“Well, I got nothing. Might as well just write whatever is on your mind.” - Me.
There are some days when I sit down at my Mac and start to write, but nothing comes out. I try to look back through my iPhone Camera Roll to see if there is anything interesting that I took a photo of during the week, or stand outside drinking coffee reflecting on my life and nothing really comes to mind. From there, I usually go into a quick realization of how boring my life is and how no one cares to read what I have to say. However, I did not start writing to become a writer, or famous, or any of the other glory that comes with writing if you choose to take it that route. I just committed to writing, being creative, challenging my writing styles/formatting, and attempting to be bold enough to put something out. So, with that is mind, here are some Sunday thoughts.
Nothing really matters. I sometimes have to remember that unless an experience is going to change my life and make an impact years down the road, it doesn't matter. And even then, most of us will adapt and change to whatever that impact was. I do not want to come off careless or a care-free hippie, but nothing really matters, especially the day-to-day stuff. All the details at work, what were wearing, who's commenting and liking our posts, what we have for lunch, and all the other shit, doesn't matter. I feel like if we all stopped worrying about every little detail, comment, or what everyone else thinks, we would all be in a more stress-free and happy existence. When you find yourself getting upset at something, think about all the incredible aspects of your life and how awesome you are. I think you'll find out that whatever it was getting you wound up, doesn't matter.
Happiness - The Process:
I think it might be easy to say, "if it makes you happy then do it." What if making you happy is doing something crazy like going on a killing spree, robbing a bank, or putting others in danger. I don't want to be around that "happy" person. But, the theme of happiness has been on my mind. We live a world where people are trying to escape any emotion, there is essentially a drug for everything. I feel like unless we are willing to accept all of them emotions, even the ones that hurt, we can't really enjoy happiness. Earlier this week my friend said he took a Xanax, a drug designed to help with anxiety/depression/panic, to help curb some of the stresses going on in his life. He does not normally take the drug, but wanted to see if it would help. He said he felt no emotions while on Xanax, and quickly followed that statement up with, "I can see why people get addicted to it, you just don't feel anything. You just exist." Holy shit. We live in a time where being completely out of it is the way to be, just existing. What if the entire planet decided to take a Xanax. Would anything get done? Would anyone create anything? What if some of the greatest creators, leaders, and innovators our world has ever known all took a Xanax when they got stressed, upset, or felt panic?
There is absolutely a need for the medication for those who need them. Depression and anxiety are real. I am not discrediting that or that these medications help those who need them. Happiness and how you get to happiness has just been on my mind. I am a lucky guy and I try to keep my outlook positive, even when I experience some depression or anxiety. I think it is important for all of us to experience not just happiness, but other emotions that we go through.
I like these topics - I might continue to think about it and share more later.
Feel free to share your thoughts below.
This is my brain-dump for the week, let me know if it made any sense at all.
“Holy shit! It’s so cold!” - Us.
Adventure is out there, and we were aiming to find it. We recently spent a few days in Idyllwild. We packed up our VW Vanagon, put sweaters on our dogs (we are those people), and braved it up the 5,000 foot elevation at a whopping 17 MPH, in the snow, to take in the peace and quiet this small mountain town has to offer. Jamie and I love to get out of the busyness and noise of Los Angeles. Idyllwild, although very small, has an adorable feel. Everyone seems to know everyone by first name. It was great to sit in a bar, restaurant, or coffee house to enjoy the panoramic, snow-capped views or chat with folks that had grown up around the area. Everyone there seemed to love visitors.
We are both from Philadelphia so you would think we are use to the cold, but it is incredible how much your body changes to adapt to your surroundings. We are use to the sunny weather of Southern California living now. We were cold, and obviously unprepared for snow, but we found comfort in local shops and cozy restaurants to keep us warm. Our motel was just north of town and serenely quiet. We found ourselves sitting on our balcony completely bundled up, looking out into the wilderness in awe.
We will be back, Idyllwild! But, next time I am bringing boots!
Check out the video above made with Clips.
Tough week? Well, here is the newest installment of the 6-Pack! We have six new rock-indie-alternative tracks exclusively on Apple Music to help you get into weekend mode - including new singles from Table Talk, Cold Wreck, Terror and more! Check it out now!
"Ah, shit! Burnt myself again!" - Me.
Sometimes, I cook. I am a very lucky man. I married a talented and beautiful woman who loves to cook. What else could a guy ask for? I am not completely helpless in the kitchen, but over they years my skills have gotten a little rusty with Jamie preparing most our meals. I have my culinary staples and tend to default to them when I run out of good ideas, or more importantly time. I can make a vegan chili like its nobody's business and my pancakes are second to none. Ask Jamie, she has given up on trying to make pancakes as good as mine in our household. It's just a fact, I can make pancakes, but she can make everything else better than me. It's a gentle balance in the Force.
