That’s it for 2022. Made it through another year of monthly challenges and resolutions. Some wins, some losses, and some ideas of what comes next.
I wanted to have a website and announcement trailer finished for my game project, but that was a swing and a miss. It’s in progress, and could just call it done, but it’s close to being something I’m proud of, so I’m going to see it through right. Even though I don’t have it done, it was a good goal to have throughout the year. Kept the ball rolling.
I also meant to start networking with the indie game dev community. Sharing encouragement and constructive criticism for other devs and their projects, as well as putting myself out there and sharing my work with the community. This is something I wanted to do the least, and it showed. I did answer some questions here and there on forums for other devs, but as a whole, can’t say I put much effort towards this one. Being social on social media has just never come naturally to me. Wish I could chalk it up solely to a fear of rejection, since that can be overcome, but I think more than anything it’s a general disinterest in it all. I dont know how you overcome that. What I do know is at some point, I’m gonna need to lean into it, especially if I ever expect my projects to reach an audience. This just wasn’t my year for it.
My last overarching goal for the year was to try and eat vegetarian at least 3 days a week, building on the momentum of the past few years. Some weeks I went over 3 days, some weeks under. I didn’t strictly track this one, so I might be a little over, or I might be a little under for the year, but whatever the case I’m fine with that. What’s important to me was having a lasting mindset throughout the year to try to eat less meat, and I did just that, even if it wasn’t always perfect.
As for my monthly challenges, this marked my third year of exploring them. I started them because I was feeling stagnant. They were meant to spark some change and ideally growth. I’ve certainly learned a lot, from some more than others, and have no regrets about it, but over time I’ve started to question my motivations in continuing them. Some challenges haven’t required much of me, while others were unreasonably demanding. But even the smallest challenges I’ve come up with, still occupy space in my mind and demand my attention. None of which is helping put out the flames of a wildfire that’s been burning through my life for years now.
My marriage has been easy in so many ways, and it’s been hard in others. I’m sure that’s true and natural for just about any marriage, and to expect anything more might just be fantasy. But for us, the hard parts seem to be much harder than they ever should be for anyone. While it’s no one’s fault, it’s been true for a long while now, and it’s been difficult to say the least. Even more challenging is I don’t see any path forward that doesn’t hold even harder times and heavier thoughts on the immediate horizon. Knowing this, I don’t think coming up with a list of monthly challenges is going to help me be fully present for the work ahead. It would do the complete opposite. It would help me ignore and continue to tolerate the challenges of our marriage instead of addressing them. That’s what led me to incorporate these challenges into my life to begin with I think. To stave off that terrible feeling of being lost. I believe a clear heart and mind will yield you direction, like a compass would, but this compass needle is easily disturbed by the noise of distractions.
I’m not setting any resolutions or monthly challenges this year. Instead, I’m going to do my best to be present in my life, to feel it all, to listen to those feelings, and to try and get myself and my wife pointed in the direction, or directions, we need to go. All this said, I’m entering 2023 knowing that this year will probably be the hardest of my life yet. Although in this moment it doesn’t feel all that happy, I’ll say it anyway. Happy New Year.
Few months back, Alexis and I vacationed a week in Florida to spend some time with family. We originally meant to be in Ft. Myers, but Hurricane Ian had other plans. From what I understand, nearly the entire first floor of the condo our family has visited for decades, was under water, and a lot of Estero Island was erased. We came pretty close to canceling Florida all together, but we made some adjustments and saw it through, and I’m glad we did.
We started in St. Pete, specifically to take a boat ride out to visit Egmont Key, home to one of the oldest lighthouses on the Florida Gulf Coast. This is where Alexis and her siblings scattered their mother’s ashes earlier in the year. Although her mom spent her last years in Ohio, she missed Florida terribly. On top of that, she had such an affection for lighthouses, that you had to see her ceramic collection to believe it. Can’t think of a better place for her to rest. We spent the afternoon reflecting and exploring the key for a few hours before our boat had to take us back. A cover of Springsteen’s Atlantic City played no less than four times on our 40 minute ride across the water. It became a bit of an anthem for the trip, as well as a running joke to this day. Before leaving St. Pete, we discovered a strange species of seagull that had a striking resemblance to Danny DeVito, which we appropriately gave the scientific name of Danny DeSeagull.
