Life

Dragon Con Pro

I’m currently in an overwhelming state of gratefulness. Ash and I were able to accomplish something we were unsure would ever happen. We played a show at Dragon Con. Not only that, but it went incredibly well. I have no idea why people decided to line up, but I’m forever grateful to those people for the gift they gave us. We walked out of that show feeling like we belonged there.

The entire weekend was magical for me. I’ve been to Dragon Con now four times, and I’ve never had an experience like this one. We usually went to see some podcasts live, line up for celebrity panels, and go see some cosplay. I went this time with the sole desire to see my friends and meet some new ones on the digital media track. That truly made it worth doing. I feel like a part of something, and a peer with the folks I respect so much.

I think it was just being part of something authentic that made it so much better. It’s nice to go see celebrities smile and do their thing, but I found a group of folks in the basement of the Hilton that get to do their thing, but they also get to just be themselves when the lights go down. I got to be a part of that. To stand around and ask each other about what we do, or hear them talk so passionately about the reason they want to talk about stuff on the internet.

I sat at a table with people I respect and talked about stuff other than podcasting, just to get an idea of what they like to do and find out more about who they are.

What I walked away with is the most important thing. Ashley and I belong there. We got a place at the table, and we discovered that it was because we had something to contribute. We sat there as peers. Having just been audience members for years, we’re now part of the team. I want to definitely continue and I want to expand what I was able to do this year and help more. Now I’m itching to moderate a panel, to join in the conversation, and to keep these relationships going.

Our show was recorded and we’ll get the master audio and video soon so other folks can hear what went on. I have so many people I need to thank for this opportunity, but I know I’ll miss someone. So mainly I just want to say thanks to everyone who has supported us as we’ve done this show. Now all I can think about is how much it all means to me. Everyone who has ever downloaded the show has contributed some small piece of joy to me. That makes it all worth it.

Dragon Con was unbelievable. I cannot wait to do it all over again next year.

Uh, Live

Dreams come true, man. Sometimes it takes a while. Sometimes it happens in a flash. Sometimes it happens when you decide to take action.

Horseshoes & Hand Grenades was performed LIVE in front of an audience last Thursday at GalaxyCon and I’m still floating on cloud nine when I think about it. It was more than I could have hoped for. Ash and I were hoping to get even 10 people to show up in the room. No one had any idea who we were, but decided to pop in anyway. I will be grateful forever for those 20-ish people who decided to spend a couple hours with us super late at night to play some games and laugh a bit.

On a personal note, it’s rare that I find myself fearless. I mean, completely devoid of anxiety or nerves that make me get into my head about what I’m doing. The last time I was ever completely fearless, or in the zone, was performing live for folks back in high school when my band had a show. This was one of those times.

I’m kind of an introvert, but you put me on a stage and I can come to life. Give me a microphone and the power to pretty much roll with whatever I think needs to be said, and I’m in a zone. These were a bunch of strangers I’ve never met before, and watching them be entertained and laugh with me was such a joy. It’s the closes to high I’m going to get considering I don’t do drugs.

Ash was on point with her stories and jokes too, and it just made for such an awesome dynamic. We played games with the audience and they dug it so much. The participation was great and I think they truly dug the show we put on for them. They stayed the whole time and I think that’s saying something.

If I learned anything from the experience, it’s that we need to ask for gigs when we want them. All we did for this one was ask to do it. I have to credit Ashley completely for this. I didn’t think they’d want our show, and she believed in it from day one. I was a nay sayer and she was like, “we’re doing this and I’m going to make it happen.” We never would have gotten the opportunity without her persistence. She’s amazing.

Next up is Dragon Con, where we get to do our show live in front of strangers and friends. If we can do as well as we did in front of an audience of complete strangers, then I can only imagine what we can do in front of our friends. I’m so excited for it.

Until next time!

