I won’t repost it here, but I did write up my thoughts on 2013 at The IntelleXual Network. Have a look.
Perhaps it’s the fact that I turn 39 next year, or that I attended my 20th High School Reunion this past summer, or maybe it’s because this is my fifth Christmas season in a row without a girlfriend… I don’t know… but I do know that I am feeling blue this holiday season.
Theresa and Bryan have put up their tree. Sean was adorable helping them out. I haven’t been to Laura’s house but I imagine their decorations are all up by now as well.
I love seeing my sisters and their families creating their traditions and making memories with their kids. It’s a beautiful thing.
Maybe that’s what it is. At one time I thought that I’d be well underway on creating my own memories at the holidays with a family of my own. At least with someone I love, if not with children we had together.
That must be it. A bit of the ol’ holiday hum drums because on this most glorious of family times, I am lacking in my own family.
Yes, I am a part of the holiday plans with both of my sisters and their families, and I love the time I have with them. But it’s increasingly feeling like I am a sort of ‘third wheel’ to their own festivities and rituals.
I’m not sure what the answer here is. Guess I’ll have to keep looking.
So my 20 year high school reunion is in a week. There are ice breaker events, the reunion and post reunion picnics and such planned for the whole weekend. I’ve been a part of the reunion committee and have played a, probably-not-so-insignificant, part in getting classmates interested in the reunion. Way-back in May I started the Voices of ’93 Podcast. Twice a week I’ve been interviewing my classmates from San Dieguito Class of ’93 and posting them on the internet for everyone to hear.
It’s been a lot of fun, a lot of work, and a real labor of love. It’s also been one of the hardest and most rewarding things I have ever done.
Now, for those who know me – and those who’ve listened to my podcast – my difficulties in my youth are well documented. Early alcoholism and drug use, early sexual experiences that could be constituted as rape though the perception is “you’re a dude so it can’t be” stuff, crazy parental units from polar opposite worlds, school administration fuck ups, bad relationships, insecurities, terrified of women and commitments, bad grades, worse teachers… the list goes on and on…. you get the point. The fact of the matter is… while the memories of high school have faded over time, many of the emotional attachments I made to those memories have not.
When the details of memory fade all that we are left with, often times, is the vague impression of our emotional response to those memories. I might not remember the specifics of being a self-imposed exile in high school, but my feelings about that time have remained. No matter how little I can explain to you about my moment to moment experiences from that time of my life I have always been able to tell you I felt alone, neglected, ridiculed, small and scared.
The podcast, and the over 30 hours of interviews I’ve produced on it, has somehow been a form of therapy for me and the residual emotional baggage I’ve carried with me into adulthood from high school.
You see, what I’ve found for me, the more I have opened up and shared with the class… the more I’ve heard them open up as well… the more I’ve come to realize that nearly all of the bullshit I lived through in those years was also experienced, in their own ways, by my classmates. So many of us dealt with drug-dealing parents, rape, feelings of inadequacy and ridicule, a sense of not fitting-in (yes, even in the so-called “popular kids”), neglect, school issues and more. I was never truly alone in the things I experienced. There was nothing truly unique in my hardships. We were all experiencing our own personal hardships through that time. And for many the outward appearances of being completely together was just a facade. One that apparently I was also able to outwardly convince people I had as well. Torrey Nommesen, a theater friend of mine from San Dieguito, said that he always thought that I was completely together. That I was always “in the know” and involved and composed. He never got the sense that I was batshit fucking terrified of the world. I had them all fooled!
And there lies the truth of the matter. Everyone had everyone else fooled. No one has their shit together in high school. And no one really has their shit together as an adult. We are all still “making it up as we go along.” The difference is, most of us don’t hide that fact anymore. We embrace it. Like adults. There’s no roadmap for life. There’s no right or wrong way to approach your existence. You figure it out. You do what works for you.
The difficulty of high school for me was that I never understood how “not alone” I really was in the world. That if I had just reached out and learned more about the people I spent every day of my life with I would have understood that the things I was so scared about were the same things they were scared about. That we weren’t all alone in our search for meaning, compassion, understanding… We were not alone.
