The Ford I was driving in Texas got totalled when someone blocked a stop sign in a parking lot with their bloody Suburban, so I didn't see that there was an in road in the parking lot for traffic from the street. If the delivery van had hit an inch before or after the impact point it struck, the axle wouldn't have been destroyed, the transmission wouldn't have been shattered, and the rest of the engine wouldn't have been ruined by the impact. In short, 1997 was the demolition derby year.
Upon returning from Texas, I took the money I had left over after paying my parents' insurance premium on the Ford (it was their car; that plus the insurance check brought the reimbursement up to its market value) and bought myself a Check Caprice Classic station wagon with a V8. It was affectionately dubbed, "The Tank (tm)"
I turned 21 on the way to an ACM convention that year, at which I presented my paper on 'hypertext interactive multiple user dimensions' - which is a fancy way to say, "I put an HTTP server into a MUD so that people could edit rooms on the fly". Not especially innovative, but I was the first student from APSU to have presented a paper for a while. You can thank Dr. Yu for prodding me into that.
It was on the way to that conference that I bought myself a birthday present - my first sharp sword. I already owned a decorative-only katana and wakizashi set I bought in Japan, but for one thing they weren't sharp and for another I didn't want to risk practicing with them. I also got a call from my dad while I was at the conference, informing me that I was basically hired at a local computer shop, just had to go in for the formality of an interview. It was while working at that shop that I purchased my Vivitar 3000 camera and started taking a decent number of pictures. While at that conference, it was my first time of being of legal drinking age in the US, and having folks pestering me to touch the stuff since the hospitality suite was literally packed with semi-inebriated computer science students and faculty from various universities. Frankly, I didn't care - I was there for the cheese puffs and nacho chips that no one else seemed interested in, and was quite content.