Sunday, February 16, 2014

'We are all shattered'

It is official. Every Feb. 16, the Snooze Button Generation and all of its subsidiaries will reflect on the world's absence of Fred "XMan" Stevens or at least do something connected to the absence of the XMan.

It now has been three years since the XMan mysteriously departed the planet, and I have somehow composed blogs titled "XMan's Death Ends Blog," "The Father of Garfield Heights" and "Two Years."

See, until the XMan passed away, I never understood the concept of unabashed, no-doubt-about-it pain. I had never experienced a profound loss. I guess I had never truly grown up.

With a backhand slap from strange odds and things I did not consider possible, the XMan vanished. So much difficulty in life surfaces when a major trauma happens that I must say I am proud of my mom, myself, my brother and extended family for surviving through this loss.

And, now, it is time to get metaphysical or in my way, Polish metaphysical.

I'm no different than a majority of the members of the Snooze Button Generation. All of my grandparents were blue collar. My parents were white collar. For me, it was predetermined that I would go to college. I feel fortunate that I could embark on two enjoyable and fulfilling professions journalism and education and feel content financially. And I have a feeling that most in the Snooze Button Generation have some similarities with that tale.

I created this blog, the Snooze Button Generation, mostly because I feel a lot of people in the ballpark of my age can look back at how pop culture has progressed in our lifetime and have a wry smile about it. I mean, seriously, is it wrong to be nostalgic when it comes to the Apple IIc or Apple IIe? What about missing the wonderful sounds of dial-up Internet? Or what about simply reminiscing about the Humpty Dance or understanding why Ol' Dirty Bastard was never Young Dirty Bastard?
This blog is all about pop culture, nostalgia and us looking at ourselves and having a chuckle. I never envisioned something like the XMan's ridiculous and painful death could derail the blog. How could fate have done such a thing?

But what I am realizing now is that there is a pretty darn good chance that any random member of the Snooze Button Generation has his own version of the XMan's death (and if you don't, consider yourself lucky!). We all have experienced our own personal tsunami. I'm 40 now. My main friends are roughly at that age, give or take five years. We've all had our major pain. It's just a matter of time when it came or when it comes.
And, now, back to my own personal pain ...

I moved out of my home in 2008, even though my daughters were only 3 and 1. I knew I had to do that to give them the best life possible and give myself a chance at some sort of happiness. My girls have been the focus of my life, and I am proud that they are two advanced, charming and healthy 8 and 6 year olds.

Not so long ago, families were intact. The surface was intact. ... I was married. My parents visited every January, and I had a brilliant idea that having a child would help my marriage. My cousin, Meathooks or Know-It-All or whatever goofy nickname we call him (pictured above in the XMan's tuxedo), bonded with my parents with his super-fabulous wife in Cleveland while I lived all the way in California. I pretended that they were surrogate versions of me. Through it all, we all loved each other's company, and no so long ago, we created a holiday commune.

Fast forward to today. Xman is gone. My marriage has been long gone, and Know-It-All's marriage has ended as well. In a strangely tender moment, playing Scrabble with Know-It-All and my mom this past Christmas break, I listened to Know-It-All explain how his divorce blindsided him, how he has had difficult times functioning and how he is in his own personal tsunami that he did not think was possible. I looked at my mom, thought about my own development and simply said, "We are all shattered."

We continue to evolve through the pain, just like the Snooze Button Generation, and maybe the unique XMan pain I have experienced is somehow something universal I never thought was possible.

Yeah, I'm writing about nostalgia and what I term "Polish metaphysics." Maybe all I need to say is: "You can tear a building down, but you can't erase a memory."

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