This is the eleventh entry and by now, you might have noticed that the road to my current state of being was a rocky one.
Interests arrived, obsessions were abandoned. Mannerisms were developed, speech patterns dissolved. Like the flight path of a 747, my young life was filled with constant corrections and redirections. With the trial and error of reinventing myself, came the byproduct of clutter – the damning evidence of my past phases. Because of this, I was forced to learn to separate myself from possessions fairly easily… “Out with the old, and in with the new”, that’s what they always say.
So now as an adult, I’m also a bit of a minimalist. Clutter and excess are things I do not enjoy having around me. In many cases I believe that less is more and if I have no use for something inatimate, I get rid of it. My inbox is emptied daily, I delete stagnant phone contacts monthly and my paper shredder is used so often, you could fry an egg on it. Outside of my tendency to fill sentences to the brim, I gravitate toward simplicity.
The one other exception I have is my bedroom closet.
In there is an array of relics from my life, a sampler platter of things I’ve acquired throughout the years. Sitting on the floor and going through it is like opening up a series of time capsules, each representing an interest I picked up at some point. Whatever it was, the rest of my life always shifted to accommodate it. More money would be spent on it, I’d bring it up in every conversation and every minute of my spare time was dedicated to it. Like listening to a favorite song on repeat, I’d love it until I made myself sick of it.
After sliding my closet door open, the first thing one would notice is the blue cardboard “Collector’s Case” of baseball cards resting on the floor. Sitting Indian Style and going through the collection brings back memories. When I was around ten, only four things concerned me: little league, summer vacation, cartoons and baseball cards. Everyday I would be anxiously waiting to go with my parents to the grocery or hardware store, so I could blow my weekly allowance on baseball cards that I would carefully select from the display in the checkout lane.
It was 1994, the summer of my first season of little league. Up until then, my uniform was a t-shirt and ratty baseball cap that matched the kids I played with, but this year was different. I was a Marlin. Complete with a scratchy polyester uniform and silk screened sponsor logo on my back. I imagined myself to be like every single one of those MVPs I had memorized, and I would take a couple overly-dramatic practice swings and stroll up to home plate. At that moment, I wasn't Little Jeffrey: Grade Schooler. I was JEFF: 90lbs. of pure Little League Hellfire. But then I’d swing and send a grounder straight to the shortstop. I was usually out before I could take five steps toward first base. Sure, in the following years I got substantially better, but my heart was never in it as much as when I collected those little 2.5” x 3.5” cardboard pictures of my heroes.
|"Rookie of the Year". Well, almost.|
After closing the Collector’s Case and shoving it to the side, a stack of guitar song books is revealed. Nirvana’s In Utero album, Stone Temple Pilot’s Purple, Bush’s Sixteen Stone, etc. There is a common theme to these instructional publications – they’re all for grunge albums. Around the age of eleven, I started finding my own music, rather than listening to my parents’. The catalyst was my big sister’s copy of The Offspring’s first album, Smash. It was unlike anything I’d ever heard, and I loved it. In fact, that album is still one of the few I can enjoy all the way through. Once I knew there was more to music than Frank Sinatra and James Taylor, I dove head-first into grunge music and by thirteen, I was bathing in the awesomeness of what I thought it might be like to be a rock star.
So I did what any other teenaged grunge fan did back in those days; I grew my hair out, bleached it to a shitty blonde, wore ratty clothes and begged my parents for a guitar. At first, I was playing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” but soon after I gained control of my fingers, Nirvana’s music was easy to pick up. The guitarists reading this just smirked and nodded. Despite trying a few times, I never got a band together… l but it didn’t matter. I had fallen in love with playing and when I reached my twenties, I was pretty good. In recent years I haven’t played much, but I still have the “tuning ear” and the ability to pay homage to the days of grunge by picking up my axe and learning any one of Kurt Cobain’s chord progressions in about a minute. The shaggy-haired kid of my past would’ve been proud.
|Pictured: The face of a future rock star (ish).|
Though, not every one of my immersions was founded on such innocent ideals. In the back corner of my closet is a box full of unused CDs, stored after I converted my music collection to mp3 format. Opening the box exhibits my primary music genre from back then: Rap. Yes folks, for a little while I was one of those white kids with a ghetto streak. Thankfully, I never let it get too out of hand. FUBU wasn’t in my wardrobe, “nigga” wasn’t in my vocabulary, and freestyling wasn't in my creative repertoire… but when I was fifteen, I had an unmistakable “ghetto-ness” to my personality. There were many silver chains, baggy jeans, ADIDAS shirts, and one hell of an unwarranted chip on my shoulder. At the time, I thought I was a tough & intimidating guy. Sadly, it wasn’t until after I grew out of it that I realized the older crowd I ran with wasn’t respected, or even feared… but pitied.
|Contrary to the shirt, I wasn't very "Boss".|
Other trinkets from my past are scattered about. Old Motor Trend magazines from my car modification phase between the ages of sixteen and twenty, wrapped up A/V cables from when I went through my electronic gadget phase at eighteen, an empty humidor from my cigar phase at twenty-two, an unused set of poker chips from my Texas Hold’em phase at the same age, a blank wine journal from my wine aficionado phase that followed shortly after, a box of mismatched cufflinks from when I was really into French cuff dress shirts… and a stack of LPs from my days of frequenting record stores.
There are some out there who have been reading my posts since I started throwing them on the internet a year and a half ago. So by now, both of you have learned a lot about me… and I’ll bet my toes that you also have a lot of related questions. One of them being, “Did you really just say ‘I’ll bet my toes?’” and the answer is yes, yes I did. But you might have also noticed that I have a tendency to explain embarrassing moments from my past in graphic detail, and you’re curious as to why I would.
I do it to make a point: We all have embarrassing things we did in days passed that we hope our old friends wouldn’t bring up in a public conversation. So what? Like I just said (well wrote…), everyone did and said stupid things. It’s a part of growing up, so why be embarrassed? Treat it like common knowledge and don’t be that guy by ignoring entire sections of your life because they make you seem less cool. There is a flip side to this coin, though. You also shouldn’t be that other guy and constantly bring up the smudged pasts of others while pretending your own is pristine… that’s one Thanksgiving dinner away from being the drunk uncle no one invites to family functions.
Over the years, I’ve met people who act as if they’re perfect. They’ve never done anything wrong, never done anything embarrassing. I call horseshit. Once again, everyone does. Pretending otherwise is a sign of insecurity in my opinion – it takes confidence to accept the bad along with the good. I just happened to go through a lot more of the bad, and eventually realized there’s no point in hiding it. Speaking of which, I have one more little gem for you all…
The license plate on my first car said “J DIGGS”.
Oh yeah. That happened.
|... around the same time as those khaki pants.|
Now that you know more about me, learn about the things around me: