Monday, October 28, 2013

Final Post From The Summer 2013 Road Trip

My car is covered in snow, it's safe to say that the summer is over.
In a very poetic turn of events: Monsieur Bianco was both the first person I saw when I left Boston AND the last person I saw before I started my new job 4 months and thousands of miles later.

Before the remaining "things I asked my hosts" questions- I want to express how grateful I am for everyone that helped make my summer adventure happen the way that it did. Thank you/gracias/merci beaucoup. This summer wouldn't have been the same without (If I leave anyone out I'm sorry) in chronological order:
My parents, Mediastruction, Chris B, Jana, Dan W, SJB-Fartky, Erica Schneider, Erin Sullivan, Ian Az, The Airborne Toxic Event, Lisa Lerner and her lovely roommates, Maya,
Tyler, My Uncle Moose, Daniel Sanderson and his posse in Arizona, two plus two, ASPRING (also Lauren Fitz, Alex and Joey), Jason and Katie McCoy, Alisha/Chrisa/Nick, Mike Cohen and Ashley soon-to-be-Cohen as well as their whole UVM squad, Jenny Simler (Thug-las-Doug-las, Nancy), My Uncle Art, Max, Matt and everyone who gave me encouraging phone calls at some point. I owe all of you and hope you'll come to Tahoe and let me tour guide/host/snowboard lesson for you.
EDIT: Super big thanks to Jenna and Janice!

Questions from road #3-4: biggest regrets and happiest moments.
Most people see regret as "now that I know how_____ went, I wish I had done something differently." That isn't regret, it's learning. Regret is born in a moment of "I know I should do X but it scares me so I'm going to do Y." Those are the decisions you have to have to what-if at some point later.

Answers included:
-Letting an opportunity slip away
-Not saving more money
-None (x2, x3,x4, x5 ("I learn from the bad" was enthusiastically spoken from the fifth person))
-Not listening to myself enough, not trusting my instincts
-Getting "carried away"
-Not embracing my full self earlier
-Not moving in with my sister
-Not staying in touch with old friends
-Not following an athletic dream (x2)
-Cheating on someone

From that it seems like if we do what feels right and take chances there won't be any new regrets. You'll have nothing but moments of full hearted happiness such as:

-In 2006 spending time with a girl I thought I'd marry
-Traveling (taking a big chance.) Family time
-Summer between junior/senior year of college (a girl was involved)
-Back in college town, not worrying about what comes next
-The feeling of independence I had on my flight to Hungary
-It keeps getting better: my happiest moment is in the future (x2)
-Helping people
-Physical bliss
-Getting lost in music (x2)
-Fam vacations, road tripping
-Traveling. Moments that validate my past choices
-An after party. Everyone had left except my best friends and we stayed up talking for hours
-A specific round of mini golf

So that's it for being on the road. What have I learned? Take chances and try not to get in your own way. Love without fear. Talk to strangers and try to learn as much as you can from them- especially older people. Different is beautiful. Wanting to be multiple places at once is a good problem. Going back to Boston with FCGS will always feel right. Life is created by who you are- what you give out is what you get back. Social media is great for staying connected but never gets you closer than arms length. Not taking risks is itself a massive risk. Home is a feeling, not a place.

For the forseeable future I'm employed at Heavenly, living in Zephyr Cove NV, doing my snow dance (and reading, Keep Tahoe Blue!), teaching my body to run at altitude, working on my book. Speaking of which- this winter I'm looking for people to help me cover more ground on editing. I'd like a few people hold be accountable, perhaps implement some kind of embarrassing punishment or charity donation for falling behind and not sending monthly chapters along for review. Shoot me an email if interested.

Keep Tahoe in mind if you're planning a ski/spring/summer. It's a special place.


Monday, October 14, 2013

So this is what it feels like to get exactly what you want

J Simler recently asked what makes me mad. Best answer I could think of was apathy
A human life has too much potential to be wasted on things we have to/don’t want to/hate doing so we can have "enough" stuff and experience the occasional distraction. Don't be like that. 
I hope anyone who feels lost or scared or confused can look for and find:
-the open-mindedness try many new things until you find a few that make you very happy. 
-the courage and boldness to take any risks and go after what you want (even if no around you is doing the same.)
-the patience to realize it doesn't happen immediately.
-the resolve to keep trying until your life is full of everything that you love and very little else. 

Oh, hey there soon to be new hometown. Fancy seeing you here.
For those who didn’t receive any anxiety filled “please keep my mind occupied” phone calls: the past few weeks I’ve been interviewing for a Marketing Coordinator position at Heavenly in Tahoe. In my months of wandering, this is the only job I’ve wanted. I was offered it and accepted this AM. 
I’m flying back to Boston tonight to hang with family and friends and get my snowboarding gear. I want to see everyone so if you’re around, holler! 
Come to Yarden's party at Back Bay Social on Friday. I'll be brunching (typical Jesse move) on Saturday, place TBD.
If you're not around during the weekend, let me know and we'll figure something else out. 

Excited/embarrassed/tired looks like this
The job is right in my wheelhouse: social media/website stats/ad coordination and event (cough, x games qualifiers and winter olympic parties, cough) logistics.
The pro’s of working in Tahoe are silly good: I’ll get to snowboard the best mountains in the West Coast (and golf all summer) there’s a poker room near the office, yoga studios, the best running trails in the country, a creatively stimulating environment to work on my book. 
Anyone who wants to come visit is encouraged. Not sure my housing situation yet, but there will be room for an airbed/futon.

South Lake Tahoe is much smaller than New York or Boston or San Francisco but winter+summer tourism drive the local economy so the town is full of big city perks: various ethnic restaurants, art galleries, theaters and casinos. Also- it's stunningly beautiful

I look back and am humbled by the circumstances that led to this: interning at NBC, working at Mediastruction, volunteering at Operation Snowsports, leaving Boston to travel, having my uncle’s crash pad in San Francisco, having some unwavering support and the financial flexibility to take a pay cut. 

