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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Separate Peaces (A Long-Winded Landmark)

   
Author Topic: Separate Peaces (A Long-Winded Landmark)
SteveRogers
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When I was 14 years old, I was in seventh grade, and I was, like most young men at that age, filled with the angst and drama which only people of that age in that singular moment of time seem capable of truly understanding. I was an all A student, but I read comic books and listened to weird music. While my contemporaries were listening to rap, I was listening to The Who, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and punk bands like Bad Brains and the like. Needless to say, I was the stereotypical junior high “nerd.” I had few friends during this period of time when popularity was ultimately determined by the type of clothes one’s parents could afford to buy them. While my contemporaries were wearing Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch, I was wearing clothes from Old Navy or JcPenney. Not top of the line but not quite bottom of the barrel brand clothes.

It was during this tender period of youthful development I first encountered the work of Orson Scott Card. Based on the recommendation of a family friend, I purchased a copy of Ender's Game as well as a copy of the book Martyn Pig, which I never actually read. I quickly devoured the former and dove whole-heartedly into the rest of the series. Around this time, technology became much more readily available to me, and I joined the other forum on this site Virtual Battle School.

My stay as a member there was eventful, much as my introduction to this forum. I posted within the rules of the online post-based fanfic/RPG community, but I stretched them in ways which were hostile to other members (even to the point the member-written guide to the forum was revised to formally make some of my writing decisions illegal in future incarnations).

A few months later, my early experiences after joining this site began very similarly. To the hormone-ridden mind which I possessed at the time, I felt I wouldn’t be accepted into the community if it were common knowledge I was a middle school student who played by the rules at home, so I fabricated much of the information contained in my early posts and, as a result, alienated many of the users who would have been otherwise very accepting of a new, eager member of their community. As teenagers are wont to do, I was hostile to any rebukes about my behavior and often times reacted as a child. Which, in my defense, I was.

Fortunately, I was able to foster friendships with some of the other members despite my rocky start and didn’t give up on the Hatrack community. For years, the poster Raia and I e-mailed back and forth on a very regular basis, and, though we haven’t done so for quite some time, I counted her as one of my closest friends. A friendship which began as my overly naïve desire to attempt to learn to speak Hebrew from an online resource at the suggestion of another member of Hatrack; unsurprisingly, this endeavor remains incomplete, and I’m no more fluent in Hebrew than I am in any of the numerous languages created by J.R.R. Tolkien for his denizens of Middle Earth.

At some point, the member ElJay devised a formal test for me to achieve “jatraquero” status while I was still relatively new to the community. Though I’m not sure I really deserve that title even now, I can honestly say that I feel I have a greater understanding of what the idea might mean.

I never posted prolifically with much substance. In retrospect, I would compare my presence on the forum, within my own head, to the character Shannon on the television program LOST. My serious contributions to the forum were so minimal it was barely necessary to keep me around, but I continued to post because I valued something within the community which would constitute warmth and welcoming in real life interactions. Though Hatrack has and always will have its fair share of crackpots, crazies, and the like, no one on the site ever seemed to actively discourage these people from having a place to discuss culture, politics, or the works of Orson Scott Card (which brought most of us here).

When I look back at posts I made during my early adventures on Hatrack, I am ashamed of my inability to properly express ideas without resulting to excessive use of ellipses. I am ashamed of the nature of many of my posts. And I am especially ashamed of the lies with which I began my career here. But I have never regretted being a part of this community. As the years went by, I posted less and less, and many of the people with which I had built the strongest relationships have moved onto bigger and better lives or forums; one of my dearest Hatrack friends, Tante Shvester, still posts on GalacticCactus. Our communication broke down at some point on Hatrack, and I haven’t really talked to her in years.

In the intervening years between when I first joined this site and now (when I would say my posting has begun to pick up some again), the journey of life has matured me quite a bit. I graduated from high school. My grandparents both passed away due to long battles with cancer. Saying goodbye to my grandmother is one of my saddest and best memories, and I doubt I will ever forget it. I made the conscious decision during high school and again when I began college to abstain from alcohol, and I feel this decision has been one of the more important ones I’ve made. I’ve worked a number of jobs. I worked at Wal-Mart. I worked at a bank for two years. I worked at a fast food restaurant for two years; it was Lion's Choice, one of Missouri’s better kept fast food secrets. And I just recently began employment again with the bank I worked at before.

During those years, I often filled in at my church as the preacher. I led the congregation in the liturgy and wrote my own sermons based on the Gospel reading for those Sundays. My sermons were so praised that many of the members practically informed me I was required to become a preacher and return to preach there. Though I still value a relationship with my personal idea of God, I don’t intend to become a preacher. It was never my spiritual path. I played bass guitar for all too brief a time in a Christian punk rock band. We recorded a single EP but had to break up due to member turnover before we could pay to have the songs mastered by a producer. If nothing else, I felt cool for the few weeks I got to tell people, “Hey, man, I can’t hang out tonight. I got to hit the studio later.”

