How to reflect on a decade

This year ending isn’t just an ordinary ending of a year, because it’s also the end of a decade.  Naturally, a sentimental person like me tends to want to reflect on an entire decade, because much like individual years, a decade is a nice round chunk of time that one might think it would be easy to reflect upon, but in the greater spectrum, it’s ten full years we’d be trying to look back onto.  Now I like to think I have a good memory, but even without the aid of my trusty brog, it’s difficult to really look back at an entire decade.

Regardless, that’s not going to stop all the self-important jobbers of the internet who will try their darnedest to speak with authority and copy and paste all the same milestones the major news outlets will when it comes to trying to summarize and reflect upon the entire decade.  The funny thing is that most of the internet savvy generations probably aren’t that much older or younger than I am, which means that in the grand spectrums of our respective lives, we’ve only really lived through 3-4 decades, whereas I’d probably estimate that 1.5-2 of them are pretty invalid, because we’re simply not articulate and/or educated enough to have the capacity to reflect on entire decades.

So combined with the advent and growth of the internet, and the notion that everyone has a voice, I’d wager this is probably, at the very most, the second real decade of the modern high-speed internet that people really care to really reminisce about; and I’m being generous by calling it the second, because DSLs and cable internet didn’t really flourish until nearly the mid-2000’s; I couldn’t imagine people trying to use streaming, auto-refreshing social media on a 56K modem, so frankly I see this more as the first real decade that everyone and their literal mothers on the internet are going to be writing about.

Anyway, I’m going to attempt to try to recollect from mostly just my own memories, and stick to things that are more relevant to my own little world, and not the big gigantic depressing one we live in.  If I had any readers, they can google any decade in review, and probably find more worldly and probably more high-profile shit than the things I have to say about the things going on in my own little life, like the start and finish of Game of Thrones, Pokemon Go, the sad state of American politics, all the endless mass shootings, and Bill Cosby being outed as a rapist.

And the reason that I disclaim the whole “if I had any readers” because one of the most devastating things that occurred for me is the fact that despite my WordPress going online in 2010, at nearly the very start of the decade, midway through the decade my brog went down indefinitely, when my brother relocated from one part of the country to another.  A lot of hardware changes meant no more place to host my brog, and despite having the supposed backups, I simply haven’t taken the time or allocated the funds necessary to get my site up and running again.

If I were the type to do New Years resolutions anymore, I think I’d resolve to get my site back up and running again in 2020.  TBD on if that will actually occur, and frankly with the things I have on my plate going into the next decade, I don’t want to commit and then fail to deliver.

In spite of the brog blackout, that hasn’t stopped me from writing.  Even to the day my site went down, I have been writing on a fairly regular basis, taking no more than two weeks off before the internal guilt gets my fingers flying across the keys again, and I’ve got at this point, hundreds of folders of dated and timestamped Word docs, all awaiting their day in which they can be posted retroactively to a brog.

But anyway, the last decade has been pretty eventful.  I mean, after ten years, I would hope that some events would occur, that’s a long fucking time for things to not occur.  Early in the decade, I clawed my way out of a life of freelance, and embarked on a career working for the State of Georgia.  Ultimately, it turned into a mind-numbing job of mostly working in PowerPoint, but at the time in which I took it, I was glad to escape the life of inconsistent, paper paychecks, constant worry about a contract expiring with no renewal, and flaky benefits.  I would hold this job for nearly three years before the sheer boredom, combined with the lack of advancement would actually drive me to leave and seek opportunity elsewhere; it didn’t hurt that the pay was better as was the commute, which was rare, considering my home on the south side of Atlanta.

There are a few times in my life where I ultimately would end up regretting a career move, and this would be one of them.  In spite of the superior pay and the superior commute, it turned out to be a dreadful job where facts were secondary to the job title of those making decisions, and I was expected to be on-call for way more time than I had bargained for.  Typically, I try to stick with any job for at least one year, but there was an incident where I followed the instructions of a project to a veritable T, but was accused of not following directions by someone in a faraway upstate New York office, and when I showed my superior the corresponding paperwork and instructions confirming my cooperation, I was told “she’s a VP, you’re not.”

I aggressively went on the job hunt immediately afterward, and left after just six months.  Apparently, in that line of business, short tenures are very common, and it’s very easy to see why that was the case.

Which brings me to now, where I end the decade still working for this same company that rescued me from my previous job.  To those who think money is everything, I actually took a pay cut to come here, but more importantly leave there, and I don’t regret it for a second.  After two years, I applied for an elevated position when it was available, and managed to get the first real promotion I’ve ever had in my career, and despite my general grumblings of the day-to-day disenchantment with corporate America, I can still objectively reminisce on the good times of arriving here and the path I’ve taken to where I am now.

