22nd Dec2004

Quarterlife Crisis

by Will

Today’s Episode: “Dangling Plotlines Revealed”

Everyone seems to have a “Quarterlife Crisis” post, so I figured I’d weigh in. You’re about to learn some things I haven’t really discussed herer before.

So, a year ago today, I had a nervous breakdown. Was it medically diagnosed? No. But I know enough to know what a nervous breakdown entails; I was a psych major. I had all of the symptoms. I wasn’t hospitalized or anything…that came about a month later.

You see, coming back home was the hardest transition I’ve ever had to make. I’ve been to Russia, France, Italy, The Today Show…I’ve been all of these places, but I still wound up back at home. Who’s fault was that? Well, we’ll get to that. The bottom line was that I’d experienced life and seen the world, but when the dust settled, I was back in the same bed, looking at the same War of 1812 wallpaper that I’d grown up within. It’s sort of hard to see where you’re going when you can’t truly convince yourself that you’ve been anywhere.

I didn’t look for work while a senior. That would’ve been the smart thing to do, but I was more interested in grades. I had “majored” in a cappella for the first two yrs, and my grades went to shit. Junior yr, I decided to focus more on school. Part of that was probably because Jennine was a freakin’ braniac, and I felt insecure as “the dumb guy”. Was I dumb? By no means, but I sure wasn’t a shining Cornellian. Nothing like good old envy & competition to remind you how unsatisfied you are…

Since my grades had declined during the first two yrs, my goal was simply to graduate with a 3.0. Not that hard, right? I mean, for all practical purposes, it was a “B”. I was totally an “A” student in high school, so a little more work would do the trick, right? Wrong. Those 4 semesters kicked my ass. Did I improve? Yes, but I focused more on closing Cornell out the right way, rather than investing in life after Cornell.

Did I get my 3.0? No. I got a 2.97. For goodness, sake! a 2.97! I worked like I’d never worked before, but what was I left with? I missed my goal, and I didn’t have a job.

What did I want to do with my life? Well, I think I took the easy approach: I wanted to do something concerning my interests. I loved toys, so….you get the picture. I was gonna work in the toy industry. Yup, just like “Big”. That was going to be my job. Did i ever really think I’d get said job? Not sure. I mean, I’ve pretty much gotten everything I’ve wanted. I’m an only child. We’re spoiled. I had certainly painted an image in my head of pursuing that career, but can I really say I tried?

I need support. I hate it, but I deal on external attention. I feel that I would’ve been great in the toy industry, but no one else seemed to think so. I had NO support. Maybe people felt, “Oh, he’s just chasing a foolish dream.” Either way, no one was in my corner.

I came home, and my family just ignored any goals I had. All I heard was, “You need to work in the federal government!” Day in and day out. That’s all they had known. They couldn’t have survived private industry, so they took the easy road. They wanted to act as if they were all about “job security”, but mainly they wanted me to take the “safe route”. They didn’t really have faith in any of my ideas. I SO wish I was a stronger person, but I can’t say that I am. That truly affected me…

I’d hear my mother talk on the phone. Everyone would call, asking, “What’s William doing? Does he have a job?” I’d hear her launch into this little spiel about, “Well, he wants to work in the toy industry…” but her inflection clearly stated that she was belittling the whole thing. She’s all I’ve had for all of these yrs, and she has no faith in me. That hurt.

All of this kept building, from October to December. Day in and day out. All they did was guilt me that I wasn’t doing more. reminding me that I’d “gone up to Cornell.” I can’t tell you have much that bothered me. It’s not like I really had a choice. I HAD to go to Cornell. Yes, great school, but didn’t know what I’d do with it. It was a blessing and a curse. Insecurity issues…

So, here’s why this is all so bad. Wanna know a secret? Wanna know my biggest fear? My biggest fear is that my mother will die before I’m completely independent. Yes, I’m 22 and it’s sad that I don’t know how to do a lot of things, but acknowledging that is the first step to solving the problem. Anyway, a lot of people may have this fear, but how many of them have a 66 yr old mother? Yes, you can go at anytime, but the older you get, the more likely the odds. I have a mother and two aunts who are all 60+. Let’s face facts: I’m going to be alone one day. We all are. But will that day be soon? If so, I’m not ready.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t LIKE being dependent. I want SO BADLY to be independent. I want to know the experience of driving your own car. Of returning from work to your own, quiet apartment. I want to experience stumbling home at night and not worrying about waking up anybody. I didn’t like where my life was. I was too old for this. I’ve done too much, and lived too much, to go back to this. This was all of the stuff that was boiling inside of me for those long months.

