A Public Service Announcement

I’d like to announce that I will be spending a week on a REAL internet fast-I’ll be checking in ONLY when/IF I have to. No news-NOTHING news-related. Email only twice a day.  Only reading that pertains to future work projects, writing, and pleasure reading…I think I’ll get back to “Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion and/or Cormac McCarthy’s Outer Dark. Oh…and I can listen to as much music as I want. See you all in a week with a review ofthe results. In the meantime, if you want to know why I’m up to this…check out one of, or all of the following: Nicholas Carr’s article in The Atlantic magazine entitled, “Is Google Making Us Stupid,” his book-length study on the matter called “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains,” and/or Tim Ferriss’ The Four-Hour Work Week…specifically his chapter on “The Low-Information Diet.” Peace…..OUT!

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Something’s Got to Give

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”-Albert Einstein

I’ve talked before about how, even though I am grateful for the “real” job I have, the home in which I live, and my health…all of which afford me the means with which to provide a comfortable life for my family…I constantly wrestle with this spectre of a life more….consequential than the one currently playing out around me.

For a full 9 months out of the year, I’m on this hamster wheel….5AM, up, exercise, grab a quick bite to eat, out the door, work in a cement box all day, after-work responsibilities (coaching, theatre, etc), home, evening meal, help the kids with homework, maybe a little Netflix with my lovely wife, get the kids in bed, maybe a little reading, maybe bed…either way, the waking hours are consumed living a life of…service…to others…others who, quite often, are increasingly unappreciative and operate with a sense of entitlement…repeat…until you’re old enough to retire because that’s what we’re all told is the right thing to do, and it sure is…safe! Except, in today’s topsy-turvy economy and job market, even government jobs aren’t safe. Then 8 weeks during the summer to try to remember who I am as a person, what I really believe about life, and rejuvenate….and about the time I’m starting to feel human again….it’s back to the wheel. Nose to the grindstone. I owe, I owe, so it’s off to work I go….and every year, I ask myself, “Does it HAVE to play out this way?”. With almost all of society playing by the same rules, it sure seems so.

But, I’ve gotten a glimpse of what might be another door…another option…one that, if I can screw up the courage to walk through it, I believe will not lead to greener pastures; it will lead to a life without pastures at ALL! Unless, it’s pastures you’re really after…

I’ve started a book called

. And usually, in fact ALWAYS, I am highly suspicious of these kinds of “self-help,” books trotted out each year, usually on Oprah’s book club or some other such drivel, designed to keep the masses seduced with the idea that there’s hope for life after retirement, or even…(gasp!) the possibility of finding our dream jobs (there’s no such thing). But, for some reason, when I found myself walking around Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago, killing time while my wife was still on a spending spree in Belk’s, I ran across the book and was immediately drawn to the underlying concepts behind the book. I know it SOUNDS like hooey; but, just a few chapters in and Mr. Ferriss has already given voice to some of the same unresolved maladies that plague my existential being.

One of the first things that captured my attention is the fact that he’s not really talking about gutting your job…unless you really want to. He’s also not talking about how to become rich so you can afford to do whatever you want-in fact, and I agree, it isn’t the money he argues people want anyway…it’s just the freedom to DO what it SEEMS that only unlimited income can buy you. He begins with a very simple, and accurate premise, then…that people really just want more time, and freedom. He also points out that what keeps us from truly living…living the lives we truly want, isn’t that we don’t have enough money to do it….we are just, stuck. And what “screws us to the sticking point?” Our materialistic, slavish devotion to our “stuff,” and our willingness to accept another person’s, or system’s, rules by which we play the game of life. Who says we can’t just change the rules? We need a job to buy more stuff, to keep us “happy” while we go to our jobs to make more money to buy more stuff because we’re tired of the other stuff that didn’t really make us happy in the first place, because NONE of that will EVER make ANYONE happy. What’s holding us down? Our marriage to the idea that we ARE our possessions. Freedom is just an eBay listing away…or, in MY case, a whole SLEW of listings.