I still have hopes that things will get better as the supporting casts around me catch up to the learning curve we’re all collectively going through, but regardless of how tough things may or may not get in the next decade, I am mostly determined to stick this one out, because the circumstances are clearly not the same in my life than they were at the start of the decade.

Within the past decade, I entered my 30s.  Frankly, aside from perhaps a slightly less robust metabolism, nothing has really felt physically much different throughout the passage of time, other than the increasing insistence that I am definitely old, at 37.  Otherwise, advancing through my 30s has felt more like a checking off stats, milestones, and counting things in our lives, like for instance, throughout the last decade, I’ve had four cars; a Nissan that I put 226,000 miles on that I probably shouldn’t have gotten rid of because of an estimated $1,100 cam repair I wanted to avoid, because I ended up with a lemon of a used Mazda that I probably sunk nearly $2,500 into before literally paying to get rid of.  I then got a Kia that I drove for nine years of the decade, that served me astoundingly well, and makes me sing the praises of the quality of Kia, but I simply wanted bigger, and my circumstances had changed, prompting the change to what I drive now.

Unfortunately, aging through my 30s, I’ve felt that there’s a correlation with growing older, and the increased rate in which people around the people important to me start reaching their life expectancies and/or health deterioration, and I’ve definitely been to way more funerals in the last decade than the prior 28 years before it.  I don’t want to think of them as tragedies so much as a naturally progression through life, but saying goodbye or watching people say goodbye is never a good thing in any circumstance.

Speaking of goodbyes, both my parents are doing well enough as the decade closes out, but it was within this chunk of time did I watch their marriage deteriorate to the point of no return, culminating with divorce.  As I remember observing through this time, watching parents divorce seems no less sad and frustrating in my 30s than probably seems for those still children, but compound a language barrier, plus a contentious dispute over assets, and it was a pretty miserable time when it was occurring.  The decade ends with both pretty content where they are now, but I’d be remiss in saying the whole thing was anything but simple and pleasant.

One of the more pleasant memories of the decade was traveling with my mom, and visiting Korea for the first time in my life.  It was a two-week trip where I not only visited Seoul, but we traveled to other parts of the country, visiting places like Jeju Island, Busan, Geongju and Pyeongchang, where I got to really experience real Korean culture, and really learn appreciation for the Korean language school I was forced to go to as a kid, but realizing that thanks to it, I could hang and make my way around the country on my own with minimal issues.  Ultimately, I loved visiting Korea and definitely want to go back many times throughout my life.

Among the more notable things that happened in the decade was that I sold my old house, and after a brief period of apartment life, ended up purchasing my current home.  Now I love my current home, its size, where it’s located, and the potential it gives my life moving into the next decade and the future beyond that, but it was still bittersweet leaving the first house, that I owned.  The surrounding area was rapidly degrading in terms of safety and land value, and it was ultimately sold at a break-even point, but it was critical how fast it moved, and in spite of the bittersweet sentiment, it genuinely was a massive anchor being cut off.  But for all intents and purposes, I sold a home and purchased my next one in the span of the decade, which I think is somewhat noteworthy.

I also joined Facebook in this decade, because my rigid stance against social media was putting me onto an island, and even I realized that something had to give if I didn’t want to be completely alone in the world.  It’s the only social platform I somewhat utilize, because ultimately I really dislike social media, but it’s become this necessary evil in the world, lest people become islands, which personally I don’t really want to be too much of one.

Although it didn’t start within the decade, I finished out my quest to visit all 30 Major League Baseball cities; I choose my words deliberately, because along the way, some parks changed, some cities got to be visited a second time as a result, and some I never got to visit before the new ones were erected.  But despite the fact that my fanaticism in baseball has ebbed and flowed and waned throughout the decade, this goal never wavered, and I was very satisfied and happy by being able to say that I’d completed it.

And because I’m a big sports-loving jock, sports are very much an important footnote in the span of my decade.  Without too much fact-checking needed, I can mostly recall that the fucking San Francisco Giants were probably the team of the decade, having won World Series championships in 2010, 2012 and 2014, creating this dreadful notion that they’d be destined to win in every even-numbered year; but thankfully that was derailed by of all teams, the Chicago Cubs would not just eliminate them from the 2016 playoffs, but actually break the 108-year drought and win the World Series.  Meanwhile, the Atlanta Braves made the playoffs five times in the decade, naturally getting bounced immediately in all of them, including the controversial first-ever Wild Card game, which was Chipper Jones’ final game ever in his Hall of Fame career.