For the rest of our trip, instead of Estero Island, we stayed at a beach house we rented on Anna Maria Island. We planned on having a good amount of friends and family come visit. Nine adults and four kids. There were a lot of us, but we made it a priority to get a place big enough to keep us all comfortably under the same roof. It turned out great. The kids declared they wanted to live there forever, so we must’ve done something right.
We walked the pier, drank pool side, marveled at lightning storms, caught sunsets, fired up the grill, built castles, dug holes, chased the kids, were chased by the kids, and astonishingly avoided getting sunburned. Not pictured is the half mile long trench I dug on the beach by pulling the kids in a wagon with wheels that absolutely refused to turn in sand. I’ll be damned if I let those kids think I’m not invincible though.
With as much fun was we had, it’s hard to believe we were ever considering canceling the trip. There’s a lesson to be learned somewhere in there. We know we’re supposed to spend time with our family, but sometimes you forget just how much fun it can be. Thankful we could make it happen, and thankful for the memory of us all sleeping under the same roof, together as family.
In November I set out to dedicate some time to playing indie games. Partly as research and inspiration toward making my own game, and partly to make fun a priority. I played two games. Little Nightmares II, a sequel to a puzzle-platformer that I first played years ago. The second, a game called Control. A trippy action-adventure game that I also first played a few years back, but has since had new content released for it. Loved them both.
I’ve learned so much about game dev over the past few years, and playing through that lens has been a fun new experience. Little Nightmares was actually created in the same game engine I’ve been learning. It was cool understanding how something was most likely working behind the scenes, and in other cases not fully understanding but reverse engineering it as best I could.
I play games so infrequently these days, that I don’t know when I would’ve had the chance to experience these two, if not this month. That’s why I was fine bending the rules a little, since neither of these would be considered indies. Control cost over 30 million dollars to make, and the ending credits scrolled for several minutes straight. It’d be impossible for me alone to create something even remotely close to the same standard of either of these games. Even still, I had fun experiencing them, and feel inspired by them and all the same, and that was the whole idea.
I’m so far behind in chronicling my monthly challenges that much of my being wanted to just give up on this aspect of it entirely, but damnit, I made a commitment. My October challenge was to participate in Inktober again. It went how it usually does. Excitement leading up to it. Mild dread halfway through. Pride in the end. I’ve done this one so many times over by now, you’d think there isn’t much more to learn from it. But these little doodles always help me better express or understand my thoughts, feelings and experiences. If you spend enough time looking in, you’re bound to see something new. That’s why no matter how many times I do it this one, it’ll always have something to give.
Failed to get a group picture, but there were 15 of us that flew into Vegas for some fun. Against the natural order of that place, I left with more money than I came with for a change. The trick was a few hot craps shooters, and faithfully playing a new set of roulette numbers. Caused a few laughs and raised a few eyebrows when I told the table I got the winning numbers from my therapist.
I tried intentionally meditating for the first time in my life about a year ago. The experience I had was mostly positive and I kept up with it for a bit, though slowly but surely, I practiced it less and less. Meditation is hard work, and I don’t mind that, but this work didn’t always feel like it was paying a fair wage. I know it has power though, and I’ve still been curious, so I set out to dig a little deeper.
I spent some time in September exploring some more, and took Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Masterclass on mindfulness and meditation. The guy’s a character, and I enjoyed it. A lot of the course was high level and easy to understand, like the idea of mindfulness being the awareness that arises from being present. A lot of the course felt very nebulous to me though. Ideas that are hard to grasp by simply listening or even doing. One of the more potent things that stuck with me, was the work he’d done teaching mindfulness to prison inmates. Particularly how the men reacted, which led him to describe the experience as if “he were giving food to starving people.” Such a powerful idea. It quickly had me looking inward, wondering what parts of me are dying of starvation and atrophying, even while my body outwardly stands tall and strong.