Enough bragging. Three more goals/unrelated thoughts:

I want to ask for advice from more elderly people. They've been around and seen/done/thought more than I have. 
The things we care about are going to change constantly so I need to quit chastising people for caring about different things than I do.
Yesterday was a damn good day for Boston sports. I'm excited to get to catch a sox/pats game with papa Jon and FC Greenstorm. 

Cue the "congrats Jesse" that this post is fishing for. I hope I get to congratulate you on getting exactly what you want sometime soon. 

Much love,

Friday, September 27, 2013

Places You Can Live (Also, Assorted Thoughts)

Hi People,
I realize, only now that summer is turning to fall and my bags will be packed again soon, how comfortable I've gotten in a relatively short time in San Francisco. For now I'll savor this wonderful feeling of home, then I'll be crossing my fingers that whatever works out next is even better.

In the second installment of questions asked to hosts we have "What is your favorite thing about where you live?"
Generally, East Coast answers seemed to be about the people and West Coast answers often described things you can do outside.
I'm surprised that general city perks- restaurants, museums, jobs, were never mentioned. Answers in red were genuine to the respondent but could have been from anywhere. Any guesses as to what comment goes with what place/person are welcome. From East to West we had:
-Easy place to be proud of being from. People are become somebody here, we're a city based on excellence. 
-"Absolutely nothing" muttered a drunk girl at a roulette table. We (E Sullivan and I) prodded her further, "the sports teams I guess." Spoiler alert: This one was Cleveland.
-(The city as a whole has) The coolest people
-Comfortable, easy going
-Tons of outdoor public space
-Unique heritage of larger than life characters
-Antelope Canyon
-Sunsets and sunrises
-Close to traveling outdoors
-The sun
- Enjoying life outside, being active. The social lifestyle. 
-The beach!
-The big town with small town closeness
-The difference between day and night
-The wide spectrum of people: weird/f'd up to caring/loving

A big part of picking a place to live comes from noticing who is around. If not who then take a look at how strangers act towards each other.  How does the average person carry himself How noisy is it?
Everyone in San Diego seems really healthy and fit- which makes you want to run and stretch and floss and eat more vegetables. San Fran people make it easier to pick up a book in public, not shave for a day week month, meditate in a park. The New York I remember is full of people so focused you want to heroically climb up the ladder and be rich and famous and have a table reserved at all the trendiest restaurants.

Thinking about the identity of where you live makes it easier to try to find a meaningful answer to the big q: who are you? 
When you strip away your job and your house and your stuff and your friends and how many push ups you can do and your favorite restaurant and the books you've read and the secrets you've kept, who are you?

-In trying to answer this question, I accidently started to take responsibility for my own happiness.

-There are a bunch of things that make us who we are: the things we love (and hate), the choices we make that no one else will ever realize we made, the things we laugh at when no one is listening.

-I keep finding mini meanings but not yet that big one that doesn't take any external motivation.

-When you listen to your gut and it leads you to a weird place that's not a failure- that's practice. My life has been very strange lately and I wouldn't change a thing about it- those tough days are just practice too.

-When words won't suffice a strong enough tool to communicate, we use feelings and beauty to describe the world. When I tell you I miss you- do you know what I mean?

-There will be lots of balls that someday we wish we had started rolling earlier. What can you get started on today that you'll thank yourself later? Investing towards retirement? Working out? Learning a new language?

-If I keep typing it will be about Breaking Bad, I'll save that for next time. 

Have a good weekend. Snapchat me a picture of some leaves changing colors or something.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Got Bored In Oakland, Wrote This (Poem?)

The street bucks black and bustles. Men brush “dirt off their shoulders” and I wonder why they don’t choose clean shirts. People don’t write poetry any more so don’t dare call this a poem. Maybe I’m a creation or a distraction- a love note or a fraction of a way to get off computers and phones- the old city groans. 

What if we've been alive forever and we lost track of the time?
I saw a future where I'm 30 and I turn to you and say "Let’s run out of here and go everywhere." You laugh, but I’m all serious when I promise to go with you. There’s mischief in the moon tonight; I ache to learn what makes you nervous.
I’ve pondered and wandered, yonder and farther in June’s hot NY breezes and July’s trees and teases. August was a wheel around, now it’s September and how can I write right and make the wind blow you to my side tonight? 
The country I love is one where our work works and we sing long songs around a bonfire that burns off love and never needs sleep or food. Been out over-thinking that I’m over out-thinking how it’s taken a long time of riding the wrong line to find the light wine that makes my rhymes fine.

There’s a spot under your glass of MaCallan where the table’s empty and no less places to be than ideas of how to get you there. Your wit is cunning and you style so stunning. Your banter has a way of turning sexual and I selfishly hope every word is wearing a disguise to hide that it’s actually all about me.

As these warm summer days set slowly orange we’ll pat each other on the back and say “good game” as we promise the next time we’ll meet very differently. 
Then the sky is still again. Won’t you stay here my friend? You took a hard left and bamboo shoots fell from your hair. Carried by the wind they splintered across the road, lost as we were half-nude and drenched in firelight. 
What looks like a freak out might just be shedding (which I’m happier with than treading.) 
Everyone who went to NYU is a little bit hipster.

Blog Savers: 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

PFR #7: Fears/Potentials

Hi from San Francisco,
As anyone at all involved in fantasy sports knows, it's the first week of football season. Yesterday, before the next few bunch season's worth of Sundays are spent on couches and in sports bars, we had a SundayFunday skateboarding and playing disc golf, watching Breaking Bad and getting heated over Settlers (of Catan) too many dumplings and just the right amount of everything else.

