Browsed by
Tag: nostalgia

Go for the eyes Boo, GO FOR THE EYES!! – OR On nostalgia (2 of 3)

Go for the eyes Boo, GO FOR THE EYES!! – OR On nostalgia (2 of 3)

Earlier, in the spring, I was wide awake late at night while everyone else was asleep. Where I live, there are four definitive seasons and in my mind, the real start of spring is the day that you can leave all the windows and doors open and you don’t freeze your arse off. I grabbed a drink and sat down and started to watch a show. It was so nice being up late when everything was quiet with the warm breeze flooding the living room that I was instantly transported to what it felt like when I was young and spent most nights awake while everyone else slept. Instant nostalgia.

The next day Mr. Tucker and I chatted after dinner. “You know, I had a revelation last night.” Oh what, he asked. “I don’t have to keep normal hours anymore. If I want, I can stay up all night and sleep all day. I mean, I wouldn’t because I want the kids to see me have a normal schedule, but it hadn’t really hit me that I don’t HAVE to.” No, you don’t! He confirmed. I ended up telling him about the spring night air and how it made me feel and of course we both lapsed into a bout of nostalgia. Then I said something to him that surprised him. “I want to get back into gaming.”

Some history about me & gaming: in the 80s my brother got a Tandy computer from Radio Shack. Suddenly, an entire world of puzzles was open to my brain and we played hours upon hours of Space Quest, Police Quest, King’s Quest and of course, the pièce de resistance: Leisure Suit Larry. I fell in love with games as a kid with a special love for Super Mario, which I played on our Nintendo.

So of course, in the 90s I settled into a comfortable love of all the new games that came out. I was especially drawn to beautiful strategic and puzzle games like Civilization and Myst but I also enjoyed a bunch of first person shooters such as Space Hulk (I still have nightmares of them coming out of the walls). I played long, long hours sitting and trying to finish the levels eventually giving up only when I was too exhausted to play anymore. I flirted with gaming on and off over the years but it wasn’t an issue for me as a single person who had nothing but time. When I met Mr. Tucker and we started dating, we only had the one computer in the house that could play the more resource-intense games. We didn’t play much those days anyway. We had a decent income and spent a lot of time out with friends or sitting on the balcony having drinks.

Enter Baldur’s Gate.

Baldur’s Gate was the first video game that I had really gotten into in a long time and it was love at first play. Mr. Tucker and I took (resentful) turns playing it on the one computer but we both played really long hours. Not as long as I used to play when I was younger but still dedicating a big chunk of our time outside of work to it. Eventually, things came to a head one night when his 10-year-old son came over for the weekend. Naturally, he wanted to play, too. I found the anger welling up inside me of having to share *MY* time with him. I have always known that I have an addictive personality, but I was so shocked the level of rage I had at a child over a stupid video game that I actually just gave up video games completely. We both kind of did. I just didn’t trust myself to not get sucked into a black hole of lost time. Since we were engaged and had plans to get married and have kids soon, it also just made sense to leave gaming behind. I would be lying if I didn’t say I missed it, but my inability to control how much I loved playing made it detrimental to my larger life goals.

Of course, life moved on and now the kid I resented over the video game is an incredible man of 27 (who, incidentally, still loves video games). His dad and I went on to have two kids that are teenagers now and who are mostly independent. That, in conjunction with Mr. Tucker’s retirement being on the horizon made me think of building a gaming box again.

Mr. Tucker got really excited when I said this! He, too, was happy about the prospect of gaming again!. Also, as adults who have a decent income we could also now afford two decent gaming setups. As a consummate researcher of all big purchases, he has spent time reviewing specs and adding/deleting things based on research and/or pricing and he is having a great time doing it. The current goal is to buy the components and build the boxes around November (we still need to save a bit).

What’s hilarious is that every game I have wanted to play in the past 16 years I have stored in my head “for later.” When I mention them to Mr. Tucker they are always SO CHEAP (because they are old, like me). So I am looking forward to replacing my current social media scrolling with gaming. I don’t spend a ton of time on social media anymore but it’s going to be great to revisit some old favourites and discover some new ones!

