The Poison of Easy Research – My First Smartphone [2011]

I received my first smartphone in July of 2011. Everything changed.

My family had just received a large windfall of money from the government, so I got a top-of-the-line LG Revolution (it was pretty bad) and got a hand-me-down car after I passed my driver’s test shortly afterwards. In just a couple weeks’ time, my whole life had changed. But only in retrospect do I realize that.

It’s flabbergasting to think that, ten years ago, smartphones were not actually that popular yet, and the technology was still in its infancy with slow 3G speeds and clunky apps. My first experience with a smartphone blew me away. The touchscreen responded fluidly; websites loaded in mobile form most of the time and when they didn’t it was easy to zoom and fix; there were so many arcade-y games, all for free! I could message friends instantly on the go without typing for ten minutes to get a 15-word sentence.

What mattered most to me, though, was the fact that I could look up anything I wanted, wherever I wanted. The world’s encyclopedias encapsulated in a small square that fit in my pocket.

Really, here in 2020 it feels like a different era. When have I ever been without the ability to access almost any information or contact almost any person? Aside from intentionally avoiding the internet, the only other time I’ve felt this way was a month in Japan as an exchange student, where public wi-fi was rare and I didn’t get a hotspot until later.

But back in 2011, it opened my eyes to a brand-new life I only thought possible in science fiction movies.

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McKay’s, Cheap DVDs, and My Path to Becoming a Film Lover [2013-2015]

For decades of my life, Mckay’s (also known as McKay Used Books & CDs) was my home away from home. The best spot in all of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

It looks like recently they finally added that ‘s to the name after years of everyone mistakenly adding the ‘s anyway. Wow, massive change by the people really is possible.

For as long as I can remember, the bulk of my entertainment goods came from this store, a place that sells books, comics, video games, music, board games, figurines, and practically everything you can think of that qualifies as vaguely nerdy. The vast majority of my books came from either McKay’s or the Scholastic Book Fair, and it was mostly the former anyway.

First, It Was Video Games

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Walt: In Memory of My 1987 Oldsmobile [2013-2018]

This post is dedicated to Walt, my second car. (A 1987 Cutlass Ciera Oldsmobile, if you wanted to know.)

The History of Walt: My Oldsmobile

My first car was some 2001 Nissan Spectra or something like that. Nothing special, just a very old car with a billion miles on it and the kind of thing a poor kid gets when they get their license and the family really needs them to be able to run errands.

But after a couple years, it was clear that we didn’t have enough vehicles at home. My grandfather had a van to use, my mother had a car to use, and I had a car to use, but my father bounced between vehicles and didn’t end up having one for a while.

This led to Walt.

A 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera in the year 2013…

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Living in Florida: The Month of S [2018]

I didn’t plan on living in Florida, but somehow it happened. If you want to talk about really badly planned events that went extremely well, you want to talk about the time in 2018 when I moved to Florida for a couple months.

Waiting for JET

Because I had just gone and assumed I’d be accepted for the JET Program after applying in 2017, I decided not to renew my lease in Seattle. I would quit my job at the end of May 2018, then spend time with my Dad’s side of the family, then my Mom’s side of the family, before I moved to Japan for several years.

It was a very solid plan—June in Florida, July in Georgia, then August and beyond in wherever JET sent me, hopefully Aichi Prefecture. The only problem was that I didn’t get accepted. I got waitlisted.

I feverishly tracked the JET Program Reddit to find out the status of waitlisted candidates to see my chances go down, and down, and down.

In April when the real acceptances were picked, some obviously had to decline and then more alternates would be picked to fill those slots. That never came.

In May I waited for the college graduates who got a sweet offer at their Dad’s firm and decided a $70,000 base salary was better than their presumed year-long vacation to Japan. That never came.

In June I waited for those last emergency dropouts for people who got arrested or had health problems or simply got wet feet. That never came.

I mean, I know I bombed the interview really badly, but I felt so confident that I looked great on paper. I studied in Japan for a year and had Japanese as a minor, I had experience as a teaching assistant, I had a degree in Writing & Linguistics and knew a lot about the English language… It genuinely hurt me to find that I had been completely passed over.

It hurt me even more to know that I had already set the plans in motion to go and could not stop them under any circumstance. Already having subleased my room out, already having put in my notice at work, already having bought plane tickets to Florida, it was beyond too late to reconsider. And it really sucked, but I decided to make good use of it anyway!

This is actually a pretty happy story, I promise.

(Also, spoiler alert, but I DID get accepted to the JET Program months later in one of the most fateful freak accidents the world has ever given me. I’ve been grateful ever since.)

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[2015] The Making of Barty Anderson 4

More than anything I have made thus far in my life as a storyteller, Barty’s Brew-Ha-Ha 4: Tale of the Legend of the Crystal Chubacabra [sic] is the thing I am most proud of. My masterpiece, one that debuted five years ago today.

(first off, if you want to read further, you should probably watch the original Barty Anderson movies by the Brothers Hussie, Byron and Andrew. I’ll embed the entire series playlist below.)

And then Barty 4 itself can be watched here:

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[2013] An Attempt at Summer Internet Seclusion

Did you know I took the Summer of 2013 off the internet? An internet seclusion, one of the most difficult tasks to accomplish in the modern age.

I don’t know why you would know that… It’d be kind of weird if you did. But, and this is extremely weird to say, but after I graduated high school I made the firm decision to avoid the internet for a whole two months because I thought it would help me spend a lot more time with friends and family before I went off to college.

My High School Summers

I spent most of my high school summers doing basically nothing. Eighty percent in front of a Windows XP desktop using the internet; fifteen percent in front of a 40-inch CRT playing Xbox 360; and five percent watching midnight releases at the local Carmike Cinemas.

I also participated in marching band practice. That took most of July and August away each year, because practice was very rigorous. But that didn’t stop me from making grandiose plans all the time! Big novels, experimental music albums, Homestuck fan comics, the works…

None of it ever worked, though. I just played games and browsed the internet all day.

Internet Seclusion At Work

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[2012-2013] Super Mario Dance Bros., Irony, and My First Semester of College

This is not a 2010s video. In fact, everything about it reeks 00s—All-American Rejects, Windows Movie Maker, 3D modelling and animation done by a teen in the pre-Gmod, pre-Blender era, and that overall since that a video like this could only ever have been created while George W. Bush presided over the U.S.

But Super Mario Dance Bros., one of the all-time greatest videos on Youtube, is part of the 2010s Retrospectives Series not because its own creation because of what it created in me.

Watch the video for yourself and watch what happens to the rest of your life:

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[2010] My First “Real” Short Story

It’s been about ten years since I started writing original prose fiction and posting it on the internet. I don’t think I was really conscious of it at the time, since I was still busy making fan fictions and sprite comics and all that sort of stuff, but it took until high school for me to really start making the things that would eventually make me the writer I am today.

Of course, because I was a little shit, though, one of the first short stories I finished was an “experimental” piece of trash called “An Hero is a Hero.”

(Read it and try to make sense of anything in it. I dare you.)

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[2015] A Terrorist Attack in My Hometown

On July 16th, 2015, a terrorist attack happened less than five miles from me.

I was sitting at home, doing whatever. Who even knows. Then the news came in that a deranged man shot up an military recruitment building in Chattanooga. Then he got in his car, drove to a Navy Reserve center, and shot it up as well.

5 people died, and two were injured. The man wasn’t ISIS, but he had been influenced by jihadi propaganda on the internet, as well as mental health and drug abuse problems. Right here, where I lived, where I never even considered the possibility of something like this happening, some depraved being went on a rampage committed a mass shooting.

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