And just knowing that one little thing, 20 years later. Well that has done wonders for my memories. Yes, the podcast has helped me remember some details better, but what it has really done for me is remove the dark veil of bitterness and resentment that had clouded those memories for years. That’s right. I’m no longer able to look back on my own memories of high school and feel bad about it. Yes, bad things happened to me. But bad things happened to all of us. The school wasn’t out to get me. My teachers that were bad to me, were bad to everyone. It wasn’t about me. The students who made me uncomfortable or were mean… they were probably as messed up and confused as I was. I certainly did my part to contribute to being mean and cruel on occasion. It wasn’t that I was mean or cruel… I was just hurting and lashing out. I can’t be angry and unforgiving of those who did the same and also hope that I can be forgiven by the one’s I did it to as well. I want forgiveness… I also have to forgive.
Liberating. The whole experience, which terrified me to start, has turned into an incredibly liberating one. I am a different person because of this podcast. I am a better person because of the podcast. And I thank my classmates for participating, for listening and for being the amazing people they all are. May you all find your joy and successes in life. I will keep doing the podcast after the reunion, for as long as my classmates want to keep participating.
I’m looking forward to August 17th. The reunion will be a whirlwind of activity and then it will be gone. Yet one more emotional memory to file away with the rest. But what a personal library I’ve built. I can’t wait to continue adding chapters and rewriting history. The story of my life just gets more interesting.
Until next time, you all take care… and we’ll talk soon.
I had an absolute blast at the Doctor Who convention, Gallifrey One, in L.A. this past weekend.
It was so much fun to spend three days getting my geek on with all the nerds. I also had the pleasure of sharing the experience with members of my family.
Embrace your inner nerd, don’t let anyone tell you it’s wrong to wear your fandom on your sleeve. (Or really as a full outfit!)
This is the short film I Executive Produced and served as Director of Photography and Editor on a year and a half ago. It’s won a number of awards:
Special Jury Short Award – Columbia Gorge International Film Festival
Honorable Mention – 2012 Los Angeles Film Awards
Sierra Nevada Award – 2012 Mountain Film Awards
Official Selection – Riverside International Film Festival
“Best Sci-Fi Short” – Independent Film Quarterly Film & Webisode Festival – Los Angeles, April 2012
So, I’m quickly coming up on the 1st anniversary of my job as Director of Operations at LifeApps. It’s been an interesting year. I’ve helped produce two outstanding digital magazines, produced a very robust fitness app and we are about to push out our first ever retail product in the golf world.
It’s fascinating how much I’ve done in the past year. And it’s fascinating to me that I am even in a position to do all of this. My boss has really put a lot of faith in me, and I am very appreciative of that. The opportunities I am having right now are not “the norm” for someone who dropped out of college and spent most of his adult life avoiding the 9-5 office workplace.
Hopefully we will see a lot of success in 2013. I know I will certainly be giving it my best!
Oh and if anyone is attending the PGA show in Orlando in a couple of weeks, come see me at the LifeApps Core Grip booth, #585!
My life motto
I often take the end of the year as an opportunity to evaluate what has transpired over the previous 12 months and to speculate on how the next 12 may go.
2012 has been an interesting year. Some great highs, some real scares and thankfully scarce of real lows.
The biggest event of the year was Mom’s near death experience in April. This event comprised both the lowest low of the year, and probably the highest high. Mom was rushed to the hospital on April 27th after Theresa found her nearly unconscious and bleeding from the nose and mouth on the floor of her room. When Mom arrived at the ER she was in critical condition and they had to put her on the breathing machine. Turns out, within a 24 hour period she had contracted double pneumonia. It was 98% saturated in her lungs and she was in sepsis shock. Her blood was carrying the infection throughout her body.
She was admitted into the ICU where they kept her sedated for the next 14 days while they tried to battle the infection and save her life. Eventually they determined that she had staphylococcal pneumonia and they were able to target the antibiotics they were using to fight it.
The day Mom was allowed to wake up was a big day. To her credit she is an incredible survivor. It is probably the thing she is the best at in life. The struggle to survive and to power on. Within 4 days of waking up in the ICU she was transferred to a nursing facility where she spent 21 days relearning how to walk and gaining back motor skills that had been lost while she was immobile in the ICU.
We’ve since discovered, through her fantastic new doctors, that she has a fairly severe case of liver schirrosis. While it isn’t bad enough to warrant her being on the actual liver transplant list, it is severe enough that she is now in the care of the UCSD Organ Transplant team who are working very hard to help slow down the damage to her liver and improve the quality of her life. So far they are doing a wonderful job.