For anyone looking to start their (Jewish) New Year with some good Karma, I have three friends doing awesome fundraisers:
-Sam Reed is raising $ for her students- and they are in the hood so they can use every penny. She's a sweetheart and I'm sure a great teacher.
-Kev Aries is doing the Jimmy Fund walk and his muscles are so big and beautiful I can't say no to anything he asks.
-Paul Penczner  is doing the New York Marathon in support of the Innocence Project. So proud of you Paul!
If you've got a few dollars around, click a name and pat yourself on the back. Anyhoo...

All summer I've been asking my hosts a series of questions including "What is Your Greatest Fear?" Before they answer, people usually ask why or what's yours. I'll get both out of the way before I start word dumping.
Why-  As interesting as I find the literal question, I was asking  friends to reveal themselves, to answer a subquestion of "who are you?" without letting them identify this idea of self with a job or an address or a car. Silly people give silly answers, over-thinkers give a whole pile of answers and follow up answers. However a person answers, it would help me adjust my ensuing questions on the questionnaire. Originally I was hoping there would be common fears that my friends-regardless of location- share and others that were West coast fears or male fears or other specific types of fear. In college I studied research psychology and creative writing so asking these questions might be a thing I trained myself to do.
Confronting fear and embracing uncertainty are part of an ever-evolving person. How each person deals with their fears and insecurities is part of being an adult or whatever you want to call it.
Some people don't do anything that they fear and that's a huge bummer. I believe that we choose our own attitude about confronting our fears (but I might have just stolen that idea from reading Victor Frankel) and that in moments of fear- when our guard and ideas of who we "should" be fall down- we reveal who we are.

What's Mine? Greatest fears are asterisked. Thing's I'm afraid of include:
-It will turn out I'm entitled and never really earned/amounted to anything by myself. 
-Good things changing so fast I don't have a chance to realize it's time to hang on tight. 
-People thinking I'm boring/annoying.
*Snapping out of my life like it was a dream or a drug trip and now I'm someone else in a new reality.  Google metaphysics, I'm afraid of any example you find there. 
*Losing my parents.
-Being that guy when I'm 40 (You know: the one who is hitting on young girls in dive bars, renting a shitty apt,  telling himself how cool he is while wondering what the meaning of his life will be.) 

What have other people said?
Please note that most of my friends are white, college educated, employed in a office environment, living in a city, so generalizations aren't meant to be representing all or even most people.

The most common fear I've heard is "not living up to my potential" in which potential usually refers to a job: how high up the corporate ladder I can climb or never starting my own company or not making enough money. About half the people I've asked said they fear not being as successful as they perceive their potential allows. Interestingly, people have a hard time drawing a line and saying "$X salary would be enough" or "_____ is what success looks like for me."
I worry that this vague idea of success is a moving line and every time we get a raise or get promoted or accomplish something we raise our idea for what is enough success. If we keep advancing the line of where our potential could lead is, we will never actually meet that goal and we will realize our own greatest fear. Write your goals down- they can't run ahead taunting you if they are fixed to a piece of paper.

Related to that is the many people who said "letting down my friends/family" where in addition to the professional implications there are fears of losing touch or not being there when somebody needs you.

Others have been all over the place:
Dying Alone, Losing My Father, Leaving Behind a Mangled Body, Parallasis, Pregnancy (that was a guy), Rats, Scary Dogs, Getting Murdered, Abandonment, Feeling Trapped, Giving in to Outside Pressure, Kidnapping, Humiliation, Heights, Losing Someone I care about, Poison, Loneliness, Having My Past Catch Up To Me.

What are your fears?

This pic has nothing to do with fear, it's just my favorite from San Diego last week. 
Two years ago I wrote a post struggling to identify myself between ideas of "artist" and "businessman" because I'm not either. I realized- in a daydream- if I had to drop in a category like these:  I'm an existential romantic. I like the bright side and expect big things out of my friends. I want to travel and write and push people to be happier and live more authentic lives.
For a while there, I had gotten out of touch with my reckless abandon. In certain ways I think I've intentionally numbed myself down into a more expected, uninteresting version of myself. This summer has taught me how important it is to do more of the things that you love and less of everything else. I'm afraid of forgetting that.

Friday, August 23, 2013

PFR#6: Repeat As Desired

Happy Friday (or whatever day you're reading this),
I've been in California for a month? That happened quickly. For those looking at a map, I'm in San Diego- back up to San Fran next week through mid September. Cali life is good; full of making new friends, bonfires, reading, learning to longboard, yoga, coffee shops.
Alisha, Yoshi, and I took a trip to Tahoe last week. Before that Derek and I took a drive down the Pacific Coast Highway, through Big Sur, camping along the coast.

I lucked my way into a Sublime (with Rome) concert. People in Cali sure like Sublime. People on the East Coast do but not in the same prideful way. As good as the show was, the new kid is not Bradley. Those are massive shoes to fill and there's nothing he could do differently but there was an elephant in the crowd. Sublime was going to be the next big thing and it isn't quite the same anymore. This happens (David Foster Wallace) and is happening (Glee) over and over with genius entertainers. Too often the genius to create art comes at the cost of being able to live a normal life.
Speaking of music (Brag Alert) I'm heading to my second Airborne Toxic Event concert of the summer tonight in the OC then camping by the ocean.

