The Big Think

September 10, 2009

Start of a New Decade

Filed under: Disclosure — jasony @ 12:54 am

Today I am 40.

Today my blog is 6.

Wait… what’s that again? Forty? That’s funny, I don’t feel any different.

They say forty is supposed to be a giant transition- a huge number fraught with Significance and Mid-Life Crisis. That mortality slaps you in the face and makes you finally Wise Up and Get Serious. Some even claim that it’s something to shamefully hide as you try and convince those around you that somehow entropy doesn’t apply to you. BAH! I say. I’m forty. FORTY! And you know what? It’s a year better than thirty nine. I always thought thirty nine had a penultimate, timid sound to it, as if it was somehow ashamed to be so closely associated with, you know,that number. I, for one, am happy to see it go with its pansy milquetoast attitude. Begone, 39! I have no use for ye! For I am possessed of THE FORTY!

Forty has some authority to it. Some muscle. Forty says “I’ve been around the block and have seen a few things, so don’t think you can put anything over on me, chum”. Forty looks you square in the eye and doesn’t take any nonsense. Forty says that childhood is indeed truly over, but doesn’t have to be if you don’t want it to… because you’re forty. It says the best is yet to come (you have to listen carefully, though, to hear it- many people miss it). How old am I?

I’m FORTY! And darn proud of it. Thanks for asking! I’m actually fairly excited about taking on the next decade. It’s usually a little intimidating to look into a new year and wonder what’s going to happen (I’m not a big fan of January 1st sometimes), but for some reason the next ten years seems exciting to me. I feel like one of those floppy-skinned puppies that is finally filling out all that extra fur and those giant feet. I also feel like I have enough confidence in what I believe to not wonder if someone is going to laugh at me. Of course, keeping an open mind is important, and I feel like I’m pretty good at that, but I’m also stubborn enough to know what I think is important and when to stand firm on those things. It’s a good feeling.

I can so clearly remember a decade ago, turning 30 and feeling like 40 was such a long way away. It’s crazy how quickly the last 10 years have gone, and I have no doubt that the next 10 will seem even faster. That’s what everyone ahead of me on the Great Timeline says, and I’m determined to keep it in mind and savor every minute of the next 3,650 days. To that end, I’m considering some 10 year goals. I have a few things in mind but need to think a bit more about them. Nothing astonishing or anything if you know me, I’m sure.

But that’s the future. This is a time to look back on the last year. Here’s a list of significant events from the Milquetoast Year:

•The big event- Last October 4th Erin’s father, Harmon, passed away. Obviously this has had a tremendous impact on both of us. It’s not something that ever really heals, and the past year has been an ongoing process of coming to terms with the loss. We had amazing support from many friends and family members and we can’t thank everyone enough for it. It’s not a good memory, but it is a milestone, and it’s been a defining event for both of us. He is missed.


•Worked on a real live movie- In July I was able to participate in the production of Paradise Recovered. I was a one man sound department for this low budget feature film. We shot for a very hot week in Austin and two much cooler weeks in Indiana. A cast of about a dozen and a crew of not many more. It was 20 days of back breaking, sweaty, sleep-deprived work, full of all the inevitable conflicts and creative head-butting that happens on a movie set, but overall it was a fantastic experience and I’d do again. I even got a nice writeup for being the “silent sound man”. (Don’t worry, Andie, I can keep my mouth shut)


•Finally got a new truck- about a month ago I made the plunge and bought a new 2009 Toyota Tacoma. It’s a thing of beauty, it is. This is partially due to the fact that it’s the sexiest truck on the road (that’s an objective assessment there), and also due to the fact that I came from a 17 year old busted up wreck of a truck with no air conditioner, suspicious brakes, and a suspension system that wobbled as it rattled down the road. The old Chevy was a dependable beast (in spite of its age), but the new ride has options on the options and even gets better gas mileage. What a huge change! I still can’t quite believe that we own it. Sometimes (and this is just between us) I’ll go out in the garage, take a look at it and, well, just spontaneously take it for a drive. For fun.