Sure, the idea is scary. But, it isn’t a new philosophy. Thoreau said it over 200 years ago…”Simplify…simplify.”

And maybe that’s what resonates with me so strongly so far about Mr. Ferriss…he’s a modern-day Transcendentalist, living the life he’s dreamed, because he’s been able to strip away all those things which are inconsequential to living that life. I look in my closet and study..how many leather jackets do I need? How many pairs of shoes, how many shirts? How many movies, and books (ok, I’d have to keep the books…move them to my permanent library at my parents’ or something), etc….how many REALLY NICE of these things could I have if I just had what I needed? If, instead of 10 watches, I had two…or even one…could I not have that Omega Seamaster I’ve always wanted? Sure. I look around and KNOW I’m burdened by my possessions…we ALL are. Might be time for me to let it go. How many times am I gonna dress up as Indiana Jones for Halloween, anyway?!

I had a friend, with whom I’m discussing the book, ask when the last time was that I was REALLY out of my comfort zone. I try to push myself to do something I’m afraid to do every year. Last year, it was going off the rope swing at the lake…from the HIGHEST jump off. A few years before that, it was adventure racing…my brakes gave out on my mountain bike about 1/3 of the way into the bike section of the race…ten more miles of rocky, hilly, tree-lined single track to go…with only front brakes…then the front ones went out with three miles left. That was uncomfortable. And back in college, I went rock climbing…freestyle…no ropes…out on a cliff hanging over the ocean in Bar Harbor, Maine…didn’t fall, but if I had, it still would’ve been uncomfortable. Heck, part of what I do for money involves speaking and performing in front of large groups of people on a daily basis…and it ALWAYS makes me nervous for the first minute or so. So, I’ve certainly tried, and continue to try, to make myself uncomfortable on a semi-regular basis. But, nothing makes me more uncomfortable than the idea of letting go of all that I think I am…and, at the same time, there isn’t an idea more invigorating than seeing just what would happen if I did.

Is it time for lifestyle redefinition?

As I make my way through the book, and the first week or so back in the hamster wheel, I’ll be letting you, dear reader, follow along on my journey of self-discovery.

Maybe I’ll finally build that sweat lodge I’ve threatened to build for years.

Next post…the low-information diet…or, as I like to call it, an Internet fast.

In the meantime….just try to remember…”There IS no tomorrow!”-Apollo Creed, from Rocky 3.

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AthFest, Day 2 began with brunch with the girls, and Amy and Thomas Evans, at The Grill  to get the kids (and the adults) ready for an afternoon of KidsFest!

Afterwards, we headed down to the KidsFest tent where you could hear the awesome music from both the Pulaski and Hull Street stages while the kids played around with woodworking, painting, learning about the water system (thank you, Laurie Loftin, for taking up time with the girls to show them the importance of water protection), the wildlife around Athens-Clarke County, and all sorts of cool activities!

It wasn’t long before another friend of the kids came and joined us….SO awesome to have CQ hang with us for the afternoon!!!!  It got hot, so they sought out the mister-hoses.

As the sun climbed higher in the sky, we had to seek shelter back at the house and get ready for the evening’s festivities.  We got the kids situated again at home, and headed back downtown for another FABULOUS meal experience at Trappeze, then, though we missed a band we REALLY wanted to see (Easter Island), we did make it down to see a good friend’s band, Five-Eight, at the Hull Street Stage…Patrick Ferguson, (who also plays drums with Easter Island)…dude, you kill the drums, my man!!!!  As I walked down, Sean Arington (a tremendous musician in his own right) and his lovely wife, Michelle, called me over and, after a few minutes of talking, Sean drags me right down next to the stage (he and Patrick are the best of friends, and have been for years), and I get an absolute front-row seat to one of the two BEST shows of AthFest!!!!

After that, we wandered over to The Globe to check out The Hobohemians and hang out with our dear friends Jeff and Holly Berejikian and Laurie Loftin.  But, we were wearing out fast…Five-Eight took a lot out of us, and we decided to just head back to the house to chill on the deck, make a few home-made cocktails, play with the kids, and be ready to spring in to action for AthFest, Day 3….it was going to be a laid-back, but an awesome day!

