Drew E. Cohen, the leader of the pack, had a bachelor party and it was one for the books. Twelve of us shared a cabin in North Lake Tahoe. There was poker, a hot tub, alcohol, billiards, a personal chef, monster trucks, karaoke, and eight feet of snow. As alcohol often does, it led to some heart felt speeches and even some tears. Though, none of mine of course.
I designed some t-shirts for the weekend gang, and Michael wrangled getting them printed. The design was just an oversized image of Drew’s face staring dead at you. We wore them the whole time. Some folks in town were asking who the mystery man was on our shirts. Was he that MMA fighter they wondered? Why were we so many of us wearing it? Were we going to see him tonight? They were a hit, and if we’re being honest here, I still wear mine every few weeks.
There were plans to do this that and the other while we were up there, but the weather was so severe, that we couldn’t really wander too far from the cabin. Setting record snowfall for the month of January will tend to have that effect. It was so severe, that we decided to abandon ship and leave the cabin a day early to avoid getting stuck as things worsened.
We made our way back to Sacramento, where most of us flew in and would be flying out of, to continue the party for our last night. Not having Sacramento in the original plan, we scrambled for a minute on what to do. By the grace of God, there was a Monster Truck Jam event going on. It was awesome, and I felt like I was twelve years old again, only I was many inches taller, and fairly intoxicated.
Karaoke followed, but that’s where my account of things start to get a little fuzzy, as I started traveling through space and time. All in all though, it was a great time, with great company, celebrating the next chapter of our great friend’s life. Cheers and godspeed.
The highlight of course, was George winning a bet…
I asked the girl I’ve been crazy about (and driven crazy by) since the day I met her, to marry me. How we got from there to here is a long story. One that I’ll save for another time. But today, I want to tell you about the best day of my life.
A few days earlier we started to plot our weekend, and talked about spending the day together. No friends, no family, just us. The weather was shaping up to be nice, so I suggested we go downtown to layout at Grand Park. I knew this is where I wanted to propose.
There’s been plenty of opportunities to propose in more exotic, adventurous or even stereotypically romantic places, but Los Angeles is where it was meant to be. It’s always been the backdrop to our story. It’s where we found each other. It’s where we fell in love. I also knew how much this city means to her as an individual. She moved around a lot growing up, and Los Angeles is the first place she’s ever called home and truly meant it. I figured what better place to propose than in the heart of LA, in a sprawling park overlooked by one of the city’s most iconic buildings.
I usually have a hard time getting out of bed, but on this particular day you’d have thought I spent a lifetime in the military. I left Alexis in bed and got breakfast started for us straight away. I had some time sensitive plans in place, and I wanted to get ahead of the day. Thank God she still wanted to go to the park.
We got ready, packed a bag and headed over. When we got there, we found a blaring children’s dance festival of some sort taking place. It was loud and it was weird. Not exactly what I expected. Thankfully, it’s a big park and where we were headed was on the opposite end. It was a hot day, really hot, but we found some shade under a tree to lay our blanket across. We sat down and talked a bit while I doodled the iconic LA City Hall building across the park. I gave up after a few minutes and told her I was going to just draw her instead.
I repositioned myself so she couldn’t see what I was drawing. I lifted my eyes from the page every few minutes to examine her features, all the while she was doodling too. After a few minutes, I said I was done. My heart was racing and was hoping she couldn’t hear it in my voice. With a worried face, I warned her not to be mad, since the portrait didn’t really turn out that great, and didn’t quite look like her. When I spun my sketchbook around, she found the words “Will you Marry me?”
Her eyes lit up and moved from the page to me, back to the page and back to me again. As she stared at me with wide watery eyes, I took the ring from my pocket and offered it to her. I told her I loved her, that I always had, and that I wanted to spend the rest of my days with her. We kissed and held each other. After a few beats… I had to remind her she still had to give me an answer. It was a strong yes, and I finally put the ring where it’s always belonged.
