Categories
Life Long Reads

Retrospection

Going through my old oughties-era writing has been quite the adventure. I realized that it has been fourteen years since my final post on Deviant Art, which means that everything else is older than that. As I explored, I took the liberty of fixing misspellings, typos, and adding some commentary to now-dead links where appropriate.

I completely forgot about some things that have changed: It stopped being standard to double-space after a period, and text-based faces like

-_-

became emojis:

😑

More highlights from back then:

  • Writing out “emotes” in comments and written text.
  • A comment about NetNanny on a friend’s internet connection preventing them from accessing to DeviantArt due to its adult content.
  • Using WEP instead of WPA for wifi passwords.

Then there’s my excitement over these hardware specs:

ATI Radeon 9550
AGP 8x
256 MB DDR RAM

The PCI Express interface came out pretty soon after that and made AGP obsolete, and we’re now on what, DDR5?

Many other things haven’t changed: I am still friends with many of the people who commented on the original posts. I still prefer talking to people over some kind of instant messenger (and no, texting is not the same thing). Missing participation points due to not paying attention dogged me throughout both university and medical school. And a quote like “I can’t stand pointless optimism” could have come from my mouth today.

Other interesting findings:

  • In 2005 we were talking about SARS. Now, 15 years later
  • “Oh, I’m working from 10:30 to 6:30 today. That means I’m earning $7.50 an hour.” Still minimum wage in 2020.
  • I’ve used identical uncreative post titles more than once.
  • Back then, “resident” meant “someone who lives in a home” to me instead of “medical doctor in second year of postgraduate training or above.”
  • Using note cards to manage references was a thing. It wasn’t until I started working in a research lab that I learned about reference management software.

What struck me more than anything else, however, was that I’ve been doing this for so long that I am able to see myself live and grow. I have documentation of some monumental life events. I watched my wrist tendonitis from cashiering at Giant develop over time, something that occasionally flares up to this day. And even though the posts are only the stories and experiences I thought were safe enough to share, I have found they are still connected to so much more in my mind.

How does it feel to have done this for so long that you’ve actually fulfilled one of the main features of a blog: Being able to window back into a past self that no longer exists.

Mark Comberiate

In the midst of the update, Mark started going through the posts. Many of his reactions were heartrending. Some, like “Stalked by a Giant” and “I. Am an Idiot.“, evoked a number of shared memories that have echoed through our subsequent lives.

Some actions that, at the time, I worried would affect Mark, didn’t at all:

I was all upset so I started to complain to Mom about it while she was getting ready for her own work. Now I regret it because I was being bratty and stupid, not to mention talking way too loud. I think I woke my little brother up, which means he’s probably thinking, “Oh, there’s Michael arguing with Mom about Giant again.”

Stalked by a Giant“, August 2004

I highly doubt I ever thought that, but if I did, it didn’t stick enough for me to remember today.

Mark Comberiate, April 2020

Other things, that I didn’t think he really noticed, affected him forever:

I lost my sunglasses. The sunglasses that I haven’t lost in several years that I love. They’re awesome, not to mention expensive. Oakley. Now sitting in the grass somewhere at a friend’s house, where I travelled all over their neighborhood. 

I. Am an Idiot.“, August 2004

I do distinctly remember that. Those sunglasses man.

I remember being in the living room or something probably should have been practicing piano and you were in the school room yelling at mom explaining how you were dumb and lost them

Mark Comberiate, April 2020

I refused to wear sunglasses for years after that. Rachel eventually got me a different pair of Oaklies, the only sunglasses I have owned since. Mark’s choices were influenced as well:

I actually bought some Ray-Bans finally after like 8 years of trying them on and figuring out which I wanted. Had avoided them for years because of that exact story, and the fact that I always lose mine too.

Mark Comberiate, April 2020.

And I love Mark. He’s a great little brother.

Stalked by a Giant“, August 2004

While the references aren’t always consistent between using his proper name or simple “little brother,” Mark features prominently in my posts, a reflection of his prominence in my life.

I’m sitting in a baseball field where my little brother is practicing for one of his games, wardriving on some unsuspecting resident’s unsecured wifi.

Huzzah for Insecurity“, July 2005

He was present when I reached 100,000 miles on the Tercel:

But on the way home from picking Mark up from school, my car went:
100,000.0.

99,999.9“, January 2005

I think we did a lap around Atholton parking lot and down to the bridge over 29 to get it to tick so we could take the photo.

Mark Comberiate, April 2020

Despite this, my ability to communicate his significance was woefully inadequate.

Wow, yeah like you said earlier. I really did play a big role. I never thought I did when I was wandering around outside alone wishing we could play [Legos], but clearly you were, in some way, thinking of me. And that’s nice.

Mark Comberiate, April 2020

Some of the photos have elicited their own flashbacks, like this one where I am in my room working on the first parts of this Lego creation.

This isn’t one of those photos you can smell or taste like people say. But [it is] definitely one you can hear and one you can feel.

Mark Comberiate, April 2020
This photo is such a time capsule.

That photo is an unintentional time capsule of my life at the time. A CD player on the shelf under the desk, my Canon Powershot A75 sitting in its leather case, the tripod I got with it leaning in the corner.

I am remembering so much, and also how much I held back.

Michael A. Castello, April 2020

Lego sets displayed on the shelves are carefully organized and color coded. At the same time, plastic trash is scattered on the floor, leftovers from opening the individual packages contained within a Bionicle mega-jar, visible behind a sleeping bag that now sits in my hall closet and comes to picnics. The package is a box containing a number of infected Hau Nuva masks from one of my colleagues at a popular Lego website I once helped administrate.

And clearly displayed on the desk, next to the lighthouse lamp, a photo of Mark.