The End Of An (Admittedly Short Lived) Era

February 8, 2013

Editor’s Note: This is a very personal entry which deals in memories, realizations, and self re-discovery. If you don’t care to know a bit of nitty gritty about me, know that (slightly) unkommon is on hiatus until March 1, 2013. Thank you.

Powree and Oliver Knörzer:

People can get as old as 3,155,692,600 seconds (raccoons 631,138,520 seconds). And yet it often seems that the most important thing for the way we think, feel and live is what happens in just a few of them.

What A Difference A Day Makes

I’ve been writing about news for a month and a half, and overall I’d say I’ve been okay at it. There’s been some ups, some downs, and it’s been a learning experience. I made it to 25 “editions”, which I figure is a solid number. Cliffs Notes in case you didn’t know: I’m really weird with numbers.

It really is fantastic that I have a few realizations after I publish edition #25, because it’s a number that I’m at peace with (any number that goes into 100 except 1, 2, 4, and 5 is a good number). To put things in perspective, if yesterday’s edition was #26, I’d be publishing this post after edition #50.

In a nutshell I maybe might be a slightly weird person. Which begs the question, why I did I make my blog so unoriginal somewhere over a month ago? (slightly) unkommon is the single external entity that speaks for me — it’s a living portrait of my opinions and their growth — and I’ve turned it into advertisements for others.

So what “realization” happened? After all, just two days ago I wrote that I was thinking of evolving (slightly) unkommon’s current format and today I’m talking about ends of eras. Before I continue, however, I want to give you a brief tour of my life — character-defining moments of the first three parts of it, anyway — and kill the newsy format that I never should have turned to.

Just An Innocent Kid

I was born on December 26, 1990 in Phoenix (or Chandler, I forget which), AZ. From what I hear I was an accident and I was a couple weeks early. Sometimes accidents turn out to be good things, but to be honest I’d prefer that I didn’t kick my way out of the womb early since December 26 is a horrible birthday, but hey, you can’t win ’em all.

My earliest memory is from when I was three years old. My mom worked at McDonald’s at the time, and she often worked the night shift. My mom did have a roommate, so I was never home alone, but I woke up one night and couldn’t find my mom. I wandered down the hallway and saw myself in the mirror and frightened myself, and I ran the other way. Apparently when my mom came home I was in the living room scared, but I don’t remember that part. It’s almost interesting that my earliest memory is of me scared, but, moving on.

Kindergarten was fun, it was probably the first time that I felt truly independent. I don’t remember any of what I learned, but recess was empowering. It was probably only 15 minutes or something, but I remember it feeling like hours, and I remember feeling unsupervised. I hopped on top of platforms for fun (an activity which I still practice) and went anywhere I wanted to. In my 22 years of living, I can’t think of a time which felt more empowering.

In addition, my mom’s former husband Darryl brought me a dog — a rescued mut of unknown descent — because I had wanted one. Initially I thought that he was a robot, because I didn’t believe that I actually had a dog, but I was shortly convinced that he was real. At the time The Sandlot was my favorite movie — I had seen it way too many times — and so I named that dog Benny, after the main character in the movie. Benny and I were friends for a very long 17 years afterwards.

Moving onto 1st grade, I outright switched school districts which I hated at the time, but I quickly made friends and enemies. It’s where I met my childhood best friend, Kyle, and we have a lot of memories together despite us knowing each other for less than five years.

I was always good at math, I was always the top of my classes in spelling and grammar, I can’t remember a time where I didn’t ace writing assignments, and I was a passable reader. My handwriting though was so subpar that one of my teachers removed me from class to be with a counselor and work on my handwriting. It was embarrassing, being the person in my class who had to sit outside and write words on a pink sheet of paper that had guiding lines. I don’t remember what grade this happened in, but to this day my handwriting stinks, and I wonder if my teachers handled that defect properly.

