Friday, January 29, 2010

I said, "Hey you, get out of my fog."

This is what it feels like to be at work. I'm the kid on the left.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Check out the beard on that Hamm!

I didn't watch the SAG Awards last night, nor did I even know they were on. I haven't checked the winners, but judging by this photo Mad Mans won at least one award. The main reason I posted this though is because my man-crush on Don Draper (John Hamm) just went through the roof! I'm loving this Bearded Hamm.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Year in Review....In Review

This is me.

Dear Friends & Enemies alike,

Now that the Year in Review series is done I may as well go ahead talk a little bit about it. First off, I'm really glad that I was able to gather up this many of my friends and have them open up and write about what 2009 was like for them. For me, 2009 really was the first year that I can remember where I had major life changes, or at least attitude changes, both at the beginning and at the end of the year. Something that I started at the beginning of the year came to an end at the close of the year. I've never had a calender year really stand out in such a way as much as this one did. It's actually kind of unsettling when you think about it. All a year really is, is a predetermined measure of time. Maybe it's just happenstance then that 2009 read like a poorly written, somewhat uninteresting novel (but a novel nonetheless!).

When I actually sat myself down and wrote out my Year in Review post I was forced to actually think about everything that happened this year. Both the good and the bad (and I was actually lucky enough to have a lot of "good" this past year). And I found that writing it down and sharing it with you (as vaguely as it was written) helped me accept a lot of the things that happened. Or at least it helped me to reevaluate them. Maybe I could have done things differently, maybe I couldn't have. Maybe I wasn't as big of an asshole as I remembered, or maybe I was. It doesn't matter anymore, I can't do anything to change any of it. All I know is that it felt like God finally took his heavy-ass foot off my chest and I could breathe a little easier.

For everyone who also wrote a post in this somewhat depressing yet appropriately optimistic series, I hope you were able to have a similar experience. And even if you didn't write one, I'm glad that you read them (or listened to them), and I hope that even if you didn't know the people writing, you felt what they felt. Or at least what they wanted you to feel.

Now the series is done and we've got to move on to new things. I'd had this blog for quite a while before this Year in Review series and I'm not actually used to having people read it. So where do we go now? I hope I can keep you entertained somehow this year. It's going to be kind of hard for me in another sense because I really allowed this series to define and shape my January (I threw a party as an excuse to get Ben over to my house so I can interview him!). It's also really reminded me of my love for editing.

So with that said, here are some new projects that I'm working on.
Joe Zavella and I are working on a new writing project. Well, mostly it's just me editing stories written by Joe. We're working on one now but it'll be a long time before you see any of that.
Kelly Vargas, Joe Zavella, and I are working on a separate writing project. I don't want to get too into detail about it, but each of them will be writing a separate story and I'm going to weave the two of them together. Have you figured out yet that I really prefer editing over writing? Anyhow, I'm sure some of that will make it's way on to the blog.
• What I'm most excited about though is that I'm working on new music again. It's the first time in around 4 years that I've actually picked up an instrument and played something new on it. It feels good. My friend Tara and I are working on some stuff and maybe you'll hear some of it soon. Our one worry is that we're going to get compared to She & Him, as I'm playing the ukulele and she's got herself an acoustic guitar. Also, neither one of really wants to sing. That won't really draw comparisons to She & Him, though, it's just another concern.
• Also, I start a new job on Saturday. Not really a project, more like stocking shelves at a place I will not name. I feel like if I leave the name out of it, I'll be able to write about the ridiculous things that I'm sure will happen there.
Well, that's it for now. I'll keep posting every now and again. And don't worry, I won't mind if you stop reading. As long as you come back for the next series we do, whatever/whenever that will be.

Thanks again,
Zuhair "The" Abdulla

p.s. if you have no idea what I'm talking about or just want to read them again, here's where all them Year in Review posts be at.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Feel like listening to Ben Vargas talk about 2009?

Here's your final special guest "writer," Ben Vargas, seen celebrating one of his favorite holidays – his birthday, 2009-style.

Well, you might be wondering why "writer" was written in quotes up there. If you're not wondering that, then you've already figured it out. As you can see here, Ben didn't actually write anything. Instead he came over to my house one Friday night, here in January, and we sat down and had ourselves a little talk about 2009. We might have broached a couple of other topics here and there, but it was mostly about last year (with a little bit devoted to this year).

Anyhow, we recorded that little chat and I have it here for you to listen to. Well, we figured this would be a good way to end this "Year in Review, 2009" series we've been doing here. So if you'd like to give it a listen, you can stream it here (22 minutes):
Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

Or, you can go over here and download it, or stream it:
Clickity Click Click

While listening to this, you'll hear some sounds in the background. We actually recorded this while there was a small party in full swing on the other side of the wall from the room we were in. Another note, we recorded this about 3 or 4 hours into said party. Take what you will from that. Anyhow, check it out. Hope you enjoy it.

Ben Vargas is an Internet Production something or other at a company that sells things. Sometimes they sell things online, sometimes they sell things in stores. Like a lot of my friends he enjoys bikes, brews, and dancing with tall boys.

He and his wife, Kelly Vargas, have very recently started a blog together: Ravenous River Horses. Do check it out, yo.

If you missed any of the previous entries in this collection, here are the links.
Angela Kim asks her father, "How old is too old for you?"
Tawny Lynn Rose v2.0
Kelly Mahoney learned some lessons in 2009, wants pizza in 2010
Candice Brown gains a new family in 2009
The Sloh Abides
Erin has the ingredients for happiness in 2010
Kelly Vargas wants you to know that you've kept her in a welcome prison
Joe Zavella's the man who loves you
Viet Nguyen used to be too young to live
Jake Kilroy's take on "growing up" in 2009
Keith Hernandez talks about travel and family in 2009
James Park drops some truth bombs about 2009
I talk about lessons learned, '09 style

Or click here to view all the posts on one page.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Beach House

I've been listening to a lot of Beach House's new record, Teen Dream. My buddy David sent it over to me and it's well good, yo. I've never heard their first two records, but I'm definitely gonna go backwards in time and get them.

Anyhow, here are a couple of the tracks.

Here's how the album opens

And here's how it closes

Fill in the blanks. You'll be happy you did.

Teen Dream comes out on 1.26.10.

Angela asks her father, "How old is too old for you?"

Special guest writer, Angela Kim, can be seen here holding a tiger kitten in Thailand. What a bitch, right?

"I’ve been living in Los Angeles for over a year now and I’ve only recently become aware of the importance of age or lack thereof. I’m uncertain of whether it’s because I live in a youth-centric city or because I have reached that age where I would feel old, regardless of my location. Apparently by Hollywood standards 25 is the cutoff age for women. From there your only qualifications are your work merits, which actually means how great of a bitch you are. I’m 24 now, which means by Sept. 29th [NEVER FORGET] my existence will be validated on how much or how little of a bitch I am.

I can even “feel” myself getting older. Not just physically, but mentally as well [boo!]. It’s not as funny to me anymore when I hear that my mom has been feverishly attending morning prayers because I convinced her that I’m dating a black man [“But he understands me, MOM!”]. Or having my dad disapprovingly shake his head when I tell him that I’d like to be a fireman.