As part of making sure Mom was safe to come home we all moved into a new house in Oceanside, CA. It’s single story which was important during Mom’s recovery. But in addition to being good for Mom it really is good for the family. There is a nice yard both in the front and the back of the house. It’s in a great neighborhood with kids around and friendly neighbors. Halloween was a lot of fun here and the Christmas decorations have been just as fun. So, while the move was forced on us because of Mom’s situation the actual result of moving has been fantastic. And a special thanks to our baby sister Laura and our friend Jessica for finding the place to begin with!
I’m doing pretty well. After taking 2011 off to sail and sort of regather myself psychologically and emotionally, I have found myself in the most interesting professional situation of my life. One of my clients of the past few years decided to take his company public this year, and he insisted that it wouldn’t happen unless I was a part of it.
So here I am at the end of the year the #1 employee in LifeApps Digital Media. Director of Operations of a sports, health and fitness digital products company. Making more money from 1 job than I ever have before and with a stock portfolio. Weird.
From traveling bum to this in a matter of less than 12 months? Who would have thought it possible? I even bought a brand new car this month! My first new car ever!
Just goes to show that you have no idea where life will take you. Especially if you just allow your life to move where it will take you. I’ve never been much for long term planning.
My nephews are all growing up so fast. Mikey and Aiden are amazing little dudes. Kale has really started to come into his own and has almost completely overcome the developmental challenges we were all so worried about this time last year. Sean is starting to talk and is just the coolest little kid you could imagine. And 2013 promises more joy on the little relatives front. Maybe I’ll be blessed with a niece next year?
Next year. 2013. What does it hold? Who knows? I am working very hard on my company and will be pushing out new golf and soccer products early in the year. I am hoping to visit my friend Melanie in Japan and/or China and/or the Philippines in March for a couple of weeks. The summer should bring a “bundle” of good news. Outside of that I just don’t know what to expect from the new year. It’ll be interesting to see where things go.
Half a decade has now passed since my father, Mick Dawson, the greatest man that ever lived…died.
I’ve written something on the anniversary of his death every year since he passed away. I had intended to do the same this year, but for some reason I could not bring myself to write on the anniversary this year. So here I sit, a few days over a week later, finally writing something.
I think it is safe to say that anyone who knows me already knows my feelings about my Dad. He was my best friend, my business partner, my confidant, my protector and my biggest champion. His loss is still felt by me to this very day.
So why didn’t I motivate myself to write about him on August 27, 2012? Just like I’d done on all the previous August 27s?
I think the answer to that comes from our friend Newave. He texted me the morning of the 27th this year and said he was thinking about my Dad and wanted to celebrate him. He then texted that he’d really like me to send him Dad’s birthday information, because he’d rather celebrate him on a day “other” than the anniversary of when we lost him.
On a day “other” than that one.
It was a very interesting thought. And it definitely got me thinking. Why do I write about Dad on the anniversary of losing him? Why don’t I write about him on his birthday? Or on Father’s day? Hell, for that matter, why don’t I write about him during Surf Cup, or New Year’s?
Suddenly it made perfect sense to me… half a decade later. I don’t need to “mourn” any longer. The shattered pieces of the life I was leading when he died have been picked up. The puzzle reassembled and reshaped into something different. His memory and his teachings have helped me do the repair work. He’s still with me, since he is and always will be an essential part of my make up. And his memory, his teachings and the love I have for him are present everyday.
So I’m done mourning on an annual basis. There is no longer a mandatory day of grief for me. I have moved past the grief, I have moved past the loss. I am becoming the man I was always meant to become in the wake of his death.
My Dad taught me that it is OK to grieve. That taking possession of your feelings is important and that it is healthy. He taught me that holding things in and trying to hide from pain and from sorrow only makes those feelings grow and distort themselves into other, often worse emotions and actions.
I have grieved over my Dad’s passing. I have cried. I have wailed to the heavens. I have blamed God for being unfair. I have stared at the stars and wondered if an after life even does exist. I have felt lost, alone, abandoned and uncontrollably sad.
The roller coaster of grief is a hard ride. But I’ve successfully ridden it. I am not sure when, exactly, I got off of that ride. But I find myself now on the boardwalk outside the ride… looking at the world around me. I am ready to take the lessons I learned from my Dad and make my peace with the world. To rise up to new challenges and new adventures and to know that in all that I do I carry my Father’s legacy with me. It’s comforting, and it’s reassuring… and I’m never going to be sad about that.