Well, ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time of year again. Halloween is once again coming right up on us, just around the corner. That means it’s now time to talk about some of the spookiest things in this world that we live in. We know about many different things that frighten us for some reason. You recognize some of the easier targets that are out there for fears; the dark, spiders, disease, and even clowns for some people (especially considering what this year’s given us for the last thing there). However, I want to talk about the one particularly scary that’s actually gotten to me lately, and it’s only really something I noticed once I came closer and closer to that point in time. That thing I want to talk with you about right now… is life itself. More specifically, how you can reflect upon it with the past at hand.
You know, it’s kind of funny. By the end of this month, I’m going to be 25 years old; that’s going to make me a quarter-century old at that point in time. It really is something that you normally don’t think about in conversations with people (unless you’re in school or something similar to that), and yet it truly hits you in a rough, brutal manner once you do realize what’s going on. The fact that you’ve witnessed so many things within our modern-day history, which includes things or acts that you hope would never be witnessed by the eyes of many ever again. The fact that you also get to witness things that you consider to be almost magical when you first get to see them (at least at a young age that’s probably in the single digits), only to then realize the truth with some of these things years later. Even the fact that the things you thought were good for you actually wind up hurting you the most further on down the line. However, I’m still getting rather ahead of myself.
Being born in 1991… if I’m being honest, it probably would be one of the best years a child can be born in the first place, if not grow up under, at least if you’re in the U.S.A. or Western Europe. Around that time, the world was looking to actually get itself in better shape than it’s ever been since probably the 1920’s, before the Great Depression, in terms of quality lifestyles, not much major crime was taking place there (although some big cases did come up every now and then, including the case involving the former nation of Yugoslavia), and the Eastern European nations looked to help loosen the curtain wall that was originally held by the U.S.S.R. as they reformed themselves back into their original Russia name after Germany eventually became whole again and nations like Lithuania and Ukraine became independent again. It was also a time where I was born in what was a rather small town (at the time) of Glendale in the state of Arizona. Of course, I can’t get into much detail with that time, simply because of the fact that I really can’t remember much of that time so easily save from what my mom and my grandparents told about me (I don’t really have a dad since he kind of left me before I was born), so I think it’s best for everyone if I went to a time where I can remember something out of my life, and then go from there.
From humble beginnings...
For me, my earliest memories would have to involve being in elementary school at a place that was a couple minutes’ drive nearby my old home that I grew up in under a place that I'm going to give the initials out to as M.S. From what I can remember there, it was (mostly) a nice, little school that you could go out and learn and have fun with other students there. I also remember getting really great grades during my time there (with multiple Principal’s List and Honor Roll mentions in mind) and even making a couple really great friends that I was glad to have named Harvey and Tyler (last names protected for each of them). Even most of the teachers that I had there were really nice as well, particularly a lady named Mrs. English that was actually raised in an Amish town and told us of very fascinating stories about them whenever there was time to do so. Now you might ask why I say it was mostly nice when what I’m saying sounded like a complete blast. Well, here’s the thing… even though I had great times back there, I also had two teachers in P.E. that were just awful, to the point where I think some mental problems that first came there (in terms of health) just plain got to me.
The two teachers that I had in P.E. were both females that had last names that started with the letter V. Hell, believe it or not, one of my teachers was actually named Miss V! In any case, one of the goals for elementary school teachers is to make sure that, even though the children have to exercise, they have to at least try and make it fun for the little, young students, am I right? Well unfortunately, even though there were some things that tried to make the class fun and interesting for young students, it was a class where I didn’t really have much fun at all. Granted, some of that was admittedly due to me not having the best of health or stature (unfortunately, although I’ll talk more about that later), but a good majority of it was due to the fact that those two weren’t fun teachers for physical education whatsoever! In fact, when I brought up those two back in high school, one of my high school pals joked that those two were actually lesbians that were made for each other (again, it was a different time there). Honestly, I think the problem was that they felt like one of those drill instructor teachers that no one likes having at all, save for those in the military that you really need to help handle yourself in high-pressure moments, but even then it was under a regular elementary school setting, not a military school. Something tells me that any mental effects that I’ve had later on in life might have partially been affected due to having those two as P.E. teachers. Well, that and… the other moment in my elementary school days.