I have been chided and protected from everything, but also at the cost of my own individuality. Who am I? I don’t know. I have been living for other people for SO LONG> There are people who say, “Be your own person, etc”. But it’s not that simple. I can’t just shrug these people off. But they expected SO much of me. It was too much to handle. I only knew who I was expected to be. And I did my best to fulfill that role. What did I want? I think I was bothered by the fact that my father wasn’t here to offer either a pro or con. Were mommy and the aunts pushing me in the right direction? Sometimes, you need to a good “con” to appreciate how good the “pros” are. But there was no one to offer that con.

So, that’s what kicked it off. I miss my dad. How? Not sure. Didn’t really know him. And that’s the point. I don’t know what I got from his side of the family. Is that where the insecurity comes from? Is that why I’m initially shy with people? Since I wasn’t getting what I needed from those around me, I kinda retreated into a “What Would Daddy Do?” mindset. This was bad because I had no clue what Daddy would do. So, I got even more lost. Neglected the approval of the living, I sought the approval of the dead. Sooner or later, it turned into “What would Grandaddy do?” or “what would Pam and Doyle do?” (For the record, they’re my half-sib…or at least, they would’ve been). Anyway, they were all dead. Not the healthiest of circumstances.

After that longwinded rant, I guess I should focus on December 22, 2003. What happened that day? Well, I had hit bottom. And my birthday was coming up, and I was nowhere I wanted my life to be. I guess it’s nobody’s fault but mine. But I was lost and had no direction. So, I just kinda blew up. Exploded. Can’t describe it. I had been volatile for some months, and Mommy felt I needed medication, but at this point is was very Me vs. Them. They all wanted their lives easier, I felt, which is why they wanted me on medication. I kept telling myself, “They are the crazy ones!”

But I just…I want to write about this, but I can’t. Not because I don’t want to share, but it really can’t be written. You truly had to be there. But it was not pretty. And I just kind of went off on Mommy about how I was here because of her. She’d never let me learn to do for myself. I didn’t know how to do a damn thing for myself, and it was only a matter of time before she’d leave me like Daddy did. It destroyed me that i was SO helpless. But I never created that model. I’m a loner. I could’ve and would’ve learned how to get on by myself, had I not been robbed of the chance. I never asked people to do for me, and I’ve never been lazy, expecting them to do for me. But I wasn’t given the chance, so I never learned. The beauty of this whole phase of life was Mommy, who had been the czar, tried to adopt this tough-love, fend for yourself attitude that just didn’t gel. I have lived for her for 22 years, and it seems like it’s all for show sometimes. Yes, she’s proud, but how much of this stuff would I have done if not forced. yeah, I’ve had some great experiences, but I’ve also had some bad. How the fuck was I supposed just up and cold turkey do for myself, when I knew nothing? Yes, many people do this all the time, but it was so unchracteristic for her. As sick as I may have been, I definitely feel it was two-sided. She was neither supportive nor encouraging about the whole sitaution.

So, after the emotional eruption, the likes of which I’d never endured prior, we talked. I mean, really talked. We got to the bottom of a lot of this stuff I’d never shared. And she promised we’d work through all of this. She didn’t know how deeply my fear of abandonment ran. Here’s an example of how bad it is: I don’t let anyone of them call me before noon. Why? Because they’re all late sleepers. Anytime I kept a phone call in the morning, I say to myself, ‘Brace yourself. This is gonna be that call.” It may sound crazy, but you’ve never been me.

During this talk, we made a promise that we were going to change all of this. We’d work through it together and help me come to some new understanding. Well, that was December 22, 2003. But it was FAR from over.