That being said, this is just one example of how lucky I am to have a wife like mine. And, this is just an even longer way to tell her I wish her a Happy Valentine's Day and I am so in love with her. Even if Valentine's Day is a Hallmark holiday rooted in ancient Roman bloodshed and Pagan history, I love my wife. She puts up with all the stupid crap I do. She puts up with me acting like a jerk when I don't get my way and she still loves me at the end of the day.
Jamie - Thank you for all you do for us and for putting up with me. I love you and I am so proud and excited to be your husband. Here's to many more, I can't imagine going through this life without you.
Let's get burritos tonight.
This time last year I embarked upon a 30-day health challenge for the month of February with my wife Jamie. We decided to try a vegan lifestyle for 30 days to see how it affected our health, sleep, and all other aspects of our lives. To help set us up for success, I did some research and tried to find as many meal-alternative options as possible before starting. I mean, who really knows how to cook seitan or tofu? What do you season it with? Can you grill it? On January 31st of last year we ate all the cheese and bacon we could and on February 1st we went cold turkey (pun intended) vegan.
The first couple days were pretty hysterical. We were lost. Trying to switch everything out that we knew about cooking or snacking for meat-free alternatives were proving to be hard. We lived on juice, salads, and frozen veggie burgers. We had no idea what we were doing, but I knew we were not going to survive living on salads and shitty frozen veggie burgers. Besides that we were hungry, better yet, "hangry" and we were getting on each others nerves. I needed help quick.
Luckily, the internet exists and there are plenty of resources available to anyone looking for help trying vegan. There were tons of questions that Jamie and I both had about potentially losing weight, not getting the right amount of protein or vitamins, or what else we could eat...or better yet would want to eat. You can only live on salads for so long before your body wants some new flavor. Within a few seconds of researching I found a ton of books, apps, and blogs packed with helpful information, stats, and RECIPES!
We made it through the month and completed the challenge, but instead of going back to meat I just decided to stay the course. I guess I'm vegan now? I had some great recipes under my belt, we adventured into new and uncharted territory in the kitchen and it was fun to learn about how food can have a bigger impact than we think. The more I read and researched, the more I found about what we eat and it’s bigger global impact. The days of getting fresh food that helps your body are over. We are living in a state of dead foods, empty calories, and health problems. Just look around. But, that's not even that bad, it's the bigger global impact that a meat-based diet has on the globe through transport and factory farming. Go start researching for yourself. We no longer live in an era where you go to your local, farm raised, butcher for organic, whole foods. We purchase foods that are designed to take us out.
I am not here to preach, or push an agenda, and I will leave my last comments there, but if you have any questions about potentially trying a vegan challenge...or if you want to debate...please feel free to email me. I can tell you that the last year for me has been eye-opening and the impacts on my personal health have been incredible, and I have the data that proves it. I am not saying extreme dieting is the end all be all, but I do believe we need to take a look at not just what we are shoveling in our faces, but the bigger impact on how those foods got to us in the first place. Plant-based for me is tree-fold: the impact on the globe, the impact on animals, and the impact on my health.
If you want to keep the conversation going, want info about the apps and such we use, or want to call me a Hippie please email me at Matt@YourFriendMatt.com.
“What the hell are you scrolling for?” - Us.
This year Jamie and I have committed to less screen time and more us time. This means putting down our phones, turning off the TV when we got get home, and enjoy each others presence for a while. 2018 was a busy year for us. We got married and planned our wedding in Philadelphia from Los Angeles; to say it was a hard task is an understatement. One of us was always on the phone, replying to an email, or just blatantly ignoring the other while mindlessly scrolling through memes on Insty for a bit of relief from all the decision-making we were doing. At the turn of the new year we decided that was enough, we set a goal to put down the tech and enjoy our time together.
We made a couple of easy changes that would give us some of our time back. We looked into an at-home food delivery service. I had no idea what to look for, and really don't know anyone who has used one before, but we figured we at least check it out. After some research we decided that Plated would fit our dietary needs. It seems they have more vegan and vegetarian options than their competitors. By switching to Plated we got back a ton of time we would have been spending in the grocery store or thinking up meals to cook throughout the week. We have all gotten stuck in the spaghetti and taco night weekly dinner loop. Our schedules, like I am sure many of yours, never line up. Between work, time with friends, fitness classes among other activities, it is incredible that we see each other at all.
