Friday, October 21, 2016

Collecting Video Games


I love the Sega Genesis.

I've devoted entire pages of my website gushing about the system and its library. Part of this is due to the fact that it was the only video game system I had as a kid and I never got to play more than a few games in the library. I sold it off in elementary school, but in junior high, I bought the Smash Pack collection for PC and the Sega Genesis Collection for my PSP and it rekindled my love for the system.

At that time period (2007-2009) interest in retro game collecting was slowly rising, but it hadn't really become mainstream. At that time period, I was also in junior high, with no money, transportation, or incentive to collect games. Unfortunately, when I decided to actually re-buy a Genesis and some games around 2013, I realized that I was on the same track as everyone else. A bunch of people jumping into the collecting scene (just like a bunch of people jumping into a bathtub at once) caused the prices to rise higher. Still, Sega has never been as popular as Nintendo, so prices were still very manageable compared to SNES games and NES games.

I was able to amass quite a nice collection in the past three years despite being priced out on a lot of games. The most I've ever spent on a retro game was $25 for Shining Force, and only because that is my favorite video game in the world and I knew I would get my money's worth out of it. My conscience and frugal nature won't let me pay any more than that for games which I can easily play for free on my computer through emulators.

Still, I've managed to get some great deals and steals on a few higher-ticket games. But in 2016, retro game collecting is as popular as ever and the supply is only going to get more limited as the years go by and the 90s drift farther into the past. For stuff like Sonic 2, there are millions of copies floating around, but the rarer games are drying up and when they do appear on Ebay, they're way up in the double digits.

Some collectors are willing to pay out the nose. They're willing to sacrifice. I'm not one of those collectors. Genesis is my hobby, but it's one of many. I have many other hobbies that demand my time and money, as well as bills and family obligations and the fact that I only have a part time job at the moment. Money isn't tight, but I can't be dropping hundreds of dollars a month into a collecting habit. That's not wise in the short-term or in the long-term.

I price my collection at roughly $900. When you add it all up like that, it does seem like a lot, but it was spent over a period of years and most every purchase was under much consideration. I make a point to play every game in my collection and I try not to buy crap that I won't play.

But as I'm nearing the 3 year and 200 games mark (nearly 30% of the library) I'm finding less and less to spend my money on. A good chunk of the library is worthless sports games that I will never play and hold no nostalgic value, so I see no reason to waste money and space on them. The rest of the games are simply out of my price range unless I catch my local game store slipping or get lucky in an Ebay auction.

I'm not giving up on collecting, but my purchases have been much less frequent over the past year. I'm not bored with Sega. I love collecting. I love the boxes, the manuals, the cartridges, finding good deals, the collecting scene, all of that stuff. Maybe when I get a decent-paying job, I'll feel more comfortable spending more cash on some of the nicer RPGS (Shining Force II is one of my white whales) but I think I'm just taking a break right now. Plus, at the moment, my collection is packed into suitcases because of the flood and I have no TV to play the games on.

One day, you will be mine, yes, mine, all mine!

I've been watching collection videos on YouTube and stuff again, so I'm kind of getting in the mood despite my situation, but I have to pace my spending because I'm having to rebuild my book collection as well - a much cheaper hobby than video games, for sure! Still, though, I'm very happy with my collection of games, and I don't plan on parting with it any time soon. Hopefully, my future wife will understand!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Why I'm Not Voting

Two sides, same coin.

I guess you could call me a centrist. I think this stems from me being a very empathetic person. I always try to see both sides of an argument. I try to understand ideas different from mine and why a person would hold those ideas. In this polarized society that we live in, I think more people need to take this approach to ensure we don't start a civil war over stupid social issues. I believe the majority of people are centrists who don't fall neatly into the left or right, but agree with certain issues on both sides. However, the loudest voices in media are often those who pander to the far right or far left and leave the middle ground out of the equation. Thus, people who would otherwise be fairly evenhanded start being dragged to one side or the other and into an echo chamber where all of society's ills can be blamed on the liberal agenda or everything wrong can somehow be traced back to Republicans. It's pretty stupid, and it's the inevitable result of a two-party system. It wasn't always this way and it doesn't have to be.