Between 2nd and 3rd grade, my brother Jared was born. Technically it was the Summer between third and fourth — July 13, 1999 — and that was pretty huge. I was no longer an only child and I had to compete for attention. “Fuck”, I thought, in so many words. I’ve since grown to like the kid, but his presence made me a bit of a drama queen for a few years.

When I was in 4th grade I had an arch nemesis named Cameron. We got into two fights, and one of them had me bedridden. I like to talk tough, but since then I haven’t gotten into a single physical fight with a soul. Don’t get me wrong, I like to get caught in mosh pits, but that’s for fun. I don’t know if I’m a coward, or smart, or both, but since I was 10 years old I’ve avoided physical fights at all costs.

In the Summer after fifth grade, we moved from AZ to OR. I detested it so much, I didn’t want to leave my life and my friends behind. I haven’t ever felt like life was so unfair, and while I’ve grown to appreciate Portland, I wasn’t happy to say the least.

The Wannabe Punk

6th grade in OR, brand new life, brand new people to meet, brand new everything. For whatever reason the people who became my best friends were the nerds. Everyone liked me though, even the bullies who picked on my best friends. One bully who was a girl, Heather, even had a crush on me. Yikes, I know! It was very weird being in the middle as I was, since I couldn’t stand up for my friends because I didn’t want the popular kids and the bullies to dislike me.

I was extremely unpopular in Arizona, and being liked by everybody that knew me was a feeling that I loved. Instead of telling people to piss off when they asked me why I was friends with, say, Austin, I just shrugged. That’s a character flaw which has since been remedied, however it lasted for years, and that desire to be liked led to a lot of problems.

7th grade was fun. My mom “encouraged” me to take band and guided me towards playing the alto sax. While I detested it at the time, I learned to appreciate her guidance, as it led to me meeting my next best friend, Nicky. He was and still is a really cool dude, and honestly I don’t deserve to know him.

My computers teacher in 7th grade shaped one of my primary interests, creating presentations. He showed the class how to create animations using PowerPoint; basically, every slide is a frame, and characters can be created by using shapes. I had a ton of fun doing that, and while I don’t make PowerPoint animations anymore, I’ve grown to be a fantastic presentation creator. In college I’ve always created the best PowerPoints/Keynotes in every class where we had to create one. I’ve even seen my audiences go “oooooooooooh” a few times. There are few hobbies I love as much.

In 8th grade I was trouble. About everything I did there set the stage for future events, and not in a good way. It’s when I started to become a deceitful liar. I lied about my living situation because I thought it would get me sympathy. I stole stuff from school book fairs because I thought it would make me look rebellious. I crushed up crackers and other snacks and told people I had drugs because I thought it would make me look cool. I brought a bottle of Pacifico to school and put it in the locker of a former friend in an effort to get him suspended. I set off fireworks in the girl’s bathroom because I could.

I got away with all of the stuff I did except the fake drugs, and I don’t look back at any of that with pride. Because I did get away with it all and because some people did find it cool, I learned nothing. And so we turn to 9th grade.

I picked up my first online profile in ninth grade. It was as “deadbunny17” on 1UP.com. If you were a 1UP user circa 2005, you probably saw me around. I was a “Super Smash Bros. State Champion” and a very popular troll. I went so far as to pick fights with 1UP’s moderators — while it eventually led to me being banned (only after I dared a moderator to ban me), you can’t say I didn’t go all out. My biggest fault, however, was the lying I did there and what it led to. As an example of a lie, while I’m a good Smash player I’m far from a “state champion”.

Once I realized that lying gave me a certain amount of authority online, I took all of my online lies into the real world. To put it in another way, “deadbunny17” was a fictional character that I created, and I turned myself into that character. The more I lied to my online friends, the more lies I repeated to my in-person friends, and I didn’t have a friend anywhere that I didn’t lie to many times over. I was so scared of being found out that I’m surprised I didn’t go insane. Then something extraordinary happened.

