Eighties Kid

The 80s!? Yeah, I was there man. I was just a kid, but weren’t we all. I was sportin a velour shirt with corduroy pants, my hair a bit too long, and sneakers fastened with newly invented Velcro straps. Those were the times man! It’s what we were wearin. Yeah I rode my bike around the neighborhood unsupervised. That’s what we did, children of the Moonwalk era — there were glitter gloves and copious amounts of hairspray spewing from large aerosol cans. Yeah I sprayed that stuff all OVER my hair! What of it!? The ozone-layer is overrated anyway.

The 80s were like, totally awesome, like, you know? That’s just like, how we spoke. Everything was awesome. And if you were from where I was from, anything better than awesome was wicked-awesome. We’d head down to Papa Ginos and play Pac-Man or Space Invaders while waiting for our pizza. The cola-wars were heating up around this time too: Coke or Pepsi. Though really, we just ordered whichever they served.

I remember going over to my neighbor’s house to play Atari. Eventually we got a ColecoVision console of our own. I even remember Pong. And TV?! TVs had two dials that cranked from U to 13 and 14 to 83 — but only like 7 channels had any shows on them — and you had to adjust the rabbit-ear antennas to get anything to come-in. Sure, your cousin had cable-TV but she lived in the next town over, and your town didn’t have cable yet — those were the breaks.

Kid-culture propagated through sleep-overs, out-of-state cousins, and summer-camps. When it came time, everyone knew the incantation to perform: “Light as a feather, stiff as a board…” or how to play “Murder in the Dark”. Otherwise, we learned stuff through music and movies. We all knew the “King of Pop” and E.T. We rebelled with our hair, our clothes, and of course our music. You don’t understand, OLD MAN! This is OUR time!

Ronald Regan was the president and my sister received Wonder Woman Underoos for her birthday. It was underwear that made you look and feel like a superhero underneath your clothes. Now that’s… wicked awesome! Sure, we had the threat of nuclear annihilation to ponder as we laid our heads down to sleep at night, and we dreamt of post-apocalyptic hell-scapes — but those were the times man. Well it was either that, or we had nightmares after watching Poltergeist or a Freddy Krueger movie.

In the 80s, phones weren’t something you carried around with you, they were hard-wired to the wall. And if you wanted to call someone, good luck! It was a shared device amongst an entire family and the person you wanted to contact needed to be in the right place at the right time. And more than likely, some random family member would answer. And the only game you played on the phone, was making prank-calls. Back then, you didn’t know who was on the other end of the line until they told you.

The food? Breakfast began with a box of Lucky Charms poured into a bowl, followed by a splash of milk, alongside a Dixie-cup filled with orange-juice not-from-concentrate. The prize/toy from the box was already gone, you’d have reached your entire arm inside when your mom first brought home the cereal-box from the supermarket. Lunch was bologna (pronounced “baloney”) on factory-made white-bread with a squirt of yellow stuff, and a box of sweetened colored liquid to wash it down (it wasn’t juice).

I’ve never been nostalgic about the 80s, and I sure as hell wouldn’t start now. The 80s began almost four decades ago — it was my introduction to Earth as a little kid. People were dressed in outlandish outfits, had wild teased-up hair, and applied an over-abundance of makeup (women AND men). I didn’t know what to make of it. The 90s made a lot more sense to me: widespread cable-TV, Grunge music, plain-looking clothes, computers, and of course the Internet.

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Lack and Limitation

We had just moved down to central Florida. I had the resources of my newly retired parents, but all I could understand was lack and limitation. For whatever reason I strictly budgeted myself and refused tickets to the parks for awhile. We went around to all the places on property that didn’t require an entrance fee. Disney-on-a-Budget I called it.

But free and unrestrained access to the resorts? That seemed too extravagant, too easy, essentially cheating. You must pay to stay in order to play. Those weren’t the rules, yet they were MY self-imposed rules. You can’t have fun without limits, that’s indulgence! And indulgence needs to be paid for with punishment.

When I finally moved out of my parents’ house, I had a job that could afford the lifestyle I was looking for. But it wasn’t enough. I stayed at the computer all day and night whether I needed to or not. Even though the work was relatively easy, I made it as hard on myself as possible. I couldn’t have fun. I barely made it to Disney anymore. I barely made it outside of my apartment.

I made it so difficult in fact, that I finally cracked and gave-up on my software-development career altogether. We left the state in a self-imposed exile to the north amidst the dead of winter. We arrived to snow and cold. We dared not leave our tiny shack for fear that our little car couldn’t hack it.

Thinking back, I can see that my attitude was atrocious. It’s embarrassing in fact. What an idiot. On any plane of reality you wish to accept, my actions had no valid justification. I was paranoid. I was an extremist hell-bent on maintaining a belief in lack and limitation and I made sure I suffered at every turn. Sick.