You know what else sucks about getting older? I realized that the “I have sex with my dad” jokes increasingly lose their shock value/believability factor as I get older. If one were to say “I love it when my dad pees in my mouth,” at the age of 18, it’s funny because the plausibility of the situation is quite disconcerting. At 26 though, no one will believe that you have sex with your dad because at 26, you’re too old. Even for your own dad.

I guess this past year I learned how old and undesirable I’m going to be next year. That said, I’m still undecided on whether I’m going to spend 24 eagerly anticipating “adulthood” or being depressed about the demise of my youth.


Angela Kim is an angsty little Korean who works at a fantastic little Korean BBQ shop up in Hollywood, CA. She enjoys taking pictures of things, wearing clothes, and things that am funnies. If you add an M to the beginning of her name, you could call her Mangela.

Mangela Kim keeps a very funny blog, FATTYLINEBACKER, as well as a halfway-decent twitter. Follow her @angerrrah.

If you missed any of the previous entries in this collection, here are the links.
Tawny Lynn Rose v2.0
Kelly Mahoney learned some lessons in 2009, wants pizza in 2010
Candice Brown gains a new family in 2009
The Sloh Abides
Erin has the ingredients for happiness in 2010
Kelly Vargas wants you to know that you've kept her in a welcome prison
Joe Zavella's the man who loves you
Viet Nguyen used to be too young to live
Jake Kilroy's take on "growing up" in 2009
Keith Hernandez talks about travel and family in 2009
James Park drops some truth bombs about 2009
I talk about lessons learned, '09 style

Or click here to view all the posts on one page.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Are you ready for Awesome Tawny v2.0?

Here's your special guest writer, Tawny Lynn Rose, doing some serious pondering, ponderances, ponderooings, and pinderpinings. Let us all enjoy the glory of her mustache together.

"Last year was the beginning of something huge, not in the "that's what she said" sense of huge, but more like a heavy amount of propulsion into a brighter and more sophisticated future.

Midway through 2009, I got a new job. Working for Roadtrip Nation has been one of the biggest changes for the better that I’ve seen in my life so far. Doing graphic design as a career is finally looking to be a radical thing and it’s all thanks to this awesome position at Roadtrip. I'm learning all the time, pushing myself, and working with friends in an amazing atmosphere. I don't think there could be a better fit for my life right now.

In January I had a big addition to my life: My dog! He was just a pup then and pretty much still is, but now he’s more like a medium-sized puppy with jaws of steel that chew through every possible thing. Every day I get a surprise when I come home – a new pile of chewed up particles of something... hopefully nothing too important. I think so far he's devoured 6 pairs of shoes, 2 pairs of panties, a few socks, my paper pinhole camera, every single toy he's ever had, the carpet at the first place I lived with him, the wall at the second place (among other valuable items belonging to my roommate: wallet, ID, pot holders, his cat's eating bowls/water dispenser).... the list continues! This year I think I’m going to do a photo project and photograph the “before and afters” of his ravenous path to capture the beauty and joy of this experience.

But hey, nothing makes you grow up like realizing the things your dog chews up are the least of your worries. I guess that was the underlying theme of my life during the rollercoaster moments of 2009. There were many days that I can remember crying like a bitch, feeling like I needed to seriously adjust my life. And I did just that: Some friendships ended and new ones began. I got out of a failing job. I ended up moving 3 times to keep up with the changing jobs and salary cuts, big kid stuff. I was finally able to cut out a lot of the negativity that was keeping me down! Big news.

I guess that's how I was able to get focused on my shit. I got to do a lot of fun projects last year with Lip Magazine and collaborate with friends from school. I was able to travel to San Francisco for the Treasure Island Festival in the summer and visit Travis in Portland for New Year’s Eve. Those were two amazing trips that truly changed me for the better.

I also started playing drums and ukulele. I'm not sure why I started playing two instruments at the same time, but I definitely have a love affair with beats and strings. Dedicating a lot of time to learning these two instruments has opened my brain to a whole new adrenaline! It's so fantastic looking back at the year and seeing how comfortable I am playing now. It was tough times at the beginning of Oh Nine: No rhythm, no muscle memory, no calluses, and no synchronized body parts. The best feeling was when it finally clicked and I got a basic flow started. And I'm still learning all the time. I'm even starting to play with my friends more too. It's really exciting and it exercises a blooming part of my brain. I feel like a new person! There are so many things driving my creative energy, pushing me to explore different things constantly. It's so freaking fun!

This year started with that wondrous momentum. I hope to keep myself productive and busy this year, and to leave the negativity and time-wasting activities behind. The time is now, the place is here. I feel like it's happening right now, all around me, and if I don't jump in now I'm going to miss it and it will pass me by. I feel like I’m on the verge of something huge and I’m about to explode into Awesome Tawny v2.0. Things are truly looking up and I wake up so ridiculously refreshed every day with a renewed positive giddy attitude towards life and all of it's challenges and adventures!

Bring it on 2010. It's a new year, and a new decade. Let's do this!"

Tawny Lynn Rose is another one of them twenty-somethings graphic designers living in Costa Mesa, CA. She enjoys bike rides, ukuleles, and dancing about while slightly intoxicated on sangria. Her favorite food is mescalin.

Check out her blog, Inside Out, and also follow her on twitter @litltawny.

If you missed any of the previous entries in this collection, here are the links.
Kelly Mahoney learned some lessons in 2009, wants pizza in 2010
Candice Brown gains a new family in 2009
The Sloh Abides
Erin has the ingredients for happiness in 2010
Kelly Vargas wants you to know that you've kept her in a welcome prison
Joe Zavella's the man who loves you
Viet Nguyen used to be too young to live
Jake Kilroy's take on "growing up" in 2009
Keith Hernandez talks about travel and family in 2009
James Park drops some truth bombs about 2009
I talk about lessons learned, '09 style

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Few First Impressions

People don't often ask me this and I often wonder why not. Or, well, it's not so much that I wonder why they don't ask me this question, but why no one asks anyone else this question. At least not as often as I'd think they would. But anyhow. I guess the question would be this, "What's the first song you heard by [insert band name here]?"

I like going back and thinking about that from time to time. Especially with bands that I've been listening to for years. Anyhow, here's some of my "first impressions" of bands that I love now.

Pinback - "Hurley"

The Kinks - "Picturebook" (well, actually the first Kinks song I heard was "Lola" but I didn't know it was them. When I heard "Picturebook," it was the first time I actually wanted to find out who they were.)

Broken Social Scene - "Stars and Sons"

Wilco - "I'm the Man That Loves You" (I feel like Jeff Tweedy, in this video, may have been the inspiration for Jack Black's character in School of Rock)

Beulah - "If We Can Land a Man on the Moon, Surely I Can Win Your Heart"

The Beach Boys - "Kokomo" (sung by the Muppets of course)

The Misfits - "Halloween"

Built to Spill - "Lie for a Lie" (no YouTube clip, but here's the audio)
Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

The Mountain Goats - "Going to Georgia"

Kelly learned some lessons in 2009, wants pizza in 2010

Today's special guest writer, Kelly Mahoney, really enjoys depressed puppies. But then again, who doesn't? They're effing cute when they're sad.