The New England Patriots were probably the NFL team of the decade in this one as well as the one before, as they went to the Super Bowl five times in the decade, winning three of them.  Most notably is the win they had against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl Lee, where the Falcons humiliated themselves on a global level when they squandered a 28-3 lead in the 4th quarter and ultimately lost to the Patriots in overtime.  But the NFL really began sucking more than it usually did, when things got really uncomfortably racially political over Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling during the national anthem to and eventual colluded exile from the NFL.

Despite the fact that the Golden State Warriors were the laughing stock of the NBA during my childhood, they were the undisputed juggernaut of the decade in my adulthood, making it to the NBA finals five times, winning three championships in the process.   It should also warrant that despite the fact that the Warriors were the team of the decade, I have to say that LeBron James was probably the undisputed player of the decade, having made eight consecutive NBA Finals between his time the Heat and the Cavaliers, winning three championships in the process.  But the NBA began really prioritizing individual personalities and twitter beefs over the decade, so shit became really intolerable as time went on.  Because of this ambivalence, I have no clue to what the Atlanta Hawks did, as if I were ever really fan of theirs to begin with.

In fact, the only Atlanta team to have accomplished anything at all, was the expansion Atlanta United Major League Soccer club that came into existence in the second half of the decade.  They ultimately won the MLS Cup in 2018, which was a massive accomplishment as far as Atlanta sports are concerned, but even this was still sandwiched between two playoff bounces, keeping the otherwise tradition of Atlanta sports intact.  But a championship is a championship, and it only took introducing a new franchise in a different sport to get one.

Without question, Alabama was the college football school of the decade, having gone to the National Championship game six times, winning four titles in the process, cementing Nick Saban as basically the greatest college coach of all time.  The two losses both came to Clemson University who has flourished into this nightmare powerhouse in their own right, and have the opportunity to start the next decade as the first National Champions. 

Virginia Tech had a debatable decade as far as success goes; they won the ACC once, and lost to Clemson in the conference championship twice.  They made a bowl every single year of the decade which is pretty good, but went 5-5 in them, losing almost every Power-5 matchup, while only beating FCS schools.  They went 9-1 against UVA in the decade, but even that is somewhat of a disappointment, considering the 15-game win streak against the Hoos before their loss in 2019.  Fortunately, among those wins was the one that saw off the retirement of legendary coach, Frank Beamer, and right around the corner from when I’m writing this is the retirement of legendary defensive coordinator, Bud Foster.

Villanova, Duke and UConn each notched two National Championships in men’s basketball throughout the decade, which puts them at a three-way tie for best teams of the decade.  Granted, that’s two too many wins for Duke, but the decade saw a rise in the practice of one-and-dones, where prep stars would only play college hoops for a single year before bouncing to the NBA, so if this trend continues, Duke may never win another National Championship again, which is a good thing to look forward to in the next decade.

The Undertaker’s Wrestlemania undefeated streak came to an end in the decade, when he lost to Brock Lesnar in 2014, ending it at 21-straight wins.  He would notch a few more wins but also take another loss to Roman Reigns, bringing his overall Wrestlemania record in a predetermined sport to 23-2.

eSports really blew up globally during this decade, and what started as a big thing outside of America really caught on in America and in other countries throughout the decade.  Undeniably, it was mostly spear-headed by League of Legends, which is something I played like wildfire throughout a large swath of the decade, and eventually got really into the professional scene as well.  Most notably was Korea’s SK Telecom T1 sqaud, which would ultimately win three world championships in this burgeoning scene, and Koreans pretty much ran roughshod through global eSports, although China is definitely on the upswing as the decade closes out.

Bringing up League of Legends is probably as good of an opportunity to segue into what I’ve been saving the best of the decade for last anyway, which was the fact that I met my eventual wife and future mother of my child in this decade.

Although she tends to conveniently forget about it when describing our relationship, we actually first spoke to each other prior to the start of the decade: over Xbox Live, playing Left 4 Dead with mutual friends.  But it wasn’t until this decade did we happen to meet in person by chance, at Geek Trivia, while she was visiting from out of town.  Eventually, we would get to know each other, but it really wasn’t until playing League of Legends together did we really grow close, and become a couple.

My-then mythical gf I did a lot of traveling together, and with her encouragement, we filled out our passports.  It’s not that I’d ever been opposed to international travel, it’s just that I really had nobody to travel with throughout my life.  Together, we’ve visited Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Croatia, Turkey, Greece, Hungary, Austria, the Philippines, and of course, to Korea.

Our relationship that would go on for a few years before I would eventually grow up and propose, and in 2019, we got married, in a wonderful celebration where numerous friends and family came to Georgia to bear witness to our union.  And in humorously short order, it didn’t take long, maybe a little bit of Disney magic, but just like that mythical wife is pregnant, and now we’re on the path to parenthood.

But that journey, will be for another decade.

Leave a Reply