“I -The End of the World” It is 5:30 in the morning, the month is March, and for the life of me, my alarm refuses to let up. Normally in a case like this I would say something along the lines of it ‘lacking discipline’ but there was an exception this time around.
The alarm this morning was my cue to remind myself that I needed to be at work in about half an hour. I could hardly believe that time was going by so fast and even though I believe I work very well under pressure, something about heading to work late again probably wouldn’t be in my best interest.
Now that I think about it, I invested a lot of myself into this project, RICKisBOSS.com, but it would only be a matter of time before I would question if it was even worth it. Before I get into that, it would only make sense to take it back to where it all started.
It was a late evening on Thursday, March 10th, 19—”
Well, maybe not that far back…
For many years now, I’ve always seen myself as a creative person. When I was younger, I remember having quite a passion for, believe it or not, making games. It started off with board games and things like that but years later, I got into developing playable titles of my own. It started off basic but as I grew older, so did my interest in more story driven projects.
The best way I could describe this process is to compare this alongside movies or TV. There are so many different factors to consider and while I wasn’t the absolute greatest at each and every aspect of production, I like to think that I had, and still have, an affinity of putting everything together.
At the risk of sounding too full of myself, the greatest skill I brought to the table with any of my projects came down to my writing ability. I felt as though all of the work that I would get positive feedback towards didn’t take a lot of effort on my part. It just feels like something that flows naturally. Sure I’ve improved considerably throughout the years, but it feels like that still holds true.
As years went on, the appeal towards working on games died down. After all, I convinced myself that there was a lot more to explore if I was to focus solely on writing, and once I did that is when things really took a turn. Still, I remembered my “roots” when it came to putting games together and began developing what would eventually be known as “Fighter’s Fever.”
As it stands, “Fighter’s Fever” is easily my greatest accomplishment to date simply because I refuse to let it go by the wayside. Throughout the years, it has grown with me and for all intents and purposes, it is an extension of myself. The irony behind this is that while it is all good and dandy to hold my work in such high acclaim, there is nothing to show for it. Literally – The characters, the setting, the emotions, the world; the world that I created was something that I had kept to myself.
Sure I always wanted to bring it out there to make a name for myself and all of that, but there was always one thing that held all of that back: myself. In life, I find that the majority of issues and problems that we claim that limit ourselves are only an obstacle if we allow them to be. I also found that in the story that is my life, I tend to play the role of my own antagonist more often than I care to admit.
But every now and then, I muster enough sense to get things going. I decided turning “Fighter’s Fever” into a reality would take a lot more work than what I’ve been doing when I was younger. I also realized that it was up to me to really get myself in the mix, and that life was far from a game. The leap from “Fighter’s Fever” to what would eventually become RICKisBOSS.com was quite simple.
I figured that writing was my thing. I know, I know: “Cool story, Bro”. But then, I realized that writing was easily my greatest form of communication. From there, I decided to have my work in a place where people could see where I am coming from, and where I would like to go in the future. Are you starting to see the gears turning here? Well, the plan was to eventually do this until I was in a place professionally and financially where I could share my ideas with the world.
Wait, no…I’m selling myself short here. They were more along the lines of dreams than they were ideas. So there I was: Just a young man with no more than a dream who felt as though if others could do it, then I could as well. And even if others had not done it in the past, then it would be all the more reason for me to go out there and do it myself. As things would turn out, I would come to find out that things don’t always go in your favor, and that dreams don’t always come true.
Back in the present, I reminded myself to stay focused. Fifteen minutes had passed, and I still had to make a couple of more preparations before my day even started. As I touched on earlier, I hail from The Garden State but what was not mentioned was where I was residing at the moment: Hawaii. In normal circumstances, there is a five to six hour difference between the two states and I was looking to prepare a product that would appeal to those at home at a time that was more convenient for them. Citing information I posted on the site:
“While officially launched in March 2012, RICKisBOSS.com is a project that has been a long, long time in the making.”
What to make of that is basically a summary of what I mentioned earlier. In recent years, I began networking to pull in all of the different people and resources that would help get the project up and running. Sure there was feedback here and there but save for a few people when it came down to it, the only person I could truly depend on was and is myself. Not to come off as resentful or anything, but that is just the way things turned out.
