This week was originally designated as “Get to Know Each Other Week” in my master scheme but I feel like that is well under way in part thanks to the existence of the Blaugust Discord. If you have not joined the discord I highly suggest doing so, also if you have not signed up for the event then there is still plenty of time to get involved. For as generally open as I am with my readers about a lot of things… I still find it fairly hard to actually talk about myself in any sort of directed way. Sure while I am in the middle of writing about a topic there are a bunch of real life details that end up getting thrown into the mix for flavor, but to sit down and write a specific topic about me as a person… that is a whole other challenge.
I was born in 1976 on the wane of the seventies and the cusp of the eighties… then spent my high school and college years in the nineties giving me a really odd blend of cultural experiences. Each of those decades left its own indelible mark on my psyche. Another piece of the puzzle is the fact that I was the only child of a machinist by day and occasionally professional photographer by night and weekend… and a home economics teacher. I grew up in Rural Americana in the middle of the part of Oklahoma aptly referred to as “Green Country” in a town with a population of around 2000 give or take a few. We lived just far enough outside of the city limits to prevent us from getting cable… or me having many kids to play with.
That means a good deal of my life was spent entertaining myself through copious amounts of imagination and a strong dash of public television. I’ve talked a bit about my attachment to Mister Roger’s Neighborhood but I was equally attracted to adult programs like Nova. For the first several years of my life I spent the majority of my time with my grandmother and grandfather who served as a babysitter while my folks worked. My grandmother also doubled as my companion on so many adventures from learning how to cook, to roaming around in the pasture… to playing rousing games of candyland. There were many times come Friday night when my folks came to pick me up, that I would announce that I was staying the weekend.
As time passed and I aged those weekends with my grandparents were replaced with staying over at friends houses. There was a circle of two other close friends that I had and it seemed like every single weekend we were gathered together at one of the houses. I always enjoyed the act of getting out of my own family and melding into another one for the weekend. In late middle school one of the trio moved away and we were left with a duo. By the time high school rolled around things started to get a little strained, since my partner in crime was largely forced into sports by his father who wanted him to follow in his own footsteps… and I didn’t really have the equivalent pressure pushing me in that direction.
We all saw each other pretty often because around about this time skateboarding was a massive thing. My first “real” deck that I planned for and bought on my own was the Jason Jessee Neptune deck, and I wish I still had it if for no reason other than to hang it on the wall. I’ve contemplated buying one of the modern reproductions to do that, but its an awful pricey expense for a piece of kitch. Skating lead its way to other drift compatible activities… like playing in a band that ultimately formed around the nexus of a few of us that hung out frequently. I played the drums, the friend from middle school played the bass and patterned himself after Flea of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and the other friend with seemingly unlimited means bought a sweet telecaster and played lead guitar. We never really coalesced on a proper band name… we were FSU for awhile which we thought was edgy because it stood for Fucking Shut Up. Later we performed under the name Jive Daddies… which I always thought was kinda dumb but was overridden by the other two.
During my junior year however I got really sick. I started having these black outs and managed to park my car perfectly in a ditch down from my house once. It was ultimately sorted out that I had a pinched blood vessel in my neck, that was the side effect of getting rear ended in a car wreck and developing a minor case of whiplash. However it took awhile to sort that out and during this time I sorta drifted away from that circle of friends and built a new one. One of the truths of small time life is the lack of things to do… leads kids towards copious amounts of alcohol and drug abuse. My original duo of friends found their way into more serious paths leading towards hard drugs, and that was not a journey I was willing to follow them on. So really my illness became a convenient excuse to simply stop participating and extract myself from that situation.
Another thing that happened around this time is that my family finally got a computer. It was a 386SX 16 MHz without a math co-processor with 2 meg of ram and a 90 MB hard drive that at the time seemed like all the space I would ever need. It had no sound card because those simply did not come with computers standard at that point and was largely designed for business products running Windows 3.0 originally…. and later upgraded to the revolutionary 3.1. I learned computers through necessity, because I kept doing something to jack the machine up and then needing to figure out how to fix it before my dad got home. Largely these interludes involved me trying to sort out how to get more than 16 colors in windows paint… it was simpler time.
The new circle of friends and I vacillated between two activities… pen and paper gaming and pouring over whatever bootleg games we managed to get from someone that had a relative in college and would ship us home boxes of pirated games. Getting anything new was pretty much out of the question because at this point we had no access to stores that sold anything even vaguely related to PC gaming. At some point I stumbled upon a bookstore that happened to have 5.25 inch floppies with shareware on them and got my first copy of Wolfenstein 3D and an editor that someone made for it. We obsessed over building levels to the game and the result was usually one person building a level and another person trying to run through it.
I feel like at this point I have already typed too much information about myself, so I am going to cut things off at this point. We are now circa 1992 and on the cusp of Magic the Gathering being a thing. I’ve recently gotten back in touch with one of the members of the little crew that I played table top games with, so I fully expect him to respond here at some point. I do miss those days when things were so much simpler and it seemed like we had all of the time in the world to hang out and do stuff together. Time moves so much faster as you get older, and busier, and have your attention fragmented by dozens of things at the same time. I might pick up tomorrow with some more details that I maybe glazed over, but like I said… getting any sort of coherent narrative out of me about myself is a challenge.