On Turning 50.

Today’s the day.

Wow. I’m not sure I ever thought I’d make it this far. Half a century ago, Donna Craigmile gave birth to a bouncing baby boy ahead of schedule. Somehow I survived.

Here I am, 50 years later. I often ponder how my dad felt when he was this age. I probably should have asked him at the time. Alas, I was a rebellious teenager. Always arguing with the old man about something. I didn’t appreciate what he went through until long after his passing.

Some things haven’t changed much, oddly.

Back when I was 10, I was introduced to tabletop roleplaying games in the form of Marvel Superheroes and Dungeons & Dragons. I was totally hooked. I still am to this day. I have a lot of treasured, beloved memories of those games and many since.

Along with D&D and comic books, came my love of all things strange. I mean, I was already kind of an outcast amongst my peers in a small Iowa town. I wasn’t terribly athletic or interested in sports. (Sorry, Dad.) May as well read the National Enquirer and learn about aliens, demons, and bigfoot, right? Ah. Good times.

I think my love for Star Wars really got the whole ball rolling.

I plum lost my marbles when the original Star Wars RPG was released. That game is still like a second language to me. I’ve logged an insane number of hours creating starships, droids, races, characters, and so many other things for that one RPG.

Before roleplaying was my love of Star Wars action figures. We didn’t have tons of money back in those days, but I still managed to have a fairly okay toy collection. Spaceships and aliens were really my thing then and now. And the whole Jedi thing is cool, too. Plus Boba Fett, because back then he was a Star Wars icon.

From Star Wars fandom to RPGs, my interest in many other things blossomed. Science fiction, fantasy, and horror were my mainstream escapes growing up. Somewhere in there I also learned a little about Zen Buddhism and meditation. I also developed an interest in the paranormal and psychic phenomena.

Then college happened.

I started out as a Theatre/Speech major with a minor in Journalism/Mass Communications. Acting- Star Wars again. Journalism because I shadowed a reporter for the local newspaper when I was in Eighth Grade and thought it was pretty cool.

I bounced around majors a LOT back in those days. I had fallen in love with Sociology in college. Sociology + Theatre + Writing = RPGs. But I also tinkered with my major repeatedly and considered becoming an Alcohol/Drug Abuse counselor, a History teacher, a parapsychologist, and a Public Relations specialist. I ended going back to Journalism/Sociology. Theatre is awesome, but in the end most of us end up eloquently asking, “Do you wish to have fries with that?”

Good times were had in college.

I got to work in a game shop, Mayhem Collectibles. Truthfully one of the best times of my life. I wish I had been a better employee back in those days, but I was a dumb kid. What did I know, right? Gotta learn sometime, I guess. Thanks Rob and Dave for giving me a chance. You guys rocked!

I also discovered even more RPG experiences, and wargaming. I even did LARP for a while. I met so many awesome people and had so much fun gaming back then. It eventually led to me meeting my wife, Heather at a convention.

She came back to Ames and found me at my all time lowest some years later. She sorta rescued me and brought me to Des Moines. She divorced my former best friend. (Messy, ugly story.) We eventually started dating again and low and behold we ended up married.

About 16 years flew by after the wedding.

I’d be lying if I said I remembered all of it. I’ve had different jobs. For a while there, I ate, slept, worked, played World of Warcraft and raised babies. I love the life I have now, but there are definitely some gaps where nothing seemingly nothing happened between then and now.

About seven years ago, not long after my fourth son was born, I really got into Ufology again. That led to a major spiritual awakening. Then things got really weird.

For a brief time, I almost did the unthinkable.

Yeah. I nearly gave up on all of it. RPGs, science fiction, movies, TV, non-spiritual books, almost everything nearly went by the wayside. It really mellowed me out. I’ve learned to love the connectedness amongst us all.

I have a bit of an obsessive personality (disorder?) which led me into a deep dive down many rabbit holes. Some of those things weren’t bunnies, either. Turns out some of the stuff written in the National Enquirer back then actually had a basis in fact. Like, some of that sh*t is real!

I have to thank Dr Steven Greer for getting me interested in meditation again. That drew me further into spirituality. I’m one of those wacky “New Age” kids, I guess. I don’t do organized religion, so we have to call it something.

I also want to again thank Laura DiBenedetto for being my self-growth, self improvement seifu. I don’t know what I’d have done without her exactly. Oddly enough, my obsession with Law of Attraction led me to her. It’s all one big cycle.

I have to thank the entity known as Añjali as much as it pains me to do so. If it weren’t for the debacle caused by her sham event and false extraterrestrial contact, I might not have gotten back into RPGs at all. It’s not that I’ve given up on Ufology, ETs, extradimensional beings, spirituality or the paranormal. I’m just a LOT more skeptical of certain sources because Ufology is a rat’s nest of government spooks and black budget special interest corporate operators.

So, here we are now.

I plan to out live other men in my family. The death clock starts ticking pretty loudly at about 65 in my family. My goal is 100. Guess we’ll find out when I get there where the end was supposed to be.

I love you all, family. Thanks for being here. I appreciate you every day. Please be kind to one another. See ya tomorrow.

Author: Jeff Craigmile

I'm a tabletop role-playing game writer and designer from Des Moines, Iowa. I'm the father of four boys and human to three cats.

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