ever happened to me is the fact that I have never been married.  I saved myself a lot of problems over the years.  Of course, to be completely honest, I never once had a situation in my life where I ever came close to getting married.

Do I want to? Or do I want to just continue as a happily single man? I don’t know.  I don’t know how I would fit into a marriage.  I’m too much my own man, and to quote Stone Cold Steve Austin, “nobody tells me what to do, and that’s the bottom line, cause Stone Cold said so.”  I like the idea of being married, I like the idea of falling in love and having someone fall in love with me, because my experiences in that department are minimal and it’s been a long time since anything close to those kinds of feelings have risen up inside of me.  In fact, it’s been 23 years since I even would have considered marrying a girl.  So I really don’t know if I even have it in me anymore.

But as 2019 progresses, I intend to find out. And I mean that, once and for all.

VIII. Maintain this list, not just for 2019, but for the rest of my life

I don’t want to sit down here one year from now and have to think about the same things I’m thinking about now. I want to be past that. Once I have climbed the mountains before me, I want to move on to other mountains and climb those as well. And more after that.

I wouldn’t trade my life to anyone for anything. I would change a few things if I could but I’ll take what I have been blessed with. I just want to take better advantage of the gifts I was born with. I will not deal in the slums anymore. I will not waste my days reminiscing or lamenting about past happenings. I’ll make the most of what I have.  I’m moving forward and not looking back.

IX. Get back into video gaming again

I haven’t gamed regularly in years. In my younger days, I played daily, whether it was Tecmo Super Bowl or Super Mario Bros. 3 or something entirely different. I have neglected my gaming over the past decade or so. I had made a good turnaround after buying my son a PlayStation 4 and several games he enjoyed for his PlayStation 3, including Ghostbusters and Batman/DC Comics games. Now I want to get back into retro gaming. I have a Retron 5 console that plays NES, Super NES, Sega Genesis, Nintendo Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance games. I also still enjoy titles from all four PlayStation consoles, and I have a backward-compatible PlayStation 3 that plays PSOne, PS2 and PS3 titles. And a PS4.

I purchased a number of well-known Western games, from The Lone Ranger for the NES to Gun for the PS2, Call Of Juarez for the PS3 and the entire Red Dead series. I also bought as many Star Trek titles as I could find, from the NES to the PlayStation 3. And, of course, I used to make a habit of playing Grand Theft Auto III every October/November years ago.

In closing, I would like to thank you for taking the time to read and know that I am absolutely convinced that 2019 will be the best year of my life, so far. There will be good times upcoming, and there will be bad times, but as long as the good outnumber the bad, I’ll not complain. My life as a whole has been far, far more good than bad. The last decade? Not so much. But I will do whatever it takes to make 2019 the most successful year of this millennium for me.

Peace.

Today I’m Thankful For…

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

I would like to touch on a few of the things I am truly thankful for on this blessed day.

I. My Health. At this time one year ago, I truly had one foot in the grave. Between heart problems, stomach ulcers, migraine headaches and the abundance of other problems that were eating me alive due to stress, I couldn’t believe I was going to live to see the end of 2017. My son was the only thing keeping me going, the only thing in my life that really mattered to me at all. A year later I am truly on the road to recovery. I have a long way to go, but the majority of my problems have been overcome, once the issues that were causing me so much stress were eliminated. While I still deal daily with stress, as everyone does, my stress level now has lowered so much it’s barely a blip on the stress radar.

II. My Friends And Family. I often say I owe my friends a debt of gratitude I can never repay, and that is so true. So many that I was not “allowed” to remain in contact with over the years that I have been able to reconcile with, you helped to fill the hole in my soul this year. I cannot stress enough how much all of you truly mean to me.

III. Technology. This has been the greatest tech year of my life. I upgraded my cell phone, I got a new 4K Smart TV, upgraded the RAM in my PC, bought two new stereo systems, two Amazon Fire Sticks and upgraded my video game collection. I often sit an reminisce about my younger days, without thinking about the fact that I have everything I had in my younger days, and I have it at my fingertips anytime I want it. As a young lad I loved watching The Dukes Of Hazzard but I could only watch it on Friday night’s, when it was on the air. Now I can put in a DVD or turn on Amazon Prime video and watch it anytime I want to. And that goes for anything else I want to watch. What a time to be alive.