Honestly, if I’m talking about those that went through life growing up back in the early 1990’s or something similar to that, I can’t go on without talking about September 11, 2001. We all know that there’s some vivid memories of what happened that fateful day, and I know my case is no exception. I know that since it was a school, I was waking up, getting all cleaned up and making sure I was ready to go to school that day when my grandma told me to come down to the living room quickly. Granted, I thought she was trying to rush me due to the bus coming early or something like that, so I kind of thought a bit nothing of it, but once I came to the living room/kitchen, that fateful imagery of the World Trade Center being on fire and the fact that someone crashed planes onto it pretty much became seared into my mind. Little ol’ me couldn’t figure out why someone would do such a thing there, and the fact that when I got to school, I later saw news of the Pentagon having a similar fate of sorts alongside those in that plane crash in Pennsylvania made me think that it might be the end of the world as we knew it and that I was worried my great-grandma (my grandma’s mother) and an uncle of mine that were living in New York at that time were affected there also in those attacks. Thankfully, both of them were alright, and I definitely remember the patriotism that came about not just from that day (I definitely remember some flags being planted on people’s houses that fateful day), but also months on end afterwards, but for me, it definitely took a sharp effect on my behavior later on, particularly in some more violent episodes of mine (mainly fights).
Each of these are other schools I talk about in order from earliest to latest.
However, I do think that if something affected me most of all, it was changes from the late part of elementary school all the way until the early points of high school. What I mean by that was up until the fifth grade, I was at this elementary school known as M.S. for short, but by the sixth grade, I went to an elementary school that was a bit more up north (closer to where I currently live in right now) that I’ll call D.V. here. Now while D.V. was a nice school as well (with stairs to walk up and down to), the sad thing is that it didn’t have my best friend Harvey there. To clarify, before the end of fifth grade, Harvey said he was moving up north and would be going to the new school I mentioned there, and I told him I’ll gladly join you there as well. The problem, though, was that he didn’t show up there at all. I don’t know whether he went to some other state or town or what else could have happened; all I know was that I didn’t see my best friend at the time, and it was something where even though I tried to move on from, I know that I never really can (at least, not until I know where he’s at now and get some answers there).
Of course, if I thought in spite of all that, I enjoyed my time at elementary school, then boy can I easily say my time in middle school was the worst! (I was going to say junior high school since that’s what I called that time, but it’s more fitting to not do that.) During those two years there, I went to two different schools there; one was more nearby my old house (it was the nearest school from where my old house was) that I’m going to nickname D.S. and another that was closer to the other school called D.V. The school where I went to known as D.S. was easily the worst year of my life! Not only did I not know pretty much anyone that I liked (besides Tyler) and not only did I have a falling out with Tyler around that time, but I also had a tough time adjusting to the middle school lifestyle, and I eventually went into a nervous breakdown because of it. Not only did my grades start slipping up a bit and I was forced to go into a different classroom that was considered more “special” as opposed to going from one classroom to the next like any other normal student would, but I also kind of started getting into a bit more of a rebellious phase that affected myself and my family in the process (one effect being the fact I discovered porn earlier than I should have and hid that from my elders). I also think it was around that time where my grandpa’s pizzeria named Vinnie’s (and no, that’s not his name) that I used to be in around my spare time closed down due to the effects of 9/11. If there was one time in my life that I never wanted to relive again if I had the chance to do so, this would be it. It was that bad.
From that point in time, it was clear that my family decided that I should be in a different school instead, and honestly, that was a very wise decision on their part. During my one year at the middle school referenced as D.V., I managed to make a few other friends to make up for my bad year named Burt and Dylan, as well as have some fun times with students and teachers there. While I was still stuck in one classroom for most of the year as one of those “special classes” of sorts, I did get myself a lot more cleared up to the point where I could go back to having most of my classes be what a normal student in middle school instead and get good grades again, which was great for my own well-being. Even then, I admit there were still two problems there that couldn’t be escaped, no matter how hard one tried to. First, there was the fact that I found out I was starting to get overweight to the point of morbid obesity. Of course, I never was 100% sure on whether I was getting overweight before that point or not, but I definitely know that this was around the time I noticed it, and grew to become overly self-conscious because of it. Second, and almost as important, I knew that the good times there wouldn’t last there for too long there since I was in the 8th grade and I was also certain I’d never see Dylan, Burt, or any of the great classmates or teachers I had there in the process. While knowing that I didn’t see my old friend Harvey ever again did help me overcome (likely) never seeing them again this time around, the fact that I was going to be entering another new setting so soon after my last excursions and being literally walking distance away from my first middle school I went to just screamed out worries to myself again.
You know, aside from the solar panels, it's like nothing's changed since the last time I've been here.