There were a couple of things lined up for the launch, and at this point I was all about just putting the finishing touches on the initial entries. While this was going on, a couple of questions came to mind. I brushed them off as the byproduct of being anxious to see how things were going but it was only a matter before time before I had to answer the questions head-on.
For the sake of getting the point across, I’m going to reveal the questions how they literally turned out, so here’s to just an idea to see what was going on through my mind at the time:
Why are you doing this? What is the point of doing this? Are you doing this for the people or for yourself? Will it make you happy?
It is not so much that is where it ended, but more because I didn’t know how to honestly answer that. For the longest time, I felt that I would find gratification through helping others. But was this really going to help others? Was this even going to help myself? Was any of this going to make me “happy?”
Before going too deep, I pushed those questions aside to focus on the task at hand. It was cutting closer to 6AM by the minute and after a last look through of things, I decided it was time to make things happen. The initial post was organized pretty well. The “backdrop” was “The Genesis” off of Nas’ Illmatic album. While simple, that alone touched on a couple of things. At first, “The Genesis” stands as one of my favorite albums of all time. Ten tracks of raw, unfiltered hip-hop at its prime which, in my opinion, is one of the few albums that actually deserve to be called a “classic.”
That and Nas is among the many nicknames that I’ve acquired over the years, and one of the few that I have actually embraced since it is a play on my last name. Last but not least, “The Genesis” portion is kind of self-explanatory. It was the beginning of something big in my world. The message was pretty straight forward, but recognizable all the same. The only thing left to do then was to sit back and watch how things would unfold which was easier said than done.
After all, this is something I’ve been very passionate about and now that there was no turning back, all I could do was think about was how well this project would be received. To me, it was more than just a website. It was the first step towards turning my dreams into a reality and ironically, being at the mercy of my very own creation was of my own doing.
Once the day started, I was feeling a couple of different ways at the same time. Anxious, excited, and optimistic, to name a few and for the record, I believe that the initial launch was a success. Moderate, but a success nonetheless. People were buzzing about it here and there, and I even came to realize that my website was being shared among others at a pretty impressive rate. I was humbled, and I really started to believe that things would be in my favor.
But the one question from earlier kept on ringing in my head: Would this make me happy? I tried convincing myself that I would come to find that answer in time, but the keyword in that process is the word “tried.” There are times when I am a lot smarter than I give myself credit for. Thinking I could brush aside a question that I really should’ve focused on before going off into other things was among the first mistake among many that would eventually lead me to an answer—whether I liked what that answer would turn out to be or not.
“II -The End of the World, Pt.II” If you are still reading, I hope you like what you’ve seen so far. Looking back, I mentioned something along the lines of writing being one of my strong points. So I figured if you are still reading, then it is probably a good thing. This was what I was always going for: For people to understand where I am coming from.
A website looked like the best platform to do that off of given where I was at the time. Ideas like a podcast and videos have always been in mind, but the written word has always been my weapon of choice. Well, technically things are being typed out, but you get what I mean.
Of course I had content lined up for the website, but I didn’t want to flood too much at once because that would offset the consistency I was going for. Initially, I wanted to release major entries on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays allowing myself time to work on things on the days in-between as well as give myself another reason to value the weekends. Of course, this was a lot easier said than done because when it came to putting things into practice, I had to learn to be flexible.
The fact that the website was launched on March was no coincidence. I wanted it to coincide on my birth-month for couple of reasons and one of them was namely to have a special feature on my birthday, March 10th. Going into this, I was wishfully thinking that everyone and their mom would be supporting the website with comments, feedback, and all of that jazz but I was also realistic enough to know that things would take time.
I knew that I had to put together content that would allow people to provide said comments and feedback and for those people to eventually come to find themselves as fans of my work. Yeah, that sounds about right. As the days pressed on, I saw myself devoting even more of myself into the project. I wasn’t seeing the feedback that I had expected, and I saw it as something that I was doing wrong.
After all, if I was giving my all towards the project and I wasn’t getting the response that I expected, then maybe my all just wasn’t enough. Whether or not pride was the major factor in all of this, I’m sure it played a big part in it all. When it came to the website, it crossed the line of dedication and became more of an obsession than anything else.