Let me reiterate this point: even though I had EVERYTHING I wanted, I couldn’t accept it, I couldn’t appreciate ANY of it. It was a classic Greek tragedy. I had a wonderful wife, a respectable career, I lived in a town I loved, right down the road from my childhood happy-place — yet it was all a source of pain. So much so that I had to leave — and enter into the literal pain of an isolated snowy winter up north.

Deep breath. In… Out… It’s a little rough to contemplate and convict myself of such stupidity. It’s undeniable though. But through grace I am forgiven. It was about an 8-year exile. I’m back now. I’m not in a perfect situation but I’m attempting to appreciate it nonetheless. I am attempting to eschew any thoughts or feelings of lack and limitation.

With my consent, my friend is taking the wheel this time around, so anytime I’ve tried to pump the brake she kicked my foot away. My goal nowadays is to make amends for my gross and unacceptable attitude. I apologize to life itself as well as to my dear friend that’s always been there for me. The only restitution I can offer is a commitment to better myself.

To that end, I seek to enjoy my time on Earth and help others do the same. I seek to develop an authentic appreciation for life, fully realizing the gift I’ve been so lovingly given. I seek to make trust my default. I seek to be a worthy friend and father. And of course I seek to rid myself of my long-time addiction to negativity. Goodbye fear. Goodbye lack and limitation.

My Mid90s

Mid-90s for me was late high school. I could sense my sentence coming to an end. I began to isolate myself. I quit band and lacrosse and barely socialized at lunch. Even though it was almost over, it wasn’t relief I felt. What was I going to do now? At least in school I had a set-place to go, assigned things to do, I had acquaintances.

But f*ck school, man. Just a piece of sh*t prison by another name. Well that’s how I felt anyway, a suburban kid in an upper-middle-class town near Boston. On the outside, this is an uninteresting story — it reflects a boring motionless time — but on the inside, an intense adventure raged on.

I was visited by the triptych of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. And on top of that, more loneliness than I ever felt. My time was spent wrestling with those feelings and the dour images they inspired. I ended up continuing school in the form of college. To belabor the prison analogy, I was sentenced with a combination of house-arrest and probation for the next few years.

In college, I knew no one. There was no time to form acquaintanceships. But do you know what happened in the mid-90s? Windows 95 was released. And do you know what happened not long after that? An explosion in the popularity of personal-computers — the PC era was born. And do you know what followed that? An explosion in the popularity of online-services (AOL, Prodigy, CompuServe). And you obviously know what happened next? THIS. The Internet became a global phenomenon.

But back to online-services. Within those silly-little text-boxes, I was able to chat with people from around the country. I could finally interact with people in a way that felt comfortable. And I did just that, for a few years at least. It was at the end of the mid-90s when I met my friend (on an online-service, in a chat-room of course).

So the narrative I experienced in the mid-90s can be summed-up as this:
1. Self-isolation and the resulting loneliness.
2. Discovery of a new platform of communication.
3. Awakening as a communicative being.
4. The foundation of a lifelong friendship.

That’s a tidy little narrative don’t you think? How can something like that happen within a physical-world based on random-chance? Sounds a little too coincidental, no? My character’s lack fulfilled by a deus-ex-machina-level intervention? Hmm. But I appreciate it, without doubt. My life after meeting my friend was much improved.

Remedial Fun

I wasn’t fitted with receptors that derive merriment from actual merriment. No, I derive no fun from singing and dancing, or any party-type atmosphere. My fun begins when a reveler begins to question the what and why of what she’s doing. She obviously can’t talk to another party-goer that’s in the midst of having fun, no, but there’s me over in the corner sitting silently.

And so it happens, the conversation begins. The questions that only recently started passing through her thoughts, I’ve thought about for years. I can relate and validate. And those complaints about other party-goers? Why I agree, in fact here are some more. And in the questioning of our condition mixed with a bit of shared distaste — we find common ground.

That was my character and how he interacted with the world. If you wanted to complain about existence, I was there to listen and agree. Now? Not so much. When I hear and see disparagement of life I tend to react defensively. I see the complainer as an ungrateful brat not even trying to appreciate all the good things that have been graciously provided.

Of course that convicts ME and I realize how pessimistic I’ve been all these years. I’m the brat times ten — the one always pointing out the worst of everything. Well, I apologize. But an apology is meaningless unless I keep trying to rectify my wrongdoing. And so in my actual life I’m currently committed to enjoying my surroundings. And so far, things are going well.

Just yesterday morning I took my bike out and rode all around town. I had a great time just cruisin’ along the nice little neighborhoods, lookin’, enjoyin’ the sensation of movement. I never did that in the seven years I lived at my previous place for instance. And the day before that, my mom commented how much she enjoyed her time with us over at Epcot.

Boy was it hot out that day, but we made it over to Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie, the bakery at the French pavilion — one of my favorite stops in all of Disney. I had a Napoleon, a chocolate Eclair, and a Palmier — tres bon! The World Showcase is definitely one of my favorite aspects of Disney World. (Okay one complaint, just one!!! They need more shade-trees.)

