Tuesday, July 15, 2014

25 Years of Me

(Back in 2007 I released the original version of this article to celebrate my 25th birthday and being the nostalgic, sentimental guy I am, share of my journey thus far. I got a lot of positive feedback at the time and it remains one of my favorite, most personal RtW pieces. My own sort of bildungsroman. Last year I thought it'd be a great time to add an afterword to the original bringing it several years forward and all that's changed. So here it is my yearly tradition: 25 Years of Me!)

This blog was designed for me to be able to, not necessarily critique, but give my thoughts on a myriad of things.  Being that on this date I’m celebrating my 25th year here on our planet, I thought it fitting, to take a look inward.  No, not a review of myself, I’d need years on a psychiatrists’ couch afterwards to pull that off; but, more so a retrospective.  I’ve got to admit, one of the reasons I really like doing this site, is after I write an article on something, be it a food item or toy or whatever, I feel like its been immortalized once it goes online.

This idea sort of germinated in my head a few months prior.  I wasn’t sure, until about a week ago, if I’d take a crack at it.  Even as I write this, it’s all stream of consciousness prose, as I don’t have an actual game plan.  I dug through tons of old family photo albums for this piece.  That process itself was very rewarding; as I discovered a lot of pictures I hadn’t seen in over a decade.  It was hard to narrow down which pictures to use, so I just aimed to use them as a timeline of sorts, and pick ones that made me smile, laugh, or feel nostalgic.  I went into a supermarket after midnight last week, sat by myself at a kiosk, and scanned picture after picture in a truly surreal experience.  The night cleaning crew occasionally passed by, looking on curiously at the shaggy-haired guy, humming the Fraggle Rock theme song to himself as he worked contentedly.

Without further adieu, please join me on a very personal journey through pictures of my first 25 years of life.  At first, I had dates, and more detailed notes in mind, but I think I just want to talk briefly about each photo, their context, and what they mean to me.  I feel very fortunate to have a venue to share so much of myself with you.


I started off as a little tyke, fun loving, and full of wonder.


Then that wide-eyed awe turned into energy, and occasionally, mischievousness.  I suppose this was one of my first created games, where I simply moved pennies from one bowl to another.  Who needs toys when you’ve got coins?


This was one of my very first New Year’s Eves.  I was out of control, too, with my combination of potato chips, and tap water in a fancy wine glass.


From a very early age, I had a fascination with reading that developed into a full-fledged love as I continued to grow.  Here, I’m reading something from DC Comics, as Green Arrow, Batgirl, and Green Lantern are recognizable on the back cover.


This picture’s a heartbreaker.  It was until at least middle school that I was able to look at this one without crying.  I had been in an accident where the tip of one of my fingers was cut off.  Here I am later that night, back from the hospital, but still a little traumatized.  Besides this picture, I still have the scar as a reminder.


One of my all-time favorite pictures of myself, seen happily munching down on powdered donuts while wearing my beloved Incredible Hulk shirt.


Usually I was on the receiving end of being picked on by my older brother Dennis, but here, I’ve got the advantage.


Surprise!  I hid in my dad’s guitar case many times, much to the astonishment of my brother, and I’m glad this peculiar pastime was captured.


Another thing I liked a lot since a young age was music, and audio in general.  I just loved wearing my parents’ oversized headphones, and would be found many times sitting in the living room before anyone else had woken up, listening to one of my tapes or records.  I’ve got to point out the stellar Return of the Jedi shirt, too.


All right, I’ll admit it; I just added this one because of its absolutely undeniable cuteness.


This picture is so goofy that I can’t believe I had no recollection of it.  But, there I am, looking inebriated and wearing the majority of a He-Man costume, sans the mask, which strangely enough, my brother is wearing earnestly with accompanying sword and striped sweater.


This was on a day where my father took my brother and I to the natural science and history museum in Cincinnati.  We’re seen crawling through the caverns and caves, which was a blast.  To this day, I still adore museums, and am a sucker for exploring.


This was our Christmas, of I believe 1987, and another forgotten gem I rediscovered.  I love our clothes, especially my Robin outfit.  Our tree also looks larger and more extraordinary than ever.  Like most people my age, I’m still very nostalgic about my Christmas experiences from childhood, and likely always will be.  One of my favorite Christmas memories, from three or four years later, was when my brother and I received a Sega Genesis.  I remember that night, after my parents went to sleep, we turned off all the lights in the living room, so only the glow from the TV and the blinking Christmas lights illuminated us, and played our first batch of games (Altered Beast, Last Battle, and my favorite Target Earth) until our tired eyes couldn’t take any more.


Even though I celebrated my 20th birthday with Chuck E. Cheese, this is proof that we’re old pals and go way back.


This was one of my very first and least embarrassing school pictures.