"2009 was the year I turned nineteen, the age I will remain until late April. I spent the entire year keeping to myself, keeping secrets, and making more secrets to be kept. The theme for the year was “loneliness,” because, despite the fact that I was lucky enough to have numerous friends and family willing to go to great lengths to try and connect with me, I was usually far too shy or embarrassed to allow it. This separateness, along with a great deal of anxiety caused by living in a new city and going to a new school, is what made me decide to try and be more independent.

Although I did not accomplish some of the bigger goals that were on my list, like getting a job or a driver’s license, I did become less needy and more self-sufficient. I learned how to take the bus. I learned to go places on my own and have somewhat of a life, even if I didn’t have any friends to share it with. I learned that the color orange isn’t so bad and often looks good on Indian people. And probably most importantly, even though my learner’s permit is now expired, I drove a car. I drove, and because of this I learned that I shouldn’t be afraid to crash and die because no matter what, there will be someone next to me in that passenger seat who is obviously willing to crash and die with me. Obviously.

But that’s a really silly way of putting it. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I feel so far away from everyone that I had to find ways to get used to being lonely. I have friends who moved to San Francisco and I am lucky to see them twice a year, if that. I have friends who are busy with new relationships just as I watched my own come to a painful and abrupt close. I have friends who struggle to support themselves by working ridiculous hours every day, and are too miserable and exhausted in their free time to want to see me. The way things have turned out is very strange and rather uncomfortable for me at times. It seems that the people I spend the most time with are my sister’s friends, you guys. If you’re reading this, chances are I see you more often than I see even my best friends. I always have fun with you, and sometimes (usually the drunker times) I even feel like I might belong. But those moments of warmth and contentment quickly fade as I sober up and hear these words ringing in my ears, “Nineteen? That makes me feel so old.”

2009 was full of inside jokes that I didn’t get.

But enough sad-bastard Kelly. Let’s talk about some more things I learned last year. Because I spent 2009 alone, I guess the most important things about the year were the things I learned to do when I’m alone. No, not those things you pervert. I mean the other things I’ve learned, like how to argue the hell out of an issue and make my point clearly, or how to analyze the form of a film. I learned that I have some things in common with Andy Warhol that I kind of wish I didn’t, but it’s still pretty cool that I do. I learned that Scottish Fold kittens are way too expensive and I will probably never own one. I learned how to watch Hey Arnold! online for free. I learned that I want to major in philosophy and apply to law school when I graduate. I learned to never trust my wiener dog alone with an entire pizza. Well, technically I learned that this year. I wish I learned it in 2009, then maybe I would have some damn ass pizza in my fridge.

To sum everything up in this boring, poorly written essay thing, I learned a lot in 2009. Although I’d like to think that I’m stubborn and steadfast in my ways, it is apparent that the year has changed me noticeably. But whether it’s for better or for worse, I‘m not sure. What I am sure of, is that I’m willing to change a whole lot more this year, and I’m ready and dying for an adventure."

Kelly Mahoney is a currently a student at my alma mater, UC Riverside. She really, really, really loves pugs. Almost as much as I like fat cats.

Kelly tweets @naomifullbloom, but as of yet I'm her only follower. Let's do something to change that, shall we? Together, we can make a difference.

If you missed any of the previous entries in this collection, here are the links.
Candice Brown gains a new family in 2009
The Sloh Abides
Erin has the ingredients for happiness in 2010
Kelly Vargas wants you to know that you've kept her in a welcome prison
Joe Zavella's the man who loves you
Viet Nguyen used to be too young to live
Jake Kilroy's take on "growing up" in 2009
Keith Hernandez talks about travel and family in 2009
James Park drops some truth bombs about 2009
I talk about lessons learned, '09 style

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A brief hello

Here's a picture that I definitely took of people I definitely know.

Just dropping in real quick to say that there are more posts coming soon to this series we've been working on. Just felt like taking the weekend off. But I have at least 4 more coming, starting on Monday. We may, or may not, end the series off with a podcast-type thing. Still working out the kinks, ironing out the creases, and possibly barking at the wrong house.

Anyhow dear listeners, stay tuned! Because there is more coming!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Big changes and a new family were born for Candice in 2009

Candice Brown, your special guest writer, and I both share a favorite place: Memphis at the Santora. One of these days we'll find a place to love that isn't a bar.

"For me, 2009 was like a very drunk version of Cinderella. Just who knew that my Prince Charming would be a neighborhood rather than a hunky gentleman?

The best thing that happened to me this past year was having the courage to talk to someone I recognized from a reality show. [Yes it's weird, I know this, but weird can be the best thing ever sometimes!] This small act somehow changed the whole course of my life for the better. Christopher Hall invited me to grab a drink with him at Memphis after I met him at my first Yelp Elite event. It was maybe the third time I'd ever been to Downtown Santa Ana, and as much as I liked it, I really didn't think Memphis was the right bar for me. I was wrong, very, very wrong. I spent the night drinking beer, bumming cigarettes off Chris and talking to him about reality TV, hair salons, pastries and Yelp. By the end of the night he told me he had to leave before 1am because things get weird after 1am [I know this now to be a true fact and should really start leaving the bar before 1am more often].

All I know is that by the time I got home to Garden Grove that night, I was hooked. I started going downtown whenever Johnny was bartending, and I actually went about 6 months without missing a night that he worked. I would drag friends with me every week until finally one night I couldn't talk anyone into coming with me. I'd never been to a bar on my own, but it was just one drink, and I knew Johnny was working. "I can do this!" I told myself over and over again on the drive down to Santa Ana. And really, I'm so glad I did. Another little act of courage, and that night I ended up meeting more people by being alone than all the times I had friends with me. This is where my Santa Ana family started.

The rest of the year was full of some minor and some major courageous events. Having the courage to start up my pastry business when I had trouble finding a job in the restaurant industry, which has led to me catering a gallery opening, a CD release party, and many, many birthdays. I had the courage to give up living by myself so I could live in DTSA. I also had the courage to give my heart to someone when I had been holding it back from people for so long.

And yes, the heartbreak was my lowest point of the year. I spent many a night drowning my sorrows at Memphis and spilling my heart out to Johnny at 4am on the street. But I realized from this how many amazing people I have in my life that care so much about me. They'll let me be a complete mess when I need to be, and will still call me the next day. They'll make me laugh, hold me when I cry, and will even buy me a shot of Jäger or make me some mac ‘n cheese at 4am if they think it will make me feel better.

Now that my heart is starting to heal, this new year is looking a lot brighter. I now know that I have the courage and power to do anything that I want. And that I have a family of friends behind me that will support me no matter what trouble I get myself in to. I want to say that I'll be more cautious when it comes to my heart this year, but I am a young female and a totally hopeless romantic, so that's a difficult task for me. It's probably best to be a bit more realistic about things...

What I really want out of 2010 is just to laugh more, and to have more sober nights than drunken ones. To bake more delicious things and really push myself to the limit when it comes to experimenting and coming up with new recipes. I would like to stop smoking since it's expensive, and saving money is definitely up there on things I'd like to do this year. I want to travel more on my own and have weekends out of Santa Ana more often. I want to get more sleep and have a little less drama. This year I'll turn 25 and I want to make the most of this quarter life I'm living. [And I want to slow down a bit so I'll make it another 25 years.]