Halfway through my freshman year in high school, my mom gave me the chance to start completely fresh. She was fed up with the way the school handled pneumonia I had, so she offered to home school me until another solution was found. I agreed and I opted to not notify a single in-person friend that I had. I removed every “real” friend from my life* in one fell swoop (I still talk to some 1UP friends — Sebastian, Ant, Christine, Jessy, and Mike — all of whom I appreciate) and promised myself that I wouldn’t lie about who I was again.

Very Well Rounded

Eventually my mom got me enrolled in Portland Community College’s High School Completion program for Fall 2006, where credits I earn in college courses also get applied to a high school diploma. But I couldn’t care less about that, I was in college at age 15, and I could make new friends and not lie to them.

I picked up my first job when I was 16, “Floor Staff” at Regal Cinemas Bridgeport Village Stadium 18 + IMAX (what a mouthful!). This was when new bad behaviors began to surface, although an interesting thing happened, which is that really good behaviors surfaced at the same time. I was a living contradiction, how’s that for cool? Because I was making my own money I could buy my own things, no begging or saving up allowance required, it was freeing. And between school and work, I was rarely home, which made me feel independent. At work I even met the person who would turn out to be a massive mistake, my ex — who for the purposes of anonymity we shall call “The Ex”.

The Ex was friends with a lot of my coworkers, and approached me one evening as I was ripping tickets. It kind of just went from there, although I didn’t want to be in the relationship at all — our friends pressured me into it, and wanting to be liked I went for it. Again, big mistake. On the side — meaning on top of school, work, and The Ex — I tried to start a nonprofit organization when I was 17. It was called “Kreative unkommons” (I wonder where this blog’s name comes from…) and its primary purpose was to help people who couldn’t afford to pay their healthcare bills. To accomplish this, I became friends with Tuality Healthcare, and we agreed that it was their patients who Kreative unkommons would help. Unfortunately while I’m a great negotiator, I didn’t know how to run a business, let alone a nonprofit.

While Kreative unkommons was busy losing every penny I put into it, I had it do stuff on the side like sponsor a 5K Run For Darfur put on by Global Vision of Tualatin High School. The President of that Global Vision, Will, was a friend of mine, and we agreed that it would be a good idea for Kreative unkommons to be a sponsor. The 5K run raised $5K for the Save Darfur Foundation, and it was a success by all measures. Two weeks later I visited the group and gave a speech on age discrimination — my underage experiences turned me into an activist for age equality, and a group of 14 to 18 year olds who just put together a 5K run to help people was the perfect audience. Also, somewhere in that time frame, I was an intern for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. No big deal.

I was 17, had my own (admittedly failing) nonprofit, I helped put together a 5K Run For Darfur, I was an intern for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, I had a job, and I was in college. I was incredibly driven — I even decided I wanted to run for the Oregon State Senate when I turned 21 — and nothing could stop me. Or so I thought. Ego can be a bit of a bad thing.

I felt like more of an adult than most adults, and so despite the fact that I was 17, I thought I had the right to do what I want when I wanted to, and that meant I’d have to move out of my mom’s house. The way it went down was, my grades were slipping and my mom informed me that I had to quit my job and stop seeing The Ex. So I informed her that I was going to look into getting emancipated. Then my mom informed me that I wasn’t getting emancipated, and things got ugly from there.

Despite the relationship being incredibly awful, I didn’t want to be single for whatever reason and not having a job wasn’t an okay idea in my mind. So I ran away from my mom’s house. I was found hours later, but I then called my dad and told him to pick me up so that I could live with him until I got emancipated. I was out of there the next morning.

A quick sidenote: My mom and I were always like best friends. I think we actually saw each other more as friends than relatives, which made our relationship extremely special.

One of the images that’s burned into my memory is our last interaction before my dad picked me up. I was grounded for my grades (I think) and so my MacBook Pro and iPod touch weren’t in my possession, and as I was packing up everything I would need to go live with my dad, my mom came down the stairs, and into my room, and handed me my MacBook Pro and iPod touch. No words were spoken but the silence spoke volumes, and she was visibly heartbroken. People use the term “heartbreak” loosely, but I had genuinely shattered my mom’s. I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to be as sad as she was, and that pure pain is something I’m taking to my grave.