But here's the thing, if there was ever a year where a third party could have even a tiny shot of even getting onto the debate stage, it was this year. And neither Gary Johnson nor Jill Stein have it in them. While I personally like both of them, I do have political disagreements with their policy, because they are both still too partisan for me. Johnson is too far right and Stein is too far left. Stein has never held public office, and Johnson does not seem very knowledgeable about international affairs as I would like to see in a presidential candidate.

They coulda been something...

Still though, they both should have been on that debate stage, and the coalition between the two major parties to squash third parties is nothing less than criminal. We need more ideas. America needs to know that it has more options than red team or blue team, when neither party represents true American values anymore. Instead, both are slipping further and further apart, alienating and abandoning the true base that lives in the middle and rarely votes at all. I live in a deep red state that will go to the Republican party almost every time (though we did elect a Democrat governor last year.)

I disagree with Trump on virtually every issue and I think he is a massive fraud, liar, and criminal: if I voted for him, I could never clean the stink of hypocrite off of my skin. However, I disagree with Clinton on many issues and I feel she has utterly failed to speak to any of the issues I find most important. She collaborated with the Democrat party to screw over Bernie Sanders (who I supported) and denigrated him, his ideas, and his voters with the bullshit "Berniebro" controversy trying to paint him as a sexist. I find many of her positions indefensible, like the fact that she's way too chummy with Wall Street. Also, she's been a First Lady before. I don't think anyone in the immediate family of a president should be allowed to run. This isn't ancient China; I don't want another Bush Dynasty.

Such a misogynist sexist pig, right?

I don't plan to vote next month because despite what everyone tells me, I don't believe my vote counts. I also don't believe the partisan hacks on TV rustling my fellow Americans into a frothing panic over the next president, claiming that America will be destroyed if candidate X gets into office. Whoever is president, it's going to suck, but I'd rather not have a reality TV star packing the Supreme Court with far-right nut-job evangelicals who want to turn the clock back to 1950. I spent 20 years of my life happily apolitical and I wish I could go back. I wish I could stop caring about politics, but it is something that does have an effect on me and everyone I know. It's hard to ignore.

One might do more screwing than the other.

Bottom line: Vote or don't vote. Vote for whoever you want. Don't let people feed you lies about "throwing your vote away." Don't let people shame you for not voting. It's America, that's your freedom. I'll never tell anyone else how they should vote, and I don't see myself supporting another candidate anytime soon after Bernie Sanders. Perhaps one day in the future, another politician will earn my vote, but until then, I won't be dragging my butt down to the voting booth on a November morning to put my name behind a person I don't believe in.

Monday, October 17, 2016

All I Have Are My Words

All I have are my words. I was not blessed with a preternatural grasp of mathematics or acting ability or anything else. I was not blessed with a talent for writing, it is something I cultivated, practiced at. I did it when it wasn't good, when I didn't feel like it, when it wasn't fun. I did it because I had to. This ability, this need came about from my sense of the world and my curiosity to figure out as much about it as I can. I think this observant nature stems from my introverted nature. I think an introverted nature can be beneficial and also sucky at the same time, because as much as you long to understand people, you feel you never can. You always hear the questions in the back of your mind and you know that they don't ask those questions and you kind of hate them for being able to go through life without worrying all the time about things they can't change anyway. This is not to discount extroverted writers, who offer a needed counterbalance to introverted writers who can admittedly slip into navel-gazing at times. Extroverted writers see the world in a different way and they write for different reasons. Of course the whole introvert/extrovert, right brain/left brain is a convenient fantasy, a shared illusion that we all tell ourselves because its easier that way, because human nature is prone to labels, to groups, to separating into us vs them. I try to defy these things, and I do it through writing. I write because I have to, simply. I get a hundred ideas a day and if I can translate even one of those into some kind of sensible words on a page that maybe gives some kind of enjoyment or peace to another human being, well, that's all I really feel I'm here for. I wasn't born to be a president or a CEO or a celebrity and I'm fine with that. All I really want to do is to write.