Random Things Not Quite Worthy of a Blog:

-"The morning after the night before."
-It makes me really happy when things effortlessly come together.
-It feels different to learn something new (instead of more of the same) because it lets us evolve as people instead of specialists.
-Maybe your 20s are about creating self instead of finding self. What is it we would find anyway, and how would we know when we'd found it? Things you create (or at least personally experience) resonate on a more genuine wavelength than things you learn 3rd hand. I enjoy conversations about things that people have done/felt/realized more than when a person regurgitates something that sounded "right" when they heard it on TV.
-My friend Bob once gave me credit (probably too much) for the effort I put in to keeping relationships alive. Those efforts have paid off big time: a few weeks ago I had a Sangria showdown against one of my closest friends from middle school and the judges included my old next door neighbor and my roommate from Israel. 

-Something interesting I heard in a Freakanomics podcast. People are quick to use absolutes as labels. If someone is honest every day for 30 years and tells one lie, they are now a liar and there is nothing they can do to go back. Despite its linguistic correctness liar isn't a fair assessment of that person's moral compass. In a more morbid sense: Life has to win everyday, death only has to win once.
-You have a vivid dream and wake up. What if when we die, it's like waking up from a dream and there's a new reality, and after that another one, and another one? If this- that you would get to do it all again- was the case, how would you live differently?

There's one month left in summer, stop reading and go do the thing you've wanted to do all summer. 
-Cue the haters: I bought a longboard which I can't wait to unleash on Golden Gate Park with Mr. Mike Cohen. Wow has skateboarding come a long way:

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

PFR#5: Duality

Hi from San Francisco,

A beautiful girl (brag!) recently told me that I say things most guys don't.
This isn't groundbreaking but please humor me and break it into two parts: "Jesse says things most guys don't."
A) The first half is easy. I'm a weirdo/oversharer/clueless romantic.
B) From what I can tell- most guys don't make candid, honest, romantic statements to pretty girls and that's a shame.

I've always been in touch with impulses that are classically labeled feminine but I see no way that using flowery language* or being sensitive makes a man soft.
Too often, people have a singular focus, style, or motivation.
Where does this singularity come from? Today's "role models" can be famous for no reason at all and some of the great fictional characters are an exaggeration of one trait. Personifying one characteristic works in fiction but results in a person that lacks balance and complexity.
It's perfectly masculine to be sensitive. The guy that doesn't let himself cry isn't necessarily tough. He wants to seem tough so he's playing the part of a tough guy: cold, angry, emotionless, distant.
Most modern men don't go to war to have their toughness tested. We have questions about the depth of our masculinity, how we'd react with our backs against the wall, and whether other men share our fears and doubts. Maybe if we grew up fighting hand to hand we wouldn't be embarrassed to tell a girl (or guy(or dog)) we love her or cry during an episode of The Office. Our communication is getting less personal each time we text instead of hug, tweet instead of showing up.
There's so much beauty (and I promise, happiness) in being able to reach in both directions: strength and vulnerability, generosity and acceptance of help, beauty and heartbreaking pain, sweetness and toughness. It can't be best to be one way all the time, right?

Yoshi thinks I have a point
The past few weeks in California have been full of exploring, reconnecting with old friends (hi Annie) and hitting it off right away with new ones (hi Jenny!) I've napped on the beach, wandered around LA-thanks for the tour guiding Jason/Katie- bought some silly tank tops in Chinatown, reconnected with some family who reminded me how small I was when I was a toddler, laughed at late night British hotel humor, eaten an In and Out burger, and driven up the coast where after a while it seems like the beach (let alone the ocean) goes on forever.

One other quick rant: If you want something badly, go take it. Don't over-think how to get it, just use whatever reasonable means you have and at least try. I have tendency to put myself in a position where something could/should happen and then just wait for it. Sometimes you have to grab your courage balloons and ask for a discount or a date or a job or a favor or whatever. So much is always available but things go away when you wait too long.

One out of context laugh I forgot to write about in New Mexico. We were talking about Darcy's friend's daughter:
Glenn- She is a game warden. When people see a mountain lion or something she helps them wrangle it.
Me- Next time you see her, please tell her there's a big game problem in my pants that I need help with.
WHS '05 Sighting
Glenn- She'll probably shoot it off.

That's it for now.
SJ- the post you told me to write is coming, but it's not quite ready yet.
*I miss writing poetry.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Confusing, Weird, Wonderful: NM, AZ, LV, SD

This morning I realized I've been dreaming much more vividly the past few weeks. My imagination is coming out of hibernation.
(Rewind Three/Four weeks) I'm in bed in New Mexico at the top of a mountain- the wind rustling against trees sounds like ocean waves. I don't want to hurry out tomorrow, but may have to for AZ is calling.
My great uncle Glenn is the coolest. He laughs with his whole body and is full of joy and pride for the life of achievement, accumulation, adventure, exploration he has led. This chapter of it takes place at the top of a mountain with a woman he loves. Talking with him reinforces the idea of independence and figuring out the way to live as an individual. We have no idea the consequence and beauty that will come out of the choices we make for ourselves, so FIDLAR?
Max- on the right, is one of my proudest additions to my social circle this summer. See you in SF brother.
The dust in the air in eastern Arizona makes the sky look like its on fire. We (Dan's friends that happily let me tag along) didn't spend too much time in Phoenix except having an amazing Mexican meal at Barrio Cafe.
It's so hot around Phoenix/Tempe that my AZ posse is eager to get out of town. The climate changes quickly- a two hour drive takes us from city to desert to pines and the temperature dropped to a managable 90 as we drove through the forrest.
First stop Grand Canyon. It's breathtaking. Go see it and howl into the air.
We spend the next two nights at the Firefly festival for yoga/music/spirituality. I don't quite fit in but am open minded enough to get along with the loving, peaceful people that feel at home here. It's easy to learn from people who are tapped into something where I've only scratched the surface.
On the way back to town we stop in Sedona. It's easier to listen to your own internal voice when you get outside of a city. We eat lunch by a creek and play and meditate. The water rushes through the red rocks and splashes around at our feet.
To my friends in AZ- you are special community and your openness is rewarded with gifts from the universe. Never change or let your hearts get too full that you can't accept more of the wonderful life that's heading your way.

