Jon of All Trades

Thirty-eight

Every year I make a new playlist on my birthday to commemorate the year that was, and write about it. This year, I’ve broken the post about by song and written a mini-essay for each entry. Sometimes these will pertain directly to the song, sometimes I won’t talk about the song at all. I had no intention of this thing going over 5,000 words, but since I so rarely get to write purely for pleasure anymore, it appears I had plenty to say.

Sometimes this will be deeply autobiographical (perhaps uncomfortably so), and sometimes I’ll riff about why it’s annoying that I don’t think I hate Vampire Weekend even though I used to be certain of that fact, why I love summer, or why JUUL pods are ruining teenagers (and not for the reason you think).

Anyway, this is largely for me, but writing is a way of connection. So I hope you see a piece of yourself in here, and if you don’t, then I hope you enjoyed it nevertheless. Let’s crank some tunes.

1. “Motherland” – The Old Firm Casuals

“My journey has begun and I will walk alone … I’ll rise from the ashes like I have always done.”

Entrepreneurship, and solo entrepreneurship at that, can be very isolating. The road ahead is empty, the scenery waiting to be painted in, the details yet to be determined for better or for worse, and the author alone in his journey with nothing but his own wherewithal to will it to fruition. Every project I undertake starts with a blank page and a blinking cursor. It’s up to me, and me alone, to write the story that appears.  

I’ve often said that in my business, I don’t actually own anything. All I have is my brain, my work ethic, and most importantly, my reputation. I could fold my business today, walk away and go work for someone else with very little consequence. And I tried. I tried like hell earlier this year to do just that, but for whatever reason (or reasons), it didn’t take.

So here I am, writing the next chapter all on my own once again. And because I’ve gazed into the abyss of complete and total failure, that idea sometimes petrifies me. Yet somehow gazing into that terminal abyss is less terrifying in some ways than packing it in and heading back off to the callow comfort of nebulously-defined security. If that “security” were a city, I’ve seen it turn to salt, and quickly. So I set off alone, and find some degree of comfort in the solitary walk and grind. Or as much as I possibly can, which is a struggle I doubt I’ll ever shake.

2. “Hypnotize” – The Notorious B.I.G.

“Biggie, Biggie, Biggie, can’t you see, sometimes your words just hypnotize me”

One of the things an old work associate told me she admired about my marriage to Kristin is how we always put things on the calendar to look forward to. Whether it was a trip, a concert, a beer fest, or a party we’re throwing, the calendar had these little rewards incrementally spaced that make the endless slog of work, parenting, menial household tasks, sleep, repeat a little more bearable. I hadn’t thought about that, but it’s always nice to have things to look forward to.

One of those things is our stupid annual Beer Pong Tournament, which we inaugurated last year. My lifelong obsession with professional wrestling pays off in spades for this thing as I create logos for each team, make a huge double elimination bracket, write custom intros, demand each team pick a theme song and coordinated outfit, and I ring announce the whole thing. It’s a goddamn hoot. Unfortunately, my beer pong skills have gone completely in the shitter, and I now suck at the game. This year (and last), Kristin and I lost our first game, won our first-round match in the loser’s bracket, and then were eliminated by our friends Ty and Jill. It’s clockwork. Anyway, “Hypnotize” was the entrance song for our team, “The Banana Republicans.”

3. “You Need to Calm Down” – Taylor Swift

“You are somebody that I don’t know, but you’re takin’ shots at me like it’s Patron. And I’m just like, damn, it’s 7 am.”

Probably my least favorite thing about myself is my talent for negative self-talk. Because when I get going, it’s some of the nastiest shit you’ve ever heard. As I said in the Shahara Jagrati Mattingly episode of the show, my two biggest fears are that I’m a fraud, and that I don’t matter. While I was in the depths of a major depressive episode earlier this year, my inability to regain the traction I needed in my business caused my brain to go, “See! See! I was right this whole time! You are a fraud, and you definitely don’t matter.” Sometimes, even on good days, there’s a character inside my brain that just pops in the front door, takes two steps inside and goes, “And remember, you hate yourself.” and then leaves. And I’m left sitting there like, wut? That seemed uncalled for. But it’s like he threw a bucket of paint on the floor that I now have to clean up for the next several hours/days.

I’m getting better at reckoning with these voices and getting them to shut the fuck up because I know they’re largely bullshit abstract constructions I invented for whatever reason to protect me from who knows what. I need to calm down. And I sort of am.