I took this course months ago but have managed to maintain practicing mindfulness regularly. The trick in making this work sustainable for me this time around, was realizing that sitting or laying meditation, which is what I’ve typically practiced, is just not for me. Instead I’ve found walking meditation, in part thanks to my friend George. I find it much more natural to be aware and present when in motion. Always have. Don’t know why it took so long for me to put together that I’ve had more success entering a state of mindfulness running my third mile than I ever had laying on my back with my eyes closed. Now a few times a week I listen to guided meditation while I walk a few miles through my neighborhood, in the middle of my workday. I often feel refreshed and clear headed after. It’s not a silver bullet that works every time, but this time around, it at least feels like work that pays a fair wage.
Phantom Planet at the Regent in downtown Los Angeles. These guys were in heavy rotation for me through high school and college, and still get shuffled into the mix to this day. I must’ve run hundreds of miles listening to this song by now:
“The Happy Ending” by Phantom Planet
They played the entirety of their album The Guest, for it’s 20th anniversary, and very appropriately brought out a different guest to play each song with them. It was a great show. Alexis had a work event going on at the same time, so I went solo. Something I’ve never been uncomfortable with, but always hesitant to mention, since it seems to sound so sad to most people. Definitely a different experience, but never a sad one.
“The Guest” by Phantom Planet
My solo indie dev project that I’ve been calling Greenfield is still happening. Taking up nearly all the free time I ration for creative pursuits. I’ve often heard the analogy of a hard thing being like pushing a boulder up a mountain. This project feels like that, but this mountain seemingly has no summit. Just keeps going up. A truth that’s made Six Foot Giraffe really hard to keep up with. I remind myself though, that this project I’m pouring so much energy into can fail. Creatively by falling short of my vision for it, and or financially as an indie game competing in an ocean of other games. And that’s assuming I can even finish it. It’s not hard to imagine that I may regret pursuing this, no matter how enamored I am with the process in this moment.
On the other hand, the work I do here on Six Foot Giraffe will never be something I regret. What I make and share here today compounds its value to me down the road, many times over. When my years past inevitably become just an impressionistic blur, it’ll be here that I’ll find my long lost thoughts and feelings, in full focus. I’ve been at this long enough now that this isn’t just a theory. I am already experiencing it. So let this be a reminder to myself not to quit.
We were already more than halfway across the country for my cousin’s wedding, so we figured we may us well just keep on going. We spent nearly a week in New York to catch up with Alexis’ brother Tony, Olivia and our Godson Gnarly. We stayed in an Airbnb they manage, in the same building they live in, in Green Point. It was a homerun and really let us get the most out of our time together.
In all my visits to New York, this trip was the closest I’ve ever come to grasping what it might actually be like to live there. From getting around, to spending time where I’d probably be hanging out, and of course speculating how far your money can go. Or more accurately how far it doesn’t. There was a lot of walking, lot of exploring. More so than any of my past long weekend or whirlwind work New York trips. I think my clearest takeaway was just how hard living there must be. Financially, physically, mentally. At least relative to my own day to day. Some abstract promise of New York City has always sat firmly in the back of my mind though. Always the thought that maybe someday I’d live there and truly experience it. I still feel it even now, but the door to that life has just about closed I think. I did it backwards. Los Angeles should’ve been the reward for putting in years of surviving in New York City. Luckily, we’ve got airplanes and some New Yorkers that’ll always be glad to see us.
It wasn’t a quick trip, but it felt that way. In other words, we had fun. Exploring the Whitney, strolling Central Park, treking through Green Point, conquering bridges and obviously eating and drinking to excess some of the best a neighborhood had to offer. I also quickly learned my new favorite mode of transportation in New York City is the Ferry. Most important of all though, we saw the ones we’d been missing, which is exactly what we set out to do. Thanks for having us.