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AthFest 2012, Day 1

AthFest 2012 Lineup

Pulling in to Downtown Athens late Friday afternoon was like….well, it was coming home.

After a quick stop off at our always wonderful friends’ house (Amy and Aaron Evans) to drop off our dog, Elizabeth, Caroline, Sarah-Catherine and I had made a beeline for our favourite kid-friendly haunt, Mellow Mushroom…the kids love the laid-back atmosphere, the colorful, cartoony decor, and the crayons everywhere….and the parmesan cheese; mommy and daddy like the, um….beverages (Sweetwater IPA….mmmmm)!

Nutritionally fortified with sustenance, we made our way to the Georgia Theatrerooftop to meet up with one of my best friends in the world, and hands-down THE Athens music scene hookup, Micheal J. VanHassel. Mike and I waited tables together in college, and this evening would mark the first time we’d been out together since I graduated over ten years ago….and I was ready for it! He introduced me to his other friends, artist Katie Stover, Punk Rocker turned super-star barber, Keith Edward Tate(Sawbuck Bill’s Barber Shop 1077 Baxter St, Athens, 706-612-5544), Mike’s roommate, Eric L. Friarand Katie’s boyfriend, Kristoff-awesome people, all! But, it was getting late, the girls were ready to get set for the evening, and Liz and I needed to get back to Amy and Aaron’s to drop them off so we could head back Downtown to hook back up with Mike and Co. Mike hooked us up with our Club Crawl music bracelets that would get us in to all the late night music venues (have I mentioned how awesome this dude is-love him!), and we hopped off the roof to deposit the kids at a more….permanent location.

Fast-forward….Aaron makes a killer Cape Cod…kids get situated….we hang with Amy and Aaron a bit, he meditates over incense and charcoal grilling….and we hop, skip, and jump back Downtown to hook back up with Mike at Max (used to be The Engine Room) for patio proximity to the outdoor stages, great conversation, great beer, and great music. We checked out Reptar…thumpingly rhythmic punctuation of the human need to move….then to Caledonia(hole in the wall awesomeness is the name of the game in this place) to see Lazer/Wulf….METAL..and good at it….food (Pub burger and more great beer at Trappeze-as if you didn’t know THAT was on the itinerary-then back down the street for Lera Lynn at the 40 Watt Club…a hauntingly angelic voice, in a venue that lent a rock sharp edge to her usually more folksy, acoustic sound…just…wow! Seriously, I could feel my intestines vibrating.

1AM rolled up on us far faster than we wanted, but with day 2 still to go, we bid our friends farewell for the evening and got back home in the bed at a respectable hour to rest up a little…we knew we’d need it.

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Will You Fail to Have the BEST Career Possible?

Economist, Larry Smith, on why, almost invariably, you will fail….

UNLESS!

Why You Will Fail to Have a Great Career

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Happy Mardi GRAS!

The best jambalaya I have EVER tasted…and I made it myself with my baby, Elizabeth, and my friend Joe Bauers!

Washed it down with world class mojitos….also by yours truly!

Happy Mardi GRAS, everyone! Life…..is…..GREAT!

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Inspiration

So, it’s been a damned long while since I posted anything new. Truth be told, despite my best efforts to the contrary, work has been eating my ass alive for the entire month of Jan into Feb.

However….I have had several good things going in the background…one of which was a batch of home brew American Pale Ale beer that some good friends helped me name the APA Style from my own little brewing company, Cat Tree Brewing Co.

It’s still got another week before full carbonation is settled; but, I drank the first tonight, and I’m telling ya, folks…it ain’t bad at ALL! It’s a more subtle beer than say, the Sweetwater 420..,but, it’s got a bit more personality than the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale….

I’m putting labels on this weekend…with the help of my Master Label Cutter, Caroline; if you’d like a taste…let me know, and I’ll set some back for ya!

In the meantime….I’m enjoying a small moment of sanity in an otherwise insane world these days…

Cheers!

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