10 Years of the Blog
Wow. This is a bit unbelievable to me. But the blog just turned 10 years old yesterday. January 17th, 2005 I made the first post. That’s a longer length of time than it feels like. Because for me… it just feels like a short while ago. But in 2005, ten years before that, I didn’t even have the internet. THAT feels like a long time ago.
Then I start to think how much my life has changed in these past 10 years. That’s when the time starts to add up and it starts to make a little more sense. When this blog started, I was living in my tiny studio apartment in Milford, KS. That place was certainly nothing to brag about, but it was perfect for me. It was like a bedroom with a stove, sink and bathroom. And that’s all I really needed. I was only a couple steps from the refrigerator, back to the couch, or to the bathroom. I’d come home from work at about 12:30AM and sit and play Final Fantasy X-2 while drinking Kool-Aid and eating pizza rolls until about 3AM. In the mornings I’d get up and go for a walk down to the lake and just sit there and watch the boats and birds on the water.
Of course it was also the first place I was truly on my own. Dad or roommates weren’t helping me with anything. I had just dropped out of K-State and with that meant I had made the choice to enter the big mean world. Luckily the Milford apartment was $260/month, all bills paid. Even though I wasn’t making a lot of money, I was finally getting ahead and felt like I could start building towards something.
I’m not sure if it was the solitude or the little bit of extra money I had, but I started taking on a few little projects. In that Milford apartment, I built my very first PC. A Celeron D 2.26 Ghz, 256 MB DDR RAM, 80 GB Hard Drive, NVidia GeForce MX 128 MB, DVD-ROM/CD-RW. It cost me $500 for everything, with a big old CRT monitor included. It wasn’t a speed demon even by 2005 standards, but I sure was proud of it. Even overclocked it to 3GHZ, hehe. It just feels like I had so much more time to tinker with stuff back then.
And I definitely had some goals. After hitting a deer, (last straw in a long line of hitting things, or things hitting me) one of the top priorities in my life was getting a new car.
I wasn’t quite ready to take that plunge yet though. So my solution at the time was to rig up a 12v floodlight I bought at Wal-mart for like 6 or 7 bucks so I’d have 2 headlights and I at least wouldn’t get a ticket. I remember wondering if it would even work. But I figured, electricity is electricity. So a few snips of the wire, and some electrical tape, and boom! I was almost technically street legal again!
Ha ha! I had forgotten about the Mountain Dew bottle propping up my other headlight.
I drove the car like that for almost a year and a half. It still ran, the AC worked, I probably could have saved it pretty easily if I knew what I were doing. But I was mostly just dumb. The last winter I had it, the heater stopped working (probably because it was leaking coolant…) But exhaust fumes also would seep into the cabin, so you had to have the windows down when you were driving or you would literally asphyxiate. By now Andrea and I had moved into an apartment together in Manhattan; I remember driving home from work one night after DJ-ing at a club until 3AM, it was below zero, I had no heater AND had to drive with the windows down. That’s when the new car hunt started hot and heavy.
Life kept churning in the meantime. Andrea and I pretty much knew that we were going to be getting married. But we were going to wait until she graduated from K-State. We decided to move in together and get an apartment in Manhattan. Boy was that an adventure. I quickly realized how good of a deal I had. We looked at a bunch of places. Most of them were either way out of our price range, or total crap holes. We eventually settled on a 2nd floor apartment at Evergreen Apartments in Manhattan. $600 a month plus utilities. But I was full time now and had somebody to share the expenses with, so it seemed like it made sense.
It was a nice place, especially at first. For the first time on my own, I had ROOMS. And a dishwasher. We were closer to our friends. There was a lot good about it. But it was my first taste of apartment living. Hearing neighbors arguing through the walls. People coming and going all the time. The guy upstairs that moved his furniture every Sunday. It was a good place, but we both knew we wouldn’t be there forever.
In September 2005, we adopted Nala. It was just a few days after moving into the new place and Andrea was super anxious to have a pet. I’m sure she would have preferred a dog at the time, but I don’t think she could convince me. Plus we didn’t exactly pay for the optional pet deposit at the apartment either, so a cat was easier to conceal. Haha
This blog itself continued to morph. I’ve been on WordPress for a long time, but originally the site was hosted on Blogger.com. For a while in 2005 I actually hosted the blog on a webserver on my own computer from home. It was really a mess though as Cox was blocking port 80, which is the default HTTP traffic port. But it was the motivation to buy BGWillers.com, and I ended up doing some crazy port re-direct stuff that was just messy. Plus if my computer restarted or anything like that, the blog went down. It was the motivation to eventually move to a WordPress site that’s been so much better.