Enema of the State – 20th Anniversary

Enema of the State – blink-182 – 1999

Back in 1999, I was a fourteen year old kid still listening mostly to stuff his parents liked and occasionally venturing into classic rock. I was testing the waters of a handful of different bands like Everclear, Aerosmith, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and some other bands that I had heard on the radio before. I was starting to look for something that spoke to me and who I was at that age.

Along comes a little band called Blink-182 and their racy album with a porn star on the cover. I didn’t know much about it at the beginning until All the Small Things hit the radio and MTV. It blew the roof off music at the time. We were living in the Lou Perlman era of popular music. Boy bands were being cranked out of a factory and that was the thing most accessible for a lot of us, but we needed something else. Blink came along with their fun lyrics, Tom’s unlikely singing voice, and an accessible form of punk rock that would create a rift between kids who liked that, and purists who only believed in bands like The Dead Kennedys or Screeching Weasel.

I finally got a chance to pick up this parental advisory stickered opus and my musical world was blown right open. I didn’t just hear songs that I could toss to the side. I heard a way music was being played that called to me. I grew up avoiding rock completely. I didn’t even think Green Day was something I should listen. For some reason the bright tones, fast guitar, and drums of Enema of the State pulled me in. From track to track to track, I was enthralled.

I eventually bought a red electric Squier stratocaster from the music shop in town. It was one of those deals that came with a small 13″ amp and was just enough to get started. I got home with it and called my best friend Patrick to tell him what I did.

He had done the exact same thing and bought a bass.

It was a match that worked for us and we will always have that musical camaraderie that I don’t think I’ll ever find anywhere else. We learned every song that we were capable of on that album. We played All the Small Things until we could play it in our sleep. We enlisted our friend Jason to play drums and before we knew it, we were in a band, learning songs, and trying to be as good as all the bands we were learning about.

I found MxPx and Green Day first, then Sum 41 came along and just about every band on Drive-Thru Records followed. Pop-punk wasn’t just a genre. It was the music that I could identify with. It didn’t spend all of it’s time on politics, anarchy, or global turmoil. In the pop-punk/emo world, you could hear songs about things that actually mattered on a micro level. Not only that, it was perfect for high school me.

Enema of the State is still one of my favorite albums of all time. The difference in Mark and Tom’s voices give each song a different flair. Tom’s guitar playing is fast and aggressive, but it’s also bright and melodic. Mark’s bass is a perfect accompaniment to it. It goes without saying that Travis Barker is one of the greatest drummers in the world and his skills are on full display here. What luck it was for this “crappy punk rock” band to get Travis on their drums.

I have a Tom Delonge signature strat in my closet that I got for Christmas at 16. It still has a warm place in my heart. I took that guitar everywhere. I bled on that guitar at shows that my band played when I nicked my finger on the strings. I wrote an album with Patrick and Jason with it. It’s a treasure to me and despite my musical tastes developing to a place where it doesn’t do everything I need, I still love it. It’s a gorgeous, bright yellow music machine.

Blink-182 is still around these days with Matt Skiba as the guitarist in place of Tom. I love Matt Skiba. I think he’s great. But this isn’t my Blink. The combo of Mark and Tom was something special, and it created a few very special albums that worked. New Blink is fine, but it’s missing a crucial element in the sound that I can’t put my finger on. There is something about Tom’s playing that will always be missing. Same goes for Tom’s band, Angels and Airwaves. It’s missing something in the melody that Mark always brought to the table.

I’m feeling very nostalgic as I listen to this stuff. I miss my high school days, and playing music in the garage. All I can really do now is play when I get an opportunity and maybe introduce Sam to this stuff some day. If he wants to play music, I’ll be right there to support whatever grabs his attention. I know when Blink got me, I was never the same. A world opened and I wanted to see what I could find. Sam is going to find a door to his own world, and I’m pretty pumped to see what’s behind it.

The 30 Day Challenge

I alluded to participating in a 30 day challenge in my last post, and I promised to write another blog post about it. I’m eleven days in and it’s about time I let folks in on this whole shebang and what it means to me.