Now, he we are, one yr later. But why do I feel in the same place? Yes, I have great people and things in my life, but why so unfulfilled? Why is this supposed to be so hard? People like to say, “You’ll look back on this and laugh”, but I doubt it. You laugh about the time you farted in church. This, this is not a laughing matter. Has anything improved? Yes, many things. But why don’t I feel as if I’m making ANY progress?

I hope this hasn’t changed the way any of y’all thought about me, but it needed to be said. Don’t get me wrong. I’m much better now, and I love my family to death; don’t think this was an attack at them. It just explains what happened during what I’ve referred to as my “blogging hiatus”. I was gonna give it up. Had nothing to say, and life was going nowhere. One year later, blog’s in pretty good shape. But the rest of me…

Sorry for the downer. Tomorrow, I’ll return to posts about chipmunk death penalties and the joys of Baywatch. You know, the stuff I’m famous for…

23rd Aug2004

Knight Rider and Me

by Will

So, I’ve reinstated “Operation: Childhood Buyback”. Basically, whenever I get depressed or confused, I try to create a bubble of nostalgia around myself in order to feel better. The best way to do this is for me to buy back the relics of my childhood.

Anyway, the most effective branch of this initiative deals with TV. I’ve bought several 80’s TV DVDs, such as the first seasons of Punky Brewster, The A-Team, and Knight Rider.

Tonight’s topic is Knight Rider. When I was a kid, I LOVED this show. I don’t think “love” even cuts it. There is no English word to describe the feelings I had for this show. I think it’s because of how it relates to my life. I used to watch it with my dad, so it kind of has that sentiment attached to it. Also, for my 4th birthday/Christmas, I got the K.I.T.T. Power Wheels car, which is still in my shed, by the way. That was the year Daddy died, so it was a trying holiday season, but I remember how happy I was to get that car! In fact, Knight Rider and my dad’s death are intertwined in several different ways.

When my father’s funeral came about, they didn’t think a 3 yr-old needed to be at the service, so they had my cousin run interference. She took me to Toys R Us, where I got an electronic K.I.T.T. I still remember that to this day.

Why is all of this important? Well, for many seemingly coincidental reasons. Here I am, watching Knight Rider Season 1, when my cousin, on my father’s side, passes away. In the meantime, Toys “R” Us is considering exiting the toy business. “The more things change…”

I guess one would ask, “Why do you love that show so much if it’s got so many bad memories attached?” Well, they weren’t bad memories. I didn’t know what was going on. I found out about funerals and the like as I grew older. I’ve posted about this before, but I simply looked at that as “the day all my relatives came to visit me/the day i got my Knight Rider car”.

So, now reality sets in. I’m watching these episodes, and trying to recapture what i felt 20 yrs ago. But ya know what? This show sucks. I am so sorry to say that. I feel almost like it’s blasphemy for me to do so, but this show is formulaic dreck.

Let’s see. Some town gets in trouble. Michael and K.I.T.T. are dispatched to right wrongs, and uphold justice in the name of the Foundation for Law and Government. Conveniently, there is always a hot single MILF and/or waitress who becomes Michael’s tour guide/potential love interest. Throw in a couple of bumbling henchmen and any reason at all to get K.I.T.T. to jump over a gorge, river, truck, or building, and you’ve got a typical episode of Knight Rider. No, you’ve got EVERY episode of Knight Rider!

To my recollection, there are only 2 episodes worth remembering: 1) “K.I.T.T. vs. K.A.R.R.”, where Michael is forced to go against the evil prototype named K.A.R.R. If you’ve never seen two Trans Ams collide in midair, this is the episode for you & 2) “Knight of The Juggernaut”, where K.I.T.T. gets the living shit smashed out of it by a big ol’ tank. He was never the same after that…

Well, I’ve got a funeral in about 8 hrs, and about half a season left of Knight Rider. Let’s hope between the two, I can come up with some kind of understanding of life…

11th Aug2004

Toys “R” Us Go Bye-Bye?