For two years, I attended East Central College and graduated with High Honors with an Associate’s of Arts in General Studies because I hadn’t yet decided what to be when I grow up; though I don’t think I’ve made much more progress in making that decision, I’m currently in my second semester as a psychology major at Missouri University of Science and Technology. I’ve studied enough French and Spanish to know I want little to do with the languages in the future despite my more educated conscious arguing I should be more dedicated to their study. I’ve found a home in the minority psychology department at a school best known for its engineering program and the dangerous St. Patrick’s Day partying which occurs in town.

To the extreme satisfaction of the angst-ridden, lonely teenager I was when I first joined this site, I’ve been in a happy, healthy relationship for over three years now with the girl of my dreams. She’s a history major at my school, and she’s so delightfully nerdy I can never stop smiling. We’re currently living together and attending school; though, I split my time between school and working at the bank. We don’t know what the future holds for us, but it doesn’t scare us. I’ve never been happier in my life.

For a time, I lurked on this site more than I posted. I posted a single time during the year 2010, but I still checked the website at least once a day. And even when I posted, for a while, I just became the member who jokingly offered virtual chili chees fries to new members on the site. Hatrack has been a presence in my life during the joys and pains. When my grandfather and grandmother passed away, I turned to Hatrack to give me news of the rest of the world to distract myself intellectually from my emotional distress. When I was accepted to Westminster College and ultimately decided I couldn’t afford to go there, I turned to Hatrack. When I began moved away from home permanently for the first time, I turned to Hatrack. In the future when I need to determine whether or not to attend graduate school, I will likely turn to Hatrack. On some level, I will always need this community.

I’ve preached love and compassion to a church filled with people I know were struggling with it in their personal lives. I’ve held the hands of dying relatives. I’ve fallen in love. I’ve written music. I’ve graduated high school. I’ve begun college. I’ve struggled with doubt and accused myself of somehow “growing up” (whatever that accursed phrase even means).

Years from now, I’ll read this, and I’ll hate it. But this time capsule of words is my way to express a degree of thanks to this community as an idea as well as to say goodbye to the person/people I used to be until I desperately need their advice again during some dire personal emergency.

I don’t know if there’s still an audience for landmarks in this community, and I don’t know how many of the people who regularly post here will remember me well enough to care much about what I say. But one of my favorite television shows How I Met Your Mother has an episode in which the protagonist shares his philosophy that every few years or so we’re all doomed to look back at the person we were a few years ago and wonder how we could be such a colossal, to be frank, jackass. When I look back on posts I made years ago, it’s as if I’m looking upon words written by an entirely different person who lacked either the experience or the aplomb to behave like a decent human being. Like I had at some point split off as a separate piece of that individual and continued to exist in some newly formed universe.

I’ve been here almost ten years now. Hatrack has been one of my homes throughout junior high, high school, and now college. So, some of you have seen at least three different jackasses claiming to be me. I apologize for any offense caused by my words or actions over the years, and I’d like to apologize for the jackass typing this now and any damage he/I may be currently doing without the self-awareness to moderate it.

But the one thing I will never do is apologize for my time here.

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BlackBlade
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Thanks for the landmark Steve. It was a very enjoyable read. Would that more people would take the plunge in writing one.
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SteveRogers
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Thank you, BlackBlade. [Smile] It's been something I've been thinking about doing for awhile, but my activity on the site had been so limited up until recently that I was unsure if there would be much of a response.

I still aspire to find my place in this community. [Smile]

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by SteveRogers:
I don’t know if there’s still an audience for landmarks in this community, and I don’t know how many of the people who regularly post here will remember me well enough to care much about what I say.

I hope the first is always true, and the second certainly is, at least for me.

Thank you for sharing your journey with us. [Smile]

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Sala
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I don't post here regularly, and I've lurked about ten years longer than I've been a member, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading your landmark. It has been interesting to watch the evolution of various folks here on the forum, and you're one of the one's I've watched. I'll echo rivka, thanks for sharing your journey with us.
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SteveRogers
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Though I don't know many of you personally, you've all seen me at my best and my worst and everywhere in between. And my best here has never really been all that stellar. But I've always valued the people here. [Smile]
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CT
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quote:
Originally posted by SteveRogers:
Years from now, I’ll read this, and I’ll hate it.

I don't think you will. [Smile]

Thanks.

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Lyrhawn
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As fine a landmark as any I've seen. Sounds like you've led a rather interesting life, and still have so much life ahead of you!

And I echo Blackblade in saying thanks for taking the plunge. Landmarks always seem to force a measure of introspection and analysis on ourselves that isn't always easy or pleasant. Thanks for taking the time to do it, and having the fearlessness to put yourself out there.

I'll also add that I don't share your somewhat negative self-perception of yourself as a poster. I've always held you in high regard. And I sympathize with not knowing quite how you fit into the Hatrack puzzle, but rest assured that you've definitely created a space for yourself in the community.

