I hope everyone is well. I wanted to jot a few more thoughts down here on NG for ol' times' sake.
I received some very kind words on my last post from yesteryear. I still check Newgrounds a handful of times every week, and it still brings a smile to my face when someone leaves a comment on one of my silly Mario movies. Thanks for all the support over the years.
I once had a professor in college ... a Medieval Towns course ... and he was adamant about the final project assignment. It was a combined research paper / oral presentation that made up at least 50% of the grade. Some of my peers complained openly about the massive undertaking, to which he replied, "If I gave you a multiple-choice exam, imagine how little of this coursework you'll retain." To this day, I can still tell you as a New Yorker, about the tidal floodplains of the Sub-Mendip marshes and how it affected the settlement of Medieval Wells, England.
I've kept that lesson with me, and although Medieval history has little relevance in my daily work as a risk manager some 11 years later, I have grown more conscious of how important my own projects are to me. My projects, not some corporation's tasks or what some one else needs from me. Certainly, Newgrounds was a massive part of my teenage years and in many ways shaped the person I became. I realize that is a bold statement on the back of a portfolio of Mario blooper reels, but I am really referring to the ambitions I had to learn Flash and Photoshop, the late nights editing soundtracks and syncing up sound effects, and constantly trying to create a better product.
Just under two years after I graduated from New Paltz College in the mid-Hudson Valley portion of New York State, my parents were finally foreclosed on. There had been hints here and there for many years, and one day my brother and I came home to a pink eviction notice on our front door. A county sheriff arrived on a rainy January Monday morning shortly thereafter with a squadron of unmarked white moving trucks. I'll never forget sitting in my childhood bedroom with my cat Buster in my lap, looking around my mostly-empty room where I had spent all those nights making those Flash videos, coming home from soccer or volleyball games, practicing the cello, or walking back from the shower after a round of golf with my dad. I remember the thumps of the sheriff coming down the stairs, scolding my parents for not being out of the house. He then stopped in my doorway. I couldn't look him in the eye, but I guess the image of my cat and I on the floor took him out of the heat-of-the-moment. He remained there for about five seconds before marching back up the stairs, slower this time, and continuing to usher my parents along in a noticeably less threatening tone.
Even if you've never been evicted before, I'm sure you can guess the sort of implications that that event had on my life. I wasn't completely devastated. In fact, part of me was excited for a change. But it did put a sort of primal cognizance in the back of my mind about the importance of money, and what happens to people when they run out of it.
After spending the next year moving, toiling in odd golf and retail jobs, and toying with the idea of going back to school, I finally committed to a Fortune 50 Company in the outright attempt to secure benefits, a halfway decent salary, and even a retirement account. It was an $11/hr seasonal warehouse job that started at 4 AM. I began reading books on the stock market and other personal finance titles like Rich Dad, Poor Dad. I started buying company stock as soon as I could. I did return to school for a Finance MBA. I cut out pretty much all fun from my life. And I did lock in those benefits while saying "Yes" to every new promotion opportunity or lateral move.
Long story short, I did what I needed to do in order to build a strong foundational life for myself. But after graduating with that MBA nearly two years ago now, going through the motions at my job, and executing disciplined savings/investing budget plans each and every month, I find myself looking back on the journey. Despite how most outsiders would look into the last five years and concede that I've been "successful" or "responsible" or "ambitious," I still see more "success" in those long nights as a teenager making Flash videos ... in those projects that were truly mine, Nintendo sprites notwithstanding!
But you get what I'm saying.
This past Labor Day weekend, my long-time girlfriend and I traveled back up to New Paltz to go hiking at Lake Minnewaska. It's a beautiful series of trails, and each time we go, I'm reminded of those special moments and things in my life. I am always amazed at how fickle the scent of corporate success can be in the mountain breeze. Newgrounds will always be special to me, not just for the memories, but as a constant reminder of the moments that truly matter.
Thanks for reading and I wish you all the best,