Finally made it to Vegas...and had a time.
First day I get a heavy dose of perspective. After being bummed about losing a little money I see a kid backflip ALMOST into a pool and knock out his four front teeth: makes you think that money is silly to begin with and how lucky I am to have a little bit I can afford to part ways with. We arrive and leave the world without $, so for now the currency I'm more concerned with producing and receiving is love-I'll take smiles as well. By the end of this summer trip I'm going to be able to love so much more intensely than I have before (so watch out bitches.)

Guys I met at the 2p2 party or at the Rio live for poker. They are obsessed, super motivated, and committed to studying, testing ideas, and practicing as much as they are to playing. That's the way to make a living out of a game, but it's a little sad to see this many smart young people completely consumed by one thing. I'll probably never put in the time to reach my poker potential- it's not worth denying some other part of myself to create the time to do so.
Most poker players have massive egos. There's a blatant lack of self awareness that tends to trap people who have worked hard into thinking they are entitled to constant success.
Vegas is a playground. The side pieces (women watching their beaus play in the biggest games) are a bunch of supermodels. The 2p2 party is a nerdtastic good time.
Next time I'm in Vegas it will be different: more shows and fancy, romantic dinners and less poker.

I drive to sunny San Diego for a week of detoxing with the wonderful Anna Springer and Lauren Fitz.
The first few days of Pacific Beach are full of dog walks, beach cruising, and yoga. One class is themed "Rasheet Rivah" (or something like that) which is a sanskrit meditation for "I am changing, I am evolving."
Among many other things, the summer has been a reminder of how good it feels to make friends and meet people. Anna took a day off so we could go surfing. We drink bottomless mimosas and go to a Padres game. We sing the cup song and listen to her friends Joey and Alex play guitar then dance all day at the gay pride festival.

I drive to drop my car at LAX and head back to New Mexico with fam this time.
We eat massive steaks at the edge of Texas and see the world's biggest pistachio. We go to Roswell and have a picnic at the white sands.
One day I get dropped off at the side of the road miles from my uncle's with a bag of drinks and snacks and wander into the mountains to find my way back, alone. It is exhausting and at times disorienting. A pack of elk run by- they are massive and powerful. After a few hours of climbing mountains I find a path that leads me to a road that points me in the right direction. I'm back in time for dinner.
"The weakling who has refused the conflict, acquiring nothing, has had nothing to renounce. He alone who has striven and won can enrich the world by bestowing the fruits of his victorious experience."

And we're caught up to today- one more night in New Mexico then flying back to my car in Cali.
I'll leave you with a Rumi poem I saw in an art gallery "The moment I heard my first love song I began searching for you, not knowing how blind I was. Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere; they are in each other all along."

I miss you. Where are my snapchat replies?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

PFR #3- Southbound Curiousity

Hi all,
Time is a silly idea. I haven't wanted to leave any of my last several stops (New Orleans, Dallas, New Mexico, AZ) I could have used more time to explore each of them. On the other hand every adventure has been so full of life that it has filled me with an excitement that carries on to the next place. These good times lasts longer than just my duration in that state/city/spot. The experiences I've had this summer are not lost on me- taking a breath I think about the whirlwind past few weeks. Wanting to stay and savor all these new places and friends is a good problem to have.

Some highlights since the last post:
-It is pronounced "Lewe-vil" and not "Loo-wee-ville" and there is an area called The Highlands that is full of bars and headshops and people not pretending to be anything but themselves. Maya tried to show her ID to a crackhead guy who very clearly was not a bouncer in front of the bar (unless bouncers chainsmoke cigarettes in Louisville.) The bar had no security and $2 everything, including a claw game full of practical jokes.

-"Last time a Philly won, her name was regret" said the Churchill Downs tour guide.

-In Mississippi I started to keep track of people who brought up the Boston Marathon. First Richard aka o_richardparker at Waffle House (coolest instagrammer I've seen but I'm not on instagram so give that no credit) then Heather at hotel pool then a guy on a Bourbon tour. Instead of "Tom Brady" or "Red Sox" for now people seem to go right to the bombing when they think about Boston.

-There was an older couple in the same 3 Bourbon tours we took. Tom referred to it as his pilgrimage to Kentucky.
I am now a more educated drinker. Angels Share is the bit of whiskey that evaporates from the barrels.

-Graceland was awesome- all of a sudden the king reference makes sense. If I was between 10 and 40 in the 60's I probably would have loved Elvis. He was as big a deal as the Beibs and Fall Out Boy combined. The ribs in Memphis are no joke either.

A Quick Thought on Getting Lost:
The road less traveled sometimes goes from paved to gravel to dirt to "are we on a tractor path?"
It makes me anxious and that feeling can be an educational place.

-New Orleans is vibrant. It's easy to feel loved in places where people say "hi" and make eye contact with strangers. The city is full of art galleries and beignets and people drinking wine on the streets. The whole thing made me very Paris-nostalgic.
-When in doubt: talk to strangers, turn the music up, or take a deep breath. If none of those make sense you should probably just say "yes" and see where that takes you.

-"Datsu-Sar-Sum" is Japanese for the escape of the salary-man lifestyle.

-The drive to Dallas dragged on but I had a refreshing blast catching up with this guy.
Ty- I'm so proud of you and excited for the years that you have coming up. Your high expectations mean the world to me.

-Gratitude wins, be grateful.

In the next post:
-My great uncle Glenn is the coolest.
-An eye opening experience in AZ. "The human spirit needs places where nature has NOT been rearranged by man."

There are occasional moments of "what the eff am I doing?" but they quickly fade into something beautiful at the side of the road.
Give me a call if you want stories.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

PFR #2: Midwest Surprises

Picking up from the last post, Philly to Cleveland was the first "real" (400+ miles in a day) drive of the trip. Flew by.

Sometimes expectations can poison a good experience by making it seem subpar. Our total lack of expectations for Cleveland created an opportunity that the city danced all over. 
We (Erin S and I) were in town to break up the PA-IL drive and see The Airborne Toxic Event. TATE was amazing the first time I saw them but not as good the second. Their newest album Such Hot Blood was a step further away from that band I couldn’t get enough of three years ago, so I wasn't expecting too much. Anyhoo, the concert venue (House of Blues) was one of the more interesting places I've seen a show: small, walls full of art, mixed up audience (some highschoolish kids of course but many 30 somethings and mamas and papas too.)TATE played an unreal set: the singer was so passionate and energetic that he almost certainly had been snorting the funny stuff. The band stuck with the old record for most of the set. So good. 
After the show we across the street to the Horseshoe Casino and I played PLO during the Bruins OT.  Tornado/storm warnings kept interrupting the game with maps for Canadian provinces I had never heard of. 
Later, we met a curious girl at a Roulette table. Her boyfriend had burnt through a pile of money and then left her at the table.  She kept winning despite not knowing the rules (so degen on both counts.) She had the wristband from the concert so we bonded. She was surprised by our fondness for the Cleve so far, but later acnowleged it was a good place to be "if you like going to sports games and shit" since all the stadiums are downtown. 
KCCO Cleveland (my shirt got some love, lot of Chivers downtown!)

Next stop was Chicago. We drove and coffeed ourselves through the hangover fatigue from the concert. The ride did a number on us but know what makes you feel instantly like yourself again? Seeing superhost Lisa Lerner walk to you on the sidewalk of a swanky Lincoln Park neighborhood. 
I'm in this pic somewhere
Chicago seemed like someone averaged New York and Boston together then added a whole bunch of parks and told most of the ugly people to leave. Chi-town somehow seemed to have both a more physically active and emotionally relaxed population than NYC. The lake is probably a big part of that- people tend to want to be outside. Also- dudes were super well dressed. At the end of all this I want to get some pocket squares.
Some highlights:
-Deep dishing at Lou Malanti's
-Sweet laughing at Second City's Let Them Eat Chaos
Rambo crashed the dinner party
-Minority fanning it watching the B's in Blackhawk Territory
-Cover to cover digesting a novel in Millenium Park 
-Coming in 3'rd place Bowling
-ZOMG it's another big building Architecture tour
-"This kid's a good dancer, wait he's a professional?" at John Barlycourt

Highlight of the trip was the last night. Doing something big and fancy can be fun but often the best nights are a homecooked meal eating on a roof (with a beautiful skyline) eaten in the company of friends you haven't seen in a while. 

One other thing for now: when I tell people I'm from Boston, they bring up the marathon almost immediately. People are curious and compassionate but for now it's what the city is known for. Definitely not the Bruins since very few Kentucky bars even had the game on.

Solid Bowler, Excellent Tour Guide/Host, Better Friend/Person Lisa 

Next time: driving South, Bourbon Tours, Leweville (that's how it's pronounced apparently) and all things between now and New Orleans.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Post from The Road #1 (Love notes to cities)

Hello from Philadelphia!
It might be the heat or the "what am I doing today" joie de vivre but it's starting to feel like summer.
Thanks you Jana, Chris, Sara, Erica, Ian for the hospitality so far. It's already been a big beautiful pile of perspective-strengthening, deep thought inducing fun.

It's only after leaving that I realize I've seen what I wanted to see in you. Maybe it's in calling you home that I don't look at you and smell you and explore you the way I have been in these new places.
Anyway, I wouldn't want you to think I wasn't thinking about you. Next time I won't take you as for granted. I'm so proud to tell people about the times we've had and brag about the Bruins and the pockets of hip and the growth of the food truck scene. Really, I promise, it isn't you- you're great- it's me that needed a change. Don't be jealous of New Orleans or Arizona- I haven't even met them yet! Please keep all my friends safe and make sure they have a wonderful summer.

New York-
Remember those time I said you weren't right for me or that I didn't miss you? I was lying.
New York, you crazy, you can make yourself right for just about anyone. That's why you're New York: the standard any urban place in the world tries to rival.
After the steak chez Bianco and your Zombie Hut Elixers on Thursday, I dismissed any criticism of your style. I'd be lucky to perhaps hang around Brooklyn longterm someday.
It didn't matter that it rained for two days after that- you gave me smiles and hugs and the most delicious Cuban meal I've ever had. I will see you again NY, don't let the haters get you down. They're only teasing your rediculousness because they know you're so cool.

Got To
It's been real Philly. I can't say I understand you, but I've noticed some big smiles poking through all the roughness. Any self deprecating cynicism you wear can't cover your muscular body of blue collar pride. Don't compare yourself to New York or DC or the other guys nearby- if you ever meet on the street you can beat them up. If they brag about having more "swag" than you, give them a quick slap across the face. Other cities are filled with people trying to go places, often pretending to be there already. Your people know who they are- self awareness and humble pride are rare. We likely won't ever see each other again, so know that you were my first (time I fired a handgun) and thank you for the steak and cheese subsandwichhero, hoagie.

Can't wait to meet you Cleveland, Chicago, Louisville!
Until next time, be in touch. If you're still reading this I almost certainly miss you already.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Summer Plans

You know that roadtrip I've been talking about for the past two years? I'll be leaving sometime in June.
It feels (and could be) stupid to leave a good job in the middle of a recession depression but I can proudly say I'm leaving Mediastruction better than I found it. I can't take credit for too much of this but we've grown (both in staff and office space) and our client list has doubled from when I first started. I thank my boss for the great opportunity and successful 3.5 years of employment but it's time for a change.