Being a writer is about hearing the voices in your head, catching them, and penning them down to paper, where they became real. It's not the act of writing that I'm all about. A lot of times, the actual physical, mental act of writing sucks. Some days, everything comes out like crap. Hacky. Cliched. Stilted. I can imagine the critics' reviews already. I know exactly what they would say because the worst critic is always looking me in the mirror. Yes, the act of writing is frequently annoying and stupid, but when it's good, it's great. When I feel that wave coming, feel that lightning flowing from that great, mysterious ether out there that's really just my mind. Someone said that there are only really a few plots to use, and most of writing is finding out how to put your own little variations on those age-old storytelling machines, to make them yours.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Our Inability to Know Each Other


            It was a world where nobody knew which way to go because there were a million destinations and no maps or road signs, and we had to trudge it by foot. A world where we passed by thousands of other people just like us, that breathed the same air and yet seemed to inhabit different worlds and exist in their own universes. I was trying to figure it out, trying to make some sense, trying to shape a life.
I knew deep down though that no matter what clothes I wore or what kind of haircut I got or what music I listened to, I was still confused inside. I was still the same kid I'd always been. No matter how put together I looked on the outside, inside I was still just as screwed up as ever. Would I ever escape that?
Some people say you are the sum of your memories.
Some people say you are a little bit of everybody else and everybody else is a little bit of you.
Some people say you can never fully know another person.
Some people say that we're reincarnated when we die, and we just cycle throughout time.
I don’t know, and I don't think I can know. Those are just the kind of rabbit holes your mind falls into when you can't sleep at night and you're just staring up at the fan blades circling round and round while your mind flashes from thought to uncontrollable thought.
I do know that memories are fragile things, and that in them, the most insignificant moments become monumental and feelings are warped and metamorphosed into something totally different than what they were at the time. After the smiles fade, the song ends, and the lights go out, I crawl under the covers and stare at the ceiling hanging over my head, all dark and incomprehensible. The moment I close my eyes, my mind awakes to form dreams that paint every sunrise, turn lust into love, despair into joy, and regret into satisfaction. In my dreams, I am who I want to be, surrounded by my family and friends. They're all there, smiling, wearing nice clothes, and happy to be alive. The sky is blue and my favorite song is playing in the background, faint, just enough to hear the lyrics. So I shout them to the clouds, and I wake with a smile that slowly fades, until I'm staring at the same ceiling still waiting above, silently, forever.
It seemed to me like there were periods in life of incredible significance, where so many things were happening and so many people were spiraling in and out of your orbit that the uncertainty became intoxicating. You got high on the feeling that things mattered – that you mattered – until the moments faded, and they became replaced by the commonplace, the familiar, the rut.
            In those times, when the world became ugly, I had to change my vision and focus on the small things, and that's where you always find the beauty. In the way a cat chases after a fly or the light in peoples' eyes when they talk about someone they truly love or how the stars we see every night have already died and yet the light still travels on. The beauty of the world was that it was not happy or sad, but wondrous, operating outside of time itself. The world was here before time, before us, before the first breath of life, and it would continue to beat on long after we are all gone. And that put my problems into perspective.
I'd always thought the greatest tragedy of life was our inability to know each other. There were millions and millions of people I would never meet, women I would never be able to love, men I would never be able to befriend, people I would never be able to meet or know or learn from. They were born in different countries or centuries and I would never be able to know who I would be if I had met them, or who they would be if they had met me. The billions and billions of human interactions that had not happened twirled into an infinite web. The ancient people believed in the Fates, who spun our lives into threads that twisted with others only to be inevitably cut. I always thought about who I would be if I had been born to a different family, in a different state or country or lifetime. Would I still be me? Who was I but an amalgamation of all the people I'd known, who'd influenced me in ways I could never imagine, who'd shifted my life's path?
That's the stuff that I think about at night, the kind of stuff that stays trapped inside me while I fumble for words. I like to think that many other people think about these same things, and many other people never worry about things like that, and that neither was better than the other, only different.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Welcome, One and All

So, this is my blog.