At the end of 2005 I got a new promotion at work, I went from just night time DJ, to Assistant Program Director, Music Director and Afternoon DJ. Geesh. I’ve been wearing multiple hats for way too long. And I got my first desk at work!
Pretty big milestone that for some reason I never wrote about on the blog…. in the spring of 2006, I asked Andrea to marry me. I guess I never wrote about it because we actually called and told everybody the old fashion way, so everybody already knew. It was super cheezy how I did it. I took her out to lunch at the first place we met (Arby’s). Then we went out to Annaberg park and while we were sitting by the water, I popped the ring out and asked her. I remember before she said yes, she said…. “BUT YOU DON’T HAVE A CAR YET!” We had talked before that we did want to get married, but before I could buy her a ring, I had to get a new car… for my own safety. So she was definitely surprised when she saw the ring!
Not long after that, I was able to get a car. April of 2006 I picked up the Toronado.
I never bought the Toronado because of its looks. I bought it because it fit some very specific criteria. 1. It ran and drove well. 2. I knew I couldn’t afford a mechanic, so it was similar to the Caprice which I had at least done oil changes on. 3. The interior was in pretty good shape for the age. 4. It was super cheap. I paid $625, which I thought was a pretty good deal at the time. Almost 10 years later, I guess it was.
But I literally had no idea how to work on cars, beyond an oil change and changing a tire. I knew lefty loosy, righty tighty. That was about it. That’s why when I hear people say, “I wish I could work on my own car like you do.” I just think… no you don’t. You don’t want to work on your car. Haha! And there’s nothing wrong with that, but let’s call it what it is. If you want to learn how to work on a car, any car. Just buy a cheap old thing, and find the stuff that’s broke. Then Google how to fix it. Congrats! You’re me!
In July 2006, the site officially moved over to WordPress where it’s been ever since.
January 2007, the olde Pontiac 6000 found it’s final resting place at a Salvage yard in Junction City. For months I’d been trying to sell it for a couple hundred bucks. Nobody wanted it. And I don’t blame them. So I drove it to the junk yard, and they gave me $50 and I signed the title over to them.
Later that year in May, after 2 floods and the police visiting the neighborhood more frequently, Andrea and I started looking for a house to rent. It was much the same story as when we were apartment hunting. Everything was super expensive, or super crappy. Sometimes both. Houses like we really wanted were renting for $1,500 a month. Eventually we found a tiny little house in Ogden that we both liked. It was $700 a month, so it was an increase over what we were paying, but it was halfway between her work and mine. The landlord seemed like a nice guy so we went for it.
Oh yeah. Seeing that car under the cover reminds me! The El Camino! I almost forgot that fit into the timeline here. I actually picked it up for $250 with a ton of parts BEFORE we moved to Ogden. Which meant I didn’t have anywhere to keep it. So knowing we were moving, I just parked it at the radio station. It had a ton of parts in the back, which just looked like JUNK to everybody else, so before I started catching greif I threw a car cover over it.
There was a lot of new-ness going on around that time. Because literally the day we moved into the house in Ogden, Andrea came home with a new dog. I wasn’t too sure about having a dog. Every dog we ever had was an idiot. But Daisy and I hit it off pretty well right out of the gate. Something about moving to new places that makes Andrea want pets apparently!
In September 2007, Andrea made a big decision that really changed the trajectory of our lives. She decided to quit K-State. It was not a decision she made easily. But she decided it was right, and I was going to support her. Until this point we’d kind of just been in holding, waiting for her to finish. The house in Ogden never really felt like the place we were going to be very long. My workplace at the radio station had been changing and it was looking like there was going to be very little opportunity to advance my career. The wedding was on hold until she was out of school. We were just kind of waiting around for the “next” thing. So when she made that decision, it was like this speed limit sign on life got taken down and we were both free to go full throttle.
To start with, Andrea just needed to get a full time job. So she took a job at Ray’s Apple Market in Manhattan and began working full time. We started to really feel like grown ups! Over the next several months we didn’t really know where life was going, but I felt like we could take it anywhere we wanted to go.
