Becoming Gamer

Playing games has been favorite pastime for young people since the advent of the Nintendo Entertainment System. My first game was Super Mario Bros., and I would play it with my Dad on the weekends. I’d also watch my brother play Final Fantasy II (the Japanese IV) on the Super NES well into the night (rather than sleeping before school).

I’ll go through phases now, and play a game for a while before not picking up a controller for months. However, my friend Greg and I have partnered on a video game streaming endeavor, and now I’ll be expected to play weekly. Two Dudes, One Console. It’s also a chance to work on video and audio editing, which I’ve been neglecting for too long.

It’ll be important to maintain proper time management in the nascent stages of this endeavor, especially to keep up with all other projects. So this afternoon, recording session two!

I’m 35… Now what?

For starters, here’s the chestnut from back in May: “By 35, you should have twice your salary saved, according to retirement experts”

Huh… Click the link to read all the Twitter responses. I don’t even know what to say to that.

What I do know is that, no, I don’t have twice my annual salary saved. As a matter of fact, I’ve actually cashed out two retirement accounts in the last ten years. One was to help pay for my M.A., the other to fund my first international travel excursion. (And marriage, but that’s a whole different saga…)

I am rebuilding my retirement accounts, utilizing Acorns and Stash. Is it a lot? No. But do I set aside money each month for my future? Yes. And that’s an important distinction.

There are many issues with growing up, being an adult, and living life nowadays. I’m not saying that there haven’t always been challenges. I know there has been. Parents having to walk up hill, both ways, in the snow to get to school.

But seriously, we now have more access to just about everything. Health care, fresh produce, jobs, instructional videos, housing, distant friends and family, etc. We gave up degrees of privacy, downtime, upward mobility, living within our means, and community.

Being 35 in 2018 is almost science-fiction compared to being 35 in 1918. Imagine what a 35 year-old in 2118 will experience!

So I’m left with the question – what will I do? What will I do with the next 35 years of my life? What will I become? What do any of us do with the time we have?

“There is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost.”

– Martha Graham

Halloween, post mortem

As I’ve said before, October tends to be one of my busiest months of the year. I like October. I like Halloween, I like a bit of the season change. And I like keeping busy, finding things to do during that month.

Here around Orlando there’s always plenty to do, and I visited Halloween Horror Nights at Universal, as well as the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot. Halloween Horror Nights has been an annual tradition of mine for around 20 years – since my mom used to bring me as a child.

I’ve been fascinated by the macabre for as long as I can remember. That equates to reading selections, horror film-watching (everything except torture porn), and delving into mythologies surrounding the frightening mysteries of the world.

That is in part why I like October as much as I do.

Why it’s so busy, though – this year I was wrapping a show, working another, and trying to make my way to HHN (about weekly) to get as much value as I can from my pass. I make myself busy, I’ll admit.

Last year there was a show as well, at least rehearsals for it, and also I was working in Georgia for several weeks. Now, my work is focused mainly on taking meetings and making contacts – so, not as bad on the actual schedule.

This Halloween, I also took a stroll down memory lane, revisiting holiday programs I had watched as a child: Witch’s Night OutThe Halloween That Almost Wasn’tTiny Toons’ Night Ghoullery. Halloween is good for tradition. Making a tradition of decorating, watching scary movies or family frightening entertainment, and giving out candy. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are good holidays for tradition, and the October season starts it.

Thus I keep in the tradition of having a busy October. A slower November. This week I fly down to Costa Rica, so the next update will be from Central America.

Adulting 101

Had drinks with my friends following a birthday dinner the other night. I think there are things that you talk with lifelong friends about that you don’t talk to anyone else about. At least, not to the fullest extent.

  • I shared some issues I was having in my personal life, both emotionally and with a relationship.
  • We spoke about issues relating to money, and homeownership.
  • We talked about working, and having a business.

There are classes in school that teach so many facts and stats, but where are the principles of adulthood? Where do you learn how to file taxes, or make a budget? Where do they get off saying that student debt is okay, when really it’s the largest portion of debt now in the United States, and it places American students with outstanding debt on uneven footing.