4. “California Friends” – The Regrettes

“I think I love you, but then I think, NO WAY! I gotta go but I wanna stay, JUST STAY! I guess I’ll save it for another day, WELL OKAY!”

Both of my girls recently changed schools that are much closer to the house. We were sad when we left considering their previous school was the only one either of them ever knew until now, but aside from that momentary feeling, I miss nothing about the old school.

Actually, that’s untrue. While I don’t miss driving to and from Aurora during rush hour, I do miss listening to tunes every morning with my girls and introducing them to great music like this song. To get our youngest into it, we came up with hand motions for this chorus. “No way” was like an umpire’s “safe call” in baseball. “Just stay” was either both fists clenched to your chest or hands about face height and fingers pointing down. “Well okay” was a bemused shoulder shrug. I’ve got a couple of girly girls with punk rock in their souls, and nothing makes me prouder.

Also, this is my annual reminder if you think they don’t make good music anymore, you’re either not trying hard enough, or not trying at all. The Regrettes are all like 20 years-old, and they’re fucking amazing. Give up on new music if you want, but prepare to watch yourself age like that old Nazi at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

5. “The Man” – The Killers

“I got gas in the tank. I got money in the bank. I got news for ya, baby, you’re lookin’ at the man.”

I remember it vividly. I had just received an email letting me know that yet another one of my business prospects had decided to kick the can down the road, and I could feel the despair spiral beginning to swirl. But I couldn’t dwell in it because I had my four-year-old with me and still needed to be there for her. So, we took a walk. She got on her bike, and we walked down a couple of blocks to our local liquor store, which, I recognize, isn’t the healthiest decision I could have made, but it is what it is. I grabbed a few things, and we walked back.

As I rolled the latest client news around in my head, it was like all of a sudden the part of my brain in charge of confidence, optimism, moxie, and all the things I like best about myself returned from a 3-fucking-month sabbatical, burst through the door, and was like, “Alright guys, how have things been running since I’ve… OH GOD, WHAT IS THIS PLACE?!?” noticing that everything that was once on the shelves was now on the floor, and somehow the entire place was on fire but not yet burned to the ground. And the rest of my brain is like, “Where the fuck have you been?! We’re dying in here!”

And in that moment, just before crossing 11th street, the fog lifted. I quit feeling sorry for myself. I got the fires under control. I started putting things back on the shelves. I was renewed. Ready to take on the world, or, as I think I put it back then, punch the world in the fucking neck.

And punch it I did. I re-launched the podcast. I landed new clients. I got to work. I felt like me again. Has the rush of that moment worn off? Certainly. Have I been perfect in keeping myself out of the depths? Certainly not. But I think I know better how to avoid the hole next time it shows up in front of me.

6. “Bloodclot” – Rancid

“Now my guns are blazin’. Bloodclot, I can see 360. Now my guns are blazin’, pick it back up and start it all over again.”

Grace, my oldest, is a girly girl through and through. She wears dresses or skirts every day, love unicorns and rainbows, has at least a half dozen princess dresses, and basically walks around as a little blond advertisement for 4-year-old girls everywhere.

But that girl has punk rock in her soul, man. Her sister does, too, but if you see them standing next to each other, I’d wager Grace is the more surprising punk rocker of the two. I grant this is almost certainly due to my continued indoctrination of her into this subculture, but I’m not gonna apologize for that. Punk provides so many lessons vital for survival in an increasingly challenging world – DIY work ethic, emotional honesty, standing up to bullshit authority, and so on.

So, although it shouldn’t be surprising that after Grace heard this song with a pretty gruff aesthetic sung by Lars Frederiksen who looks and sounds like an axe murderer the first time, she said, “Daddy, I like that song,” it was.

Thematically, I won’t beat this dead horse any more than I need to, but this song is part of a larger picture of me figuring myself out again after a challenging first half of 2019. I didn’t realize just how heavy the theme dusting yourself off and allowing yourself a rebirth figured into this year’s playlist until sitting down to write about it. Your brain is working in ways and on levels you don’t always fully appreciate.

7. “Give Me Hope” – New Politics

“Summer’s come but I don’t know why. It so damn hard for me to do things right. But maybe if you just let me try, I can make you a believer… make a you believer.

Summer is by far my favorite season. I love that it’s hot. I love wearing shorts, t-shirts and flip flops. I love that it feels like half the city is on vacation so there’s less traffic and everywhere in the city is less crowded because Coloradans live for the outdoors. I love driving with my windows down blasting tunes loud as hell. Most of all, I love just how unstructured the season feels. What are we going to do today? I dunno, hang out, drink a couple of beers, and watch the girls shout and play and gallivant in the backyard? Sounds majestic!