So I have that to look forward to this by the end of the year, which is super exciting! So while that is one thing, this spring’s nostalgia got me thinking about the things I loved about being young and having more time than money. So now that I am old and have time AND money, can I get back to that feeling I had in my youth? (link updated Friday, August 11 – LIES! I posted on Sunday the 13th). Is it possible to go back in time and have the things you loved back then AND the things you love now?

“It was the 90’s!”* OR: On nostalgia (1 of 3)

“It was the 90’s!”* OR: On nostalgia (1 of 3)

Watch out, sweet thing, a change in the weather is all that you bring
Love Spit Love

Because I have a case of the olds now, I tend to have a LOT of past to look back on. Mr. Tucker and I often reminisce about how we were young and (very) poor but despite it all, we did manage to have a good time when we were younger. A lot of it centred around friends and hanging out because that’s all we could really afford.

There were a lot of late nights with friends, drinking coffee at people’s houses, staying up all night playing games, listening to music, making music or painting, watching movies and a lot of walking and biking (we couldn’t afford bus fare). We’d go to bars and coffeehouses with change in our pockets and buy the one drink we could afford, and nothing else.

The one thing that separated me from many other people though (including Mr. Tucker) was that I was an early adopter of technology. I didn’t come by it honestly, instead I just happened to know a LOT of geeks and by virtue of knowing them, I had my first Freenet account when they were still in the B’s. I still remember when there was a magazine called MONITOR that listed all of the BBS’s in the area (of which my friends ran quite a few) as well as tech news and computer ads. At the risk of sounding misty-eyed, we were all super hopeful about how technology had the opportunity to bring the world together and how it could level the playing field for everyone to communicate.

Online you could speak to people from all over the world via IRC and usenet. I loved every moment of it and delved deep into niche communities of varying interests. I did often just stay close to home though, making friends on the Freenet IRC and staying up all night to chat with them**. We often found ourselves deciding to hop in our cars at 2am and we’d hit the 24-hour Perkins in the east end where we would drink coffee and smoke cigarettes until dawn. Those were some of my favourite years and I am still close friends with some of those people to this day.

I feel like every generation has a time that they are nostalgic for. A time where things seemed simpler, where you felt more connected with friends, before the demands of life got in the way. But of course, if we are honest with ourselves, we are only really romanticizing the good parts. I remember poverty being an absolute shackle, keeping me stressed about a series of shitty minimum wage jobs and worrying constantly about paying rent and trying to stay fed. I remember the relentless calls of the bill collectors and the awful way they would make you feel so small. It was frustrating to be bone tired and still not have money to do things. There were some genuinely horrible moments where I felt so stuck that I could barely breathe.

Strangely, my salvation came from an unlikely place: a book of the month club. Like it’s more famous cousin, Columbia House (full disclosure, I also had CH!) was for music, BOTMC was for books (obvz). The premise of all these club was the same: get X amount of products for a Y amount of money and then promise to buy Z amount of products at the regular price. For those of you young enough not to know, these companies practiced what is known as negative option billing. That means if you didn’t send in a postcard saying you didn’t want that month’s selection, you got sent the selection and were billed for it (usually, at a higher price than retail). Being young and stupid, I regularly did not send in the cards and I ended up with a lot of books I wouldn’t have chosen otherwise. One of those books was The Tightwad Gazette II. It changed my life.

Arguably, the TWGII is the least interesting of the three TWGs but it opened my mind to this radical idea: you could reduce your expenses by making better choices and end up with the same lifestyle for less money. Cooking at home was cheaper than eating out. You could save on your energy bills. You could buy everything you needed on the secondhand market. I know this all sounds low stakes in 2023 where every second personal finance blog extols the virtues of frugality but to 18-year-old me in the early 90s, it was a revelation. When I finally got to TWG III I discovered Your Money or Your Life in an article and my life has not been the same since.

Clearly, we know how this story ends: I retired at 42 with a disability pension. We recently paid off our house, the kids are thriving, and shortly Mr. Tucker will hopefully be retired as well.

But this means that it is also the start of a new story, which we will start with a wee bit of a segue… in the next post, to be released on Wednesday, August 9th.

*with apologies to Kevin J Thornton
** Freenet had this thing where it eventually moved to only giving you 2 hours a day in 1 hour increments – and then it would kick you off and you would have to call back. It had become so popular that in order to balance the load, you could only have unlimited time between 11pm and 7am so we all hopped on during the unlimited time.