Left to right, Shweb, Dan, Charlie, Frankie, Chris, me, and Anthony. I was probably 11. Was one hell of water balloon fight. Anthony’s mom, Sally, took this picture. I can’t imagine an image that better captures how we grew up.
We’d spend our days seeing who could throw what the farthest. Who was the fastest. Who was the bravest, which typically entailed wrestling Frankie. He had such a strength advantage, that anyone only ever agreed to wrestle him if he was on his knees. We were wild and we ran like it, and the suburbs was our place to do it. Couldn’t have gown up anywhere better. Not specifically my hometown, but just the fact that it was the suburbs.
I live in the urban sprawl of Los Angeles now, a long ways from my hometown. I like it here, but didn’t always. It’s the people I’ve found and the girl I love that make it what it is for me. It’s where I belong now, but I couldn’t imagine being a kid here. I don’t know that I could have grown if not in suburban soil. I don’t know that any kid could. Confinement and wild freedom seem at odds. For that, I think some far off day, I may belong to those suburbs again.
My friends Mike and Christina are getting married. They deserve the best, and they found it in each other. I was honored that they asked me to design their invitations.
I’ve only ever worked for friends as favors to them. Here’s the first time I didn’t. When you’re good at something, people will say it’s easy for you. Maybe that’s true, maybe not, but you shouldn’t ever feel guilty about doing what you do, and doing it well. I’ve done it so much, but that’s done now.
My Gram wrote and sent this to me nearly six years ago, when I first moved to California. I really miss her. I wish I could show her everything. Everything I’ve done, everything I will do.
I think about the little cousins I have sometimes. I’m far away enough from them in years and miles, that it’s a struggle to even hold on to their names. But I think about how unfortunate they are, to grow up without her. Then I think about how fortunate I was. I wouldn’t have grown as tall.
Just shy of 27 years old, I am the proud recipient of the Royale Lifetime Achievement Award. And what exactly is that you ask? Well, in typical Royale fashion, it’s just a majestic glimmering bald eagle, carved from crystal, weighing in at a solid 5 pounds.
Regardless the humor of it, it really does move me to be so appreciated by the people I consider to be heroes.
I will miss them.
My girlfriend brought these flowers over for an Easter brunch we had at my apartment. I don’t have a vase, so we put them in my glass boot, which was a gift from my friends Anne and Andy. Typically it gets filled with beer, not flowers. When I saw it, It reminded me of how much I’ve slowed my drinking, and how much of a good thing that is.
Here we go.
Alexis. Drew. Magic Johnson’s Friday’s. LAX. San Jose. Terminal Drinking. More flying. My first stamp. Lima. Our apartment. Carolina. Sebastian. 4am 90s top 40. Taxis that weren’t taxis at all. Karaoke. Pisco sours. Sushi. Con permiso. Agua con gas. Agua sin gas. Tour busses. Catacombs. Chili’s. Our taxi ran out of gas. Ice cream. Another plane. Cusco. Our hostel. Cinemax. Michelle. Dancing in markets. Hiking. Hunted by wild dogs. Altitude sickness. Snickers grande. Canadian Irish pub. Dos mas please. A train. Aguas Calientes. Jurassic Park. Hot springs. Market bargaining. Machu Picchu. Touring. Hiking. Photo ops. Wonder. Naps. Rain. A late train. A missed bus. High-speed taxi driving. Intercepting and boarding our bus. Frostbite. Arequipa. Sand boarding fail. Rafting. Rafting rescue. Cerveza hunting. Bibs. Alpaca. Another plane. Back to Lima. More Chili’s. Ramada. Security cameras. More Cinemax. Another plane. San Jose. More flying. LAX. Mckenzie. Home.
That was my trip to Peru. Exhausting, but I wouldn’t do a thing differently. If this was difficult to grasp, then I described it perfectly. You really had to be there.
Royale, the company I work with, sponsored me and two others to attend the Style Frames design conference in New York City. I took in a lot from the experience, and feel truly fortunate to have had the opportunity.
It was my second, and longest visit to the Empire State. I spent most of my time in Manhattan. It’s an amazing thing to walk through its streets. Literally standing in the shadows of the achievements of men. I could see a contagious hustle about everything. Everyone moves with purpose. It’s inspiring. But even in all this wonder, I remember feeling most amazed at the sight of my own breath.
Photo Credit: Handel Eugene
My apartment doesn’t have a washer or dryer, or even the hookups. So naturally, I kept a key to my old apartment complex. Twice a month, for a good three years, I ran their treadmills while I did my laundry. If you listen to your headphones loud enough, people know better not ask you what floor you live on.
Anyhow, they finally changed the locks on me. But now I’ve got a girlfriend kind enough to let me wash my clothes at her place. What’s funny is, mile after mile on that treadmill, for three years, she was always the one I was thinking about. I would daydream the impossible event of her falling for me. In reality, she hardly knew I existed. And now, I drive to her apartment, and she lets me up to do my laundry.
Taken at the LA State Historic Park during FYF, a two day music festival during Labor Day weekend. Givers played my favorite set of both days. It’s so inspiring to see and hear such talent. I remember standing there feeling like I needed to be somewhere else. Creating something of my own. Not just watching. But I truly enjoyed the set, and even more so the company. So I’m glad I wasn’t.
But still, I want to create more. I want to inspire.
They were playing Atlantic when I took this and they dedicated it to their lost friend Eddie. It was heartfelt. This girl’s voice could move a mountain.
Atlantic by Givers.
My Aunt Janet. She’s been so involved and supportive in just about everything I’ve done in my life, every step of the way. Seen me fail, succeed, short and tall. She is a person in my life that truly cares for me. Could never thank her enough for all that she’s done. Over the years, she’s taken me to see and do so many things that I otherwise may never have experienced. I wouldn’t be who I am without those experiences, and I wouldn’t be who I am without her.
Happy Birthday Aunt Janet.
My Grandfather, James Patrick Smith, when he was only 20 or so. Today he’s 80. But everyday, he’s one of the greatest, most influential people in my life. My family says I take after him, but I know I’ll never compare. He’s made entirely of good qualities. If I become just a fraction of the man he is, I’ll have done pretty ok.
Happy Birthday Gramp. Can’t wait to show you all the things I accomplish by your 90th.
The company I work with, Royale, had its holiday party at our studio recently. Doubled as a small gallery showing for our staff artists. Everyone submitted a lot of great pieces. I had thirty or so in the showing. Sizes varied from 8x8s to 20x20s. Some framed, some not. More sold than I’d expected and all the proceeds went to Charity Water. Its a great thing.It was strange putting my face to my art. Really don’t ever talk about it much. You wouldn’t know I do this unless someone told ya. I’m fortunate to have so many friends that appreciate and support what I love to do. Choosing guests was somewhere between a rock and a hard place. Couldn’t invite fifty people. In the end, it was them that made the night for me. Theres a whole mess of pictures on the new Royale Blog. All in all, a way fun and sincere night.
Charlie, Jess, Ryan and myself. Hadn’t seen these ones in years. Didn’t even know Ryan and Jess lived here in Los Angeles. Charlie and I grew up together. Met the summer between fifth and sixth. We’ve grown a lot taller and wider since, but here we are, in the same picture. Can’t help but smile thinking about the all things we’ve done and lies I’ve told my parents to do them. But I always made my curfew. Was glad to see my friend.