by Will

This is the worst news I’ve read in some time. You all know how I think. Forget the war. Forget terror alerts. News like this shatters my world:

http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/retail/2004-08-11-toys_x.htm?csp=26&RM_Exclude=Juno

So, what DOES happen to a dream deferred? Looks like I’m about to find out…

04th Jun2004

My War On Harry Potter Explained

by Will

If there was ever a risk of the Nerd population being in danger, tonight is the night. You see, the horn-rimmed elite will all be huddled together in one place: The opening of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Why do I criticize Potter fans so? Well, in case I haven’t written about this before (it’s been a year, so I’m starting to forget all my rant topics), I HATE HARRY POTTER. I think JK Rowling is a hack. I don’t see anything original about this franchise. In fact, I feel all of her ideas are culled from the classic works of Roald Dahl (“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, “Matilda”, “James and the Giant Peach”). Dahl died a pauper, and a suspected child molester, while Rowling is wiping her butt with hundreds (which are in pounds, not dollars, so it’s a lot more than you think it is!).

Wow, beans that taste like anything! Great job, JK. You ever had a gobstopper in your life?!! Plus, who cares if they taste like anything? “Oh no, this one tastes like grass!!” Real original, you British twit.

Harry’s introduction to Hogwarts is a complete reinterpretation of Charlie’s introduction to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

Wow, Harry’s aunt and uncle treat him like shit. Boo, hoo, hoo! In “Matilda”, her parents treated her like shit until…wait, she discovered she had magical powers. Sound familiar?

I also hate what the HP franchise stands for. Initially, it was commendable if only for the sole fact that it was getting children to read. The first batch were those NPR kids, whose hippy parents wouldn’t let them watch TV, so it was a preferred form of entertainment. Next came the soccer moms, and the busy professionals reading on their commutes to work. Soon, HP Mania spread across the land. But why? Ok, they’re decent reads, but why ain’t I seeing a Hardy Boys movie in the works? Or the Boxcar Children? To me, that’s the level HP is on.

I also hate that the franchise has sold out. As I said before, it inspired people to read. But to make movies, they’re cutting out the middle man. Sure, the vast majority of people are gonna do the whole read/watch comparison. But many people are just gonna wait for the movies. Then, Mattel got the license to produce HP action figures. The HP brand gained momentum simply by appealing to the no TV, no action figure crowd. Now, all of a sudden, there are HP action figures! That’s like opening the country club up so the ghetto kids can have a run of the place: Yeah, it might sound nice in theory, and be a pretty sweet tax write-off, but you’re still gonna be picking up cans of grape soda for weeks to come. What I’m saying is that, yeah, you’ve got a franchise that now appeals to everyone, but does that cause the HP franchise to lose integrity? Also, why the Hell is it so popular? It’s becoming the literary equivalent of Apple Jacks: You ask anyone why they love HP, and they simply reply, “We just do, that’s all.”

Well, I guess it’s good to know that crack now comes in more forms than rock and powder ’cause I see this as the same thing. Y’all enjoy your addictions for now, but it’s only a matter of time before Rowling kills Harry in the last book, leaving you jonesing for a fix, and finally realizing she’s nothing but a children’s John Grisham: she’s feeding you shit you’ve shat before and you’re too dumb to realize it.

And don’t worry, Mr. Dahl. I’m still lauding your praises. I know you didn’t touch those kids…

18th Apr2004

Great Weekend Involving VA, The Punisher, and Kill Bill Vol 2

by Will

OK, let’s see if I still remember how this goes. As much as I hate to admit it, you all know how I LOVE being the resident Eeyore, but this has actually been a great weekend. Got off work yesterday @ 5, which is simply unheard of. Then, I got my long-awaited reunion with VA. Amazing, we’ve known each other for years, but it was the first time we’ve ever gotten drunk together. Anyway, with Alabama Slammers and Chicken Fried Rice, that girl certainly knows how to have a good time. Plus, I now know the Metro goes right to her house, so it’s not gonna be one of those “only-reachable-by-car”. Didn’t get home til about 4 AM ’cause of friggin’ maintenance on the Red Line. I was actually scared I might get stranded in DC, and I mean the Bad DC.