IV. My Mind. No one has ever accused me of not being intelligent, in spite of the large number of stupid decisions I have made in my life. One of those decisions was to allow my brain to stagnate for the past 10 or 12 years. Not only was I not learning, I was dumbing myself down by being around too many people who lacked not only a higher level of intelligence but, in some cases, even basic intelligence. That’s a bad place for an intellectual mind. Now I’m able to learn again and I’m taking full advantage of it. Physics. Engineering. Mathematics. History. Social Sciences. Chemistry. Paleontology.

V. My Life. I wouldn’t trade my life for anything or anyone. If I could just rewrite my life from 2006 to 2017 (with the exception of every second spent with my son) and make a few more intelligent decisions in my teenage years and I would call my life “perfect.” While I can’t change the past, the future is mine for the taking and brother, I’m taking. I’m living for me, doing what I want, when I want and how I want. Thankfully.

Thank you for reading, God bless and Happy Thanksgiving.

“There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.” – Alfred Hitchcock

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Those that have known me for any appreciable length of time know that I have been a fan of the works of Alfred Hitchcock for nearly 30 years. I was first introduced to him via Alfred Hitchcock Presents episodes in the fall of 1991, when my mom invited me to watch an episode and I was instantly hooked. In the years since, I have acquired nearly never episode of that program plus all of his surviving feature films.

I actually began taping Alfred Hitchcock Presents the year I discovered it, on VHS tapes, as they aired on Nick At Nite. In 1998, I re-recorded every episode that was shown on TV Land. Finally, when the program was released on DVD, I was quick to purchase every season that’s been released. I am still waiting for the release of the final season. I’m not sure why every other season was rushed to release except that one.

As for his feature films, AMC ran a marathon in 1999, the 100th anniversary of Hitchcock’s birth, and I filled as many VHS tapes as I could with those films. The ones that weren’t shown, I would try to find at my local movie and music stores.

Then, in 2010, I purchased three studio-release boxed sets, as well as a $5 Walmart boxed set that featured mostly silent films from the 1920s. The few films that were not included in any of these sets, I purchased on individual DVDs.

I have 54 feature films and 229 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents in my collection. I plan to watch ALL of them over the next five months or so. While I have, more than likely, watched every episode of the TV program over the years, there are still 10 or 12 feature films I have not seen, even though they have been in my collection for a number of years. This has been a dream of mine for some time. Now it will happen.

In addition to watching, I also am planning to rate each film and TV episode through my IMDb account. I have done this previously with the 1950s TV series State Trooper and with the first two seasons of the original Star Trek series. I think it will be fun to look back on that as the years go by and especially when I watch a film over again.

This little project has literally been something I have been desirous of doing since at least 2005. I knew it would be a winter project, since my summer nights are taken by Chicago White Sox baseball games. I also knew it needed to be done at a time when I would have absolutely no outside distractions on a nightly basis.

My current thought process says I would like to watch three films per week, which will take 18 weeks if all goes as planned. I would also like to watch roughly 10 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents per week, which would take roughly five months, and I would finish up right in time for MLB Spring Training in 2019. I do worry about burnout, though a few years ago I watched every episode of The Lone Ranger during the winter months, 221 complete, and never suffered burnout. And could have watched more.

I have printed out the title of all 54 feature films and will be cutting them out and putting them in an old cigar box and will draw a film out and watch, that way I’m leaving which films I’ll be watching completely to chance. I don’t want to just jump in watching my favorites (i.e. The Lady Vanishes, Rebecca and Psycho) all at once.

Oddly enough, the oldest surviving Hitchcock film, titled The Pleasure Garden, is one of the few I have not seen before. It was not included in any of the boxed sets. Released in 1925, I was able to secure a DVD copy from Amazon at a reasonable price. Apparently, it is now out of print because it is no longer available on Amazon or eBay.

I am looking forward to this project. It is many years in the making.

Below is my collection.

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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.