Marco and Kelly tied the knot. We laughed, we drank, we photo-boothed, and we most certainly danced. It was a fun night and we were thankful to have been included. Although the majority of my extended family lives in Illinoise, I don’t get out that way too often. It was a great chance to make some fun memories with plenty of aunts, uncles, and cousins that I hardly see. From dropping in on my Uncle Vince and Aunt Enza’s restaurant for a quick cannoli, to gathering in full force at my Aunt Marie’s house for Italian beef sandwiches, where Uncle Santo uncorked a few bottles of his homemade wine.
I’m kicking myself for not getting any photos from the day we spent at my Aunt Susie and Uncle Perry’s house with the Smith branch of the family. I blame the lapse of judgement on those martinis Aunt Susie whipped up for us.
All around, a quick but potent long weekend. Congrats Marco and Kelly, and thanks for having us.
Celebrating five years of marriage. We had fun at dinner, comfortable in our typical way of joking and being weirdos together. Exactly how we like it. But a drink or two after this photo, we got to talking about how challenging our marriage has been. Now this isn’t news to either of us, not at all, but I wanted to write and preserve that truth here, and keep it as a reminder to myself that photographs aren’t undisputed evidence of everything being all sunshine and rainbows, all the time. My photos, or anyone else’s. It’s an easy thing to forget. Things inevitably get hard, and our response as partners to those hard times decide whether we sink, or whether we swim.
I’ve always loved biking around the city. I wrote a little about that before here. While it was true when I wrote that, that I’d ridden a bike more days than I hadn’t in 10 years, I definitely can’t say the same thing since covid and remote work started. My daily commute was where I got the majority of my biking in, but I haven’t had a commute in nearly 3 years. So I set out to bike 100 miles for August. Not a hard distance to bike in a month, but the whole idea was to just get out there and have some fun again. So that’s what I did.
Somedays I biked to lunch, somedays biked for errands, and somedays I had no agenda or direction at all. Just rode to ride. Heading down any which street offered the path of least resistance. Meaning wherever there was a green light or a wide street. Even snuck in an 18 mile round trip to and from the beach one day. A sure way to make a cold drink even colder.
It’s a hell of a feeling riding no hands with arms stretched wide and the wind pushing through your fingers. And that’s really the highlight of the month I think, the pure fun of it. The month was also a reminder to not let biking slip away any further than I’ve already let it. A fun bonus was passing a slower moving cyclist who seemed shocked that anyone could even be going faster than he was, but more specifically, when he broke the awkward silence inherit when passing and asked, “Man, what is it.. ? Is it you, is it the bike.. or..?” We both started cracking up, and I told him I’d just been at it a long time. Stranger, you made my day.
The good times, with the good people. A lot of bands on the roster for “This Ain’t No Picnic” in Pasadena, plenty of which my “age to coolness ratio” didn’t qualify me to have even heard of before. Even still, we caught plenty of music. LCD Soundsystem, Idles, Beach House, The Strokes, and I finally got to see Pheobe Bridgers for the first time. She’s been on heavy rotation through my speakers the past few years.
“Someday” by The Strokes
I’ve loved this song since I first heard it, over twenty years ago. Long back enough that younger generations are starting to cover it, and I’m falling in love with it all over again.
“Someday” by Julia Jacklin
Our longtime friend Christina de Guzman, who we affectionately call “Goose” is moving to Portland. A big group of us saw her out in style by getting together to surprise her at a boozy brunch. Afterwards, we hopped on a party bus and shot over to some of our old haunts and neighborhoods. A final Tour-de-LA. From West Hollywood, to Venice, to Downtown to Mid City. We were a big group, but these 5 brave souls you see here were the last standing by nights end, and arguably the ones history, or at the very least the ones the photo-booth, remembers.
It is an odd thing becoming slowly but surely estranged to a city I’ve lived so long in, one lost familiar face at time. Ultimately though, there’s few things more inspiring than watching a friend leap into the unknown in order to better their life. We’ll miss you Goose, upwards and onwards!
