Reflections and Experiences

I know I’m atypical. I’m ok with that.

My first job was in a closet-sized photolab in the middle of a sweltering parking lot in a strip mall in north Austin. I’ve ruined a pair of shoes removing rotten pumpkins at a local grocery store. I’ve fallen into a swimming pool in winter as a pool cleaner. I’ve gotten red, wrinkly hands from washing dishes at a pizza joint. I’ve made laminated membership cards at Blockbuster Video, blown a whistle at kids at Pandamonium Indoor Playground, gotten a sore back from moving bags of concrete at Home Depot and tasted nasty beer to identify “what went wrong” at Austin Homebrew Supply. I’ve been sworn at on the phone at an Apple call center and worn a full-body suit in a clean room at Motorola.

I have been hit-on (and almost hit) while tending bar in Ireland. I moved furniture for a living at the Guinness brewery. I got beat-up while I was a student in England, I created trading cards for an escort agency as a graphic designer in Australia, created a website for a local chamber of commerce, a sign for a high-end restaurant, produced etched aluminum presentation binders for a well-known pharmaceutical company and built a trade show stand out of reclaimed fence wood for a client who didn’t have the budget for it. I’ve drank sake from a bamboo cup handed to me by an elderly man at a fire festival in Japan. I’ve stood-up and berated my boss for being abusive to a teammate who didn’t deserve it (and became the boss’s favorite). I’ve helped a drag queen fix her back zipper.

I killed a wild python as it was trying to eat my dog. I’ve managed the logistics of moving my family overseas. Twice. I’ve experienced the elation and terror of running three of my own businesses. I’ve nervously photographed three weddings, gotten filthy and bruised fixing brakes on my car because I couldn’t afford for someone else to do it. I’ve saved my father from having a tree almost fall on him and built my own garden shed from scratch. I’ve had my nose broken while saving a guy from being trampled in a mosh pit. I’ve been a pall-bearer. I know the man who had his photo hijacked to become the “Rich Guy” meme.

I’ve spent almost a million dollars as a national marketing manager for a global Fortune 500 company. I’ve told a crowd of 4,000 people at an event I’d managed that there was no more beer, scrubbed toilets at a brewery tasting room, hired bands, food trucks, port-a-potties, fires-eaters and sword-swallowers, recruited and supervised more than 50 volunteers for a single event. I’ve worked 16 hours at an event I’d organized, then stayed afterward to pick up trash. I’ve cruised on a friend’s yacht and I’ve bought a case of wine for a friend who recommended me for a contract. I’ve bought REAL Wagyu steak at a farmer’s market and I’ve eaten beans and rice because that’s all I could afford. I’ve started a secret society (it’s not sinister). I’ve had a knife held to my throat.

I’ve dined with the 1% — both the top and the bottom. I’ve been bullied for being white. I’ve been threatened by neo-nazis. I’ve been bullied by female bosses. I’ve been bullied by gay bosses. I’ve been excluded for being too weird. I’ve been excluded for not being weird enough. I’ve been discriminated against for looking too young. I’ve been discriminated against for being too old. I’ve been discriminated against for not being good looking enough. I’ve been privy to conversations where people were casually racist, sexist, elitist and homophobic. I’ve stood up to bigots and lost friends and business because of it. If The Force were real, I’d use the dark side for good.

I’ve stayed home for over two years to raise our first son.

I have scars to prove many injuries, both physical and emotional. I’m still looking for “what I want to be when I grow up.” I am darkly whimsical and irreverent and I refuse to compromise quality of life. I loathe mediocrity, stagnation and pop culture. I laugh a lot, I love helping people and I perpetually look for a way to improve everything. I constantly push the edges of my comfort zone and I live like my days are numbered, because they are.