So bring it on 2010, because I definitely have a good feeling about you!"

Candice Brown is a big fan of Star Wars, vinyl records, and baking. She's like me in the sense that we both wear pretty much the same outfit everyday. It's all about simplicity folks!

Interested in getting some of her baked goodies? Check out Lush Pastries. Perhaps you just want to read more of her writings? Click here. Or maybe you just want to take her in, one-sentence at a time? Follow her @moufflet.

If you missed any of the previous entries in this collection, here are the links.
The Sloh Abides
Erin has the ingredients for happiness in 2010
Kelly Vargas wants you to know that you've kept her in a welcome prison
Joe Zavella's the man who loves you
Viet Nguyen used to be too young to live
Jake Kilroy's take on "growing up" in 2009
Keith Hernandez talks about travel and family in 2009
James Park drops some truth bombs about 2009
I talk about lessons learned, '09 style

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Sloh Abides

Special guest writer Sloh (Stephen Loh) has terrible aim.

"It's 11:08 am Sunday morning, 10 days deep into the new year/decade and I'm eating a fried egg sandwich and drinking fresh squeezed orange juice in my room. My most prevalent thought at the moment is how my body will react to the mayonnaise in my sandwich that expired back in August. I even read the expiration date before I applied it to my toast: AUG0509. Still, what's a fried egg sandwich without a nice slathering of mayo, am I right?

Good riddance, I say. Good riddance to the year that brought us the second installment of the Twilight series. Good riddance to the year that gave us "I'mma let you finish..." Good riddance to the King of Pop, a boy who lived a life so grand we'd be lucky to see the things he saw in a dozen lifetimes.

There were plenty more terrible things that happened during 2009. The Clippers performance under coach/GM/overall tyrant MIke Dunleavy may have caused me the most grief all year. President Obama's first year in office has been disappointing at best. Comic Con was such a cluster fuck last year it was almost unbearable.

Sorry that I'm being such a Negative Nancy but it's usually my first reaction to think of how Murphy's Law will apply to any given situation. The past year wasn't actually that bad. I guess I can start in April. Yes, April. Forget January, Black History Month and March. April was when I turned 25. A milestone. Mid-twenties. Being Chinese usually means that by 25 I should be gainfully employed saving up for the family I'm expect to start soon after I wed my long time girlfriend who can cook up a mean pork hock. Instead I spent April drinking beers in bars, drinking beers in hot tubs and drinking beers in various living rooms. Not too shabby.

May was epic. Drinking beer in hot tubs in April lead directly to eating magical fungus in Joshua Tree a month later. When the moon dipped below the desert horizon that night a great gash opened up in the California sky and the stars of the Milky Way danced for me until the Sun pushed them away. It was so beautiful, so serene that 10 days later I found myself in the Avenue of Giants sleeping amongst some of the tallest Old Growth Redwood Trees that California had to offer. Again, I was under the spell of magical fungus. From there the adventure continued to Napa where I found myself under the influence of magical grapes. The product of those magical grapes made me hoot and holler and share laughs with cougars of the most sophisticated variety. On the way down from Norcal we stopped at Harris Ranch. I ate Rocky Mountain oysters. When I asked the waitress how many came in an order she said, "The Rocky Mountain oysters? They come in pairs." She was a lovely young lady. At the end of the month my sister graduated from college and I was very proud of her. Indeed, May was a good month.

The summer months were spent poolside during the day (I don't tan well apparently), and drinking at night. Occasionally a photo assignment would come in. My most memorable Vegas trip happened this past summer as gambling was kept to the minimum, food was kept to a maximum, and I was able to catch a 51's game and visit the Pinball Hall of Fame. Seriously, if you love pinball you need to go to the Pinball Hall of Fame the next time you're in Vegas. Seriously.

In August I was able to help a family friend out with a business venture in Shenzhen, China. The city borders Hong Kong and the two cities couldn't be more different. Shenzhen is the counterfeit capitol of China, which leads me to believe that that makes it the counterfeit capitol of the world. Everyone's wearing Louis Vuitton jeans paired with Chanel shoes. Counterfeit high fashion is casual wear in Shenzhen which is stark contrast to Hong Kong. Hong Kong is like any other major capitalist city in the world. Shopping, eating, more shopping, more eating. The women there wore make up. The men there wore tailored suits. Cars outnumber motorbikes and scooters. When I did see a motorbike or scooter in Hong Kong there was usually only one person on it. If it wasn't for the food in Hong Kong, I'd be tempted to write that it was boring.

The money I made from my time in China was blown in two short weeks on a trip to the Northeast. Not even a week had passed after arriving home when I found myself on a plane headed to Dulles International Airport visiting my friend Nic, whom I've known since we were 7-years-old. He was enrolled in the UCDC program and had a roommate who was convinced that at some point he'd be president. This roommate spent the first hour and a half of his days grooming himself and putting on fresh pressed suits. Every day. He was 21 at the time. Good luck, kid. Nic and I ate at 5 Guys, Chef Spike's Good Stuff Eatery, Pot Belly and drank at a bar that had over 600 bottled beers to choose from. From there it was the Chinatown bus to Philadelphia. I was visiting a friend going to law school in Camden, New Jersey. Go ahead, Google "Camden, NJ". A primary goal was to attend a Ring of Honor pro wrestling event at The ECW Arena in Philly but, alas, the timing didn't work out. One day. 2009 was not the year for me to witness a ROH event live.

Another $15 Chinatown bus trip and I was in New York City. There I stayed with one of my favorite people, Debbie, who lives in Greenpoint, a Polish heavy neighborhood in Brooklyn. During the day I met up with old friends who were carving out a living in The Big Apple. At night I was drinking at the bar Debbie was tending or going to another bar where she knew the bartenders. The drinks were free and plentiful and as a guy who has grown accustomed to wrapping up a night of drinking around 1am, the 3:45am last calls made me wonder how guys like Lemmy Kilmister have been able to do this night in, night out for the last 40 years.

October ended up being busier than anticipated. Basically after my trip to the east coast I came home and was broke, unemployed and bored. So I was willing to take any assignments or trips thrown my way. First, the fine folks at asked me to go with them to the Treasure Island Music Festival where night two was headlined by The Flaming Lips. While there I got an e-mail saying that they also needed a photographer for Cypress Hill's Smoke Out in San Berdoo the next weekend. So after being immersed in confetti, balloons and lights and staring at dancing yetis it was off to hang around a bunch of stoners in BroTown, USA. It wasn't bad at all. I got to see the reformation of Sublime. Saw Cheech and Chong do their thing. Saw Method Man and Redman live and uncut. Secretly the biggest reason I took the assignment was because I knew Slipknot would be there. Not that I'm a fan, but I knew a band like that would make for amazing photos and they didn't disappoint. Probably the raddest photos I took all year were of Slipknot. So what's there to do after a weekend at Smoke Out? Going to Phish Fest for Halloween of course. Coachella needs to take a lesson from the people who organized Phish Fest. It was the nicest, cleanest festival I've ever been to. Free showers and sinks. They cleaned the port-a-potties four times a day. Really, the worst thing about Phish Fest was the fact that the only band that played was Phish. I don't get their appeal but they know how to throw a party for 40,000 people who'd really rather be listening to The Dead.