In the meantime, I was working on a little project. Man I had so much time back then! Were the days longer? A panel at a time before and after work… I was painting the Toronado. It took several weeks but the finished product was worth it, and I’m proud of it to this day! Even though it’s seen better days.
Winter of 2007 brought an experience I’ll never forget. On December 10th, we had an incredible ice storm. We were out of power for 5 days. Andrea and I were going to work just to be warm! It also brought about the demise of the El Camino which took a tree limb to the roof when the landlord came to cut it down.
If 2007 is when the speed limit sign came down, 2008 is when we went full throttle.
It began with all the wedding plans. We had finally pinned down a date of June 14th, 2008. We were furiously planning away, all the while I was looking for a new job. I drove all the way out to Gove, KS to interview for a Farm Service job that I didn’t completely understand. I’m glad I didn’t get it because there would have been even fewer opportunities to grow at that position.
I also interviewed with a few radio stations. The one that made the most sense was an Afternoon DJ in Great Bend, KS. It was $100 a month MORE than I was making in Junction City. And they were a growing company. It seemed like a good opportunity.
So on the week leading up to our wedding, we got all packed up. A huge storm came through and pounded hail across the area and brought a tornado that sent us seeking shelter at a friend of ours in Manhattan. It left the Toronado battered, and all of our stuff soaked in the horse trailer that Dad was pulling to help us out.
The rest of that year we spent getting settled into our new lives. Andrea started a job at CPI, a financial retirement company in Great Bend. We we doing pretty well and started knocking out her student loans.
In August we took our honeymoon to Hawaii. Wow what a place. The whole time I was there I was just soaking up everything and trying to remember every little moment. I knew it would be years before I ever got to go back, so I wanted to be able to remember everything. It was an amazing place.
Things were going pretty good, I was making friends at work. We were getting settled in to our new lives. But things started to go south at the radio station. There were talks of cutting people. The general manager left. The exciting growing company that I had interviewed with started to go south fast.
I remember the day the owners came in to talk to each of us one on one. They talked to me first (big mistake). They told me they were going to offer all the other programming people sales positions, and they wanted me to run all the stations by myself. I told them I had to think about that. I went back and told the whole crew what was happening. All of us but one quit that day on the spot and I went off to work at Dillon’s stocking produce full time.
It was surreal. I don’t remember being all that angry about it. But all of a sudden, where we had this big outlook and plan for life, where we felt like we were really gaining some traction, it was like the rug just got pulled out from underneath me.
Working at Dillons was nice though. It was super low stress compared to the situation I had just come from. I had time to think, even while I was working. All the management kept complimenting me on my work ethic, which was basically just showing up and doing what I was asked. I didn’t mind going to work, and honestly I wasn’t making a whole lot less money. I had actually considered riding out Dillion’s and seeing how far it would take me.
But I still had a friend in radio. Kenny Titus, who I actually worked with in Junction City, now worked at the Eagle Radio station in Great Bend. While I was with Rocking M, he had asked if I’d come over and interview for a position, I had just started and didn’t want to bail on co-workers that I really liked for the competition. Well, come a year later, I’m working at Dillon’s and another position opens up. It was basically a paperwork position. But it was at a radio station and was a couple bucks more an hour than I was making. Financially it was a smart move, so I actually gave Dillon’s the opportunity to match the salary, and would really have considered staying if they could. So I accepted the position. Worked out two more weeks at Dillon’s and then made the move.
My first day on the job was the last day of a couple that had worked there for a while. So the whole crew went out for drinks that night. My second day on the job was a company picnic, where they took a cooler of beers and cooked out at the lake in town. So my first two days involved drinking paid for by the company. Haha. I was liking this!
So it’s 2009 now. And it’s crazy to think about how much my job has changed since then. I still do a few things that I did when I started there. But it’s become a whole lot more than that. On one hand it’s hard to believe it’s been almost 6 years at the station, and on the other it seems like a long time ago.
A couple months into the new job, and listening to Trading Post everyday, I made a huge mistake. I bought the Blazer. Oh man. This thing was so hacked up it makes my head spin. I’ve never been so pissed off at a vehicle before. I think we dropped the gas tank four times and completely re-did the fuel system before it started running right. At that point I had so little trust in the vehicle that we put it up for sale the next day. I almost broke even on the thing, but I was glad to see it go. I saw it driving around for a year or so afterwards, but I haven’t seen it in a long time. I assume it’s finally been laid to rest.