My birthday is right before Labor Day, and since summer is my favorite season, my birthday always comes a bit bittersweet because I know summer is pretty much over. Summer never seems to last long enough for me. Maybe that’s because summer always turns me back into a kid. My dad tells a story about one year at an old job where he had so much accrued time off that he basically took the entire summer off, and brought me to the pool every single day. It was awesome as a young child, and now as an adult, sounds even fucking better. That sounds like the Platonic Ideal of a summer.  

8. “Good” – TWIN XL

“Walk in the room just to watch ‘em sweat. Take what you want, you get what you get. Just one touch and then I come to life. Nobody gonna kill my vibe.”

This song is pure vibe. The lyrics, the title, the beat, the whistling that underscores the entire thing… it’s like an instant mood elevator.

9. “Numb Without You” – The Maine

“You are the violence in my veins. You are the war inside my brain. You are my glitter and my gloom. I am so numb without you.”

OLD MAN TAKE ALERT: When it comes to booze, pot, nicotine, and porn, kids today have it too easy and I fear for their future. If you’re over the age of 35 or so, think about what was involved in procuring any of the things mentioned above. In fact, let’s tackle them one at a time:

  • Booze (then): What was your first drinking experience? Mine was in the woods next to a river drinking Southern Comfort straight out of the bottle that had been in the trunk of my friend’s car all day. It tasted horrible, I coughed like an old smoker, but we got a buzz on. What was the alternative? McCormick’s vodka? Shitty cans of beer?
  • Booze (now): With a dazzling array of flavors like Cotton Candy Vodka, or Fireball cinnamon whiskey, not to mention the hard seltzers that everyone seems to love that taste like various flavors of Sprite, kids today can get a buzz on with flavor virtually no different than the ones they’ve enjoyed all throughout childhood.
  • Pot (then): You’d buy a dime bag of ditch weed that was probably cut with pencil shavings from some burnout who ripped you off.
  • Pot (now): You can eat a goddamn gummy bear and get a better buzz than damn near anyone in 1996 and before.
  • Nicotine (then): You’ve smelled cigarettes, yes? They smell positively awful, yet are some of the most diabolically wonderful things ever invented. If you wanted to smoke and reach that dangerous nirvana, you could, but everyone would know because your clothes reeked and your breath was like you bit down on a wool sock full of cat shit.
  • Nicotine (now): JUUL and a billion other evil companies make products that taste like candy, don’t burn your lungs, and allow you to create big, pillowy, cool-looking white clouds of smoke. My daughter saw a guy vaping outside a restaurant once and asked me with complete seriousness, “Daddy, is he a dragon?”
  • Porn (then): Adam Carolla used to tell a story about how he used to have look at a pool raft box to jerk off to because there was a girl in a bikini on it. JCPenney catalog opened to the underwear section, a box of old Playboys found in the woods, scrambled SPICE Channel like the very first scene of American Pie. It wasn’t easy to find naked, or even partially naked, people back in the day.
  • Porn (now): The internet! Oh my god, the internet. Think about it. You’re a horny kid, you crush on a celebrity, you then go to any computer and type in “his or her name + naked” and a deluge of images and videos cascades toward you. They might be fake, sure, but when you’re a kid, how deeply do you care about that level of verisimilitude?

The underlying point here is that to do illicit things when we were growing up, there was a toll to pay on that rite of passage. You could do any of these things, but it wasn’t going to be easy, or even really fun at first. Now, you can still be a kid, change virtually nothing, and get drunk, high, become addicted to nicotine, and ogle naked people with remarkable ease. I think that’s ultimately detrimental, but maybe it’s counterbalanced by how being a kid in 2019 is freakishly harder in basically every other respect.  

10. “Life to Fix” – The Record Company

“I got this life to fix, threw it all out in a ditch. Broken down when I was sick, gotta build it back go brick by brick.”

The image that will forever be burned into my head when listening to this song is my sweet little Lolo sitting in her car seat kicking her feet from side to side to the opening beat of this song. She requests this song by name and loves dancing along with her sister.

