Sometimes there is just nothing to say.
I am happy.
"Life is weird." - Us.
Our lives have taken us to places we never thought we would go. Jamie and I have done what we wanted for the last 6 years. Travel? check. Visit virtually every state? Check. Buy a VW Vanagon customize it, and travel the backroads of America at 40MPH hoping we don't break down or fall off the side of a Colorado mountain that doesn't have a guardrail? Check. I like to believe we have a slight extra dash of "outlier" in our recipe than others. It's not that often that people just pick up and go, follow their gut feelings, go through a ton of life experiences together, and continue to make the best of every situation. We are very lucky. We have always had the support of our families and friends, but when you are a nation away from everything you know and the comforts they bring, it's a completely different ball game.
As I sit this morning, with my coffee and a blank page, I started to reflect on how special and weird life can be. Watch any Gary V clip and he will eventually tell (yell at) his audience that there is a one in a quadrillion (I just made that word up I think) chance of being born. Which, if that is true, I haven't done the research, that is pretty freaking weird. Which begs the age-old question of, why? Why am I here? Why are you here? And, more importantly, does anything really matter? Yes, I am reflecting on WHY this morning, such a millennial.
I came across this photo in my camera roll this morning and forgot I took it. I thought it looked cool and then reflected on when I took it. We were traveling around in some California mountain town and stopped at a local brewery. Go figure. It had been a while since we had seen snow so we wanted to capture every moment. There was a mound of snow close to us so I nestled my phone in it, set the timer, ran back and bam, this photo is the results. That day was incredible. It was cold, the heater in the Van was barely working, we had to buy extra gloves, and roadside Mexican blankets to stay warm, but we made it to our destination and were able to fit a brewery in also. What else is life about if it's not about adventuring through it and finding small moments to make it all worthwhile?
Every moment is special if you let it be. I know I sound like a total hippie, but I do believe it. Everything we do can teach us or can be transformed into something unique and special. Take a second today to check out your surroundings, be grateful, take ten good breaths and try to see something from a different perspective. I think you'll find out that life is weird. Let me know what you come up with.
I hope this made sense. If not, whatever. These are my Sunday thoughts.
Spring is here! This week’s 6-Pack will try to help you shake off the snow from winter and get you in the mood to smell the roses! We have new tracks from American Football, NO WIN, PUP, and more all brought to you exclusively through Apple Music!
When I was younger all I wanted to do was be in a band. I saw Back to the Future at a young age and when Marty explodes back across the room from the amp he was standing in front of, I knew that is something I needed to do. Starting a band is one of the hardest and most rewarding events I reflect on from my life. Starting the band is just the first obstacle. After you eventually find friends who are as dedicated as you to practicing and sucking together, you have to then figure out how to play in front of people and get your music into peoples heads. When we started our first bands in the suburbs of Philadelphia we never thought we would get a chance to play venues in the city with some of the coolest bands and people we have ever met, especially not at The Troc. Playing The Troc was impossible in our young minds.
We worked our balls off playing everywhere we could as often as possible and one day we were finally given a shot to play some awesome venues. I remember playing The Troc balcony more times than I can count, in God knows how many bands, and loving every second of it. Through years of grinding, failure, setbacks, deaths, blood, sweat, and many tears, we eventually worked our way to playing the main stage. The Troc was a community where we all came together, all the misfits, to play our terrible songs to each other. My parents drove us down there to catch shows, and to watch us play. My dad has hauled more equipment in and out of that place than any stagehand I have ever met. If you have ever carried an 8x10 cabinet up those balcony stairs, you know what I am talking about.
It is sad to see the doors of The Troc closing for good, but I will always remember the incredible times there, all the incredible talent that has performed there that I had the privilege to see, all the incredible people there.
Later Troc, thanks for all the good times.
"Holy shit, that can't be him." - Me.