A saw this as a challenge to really show what I was all about. I told myself that if this would only build experience for myself so that when the time came for “Fighter’s Fever” to manifest itself, I would be better prepared. In the meantime, I focused more and more on the present. I remember working hard on what would be the biggest feature of the site at the time—“Not For Play.”
It was huge: two album reviews, two RICKonBLOG entries, and an interview adding up to an unprecedented five entry line up for one day. Even to this day, I am impressed with that I had put together but for who? That goddamn question just refused to get out of my head, and it seemed as though the more I tried to bypass it, the more it felt the need to be answered.
I felt as though “Not For Play” would be the very answer I was looking for. After all, I was convinced myself that hard work was what would bring the response I was looking for; the response that I wanted and I put so much into making sure that things would go the way they were supposed to. I even remember putting pressure on some of the few that were actually supporting me along the way: I was putting pressure on them to put the word out, to offer constructive criticism, etc.
But looking back, they weren’t the ones that my actions were geared towards: I was the one who I was really trying to reach and at that point, there was something wrong with that picture as I was getting closer to the answer that I was looking for. Maybe it had nothing to do with the website or “Fighter’s Fever” or anything like that. But what would it have to do with—
…There was no time to go back and forth with myself. My focus was a lot like how things were when the site was initially launched. It felt as though things were in “make or break” mode and I was under the impression that this was a gamble in my favor. I was able to setup a lot of the material that would be used for “Not For Play” and it was around that time that I really felt myself completely focused on the website.
Things like friends, family, and work were definitely re-prioritized in favor of where my mind was at the time. I told myself that as long as I established a solid foundation for the website, everything would eventually fall in place. The strange part about that logic was that this website really changed the balance of things without me really noticing until later on, but I took that as a sign of progression. After all, I was looking to make changes and the difference in my outlook of things would be no different.
How “Not For Play” finished itself is kind of a blur to me. After a while, things just kind of worked itself out and I remember being in the same place that I was when launching the site in the first place. Though it felt as if there was a lot more pressure this time around. After all, you can only get one shot at a first impression and from there, there is no turning back—or so I thought.
For the record, I liked “Not For Play.” Compared to the beginning stages of the website, this had a lot more going for it. A more mature and slightly aggressive tone was what I was going for with that product. At the same time, I think what I was really pushing for was an air of confidence to show that I was in control of where I was with the website and where I planned on taking it in the future.
The day finally came and in a twist of fate, I saw it more as a day revolving around the site than, true enough, my actual birthday. It was almost as if this website had taken priority over my very own self. It was a pretty unsettling revelation to even think about but at that point, I didn’t even care. I was determined to finish what I had set out to do and nothing was going to stop me from doing that. As things turned out, the response was hardly what I thought I was entitled to.
I wasn’t mad, that would be an understatement: I was angry. I was angry with everything and everyone. After everything. and I mean everything that I put into this project, after all of that, I felt as though it was all for nothing. Frustration showed itself as things started to settle in. I remember thinking to myself later that night and the only thoughts that came to mind where along the lines of:
“…Well if they don’t like what I have to say, then that’s just fine. I don’t care about site. I don’t care anyone. I don’t care anything.”
I’m not sure what that was…It was more than just a rant, that much I’m sure. It had an instinctive feel to it, as if a raw nerve had been hit. Something told me that it had a lot more to deal with than just a website. At that point, I didn’t want to bother with things anymore. I put as much as I could and I was just tired with it all. I just didn’t care anymore.
“III -Walked Away” Some time passed, a month actually, and I remember feeling a bit relieved. Ironically, I was doing a lot better at work and I really saw myself content with just focusing on my day-to-day tasks. The best way to go about comparing this would be when Superman intentionally lost his powers in “Superman II.” A bit different at first, but it really felt good being able to breathe again.
But something was leaving me a bit uneasy. As much as I tried to leave RICKisBOSS behind me, there were constant reminders. It may sound funny, but it was almost as if I was haunting myself. I would see remnants of my writing in my work and when keeping in touch between friends and family, the inevitable question would be asked:
“What happened to the site?“
But the question could just be easily taken as:
“What happened to you?“
After all, RICKisBOSS had eventually become extension of myself, my thoughts, and my work. But going back to what I brought up earlier, while I can make comparisons to what was going on, I have to make it clear that I’m no Superman; I am just me. And while the ending of “Superman II” proved to be a happy one, there was no guarantee the same would be the same for me. After all, there was no way for me to tell because I choose to walk away.