•Built an entertainment center- which may not sound like a big deal, but believe me, it was a ton of work. After almost 200 hours over 9 months, we now have a solid wood quartersawn red oak Art’s and Craft’s style entertainment center standing proudly in our living room. It was a labor of love as I tried to put every bit of patience and skill in my limited experience into it. It has divided light doors, ebony inlays, and some rather clever center of gravity and wood expansion engineering (which you’ll never see, but I know those details are there). I still have to design and build the stained glass window for the lower middle section, so I guess it’s not “done” yet, but I’m rather proud of it:


•Partied- on New Year’s eve we were invited to a black tie party at a friend’s ranch. They’re building a chapel on the property and wanted to christen the unfinished building with a big New Year’s shindig. So we put on our formal duds and drove way out to the country. The highlight of the evening was when the host (a policeman) asked for all the men with guns (mostly fellow cops) to take a group picture. The result was a truly funny photo of seven tuxedoed gents all packin’ heat. Even the episcopal priest in attendance got into the act with not one, but TWO pieces (a pistol and a shotgun)! Erin’s comment: “gee, normally I don’t really like guns, but I feel rather… protected…. right now”. Yeah baby: Don’t mess with Texas!


•Traveled- a few months ago Erin and I took an epic road trip of almost 3000 miles. From Austin to Nashville to Cincinnati to Omaha and back. We cut out the Colorado loop due to me having to come back to work on the movie, but it was still a great two weeks (except for the rather tragic timing of being at Erin’s best friend’s house the day their sweet dog Sadie passed away). Erin and I love traveling together, love road trips, and love long vacations. Score on all three fronts!


•Saw Shakespeare in the park- I can’t believe I’ve never done it before, but I finally got to see a production of Shakespeare in the Park. While we were in Omaha Erin and I went with her friend Anne and to watch a great performance of Macbeth. It reminded me how much I enjoy the mental gymnastics of listening to Shakespeare. We sat on blankets in the park and devoured cheese, wine, and grapes, and thoroughly enjoyed the show. An added bonus was that Anne had invited her professor friend along who specializes in… Shakespeare! Lots of fun to sit and watch the play while listening to a running commentary from an expert.


•Picked raspberries off the vine- it’s been years since I did this, but while at Anne’s parent’s house in Nebraska City I got to pick and eat raspberries straight off the vine until my teeth turned blue. What a treat.


•Propped- this year I was able to continue my prop building by constructing a 12 foot tall grocery bag, 8′ long working grocery scale, and a giant set of produce sprinklers. It was a long two days of work but worth it to see the props on the stage. I love building props since it gives me another creative outlet, lets me work on Sing from a different perspective, and gets me out of the studio into the shop. Plus it’s hilarious to watch my neighbor’s faces as they drive by and see these gigantic props take shape in our driveway. Bonus: I’ll be working on many more props this year. Can’t wait!


•Built some small stuff, too- I continued building small Hirst Blocks castles and buildings from blocks I cast myself. These are usually multi-week projects since you have to cast the individual blocks and plaster pieces a few at a time (You can see my stash in the background of the picture below). Then it’s a laborious process to glue them together with hobby glue, then paint, weather, and detail the pieces, not to mention basing them and applying scenery. Why do this? Because it’s creative, relaxing, and fun. Do I need a better reason?



•Learned stained glass cutting- while I was building the entertainment center I decided I needed to put in a stained glass panel (alas, still uncompleted). I did a lot of reading online and bought some basic tools and glass and spent a few days actually making some stained glass pieces. It was a great experience working in a new medium and something that was tremendously fun. Another Maker skill!


•Spent another year with my incredible, compassionate, kind, and all around wonderful wife. I don’t say it often enough, sweetie, but your presence in my life is life itself. I love you.


So do I feel forty? Well, if “feeling forty” means feeling like a big kid who is married to his best friend, getting to go to “work” every day and work on stuff I love, and getting to build things I find fun and rewarding, then yes, I guess I do.



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