You know the old saying of how high school could hold some of your best years of your life or the worst? I could honestly believe that notion. Now you might think what I said beforehand was more of the worst-case scenario, but you’d be wrong there. In fact, I can actually say that my fears earlier on it were rather unjustified and my time at this high school that I’m going to label as D.V. (which, yes, was the same high school that was nearby the D.S. middle school I mentioned earlier) was actually quite the blast! Not only were most of the students I met up with fairly mellowed out when compared to both the elementary and middle school days (especially the latter days) and the fact that I gained more friends there then I had elsewhere, but most of the classes were things that felt easier for me now that I had gained a proper sense of comprehension for things like algebra and especially history and I even had a few aides to help me out in terms of making sure I wound up being right with myself. All the people that I had there were all real cool people in the ways one would think of genuinely awesome people, to the point where I even keep in contact with them to this very day. In fact, it was also a point where I had plenty of firsts, such as my first boost of confidence with talking to people, my first showcasing that I’ve been growing up for real, the first time I found YouTube Poops (and the Chewiki later on) in general, and even the first crush that I personally had! Of course, even though they were some of the best years of my life so far, I did still have quite a few mishaps.
One of the most notable mishaps, though, definitely involved me fighting against other people a lot more than I should have, with most of those times honestly being very unjustified. Granted, it’s not quite the first time I did that kind of thing (I remember earlier on alone when something stupid I did with my little sister resulted in me fighting my “dad” who was more like my little sister’s dad than my actual dad since he married my mom in the late 1990’s (although they divorced about a decade later)), but this was definitely the time where they became the most profound for me. In fact, two fights in particular that stood for ridiculous reasons to the point where if I didn’t say I wasn’t joking with them, you’d think I was joking with saying them involved a fight with my grandparents and a fight that… involved a bit of a stabbing. Yeah… granted, the latter fight wasn’t with a knife, but they were both stupid in reasons that I feel completely ashamed to even admit here, let alone recall to you guys! The first fight during I think my freshman or sophomore year at home involved yet another stupid thing I did with my little sister, only instead of having just be a regular fight of sorts, I wound up biting my grandparents in their arms. The worst part about that one was that I honestly felt like I should be going to jail for what I did to them (and even to my little sister since that was what caused it in the first place), what with me bawling like a baby after what I did to them and realized the pain they went through. Luckily I didn’t, but just when I thought that was the worst of things there, out came what happened near the end of my junior year. During my class on American history, there were two students that were essentially L.A. Lakers fans that wound up teasing me about my favorite team not making it to the playoffs with Shaquille O’Neal on board. However, instead of trying to take on the teasing and moving on from there, I wound up using a sharpened pencil that was meant for schoolwork and essentially stabbed one of the teasers in the arm to showcase I didn’t have to take that kind of shit from them. Remember, this was during a time studies were supposed to happen; to have that kind of thing happen in a place where I normally felt like it was an inner sanctuary of sorts just felt like my world turned upside down there for that brief moment of respite. I did quickly apologize for what I did (and the victim did surprisingly forgive me) and was willing to take on detention for that mistake, but by then, the damage was already done, and I wound up being suspended for an entire week. To this day, I never truly forgave myself for what I did there (especially on that fateful day), and while I could say I’ve moved on from fighting with people (at least in terms of real life situations, although not necessarily in terms of yelling), I can’t say that I’ve essentially moved on from my life.
I also think another mistake I made there (albeit in retrospect) was that I wound up being a part of a college where I think I made the wrong path for myself in terms of careers. To clarify, during my senior year in high school, I had two things that kind of sparked my interest in terms of potential careers moving forward with myself: art and computing. Now with art, I actually went and took art classes throughout four different years in high school, and guess what? I showed some true improvement in my craft there, to the point where I won art ribbons for what I displayed in my school’s art shows! Granted, I never was a first place winner in each of those years, but there was no doubt I could make myself known as an artist if I continued to work with the craft there. With computing, though, the only experience I had there was actually coding some articles for the Chewiki with HTML, and while that sure was nice on its own (especially since I was considering a major in web development at that time), it was only in retrospect where I discovered the world of programming was way too vast for my feeble mind to truly comprehend in that point of time. However, while I did take part in a meet-and-greet with an art’s college that likely could have helped me out in if not trying to meet up with the best of both worlds, then at least letting me know what the proper path for me to take was, I ultimately did not go there. Instead, I went to a college that was more focused in computer programming, which I thought was something I wanted at the time and is something I’m going to discuss a bit more on later on. Suffice to say, though, that I still have wonders on what it’d be like if I did go to that art’s college instead, especially since I do think I could have been someone that’d be very happy to showcase some of the artistic pieces that I would have likely made in that time there. Unfortunately, save for one or two pieces of information, I fear that my potential there might have been squandered because of my choice, and now I fear I might be stuck in a dead end (in terms of careers, at least) because of it.
Somewhere around this area, you can see the building that held my college I went to. Can you find it?