“IV -Time Passes” Even more time passed. It was now July and at this point, I was well into my first deployment. I left Hawaii late May/early June for Sicily and it felt a lot like when I first got to Hawaii: I felt a little bit excited, and a little bit anxious but all in all, I was looking forward to a change of scenery. Through my experiences, I know that it can be either hit or miss when it comes to situations like this but I was willing to take my chances this time around.
Deployment was more or less the same thing in a different time zone. As far as work was concerned, it was a lot like when I first started out in Hawaii. I had a lot of expectations for myself, and I was looking forward to doing a lot more. This was first time in Europe and there were a ton of things I wanted to invest in, but for what?
Well to start things off, my laptop up and crashed on me so I lost a lot of files, including files relating to RICKisBOSS. At first it didn’t sit well with me, but I reminded myself I wasn’t doing anything with the website anyway so it really didn’t make much of a difference. What I was really focusing on was the fact that I promised quite a few people before I left that I would send them photos, souvenirs, and the whole nine and while I didn’t intentionally blow them off, my time-management skills have proven to be abysmal at best. Then again, it seems as though I’m no stranger to dropping the ball when it came to holding my word this past year.
Eventually I picked up my first true investment on deployment: a digital camera affectionately referred to as “Kitty.” At first the plan was to name it “[Special Beam] CANON” as a play on words, but seeing how the stray cats that resided in my area made for excellent models (so long as I provided them with companionship and tuna), it only made sense for me to name the camera as a ode to the foreign, furry allies that I met along the way.
But just as soon as I was getting accustomed to Sicily, I caught word that I was going to Djibouti which is located in none other than Africa. What would I learn anything while in Motherland? While it may seem as though there was a specific reason behind the people and places I would come to see, only time would tell.
“V–How Would It Be Any Different?” For the following months, the energetic fanfare that was the Djiboutian national anthem served as my alarm clock. Djibouti, as well as Africa as a whole, was an experience like no other. Even though I spent the majority of my time on a joint military base, I had the opportunity to meet and speak with the local Djiboutians on a regular basis and if anything, I was taught invaluable lessons in humility.
It is so easy for us to act as if life is so harsh but seeing and speaking to people who really know unforgiving life could be, it made things seem nothing but petty in comparison. After literally seeing people starving in Africa, the thought of when I would casually make a mention of how hungry I was made me feel so selfish. The times when I would complain about how much I didn’t have, only to realize that something as simple as a bottle of Gatorade or pocket change would be enough for grown adults beg and plead for was really something to wrap my head around.
Truth be told, just the thought of what was going on didn’t sit very well with me. Well the fact that I was hit with a unrelenting stomach virus within days of me getting to Djibouti had something to do with it, but that’s besides the point. The point is that traveling the way I did opened my eyes to fact it really is a big world out there. There was so much I was learning about the world as well as myself, and there was so much I wanted to share with others. The obvious way of doing this would be to the expected and to relaunch RICKisBOSS but then I faced with one simple question:
How Would It Be Any Different?
It seemed as though that question was the only thing keeping me from kicking things off again. At the same time, it was too big of a question to be ignored. I mean I could easily throw a couple photos up, paint a couple of pictures as far as what was going on with me lately, but then what? How long would that be good for? The things that I was most passionate about when it came to RICKisBOSS came down to quality and consistency. I felt as though while what I had in mind definitely stood it’s ground as far as quality is concerned, it was severely lacking when it came to consistency.
I ultimately came to the decision to be patient and really think out what I wanted to do, but RICKisBOSS was the only thing on my mind. I knew that by doing this, I would grow to appreciate what the website meant to me: When it all comes down to it, everyone wants to be heard and understood. RICKisBOSS was my way of doing just that. Beyond potential projects, Fighter’s Fever, or writing in general, I just wanted the chance to do what I wanted. That, my friends, is what makes me happy.
It took some time, but I was finally able to answer the question that I posed to myself months back. Still, I decided that if I really, and I mean really wanted to get things going, then I would have to approach things completely differently than I had done in the past. I had to be doing it for myself, and things would eventually come to fall in place.