I understand I’m not the most sophisticated man, and that I’ve got a lot of life still yet to walk, but I was in utter disbelief at this shower setup at our Airbnb. Particularly that it seemed to require some sort of advanced degree to operate it. Not pictured here, are even more knobs nearby.
We always have a fun time on our annual Boggs Family Adventure, and this year was no exception. From poolside and the mountain tram in Palm Springs, to discovering the hidden inner workings at Disneyland. Steph’s brother works at Disney and was able to walk us to the front of the line for a bunch of rides. That’s about as good a deal as it gets, but even still I’d have to say the highlight was Indiana Jones breaking down while we were on it, and having to get out of our cart and walk through the ride on foot. Most of that walk was in darkness, with all ambient sounds and music shutoff, but with the animatronic Indiana Jones’ still moving. With no other sounds, the grinding of Indie’s internal gears was all you could hear. Really the stuff of nightmares, but I wouldn’t trade it for the normally functioning ride any day.
Tried to learn a new word everyday of July. The aim wasn’t to arm myself with some set of obscure words to impress strangers, but really to save myself from some embarrassment. Growing up, I don’t think I had the best education. Not that it wasn’t available right in front of me, but because I really didn’t put the effort in, and because I often just fell through the cracks. Not asking the questions when I needed the answers. For the most part, my scores usually placed me in classrooms at a low level. One middle-school year in particular, we took an unexpected test that “wouldn’t count toward our grade.” Given that, I was more interested in making an intricate design on my scantron than actually taking the test. I’m pretty sure it was intended to determine our reading level though, since at the start of next quarter I was placed in a small classroom of kids who were hardly literate. We were tossed candy every time we were able to read a sentence aloud to the class, so I went on with it. It was more of an exercise in learning how to catch, than how to read.
Some of those consequences of my education have come up in my day to day. Particularly with vocabulary, and especially in my twenties. I thought “thirdary” was a word, and even used it often at work. You know, like, primary, secondary, “thirdary” (deep exhale to blink away the sting of embarrassment). I thought several meant exactly seven. I regularly misuse affect and effect to this day. Or how about that time I sent that company-wide email, explaining we needed to first “asses” the situation. God.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t able to laugh at it all today, and the truth is, time and experience fill in the gaps of our education pretty quickly anyhow. That said, I like learning, and there is still a real possibility I’m regularly making a mistake as offensive as “thirdary,” but just not yet aware of it (yikes). So I downloaded “Word of the Day,” paid for a lifetime membership because I’m a sucker, and a new habit was born.
I go out of my way to hide and silence most notifications on my devices, but it’s actually been pretty fun getting a daily ping for a new word. Plenty I’d heard before but didn’t know their meaning, and some I’d never seen in my life. The only words I already knew for the month were vignette, imperiled, sleuth, garble, Manhattanhenge, and Earthship. While not every new word sticks with me, enough do. The clearest win from the month was recognizing a word in the book I’m currently reading, that I only learned just days earlier. Couldn’t help but smile a little at it. We’re halfway though August now and I’m still keeping up with it, so I think this one’s here to stay. It’s kinda fun and takes such little effort, so why not. Plus, while I did say I wasn’t doing any of this to impress strangers, I have no issue trying everything I can to impress my wife. So far, she is not amused.
The Cohen’s invited us to crash their family vacation in Gearhart, a small town on the Oregon Coast. They’ve stayed at this particular beach house a few times over, but it was a first for Alexis and I. It’s absolutely gorgeous out there. I’m no stranger to a beach and lived most of my years within a few miles of one, but it really feels unique out there. Simultaneously lush and harsh.
We spent our days eating, drinking, exploring, playing games, sort of flying a kite, losing sandals, and doing our best to entertain Della while simultaneously falling under the spell of her charm. She’s a little maniac, in the best of ways, that is growing up much too fast for the frequency we get to see her.