2010 I think was the year I finally got settled into Great Bend and it started to feel like home. I enjoyed work. Our house wasn’t where we wanted to stay, but it was perfect for now. We’d been making new friends, and I had time to relax and enjoy things.
That year I really got into Guild Wars. Andrea and I had been playing off and on since we lived in Manhattan, but now I was really growing to love the game. Guild Wars 2 still seemed like a long ways off and it was fun taking the heroes and doing all their builds then going through and steam-rolling everything. I’d spend hours farming gold out by Lion’s Arch, and even now I have more gold in that game than there is stuff to spend it on. It’s one of those few games that really hold a sentimental charm for me.
I also took the time to restore this old radio that I gave to Dad & Carrie later for their anniversary.
In December 2010 we had some new neighbors move into the house behind ours. We’d been pretty lucky with our neighbors up until then. We had a college girl that lived by herself. Then an old lady. But these two kids were 100% white trash. They were knocking on our door to borrow stuff all the time. The cops were over there at least once a week, and people were coming and going at all hours of the night. I started to become really uncomfortable at my own home. I knew we needed to start looking for something soon.
About the same time we bought the 1987 Cutlass from some friends of ours to replace Andrea’s Mustang which was becoming more problematic by the day. So what’s the solution? Obviously to buy something older! Although we probably wouldn’t have bought it if we knew what was coming.
I remember when Andrea told me she was pregnant. I honestly at first thought she was just joking. We’d been trying for a while, and then stopped trying and took more of a, whatever happens approach. So when she told me, I seriously just thought she was just kidding. Once I figured it out though, I was happy, scared a bit. But I knew that there was no turning back, and from that point forward life was going to be different. I wasn’t really sure how, but I knew it would be.
We still had talked about moving every once in a while. The ghetto neighbors behind us were always up to something. Then one day they brought home a little pitbull puppy. They wrapped some chickenwire around a couple trees in the yard and put the dog in there. That was the day we really got serious about moving.
A friend I worked with at the other radio station in town lived in Albert and had recently bought a house there. He told me about a house across the street that was for rent. We went out to look at it, but I knew it was a pretty big house and I still had memories of house shopping in Manhattan. I figured there was no way we could afford it. But we went and looked, and it was only $75 a month more than what we were paying in Great Bend. I made triple sure Andrea was okay with living in a small town, but she really liked the place. So we decided to make the move.
I still like this place. It’s more than I think we deserve a lot of the time. Then there’s other times when the basement leaks and the carpet starts to mold that I’m ready to start looking for new places. Haha. But generally I feel like we’ve got it pretty good!
In June I touched up Andrea’s Mustang one last time before we sold it to her niece. She’s still driving it, but desperately wants something new. Hey… that’s a familiar feeling.
The days until we were parents were flying by. Seemed like every week we were doing something new to prepare. Baby shower, baby stuff shopping. It was hard to imagine at the time we were doing all this preparation for a little person we hadn’t met yet. I tried to imagine what it was going to be like, but it was hard to. We were installing car seats, and high chairs, and they set empty while we kept getting closer and closer to the due date.
People can describe to you all day long what it feels like when your child is born. But it’s one of those moments that words simply can not do justice. From the moment you hear his first cry… it’s suddenly real. You are just completely overcome by joy, love, responsibility, and fear. Pretty much in that order.
My life has changed in ways I couldn’t even comprehend since Luke has been born. I was just talking to somebody to day that with a kid, you think about your life, and how busy you are and how tough it is to get by, that you wonder how you’ll be able to do it. I wondered where we’d find the money, the time, and the energy to be good parents. The answer is you make sacrifices. Andrea and I both have sacrificed a lot since Luke came around. But the thing is, I don’t know that I could tell you exactly what we’ve given up and I certainly don’t miss most of it. Those things have been replaced by something so much more rewarding and exciting. Watching Luke grow up is a joy I can’t imagine trading for anything.
Life kept going, and going faster and faster. But with a new gravitational pull. Andrea and I haven’t changed as people. I still work on the cars, they keep breaking. We still play games. But all that feels like an outer layer of who we are and our family is now the core.
It’s so much fun to share the things that we love with Luke and to watch him grow and create his own thoughts around them.
