It's about three weeks ago. I'm driving to work. I've slept like shit all week. I've got about 30 miles to go, it's cold outside by North Carolina standards, it's cloudy, and it's waaaaaaaaaaaay too early. I'm tired, I'm worn out from stress at work, and I'm in that wonderful half-awake half-asleep state that you don't wanna be driving in. I drift off to sleep for like ten seconds before snapping back awake. In that ten seconds, my car's drifted off to the left a little bit. I'm in the middle of the road and there's a school bus ten feet away too close too close no time can't turn oh my god-
It's 2005. I'm working in a Jewish bakery in upstate New York, selling challah, coffee and bagels to Hasidim on their way up to Sullivan County. And my boss, a retired elementary school teacher, thinks he's figured me out. "Wow... seems to me you're really a lost soul. So tell me, what do you want to do?" I hate that question more than I can put into words. I'm 20, for God's sake. Who really knows what they wanna do when they're 20? I thought I wanted to be a programmer, but holy crap Comp Sci sucked. I could barely give a damn, and ended up failing out. So now I dunno. I'm living with a couple friends, and we spend all our money on Chinese food and video games. I obviously don't feel like facing that question. I dismiss it, say something about how I want to find the answer to that question. Great answer, right? Non-committal, but sounds deeper than it is. It's enough to dismiss his question. I get fired a couple days later for showing up three hours late. I never speak to him again, but the conversation seems to stick in my head for years to come.
It's two weeks ago. I'm standing in front of my truck, and my heart is pounding. I can still hear the crunch of metal, the song that was playing when it all happened, (The Heavy - Short Change Hero) and the destroyed front wheel grinding across the asphalt. It's a week later, and I'm still there. I can shake anything off, and I can't shake one word: If. If I hadn't stayed up late playing Borderlands, this wouldn't have happened. If there had been kids on the bus, I'd be in jail. If I'd been going a bit faster, somebody would have been hurt. If it had been five degrees warmer, I would have had my arm hanging out the window, and that would have been... unpleasant. If I'd woke up a second later, I wouldn't have swerved back to the right in time, and the bus would have hit me head-on and I would be a pink smear. I'm emptying my stuff out of the remnants of the truck, and I'm realizing that by all logical measurements, I'm a dead man given a second shot at life. What now?
It's 2007. One of my old tae kwon do buddies invites me over to watch this UFC stuff. I guess it's like boxing but in a cage with like choking dudes or something? Whatever, if it's cool, great, if it sucks her kid is playing Guitar Hero and I can always join in on that. Most of the card is kinda meh. Underwhelming sloppy kickboxing, and shirtless dudes doing what looks like some really rough foreplay. Meh. Guitar Hero time. And then it happens. Some lanky-ass Brazillian dude I've never heard of. Anderson Silvo or something like that. Just demolishes a dude. I've never seen anything like it. It's art. It's ballet. It's a performance piece. It's a public execution. It's horrible to watch and yet I'm grinning like an idiot. This Franklin dude's talented, that much is clear. But the Brazillian? I've never seen anything like him. It's amazing. Why have I never heard of this dude before? It doesn't matter. I'm hooked. I'll never miss another UFC night the rest of the time I'm in New York.
Friday night. Girlfriend and I are lying in bed, watching Patricky Freire get separated from consciousness by Eddie Alvarez on her laptop. She's a casual fan. Not a big fan, but she's got that streak of bloodlust that seems to be a prerequisite for MMA fandom. She's a bit curious about how obsessed I am with this stuff. I explain how I just went from indifferent to obsessed overnight. I tell her about how I captain a team for picking fights online. She makes fun of me for managing to make two dudes beating each other up into a nerdy thing. I laugh, explain how I get like that about damn near anything I'm interested in, at the same time knowing that this is different. I never actually say it, but the thought just dances through my head, as plain and obvious as "steak is delicious" or "Mark Sanchez is an awful quarterback" and I know, suddenly, clearly: This is what I want to do.
Once upon a time, BE expat Mike Fagan had a second site he ran, sackmikegoldberg.com. He never did much with it, and eventually asked for contributors. For reasons beyond me, he thought I would be a good choice. It was a fucking disaster. I wasn't focused, I hardly ever wrote, and the site is dead. But damn, was it ever fun.
Thanks for reading this wall of text. I'm sorry it wasn't my usual incomprehensible vulgar ramblings. But I'm trying to change. I'm trying to do something different. More focused. More serious. Do something worth a damn. Write about MMA. Say something intelligent, say something relevant. I mean, hell, if there's multiple sites out there stupid enough to employ Matt Roth...
So this is where you come in. Obviously, I need to swear less, and ideally not get banned for any BECW-related shenanigans. Obviously, I need to write consistently. But for those of you who already did what I'm trying to do, and those who are trying right now, any tips? Any pointers? Looking at you, Lesser Hall and Greater Hall. Looking at you, Burke. Help a nerd out.