When Getting Older Gets Stressful

Things that happen when you get into your 40s:

  • You literally can forget how old you are
  • Getting drunk requires a day after strategy
  • The # of people you like or can tolerate decreases over time
  • Doing nothing is everything
  • You start losing your childhood movie and rock stars AND IT SUCKS
  • For those that have lost a parent too soon, you start wondering if you’ll make it past their age

That last one is a doozy. I lost my mom in her mid 50s way too soon, and every year I get closer it’s what I think about. Will I make it past the age she lived? What choices do I have to make to ensure I do?

It sucks. It’s stupid. You shouldn’t live your life worrying about those sorts of things, but for those that have lost a parent too soon, you know what I’m talking about. For whatever reason, your 40s are where you start thinking about getting older and it’s a constant struggle.

I want to go out more…my wife and I both do. But it’s hard god damn work! You know how much easier and better it usually sounds to wear sweat pants and just lay on the couch eating things dipped in cheese? Way easier. But I want to still go out. I want to still feel young. And sometimes we do…it’s just harder.

You get in your 40s and it’s like you become your own agent. You have to strategize…make plans…think ahead. You want to play in that baseball or basketball tournament over the weekend? Sure, no problem. Better free up your Monday so your bones can heal.

Oh, you want to head out on St. Patty’s day and have a “few” drinks into the wee hours? Okay…do I have to get up before 12 tomorrow so I can recover from rolling around in my own sick all night?

I can’t even watch a damn movie without going into shock and awe about how it’s 10 or 20 years old already but feels like it just came out a few years ago.

The one that gets me every time? 30 years ago was 1987. In 1987, 30 years ago was 1957. WTF?! Is that math right?! How can that be? My brain can’t compute with that.

It seems like it was just yesterday I was some dumb kid trying to figure it all out. Now I’m a dumb 43 year old still trying to figure it out. Do we ever?

So what’s the morale to this seemingly dumb blog article? (hey, if you’ve gotten this far, it’s on you)

Worry about the things in life that you CAN control. That’s been my motto that I’m trying to live by these days. Once you’re able to do that, stress becomes more manageable..time seems to slow down a bit.

Things dipped in cheese helps too.

What’s Your What If?

Last night I drove a lot of miles away from the hustle and bustle I normally fight through on a daily basis to coach my son at his baseball game, a little town called Granite Falls. It’s about 50 miles north and east of Seattle and off the beaten path. I arrived with my son, and as they warmed up on one baseball field, I watched as the high school team wrapped up their practice on an adjacent field. It was classic small town America. They had some rock-n-roll playing as they finished up their hitting drills, and I peered up to the scoreboard to see a sign that said “2006 State Champs”. I thought about how cool it must have been for this small town to celebrate such a thing. I thought about what it must be like to live in this town away from everything…knowing everyone, a simpler life. And how much I wanted someday to have that.

22 years ago I was at a crossroads in my life at college. I was going through motions, not knowing what I wanted to do with my life. I was blindly taking college courses without a true sense of what career I wanted. But the fact was, I did know. I wanted to make movies. My whole life was defined by the art of movies. Watching them, studying them, the dialogue, the music, all of it. I loved writing, I was pretty good at it. I knew that was what I was born for, but it seemed so celebrity to me. So out of reach. But on whim, I applied to a fairly significant film school in Chicago just for the hell of it. My grades were terrible, so I had no shot there, but I poured my heart into an essay and sent it away. I didn’t think it had any chance of getting past anyone, nor did I imagine I could even afford to make it work.

I was shocked to find that it did get past someone. Not only that, but I got in. My memories of that day are a little faded, but I remember being quite surprised. I remember taking a week or two to mull it over. I remember allowing the fear of such a monumental shift cloud my judgement. I remember the comfort of staying the course wash over me. 22 years later, just about every year, I wonder what would have happened had I found the courage to go for it.

Life can’t be about what ifs, I’ve learned that. I have a good life now, 2 amazing boys, kick ass wifey, great job, and I live in an amazing place. But I can’t help thinking about that particular what if. Seeing this small town last night triggered a vision that I hope is still within my grasp later in life. I want to live in a small town. I want to coach a small town high school baseball team. I want our neighbor Mrs. Simmons to stop by and drop off one of her killer apple pies just because.