So that’s my life now, learning how to have fun. I guess that’s cool. I was in need of a change anyway.

School Days

My little boy recently started school for the first time. And instead of fretting all day, I went to Epcot and had a great time with my wife. We haven’t not had him around us for six-and-a-half years — no date-nights, babysitters, daycare — nothing. But when we sent him into school, I never worried once — I dared not, lest my worry come true. And it turned out, he had a great first day as far as I could tell. He seemed like he had fun and could finally hang around some other kids his own age.

A number of months ago he decided he’d rather go to a regular school instead of home-school. As his homeschool teacher, I wasn’t even insulted, he’s welcome to live his own life. While homeschooling him, I always did so with the potential that he’d switch over to a regular school at some point and always told him what teachers expect and how to behave and all that. I think he went-in pretty prepared — right into first grade and he didn’t seem to miss us at all.

I think if we had put him into kindergarten a year ago, there might have been some separation anxiety issues, but now it seems like he was ready. And that’s been my secret to parenting, not forcing him to do something too soon — simply wait until he’s ready, and voila! — smooth as silk. Also, part of the reason we moved to a new town was because we thought it had a better school-system than the town we previously lived in — and we picked a home only three minutes walking-distance from the school.

At the end of the first day, all the kids were swarming out of the gates. In the distance I saw his little face and I waved. He seemed a bit overwhelmed by the crowds of kids but he smiled and waved back when he saw me. His mom and I walked him home and he told us all about his time in class. It’s neat to witness a little human growing up, I see it as an honor to be able to observe it from the vantage point of a dad. Speaking of which, it’s a new day and time for my wife and I to go have some fun!

Mousekeeping

I’m currently problem-free. Okay, not exactly. My son has his own room for the first time in his life, which seems to be affecting his ability to sleep — plus, he’s about to start attending school for the first time ever. In addition to that, my wife seems strained by her leadership position within the household — she recently moved us to a new state and into a new home, so I guess managing all that is taking its toll. My only issue right now, is that I have to watch two people I care about deal with stress.

Beyond that, I’m just along for the ride. I kinda wish I could help, but nobody wants my help. And frankly, I don’t know how to help. It seems like each is entering a new chapter of their life and they just have to figure out a way to appreciate it. As for me, I’ve been having a great time going to theme parks, bike-riding, walking to the bakery, shopping — I’ve just been appreciating the heck outta my current situation. Prior to this, my whole life has been self-inflicted stress and strain, but I’m done with that.

I really feel at home here, more than anywhere else I’ve lived. I AM an annual passholder dammit! — it’s just what I am. I know my way around Disney, the parks, the rides, the resorts, the restaurants — as well as the little town that Disney built down at the end of World Drive. I have no imposter syndrome here. When I came back, I knew it like I never left. Despite the intense heat and high humidity, I breathed a sigh of relief. Mickey, it’s good to see you again!

Every little life on Earth is a silly experience, that’s just the nature of being an embodied being. I’m realizing that, and I’m accepting the fact that I’m a silly little human that was born and bred to be a dedicated Disney fanatic, to pick up where my mom left off, and carry the Mouse-eared torch even further. Yeah that sounds Goofy, but so what. It’s all a Fantasyland upon this Small World, this Spaceship Earth that’s Soarin’ around the stars — might as well enjoy the ride… Ta ta for now!

Morning Run

Sunrise

That’s a picture of my view while out running this morning.

I was never the type to wake up at 6:30 in the morning to go out for a run. Before we moved, and for no reason, I had decided to start running in the mornings when we got to our new home.

The funny thing about my current situation, is that the more effort I try to apply, the more turbulence I experience. Whereas the more I go with the flow, the easier and more enjoyable everything is. I dare not resist courses-of-action that are suggested to me and I dare not attempt to contribute my own input — whenever I do, things just don’t work out.

I guess you could say that I’m not in a positive-enough state-of-mind, so everything I try to direct tends to lean toward the negative. But if I just go along for the ride, everything’s peachy. So in this sense, life is like a heavily-scripted video-game in which I’m primarily pressing “Next” at the end of every cutscene. If I try to interrupt the narrative, it messes things up. I guess I’m just supposed to follow my companions on their little adventures for now.

Speaking of my companions, all the pleasant parts of life I’m experiencing right now are my friend’s ideas. She decided to move down here. She picked out all the nice hotels we stayed in along the way. She found this condo and even setup the electricity and internet-service before we moved in. Back in the day I used to try and “help” and “manage” but it only got in the way.

My goal this year was to step aside and let her lead the way. Status report: she’s doing a great job. Her main problem is that she doesn’t always listen to herself. For instance I’ll still say stuff and she’ll sometimes listen. Oh well, we’ll refine the process as we go. We make a great team, I’m the ineffectual know-it-all and she’s the seemingly-sweet one that get’s the job done despite my best efforts to muck it up.