Out of our discussion, we came to the conclusion that schools should have an actual class, and that life lessons in those classes become progressively more challenging each year. Budgeting, taxes, investing, business ownership vs. being employed, college vs. trade school.

No tests would be necessary, but each student must annually present on what they’ve learned, what they hope to accomplish, and a career path that interests them. Not an elective, like home economics or shop, but an actual dedicated curriculum spot for every student.

That is Adulting 101.

Halloween

Took a bit of a shifting schedule this week, as my body readjusted from the overnights I’ve been working. Back in sunny Florida, though autumn has come to town.

Halloween routinely topped my list of favorite days in the year, from the time I was a young boy through now. It’s been some time since I dressed in costume (a party in 2011, maybe?), but every year I celebrate with haunted houses, scary films, and Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights.

This year was unfortunately marked by the passing of someone who’s favorite day as well was October 31st. My thoughts were with her this week, and her family.

A view from a hangover

It wasn’t an all-nighter fueled by Red Bull and Stoli. It wasn’t a binge. It was some rum and cokes at Chili’s for Sunday football, and a few drinks later with the boys.

It hit me hard yesterday, though, and I was all I could do to get through the day with open eyes. It’s tough getting older.

I look back on numerous hangovers over the years, and can recall some of the more questionable circumstances. I’m glad this time it was just my bed.

My other things: theatre

Last week, I wrote about why I write. But there are a number of things that interest me, which is likely why I read so much. As I work on building my WordPress site into something that fully represents me, I wanted to lay out a few things that represent me.

For instance, I’ve been involved in theatre for over ten years now. I have two very clear memories from when I was a child, though I don’t remember exactly when these were. One was a show I was in.

I guess I was always in choirs, because I still sing today. Usually one or two days of practice every week, as well as singing on Sunday.

Anyway, in grade school (maybe first or second grade), I was in a production. I don’t know what it was, or what it was about. I just remember I had to be on stage shirtless. My little butterball self. I was some sort of aboriginal, or Pacific Islander. I wore a lei. (I’m very white, by the way. Perhaps at the time I had a tan.)

There were three of us, shirtless children on stage. The fact that I remember it even now should be some kind of indicator. As if that wouldn’t be scarring enough to a young psyche.

Then there’s the first show I remember seeing. It was when my dad was courting my stepmother, and we all went to see Grease, live on stage at a community theatre. Well, I walked out of that building saying, “What a waste of time. I would never sit through something live on stage again.”

It’s been over a hundred productions later of my own, as well as countless shows I’ve seen or sat in on for their rehearsals. I guess I can safely say: “Boy, was I wrong.”

IMG_2832It’s a joy for me. I love theatre, performing, seeing it, working on it. For over ten years now I’ve been goofing around, on stage. It’s really a wonderful thing.

 

Call me nostalgic

We’re reducing the tactile sensations of our world to nothing more than keyboard and screen interactions. Consider:

Music early on was heavy; weighty. You picked up the albums and loaded them into gramophones, into record players. You lowered a needle. You would wipe the needle down, and the record off, lest you get the bumps and whine of interference. Perhaps you could listen for thirty minutes, then it was either flip to the B side, or repeat Side A. Then came the cassette, with it’s unique little flip-case. Crack, pop. Crack, pop. Unique sounds and feelings of taking a tape out, inserting it into a tape deck. 

CDs digitized the whole system, and suddenly sound quality changed drastically. Still, you had these CD cases, or maybe you put them in sleeves. You could bring a whole disocragphy with you, if you were so inclined. And then it went further digital with the advent of the digital music player, and multiple discographies were available in something the size of a cassette. 

Similarly books, whose only transitions have been to audio, and then to digital. It seems a bit harder to invent new ways to read rather than listen to music. 

Video also is all stored on the web now, and is available to watch or download at the click of the button. What started as the tactile sensation of adjusting rabbit ear antennae so that the signal would come in clear, then became inserting beta or VHS; laser disc; DVD; HD-DVD and Blu-Ray. Now streaming. 