The waning months of the year were filled with quality friend time. There's probably a handful of proverbs and regional saying about how you can be broke but if you got friends then you'll be rich and happy. Well... all those sayings that poor people tack onto the end of their e-mails are true. 2009 was the year I smiled bigger smiles, gave longer hugs, laughed a bit more, said what I meant and meant what I said. How will 2010 turn out? I don't know. We'll see how well the Clippers do after 82 games. FIRE DUN-LEA-VY (clap clap clapclapclap)!!!"

Stephen Loh is a photographer for a few different people, websites I think. Possibly other things that print photos from time to time. He enjoys Minor League Baseball, the Clippers, Kurt Vonnegut, and Futurama. He also enjoys dumb stuff like Wrestling and UFC.

You can follow his twitter @thesloh. If you'd like to see some of his work, check out

If you missed any of the previous entries in this collection, here are the links.
Erin has the ingredients for happiness in 2010
Kelly Vargas wants you to know that you've kept her in a welcome prison
Joe Zavella's the man who loves you
Viet Nguyen used to be too young to live
Jake Kilroy's take on "growing up" in 2009
Keith Hernandez talks about travel and family in 2009
James Park drops some truth bombs about 2009
I talk about lessons learned, '09 style

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Erin has the ingredients for happiness in 2010

Erin Mahoney, your special writer for the day, can be seen in the above photo petting a very unattractive horse.

"2009 began with a belated honeymoon and ended with separate beds in separate rooms in separate cities. When I put it like that it sounds pretty depressing, and in a lot of ways it is. But it's also a step away from a tired routine that, if we let it, would kill us – a game of responsibility-roulette that has alternately temporarily favored one person, but overall has taken all of our chips.

I know that there is more to me than my relationship, but I am constantly thinking about my wife, and how we worked so hard to be together and now we are apart. I have been so angry with myself for letting this happen – for getting fired, for not finding a job right away, for not saving when I was bringing home paychecks, for letting pain get the best of me, for not knowing who I should be or how to be that person – and 2010 is about putting aside that anger and moving forward, living every day for something more than what will eventually come from a string of days. 2010 is about recognizing just how much time I spent hiding in 2009, and addressing the issues that had me scurrying for cover.

I spent the second half of 2009 living in and refurbishing the bedroom that my parents once occupied, sifting through the rubble of lives snubbed out by smoke and dimness. While I've tried to transform this house, I've found the process alarmingly reciprocal, and I've felt myself cracking along with the wallpaper and losing my luster much like the old paint. I've gotten stuck in the dust and spiderwebs, lost my footing on the cracked linoleum and stained carpet, sunk days into cleaning out closets just to refill them. I am learning, though, and finding my way through the maze of memories and dust mites, moving toward a not-completely determined goal that will hopefully, eventually, provide some closure.

On a lighter note, the highlight of 2009 was my re-entry into UCR to finish my bachelor's degree in English, which I'll receive in June. I can't express how much this means to me (which is ironic given my major) and how much I appreciate all of the encouragement everyone has offered. I can't help but think of the following scene from Tommy Boy:
Tommy: Did you hear I finally graduated?
Richard Hayden: Yeah, and just a shade under a decade too, all right.
Tommy: You know a lot of people go to college for seven years.
Richard Hayden: I know, they're called doctors.

Through all of this, as in past years, I have been supported by friends and family on an assortment of levels. When I was having a rough go of it in Portland, you bought me whiskey to put in my mouth and into my lungs, and you ordered a delicious salad and let me share it with you. When I needed to see something in 3-D, we went and watched Avatar, or Coraline, or Up. When I needed help cleaning and decorating the den, you came with your expertise in cuteness, and sheer, furniture-moving brute strength. When I was sad about you moving northward, you came southward. When I doubted, you reinforced. Let's just say, if I were in a beauty pageant, and I had to give a speech about my hero, and my hero couldn't be a fictional character that lived with her three best friends in Miami, my speech would go on forever recounting how much all of my heroes have improved the world in which I happen to live.

I guess my point is this: While I had amazing experiences, countless laughs, and friendships that have taken root further than I imagined possible, overall, 2009 broke my heart. I know I'm not alone in this, and I've been amazed with the strength of some of my friends in the face of devastating factors. I haven't handled things quite as well, and I am working hard to make 2010 different. I have all the makings of happiness around me, in the people I'm lucky enough to know, and those unlucky enough to be related to me. I don't generally make new year's resolutions – the last one I made involved providing and receiving more forehead kisses and entering more contests – I'm going all in this year. I will be more open, more inquisitive, more contemplative, and more honest. If I could resolve to be less scared, I would, but that would violate my other goals. I can't promise to fear less, but I can endeavor to accept myself and my surroundings, to be less passive about both of those things, and ultimately, try to live more fearlessly."

Erin Mahoney is a student and copy editor in Riverside, CA. She loves television's Golden Girls. She can also play The Simpsons theme song on most every instrument. Fancy that.

Her very serious views on humanity can be seen at her blog, The things that are wrong with my brain.

If you missed any of the previous entries in this collection, here are the links.
Kelly Vargas wants you to know that you've kept her in a welcome prison
Joe Zavella's the man who loves you
Viet Nguyen used to be too young to live
Jake Kilroy's take on "growing up" in 2009
Keith Hernandez talks about travel and family in 2009
James Park drops some truth bombs about 2009
I talk about lessons learned, '09 style

Monday, January 11, 2010

Kelly knows it's more about who you're with rather than where you are

Today, you get two special guest writers. The second of whom, pictured above, is Sassy McSassypants. I'm just kidding, that's obviously not a real name. Kelly Canavan Vargas can be seen above very legally drinking a bottle of champagne on a sidewalk in the Lower Haight.

"I’ll only write briefly about maturity and adulthood (as this seems to be a theme) because, more than ever, 2009 didn’t make me feel particularly adult and I certainly didn’t mature. Maybe that’s a lie. I got excited when my 401k started to make its turn for the better and is almost back to where it was two years ago. I also got depressed about the BS housing market. While 2009 may not have brought about a newfound view of what it means to be an adult, it did bring about some “adult” problems. More than anything I may or may not have learned, I have become more appreciative of the extraordinary people in my life.

This year was less about growing up, and more about growing impotent. I realized what little control I have over my life. The housing market is a major contributor to this. I’ve seen friends take steps towards changing their lives – specifically by going back to school. I’m unable to afford to take time off to complete a graduate degree because I have a mortgage (and a house I can’t sell). The transitions I’ve witnessed have made me anxious especially because I’ve been settled for a few years and I’ve been working in the same industry for seven. But, I’ve seen friends struggle with job loss. I’ve seen friends struggle with their civil rights. I’ve seen friends lose tremendously important people. My troubles are trite (and I have years to sort them out). Perhaps that’s what I gained in 2009, a sense of perspective and a realization that, for now, I shall just drift along in the ebb and flow of the world.