I watched a documentary called Minimalism on Netflix a few weeks ago, because it’s a subject that fascinates me. I actually listened to the dudes who made it on their podcast, The Minimalist Podcast, well before I watched the movie they made. The doc focuses on people who have learned to remove compulsive purchases from their lives and live on what they absolutely need, or what brings them joy. I’ve learned a lot about this concept and I started exploring their website a little bit as well.

The main gist is that we could all really get along just fine if we threw out all the things we thought we need but could really live without. The idea is that we end up with so much stuff that it does the opposite of what we hoped it would do. We wanted it to complete us or make us happy, but what happens is it starts suffocating us by just piling up and eventually becoming this hulking ball of stress in our lives that we need can’t get out from under. Now that’s me talking about myself, but I’m sure this story matches a ton of folks out there. So the 30 day challenge is all about trying to get a handle on this by routinely getting rid of stuff that doesn’t give you joy.

They wrote a much better post explaining the whole thing. I’m basically getting rid of a certain amount of things per day equal to that day of the challenge. So day 1, I get rid of one thing. Day 2, I get rid of two things. So on and so forth. It starts out really fun, then it starts to get tough. I have to start making decisions about things that mean a little more to me than average trash. Pieces of art, books, little trinkets I’ve had for years, all that stuff is hard to get rid of. I basically have to sit there and look at it and decide what the feeling is that’s attached to it. Sometimes it’s not strong and I can easily throw it away, but other times I really have to think through it.

One thing that’s true is that I’m truly getting rid of a lot of stuff that I’m forgetting almost as soon as it leaves the house. I’ve never been one to attach a lot of value to “things.” Most of my sentimentality is wrapped up in letters, drawings, or newspaper clippings and stuff. Those are small things I can keep track of. I do have gifts that have been given to me that mean a lot because they remind me of that person, but memories of that person remind of me of that person as well. Throwing away an object isn’t going to remove that from me. In that way, it’s a bit easier for me than it might be for someone who attaches a lot of emotion to the things they possess.

On day eleven, I’m still feeling super good about the project. I’m starting to have to really dig for stuff as it’s getting hard to find enough items every day. The higher the day goes the more stuff you have to find and the more difficult stuff you come across. At first it might be all trash, but as it moves on things get a littler bit trickier.

So far so good though! Hopefully I can keep it up!

Well, Hello There, 2019

“It’s the new year! Time for a new me!” – Tons of people everywhere

I have conflicting feelings about new years. It’s not like we all go through a major metamorphisis whenever we flip the calendar. We’re all generally the same people with the same lofty goals and the same expectations we’ve always had. That being said, I can respect the feeling that starting a year with a renewed focus can be helpful for folks. It’s actually helpful for me in a lot of ways. I’m a reboot kind of person, so I get it. I actually have a handful of new years goals that I’m working towards as well.

There are plenty of people that make New Year’s Resolutions, but I’m not one of them. I feel like resolutions don’t have the bite that they should.

  • I’m going to lose weight
  • I’m going to the gym more
  • I’m going to watch my money

Those kinds of resolutions just don’t stick. They aren’t S.M.A.R.T goals. Forgive me for using a management acronym, but that thing exists because it works. A goal should Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. We should plan our resolutions around those pillars to make sure that it’s something that we not only actually want to do, but something we can judge ourselves against as we work through the new year. I actually prefer monthly goals because they give you a shorter time frame and therefore less room to forget about them in the long run.

I tried last year to make some yearly goals and fell short so hard. I had some that I wasn’t even in control over. One of my goals was to get promoted at work, and it happened, but to some degree it wasn’t under my control. I did eveything I could to get there, but at the end of the day, it was the decision of my chain of command to actually grant me the promotion. So this year I’m trying to make goals that I actually can be in charge of.

I have a few goals that are blog posts in themselves and I’m going to avoid writing about them here outside of filling you in on what they are.