Last weekend Jamie and I had a very rare whole Saturday and Sunday to ourselves. With both of our work schedules, we rarely get an entire weekend off together. We had no visitors, no trips, no plans at all for a full 48 hours. We were thrilled. On Friday night we discussed what we would do with all this free time. When we lived in our home in Nashville we always had a project of some kind to complete, but we are renters now, we have no projects to complete. Our van is a tricked out as we want it, so no projects there, we were totally free. We ended up deciding to go down to Disneyland for the night. We are pass holders and haven't gone down in a while, especially to see the fireworks at the end of the night. We made our plans, found a super cheap hotel outside of the park, loaded up the van, and were on our way to our weekend getaway.
We checked into our hotel, which was a total shit show, but never the less, we would not let it ruin our time together. We walked over to the park and Immediately got drinks. To our surprise and merriment, it is Food and Wine Festival at Disneyland right now. We were locked in. We bounced from food cart to food cart enjoying adult beverages, and food from across the world. What more could you ask for?
We got a real meal for dinner and then decided to walk around to see if there were any rides we wanted to jump on before watching the fireworks to end our night. We wondered through California Adventure people watching and enjoying our stroll when I heard him. It stopped me dead in my tracks. "Oh, that's money right there. Welcome to Flavortown!" The words echoed through my soul. I turned slowly to the left and there he was, winner-winner chicken dinner himself, Guy Fieri. I was stunned. Jamie and I are both huge fans. He has a huge cult following. He looked exactly the same as he does on Triple D (Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives for those of you who do not follow the Church of Fieri). He was on stage to a small audience for the Food and Wine Festival. How lucky were we?
I grabbed Jamie's arm and scared the hell out of her. I could barely get out the words and she kept asking me what the hell was wrong with me. I blurted out, "That's gangster!" She just stared at me, "How many beers have you had?" Before I could say another word she looked over my shoulder to see Guy, in all his glory, as he responded to an audience members question saying, "You could put that on a flip flop and I'd eat it." He is incredible.
We watched his entire presentation and could not have been happier. Although we did not get a chance to attend his after parry celebration, he did leave us stunned and excited for the night. We were so floating for the rest of our evening as we discussed our favorite memories from Triple D and life. Just a perfect end to a perfect weekend alone with Jamie.
Guy - Thank you for all the joy you have brought to my wife and me.
Welcome to the weekend! This week’s 6-Pack includes a bunch of bands I have never heard of, but that is the thrill of the hunt. New Found Glory are at it again with their pop-punk covers of chart-busting super hits. We also have Kayak Jones, Better Off, Hold Close, and more!
"How the shit does this camera work?" - Us.
We love traveling. Getting out and adventuring into new terrain, excited for what we will see, who we will meet, and wondering if our van will make it through whatever off-the-beaten-track roads we come across in the heartlands of the country. We have found some of our favorite places on Earth just taking the next road we come across and going down it. The unknown is an addiction for Jamie and I. We thrive on it and reference Kath and Dave from Portlandia all too often. These characters live to be stressed out and over-obsessive. The sense of adventure can be romantic but thank our stars for roadside assistance.
I do not claim to be a photographer in any sense of the word. Most of my Camera Roll is pictures of either our dogs or accidental screenshots I have taken while attempting to open my iPhone. We do have an old Canon AE-1 film camera that we take with us when we travel and I freaking love it. My dad won it at a local auction house in the suburbs of Philadelphia. He got a box of vintage camera parts for his bid of $10, and this camera was still intact and functional. I feel like Peter Parker with this thing, plus it gives me a little cred when I see other self-proclaimed travel photographers with oversized, and overpriced, camera lenses the size of a Ford Focus, and weight just as much. I usually get an approving head nod or thumbs up when they see this camera strapped around my torso, bouncing on my hip.
Shooting on film is different from digital photography. There is no instant gratification. The only gratification is hearing the crisp click of the aperture capturing light. You have to line up your shot with film. You don't get to "Burst Mode" and snap a thousand photos in three seconds and then instantly review your work on a digital screen. You have to either get it right or don't. I try to keep a little journal and mental notes of lighting exposures to try to figure it all out. But, sometimes even when you mess up a setting or lighting, it still turns out great. I included some shots from our recent travels below and I love the way they turned out, even if some of them are a little dark.
“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.