Dispatch from the End of the Golden Era
What is left to do when you’re doing everything you want?
It started on October 3, 2014 with the most epic non-milestone birthday ever. I was surprised with lunch, warm chocolate chip cookies, free cocktails at my favorite haunt in Austin, and a marathon three-hour gig to a packed house featuring dozens of my closest friends in Austin. I got lit as hell. I’m fairly certain I made out with five women. I can’t much remember. It was perfect anyway.
All that’s happened since is everything.
For work, I gave a talk for a conference at the Westin on the how to be awesome at social media. I got to write some headlines for a revolutionary new desktop that went all over the world, from a launch party in NYC to the pages of Fader Magazine. I played pinch-hitter on the Brand team at work, and wrote a bunch of big-ass signs for work that got to hang in the Austin airport and on a billboard on Highway 71. A lot of people liked them. So much so, that they ended up wooing me away from my old team, and in the process I received my first promotion at any job since 2006 and my largest raise ever.
I wrote some other non-work things, too. Like a 3,000-word magnum opus revealing my lifelong battle with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. It did a lap around the Internet. Or a 500-word satirical thinkpiece called “How to Talk to a Woman.” It, too, did a lap around the Internet. Or a 10,000 word magnum opus detailing the Great Ruin of 2012 and subsequent comeback. It went viral. It was the most-read column on Medium.com. It was being retweeted by writers for Al-Jazeera, ESPN, ABC and more. I finally appeared on ESPN.com in the most deliriously Gorman way possible. Hell, The Cauldron even hired me on as a contributor. (I have yet to contribute anything worthwhile. But it’s nice knowing I could.)
I had shoulder reconstruction surgery done to repair a labrum that’s been torn for eight years. It wasn’t just reconstructed, it was rehabbed and spit-shined to be stronger than ever. I did six months of physical therapy in three.
I went to some incredible concerts: Caribou at the Mohawk, Stevie Wonder at the Frank Erwin Center, and Mike Doughty’s famous Question Jar Show (where do you think I ripped the idea for mine from?) and for the first time he actually read both my questions.
Oh and I made my own music, too, recording and releasing seven(!) singles: “The Highest Letdown” (which was selected to appear on a compilation album), “Blackjack Blind,” “Leave the Light On,” “No Regrets,” “None of the Above,” “Up and Away” and “Falling From Above.” Each more popular than the last. I felt confident enough to enter (and lose) NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest. Along the way, I made a pretty solid playlist of every Austin musician that I’m lucky enough to know. And someone made a pretty solid cover of “Lease,” an old song of mine. I played over 80 shows, including some of the best sets I’ve ever played, (despite missing three months recovering from surgery) and did it all on my dream guitar, a Taylor 814ce, and my dream PA system, a Bose L1 — which I bought outright. I’ve made enough money from playing out in public since that they’ve both paid for themselves twice over.
My writing and music got me some media appearances: I appeared on a show on lifelong hero Chuck D’s radio station, with two writers I admire like crazy, to talk #BlackLivesMatter. Less seriously, I was interviewed on camera for the Austin Songwriter Series, and the real coup was when I got to play “Blackjack Blind” and “The Highest Letdown” on FOX 7's “Good Day Austin.” While there, I also met Bill Bellamy and Cookie Monster.
I was lucky enough to travel to all ends of the Earth to see my family. I went to Colorado to visit my amazing sister, eat some legal weed, watch the biggest Buffalo Bills regular-season game in a decade, visit the legendary Avery Brewing Company, and smuggle a bottle of Stranahan’s back to Texas. I visited my awesome mom in Florida and surprised my sister again (she was also there). I drank around the world at EPCOT Center and went to Universal Studios for the first time in 20 years.
I drove across the American South to eat all the various BBQ and visit the Stax Museum in Memphis. Oh, and I visited my dad for Christmas for the first time since 2010. I had one of the most magical holidays ever. We visited the Jack Daniel’s Distillery. I got “The Opposite of Loneliness,” the breathless compilation of essays and short stories by Marina Keegan, which, well … if you know me, you know why that’s a big deal. I drove back reunited with my bike from 2002 and with an Eames Chair in tow. I meandered through New Orleans, drank a Sazerac and a Gin Fizz, biked around Bourbon Street, ate crawfish etoufee and saw my boy Jamil Sharif hold it down. Drove back through Houston and lunch with a great friend.
And I have amazing friends, too. For seven years, I’d become really good friends with a Canadian sportswriter that I’d only met on the Internet. I met him in real life. Plus, one of my all-time Mt. Rushmore bro-friends bought me an Allen Iverson High School throwback jersey JUST BECAUSE. And with work friends, we entered a hush-puppy eating contest. I went to a pretty amazing Paella dinner / Wine tasting accompanied by amazing friends from my music life and my work life. We also SXSW’d so hard. Saw 50 bands. Played 11 shows. Did 2 panels. Crashed a multitude of parties. Fader Fort, too.
Physically, I’m doing well, too! I lost 30 pounds, did two months of CrossFit, ran the fastest 4 miles and 5 miles of my life, ran the Statesman Capitol 10K, the Sunshine Run 10K, did yoga(!!!) for the first time ever and took up Shamabala meditation. I even took a sobriety oath during January and February. I’m registered for a 50-mile bike race on May 16 and a half-marathon on November 22.
Also, not a bad bit of adult-ing: I moved up from an apartment to a condo, fixed my washer, dryer and bathroom sink all in one day — even replaced a window motor in my car door. And, to boot, I’ve gone on some fantastic dates with amazing women.
It’s now been seven months since I turned 32. This is the most impressive, uninterrupted run of success and happiness in my lifetime. I have everything I want, and by every conceivable metric, my 33rd trip around the sun has been my best … so why am I about to change everything? Find out here.