We made another simple change and try to stick to it. We decided to keep the TV off until we spend at least an hour with each. This gives us time to vent, share funny happenings throughout our work day, and focus on what is important. We throw on some easy-listening and cook together. We even might eat that same meal at the table instead of in front of the TV, what a crazy idea. Leaving the TV off is tough because who doesn't want to watch two different documentaries about Fyre Festival to see if they are just a little different. Side-note: the Netflix one is better than the Hulu one. Between cook time together and no TV, we have gained hours of our lives back, which is what marriage is about right? Loving the person you are with and spending time with them?
I have been told that communication is the key to any relationship. I can tell you from first hand experience that spending a little more time together and putting down the tech for a bit has done us good. Even when there is a new Ted Bundy special, we are learning that it will be there after dinner and we can enjoy it together after we chat for a while. Sidenote: The Ted Bundy Tapes on Netflix is out of control, I highly recommend watching it with lights on in the afternoon.
“Holy shit. We are the only ones here. This is awesome!” - Me.
Nothing is worst that pushing yourself through a crowd to overpay for a cheap, watered-down drink at a bar filled with dickheads. First world problem I know, but living in a city with a population of over four million people it is bound to happen. Jamie and I rarely go out because it just isn’t worth it. Trying to find parking is a task all on its own and then paying surcharges for it adds salt to the wound. We needed a local place to go. A “Cheers” type place where you can go, actually relax, and everyone knows your name. So we went on the hunt for it.
Deep down in the trenches of Yelp we found a spot that looked like a mistake. There was barely any reviews, only a few dingy photos, but it was within walking distance so we decided we’d roll the dice. We walked in and it was everything you hope for in a dive. Old leather burgundy bar stools, pool tables that have seen a million 8-balls end games, dimly lit by faded Budweiser pool lights from the 70’s. Wood paneling on the walls and an even darker wooded bar that was lacquered to a fine shimmer. There was a jukebox playing oldies in the corner. The menu hadn’t been touched in decades. The carpet was stained from years of party fouls and puke; no one knows its original color. A true diamond in the rough.
We took our seats and ordered cheap bottled beers from the owner, who also happened to be the only employee. This was a blue-collar bar and we immediately felt a sense of belonging. We were the only ones there and we wouldn't have it any other way. Everyone else our age is out trying to find the next hip bar, over pay for their experience and put it on socials that they were there on opening weekend, but we are fine right here. We have music we love playing and each other. In a city packed to the gills with people, it is great to go out and actually relax from time to time. We danced the night away to Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Roger Miller, Dolly and more. No one came in the whole night, we just sat, enjoyed our conversation and company. It is nice getting out every once in a while.
If you need me in the foreseeable future, I’ll be at the dive.
"Be right back. I have to throw up." - Jamie.
It is the new year, and with that comes all the resolutions that we all make to ourselves. Jamie and I are working on getting ourselves back into the shapes we were when we first met. I join a rock climbing gym and she wanted to explore the possibilities of fitness classes. We are both extremely intimidated by fitness. We have no idea where to begin. She found a beginners class within walking distance of our place in Santa Monica and debated signing us up. After a few days of back and forth debate, she signed us up.
We walked into our 10am class on a Saturday and the gym immediately fulfilled every stereotype I have about gyms, especially fitness classes. There was loud rock music from the 80's and 90's blasting, a sweet smell of over 30-year-old body odor, and a militaristic fitness coach barking orders with a European accent. "Oh yeah, great form, excellent form everyone, three more reps! Sweet it out, honey!" Vlad shouted to a class making their way through a circuit.
Jamie and I signed in, along with our other Groupon inspired fitness newbies, and our class went to orientation. We were instructed to keep a positive attitude, be early, and set measurable goals. Vlad and his assistant weighed us all in and took our measurements. There was only one scale and they asked each of us our ages and goals when we stepped up. I did not know there was going to be homework or that I would be sharing my personal information with complete strangers staring at me as I stood on a scale. Others in our class were mortified when they had to step up, state their age, and goals. I could care less. I found it funny. What made it even more entertaining was when they yelled your weight to another assistant who recorded all the information. "Yeah, this one is 38 and weight 226 pounds! We got a lot of work to do!" One assistant would yell to another. I am here to support my wife so I just made up some bullshit goal of building mass or having the worlds strongest neck muscles. They recorded my weight and then simply instructed, "You should go eat something." I am underweight for my height, bummer.