From this point on pretty much everything seems like it happened yesterday, or at most just a few weeks ago.
There’s still bumps in the road. But they don’t seem to rock the world quite as much as they used to. Maybe that’s a sign of stability? Maturity? Or just the fact that those things don’t matter as much any more? I’m not really sure.
I’m still finding time for little projects, though they are usually low cost endeavours. In spring of 2012 I planted my first garden. I grew potatoes, onions, peppers and tomatoes. It was fun, but I sure am not a natural at it. I still haven’t figured out how to keep all the bermuda grass from choking everything out.
Luke continued to grow, and I was shocked how quickly babies become little kids.
The garden kept growing too.
With everything going on, I was still finding time for one of my truly favorite past-times, gaming. Guild Wars 2 was coming out and I was super hyped. I pre-ordered the Collector’s Edition so I got early access to the beta test of the game. It really truly blew me away, how big and detailed the world was. Andrea was content to keep playing GW1 though.
And Luke kept growing, and we keep sharing experiences with him. We got to watch a solar eclipse together in May 2012. It’s hard to believe he wasn’t even a year old at this point!
And as I’ve had less time to play games, collecting them has become more of a thing. The thing that’s shocked me the most is how into it Andrea has gotten. I think she gets just as excited if not more so than I, when we are able to add something new to the collection. But it’s something that I have to keep a mindful grasp on, as things like this have gotten me into trouble before.
Then, in September 2012 we hit a roadblock. The Toronado broke down, and I couldn’t get parts to fix it.
We were a one car family, so it was time to do something. We had some pretty good savings, but we didn’t want a car payment. The thought of that was pretty gross. So we were looking around for vehicles. We test drove a few, but the all seemed like crummy little cars. I would have been happy with another grandpa car, but Andrea really wasn’t for that. So we looked for a good three weeks or so. Then I saw this red Jeep sitting on 10th St. in Great Bend. I took it for a test drive. Showed it to Andrea and she was on board!
We are getting closer to the present day. As I look back through the blog at my posts, I really start to realize that I feel like life now has a momentum that’s greater than my own. I have the ability to shift its course, but in general it’s on a trajectory that’s taking me with it. Most days I figure that trajectory is up. But some times it takes a little course correction.
As Luke continues to grow up, I can’t help but think of my own childhood. How much fun I had. I try to think about the things I cared about then. I didn’t care about our car, or the house we lived in. I cared about my room, seeing grandmas and grandpas. Playing, and having fun. And those are the things I try to spend more time actively focusing on, rather than the stuff, and the career. Those things are important, but man, I think kids really have it figured out.
In May 2013, I got the opportunity to get my first ever car back. Dad asked if I wanted it, and I sure wasn’t going to say no! I don’t think too many people can say they still own their first car. It’s got a whole lot that needs done. But there’s still plenty of time… I think.
Later that year, after moving Luke out of our bedroom at LONG last, I began to build the Retro Room upstairs. It’s cool to think about how far that has come in just a short amount of time. What will it be like in 10 years? Yikes.
Already, Luke is two years old. Holy cow! Time has really flown by. He’s walking, talking, and really he’s his own person now.
In October 2013 I got to go to my very first Nascar race! It was super cool. Nascar is one thing that has kind of gotten away from me in the busyness. But going to the race is just as exciting as I’d hoped it be. It’s a completely unique perspective that everybody should do at least once.
One thing is for sure, as Luke keeps growing up, each Holiday is more fun. It reminds me of how potent the different holidays were for me as a kid. They were truly magical. Special days that let you do things you just couldn’t on any normal day.
In the last year, I haven’t spent as much time on the blog as I have wanted to. But it’s so much fun to go back and look at all these different memories over the past 10 years. Without the blog, I’d still have the stories to tell, but I wouldn’t have the same kind of perspective on all these different events. It’s my own sort of scrapbook I guess.
In some ways, life has changed a lot. And in others not so much. That’s the same for all of us I suppose. I wonder whether this will still exist in another 10 years. I wonder how much the internet will have changed and if these kinds of platforms will still be able to be accessed. Or will it be like the old dial up BBS servers of the 90’s?
Time will tell I suppose. I’m sure it will live on in some fashion. Life for sure will keep going. I’ll keep posting here as long as I’m able… just hopefully more often!