Today was just as crazy and action-packed as yesterday. Finally got some bills paid, which is good ’cause it means I’m being responsible. It’s bad, though, ’cause I’m out $250. Anyway, I think Verizon and I know where each other stands from this day forward. 😛

Anyway, I had to “observe” Wednesday today, meaning I had to get my comics ’cause I was working when they came out on Wednesday. As a caveat, I got SO MUCH Punisher swag today! Free movie poster @ the shop, and free comic at the movie, but more on that later.

After the shop, I just kinda walked around. It was such a nice day, and I didn’t want to waste it. I ended up walking to Toys “R” Us, which turned out to be really weird. Normally, I can slip in unnoticed, and slip back out. Today, however, everyone I ever worked with seemed to be there, and they were all so friendly. They said they genuinely missed me, and it truly felt like it. To be honest, I miss them too. I don’t think I’d ever go back there, but I still love kids and toys. Neither of these loves are being fulfilled @ H&M.

Anyway, I eventually made my way to Silver Spring to comic shop #2, and found the sweetest poster. The guy didn’t know how much to sell it for, for fear of his manager firing him. So, I put it on hold and have to call back tomorrow. I’ll describe it tomorrow if the deal goes through.

Eventually, I met up with Brett and we went to dinner & The Punisher. So, what did I think of The Punisher? He simply didn’t punish enough. He was way too much of a wise-cracking smart-ass for a guy who watched his entire extended family massacred. That was part of the problem. The whole movie was overkill. It was like a bad WWF match. For example, in the comic, Frank Castle’s wife, son, and daughter are caught in mob crossfire, which drives him crazy and causes him to become The Punisher. In the movie, Castle’s entire family, including parents, aunts, cousins, etc, are massacred during a beachfront family reunion. There was no need for them to kill 50+ people! We get the point. It’s kinda like how Eminem wants us to know how he really, really loves his daughter. Enough already. In the end, I enjoyed the movie, but I thought he’d be more stoic than he actually was.

After the movie, I did something rare: I went out again! Don’t ask me why, ’cause it’s certainly not a normal thing, but I met up with Davis and we went to see Kill Bill Vol. II. I can’t even begin to attempt to give a review to that movie. I’ll just say awesome. And not in that “Matrix/Star Wars-justification of crappy sequel” kind of way. Simply awesome movie. Tarantino turned a cliche into something amusing and enjoyable. On the other hand, I can’t wait to hear all the gripes my “debate partner” is going to have regarding the movie’s political incorrectness; we haven’t even discussed “The Apprentice” finale, so I know he’ll be charged and ready to go. Anyway, I know the Japanese, and some Jewish, organizations are gonna be up in arms Monday morning, so Quentin, prepare for the backlash. Regardless, a job well-done.

22nd Nov2003

NYC Excursion

by Will

WOW, it’s been a LONG time! I forgot my password for the past weeks, plus I don’t exactly have regular access to the i-net these days. So much to tell, so little energy. A few bullets:

-Actually hearing back from toy companies. Toys R Us Corporate good, Hasbro bad

-Ran away from home to NYC for a week. Came home when money ran out. In the meantime, I saw Soledad O’Brien on the street and Dave Chappelle in the Virgin Megastore. Saw Matrix in IMAX; it STILL sucked, but it did so beautifully. Went to Toys R Us Times Square. I truly believe it is an exact replica of what Heaven must be like. There’s a friggin Ferris Wheel in that place! It truly is “The Center of the Toy Universe”!

17th Sep2003

I Also Miss Juvenile Sales…

by Will

“Lionel Kiddie City turns a frown… upside down!”

Boy, do I miss that! Christmas is right around the corner, folks.

04th Aug2003

Still Trying To Work In The Toy Industry

by Will

So, I just sent an application in to Mattel. I figure it’s time to get this toy thing started. Ithaca’s trying to send me a message, and I’m never gonna do anything unless I’m pushed. Seems like I’m being pushed, so hopefully this’ll turn out better than those apps to Marvel & DC that I haven’t heard back from.