A couple of months later I moved back in with my mom, and then I had no job and The Ex was out of my life. Kreative unkommons was dead and my moments of pride were in the past. I was close to turning 18 and the only work I had was school and a mother-son relationship/friendship. Which, objectively, was for the best.

Another sidenote: It took me two years to apologize to me mom, and I couldn’t even do it over the phone — it was over e-mail.

The End (Or Is It?)

That whole event buried the energy which was special to me, and I’ve gone somewhere over four years trying to find it again. Ever since I temporarily destroyed the relationship between my mom and I — the best relationship I ever had — I’ve wanted to do things “the easy way”. I truly feel lazy a lot of the time… It’s hard to even fathom 22 year old me doing a fraction of the stuff I did at any given time when I was 17. The funny thing is, some people tell me that I’ve matured a lot since I was 17. I hate hearing that, since the reality is I’m just not driven enough to be immature.

Call Me, Beep Me, If You Wanna Reach Me

Which brings me to why I’m de-boring (slightly) unkommon. I had a bit of an epiphany after the last entry went up, and I think that I’ve finally found my spark again, and we have Kim Possible to thank. Yes, a Disney cartoon series helped me find myself, and I find no shame in admitting it.

One of the channels in the Frequency [App Store link] app is “Disney Shows”, which gathers videos from the “disneysshows” YouTube account. For whatever reason I watched the first episode of season four of Kim Possible, and I loved it. I then spent a few hours watching more episodes, and I was surprised at how much I love the show. Then I realized that it isn’t out of character for me.

I’m a 22 year old Horror nerd, Apple geek, and Ramones fan. I love musicals and even saw Hairspray ten times in theatres — however I also saw Kick-Ass ten times in theatres. I’m a feminist guy, but I like the occasional Britney Spears song despite the fact that she’s set gender equality back decades. Despite having no talent in graphic design I’m surrounded by talent in the field. I’m a Pokémon fan and even have a Pokéwalker! I don’t go a day without saying something that makes someone either confused or uncomfortable, and hijinks is my greatest strength.

Couple all of that with everything in the preceding paragraphs and my love for children’s cartoons, and I have to wonder why I turned my blog into one of the most beige, non-expressive areas of the Internet? I should be ashamed! And, on top of that, what am I doing with my life and why do I approach everything as if it’s a chore? I’m not entitled, and I need to stop living as if I am.

Back To The Present

In other words, changes are being made. The following is what you can expect to see starting today:

    (slightly) unkommon is on hiatus until March 1, 2013. That’s somewhere around three weeks from now, so mark the date!

    During this hiatus, I’m going to be shifting focus to the other blogs I’m signed on to write for, and getting my movie reviews site, Picture This! Reviews back up and in action. I also plan on taking my webcomic, Seizure Prone, out of hiatus and back onto a regular publishing schedule.

    I’ll also be working on the new direction for (slightly) unkommon so that, come March, I’ll have stuff to write!

    In addition to the above, I’m going to work diligently at finding a traditional job, and will put more time into learning the Processing language so that I can call myself a designer (not just an “honorary” one among my friends).

Fin

It sounds like I’ll be busy, but I’m convinced that I can do it. I’ve always had this drive, I just forgot why and how, and I have a cartoon to thank for helping me remember.

P.S.

We all have our own life stories, and we’re all unique in one way or another. I’m not claiming a monopoly on uniqueness, and that’s the entire point of this; by turning my voice on the web into something dull, I’ve insulted life by ignoring my right to express its wonders. The way to undo that insult is to actually tell my story, something I encourage others to do.

The Footnote

*Somehow, someway, Nicky clawed his way back into my life and I’m thankful for it.

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