Today’s our wedding anniversary. We celebrated by getting out of town and exploring Laguna Beach this past weekend. Four years married now, and Ten years since the first time we kissed. A decade gone by and I’m still crazy for her and driven crazy by her. She’s still my favorite person, and I still get caught up in her beauty just the same as the first time I ever saw her. I can also say with great pride, that I still know how to crack her up on a dance floor, largely with the same set of moves all these years later.
Might not have seemed it at the time, but getting married was the easy part. Staying married, well that’s where it gets tricky. Marriage might just be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Hard to know if that’s because I’ve had an easy life, or because marriage is just plain hard work. Maybe it’s both. But in any case, it’s been my experience that the hard things we choose to do willingly, are always the most rewarding in the end.
I tried to pick out just one photo from each year of our story together. It was a challenge to say the least. Been so many bright spots along the way. Plenty of ties for first place. A lot of these photos didn’t even exist on Six Foot Giraffe to begin with, and that just felt like a bit of a crime to me. So here they are, not just safe and sound in my heart and mind anymore, but here too, for when the years start to get too far away from us. Happy Four to us.
Joey, my one and only brother turned 40. It was almost a month ago but I’d regret if I never took a moment to share that here. Seems like I was just writing about him turning 30 not too far back. Doesn’t feel like yesterday but it also doesn’t feel like 10 years gone.
He’s 5 years older than me, and that use to feel like a big difference but I know in a blink of an eye I’ll be seeing 40 myself. The cool thing about having an older sibling is that you’ve known them literally your whole life. He was there the day I was born, and for 18 years following, I saw him just about everyday. 18 years of horsing around, exploring, fighting, lying to our parents, and getting in plenty of trouble. All the things that brothers do.
Hopefully there are still plenty more years ahead of us than behind, but I’m not sure I can say the same about new memories together. We live 2,700 miles apart, and have for 14 years now. To say the least, we don’t see each other everyday anymore. A fact made painfully clear looking for photos of us together. Anything from the past 15 years is far and few between. But maybe with a little effort from both sides, that can change some. There’s still time.
Happy 40 Joey. Can’t be all that bad, after all, you did get to keep your hair. Although speaking from experience, I wouldn’t get too attached to it.
Finally got around to editing some footage from Fourth of July weekend two years ago. My turnaround time for these has really fallen off a cliff, but better late than never. We hiked, barbecued, boated, bowled and found ourselves entertaining a bar full of strangers at karaoke. With twenty of us on a boat and plenty of drinks in hand, it’s a miracle nobody fell overboard. Happy Fourth everyone.
My Grandfather passed away a little over two weeks ago. My Dad’s father and the only Grandfather I’d ever known. His name was James Patrick Smith. He was just shy of 89 Years old. A long life that above all else, defined him as a devoted husband, and a father loved by his five children. He was as hard working as they come. Legend has it, he hadn’t taken a day off work for 40 Years. A child of the Great Depression who cleaned his plate even if what was on it wasn’t always his favorite. Though, it’d be hard to know if he didn’t like something, since he never complained about a thing. He loved long walks, opera, football, and literally anything that concerned chocolate. He had a booming deep voice, and his laugh could fill every room of the house, and he laughed often. He always wore a wrist watch. I think he always understood the weight of time, which led him to always have a camera in hand or video recorder resting on his shoulder at any family gathering, which he and my grandmother always made a priority.
He filled many roles for many people, but to me he was someone I affectionately called Gramp. I had the good fortune of being born while my parents were still young, and my grandparents still only in the first half of their 50s. Still full of life and vigor. I’ll forever be grateful for that. An experience many of my cousins didn’t have. I wouldn’t be surprised if my brother and I even kept my grandparents a little younger, for a little longer. We’d spend entire weekends there with them. Together we’d play games, watch movies, indulge in all kinds of sweets, explore our town and soak up anything they told us like sponges. We were just about spoiled rotten. We loved it, and we loved them.
I remember a particular fascination I had with my Grandfather’s hat. So much so that when anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d tell them with unwavering certainty, a door-to-door hat salesman. It was a simple bucket hat he’d wear on his commute from the suburbs to downtown Chicago by train each day for work. When I was there on weekdays, I couldn’t wait for him to walk through the door to get my hands on that hat. As the story goes, I’d sometimes get a little impatient, and just use my imagination and put the dog bowl on my head instead. Regardless of how much dog food was already in it. When he’d finally come charging through the door, he’d always make this boisterously triumphant trumpet sound announcing his arrival. I’d run to meet him and in one swift motion he’d move his hat from his head to mine. Looking back on it, it’s clear I was just like any child wanting to wear the costume of a super hero they idolized. It must have made him feel fantastic.
As I got older, it was clear I didn’t fit the exact mold of some of the things he valued, whether that be having an interest in sports, being an ace student, or being involved with the church. Hell, I don’t even like chocolate that much. But none of that mattered and I know he was proud of me all the same, and know because he’s expressed that. Particularly, he was proud I chose to turn my passion into my career, and pursued my own kind of happiness.
In the end, I believe he was ready to go. His mind was still razor sharp, but his body had long been in decline. But beyond all else, I think he just wanted to be with my Grandmother again. Ever since she passed on, he’d often say with a chuckle something along the lines of, “I don’t know what I’m still doing here!” Particularly whenever I’d call him on his birthday. I can’t think of a more potent explanation of what love is than the sight of my invincible Grandfather crumbling to a thousand pieces as he stood over my Grandmother’s casket. And all this time since, he’s just been stuck at the station, waiting for his train to take him back home to her. Just as he always used to. He was a devout Catholic, and there was no doubt in his mind what he believed to be next for him, and it brings me a great sense of peace, knowing he was at peace himself.
Goodbye Gramp. I love you very much and I’ll never forget you.
Finally got around to putting an edit together of our Nashville trip from OVER A YEAR AGO. What a time it was to be able to just hop on a plane to meet your friends in a new city for the fun of it. Our friend Jon turned 30, and a group of us descended upon Nashville to celebrate it. It was a quick two-night trip, but we did a lot with a little.
We pushed our way down Broadway, watching the bands play at one honky tonk after the other. We sang at the top of our lungs in a year-round Christmas themed karaoke bar, packed in shoulder to shoulder. Some of us were even brave enough to do it with a microphone. We learned about craft cocktails, and then drank some. We hit the dance floor at a bar disguised as an unassuming single family home. And in a period of two days we ate more Nashville hot chicken than any respectable physician could recommend. It was a lot with a little, but most important of all, we raised our glasses and wished our friend a happy thirty.
Over the years I’ve taken part in a few projects that’ve won awards and recognition. I’m hardly ever credited, but I don’t really care to be honest.
This award will always be my favorite and the only one I’ve ever cared about. Grades wise, I never did too well in school. A good kid but a bad student. This little award was confirmation that I was doing something right though. It certainly seemed more important to me than any report card I’d ever gotten. What can I say, it’s a major award.
I’ve never liked driving very much, and navigating LA has ever only reinforced that. Anything you could ever need here isn’t very far from you, a short mile or two in any direction. It’s easy. Driving there however, and finding a place to park can be an entirely different story. A real mess. It was one of the many reasons I think I had a hard time taking to this city at first. Then one day, ten years ago, I walked into a bike shop and then out with a bike. My take on Los Angeles flipped overnight the moment I got on two wheels instead of four.
So, for the past ten years I’ve ridden a bike more days than I haven’t. I’ve got the legs and lungs to prove it. It’s been one of my favorite parts of my day all the while. The weather is beautiful, rain is far and few between, and I’m often moving faster than the traffic around me. There’s a sweet spot of distance in the city at the right times, where it takes longer to travel by car than if you were to bike. It’s very freeing weaving through crawling traffic and being able to park and lockup pretty much anywhere.
To celebrate these ten years of riding, I started wearing a helmet. I didn’t even own one. I’ve been careful, smart, and lucky enough to avoid anything serious all these years, but I don’t see much a reason to press my luck. Many miles behind, many miles ahead.
I can feel the eyes rolling across the internet of anyone reading this, but they say writing it down makes it that much more real. What prompted me to do this, other than being the start of a new year, is just how stagnant my days have been feeling. This has been true for a while now. That may seem ridiculous to anyone who knows how my time is spent, and I agree. I’m absolutely doing a lot. I seemingly go to more birthdays in a year than I’ve had birthdays in my life. Always on the move, going here, there, or wherever. Traveling the world with my best friends. Last year I was in 4 new countries, Hawaii twice, Seattle twice, Nashville, Salt Lake City, Zion, Las Vegas and Florida. Laughing and making memories all a long the way. Life is not dull for me, I know this, and I do feel truly grateful for all the color my friends and family bring to my life, and grateful for the vibrancy of those colors.
Still I feel personally stagnant. I don’t feel growth. There are so many things I want to do that I’m not doing. So many things that I want to change that I’m not changing. This is me doing something about that, writing a list like every other starry-eyed sucker at the start of a new year. After thinking on it a while, I came up with three things that I want to strive for everyday of the year.
Learn Unreal Engine. This is a big one. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for years and has the potential to open so many new doors in life. It’ll take a lot of time, energy, and discipline, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t dreading it. Probably why it’s taken me so long to commit to it. But I kinda see it like when I first started learning guitar. Sore fingers, the awful sound of dead strings, and so much frustration. It was a real mess. But I did learn, and all that past frustration ended up bringing me a lot of happiness, still to this very day. So yeah, I’m dreading it. But I’m also hopeful and excited.
Exercise at least every other day. I’ll be 34 this year. At 24 my health and fitness was a very different picture. No question, I’m not as fit or as healthy I was 10 years ago. That doesn’t feel great, but it’s okay. I’m older, responsibilities have multiplied, priorities have shifted. I get it. But days, weeks, or even months gone by without honest exercise just isn’t gonna cut it for me. The goal isn’t working out hours on end, taking bicep measurements in front of a mirror. The goal is just to be more responsible about staying consistently active.
No more hangovers. Yes, this is seriously a goal. Shameful I know. Honestly might be the hardest one! When I drink, it’s very often an amount far and away more than what it should be. I know that. But when I’m in the right social setting, having a great time, it’s a breeze having somewhere in the neighborhood of ten drinks, and not even realizing it. The price is paid tomorrow, and I’m left angry at myself for giving up a day of my life. If I’m gonna take my ambitions seriously, I just don’t have that kind of time to lose anymore. So no more. Simple as that, but not that simple, I’m sure.
I also came up with some monthly challenges. I promise this isn’t self torture. The idea is to kickstart some new habits that I’ve been curious about for a long time. To see how they make me feel, what they teach me, and if any of them stick. I’m excited for them all. Well, all of them but maybe that 7AM wake up time (like I said, I can feel the eyes rolling).
The order of the months are meant to compliment the others around them, helping maybe build momentum. December was left open incase I come up something new. Some months will be tough, and some easy. There’ll be setbacks. I’ll miss days, get sick, be traveling, and swamped with freelance. Hate to say it, but there’s even a good chance I might be hungover! There will be days where I just won’t feel up to it. Every month is a suggestion, not a prescription. Guess the trick is not letting a setback become a deal breaker.
That’s what I got. We’ll see, wish me luck.
In the spring over the span of nearly two weeks, I ventured through Bangkok, Maldives, and Hong Kong with my wife Alexis, and our friends Drew, Kelsie, Tyler, Kara, Andrew, and Kirsten.
Our adventure started in Bangkok and our time there was short. We toured temples, experienced traditions, and after all these years, had Thai food in Thailand. We were lucky enough to witness the Thai New Year too. A celebration where the people flood the streets, literally and figuratively, and drench each other with water from head to toe for three straight days. You’d think dumping a bucket of water on a complete stranger in the street might be a little risky, but there wasn’t a person young or old who wasn’t laughing. We got soaked. Kara has family in Thailand, and they were kind enough to invite us all to their home. We ate new foods, sang karaoke and visited a temple in their community. We had a blast, and in all my travels it stands as one of the more truly authentic experiences I’ve had yet.
Most of our trip was spent in the Maldives on a tiny island in the Indian Ocean. Our days were spent both swimming and drinking like fish. We lounged, laughed, and lounged some more. We chartered a boat and jetted across the water searching for whale sharks and mantas. Diving off in a moments notice to catch a glimpse. We were like a poorly trained, clumsy group of Navy Seals. We swam ashore a deserted island and brought our vodka along. We found a turtle who didn’t seem to mind company. And by our last day it was hard to confidently say what day or time it was anymore. To go out with a bang, a looming storm forced us to meet our seaplane a ways away from our island on a floating dock no bigger than a modest area rug.
Our time In Hong Kong was short, but we marveled at the countless skyscrapers in every peak and valley of the lush and rugged land. A skyline that seemed impossible to have been built. We visited shrines and practiced traditions. Easter was celebrated sipping cocktails in the worlds highest bar and we wandered the city streets with little direction, but still found drinks, dumplings, and a tiki bar along the way.
It was a whirlwind two weeks of adventure, and just might’ve been too much if we hadn’t spent most of it floating mindlessly in the bluest waters I’d ever seen.