Although the year brought about a bit of a prison that I thought was an investment, 2009 truly provided a sense of contentment. Contentment is a seldom-experienced feeling for me. I usually become anxious about stagnation and fear that contentment is just another word for complacency. This year was different. Maybe, I listened to fewer new artists, which made me feel old and out of touch. And knitted more scarves, which also made me feel old. And really wanted a cat, which is inherently old. And purchased more cardigans than any year before, which is obviously something old folks wear. Mostly, I laughed and rode and read and made a fool of myself. I also danced my ass off, not unlike that show on Oxygen. And that is the source of my contentment – an increasingly wonderful marriage and the friendships that flourished throughout this year. 2009 really kicked off when I had the opportunity to travel to Portland for my birthday in April and it just so happened that we were able to meet up with our good friend Zuhair. After my birthday, started a tidal wave of amazing weekends and Thursday nights filled with friends and drinks and laughter (and occasionally costumes). Capping the year off was more time spent with friends. I’ve realized that it’s less of where you live and more of who you spend time with.

Oh California, forgive me for not appreciating you in the past years! Forgive me for my indiscretions and my brief love affair with Portland. Though intense and beautiful as it was, more than ever, I’ve come to accept you as my home and the friends here as family. Though I may still look for jobs at the art colleges there, your sunny days and purple (k)nights ground me. 2010 cemented that sentiment as I rode my bike off into the sunset this past weekend. There could be worse places to be confined to and worse people to do some time with."

Kelly Canavan Vargas is a "professional employee" in Glendora, CA. She enjoys bikes, beers, and cutesy little animals. Like owls. I'm pretty sure she likes owls. And puppies.

She doesn't have a blog or a twitter so instead I've linked to this, which is just another picture of her in full-sass mode.

If you missed any of the previous entries in this collection, here are the links.
Joe Zavella's the man who loves you
Viet Nguyen used to be too young to live
Jake Kilroy's take on "growing up" in 2009
Keith Hernandez talks about travel and family in 2009
James Park drops some truth bombs about 2009
I talk about lessons learned, '09 style

This man's name is Joe Zavella and he loves you

This is Joe Zavella, today's special guest writer. He loves three things: Mexican food, Mariachi music, and Magic.

"I remember 2009 in the same way you might remember a dream: Some of the facts have intermingled with fantasy and I probably got smaller laughs then I remember or perhaps they were larger. The year started off with a surprise in my home town of Riverside, great friends and good times is how I remember most of that night. I danced with the waitress and she kissed me on the cheek, I smiled. In 2009 the only girl that I ever tried to love got married. I was told the ceremony was quite beautiful and I hear she is doing very well. I think of her from time to time and smile knowing that a girl that I once loved, and perhaps always will, found the bond that we could not make.

In the summer I took my first real vacation in years. We took a train north to Oregon where we met a lot of people who reminded me of us. With full hugs and big smiles, we reunited with old friends, who were there when we started to become the people we are now. It reaffirmed that we would still be together when we were done being whomever we happened to grow into. The days were sky blue and the nights star-filled. The kind of place you'd never want to leave, the kind of people that I will never stop loving. I found myself ecstatic and convinced myself that some bonds can not be broken.

The summer of 2009 was one of the happiest I can remember, but as the summer came to a close I was taught a lesson that I was not prepared for: The lesson that some bonds can be broken, that sometimes, your heart will break in ways that you can’t repair, that sometimes one of the bright spots in your life can turn into a hole in your heart, and you cant fill it, you cant help it, and every time you think about it it’s like the ocean crushing down on you, and you can’t breathe.

There is something beautiful about being brothers, when you can walk through life knowing that there is someone out there who doesn’t care about any of the things that you agonize over. People who can love you as good or as bad as you get, tall or fat, short or skinny, prince or prick. It’s not something that I’m fully able to understand. It is my opinion that it is something that takes a lifetime to comprehend. I don’t know why we were so close. I don’t know what it was that made us such good friends. I do know that I miss my brother, and I fear that I will always be haunted, not by the memories that were, rather by the memories that will never be, the experiences that we never had a chance to share. A brother lost, a good man, a good friend. I found myself unable to focus.

You know that feeling where the walls are closing in on you, even when you're outside? My lack of enthusiasm was apparent in my everyday life and in my work. After a short time I was let go from my job. I felt like I had hit rock-bottom, and my depression began to envelop me. I was broke, the bills were beginning to pile up and I could feel myself drifting away into my own sorrow. But you will be pleased to know that I am not a pessimist! I am an optimist! I like to look on the bright side, and while losing Robby was to date, the darkest time in my life, it is good to remember that it's always darkest before the dawn. I guess through his death Robby taught me my greatest lesson: That right when you get knocked down and you feel like you cant get up, right then, right in that moment, that’s when you have to. That’s when I reached up, and wouldn’t you know it, all the people who loved me reached back.

I loved Robby with my whole heart and I know that’s why it still hurts, but I also know that allowing myself to love and to be loved is what turns your friends into your family. This year taught me that my friends are my family because I love all of you and every time we meet I’m going to try my best to allow you into my heart and, maybe with a lil’ luck, I'll get into yours. So in 2010 let’s go for a bike ride or maybe we could have a picnic. Let’s go to the bar and drink too much. Let’s laugh till it hurts, let’s cry until it doesn’t hurt anymore, and after that lets do it all over again. Let us warm ourselves in the glow of our souls and never forget that through each other we can reach heights never before imagined.

My name is Joe Zavella and if you’re reading this, that means I love you and in 2010 I would like to show you."

Joe Zavella hails from California's High Dessert but is currently "funemployed" while getting ready to go back to school in Riverside, CA. To catch him in his natural environment, watch him on any dance floor.

If you'd like to read up some more about Joe and his friend Robby, check out his blog, 100 Days of Robby, where Joe is recounting his favorite memories with his best friend, who is sadly no longer with us.

Also, Joe's somewhat of a twitterer. Follow him @joedancemachine.

If you missed any of the previous entries in this collection, here are the links.
Viet used to be too young to live
Jake Kilroy's take on "growing up" in 2009
Keith Hernandez talks about travel and family in 2009
James Park drops some truth bombs about 2009
I talk about lessons learned, '09 style

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Viet used to be too young to live

Here's your special guest writer, Viet Nguyen, dutifully informing us of what year it currently is before talking about the year it just was.

"Most of my life I’ve felt like I was too young to live life. I felt as though I didn’t have any stories to tell or experiences to purge or loosely hold on to in vain. At some point over the years, I’ve slowly transitioned from my eager and dissatisfied self, to a self-aware version of imperfection. I’m pretty apathetic about that. The things I cared about in 2009 are a bit less evolved than the important things in my life today. Does that zit on my chin really matter? Do I really need to tweeze my eyebrows when I have awesome bangs? Why do I have to choose between the egg and the chicken when there’s possibly another dimension?

In 2009, I transitioned from a work environment where I was the youngest and brightest star in the sky to a “non-traditional” student in a competitive academic environment where I am one of the oldest with an arsenal of experiences and stories for a rainy day. I was a stereotypical graduate from a Master’s program at one of the top public schools in the country with an expensive degree that didn’t serve me well in this fumbling “economy.” Using a vague term that encompasses so many causes and consequences is a bit disheartening for me, but it explains a lot. It explained why I moved back in with my parents after living alone for 6 years. It explained why a significant amount of people I knew got laid off. It explained why I was working a shit job where I was smarter than my supervisors and couldn’t say anything about it, which nearly killed me.