And I want to write. So many concepts and ideas I’ve sat on, fearful of writing due to the sheer commitment and dedication it takes to see something like that through. I know I have it within me to actually write something that could sell. I may not get behind a camera anytime soon at this point in my life, but I’ve got killer stories to tell, and they are desperate to get on paper.

And what better time to pull the trigger than now? Countless screenwriting events and venues to submit work to, and more importantly, the rise of content providers like Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Studios…the world is opening up to give more people the opportunity to submit their work.

I normally write about topics with calls to action, or lists to help people with marketing, etc. But today, I just wrote. Maybe the first step in holding myself accountable to actually kick my ass in gear to get writing more. Maybe because there’s others that might read and can relate.

Or maybe Red said it best:

Top 5 Things You Can’t Do If You Want To Be Friends

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I’m starting a new tradition of highlighting 5 things that drive me nuts every year. 5 things that if done, disqualify you & I from being pals.

  1. You own or are considering a selfie stick. Can you even imagine what people in previous decades would think if you tried to describe this? If you feel that you have to carry a stick to attach your phone to around, so that you can take pictures of yourself…that’s a problem.
  2. You copy/paste Facebook posts saying you will win millions of dollars by posting it. Remember seeing all those Mark Zuckerberg posts about how if you copy and paste his message into your timeline you have a chance to win millions? Yea you do. UNFRIEND.
  3. You use or have ever used the word “bae”. Exceptions include you are Danish and are referring to pile of shit or have said something to the effect of, “Don’t ever say bae again or I’ll kick you in the neck.”
  4. Vaguebooking. Definition: An intentionally vague Facebook status update, that prompts friends to ask what’s going on, or is possibly a cry for help. Just stop. I get that social media has created a stage for everyone, but just get to the point and stop over-dramatizing your life. Unless you’re a celebrity. Then you’re supposed to.
  5. Passive Agressiveness. To me there is no greater cowardice then people that act passive aggressively. It’s basically admitting that you don’t have the courage to confront people directly and rather than keep it to themselves, find subtle ways to still get their way or get in a dig indirectly. Facebook is a breeding ground for it.

What say you internet? What can you add to the list???

My Favorite Things 2015 Edition

Every year I like to write a blog post that recaps some of my favorite products or services I experienced that year. While I didn’t host a talk show announcing my favorite things and giving them away to a screaming out of control crowd, I am posting them here for you to get for yourselves. Feel free to scream if you’d still like.

AirMail – I’ve struggled to find an email program on the Mac that I can get behind. The Gmail interface is horrible, and unfortunately, the Mac Mail program has always been lacking and buggy. AirMail not only works great, but looks slick as hell. I’ve been using it for a few months for my work and personal email, and have enjoyed every minute of it. Works great, and has a great UI. Only $10 in the Mac App Store.

The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land – My favorite mobile game of all time. I’ve pretty much given up on most games, but this one sticks. Of course being a fan of the TV show helps, but even if you aren’t, this is an incredibly well designed game that you can actually play without having to pay every 5 minutes to progress. Perfect user experience for mobile, entertaining, great music/sound effects, they really nailed this across the board.

Tech Matte Phone Car Mount – I finally found a phone mount for your car that gets it right. These geniuses got it right on 2 counts…how it the mount attaches in your car, and how your phone attaches to the mount. The first being using your unused CD slot to attach the mount. It works like a charm and no more having to worry about suction cups or adhesive on your dash. Plus, who listens to CDs anymore? The second, and my favorite part, magnets. Your phone attaches magnetically. You can either slide a magnet between your phone case and phone, or attach an adhesive magnet to the back of your phone. Either way, it’s a genius way to manage this as you can attach your phone to the mount quickly and easily. The magnets hold incredibly well regardless of which method you use. And the damn thins is only $11. It’s a no brainer.

New Macbook – I wrote a review on this bad boy, but just needed to reiterate my love for it. No mystery I’m a Mac guy, but not to the point where I’m so blind that I can’t see when they miss the mark (see my Mac Mail comment above). However I love this machine. It is a fantastic travel laptop plain and simple. It’s not a power machine, and it won’t replace a desktop by any means, but if you’re looking for something that travels well, you can’t go wrong. I actually prefer the single input design. I’ve got the adapter if I need more inputs which keeps the slim profile.