Once our nerves settled, I pointed to a man that was hiding out behind some bushes. His name is Archi, and I hired him to photograph the moment. He’d been there the whole time. We all finally made eye contact and laughed. Honestly, I didn’t even know where he was for a while. True mark of a pro. We spent the next half hour or so taking some photos with him. Some in the park, and some across the street in front of the LA City Hall building. It’s was just too beautiful a building to pass up with a professional photographer on hand. As we were walking up to City Hall, I joked to Alexis that I was really just trying to fast track this thing, and get the papers today.
We wrapped up with Archi, and I suggested we go sit down somewhere nearby to grab a drink and call our families to break the news. I think both our nerves and minds were still buzzing, so a drink sounded like a great idea. And let’s not forget, it was still REALLY hot out. There’s a little dive bar called La Cita that our whole group of friends has been making memories at for as long as I’ve known them. Seemed fitting to make it a part of the day.
We got there and headed straight to the back patio to find some margaritas, but instead we found 24 of some of our closest friends, waiting to surprise Alexis and celebrate with us.
This was all part of the plan, and I knew it was coming, but man, even I was stunned when we stepped out on the patio and heard everyone’s roar. She was completely surprised, even more so than when I proposed I’d say! Good job guys. To top it off, we were immediately each handed a margarita and a beer, because that’s what true friends do.
People hopped on planes, some spun their odometers, and some took off work just so they could be there for us. We even had a friend there by complete happenstance. We thought he was still living out of state, but he moved back to LA two weeks prior and just happened to be at the bar. What are the odds?
I always knew that no matter how I chose to propose, I wanted to involve our friends somehow. Alexis draws her energy from those around her, and shines her brightest surrounded by the people she loves. For most of us out here, our friends are the closest thing we have to family for a few thousand miles. They say you can’t choose your family, but it’s just not true. Friends are the family you do get to pick. After about an hour of hugging, shaking hands, drinking, and laughing, the whole gang migrated over to Hollywood for dinner.
The spot was Delancey, a little Italian place, known mainly for their pizza. Alexis and I have been coming here for as long as we’ve dated, and it’s quite literally one of her favorite restaurants. It’s a small place and we were a group of 26, so when I spoke with the manager ahead of time, I was beyond excited that they’d accommodate us. They even opened up a little bit early for us. We ate, drank, laughed some more, and Alexis’ brother Tony gave an impromptu speech from the heart to top it all off.
We closed out after about two hours, and all started walking down a few blocks to Hollywood Forever Cemetery. In the summer time they project films on the side of a huge building that overlooks an open lawn. It’s one of our favorite LA pastimes.
We setup and sprawled across the lawn, chatting and drinking for about an hour before the movie. Thanks to our army of friends, we had lawn chairs, blankets, desserts, 120 beers on ice, and the equivalent of four bottles of wine in the form of two beautiful boxes. Even had a custom “She Said Yes” banner setup, thanks to Christina. I really leaned pretty heavy on some folks to pull this part of the night together, and I have no doubt it would’ve been a mess without all their help.
That night they were screening Sabrina, an old Hollywood classic starring Hepburn and Bogart. Alexis and I have always shared an affection for the music from that era. Under the stars, surrounded by the towering palms and our LA family, I just knew it’d be magic. And it was.
By the time the movie ended, it was already 11pm and had been a long, full day. I knew some people would wanna call it then and there. What I didn’t know is how Alexis would be feeling. Lo and behold, onward she said. Cue the karaoke.
An added surprise was Michelle and Stuart made it out all the way from NYC just in time to meet us for karaoke. They were originally planning on being part of the surprise at La Cita, but got largely delayed at the airport. Glad they still got to party with us a bit.
Now, I know they say time flies when you’re having fun, but man, time really flew by at karaoke. We sang and danced for a couple hours, but I swear to you, it felt like no longer than fifteen minutes to me. Tops. Might have had something to do with drinking for nearly twelve hours. I was told that amidst the dancing, I lost my footing for a moment there, but luckily my fall was broken by John. Sorry and thank you John. Needless to say it was a blast. Our friends Drew and Kelsie were sneaky and incredibly kind to have picked up the entire tab for everybody too.
It was last call by the time we sung our last tune, and the remainder of our party started to part ways. However, no night in LA after 12 hours of drinking is complete without at 2am trip to Denny’s. Thankfully, there was one a few hundred feet away. Afterward, we said goodbye to our last three standing friends, and called it a night ourselves.