One year I decided to go as Raphael of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to a costumed Halloween party.  I ended earning the title of best costume, too.  I was super proud of my shell, which my dad made using a pizza box, paint, and a lot of time and care.  I didn’t realize until just now, though, that it appears I’m wielding sharp kitchen knives.


Here I am, I’m guessing circa 1st grade, all adorned in TMNT apparel.  You can also get a glimpse of my decorative skills.


I’d had a bike before, but this was the first bike that was really mine, you know?  I’d used old bikes before, but this one, albeit neon orange was bought solely for me, and I cherished it.


One summer, my parents put up a really big swimming pool, which played quite a pivotal point in those young years.  We only had it for a couple years, but, while it was there and usable, it facilitated as not just a recreational tool, but a neighborhood meeting spot, wild whirlpool, wrestling arena, and so much more.  Also featured in this picture besides my brother and I, was a local girl named Jamie, who if for nothing else, will be remembered for being the first person I played “Truth or Dare” with.


As mentioned earlier, I’d always enjoyed music since a young age, and at this point, I was especially into rap.  I often made my own recordings, pretending that I was a renowned musician, in my imaginary rock band Says, rap posse The Rap Masters, or in my more experimental project, Brian and the Nubian Rain.


In 6th grade I won first place in my school’s science fair with my project Copper Nails.  This photo was of me competing in the citywide competition, which I didn’t fare so well in.  I can still recall sitting in my classroom, listening to the closing announcements while waiting for the day’s final bell to ring, as they went through the list of the students that did the best, and being shocked when they got to #1 and it was me.


This easily ranks as likely the most embarrassing picture I could have shared.  I’m sporting some heinous hair, complete with bleached “tail” and some sort of stripe on the side of my skull.  Maybe I should bring that look back.


Here I am celebrating Christmas, likely fresh to middle school.  My presents are invocative of my interests then, as I proudly hold up a Psycho Sid action figure and some Goosebumps merchandise.


This is a sort of random picture, of my brother and I, escaping the heat of summer in our room circa June ’98.  It’s one of the few pictures of us in our bunk beds, and that’s the main reason I included it, as we used those things loyally, and I in fact, still sleep on what was one of the bunks to this day.


Here I am around the spring of 2000, nearly graduated from high school.  That summer, after graduating, was one of the most exhilarating, exhausting, and rewarding times of my life.  This photo was taken in nearby college town Oxford, OH, by then close friend and partner in perversity Chris Davidson.


Here I am at LaRosa’s restaurant with friends Jessie Robertson and Steve Smith.  Steve was my traveling partner on my adventure to Scotland and Jessie I've known along with his cousins Chris and Daryl since childhood.


Here I am with local legend and punk rock purist Eddie Michaels, at one of our old late-night stomping grounds, Waffle House.


This large group assembled in my kitchen prior to a New Year’s Eve Party in Indiana.  I’ve lost contact and separated from almost all of these guys, but still feel fortunate for having shared time with them back then.


Here I am at one of my favorite spots back then, the local comic book shop, where I could wax philosophic about Terri Hatcher’s portrayal of Lois Lane and not seem too weird.


Here I am with then girlfriend Molly, about to leave to attend her prom, and my niece, Jade.  I dated Molly for over four years, and although we’ve moved on since, I can still look back fondly on the time we shared together.


Here I am in 2005 with my fiancĂ© Amanda while attending a cousin of mine’s wedding.  Around the time we started dating, I also reenrolled in college, as well as moved into an apartment with her.  It was a busy and challenging period, but also extremely gratifying and fulfilling.


Here I am with Amanda and Jade, in Yellow Springs, OH, eating lunch (which I’ve previously reviewed) at Ha Ha Pizza.  Afterward we hiked, ate ice cream, and petted farm animals, collectively making this one of the better days in recent memory.


Here I am with Jade, and my mom, Bevy Sue.  They’re both so important to me.  I’ve been around Jade since her birth, and feel I’ve been a very positive influence and figure in her life.  My mom is incredibly inspirational.  She’s a yoga teacher, practices kindness, loves experiencing new things, and has always been there for me.


Lastly, I added this, the only non-scanned image, of Amanda and I, from our recent trek to Orlando, Florida.  I wanted to end it with an image that, at least to me, is related to who I am now, and who I’ll be in the future.  Amanda and I have made a lot of plans for the future, plans I’m incredibly excited and very hopeful about.

I look back at these past 25 years and I’ve got to say I’m really happy with how they’ve turned out.  Life’s not always been easy for my family, we’ve never had much money, but there’s never been a shortage of love and knowledge nearby.  I don’t have all the answers, I’m still searching, like most of us, and that’s totally all right.  I was recently told that to love other people, to love your work and schooling, and everything else, you’ve got to first truly love yourself.  I can honestly say that I do love myself, the person I was, now am, and will eventually become.  Thank you so much for sharing this with me.