They say with parenting the days are long, but the weeks and years are short. This is true. And there are days when you’ve had an extremely challenging day at work, and all you want is to go home, collapse onto your couch and watch reruns of “Parks and Recreation.” Instead, you grit your teeth and start your second, much more challenging job. Next time you’ve had a tough day at the office, try this: Get into your car, slog through traffic, and then pick up someone who will invariably describe the plot of a Muppet Babies episode you’ve already seen 30 times, and do it poorly. Somehow it will wear you down even further while simultaneously toughening you up to be stronger than you’ve ever known.

11. “Two Birds” – The Bronx

“One for the money, and two for the show. The party’s over baby we gotta go. What happens next? Who fucking cares.”

One of the many ways in which Kristin is better than I am is in not letting the present undermine the future. I tend to fixate wholly on whatever challenges I have immediately in front of me to the point of not making plans for the future until those challenges are solved.

Outside of one trip in January, I haven’t taken any vacations this year. That’s mostly because I’ve had other financial obligations to tend to, and have laser focused on those. Kristin, visionary that she is, understands that these challenges won’t last forever. I don’t have that ability until the challenges are firmly in the rearview mirror. Yet, she’s looking further down the road to prosperity and can live in the future moment when our problems ain’t problems anymore. Her faith in things working out is both inspiring and deeply annoying.

All I know is, what happens next? Who fucking cares. As long as I’m on this journey with her.

12. “Linoleum” – NOFX

“That’s me on the street with a violin under my chin, playing with a grin, singing gibberish.”

One of the things that really brought me back from the darkness was the campaign I did for Old 121 Brewhouse. Having doubted my skills thanks to the lack of business, getting enlisted by them to help with their launch and then crushing the goals we had laid out was enormously gratifying and refilled my well of self-confidence that was sorely needed. They’re now off to the races and seem to continue to do great work. I’m proud having helped them emerge into the world.

Last month they hosted “Never Forget Tony Sly Night” where proceeds went to the Tony Sly Foundation and featured the work of local musicians playing covers of Tony Sly songs, and other related material. Dax Hunter Jordan, a friend from high school and even further back, arranged an acoustic version of “Linoleum” that was beautiful and breathtaking. My best friend Jason sat next to me at the bar, told me earlier that he was also fighting against his own brain, so during this song I turned to him and said, “No matter what your brain tells you, remember this. You matter, and I love you.”

13. “Alligator” – Of Monsters and Men

“Wake me up, I’m fever dreaming. And now I lose control, I’m fever dreaming. Shake it out, it’s just what I’m feeling. And now I take control, I’m fever dreaming.”

I remember when I blew out my back two years ago, I read Drew Magary’s take on pain. He wrote, “Pain is a terribly lonely, isolating thing. It’s like depression, only it comes armed. By definition, pain is the brain’s way of letting you know something is wrong somewhere in your body. In that sense, pain is a thought.”

Depression is pain, except you can’t pinpoint exactly where it’s coming from. I know that essentially the call is coming from inside the house! here, but it’s almost doubly frustrating because unlike screwing up my back, the rehab for it is that much more nebulous. Physical pain is useful because it’s your brain compelling your body to action. When the brain declares jihad on itself, how do you solve it?

I think the first thing to recognize is that inasmuch as you’ve created the pain inside your head, you have some agency simply to rewire the pathways. That’s way too simplistic, but sometimes just changing your mantra from “Remember, you hate yourself” to any goddamn thing else is a step in the right direction. If pain is a thought, and your pain IS your thoughts, make some new fucking thoughts. I’m not terribly good at this, but I’m working on it.

14. “Good Things Fall Apart” – Illenium & Jon Bellion

“I’m coming to terms with a broken heart. I guess that sometimes good things fall apart.”

Writing is catharsis. My thoughts flow more freely when I’m alone at my keyboard bangin’ em out. I hadn’t considered this until just now, but one of the things that breaks my heart the most over my own depression is when I think about how it must look and sound to others. I have fondness for nearly everyone, so why shouldn’t they have fondness for me?

You know when you’re sick, and you’re hacking your lungs out, head is in a vice grip, and you can barely move, let alone think straight? You’re feeling bad enough, but then you start feeling bad ABOUT feeling bad. That’s the absolute worst.

I carry guilt about dealing with depression. I feel like I have sense of how much potential I have, and I owe it to those with whom I’m closest to work everyday to meet it. Depression is self-perpetuating quicksand that not only weighs you down with its power, but sustains by virtue of splicing it with heavy guilt over getting in the quicksand in the first place. This is deeply unfair to yourself, but I can’t help but get a broken heart every time I think about who I want to be compared to who I fear I am.