Now with all that said and done, I did have some great times in high school otherwise, with my senior class’ graduation ceremony actually taking place in the University of Phoenix Stadium, believe it or not! However, I did feel rather sad about it since I wasn’t sure what to do next afterwards. Luckily (at least, at the time), I did have a university come out to me and see if they could have me as a student once I passed a test of sorts. Once I passed, I went into this campus that I’m just going to call “The D” simply because I think we’re all getting a bit tired of initials for places at this point. Now even though I did say I wasn’t so sure if I did make the right decision, I can’t say that my decision was completely useless in the end. For starters, I was able to learn a whole lot more about not just computers, but also coding in multiple programming languages (like C#, Java, and (My)SQL to make a few examples clearer) in addition to languages like HTML, ASP.NET, and CSS that are useful for web development. I also did manage to get into my most productive time yet as a person by actually learning how to code (sometimes on the fly), as well as actually learn about to be real friendly in both a school and work environment. Hell, I even became a member of the Writing Staff during that time and earned some actual awards for the work I did with fellow classmates on a senior project, which involved trying to create a website for a self-advocacy organization meant to help those that would normally have a hard time being self-advocates otherwise, such as those with diseases like cerebral palsy like one of my teammates I had when I was working on that project at hand. However, even I could tell there were some faults at hand that still tricked me later on in life.
The first trick was the notion that learning code would be easy. Ha! Clearly that kind of thinking is quite a bit out of line to do if you think that. Granted, these days, there are some websites that make things a bit easier on children, but otherwise, you really do have to learn the ins and outs of each and every single programming language you had on your plate, and that wasn’t easy on any sort of level, even if you had a book meant exactly for such programming languages. The second (and probably the biggest) trick on my end that became a problem later on was thinking I didn’t need to practice the information since I have notes taken for it. Trust me when I say if there’s one area of expertise where actually practicing what you’ve got on board is so much better than just memorizing information at hand, it’s that of a programmer. That is also likely the biggest reason why I said what I said earlier with my career path feeling like it’s stuck in a dead end for right now since not only do I never have the chance to practice for programming a website of sorts, but I also don’t remember much besides this trick with fur from what I had understood back in high school in terms of tricks. Seriously, I don’t even know how too properly draw characters like one normally would with those circle men as reference points! Really, if you want to become a computer programmer at some point, please don’t let this piece of mine stop you; just make sure you’re prepared to code a lot and get yourself plenty of information to learn about programming properly in the process. Also, never take out student loans if you’re going to go to college unless it’s not only your last resort, but you also really want to learn about the topic as well (and utilize that knowledge properly in the process).
Really, looking back at all of this right now, it’s more of a miracle that I haven’t been more screwed up with myself than I really am! Seriously, I had mentioned all the problems of my life that I know were more problematic than anything else. Yet at the same time, it’s not even mentioning some of the more trivial things about my life as well, such as how from the latter portion of elementary school to the eighth grade, I started losing interest in music, with me only gaining interest back due to some rock/metal artists like Korn and Disturbed I listened to back then. However, even then, it just goes to show how we can never truly be stuck in the past with our lives, lest we wind up repeating those same mistakes over and over again. I understand the fear of not knowing what’s going to be happening in the future, and I especially hold the same fear of dying and not knowing what the final destination would be in life, so to speak. Luckily, I do have a plan on making sure you don’t have to worry about those fears so much. Want to know what my plan is?
My plan is to first find out what you have done wrong beforehand in life, and then plan on how you can fix up some of those issues as best as you can. For starters, I mentioned earlier that I’ve been overweight to the point of being at 285, if not even 290 pounds at one point. Well for me, I’ve planned on continuing this diet that one of my uncles introduced to my family (which involved replacing two out of the three meals one would have a day with protein shakes and then having one meal having (almost) anything you’d want, while also maybe having snacks like almonds if you’re still hungry), especially since I’ve gone from that old amount to being under 259 pounds as of this writing (happy 25th birthday to me!). Then once I reach a certain amount of weight (let’s say about 250 or 240 pounds, just because I think that can happen), I can go walk around my neighborhood a bit more than I’ve done in the past and maybe try to spark up some conversations with other people in real life from there. After a certain point, I can then feel as though I can gain enough confidence in myself to actually go and do things that I’d want to have in my life, like get a proper job or even just play basketball again since it’s been a long time since I actually went and did exactly that. Does that sound like it’s just something that can be just as prone to failure as it is to success? Certainly, but you can never really know for sure unless you actually go ahead and try those ideas in the first place! Those past things that you screwed up with back then are exactly that; stuck in the past, where they belong. Any present day challenges that might also be the way are just more things that you have to take on, and as long as you remain confidence and headstrong in that regard to the point where you can get to those moments, you will be just fine at the end of the day. In fact, while I was writing this, I found the perfect prose that best fits not just what my own life was like, but also how to properly move on from it, even if you feel as though you can’t otherwise.