  • Finish the 30-day minimalist challenge
  • Paint the kitchen cabinets
  • Stay on budget

Those are three goals for the month. Simple, but not easy. We’ve been talking about painting the kitchen cabinets for months, and it’s not an easy task, but it certainly is a simple one. It just takes time. In order to get that done, we have laid out a plan of subtasks that will get us to that goal within the month. The budget goal is one that we’ve always had, but we’re making it a point to focus in on it this month. If we need to spend money on stuff to get the cabinets painted, we’re pulling that from somewhere. We’ve already made some progress on that goal by using the Every Dollar app in order to get a handle on where our money is destined to go. I’ll talk about that app in a later blog post once I’ve had some time to truly use and reflect on it.

This year has just as many hours in it as last year had, and I encourage you to consider how you spend those hours. We can all do the same thing we did last year, or we can choose to live a bit more intentionally. In other words, think about how you are spending those hours. Time is the great equalizer. Everyone has the same amount, the only thing that differs is how we spend it. If you choose to spend it playing video games, great! I hope you enjoy it, but when one of your goals fall short, don’t say, “I didn’t have the time.” We all have the time. Sometimes people will rob you of it, and that’s out of your control, but I would venture to guess that they don’t rob as much as you blame them for.

Get out there. Do the thing. Own your hours, or something else will own them for you.

Hamilton

I saw Hamilton last night and it lived up to all the hype.

To give you a bit of history on my journey to this amazing moment, I’ll go back about a year. A good friend of mine told me that he had been listening to the Hamilton soundtrack and was really digging it. I had heard that the musical was amazing and remarkably well done, but I had never really bothered to look into it much more than that. I’ve been to musicals before and enjoyed them. I’d even worked at a theatre for a time and ran lights for a show. How could this musical truly be any different?

Then I listened to it. 

I have never been a fan of rap, hip-hop, or R&B, but I have always been a fan of good music. It’s not that those genres aren’t good, it’s just never the first thing I seek out. Hamilton is full of it, and I loved every bit of it. The story is so well told using this medium and these chosen genres of music. It’s both an uplifting and tragic tale told in two acts with striking differences in their portrayal. The rise and fall of one of America’s most forgotten founding fathers. I listened to the whole thing at work … twice. I was humming songs on the way home and had managed to get myself obsessed with it. 

The only real bummer about listening to it rather than *seeing* it, is that you miss all the visual queues, dancing, even characters with the music. There were times on the soundtrack where I wasn’t really sure who was actually singing because I’m not that great at recognizing individual voices and remembering who they belong to. Though the story is just as powerful when you listen blind, there is a layer added to it when you get to see it performed live.

The road crew on this thing was amazing. Anytime I hear about a touring show, I always have a small worry that the people performing are somehow sub-par compared to those on Broadway. I couldn’t be more wrong. These people were top notch performers. Their voices were powerful and familiar to me even after having listened to the soundtrack so many times. The goal wasn’t to find a sound-alike person, but rather a strong performer who could carry the role as it was intended. They knocked it out of the park. The major standout to me was the woman who played Eliza Hamilton. She had one of the most beautiful voices that I’ve ever heard.

I feel so incredibly lucky to have been able to see this show. There are people who wait years to get into it. We were able to get a couple of abandoned tickets from some friends of ours so we could go. I’ll forever be thankful for them offering those up, because this truly was a once-in-a-lifetime chance for us. The likelihood of us ever making our way to New York or Chicago just to see a play is so low. Our best bet was to see it when it came here. 

If you ever get a chance to see this show you should do it. It was beautiful in so many different ways. I laughed and I cried through the whole thing. I’m not the biggest Hamilton (the man) fan as he was a bit of a big government pseudo-monarchist, but that doesn’t make his story any less incredible. It’s worth checking out. It’s a story of an orphaned immigrant with all of the odds stacked against him who fought his way up the ladder despite constant opposition. There’s something to admire there no matter how you feel about his politics. 

Go see Hamilton. You won’t regret it. 