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SteveRogers
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Maybe I should add our collaboration on a work of fiction as a noteworthy event. [Big Grin]
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AchillesHeel
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Thanks for sharing with us Steve! I can relate to being too young to hold your own on Hatrack and not knowing it. And I'll echo Lyr's comment as well, I have never thought lowly of your posts.

In fact, I'm really fascinated by Lyr's comparison of Hatrack being a puzzle. Mostly because we have lost so many of the pieces over the years, but I like to think that the corner and edge pieces are still sitting in their special pile while we persnicker over what brown pieces are hats and which are the hat rack.

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T:man
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Thank you, that was a great read.

I joined Hatrack when I was 14 as well, and looking back on a lot of my older posts I cringe.

I hope you keep being a presence, your posts are always great. (At least the ones I remember in my short time here)

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Stephan
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Thank you for sharing that Steve. You actually got me thinking how much I have changed in just the past 6 years since my 1,000 post landmark. I might be posting something soon.
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Samprimary
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quote:
I posted within the rules of the online post-based fanfic/RPG community, but I stretched them in ways which were hostile to other members (even to the point the member-written guide to the forum was revised to formally make some of my writing decisions illegal in future incarnations).
The SteveRogers adjunct godmoding rule change
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MrSquicky
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Steve,
I was one of the primary people who called you out back in the day. I've long been impressed with how much you've grown from where you started from and it's gratifying to see you realize and appreciate this as well. I'm going to sort of repeat something that I told you back then, which is that no one cares about the way you used to post, now that you're posting much better. So, I hope you don't carry any guilt or other bad feelings about it.

I mostly say that because I think you're too down on your current posting. I think you've become a voice worth listening to and it'd be a shame if you thought otherwise.

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SteveRogers
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
I posted within the rules of the online post-based fanfic/RPG community, but I stretched them in ways which were hostile to other members (even to the point the member-written guide to the forum was revised to formally make some of my writing decisions illegal in future incarnations).
The SteveRogers adjunct godmoding rule change
I'm going to take this as a compliment despite the fact I'm not entirely sure what it really means. [Big Grin]


quote:
Originally posted by MrSquicky:

Steve,
I mostly say that because I think you're too down on your current posting. I think you've become a voice worth listening to and it'd be a shame if you thought otherwise.

Well, thank you. That means quite a lot to me actually. It's satisfying to know my posts carry more weight than I thought. [Smile] Though, I still feel like a primarily post in fluffier threads, but that's really been my own choice.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by MrSquicky:
I mostly say that because I think you're too down on your current posting. I think you've become a voice worth listening to and it'd be a shame if you thought otherwise.

Completely agreed.
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Dan_Frank
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I don't want your head to get too big, so I'll just be contrary and suggest that you haven't really improved that much from your original posting style.

Disclaimer: I don't actually remember your original posting style.

For external use only.

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Dan_Frank
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Perhaps a bit more seriously, this Landmark was interesting to read, and thanks for sharing it! [Smile]
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SteveRogers
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I probably could have written quite a bit more if I'd felt like it, but I didn't want it to be a hugely imposing block of text. Thank you to those of you who took the time to read it. [Smile]
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by SteveRogers:
I'm going to take this as a compliment despite the fact I'm not entirely sure what it really means. [Big Grin]

haha, it is a compliment. or maybe it's just SORT OF. Online RPGing and battleposting and all that or anything even peripherally related to the juvenile phenomenon of combatting each other by describing what your characters/teams/armies do to each other in sequence via posts are fraught with accusations of 'godmoding' and abuse, wherein someone says that someone's turn in a battle was unfair because they described themselves doing something too cool or too fast for the baseline rule of what is allowed. So whenever someone has been part of those sorts of things and has participated in a way which make other people mad about it and feel like they have to change the rules about what is too abstractly powerful in these abstract battles has Become the Godmode or sommat. An honor or an ignominy? Who knows. Don't battlegame, kids.
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pooka
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Eh, Steve!

Thanks for the landmark, and dragging my sorry burro over here for a look-see. You make me miss mafia games.

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Jon Boy
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I don't feel like I know you all that well, Steve, but I've always been happy to see you around here and at GalacticCactus.
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Kwea
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Thanks for sharing this with us, Steve. I remember you when you came to Hatrack at first, and when I compare it to how you post now I can really see a change...not just in what you are saying, but how you say it. You are a good member here, and I am glad you pulled back the curtain a bit and showed us who are are, again.

There will always be a group of us here who like Landmarks. As long as you don't post every single post as one, like some people were for a while.

[Wink]

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James Tiberius Kirk
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Thanks, Steve. It's been good to get to know you.
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SteveRogers
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I think the joy for me has been getting to know and interact with all of you. [Smile]
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twinky
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You have a cool story. I'm glad you're in a good place. [Smile]
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