Once we were all done being humiliated in front of our new class, we got instruction on what this intro class would look like and hit it. We needed to be barefoot, bring a towel, and drink a ton of water. Since neither Jamie or I knew what towels to bring, we figured we would be safe and bring a few beach towels. Everyone else had small hand towels. Whatever. All joking aside, I was sore after. Jamie almost threw up, which is just the icing on the cake for newly inspired fitness seekers. Nothing motivates you more than almost throwing up in front of everyone in your new fitness class. We worked through some strategic and sexual stretches before and after the class that made this already awkward experience, even more awkward. "Make sure your pelvis is fully thrusted forward, good form Gina." Vlad called out. Evidently my pelvis thrust form was not as great, I'll work on it.
The class ended and we walked home and discussed the future of our fitness. Jamie will be back and appreciated me attempting it with her. I will stick to rock climbing, it is more my speed and there is way less pelvis thrusting.
"Fuck you. You'll get over it." - Woman who threw trash out of her car window at me.
Imagine if you will a land in the future. The year is 2019 and although humankind still has it short comings, a huge population of the species strives to leave the world better than they found it. We have the ability to reduce and recycle, smart devices make life more efficient, and modern science continues to take us to further exploration of space unknown. We can do incredible things if we wanted to, and some of use are. Why would you not want to be apart of the solution and contribute to that? There are still some of us that are still lost.
Last night it was raining. My incredible wife, Jamie, was gracious enough to come get me from work because I normally ride my bike. It is dangerous to ride your bike in the rain in Southern California. Rain never happens here so people kind of lose their minds when it does. I work in a heavily trafficked area so I usually opt to meet her a few blocks away at the supermarket so its easier for us to meet up and load my bike in the van. When I got there a woman in a blue minivan was parked a few spots away from where I was meeting Jamie in the supermarket parking lot. As I loaded my bike I noticed the woman, without care, open her car door and throw a crumpled, greasy, brown bag of fast food trash on the ground like it was nothing. Take it to the trash or recycling bin 10 feet away? No, throwing your garbage around the parking lot seems appropriate. I was stunned.
She and I made quick eye contact and I pointed at the trash with a puzzled look on my face so I decided to mouth, "I think you dropped something." Boy, she didn't like that. She responded with an excited, "Fuck you, you hippie! They clean the parking lot nightly, you'll fucking get over it!" I was stunned. She actually believed that throwing trash on the ground was the right thing to do because someone would clean up her mess for her. Folks, there are people on Earth, in the United States, that think this is appropriate behavior. What have we become.
Before I could get another word out my beautiful, yet scrappy, wife lost her damn mind. She doesn't like when people talk to me that way. Jamie replied to the woman with, "Are you fucking kidding me, bitch! Fuck you! Fucking get out of here." The woman sped off. She didn't make it far to the next traffic light. It was actually kind of funny, she talked this big game and told us she was going to kick our asses, then sped off just to have to wait at the stop light. It was instant Karma, she just sat at the light embarrassed. Jamie yelled inside our van, "Wow, you got really far, bitch! Fuck you!" I kept my eyes on the woman, and she did the same, while I walked over, picked up her greasy bag of trash, and put it into the recycling. She flipped me off from the traffic light.
All joking and funny banter aside. We have to do better. We cannot continue to act this way. I don't know what the solve is, but we have to hold each other accountable to a high standard. I hope wherever the woman in the blue van is she is thinking about our interaction and potentially will think about her actions, but sadly, probably not. She will more than like continue to go to Jack in the Box, get something off the value menu, and throw her trash in the streets, which is just an awful way to go through life.
I set numerous goals for myself this past year and have accomplished most of them. I got married, graduated from college, got back into running routinely, worked on restoring our beloved VW Vanagon, did a cross-country road trip, I played music regularly, and continued challenge myself creatively. I am a very lucky individual and do not take what I have for granted. I have appreciated 2018, even when things looked grim, and boy, did some grim things happen this year.
One of the last projects I wanted to accomplish before closing out the year was releasing a short (very short) film. Attached here is a footage from a day off I had with our dogs, Piper and Penelope, when we lived in Nashville. When I finish errands early, exercise, and run out of laundry to do,I find myself getting antsy. Jamie hates it, but I am not really a ‘sit on the couch and relax’ kind of guy. So I decided to take my trusty iPhone, a tripod, and my actors (Piper and Penelope) and come up with something creative for us to do. This short is the end result.
The whole video is less than 2 minutes to watch, but took me way longer to find the footage and edit all the goofy sounds in.
Things can always get worse, count your blessings (or whatever you believe in), and let’s leave this place better than we found it in 2019 (and forever)...and always remember to have fun!
Thank you for taking time for us today.
Please feel free to leave feedback, thoughts, and comments! -