“VI – Following My Own Advice” At this point it was October and just as soon as I was getting used to Djibouti, it was time for me to head back to Sicily. Talk about the story of my life. Anyway, I came back with a completely different outlook on things. The time I spent in Africa was probably the best thing I had come in my way for some time…save for the whole stomach virus thing. One thing I took in particular was a conversation I had not too long before I left. The fact that the person I spoke to came a long a way in his life was inspiring in it of itself, but there was one thing in particular that stuck with me when it came to his story.
He didn’t reach his goals by hoping for the best, nor did he didn’t reach his goals expecting a hand-out. He reached his goals by simply, as he put it, “Getting up and doing something.” As life would have it, hearing the words from a complete stranger, who is from a completely different world from my self, was all too familiar. His outlook was at one point common knowledge to me, and it was high time that I followed my own advice.
Before I left Africa, I did a couple of rounds to pick up souvenirs. While the items I picked up for others were good in their own right, the gem that I picked up for myself stood out by leaps and bounds: a black composition notebook. It was a simple, yet a efficient way to get back to my roots. Before I knew it, the ideas were flowing through my notes and it was an exciting, albeit familiar feeling. As a matter of fact, the words you are currently reading were drafted in those very pages.
The time felt right, and it went way beyond following my own advice. No, this time around it was all about doing something I’ve always knew I had to do but was always all too hesitant in going ahead with. It was time, my time, to get up and do something. With nothing, namely myself, holding me back from taking the steps forward, it was time to tell the world how I felt out loud.
“VII -Brave New World (Move With Confidence)”
One of the first things I did when looking back through the website was going through my work through a completely different outlook of things and I couldn’t help but asking:
“…Just what in the hell was I doing here?”
I mean don’t get me wrong; I distinctly remember each and every entry that I put together, and I am not in any way distancing myself from what I’ve done in the past. It’s just that, I don’t know, it seems like I’ve matured a lot in such a short period of time. I see that raw inspiration in the words that I shared with others and for that very reason, I decided to preserve the previous entries for what they were.
That way, they continue to serve as a testament as to where I came from and where I was heading. Interestingly enough, I was able to find a balance between my day to day activities as well as as my passion for writing well into November. From there, there was a noticeable, positive difference in my actions. While people couldn’t quite understand those changes, I know full and well it was all a part of me taking the necessary to steps to move forward with myself.
It was nearing the time to head home from deployment, and for things to go back to the way they were: for things to be “normal.” Personally, I think “normal” is painfully overrated; I’m all about being progressive. Between Sicily, Djibouti, and back, I had all of the motivation I needed to go about things completely differently. With the end of the year and the supposed End of the World on the horizon, it only made sense to make a truce to myself.
…Okay, I literally didn’t make a truce but it seemed like a good enough way to lead into the conclusion of this chapter in my life.
“Why We Fall” …And here I am: A little under one year later. It’s a quiet Friday evening and I see myself putting the final touches on “Why We Fall.” Now that I mention it, I never got around to explaining the meaning behind the title. While it wasn’t too obvious on RICKisBOSS, I’ve turned out to be quite a promising fan of Batman, The Dark Knight. I could never put a finger on it, but he has always been my favorite character to follow growing up. Something about him stood out from the heroes that I would come to learn about.
There was a lot I saw in myself when it came to the character and while that is a story for another day, I’m going to bring it back to a very simple philosophy that was am element in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises.” It reminded of something that was introduced in “Batman Begins,” the mantra that was raised to the eponymous character was this:
“Why do we fall? So we might learn to pick ourselves up.”
That can be taken in many different ways. I could do the obvious and question what is considered a fall. When did it happen? Did it happen more than once? How does a fall effect myself and those around me? This could easily be done from many different angles, but I decided to look beyond that, which in turn would mean looking beyond the past and look and where I’ve gone since then.
Honestly, I don’t know what will be going on with RICKisBOSS, Fighter’s Fever, or anything else for that matter. What I do know, however, is doing things just for the sake of wanting to works just fine for me. That and if this extension of myself reached anyone, anyone at all, that’s fine with me as well. I know this wasn’t a short read but to those who actually read this out, thanks for your time.