 I'm doing it.

 This is really just going to be a place to jot down my random musings. Probably will dip into a bit of topical issues, daily things, and my thoughts on life in general. I may post some prose and poetry from time to time. Nothing groundbreaking. I'm still trying to find a voice and a direction that I want to go in, but rather than wait, I would rather start blogging now and hopefully this will help me shape some sort of purpose for this blog.

 I'm going through a very transitional stage right now and I'm also trying to shape a purpose for my future and define my goals and vision for the next few years of my life. I graduated from college in May with an English degree. I know, I know, not the best major to take if you want to be financially stable. But it's really the only thing I could envision myself enjoying at the time period. If I could go back, maybe I would change it, but maybe I wouldn't. Being an English major definitely was different than other majors and it did lead me to a lot of great friends and professors (not to mention a crap-ton of papers.)

So now, I'm out, free, and not quite sure what I want to do. There's so many options, it feels kind of paralyzing to choose. I know I have to. I'm working at a public library, which is definitely the job I want, but the only problem is that my position is only part-time. I want have to find a full-time job soon, but many better-paying library positions seem to require a Master's degree. So I'm also considering going back to school. The only Master's program in my state is available online, which I think I would like. But I have to find some good funding source because most grad school scholarships require a high GPA which I didn't exactly make in college thanks to Spanish classes. My parents want me to start right away, but it's looking like I should probably wait and prepare more since I didn't really settle on the idea until August.

 Speaking of August, if you didn't know, a massive rainstorm pounded us here in southeastern Louisiana 2 months ago and flooded tens of thousands of homes across multiple parishes, including mine. We managed to pack some stuff in the attic or take it with us when we left, but lost all of our furniture, TVs, and most of our clothes and books. Nothing can prepare you for 4 feet of water in your house. It destroys everything. We've had to rip out every single wall and all the insulation and reinstall new insulation and sheetrock, which has been taking up most of our time for the past two months. Thank goodness my father bought an RV ten years ago so we had a nice place to stay. If you've never been homeless before, it's a really awful feeling. So yeah, that's been going on.

 Obviously, I'm still living at home with my parents. It's not really a big deal, since most other millennials are in the same boat. It's helped me save up a good bit in the bank that would otherwise be going to rent and stuff. A year ago, it was hard for me to imagine moving out, but now, I'm coming to terms with it. I'm ready to move out now, but I still don't have the steady income of a full-time job to justify it. It's not that I don't love my parents or sisters anymore, I just am kind of feeling that it's my time. I know it will still be lonely when I move out on my own, but I think I'm ready for it.

 So that's where I'm at: a transition period waiting on things to line up. This tragedy has actually helped me to let go of some things and to really put my eye on my future, which obviously I'm still figuring out. Even just blogging about it is really kind of helping to get my ideas into words where I can evaluate them better than the thoughts in my head which come and go so fast sometimes they don't stick. Through it all, I'm working hard on my first novel, the first story I can actually envision myself finishing. I'm about halfway through and I really think it could shape up to be something special. I've also been making a point to be more professional and to clarify short-term goals and start working toward them. One of these goals was starting a blog, so yay!

 That's about it for now. Hopefully, this will be something I can look back on five or ten years from now and see how much I've grown. And if someone else enjoys reading my ramblings, well, awesome. Great. If you're reading this and you're kinda in the same boat, shoot me a message or a comment. I'd be glad to hear from you.