Of course, as sure as the sun rises, I spent an unreasonable amount of time in the hot tub. It wouldn’t be vacation otherwise. Possibly a collective 8 hours in one day. I have sources that could verify, but my sunburn was probably evidence enough. Think I also broke a record for the fastest I’ve ever exited of a hot tub. All it took was Jason pretending to throw the live crab he just caught into the water with me. Speaking of, the ordeal he went through to catch that crab could be worthy of multi-part docuseries.
We made sure to explore Cannon Beach nearby, mainly to hunt for obligatory photo opportunities featuring scenes from The Goonies. The clouds hung low and the fog was heavy, but it somehow felt ideal. Walking around the town for an hour or two had the predictable effect of me opening Zillow to wonder if a life here could be possible. Most importantly, Alexis finally got to be a Goonie.
After a couple days on the coast, we packed up and headed to Portland, but not before a pitstop in Astoria. Always liked how Astoria sounded. Astoria. Anyhow, we were there hardly two or three hours, but it was just long enough to be charmed by it. The weather was nice, and I wouldn’t guess that to be true a good part of the year. This meant the streets were lively and the people were in good spirits since they got to wear t-shirts and shorts. We had lunch and a drink at a brewery and spent the rest of our time hunting for more Goonies shots. Mikey and Brand’s house, the Astoria Historical Museum where their dad worked, and the jail where the Fratellis busted out of. They even had the iconic Jeep 4×4 parked outside it, bullet holes and all. You better believe Alexis was fired up.
Eventually, we arrived in Portland. We’ve been there before, but haven’t really seen much of it. This trip wasn’t much different in that sense, we were only there two nights, but we stayed in an area new to Alexis and I, the same goes for what and where we ate. Demystifying the city just a little bit more for us. In that spirit of making it count, when the girls decided to get their nails done one day, and everyone else opted for a nap, seemed like a chance to take in what I could on foot. Ended up being a lot of walking on a hot day, but I had no trouble finding a shaded patio and a cold beer to counter the sun. You absorb so much more when the world isn’t rushing past a car window. Always worth the price of adding a few miles to your shoes. While I do wonder how the people who actually live there feel about that saying “Keep Portland Weird,” I know that I love the spirit of it, and walking around, I felt it.
Another reason we wanted to spend some time in Portland was because our friend Jon lives there now. He moved from Seattle with his girlfriend Margret and they bought a house. We finally got to see it, and it’s lovely. He’s really carved out a nice life there. He showed us around some of his usual stomping grounds too. We dined, we drank, we gamed, and we watched Jon eat the scariest hot-dog any of us have ever seen.
Just a few hours before we were set to leave, we stopped off at a park and met up with some old friends, Erin and Jamie, who I knew from when I was in college and who Drew knew when he was in high school. That’s a strange sentence that honestly kinda touches on the confusion of how we’re all connected. It could probably warrant a scientific study, but that’s for another time. Anyhow, none of us had seen each other in a longtime, and it was nice it happened. They introduced us to their kids, Ruby who was so young and tiny that sleep seemed to be her biggest priority, and Elliot who might’ve held the coveted spot as the coolest kid on the playground that day. Sporting shades, a hat and jean-jacket speckled with cool kid patches all over it. He demanded a high-five from me before we left, which if I’m being honest, made me feel like a million bucks.
It’s with that, that our Oregon adventure came to a close. We got our photos, made our memories, and became honorary members of the Cohen clan. The last of which, I determined by Della being able to individually pick us out and point to us from a lineup when she heard our names. I was tempted to shave my beard to really put her to the test, but I also don’t want to be the uncle that inadvertently traumatizes her. Anyhow, thankful for these trips, thankful for these friends, and after nearly a week, thankful to sleep in our own bed.
Rain and Snow. Hikes and Sunsets. Friends and brothers. Sons and Dads. The Bulls in Chicago and The Boss in St. Paul. Stiff drinks and long division. This was Winter.
“Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen