This will probably turn into a pity party quickly and doesn’t have anything to do with videogames, per se, so if that’s not your thing there probably won’t be much here for you. It’s sunday night, about 9pm Utahian time. Arnee is taking a nap. I just watched the super bowl of our press row madden league. Before that I watched about 10 episodes of battlestar galactica.
Why am I telling you this? I don’t know. I don’t know if i’m writing this for you (the entire audience, not you in particular) at all. I think I’m writing to pass the time. Because I’m in one of those situations where they only thing that helps is the passage of time. And therapy. Which I thankfully have an appointment tomorrow. I’m probably going to ask for a second one this week. It’s just been that kind of week. Or month. Or year.
Just about a year ago Arnee’s half-sister was shot in the back by her coward of a husband who then went upstairs and put a shotgun in his mouth, blowing his brains all over the ceiling. That was easily the most fucked up thing I have ever been close to. It completely changed the lives of everyone in that family. From the fringes where I reside to her mother and children. Everyone changed. How can you not? In a way it was a motivator for me. After the shock ended, and then the depression ended, my entire resolve revolved around protecting my wife.
The morning we found out (it happened overnight) I was in CT. Arnee was in Utah. It was Arnee’s cousin’s wedding. She was out here solo because, well, I’m afraid of planes. I’m afraid of most things. I’m really afraid of planes. I was unable to help her. It was actually the day of Sam and Matt’s wedding. Arnee was doing Sam’s makeup. She knew she had to keep it together to not ruin what was supposed to be an amazing day for them. Arnee is one of the toughest people I’ve ever met but everyone has their limits. It killed me that I couldn’t be there to help her… and with the wedding and everything, we didn’t even have time to talk about it until late in the evening. We texted back and forth all day and she kept saying “I’m ok, Sarah and Joey are taking care of me.” She does that, uses the first names of people I don’t know. But in that moment, and to this day, I loved Sarah and Joey because they were doing what I couldn’t. And come to find out they used to the same medicine I would have suggested: booze.
When she got back we both were in a huge funk. The wake and funeral were just brutal. Emotional pain so strong that it physically hurt. And so many people showed up. I’ve only seen that many people at one other funeral in my life, when my aunt Debbie passed far too early (50s, freak blood clot). My aunt worked at the high school (i think? could have been middle school) and was up front where everyone knew her. She was the lady that if you called in, or had a doctor’s note, or any of those things you dealt with her. And she was a glowing, amazing, friendly, person. So she was beloved. When she passed the line at the wake went out the door and around the building. It was the same thing at Janice’s wake. Heh, I just pulled an Arnee, using a name before placing it on a person. Janice was my sister-in-law.
That’s the weird thing about someone dying though… it makes you think of everyone else who you loved that died. Janice’s funeral made me think of my Aunt Debbie. Thinking of Debbie makes me think of Bobby, her son, my cousin, who died of a drug overdose after living through a coma and given a second chance in life, which he thrived with for years, but eventually fell back into a bad habit and was dead within a year.
Every death makes me think of my Grandfather. My dad’s dad is one of the more influential people on my life that I can’t really explain why. He was closed off. He was very proper. He was stern. He was everything I wasn’t and have never been. But I used to spend two weeks every summer at their house in Litchfield, CT (he was also very successful). My grandmother would call me “Charles,” after my uncle, because he was the youngest and the only male child in the house for a while about 30 years earlier. I always went to baseball camp up there, because I – and my grandfather – loved baseball. And then on weekends when I didn’t have camp and he was home he would sit on his back porch and listen to the Red Sox, who he loved his entire life. There was a TV inside with cable that he could (and sometimes would) watch them on, but for day games he prefered to sit outside and listen on the radio. To this day I love listening to AM broadcasts of sports, especially baseball, because of those saturday and sunday afternoons.
Two things break my heart about baseball and my grandfather. He was born 2 months after the red sox won their last championship (at that point…. 1918). He lived his entire life without seeing them win a world series. I remember in 1986, sitting in what is now my mother’s sewing room, with my dad, watching the sox vs mets. We had a rotary phone. My dad told me dial every number of my grandfather’s number except the last one so we could call him the second the red sox won the world series. Some bad pitching (always overlooked), a ball between Buckner’s leg… and I hung up the phone and cried. My grandfather called us about a minute later. He and my father talked. I don’t remember talking to him. I was 9 and that was the equivalent of terrorism.
He passed when I was 17. He had throat cancer (something I’m convinced I have most of the time and also convinced I’m gonna die of… the joys of having a generalized anxiety disorder). My parents brought me to the hospital as they visited him and I never went in. I would sit in the car, by myself, crying, fucking around with a gameboy (me being 17 was 20 years ago… i’m old). I never once went into the hospital. Many people in my family, including my sister, thought I was being selfish. I thought I was also. It took me many years to recognize that was one of the first and defining moments of my battle against anxiety. If i went in I probably would have hyperventilated and fainted. It would have made all of the attention on me. That’s the last thing I wanted.
Sorry for the long detour if you happen to be someone reading this even though the stated purpose is to just pass time. I miss my grandfather. I miss my aunt. I miss my cousin. I miss both of my grandmothers. I miss Janice.
After Arnee and I pulled our shit back together, which was a good 2+ months after Janice’s death, we were near the end of fall and I suggested to her “Why don’t we move to Utah?” Now, when I suggested that, I had never been to Utah. Arnee had glowing feelings about the area, and it was the northern edge of the same desert my grandparents lived in during the winters when I was kid (same as above, they lived in Tucson, we would come out each february break). I always loved the desert. I also wanted to get her away from certain parts of her family. I’m not gonna even attempt to explain the complexities of her family but there is a lot anger buried in there and it made me uncomfortable and after what happened to Janice.
I had my own selfish reasons as well. I had been tied to a job for 12+ years that I should have left after 5 years. I was tied to it because of my own brain – it was comfortable, and as someone anxious, anything comfortable is amazing. Once Arnee and I started dating and got married I was then tied to it because of the benefits. Arnee and I are both crazy (but in a way that doesn’t agitate the other’s craziness, which is amazing) so we need doctors and meds and shit for that. It’s also nice to go to a doctor when you have some sort of flu or whatever. Well, Arnee feels that way, I’d rather just lay on a couch and assume it will leave.
Turns out my hunch was on the mark. Arnee got roughed up by a family member that I knew was trouble (didn’t get the shit kicked out of her, but wayyyyyyy more force than would ever be appropriate). Right before we were to drive across the country we went on a cruise with my parents, and my sister and her husband. It wasn’t designed as a farewell cruise (as it was planned a year+ in advance) but it turned into that. The cruise ended up being the infamous “norovirus cruise” that you may or may not have heard about on the news in late January. Arnee got it, I didn’t. The amount of agony she was in was unbelievable. She recovered quickly and being Arnee was excited for the rest of the cruise. The cruise line wasn’t as excited, since it was all over the news, as was Arnee. She is up for anything. She really is the opposite of me. We had tweeted about it, I had many twitter followers because of gaf/nodrm, she had a good amount as well from her work in films. I got contacted to talk about the virus-cruise. I wanted no part of that. Arnee called them up and her soundbite was on CNN every 20 minutes or so. She did a phone interview for Good Morning America, for some random radio stations, i forget what else. She wasn’t over the top, she didn’t deliver the sensationalism that they were looking for… in fact, she often said “things are much better now.” Having listened to her on the phone and then seeing how they chopped up the calls to scare people on solidified my decision to stop watching the news which I made a year earlier. It really is fucking disgusting.
So we drove across the country. It was kinda difficult (early feb, drove through about 19 blizzards). But it was also fun. It was another thing that Arnee and I did together, that we couldn’t do separately, that is probably the reason why we are still happily married. We can help each other achieve more than we could alone. There’s many reasons I’m happy that I’m married to her, but that’s a pretty huge one.
Once we got here I was lost. We had sold my car before moving because we wanted to do the drive together (plus 2x gas, etc, would have eaten into our budget). I didn’t have a job lined up. I had discussed starting a website since the fall but I didn’t really know what that meant. How do you fund it? How do you make money from it? How much does it even cost? How long before you make any money from it? Would I be condemned to a life of clickbait bullshit? Would I even want to do that, even though I could write that shit in my sleep? I had no idea.
Arnee was in real estate school. She then got a job selling high-end furniture. She was working her ass off. I decided to go all in on the website idea. I’m not really a fan of crowdfunding (as you can hear on our last episode) but I had no idea how to start the site otherwise so I went for it. It was going well but I got a lot of resistance from the powers that be at GAF, first with a passive aggressive change of “tag” (who I now know who did it…) and then with me making a major mistake and given no chance to make up for it. A lot of people didn’t buy my story at the time. Col Rodgers, the person who my fuckup, um, fucked up, did buy my story. I was in this weird place where he was cool with me but I was getting death threats on twitter and email and GAF was dancing on my grave. Needless to say that killed funding for the site. I think we made maybe $300 in the second month (after 4500 in the 1st). After everyone took their cut I was left with less than $3000. But I really wanted to make this website. I have no other skills to offer the world. I’ve worked with autistic adults for 12 years, and kids with various disabilities for 3 years before that… but I was (and still am) totally burned out it. The house I worked in had a workforce of 8 people. In 12 years I probably saw 30 people get hired and then quit. The job had high burnout, I don’t know how I made it as long as I did. That said, I’m not going back.
So what do I know? Videogames. I kinda know how to write. So I went through with the indiegogo. I was in front of my computer about 15 hours a day trying to make it work only to get 60% funded. It was enough to start. I had the support of my wife. We started working. The money was gone fast. Anyone who has made a website is probably thinking “ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS YOU WANTED TO MAKE A SITE WITH $3000 AND NO INCOME?” Well, I was naive.
Thankfully there were people who believed in my idea. The website, at this stage, has very little do with me other than my idea. I don’t mean that in a bad way. What I mean is that people like Rob Priewe, Gabriele Galliani (and his friend I only know as “Marco”), Mike Phillips, Mike Aparicio, Jeff Holtzclaw, and Rich Grisham, put in far more effort in getting the site made than I did. I answered questions when I could but I was lost. I knew the concept, but I took for granted that my great friend Mike Phillips would design it. And how in the world did I think it would get coded? These people have made no money. We also have huge heads. Feature creep has been an issue. An issue I’m happy with, however. We could literally launch today if we wanted to. But we just got a few more ideas and we want them up and working before launching the site. This site is the most idealistic fucking thing you could imagine, which should mean it will crash and burn, but it also gives it a chance to be something special. We will launch with no ads. None. Without ads we aren’t concerned about bullshit to draw in clicks, so there will be no clickbait articles. If you want to support the site, it will have a subscription for community based stuff. The forum, comments, tournaments, hosted servers, etc. If you just want to read the stuff on the site and don’t care about the rest and don’t want to pay – that’s cool. We are going to start idealistic and get more and more cynical if that fails. I’m not certain it will fail.
While working on the site I got news about a month back that a very good friend of mine was found dead, floating in the Long Island Sound. It was weird. The news said there was a “silver alert” out for her since that morning (she was found around noon). I waited and waited and waited for an explanation as to why she was dead. The news went totally silent on it. There was never a follow-up story written about it.
When i was 15 I tried to kill myself. I have no idea how sincere the attempt was… I can’t really tell you much about that night other than the facts as I remember them. I was upset, something in my brain flipped, I went to the kitchen and grabbed a bottle of prescription pills (looking back… why were they in the kitchen and not the bathroom?). I swallowed a bottle of some sort of something that I was prescribed for having my entire body covered in poison ivy about a year earlier (don’t know why I didn’t take the pills then… no idea why they were still up there). As I felt them going down my throat I ran outside into my backyard and threw them up. The next day I told a friend, he told a counselor, and I was pulled out of class and put in an office, and then an ambulance, and was at Yale New Haven hospital. YPI (Yale Psychiatric Institute) was full, so they shipped me up to Elm Crest in Middletown, CT. I spent a couple of weeks there.
When i got out, the girlfriend of the guy who told the counselor reached out to me and we talked. A lot. Every night. It wasn’t romantic. She was much older than me (I was 15…). She was a huge help. She got me back on my feet. She was there whenever I felt fucked up. Flash forward about 15 years, we reconnected. I was self-destructive and in awful relationships. She was married, with a kid, and the head of the fine arts department of a local high school. She had her shit together. I met Arnee, moved to Brooklyn, and we pretty much lost touch – which was entirely my fault.
She was the woman they found floating in the Long Island Sound a month ago. After about 10 days my sister (older, smarter, stronger) was direct with me and explained if the news isn’t all over it there is no murder investigation. She wasn’t on a boat so no accident happened. She killed herself. I don’t know why. I can’t imagine the torment. It kicked the fucking shit out of me. I’m glad my sister helped me understand that is what happened, because when it was open-ended I couldn’t begin to really grieve. Once I accepted that she killed herself I had a really difficult couple of weeks and then I started to come around. During this time, for anyone looking for info on the site, I didn’t do a fucking thing. One of a million reasons my name shouldn’t be on the masthead.
Once I finally got back on the horse and found out that, HOLY SHIT, we were close to launching, I got excited. We were all working together to get it done (again… Rob/Gabe/Marco doing the most work by a farrrrrr margin). And then, on friday (which was originally floated as being a day we could be live but we decided to add some stuff) I get a call from my wife crying her head off. Joey killed himself. Joey, the guy about 3000 words ago, who helped my wife get through the day she found out her sister was murdered. Joey, who I had since met, shared many laughs and great conversations with. I was there to celebrate his 40th birthday. He killed himself. A month after my friend from CT.
It just multiplies. I keep seeing Joey in my head. He always seemed so happy – though I know I didn’t know him well enough to say he was or if it was a mask). I keep seeing my friend from CT. I keep seeing Janice. I keep seeing my Aunt. I keep seeing my cousin. I keep seeing my grandfather. I keep seeing both grandmothers (both died after years of memory erasing brain disorders… which is just fucking cruel). Arnee’s mother is suffering the same fate.
If you are looking for some sort of bow on this to tie it all together there isn’t. The last year has been completely fucking awful. The website is coming. Arnee finished Real Estate School. We are trying to keep moving forward. The thing is… life sucks. It really does. Arnee and I have been trying to have a baby. Nope. Murder/death/suicide. We had a moment last week where every bank account we have was in the negative. Life is fucking hard. I’m not just blaming life. I make many mistakes. Daily. Still, the punishment doesn’t seem to fit the crime.
Cry more, Pete Dodd. See how much that helps. I’m going to link to this once on facebook and twitter and then continue my disengagement with both as I don’t think either would be helpful to me currently. I’ll be back tomorrow/50 years from now. Probably closer to tomorrow.
(spell checked but not checked for Grammar, suck it)