Empathy

I have always been a magnet for feelings. If I see someone crying, there’s a good chance I’m going to cry. If I see someone laughing, I’ll laugh even if I don’t get the joke. I feed on the emotions of other people, and in doing so they become mine. Even when I was a little kid, a person could cause me to feel any number of things just by feeling that way themselves.

I remember a time when I was in preschool and I was very rude to a little girl who wanted to come into our “hideout” and play with us. She looked so sad and I immediately regretted everything. I sat in my little hideout feeling terrible and just waiting to get in trouble for being so mean. That moment has obviously stuck with me, and I still consider it any time I say something that I feel may have been too strong, especially to someone who didn’t deserve it.

Recently, I had a day when I was just feeling down. I had been doing okay, but I talked to someone that wasn’t. This person just seemed down in the dumps for some reason. I don’t even know the story, but they were projecting their feelings even if they didn’t mean to. I have an uncanny ability, likely because of this empathy thing, to tell when someone is carrying some extra emotional weight. This person definitely was, and I picked up on it. Everything about my demeanor changed. I sat down on the couch and just stewed in this anxiety. 

I’ve been trying to pay attention when things like this happen and not just be sad or anxious, but to figure out why I feel like that. I had a few quiet moments so I sat there and explored. I considered what may have happened. I searched my brain to try and figure out where the feeling was coming from. Stephanie even asked me, “You were fine a little while ago, what’s going on?” I sat quietly, because there are plenty of things that could be wrong, but I wasn’t sure if any of those were what was actually causing the problem. Then she asked the real question that I needed, “Is this feeling yours, or did you take it from someone?”

BOOM

I zeroed in on the problem and it wasn’t my feeling. It was totally someone elses, and I was just sitting around stewing in it. I had lost at least a half hour of my life being worried about something that I had no business worrying about. I was up, bouncing, and feeling great as soon as I learned that it wasn’t mine. It was freedom. I had picked up an emotion I didn’t understand and realized that I didn’t have to. I was as shocked as she was about how light I felt after that weight had been lifted. I’d never had that experience before. 

I’ve come to the realization after thirty-three years that I need to sit down when I feel sad and look for who might have transferred it to me. If I can do that, then I can get over it. It’s not always a solution, but it’s another tool in my toolbox to help me work through things. I very rarely have anything to be too sad about, so generally it is someone else. I guess I’m what they call and “empath” but I don’t have the issue with physical pain that some of those folks do. Some people don’t just absorb emotions, but they also absorb people’s physical pain. 

I see a lot of this in Sam when he is with his peers and one of them is really upset. He feels so bad for them. You can see it in his eyes. It makes him anxious and worried. The good news is that I see it in him now, and if I can figure out how to work through my own issues with it, then I can help him out too. 

Maybe some of this has helped you as well. If you have experiences with empathy being a bit too strong, how do you deal with it? It can be pretty intense. I’m the worst at cheering people up simply because I can’t stay happy when they are sad. I just get down in the dirt and wallow in it with them. Don’t call me to perk up your friends or visit sad kids at a hospital. I’m definitely the wrong person for that job.

Potty Mouth

The rise of the Twitch superstar has been an interesting one. There are a ton of normal gamers out there who have managed to amass some pretty huge followings thanks to either their personalities or skills in a particular game. I’ve been following along with it for a few years since we started streaming stuff over there. If there is one thing I’ve noticed, it’s that there are a bunch of folks with filthy language out there.

I want to be careful not to be condescending towards them because a lot of people are really down with it, but it’s just not for me. I watch streamers who are positive, care about their communities, and generally try to maintain at least a PG-13 style stream. The only thing about the other style of streamer that concerns me is that a bunch of them seem to be getting in trouble for saying horrible things on the internet in front of their adoring fans. It’s really putting a damper on eSports in general because every few weeks you see another player who has been suspended from their team or another Twitch streamer who gets a temp ban for some bad behavior. I really want something like eSports to succeed, despite my not watching it, because it’s a cool outlet for people who were never into traditional sports. These folks are talented and they deserve an awesome venue to display those talents.

What I think these people really need is some sort of media relations coach. Being “on” all the time is incredibly stressful, but they also have to realize that everything they say is recorded and matters. It’s not unlike celebrities who have to do those obnoxious press junkets every time they have a new movie come out. They have to be prepared and they have to play their part without saying horrible things or spoiling something for everyone. I think Twitch streamers are often brought into the “famous” arena without properly being molded to it and figuring out how to handle that fame. They end up just being an obnoxious gamer but instead of ranting by themselves in their room, they’re ranting to a room full of 10,000+ people. Someone needs to teach them how to deal with that kind of stress.

I don’t mean to blanket all streamers that way. There are a ton of folks that have a fairly squeaky clean image and still have a bunch of followers. I just think we can do better as a community of gamers to improve our image. I would rather there be headlines about how much awesome charity stuff we do. CohhCarnage raised over $62k for St. Jude in a recent charity stream. That didn’t show up on any blogs that I read, but I see plenty of stories about homophobic and racial slurs all over the place. What can we do to fix that, man? Further reducing incidents of hate would help. A lot of this is just human stuff and works itself out in time for people I’m sure. I know I said stupid stuff when I was younger that was broadcasted to the world. I’ve been podcasting since 2005 so I know it happened. Hopefully, some of these folks just need time and some hard lessons to learn what not to say and how to grow into a better person. We all have to strive for it and we’ll get there someday.

 

Building Myself

Over the last couple of years, I have spent more time reading non-fiction works than I think I have in my life. When I was a kid, it was all about reading things that filled my head with imagination and creativity. It was about leaping headfirst into worlds that were different than the one I was living in. I read stuff from Roald Dahl, Orson Scott Card, and of course the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. Those people built universes that helped nurture my brain with whimsy and allowed an escape from real life. Now I find that I still dig that stuff, but I’m also finding myself more attracted to studies on growth, how to raise kids, how to be a better man, and things like that. I wouldn’t call it “self-help” but rather research into what success looks like for people that I admire. Is it just making it through a day and being happy you get to see the next morning or pushing yourself to be something better every time you put your feet on the ground in the morning.

After I had a son, most of this kind of change happened. I would say even prior to Sam being born I found myself studying to be a better person. I tried a bit when before we even knew we were going to have a kid, but there’s something about knowing a new life is coming into the world that forces you to take a step back and see where you are. I’ve always been reflective when it comes to how I react and do things. Moreso now that I’m older. Find me a self-reflective teenager and I’ll show you the next leader of the free world. It just doesn’t happen. As teens, we’re a bundle of nerves, anxiety, and social pressure that makes us stubborn and unable to listen to reason most of the time. We have principles but generally, they’re all the wrong ones. Sam has been the catalyst for change for me and every day I’m trying to find some more tools I can use to turn myself into who I want to be.

I’m not saying that having a kid changes everyone. Millions of fatherless kids out there will tell you a whole different story. I think if we start from a good place, we’re generally more likely to attempt to improve ourselves. I started from an incredibly good place in that Steph and I were doing well financially, we’d just bought a house, and our relationship was solid. We had some messy stuff, but everyone does. Bringing Sam into all that made me want to try my best to clean it all up. I wanted to start being responsible and pulling myself together so I could provide the best model for what I hope he sees in me. He is The Little Chap That Follows Me after all. Side note, Steph gave me a picture of Sam and I walking and holding hands and stuck that poem in the frame beside it. She gave it to me for Christmas and it made me ugly cry. It’s the best give anyone ever gave me.

Jim Henson once said, “Kids don’t remember what you say. They remember what you are.” That sticks with me and every time I spend time telling Sam how to do something or when to behave, I have to look at how I’m handling myself in similar situations. Am I freaking out over something, or am I calm and collected? Do I have a negative streak when things aren’t going well, or am I thinking positively in order to change my situation? The only thing we have control over in all reality is our attitude and how we respond to things out of our control. If I’m a bundle of nerves, he’ll be a bundle of nerves. If I am anxious, he’ll be anxious. Conversely, if I’m rock solid emotionally when things are spiraling out of control, he can reach out to me for comfort when it seems nuts to him. I can be the stability he needs when he needs it.

I’ve had to seek out great thinkers and people who spend their time studying this kind of stuff, not because I think there are magic tricks regarding growth and self-improvement. If I at least seek out ideas, I can learn. Once I read some new idea or study, I tend to absorb it and it becomes a part of me. At least for a short time, it’ll stick to me and I can lean on it when I get stuck in a situation. Over the past few months, I’ve put into practice ideas I’ve learned about small talk, confidence, asking for what I want without feeling bad about it, and saying “no” when it makes me incredibly uncomfortable. I have a long way to go, but when you start looking at yourself like a work in progress, you can continue to grow. If I sit around feeling bad for myself because “that’s just the way I am” it’s a cop-out. You are the way you are often because you allow it. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but it’s true. I’m not saying to pick yourself up by your bootstraps, but seeking out tools to help you up is a big step in growing. Challenge yourself to do something you’ve never done. Fill your mental toolbox with cool ideas to handle situations that make you uncomfortable. That’s what you do when you’re a kid and somehow we quit doing that as we age. We have a massive toolbox, but we stop filling it once we get the basics. Think about the last time you learned something that was useful. It probably came when you exposed yourself to a new task or were put in an unusual situation. You either learn how not to do it, or you learn that you handled it well. Those kinds of experience tick checkboxes in our brains that we get to hold on to so we can lean on them later.

This post totally went in a direction I did not expect when I started writing 0_0. Anyway, go find some people or books that can help you fill your toolbox without having to hurt through it first. I don’t need to screw up everything first if I can learn that there are cool starting points I can go with. Arm yourself! Keep on trying to be the best version of you that you can be. I’ve learned a ton of stuff from The Art of Manliness, and it’s a great place to start learning useful stuff if you’d like. I’ll start posting books that I’ve read and podcasts I’ve listened to as well. I feel like I enjoy other people’s reading lists so you might dig mine.

 

Level 33

I am officially level 33! I have earned enough experience to get myself to the next great step on the way to taking a permanent dirt nap. I feel pretty good to be honest. I’m not the model of perfection I may have hoped to be by this point in my life, but I’m pretty happy with the progress I’ve made so far. I have a house, a wife, a kid, a job, and all the other essentials it takes to feel like you’re doing pretty good in your life. I’m also exercising regularly now, which is totally new for me but such a great thing. It’s never too early to start taking care of yourself I guess.

As far as my actual level up day goes, I had such an amazing time! We had a wonderful church service that morning, then Stephanie and I went to see The Avengers: Infinity War at the Alamo Drafthouse. I loved it! It was such an amazing movie and such an awesome experience at the theatre. I would totally go back to the Alamo again. I had a couple little troubles that I won’t get into here, but it wasn’t Alamo’s fault and they were so good at making it a fun experience. The movie was unbelievable. I’ll likely go through the rollercoaster of emotions it caused me in another post.

The fun didn’t stop at seeing movies though. I came home to some wonderful Mario decorations that Sam, Jacob, and Ashley all worked on while we were out. They were so cool. Not to mention the awesome cookie cake that Stephanie made me. Oh! And the rice krispy treats! She shaped them like stars from Mario. Everything was so perfect.

They hooked me up with some phat loots as well. I got some new shoes, a fantastic leather bracelet that says “Fight in the Shade” on it, some Bowser socks, underwear, shirts, and last but definitely not least, God of War for my PS4. So that’s a ton of really adult gifts and then one gift I would have loved as a teenager and still love now. My presents are changing greatly as I level up. Not sure how I feel about that one.

It was an amazing level up day and I couldn’t have spent it with better people. I have such an amazing family. Here’s to another trip around the sun! I’m going to try to make this one even better than the last one!