In the middle of doing work — actual work for my real-life job — the urge to write overwhelmed me. Such an urge doesn’t often poke and prod at my consciousness the way it once did, so I figured I’d better act on the impulse.
Every few months I sit down and reevaluate where I’m at with my writing. And every time I do this, it seems my life has changed a bit more drastically than the last time I did this reflection thing.
So where are we at right now? At this precise moment, it’s 10:45 p.m. on a beautiful Saturday evening and I’m sitting on my deck listening to what more or less amounts to the entire Britney Spears discography. There’s an explanation here. You see, my girlfriend (@danceral on Twitter; follow her) was teaching a dance class last week and needed a Britney Spears mix. So I downloaded the songs onto my laptop and… you know what, never mind. Excuses are for the weak. Just know that this is really happening. I’m very comfortable with my place in this world. Even right this second, as I bump Anticipating through the headphones. I imagine this is not what Andre Young had in mind when he got his Ph.D in rapology and dropped his Beats on the universe. Sorry, Dre.
I’ve been working a lot lately. My job has consumed my everyday. It happens. You get sucked into that thing that pays your bills and let it dictate your existence every now and then. We’ve all been there. I guess it’s fairly obvious, if I’m sitting here on a Saturday night doing work. Or at least I was. Until this started happening.
Work is neither bad or good. It just is. When I’m fortunate enough to meet the people who read my stuff, they’re often surprised to find I have a job that isn’t media-related, but alas, ’tis true. SSN is my hobby, nothing more. Like any hobby, I fit it in where I can. Which is why for the better part of the past year, I haven’t written nearly as much as I once did. Work has kept me busy during the day, while my free time has been devoted to spending moments with the people who bring me the most joy. I realize there’s a certain selfishness to the direction my life has taken.
I mention this often, but from Day One — November 12, 2008; I’ll never forget the date — the mission behind my website was to bring people together. I really can’t tell you why I saw that as my mission. But at the time, I had this feeling that sports fans in Seattle needed some sort of unifying thing to rally around. That year, 2008, was epically horrible. The Mariners lost 100-plus games, the Husky and Cougar football teams were a combined 2-23, the Seahawks finished 4-12 and had their streak of four consecutive NFC West championships snapped, and we watched helplessly as our Sonics were stolen from us. It was bad.
On the flip side, what did I really know? I was a 24-year-old kid who had never written professionally. I just had this desire to talk to people about sports. And I needed a new hobby in my life. I was bored. Boredom, it turns out, is an exceptional motivator.
We’re going on four years of this now. Every week, I wonder if this is the week I’ll give it all up. But then I look at the people who have found value, however minimal, in what I’ve done here. I can’t give it up. I like doing this for them, for us. Nothing — no amount of money, no job, absolutely nothing — could replace the satisfaction of achieving the mission I set out for myself.
I’m a completely different person than when I started this website. It seems so foolishly stupid. My life has been entirely altered by a domain name. Think about that. Twenty years ago, this wouldn’t even be possible. That boggles my mind. Without one single act of buying a URL and filling its end result with words, I’m not anywhere near the same person. Crazy.
I played in a softball game earlier today. At one point in that game, I realized every single person I was there with I had only met because of my website. I have another softball team I play on, too. I don’t play ball with those guys if I don’t start this site, either.
Rec softball is just an example. Some of my best friends in the whole freakin’ world are people I would never have had the chance to get to know without this site existing. Opportunities I’ve been granted come as a result of these pages. The people who hired me at my job — my career, my recent temporal burden — once told me the thing that gave me the edge over all the other applicants was the initiative I had taken to run a site of my own creation.
I had no confidence before I started writing on these pages. People should know that. I was reserved and had no idea who I was. My self-worth was non-existent. And perhaps that’s different than confidence. Because one can always exude confidence, even if it’s false bravado. We always like to think we have shit figured out. But at the end of the day, when the world has shut itself off around you and you’re left with only your thoughts, you know your true value. I had none that I could see. No value. I wanted that. I went in search of value through writing. I’ve found some things, but mostly I’ve come to the realization that a) we never actually figure shit out, and b) our self-worth can’t be determined by any audience, only by oneself.
I’ve been up and down over the past forty-two months. You can look back at anything I’ve ever written and sense the emotion from that point in time. I’m incredibly reactive. Compared to most sports fans, I’m probably a little more even-keel. But my heart is on my sleeve. If I’m feeling something, you’ll see it in the writing. I’ve never been blessed with the ability to disguise my passion.
I guess no matter what has happened to me since November 12, 2008, I’ve always had this website to keep my life in perspective. It is the one constant that has guided me. And it’s not just the website, really. It’s the people who’ve made the website possible, the readers. I’ve found value in the people as they’ve found value in my words. It’s kind of hard to explain, but the reality of that relationship gives me a ton of energy. I brought people together, just like I wanted to. And at the same time, all those people have brought me a great deal of satisfaction.
A few months ago, readers of my website started trying to hook me up with this girl. She was all about sports and whatnot. She had a job in sports, she was a Seattle sports fan, a fellow UW grad, all things that would undoubtedly appeal to me. She had a Twitter account. We happened to “follow” each other. Every now and then, she’d mention me in a tweet (tweet…even as I’ve embraced Twitter, I still hate that word in its modern-day form) and I’d get a little excited since she was pretty and seemed to agree with my otherwise outlandish opinions of society. But we didn’t really interact much. We just happened to acknowledge one another’s presence in the spectrum of the internet.
I went to the Alamo Bowl in December to watch the Huskies play football. We all know what happened there. No need to go into much detail. It’s not that important. But the setting is important. Because on the early morning of New Year’s Eve, my friends and I were camped out in the middle of the Houston airport, having spent the entire night awake in the most uncomfortable of venues. We slept on a hard floor. Except we didn’t really sleep. Two of us were sick, another one puked from the overconsumption of adult beverages. Our misery was a testament to sports fanaticism, I guess you could argue. But mostly, we were just being idiots. When you’re single and in your late-twenties, you can do that sort of thing and get away with it. Might as well enjoy it while it lasts, right?
Anyway, there we were when I took to my Twitter account and began chronicling the events taking place before me. This was at about 3:00 a.m. Seattle time, bear in mind. I expected no one to read my posts. I just wanted a record of the memorable evening occurring in my midst. But then this girl, Andrea, the one people had mentioned to me in passing, responded. And then she kept responding. And we started conversing back and forth in 140-character bursts. And pretty soon she hinted at a date. I told my friends who were with me on the trip about this turn of events. They just laughed at me, and ultimately my conversation with this girl ended when I boarded a plane bound for home.
A couple days later I told her I wanted to take her up on the date offer, if it still stood. She caught me off-guard when she invited me to an event that wouldn’t be taking place for a month — a month!!! I didn’t really know what to think, so I just said yes. We agreed to go on a date on February 2nd. This was in the first week of January.
Over the next thirty days or so, we would communicate from time to time. We texted and tweeted (the past tense of “tweet” is just as bad as the present tense) and little else. I liked her, but I tried to ignore her. There’s nothing worse than going on a first date and having nothing to talk about because you’ve already exhausted your conversation. I didn’t get my hopes up. I had incredibly high standards for dating. My friends would make fun of me for those standards. But I never wavered. When you know what you want, there’s no reason to settle for less than that.
February 2nd finally came. I wasn’t nervous. I’m always nervous for this sort of thing, but I was oddly calm on this particular evening. We met at the Seahawks’ practice facility. Sports. My life always comes back to sports. The event was for the Sea Gals. She was a Sea Gal. We were going to watch a dance dress rehearsal together. I didn’t even know what to expect.
She was beautiful. There are times when someone in your presence can make you question everything about yourself because of who they are or what they look like. At that instant I first saw her, I questioned everything from my choice of attire to my haircut to the deodorant I had put on to whatever cool, funny thing I was planning on rattling off. Everything. I questioned everything.
We sat next to each other watching a dance team on a stage. I made her laugh a few times. She made me laugh a few times. The rest of the night was a blur, but went amazingly. We didn’t get tired of each other once. We figured we should keep hanging out. It’s been 100 days. We’ve been making each other laugh for 100 days.
She has changed who I am in a positive way. I measure myself by how many times each day I can make her smile. I’m better with her. She makes me better.
And yes, she’s also the reason I am still, nearly two hours later, listening to Britney Spears sing. No one ever accused me of having good taste in music. And I’m easily impressionable. Let’s be honest here.
I would be remiss if I didn’t devote a significant portion of this article to my girlfriend. Over the last hundred days, she has made me happy. There are lots of things in my life that have changed since I started this website, and this is one of those things that’s slightly more important than the rest.
I had that mission to bring people together. I’ve been fulfilling that mission. I’ve benefited from that mission in a number of ways. Perhaps the best example of how I’ve benefited from my own mission can be personified, very simply, in the beautiful girl who makes me happy.
I’m in a good place. We’re in a good place. I’d like to give you, the reader — and if you’re still reading this, good lord, you impress me — my words every single day, but I can’t always do that. In the grand scheme of things, my words are unimportant. We’re fulfilling a mission together. We’re figuring things out together. We depend upon one another in ways neither of us will ever fully comprehend. I owe you so much. And where I’m at now, a lot of that has to do with you. We might not be connected personally, but if you’ve ever read anything here, then you’ve impacted me.
This week won’t be the week I give it all up. Next week likely won’t be either. In fact, I’m guessing that week might not ever arrive. I won’t ever stop all of this. When life gets a little hectic, I like to think I’d be able to sacrifice writing if I had to. But it’s not a realistic thought at all. This is part of figuring life out, yet never having it all figured out. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, exactly, but I know I love doing this one thing. So I’ll keep doing it. And life will keep evolving around it. Because for three-and-a-half years, that’s what life’s done.
We’re here together. I like that.