I think that’s why there’s a return to older sensibilities. Record players becoming en vogue again. Letter writing and stationary. Long has it been said that digital books would kill the print copy, yet even booksellers seem to be feeling the resurgence. We are beings that like touching things, and when too much exists in cyberspace, we just don’t know what to do with our idle hands. 

Find your true North

Most of my life now is lived in the phrase,”Recently I’ve…” As in, “Recently I’ve been reading…”; or, “Recently I’ve started a practice of…” Very little in my life as it is can date back to before a year and a half ago. I’d say it would be a positive thing (living in the moment, and all that) but recently I’ve noticed that much of what made me who I was has been lost in the shuffle as well.

Like most things, I sat down thinking I’d be writing about the book that recently I’ve started reading, Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans. I had heard an interview with them on NPR last year and made a mental note to read the book at some point. 

Thinking of the design problems of life (my life in particular) led me to think of another book that recently I’ve started reading: Wanderlust, by Jeff Krasno. This was a companion piece to the fact that recently I’ve started a practice of yoga. Which, in the full circle way my mind works, brought me back to the fact that the past eighteen months has been a whirlwind and I still have no clue what I’m doing. 

Then I thought, that may not be a bad thing. We got lost sometimes. Lose our way. Think we’re following a path only to look down and see that we’re the only set of footprints to be found. But every path had to be discovered that first time. Not every mistake leads to innovation, but every innovation began with a mistake. 

The cover of Wanderlust invites the reader to “find your true north”. I set the picture of my first tattoo as header because I’ve been searching for true North for longer than eighteen months. Maybe that’s the one constant throughout my whole weird and wonderful existence. Who knows if we ever reach it? But I believe that we can keep moving the needle in that direction.

Namaste.  

My Favorite Pearls

Wisdom. Where does it come from? It seems that much of the past fifteen months, for me, has been an unending quest for wisdom and understanding. As of yet, I’m still coming up short. Mostly I quote Socrates (as Plato has written): Ἓν οἶδα ὅτι οὐδὲν οἶδα.” All I know is that I know nothing.

Yet, over the years, people have given me advice in one shape or another. Maybe I’ve read it in books, or seen it on television. One of my favorites has done little more than make me smile, but sometimes that’s all advice needs to do. So I wanted to provide some of that here.

The early bird gets the worm

Obviously. The earlier you start digging in the dirt, the more likely you are to reap the spoils. 

Measure twice, cut once

I’ve never been one for construction, but this can applied to many avenues of life. It’s about being precise – even if it takes a little longer in the beginning to get it right, it saves time and money on the other side if you aren’t redoing your work.

Breathe

Quite possibly the simplest yet most profound peace of advice I’ve ever gotten, and it still shows up for me today, to remind me how important breath is. In my singing, and reading of music, I’ll see hand-scrawled notes indicitating breath marks in the music telling me to breathe. When I’m feeling overwhelmed by external forces, breathing slowly makes the anxiety manageable. If I’m lifting weights, or holding a yoga pose, and it’s becoming impossible – focusing on the slow breathing gets just one more out of me, whether repitition or moment of concentration.

Don’t sweat the little stuff, and it’s all little stuff

This was a book that I never read. But the advice is sound. There are very few things in life that can improve if you worry about them. And when you start worrying about something, suddenly the problem is obfuscated and you can’t focus on the real issue anymore. It seems to happen a lot in relationships, where the one thing is the problem, but every other thing starts being seen in the negative by not fixing the actual problem. When life seems too much, focus on the manageable. 

Don’t eat the yellow snow

Okay. Thanks Dad. I’ve seen snow a handful of times in my life, and never did I want to eat white snow, let alone yellow. Still, when I was a young boy my dad gave me this advice (even though we lived in Florida) and I’ve remembered it to this day. Never will I eat yellow snow, but I can’t help but smile when I think about it.

And I guess, when it comes down to it, advice is just there to make life easier. To make you smile. So don’t eat the yellow snow.