2013 Update/Afterword Addition:


When we last left off Amanda and I were young and in love! Talking of future plans, etc. Now look at my beautiful wife and I! My life's completely changed since 25. Amanda and I moved into our second apartment in '08 while I finished college and she started her career as a nurse. We had a small, personal wedding ceremony at a relative's house surrounded by family and close friends. In 2010 I graduated from Miami University with a degree in Mass Communications, we moved into our first house, and my son Owen Leo was born! Wow what a year! Almost exactly two years later in April of 2012 my daughter Yukari Lila was born. I'd always dreamt of being a parent and knew it'd be something I would (hopefully) excel at with my patience and a heart full of love and happiness to share.


Here's my beautiful babies Owen and Yukari! I could honestly write pages and pages on them but I won't pen a novel at present. Owen is an amazing. Incredibly smart boy. He's never really been interested in traditional toys like trucks and action figures but has a love of things like books, flash cards, and musical instruments. He goes to bed with books and wakes up carrying them. Pretty much throughout the entire day he is talking about letters, numbers, shapes, colors, animals, etc. I've taken him to parks regularly since he was very young and just like me he loves the outdoors, being in the sun, running around, exploring, etc. He's had a few favorite shows but overall Blue's Clues is probably the one he likes most. He'll eat a lot of different stuff including healthier things but his favorite are probably pizza, chili spaghetti, and fresh fruit. Yukari is 14 months and such a bright, adventurous girl! She already has such personality! She's so beautiful. She loves running after her brother and is interested in everything. She started walking, eating real food, etc. quicker than Owen -- she wastes no time! We love taking them to the zoo, museum, market, etc. They're the cutest, sweetest, most amazing children I could have ever hoped for.


The pace of life has accelerated and isn't slowing down any time soon! I've changed and grown a lot and everyday is a new opportunity to be a better man. Never a dull day. Between my family, the day job, all of my many hobbies (running RtW, watching copious amounts of movies, cartoons, MMA, etc.). I still strive to look at the world anew each morning, seek out the beauty in everything, quiet moments of contemplation, etc. My goal is to encounter each moment wholeheartedly, with openness, never lose sight in the beauty in the simplicity of life, and radiate happiness, both for my own benefit and in effort to put smiles on the faces of others and help brighten their day if even just for a moment. I've got thirty full years lived although I often feel like that same tiny kid trapped inside a giant's body. I've never lost sight of the sweetness and awe of childhood and that's one of the traits that makes me who I am. Thanks for reading and allowing me to share of myself with you all.

7 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Cliff! I really appreciate the kind words.

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  2. Best post.
    Thanks for giving such a nice look into your life Brian, as readers it makes us feel like we know you more ...which understandably may be creepy as the author...but it's not! It's what will bring more readers to stick by!

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    1. Thanks, Chris! Glad this piece has resonated w/ people. A now defunct blog ran by a bud in PA named Mike did a Top 5 RtW Posts and they had this at #1 and wrote up some real nice thoughts on it. I def. wear my heart on my sleeve but am quite proud of getting this all out there and having sort a mini biography up esp. capturing childhood which I'm crazily nostalgic and sentimental about. Some sites like they remain simply content without a human presence but part of what makes RtW diff. is the crew and I are all accessible, down to earth ppl, and you get a chance to know us, our hometown, etc. in all the vids & articles.

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  3. Brian,

    You'll have to excuse my late comment, but I've only just recently started reading (and watching) your stuff. It's always difficult to invest in something (such as a website or blog) and that's true for both the blogger and the avid reader. With Review the World and your crew of unique personalities it's nothing but the pure joy and escapism that keeps me coming back. Taking a few minutes out of my day to watch you guys talk about soda or potato chips is sometimes all the diffusing one needs after a long week of work and responsibilities. Being an adult is stupid.

    Anyway, I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that you're doing great stuff and your love for life, the simple things in it, and dedication to your craft is admirable.

    Keep spreading that magic, buddy.

    Kindest regards,
    Steve Meacham

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    Replies
    1. Steve! Thanks so much, bud! I really appreciate taking the time out to share a comment. I agree there's only a handful of sites/blogs I've really turned myself fully over to and sooner or later I've devoured the entire back catalogue and am waiting around for new stuff. Before I moved RtW from its old digs to this new, blog format it would have been arduous to sift through but everything is here at your disposal now so please read (and watch!) up! Yeah, jobs, school, families, we can all relate.. nice to check out of the "real world" for a few min. here and there and wax nostalgic on an old breakfast cereal or see what kind of randomness a trip to the dollar store turns up! RtW has always been a positive place on the 'net and I'm glad in turn we have such awesome fans!

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  4. Hi Brian!
    This entry was beautiful and heartwarming :D So many things change when years come and go. Molly made me remember an special ex-boyfriend I had. Despite things didn't work (our relationship lasted almost 6 years), we ended up being best friends.
    I'm happy you keep writting and reviewing stuff :D

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