But when I look back at this incredibly long year, I am grateful for everything. I’ll be quite honest here and go ahead and say I didn’t learn very much. I probably didn’t mature very much. And I probably didn’t overcome very much. Maybe that all happened in 2008; I’m not sure since I reset my memory. All I know is that 2009 began with me vomiting in footie pajamas on the 10 free way because my then boyfriend farted out a stomach gurgling stench (and I was really drunk). And it ended in San Francisco, with my now fiancé vomiting cashew-like chunks on a quiet street in Glen Park (he wasn’t really drunk). That’s right, ladies - I’m going to marry that guy. Read ‘em and weep.

But in all seriousness, in the 363 days in between, I had many rough moments that can be misinterpreted as depression. I wouldn’t deem it clinical depression, especially since those moments could be cured with a bottle of wine - hey, I’m almost a doctor. I look at those moments as being sad. And I am pretty apathetic about that. I was sad, I traveled, I grieved, I cooked, I enjoyed myself, I was happy, I was bored, and I was plenty anxious. I enjoyed my dear friends. I grew further apart from my parents. I was honest with myself. I downsized. I upgraded. I started medical school. I QUIT MY JOB.

I’m planning a future.

I used to be in this hurry to live life so I can have all these amazing stories to tell every stranger I met during the course of my life. Now that I have a few stories to tell, they are no longer reserved for the next acquaintance I meet. They are for me. And the older I get, the more movie-like this all seems. Maybe I’m starting to live in a screenwriter’s fictional world. It’s probably just coincidence. In either case, thank you in advance, 2010. And just like my good buddy, Zuhair, I’ve got a good feeling about you too.

/end cliché"

Viet Nguyen is a med student in Riverside, CA. Her hobbies include all sorts of things she likes doing. She secretly tweets @nguyenthuyviet. Check out her (unfortunately defunct) blog, 100 Ideas.

If you missed any of the previous entries in this collection, here are the links.
Jake Kilroy's take on "growing up" in 2009
Keith Hernandez talks about travel and family in 2009
James Park drops some truth bombs about 2009
I talk about lessons learned, '09 style

Friday, January 8, 2010

Selected Responses from a Year's End Survey I Didn't Really Take.

This picture has nothing to do with this post.

Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I did! But it was a pretty easy one. My resolution last year was to not eat cheeseburgers anymore. Haven't had one since December 31st, Aught Eight. This year I've decided to "exercise every now and again," or more specifically, "every once in a while." This includes walking the dog more, and umm... more bike rides to bars? YEAH!

What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
I would like to have in school be.

What date(s) from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Birthday. Probably not going to be able to top 2009's birthday weekend.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
This is actually the first year in a long while in which I didn't actually get food poisoning. So kinda the opposite there. I owe it all to not eating cheeseburgers, woot woot!

I did slide into second base while wearing shorts during a friendly softball game though. The injuries sustained there were enough to prevent me from going to SXSW. I feel like I'm never going to get out to Austin.

What was the best thing you bought?
I didn't really buy anything this year. I guess I would have to say a new guitar tuner, because it got me to start playing (poorly) again.

Where did most of your money go?
Food, drink, records.

What did you get really, really excited about?
The Dodgers. Europe. The Dodgers in Europe. Wilco.

What songs will always remind you of 2009?

How will you be spending Christmas?
I spent it at home with Maeby. We drank wine and watched Die Hard.

What was your favorite TV program?
Mad Mans

What was the best book you read?
I think that'd be a tie between The Road and Kafka by the Shore.

What was your favourite film of this year?
Again, a tie. This time it's between A Serious Man and Fantastic Mr. Fox. Kinda on opposite ends of the spectrum there, but hey, watch one and feel devastated, then head in and watch the other one to lift ya back up again.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
Color blind old man.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Tina Fey and Alison Brie. Yumms. Does that sound gross? When I add "yumms" at the end of a lady's name?

What political issue stirred you the most?
Prop 8.

Who did you miss?
My goddamned Jimmy Jams, who moved up to stupid San Francisco.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

James drops some truth bombs on us, 2009 style.

Here's your special guest writer, James Park, trying to "get down on it" as they say.

"2009 was the year of choices. I chose to vote for the first black President. I chose to move to a different city. I chose to drink more. I chose to eat more. I chose to dance more. I chose to yell more. I chose travel over home. I chose to get a different job and in return, they chose me. Like I said, it was the year of choices. But while I would like to think that last year was full of watershed moments where I made those life-altering choices, the truth is that a lot of those choices were made for me. I didn't want to start hating my job in Orange County, but that wasn't up to me. I didn't want to drink more but I really hated my job. I didn't want to eat more but you know how hungry you get when you've been drinking. And I didn't want to gain weight but nothing beats Del Taco when you're drunk. And then I was right back where I started, hating my job.

I think a lot of us like to delude ourselves into thinking that we control our own lives. But I've learned that most of us, probably all of us, are not in control. Whether it's a car accident, getting laid off, the economy taking a dip in Lake Recession, cancer, a marriage falling apart or a girl telling you that she doesn't love you, what happens to us isn't really up to us. I'm writing this in my kitchen in San Francisco not because I moved up here but because someone else chose to give me a job so I could move up here. And you're getting to read this because somebody else (me) took the time to write it and somebody else (Zuhair) was kind enough to post it. Most of what we do is a direct result of the choices others put in front of us.

But while we don't have a say in the things that happen to us, we do have a say in how we react. We can't always control what we take in from the world but we can certainly control what we put out there. And that's the most important thing I took away from 2009. I wasn't able to do a lot about losing my job, or stop my parents from slowly drifting apart. I couldn't force someone to tell the truth or convince someone else not to fall in love. I couldn't stop the urine-smelling homeless man from sitting next to me on the subway. Hell, I wasn't able to stop the Yankees from winning the World Series. But I was able to find a new job and I was able to forgive someone for lying. I was able to be there for someone when they got their heart broken and I was able to give that homeless man a dollar for a hot cup of coffee.

For 2010, I want to learn how to let go. I want to learn how to accept things as they come. I want to handle life like a man instead of a boy. I want to lose some weight. And I really want the Yankees to have a losing season. I know that this year, just like last year, will be full of the unpredictable. But unlike last year, I know that whatever happens, happens, but how I react will always be up to me.

Happy new year."

James can be found gallivanting about on the streets of San Francisco. When he's not doing that, he's twittering what he eats. Not about what he eats, simply what he eats. Follow him @robocopinator.

If you missed any of the previous entries in this collection here are the links.
Jake Kilroy's take on "growing up" in 2009
Keith Hernandez talks about travel and family in 2009
And I wrote some bullshit about 2009 as well

Jake talks about 2009, Maturity, and Clichés

Special guest writer Jake Kilroy enjoys wine, boats, and ignoring children.

2009: Maturity (And Other Things I Thought Were Total Bullshit)
by Jake Kilroy

In 2009, I matured. Finally.