15. “Panic Vertigo” – The Wrecks

“Enough is enough is enough. I’m telling you enough is enough is enough. I’ve had it with this panic vertigo. Yeah, I gotta let it go – this panic vertigo.”

I’ve written about this before, http://www.jonofalltrades.us/rawk/ but punk rock is just about the only thing that truly calms me down. Something about the cacophony of it turns off all the noise inside my brain and allows me to find peace, which usually leads to insight. If you’ve ever seen me asleep on a plane with my earbuds in, chances are excellent I’m listening to Strung Out, or something equally as loud and aggressive.

People are often surprised I don’t drink coffee. Given some of my hipster affectation and general level of intensity, I can understand why they’d make this mistake. But I don’t have trouble going up, I have trouble coming down. So I suppose it’s delightful irony that by going over the top of myself in intensity is the only true way to get enough mental elbow room to figure shit out.

This may not work for you, but if you’re struggling to clear out your own belfry, maybe give it a shot.

16. “3 Nights” – Dominic Fike

“Three nights at the motel, under streetlights in the city of palms. Call me what you want, when you want, if you want. And you can call me names if you call me up.”

I drove Lyft in the mornings and evenings for a couple of months while business was slow. Have I mentioned this before? I don’t think so. Anyway, this song was on SiriusXM Altnation a lot while I was doing it. It’s a fine song that always make me think of that time. That and the song “Groceries” by Mallrat, which I really don’t like. But this one immediately puts me in my car.

Some things I learned driving Lyft:

  • Most people don’t tip, which is incredibly annoying. Having never been a server, I have immediate and increased empathy for anyone in the service industry because it’s absolutely mystifying how only about 25-30% on average will tip their Lyft driver.
  • Since I didn’t really drive between midnight and 2:00 am, there were way less drunk people than I expected.
  • The airport holding pen for rideshare vehicles is complete horseshit. Avoid this at all costs.
  • All things considered, driving Lyft was pretty fun. It’s a great way to earn some extra money considering no one tells you when, where, or how to do it. And you’re making bucks driving around in your car listening to music. I enjoy both driving and listening to music, so this was an agreeable enough way to side hustle.

17. “Why Did You Run?” – Judah and the Lion

“So there I was a defenseless middle kid, crying out for the right words to say. Sorry I can’t do anything at all. So I hung up and called you. I hung up and called you.”

Kristin’s and my favorite pastime is sitting on our patio (insert your own favorite unhealthy activity that’s a verb ending in “ing” here), and listening to music. A few nights ago she told me she was obsessed with this song, and played it for me. With the state of mind I was in, the song hit me square in the feels and I started crying. Good tears. Happy tears and sad tears simultaneously. I wasn’t sure exactly why in the moment, so let’s give it a shot here.

It’s in poor taste to talk too much about my wife in this forum because a) it ain’t my story to tell; and b) this ain’t her forum, and she can’t speak for herself. So instead, I’ll say it like this. In a marriage, your instinct is to do whatever you can to help your partner, no matter what they’re going through. And there’s no one I would go further to help than my wife. If I had to lay down in fucking traffic for her, I would, no questions asked, and she me. Yet we all ultimately have to fight our own battles alone. We can be there for each other, provide encouragement, kind words, a listening ear, physical connection and anything else hiding in the recesses of our human toolbox we can find.

But you ultimately cannot solve someone else’s problems for them. It’s eternally frustrating standing on the sidelines of their battle wishing you could take the hits for them, but knowing you can’t. You can only hope that whatever coaching, cheerleading, and counsel you’ve given equips them in some way to overcome whatever opponent stands in front of them, or maybe continues to stand in front of them and has for decades.

In “Why Did You Run?” the main character of the song is simultaneously both the one offering counsel and the one needing it. It’s an amazing narrative trick that allows you to switch perspectives immediately and place yourself either as the questioner or answerer. And on that warm night in August, it overwhelmed me with its beauty, so I broke down in tears.

18. “Harmony Hall” – Vampire Weekend

“Anger wants a voice, voices wanna sing. Singers harmonize until they can’t hear anything. I thought that I was free from all that questionin’, but every time a problem ends, another one begins.”

Part of me is jealous of Budweiser drinkers. I don’t wish I liked the taste of Budweiser or anything (I don’t), but instead of this endless quixotic search for new and exciting craft beers, that part of a Bud drinker’s life is just solved. Bud is pretty much everywhere, it’s cheap, it tastes the same wherever you go, and if you like it, BOOM. That’s one part of your life that’s just easy.

