I have a confession to make: I am rapidly approaching my 30th birthday. In actuality, it’s only two years off, but I can feel its oppressive weight looming somewhere near those fine lines I didn’t notice years prior. What happened to my youth? Am I happy with how I have spent my third decade?

The majority of my 20’s has been spent child rearing. For some, that is the zenith. Once you push a child through your body or, in my case, have a child surgically removed from your abdomen (you’re welcome), everything else just kind of wanes. Once they have left the comfort of your womb, you begin to live vicariously through your flesh and blood, and experience childhood, again; their disappointments become yours, their happiness becomes yours, but with the emotional intensity of a branding iron searing your flesh.

The first time I experienced this was on my son’s first day of school. I had been a stay-at-home mom for his whole life, and consequently, he never left my side. We had practiced putting on his backpack, parading around the house with it, walking down to the bus stop and back. But nothing could prepare either of us for that first bus ride. He ascended the steps, tears in his eyes, and the doors closed. I waved frantically, blowing him kisses as the bus faded out of sight, shuffled slowly back inside, and wept.

My baby was growing up.

Which is why it pisses me off when I play anything on XBL.

What does this have to with motherhood, you ask? Because those little 12 year olds calling you a “fag” or a “bitch” used to be 4 year old preschoolers with promising futures. Now, they are nothing but bullies with anonymity in their arsenal, and ready to barrage your cochleas with bullshit such as you have never experienced in your life.

My father worked with computers for all of my life, and most of his. Remember Dwango? I do. It wasn’t my first time using DOS. I was probably around 9 years old and was heavily into Doom. It was my first love affair with a game, and my first foray into online gaming. Since we resided in Houston, we had an edge above the competition. My father would boast of having played with John Romero, even though his ass was handed to him like a plate of Texas BBQ (remember how I said I miss Texas? BBQ is probably at the top of that list).

I spent a lot of time playing games with my father. He was ruthless. Over battle.net Diablo, players would rage quit games with us before “rage quit” was even a meme. “Don’t take any prisoners, Jas. And for God’s sake, if you’re going to destroy your enemy, destroy them completely“, he would tell me when my 12 year old mind became too merciful.

He taught me to win, but most of all, he taught me respect. I do not take failure lightly. To this day, my husband will not play any competitive game with me, lest I ignore him for days when I do not win. It’s a flaw, to be sure, but you will be hard pressed to find me flinging racial or sexist slurs at other players. The XBL world is like a constant streaming of YouTube comments. Most of these children, or adults for that matter, hide behind a facade because the internet breeds this misconception that the people on the other end are not, in actuality, people.

But they are.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have played a game online that didn’t do well. It wasn’t a “smash hit” by any means, but enough people played and enjoyed it, and we have formed a community; actually, it’s more than a community – it’s family. We have lost members to diseases, mourned them, celebrated major life events, laughed with each other, endured flame wars and I even met my husband through this community.

The point is – that is ancient history. We still talk to each other, but you would be hard pressed trying to find that camaraderie in today’s world. Everyone is out to be acerbic, ornery and have the biggest asshole. It’s why I don’t come out from under my rock very often. I don’t like being surrounded by negativity; I have enough problems of my own without wanting to shove my Xbox controller down people’s throats to make them shut up.

I guess my biggest point is – I’m getting old.

And you should get the hell off my lawn.

~JazFusion

“damn it feels good to be gangsta”

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