And that was that. My only regret is not having asked sooner. Can’t say thank you enough to everyone involved. It was the best day of my life, and Alexis was shining brighter than the diamond on her hand to say the least. And that diamond is pretty damn bright.
Video compliments of Duncan, thanks bud!
Celebrated my 30th in Palm Springs, poolside with some cold drinks and the best people. They came a long ways and spent a good bit of money and time to make sure I knew damn well that 30 ain’t so bad.
I made Mike a fun little thing for his 30th, and he returned the gesture with his own fun little thing. I love it. There is nothing the man can’t do.
A rare video chat with some of my oldest friends, catching up over beers, across thousands of miles, sitting in Florida, Oregon, New York, Texas, and California.
The occasion was Dan’s 28th birthday, who I first met when I was 11 years old. His finance Dominique set the whole thing up and surprised him when she handed him a laptop with all of our faces on it.
Such a great feeling shooting the breeze with some of my truest friends.
My old name tag from Albertson’s. Seemed fitting for labor day. My good friend Charlie worked there, and got me an interview when I was fifteen maybe sixteen. I was hired as a Courtesy Clerk. You did a lot as a clerk. You were asked to do what needed to be done where there was no one to do it. It was never the same from one day to the next. I spent time helping in almost every department. Cleaned toilets, buffed floors, stocked shelves, cleaned machinery, and froze working in dairy refrigerators. If there was something too heavy to be lifted for a customer or employee, they called the 135 pound kid over to handle it. It was 30 hours a week, the maximum allowed for my age. Full days every Saturday and Sunday and a few 3 to 4 hour days throughout the week after school. It was hard work, and by the end of the day, I felt it.
Mostly, I fetched shopping carts and loaded groceries I bagged into customer’s cars. Often helped load for elderly customers or mothers trying to manage one too many kids. Occasionally there were the able bodied eccentrics, who just liked to talk to strangers. Always got a kick out of reactions as I handled a customer’s eggs. You’d think I was moving an unpredictable stick of dynamite. The few minute walk from the checkout line to the car taught me how to make small talk. Weather was the typical topic. Customers were always curious to know if I was saving up to buy something specific, a car maybe. I always surprised them and got a few laughs when I said “retirement.”
A faulty moral compass kept me from accepting customer tips for a long time. My family, friends, and co-workers eventually convinced me I was insane for it. Think I made five or six dollars an hour. The job taught me the value of those dollars. I vividly remembering sitting at Wendy’s on my lunch break, calculating in my head how much time the food I was eating cost me. I ate every crumb, and soon after started brining my own lunch.
Collecting carts outside was my favorite. I didn’t have to talk to anyone. There was time to think. I taught myself to whistle out there. I always wore a wrist watch but once I learned that time liked to move faster when you didn’t watch it, I kept my eyes away from it. Instead, I liked guessing the time by eyeing how far the building’s shadow was cast across the parking lot.
I have more memories and stories from the job than I can fit here. It was invaluable to me and the most laborious job I’ve ever had, yet I worked every labor day I was there. In a strange way, I do miss it sometimes.
Shot at Sue Bierman Park in San Francisco, looking at the Bay Bridge. Recently there for a short work trip. Haven’t spent much time there before, just a day, years ago for a friends birthday.
I took the longest bus route I could find from the airport to my hotel. Wanted to take in as much of the city as I could. Spent the first day there scouting shoot locations. Essentially an all day walking tour. Spent the second day at the shoots, and that was that.
Fun to see and be part of the process away from my desk for a change.
Our good friends Drew and Kelsie spontaneously invited Alexis and I to Hawaii with them. Good company and paradise? Who would say no?
We spent a day and night in the touristy and beautiful Waikiki, enjoying the calm waters and local eats. Seeking the local experience, we drove in our tiny convertible across the island to the North Shore. We stayed the rest of our nights at a small beach house, in a Mai Tai fueled state of rest and relaxation. Day after day, we explored, watched sunsets, and emptied our cups. It was nice to just slow down for a change.
Thanks for having us along.