Well, more importantly, I think I made the final personal development into adulthood. Obviously, I will continue to evolve, as to most things, if not all things (I don’t know, as I did piss-poor in both high school and college science courses – quantum physics can go fuck itself). What I mean is that I believe that 2009, at least in my book (there’s no book – it’s just a literary device), will be remembered as the year that I officially…grew up.


It sounds so awful to say/write or hear/read. Or it did, once. But not anymore. I’m still getting used to it. Admitting you’re an adult is like buying a killer new pair of jeans. They fit, but it’s a little snug and constricting at first, but you can already tell that they look good and, when they’re finally broken in, it’s going to feel really good too. You know, life is a lot like blue jeans when you think about it.

So, at some point, I think I became more mature, though I have some serious difficulty placing when. That’s probably not all that weird, I suppose. I don’t recall most exact moments of sophisticated development. Did the Pokemons ever remember their first power-up? Is that analogy dated? Do I care? Am I asking too many questions?

Of course I’m asking too many questions. It’s all part of maturity. That’s why you wonder everything as a kid, doubt everything as a teenager and second-guess everything as an adult.

It’s all science or something.

Anyway, I don’t remember the fierce moments of change in me in the winding course of my life. I don’t remember the first time I noticed a girl and felt butterflies tickling the walls of my dinky, little torso. I don’t remember the first time I had $100 or $1,000 in my bank account (or ever getting one in the first place). I don’t even remember when I got hair in places that were not the top of my head.

Maybe I remember variations of those moments though. I remember my first kiss (fifth grade), I remember the first time I saved my money ($30 roller blades) and I remember masturbating for the first time on the bathroom floor and thinking that I was surely going to become a sex addict by high school.

At least I can ballpark the season or stretch of months that I came out the other side of tunnel vision as someone more mature. I spent the summer up in Seattle and I noticed how patient, reasonable and understanding I was by autumn. These simple yet profound traits were, and still are, well-disguised in me, I suppose. They’re hidden somewhere behind a mouth that explodes with swear words like fireworks, a brain that is constantly devising scheme ploys and revenge plots and a heart that is always yearning, though it would be careless to admit it outright.

Imagine three young, healthy swimmers taking a nap on an island with one large weeping willow tree. The leafy swaying of the tree’s branches, sweeping the water like brooms, never letting any passing car or boat know that there are three sleepers beyond the veil of green tickling blue.

This, I suppose, is maturity. And I’ve experienced it in so many oddball variations. In elementary school, I thought maturity was listening to adults. In junior high, I thought maturity was being away from adults. In high school, I thought maturity was questioning adults. In college, I thought maturity was being an adult. Now, as an adult, I realize that maturity is just calming the fuck down and enjoying your life.

In the beginning of the year, I was living in a party house with three other man-childs in their early twenties. Somehow, I believe this stunted my growth and development as a person, as it gave me a glimpse, or chance even, to perpetually try out an indefinite livelihood of being 19. When I was 19, I went to parties nearly every weekend and ate out throughout the week. This, if I remember correctly, which I probably don’t, was the first year I had the chance to do that. I lived at home still, but a sudden relief had surged in my decision-making process when I realized that I was no longer in high school and was able to really just fuck up everything in pretty cool way. But I always wondered what it would’ve been like to be that liquored-up-biting-wit-mouthing-off-arrogant-dietery-hopeless-self-indulgent-careless young bastard if I had my own place. So, when I finally moved out in the beginning of 2007, I succumbed to that insufferable disease known as immaturity. And I was plagued with it until May of 2009.

Even though I had a big-boy job of sorts, working at a national business magazine, I was late to work, I ate fast food nearly every day (sometimes twice) and I drank on like a stupid fish (not like those smart fish that understand moderation, who swim and don’t drown). There were always parties, and if it wasn’t parties, it was kick-backs or sit-arounds or hang-outs or I don’t know…this is all sounding really dated, even by the new millennium standards of man-childish practice.

This year, I was laid off in March and we moved out of the house in May, and I was struck with a severe curiosity that I never before had the chance to entertain. I had a fuck-ton of severance money, a fuck-ton of free time and a fuck-ton of swear words that were ready to dazzle their way between laughter and loitering.

So, naturally, I fled to Seattle.

I had a friend moving up there and I thought, “Well, I’m not doing anything.” So I moved up with him for the summer. I won’t get into the politics of summer. However, I will say that it was the best summer I’ve had since I was 15 and the best summer since taking on legitimate responsibility and control of my life. Every day, I was writing, swimming or exploring. There was always adventure. I had nowhere to be, except exactly where I wanted and I had never had that. There was always school, work and social requirements. I have always been too busy for my own good. But, in Seattle, I couldn’t be busy.

Instead of attending birthday or going-away parties, I was sitting by the window of our Seattle apartment and writing fiction on my new laptop, listening to the sporadic passing car in the night. Instead of sitting in a bleak office, I was jumping off of docks during the day. Everything had been replaced. I still went to parties, but they were with new friends. I still ate out, but at new cafes and restaurants. And, somehow, among all of this change, I found maturity.

I no longer ate at fast food chains, but ate at healthier restaurants or the grocery store. I stopped eating candy for the most part (which was like a preacher giving up his Bible – the larger picture is still there, but the main fix is not – I also stopped caring if analogies made sense). I wrote more (which I would put off), I showered regularly (which I also put off) and I stopped collecting grudges like decorated war medals (which I sincerely put on).

The list was much longer, but the point is that by the time the leaves were changing, I had already changed (poetry!) and returned to California a suspiciously patient, reasonable and understanding individual. I was quieter and more mature. I was no longer anxious, senseless and ruthlessly argumentative.

It’s not like Seattle has mystical healing powers. I had just never lived in any other city than Orange, California, before I ventured up to the Northwest. And, when I removed myself from practically everything I knew, the loud, brash and reckless one-man parade I was became much more of a well-planned, polite and socially engaging dinner party.


Even the notion of removing yourself to change sounds like a cliché.

The thing is that I never thought I had to run away to “find myself” or anything else that sounds so very awfully and terribly teenage-martyr-like. No, it was more like, “Oh man, once I finally moved out of a party house and had time to actually think, maturity just kind-of-sort-of happened. Whoa. Gnar.” That’s about it: I just calmed the fuck down and really started enjoying my life. Yep. No clichés. Well, actually, there are a lot of clichés dancing their way through this essay, but I figure clichés come with change and are delivered into existence because there has to be truth to them somewhere, whether they readily show it or not.

Fuck, that makes me a cliché, doesn’t it?

Wait, ending this essay like that is a cliché, isn’t it?

Well, fine. Whatever. I bet us mature adults love clichés. They’re/we're probably the ones who made them clichés. And, really, what’s the problem with something happening time and time again? Isn’t that all clichés are? Aren’t they just soft-spoken off-hand remarks that are passed around like joints? Don’t we all just go through the same bullshit anyway? Who cares if we have a few sayings that jump from one person to another, like a kid goes rock to rock to make it across a river? Do you care? Do I care? Am I asking a lot of questions again?


Jake Kilroy is a writer and something else in Orange, CA. He leaves town more often than anyone I've ever met. He also keeps and maintains a blog of his own, read it ya dunces! The Cobblestone Address.

If you're a twitterer, so is he. Follow him @fakebookcovers.