Details are hazy but are starting to come together:
-NY, then Philly, then driving to Chicago so Erin can fix the city.

The rest is a little more up in the air:
-After a few days in Chitown I'll hopefully be drinking bourbon in Kentucky and hitting New Orleans before catching up with Tyler in Dallas for a week.
-From Dallas I'm hitting New Mexico and Arizona, making a pit stop in Vegas (got to right?) then making my way up the West Coast.
-I'll probably be in LA/SF/San Diego until I've used up my stay on couches and guest rooms. Then there are a handful of additional places and people I want to see (Colorado anyone?)

Please holler ( if:
-You just read the above and thought "whoa I want to go to _____ with you and have some vacation time to use"
-You have some advice about being on the road, or a restaurant/park/whatever where I definitely should stop
-You have a couch I can crash on and I haven't already talked to you about it

When I've told people about this I've gotten mostly positive responses and a few questions like:
-How long is this going to take?
-What are you hoping to get out of this?
-Do you have a new job lined up? You don't? Are you CRAZY? What are you going to do for money?

I don't know how long this is going to take or what I'm hoping for at the end. I have fully embraced the possibility that 2 years from now I will make less money than I currently make. Starting over once or twice might be par for the "didn't figure out what I want to do with my life during college" crowd. Money wise- I will be ok. Over the past few years since college we've probably all spent thousands that we didn't have to and it has (for the most part) been completely worth it. Professionally, maybe this trip is just something I need to get out of my system. I'd probably be better at my current job if I didn't "what if" as often as I do.

The "why" is hard to articulate. For one, it feels right. I'm terrified if I don't go travel right now that someday I will be that old guy who wishes he did something risky and fun in his 20s.
I used to constantly feel like there was something really special/beautiful about me. Certain people (the ones who I have and do love) places, hobbies still bring that out of me but most normal (work) days lately I haven't felt very important or special.
I'm not worried about "finding myself" or whatever but I'm hanging on to this idea that if I do more of what I want then questions about purpose and meaning will take care of themselves. The world is beautiful, our lives are too short, and nobody knows exactly what's going to happen and how they will feel about it.
In 2013 I want to dictate more of the experiences that will shape who I am 5/10/25 years from now. Some combination of luck, circumstance, sacrifice, and curiosity has put me in the position to do this. This "someday" has been stretch over the last 2 years and it would be very easy to continue to stretch it: find a new job that pays a bit more, maybe stay at my current job and buy a condo....but that doesn't feel right.
Us weirdos gotta do something different that what's expected.

Also, if I can't find a job maybe I'll finish writing my book...maybe.

It will be a kick-ass last month in Boston.  See you in a few months West Coasters.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Four Minutes and Eleven Seconds

My official Boston Marathon time was 3:57:33. Starting in wave 3 and showing up to the start line a few minutes late meant my clock didn't start until about 8 minutes in. My best guess is that I crossed the finish line at 4:05:33 race-time.
The bombs went off 4 minutes and 11 seconds later. I was getting a blanket/gatorade in the finishing area, the explosion was about 100 meters behind me. I heard it, turned, and saw the smoke starting to rise.
In hindsight this sounds stupid but No One in my area assumed it was a bomb. We had just run for 4 hours and brainwaves were struggling to communicate with each other. On some elementary level we knew something was wrong but is sounded like a bang, not the boom that movies would lend you to believe. It could have been some kind of machinery failure, or maybe even something like the musketeers at a Patriots game. Everyone in the crowd of runners looked to each other asking "what was that" in various emotive tones- some a hushed inquiry and others with an undertone of save me, tell me it's ok.
The advice of the BAA volunteers (who were amazing, fwiw) was to grab a Gatorade and keeping moving forward. The 50-something woman beside me was crying. She grabbed my arm and cried "what happened?" I took her hand and walked to the bag pick up, on the way listening to the conversations of strangers who were growing increasingly concerned. Our heart rate was coming back down to normal and our wits returning. The previous logic of "it can't be a bomb, that would've leveled the block"had given way to the fact that I've never seen a bomb go off and I just saw an explosion.
I grabbed my bag and took out my phone, needing desperately to know that my friends- who minutes ago I high-fived- were ok. Smoke was coming from the general direction I had seen them. Thankfully I had a missed call to prove they were ok.
In those two minutes the spreading words: bomb, limps, evacuate, had made it up the street.
People were crying, screaming, and sprinting away from the finish line, I was almost run over sitting by a fence next to the bag buses.
I think people run away from tragedy and pain because they want to feel some sense of control: If I can get myself quickly to a different place then my fate is in my own hands. But there wasn't any controlling this- the piece of earth where you stand might be no safer then the piece of ground you move to. If something else was happening- this might be it.
I texted a few friends who were near the finish to let them know I was ok.
I called my dad- he was so proud/happy for me (news hadn't broken the story yet) so it was surreal to tell him what was happening.  I contacted MFH and wandered to a friend's nearby apartment, on the way passing people covered in blood, others crying on their cell phones, some stunned staring at something only they could see before them.
Hugs from Alexa and my friends helped. We did an inventory of people who might be hurt/missing, made a list, and started to make sure someone had heard from them.
It was a few hours before everyone had been accounted for, but thankfully my friends are all ok. But my heart is heavy that other people's friends/family are not.

Yesterday I hugged/kissed/held hands with not only friends and family but also strangers. Yesterday we w
ere all just people- no hierarchal statuses or cliques. Today were still all people, tomorrow we will be as well. Try to not be mean to anyone, don't think you're better than them or judge them. We're all just doing our thing and someone who is a minor blip to you is a huge part of someone else's life and is complicated and amazing.