Marianas Trench – I don’t know what it is about these guys, but I stumbled across them a few months ago and they are all that I’ve been listening to since. They are a band based out of Canada that just released a new album this year. Definitely a pop feel with a unique blend of different sounds depending on the song. Some Queen, Michael Jackson, etc. Definitely worth a listen.

UrbanEars Platten ADV Wireless Headphones – While I typically use my noise cancelling in ear Bose headphones for most of my headphone listening, I really wanted a wireless pair of on ear cans for more casual listening and workouts. These definitely fit the bill. I’m no audiophile, but they sound just fine, and love how the controls are simply swiping actions on the ear piece…no buttons or levers. They’re comfortable and I love the feel of no wires.

The True Story Of The Ugly Christmas Sweater Guy

For the past 6 years, every time the holidays rolls around, a new tradition has come upon me; an outpouring of emails and Facebook messages asking me if I know that my picture comes up on Google for ugly Christmas sweater. Or that my picture was used on a flyer for an Ugly Christmas Sweater party. Or recently, that my picture is on the cover of an Ugly Christmas Sweater book. And of course my response is always something of the…”here we go again”. But deep down, I kind of like it.

There’s actually much more to the story then most people think. I never anticipated what happened would. In fact, the pose that has won me all this attention was really just a last minute, spur of the moment thing. After all this time, I thought it be fitting for there to be a place that tells that story. And at the very least, celebrate not just my photo, but all the amazing ones that went along with it.

The year was 2007, and it was a cool, brisk Autumn day like many others. But this day was different. I was a few years into my tenure at Microsoft Advertising, and had fallen into an amazing group of dudes at work…The COT…or circle of trust if you will. A group of fellas that entrusted each other with information that would never be shared outside of the group. It really wasn’t that top secret. Mostly a lot of jokes about the bathrooms at Microsoft. Don’t even get me started.

I can’t take credit for the greatest idea of all time. That falls on my friend Matt. Matt was the elder statesman of the group back then. He was older than dirt..so these days I can’t imagine he even knows what planet he’s on, but bless his heart for the gift he gave The COT. His brilliant idea of hitting up Value Village for some hideous sweaters, then heading to Sears for a photo shoot was ballsy..but we were in. We just wanted to create a funny poster to hang up for our team at work. It ended up becoming so much more.

You see, Ugly Christmas Sweaters were not as big in 2007 as they’ve become today. Shit…you can actually buy a kit to make one these days they’ve gotten so popular. I’ve been offered  3 figures for mine repeatedly (holding out for 4). When we got to the store, I literally just wanted to find the most ridiculous one I could find. I figured if I was going to do this, I might as well go all in. You should have seen the look on some of the older ladies faces as I proudly found my winning vest/turtleneck combo.

I don’t think I ever laughed as hard as I did in that photo shoot. It was so incredibly random, and the gal taking the pictures…bless her heart, she had no idea what she was in for. Ridiculous pose after pose, and then someone pushed me into frame and without even thinking I just did what I thought might be funny and whalla…history.

A week or so after our shoot and tremendous praise at work for our efforts, our photos were submitted to The Seattle Times for their then annual Ugly Christmas Sweater contest. I was in Chicago and got a barrage of texts and calls. I remember them vividly.

“Your picture is on the paper!” they said

“Oh…cool…like in some special section?” I asked

“Um, no…your picture is ON the paper…the front page!” they said

And thus begun the ascent to all things Ugly Christmas Sweater. It worked it’s way up to the top of search results, on the front cover of a book, and ever since then, it’s become more recognized more than I ever would have thought. To this day, people will bring it up in conversation and they’ll say “Holy Shit, you’re the Ugly Christmas Sweater Guy?!?!”  I’ve learned to embrace it.

I still look at these pics every year and laugh my ass off. Unfortunately, most of the guys have moved on to other things, and we don’t get to see or hang out as much as I would like. But I still hold on hope for a reunion shoot. Perhaps Easter?????