I’ve always been certain I hate Vampire Weekend’s brand of twee bullshit, but then while driving Lyft I heard this a lot and liked it every time. And every time I’d forget who sang it, toggle the menu on my car’s audio display, and discover with deep irritation that it was Vampire Weekend. Son of a bitch. I’ve now revisited more of their stuff, and I’m wavering. I cannot describe just how maddening it is to be forced to re-evaluate something for which you previously had absolute certainty.

If you’re open to the possibility, you’ll find, as I firmly believe, that it’s a myth we know ourselves well at all.

19. “For Fiona” – Rise Against

One other thing happened at Never Forget Tony Sly Night at Old 121 Brewhouse. I bought a copy of Tony’s Butterflies by C. Fulsty. It’s a story about two daughters playing hide-and-seek with their dad until one day Tony Fly can’t be found. Fiona and Keira search everywhere, but it seems that Tony is gone. It takes inspiration from the No Use for a Name songs “For Fiona” and “Keira.” The book has a warning that the book may cause tears.

Warning acknowledged but not heeded. As an old punk who absolutely adored Tony Sly and No Use for a Name and a dad, this thing is just achingly sad. Kristin can’t even read it to the girls. I can’t believe my girls are 3 and nearly 5. This book, the entire “Never Forget Tony Sly” album (from which this song comes), and becoming a facilitator for Boot Camp for New Dads are all wonderful reminders not to wish any time away when it comes to my kids. Parenting is paradoxical. I’m excited by the idea of seeing what my girls will grow into, but I equally don’t want them to get any bigger either, ever. Maybe that’s why this drawing Grace did of a unicorn hangs in my office and never fails to make me smile.

20. “Dissolve” – Absofacto

“Can’t find an exit. I wander in a maze alone. If I find you will you shock me?”

The name of this album is “Thousand Peaces.” Wouldn’t that be nice? #squadgoals, maybe?

21. “Blur – MO (feat. Foster the People)

“Let me out, I’m lost in the words, too much in my head, I shoulda seen the bad signs. I wanna tell you everything will be fine, but I’m afraid that it’s a waste of your time.”

Do you have music that sounds better at night than it does during the day? This song is fine in the light of day, but is best served in the night air, thick with insight and retrospection.

22. “A Better Place, A Better Time” – Streetlight Manifesto

“And when you wake up, everything is gonna be fine. I guarantee that you’ll wake in a better place in a better time. So you’re tired of living, you feel like you might give in, well don’t. It’s not your time.”

And that’s what I’ve learned from this year. I went back and re-read some of the previous entries in this little autobiographical series I’ve unintentionally curated, and one unexpected thing hit me like a clubbing blow right in the chest. It seems every year I write that this one has been the most challenging I’ve ever experienced.

And the thing that gives me eternal hope is that every year I look at the next one with hope. With optimism. With gratitude. Because although I experienced some of the worst mental lows of my entire life this year, I never stop grinding. That’s probably the thing I’m most proud of when I think about myself. I will never stop grinding. Ever. That’s all any of us has is our willingness to keep on pushing. To keep going. To be the stupid optimist, who even though it seems we have no reason left to hope, we do anyway.

The challenges seem to be greater every year – whether they’re financial, personal, professional, whatever – life waits for no one without exception and the level of difficulty only increases each time you level up in this stupid video game we call life. And I’ve known people who have given up. Some have taken their lives outright; some might as well have for the way they drift with the tide and let the world inflict itself upon them.

So, I grind. Because what choice do we have? We are not as alone as we fear; we are not as insignificant as our fucked up brain chemistry would trick us into believing. You are loved. I am loved.

I heard this song while standing in a sea of humanity at the Fillmore Auditorium next to my best friend Jason. As I thought about the year that had preceded, its words stayed with me affirming my life and my place in it. Here we had just spent the day celebrating my wonderful baby girl turning three, watching her and her friends play in the backyard, and now here I was late at night doing my favorite thing with one of my favorite people.

It’s vital that we connect with each other, that we build each other up, and that we never stop grinding. Because no matter how bad the day is, I know when you wake up, everything is gonna be fine. I guarantee that you’ll wake in a better place, in a better time.

And if you don’t, call me. Even if it’s just to hear the affirmation from another human being that you matter, call me. I’ll be there to listen.

Thank you for being a part of my life, wherever you are. I hope your year treats you well, and that the world treats you fairly.

With love…

Jon

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