Today I'm thankful for all the expressions of love and calls/texts/emails yesterday. If I could only give you a quick answer at the time please know that I want more of you. Let's catch up/keep hanging out.
Today I'm thankful for the health/safety/general awesomeness of my friends- they made sure the people they knew were accounted for then started helping strangers (and Zack) contact and reunite with people that were looking for them.

To my friend Alex- you are one of the few people who admits to reading my blog so I know you'll see this. Don't let these sick assholes take away the feeling of accomplishment that you deserve. I hope when the sad starts to fade you will be as proud of yourself as everyone else already is of you.

I'm angry- we all are. And we need to know what happened- who did this and why- before we can let go and move on to a better-healed new normal. I sincerely hope nothing is taken away from the future of Boston. Next year we should cheer louder for the runners and celebrate Patriots day more feverishly than ever before. Keep bringing the high 5's and hugs and kisses to anyone who could use one.

I'll be a little weird for a while but I am ok.
With Love and Gratitude,

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Putting A Run of Bad Cards in Context (An Overdue "Thank You for the Awesome Donation" to my Parents)

This is a much belated Thank You For Donating to MFH post to my parents:

Lot of Text, worth it

At 26 I feel both young enough to remember childhood experiences and old enough to be able to see their place in my becoming this current level of me. Without ever pushing to an unreasonable level, my childhood took full advantage of the freedom to explore that my parents gave me.
They supported my obsession with collecting baseball cards, took me to get the best yoyo so I could dominate the 2 days that it was cool to yoyo. They sent me to inline skating camp, etc, etc,etc.
I remember the cruise we went on when I was only 14 and my dad snuck me into the casino to play penny slots. The cab ride back to the airport he told the cab driver I hit "it" big. The cab driver was very unimpressed to hear it was $11. At the time $11 might has well have been a million. It was money that came out of a machine because I was good at a shiny game, cabbie didn't get it.
I look at my current allovertheplace hobbies/interests and I owe you, mom and dad, a thank you for letting me explore them. You probably often had to close your eyes in support of a bad idea that you wanted me to see on my own. As I continue whatever this exploration will become, I'm very lucky to know that I come from you two and you have my back.

I'm old enough now to realize a few times that I was completely "got" by my parents.
-One time I was having a little kid fight with my mom about some little kid b.s. and told her I was going to run away. She didn't try to stop me, I was sneaky fast so how would she have? I turned my pillowcase into a rucksack and filled it with granola bars and juice boxes (it was summer and I was 7ish, so this covers everything you need to live on your own right?) Before I left my mom nonchalantly told me to make sure I don't drink the juice boxes after dark. Juice will attract wolves.
Forget that wolves don't drink juice: there are 0 wolves around our house. There was also a 100% chance I would return home before dark. Well played mom.
-On a trip to Toronto I got an ear infection. My parents had room service bring up pudding every few hours and let me watch Last Action Hero on repeat for 36 hours. I was scary sick but don't remember any pain or nausea. I was on an adventure, it was something new.

I spent most of a sleepless last night bemoaning a few hours of bad luck. In the scheme of my "luck" I got to grow up as part of my family so I imagine I'm way ahead. Hopefully it stays that way and I can share it with all of you.
Thank you mom and dad, not just for the donation, but also for "doing the nasty" and making me happen (I feel so dirty typing that.)

Want your own "Thank You" reminiscence? Donate big moneys to Medicines for Humanity at
We're having a fundraiser on 4/6 (6:30pm) at The Point. Come by if you can.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Gushing Endorsement For The Diesel (AKA why you should befriend Calvin Tse, if you're lucky enough to get the chance)

I'd like to thank my man Calvin for his generous donation to Medicines for Humanity.
Thinking back to the several years in which I was lucky enough to live within 50 yards of Calvin, I am grateful for a whole bunch of "honorable mention" favorite Calvin moments:
-Cal was the first person to give my dad (if you haven't met him, he is quite thin) the nickname "Big Jon"
-One time we went to Turning Stone and slept in my car. Side note: anyone to whom I introduced Sic-Bo, Calvin is the one who showed me the way.
-I went out to Calvin's house in New Jersey for July 4th one year and his friend's brother was smoking cat nip.
-I thought Calvin was taking a nap but he was just bugging out and couldn't move.
-I was at Cal's apt (which included a floor to ceiling picture of himself he found at NYU) when the brief Kimbo Slice era ended.

This will be a less interesting story than some of the above, but my favorite memory of Calvin is a silly one. We're living together our sophomore year at NYU and fake ID'd our way into some wine and liquor and had, as 19/20 year olds do, gotten a little crazy.
We're on a train heading to some party and there's a family sitting across from us. The daughter, who is maybe 6 years old, asks the father to let her hang from the handrail above. He lifts her to it and the momentum of the train leaving Spring St station swings her around. She giggles.
Cal and I look at each other in a shared moment of that's so awesome: I wish I was 50 pounds  that in our 20 year old hyper-competitve* boozed up brains translates into a pull up contest on the uptown 6 train.
Who won? I don't remember, but I was sweating when we got to the party.

This moment might also signify the turning point of who was more athletic/would win in a fight. Actually scratch that- until he demonstrates otherwise I can beat Calvin in a fight (being taller and 60 pounds heavier certainly will help me)- but in the time since that train ride he has probably gotten very close.

*Maybe that's why we liked playing poker together (still pissed he beat me heads up in the freshman year floor wars poker tournament)

Calvin is the kind of friend who is on your shoulder unconditionally rooting for you but ready to laugh at you if things don't work out.

Cal- I am super jealous of your world-trotting and I hope you continue to get everything you want. You're a good one and you deserve all of it. The world need more great guys like you.  Never change!