“I came back to you broken and I’ve been away too long”

The start of the New Year has been less than ideal. My hours at work have been brutal and physically beating me down with little to no end in sight. Clemson lost the only National Championship in my lifetime in a heartbreaking fashion. I’m confused with the outlook of couple of friendships and where they’re supposed to go. I’m struggling with what I want my next year, two years, five years to really look like and where I want to be – both figuratively and literally.

In times of trouble, some people have a calming place they retreat to until the storm has passed, some get lost in the pages of a book, some have a close friend to confide in.

Music’s always been my go-to comfort.

I have no idea when music transitioned from a passive to an active experience for me. Growing up, my parents weren’t musicians. Other than the occasional piano playing, neither of my parents play an instrument. There weren’t frequent trips to concerts. At best, my childhood memories consist of late 80s/early 90s country music and the soundtracks to Dirty Dancing and Top Gun.

If anything, I was on the outside looking in. I distinctly remember moving to Irmo in elementary school, taking a field trip to Lexington, SC, and feeling completely left out as the entire bus knew the words to Whoomp! (There It Is) by Tag Team as 104.7 WNOK was streamed through the bus speakers. Top 40 music was new to me.

Over the years, music just kept creeping in. I got a pair of rollerblades as a present one year, which bled over into Friday nights being spent at the skating rink and being introduced to 90s dance music. TRL – a crash course in Top 40 music – became a fixture on the living room TV as soon as I got home from school. I’d watch every episode of MTV’s Making the Video, which led me to Blink 182. That would later spiral out of control into the love for pop-punk that still makes me giddy.

My first concert was a Reba McEntire show in Columbia with my family. I vaguely remember it, so I barely count it as a defining experience. But around high school, Columbia’s rock station (93.5 WARQ) began holding an annual music festival in Finlay Park downtown. Wanting to fit in with friends, I’d tag along in my junior and senior year. In what may be my first connection with live music, I can still remember the chills I got from Fuel’s performance of Shimmer the night of September 15, 2000. And the disappointment when Good Charlotte backed out of the 2001 lineup.

To this day, I credit Good Charlotte as being the band that started my music fascination. I still proudly own a copy of their first, self-titled album before they re-released it with The Click, which also makes me sad since I love that song. I loved that the founders were twins and that was unique. I knew where Waldorf, Maryland was. I knew Benji taught himself how to play guitar. I knew Billy Martin had his own clothing line. I saw them in Charlotte at Tremont Music Hall (RIP!) on 11/13/2002 and still count this as my first concert.

Then their The Young and The Hopeless record came out in 2003 and blew my damn mind. The opening track is perfect at building hype. To this day, I can recognize the opening guitar tracks to The Anthem and The Young and The Hopeless in two or three notes, easy. Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous blew them up into a huge band. My first college crush at Lander loved My Bloody Valentine. My first college girlfriend’s AIM screen name was a reference to Riot Girl. You could put this album in today and I would know every word to every song.

This led to a college subscription to Alternative Press. Which led to an interest in Warped Tour. Which led to bands like Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, All American Rejects, Yellowcard, and eventually Fall Out Boy. It’s well documented that I claim Fall Out Boy as my favorite band. They were what Good Charlotte was, only during a time in my life when I had the money, time, and freedom to go to any concert I wanted to. To this day, I’m usually one of the older fans (if you’re excluding the parents) in the pit for their shows.

Somewhere along the way, I stumbled across Marianas Trench. They’re a Canadian pop rock band. No one in the United States knows them. Their lead singer co-wrote Call Me Maybe. But no one knows that either. Celebrity Status was my introduction and I couldn’t stop listening. So I downloaded their album Masterpiece Theatre. I wore this album out on my cross country trip in 2010. I’d send lyrics to All To Myself to a girl I liked. Josh Ramsay absolutely kills their songs, vocally. If Fall Out Boy was my Good Charlotte 2.0, Marianas Trench was my Fall Out Boy 2.0.

They released Ever After in 2011. Haven’t Had Enough were the lyrics on this album sent to a girl. Fallout still gives me chills. Desperate Measures is the song that got me hooked – this album’s Celebrity Status. By Now is heartbreaking. The album’s a concept album and all of the music videos follow the story with the band and the same actress. Fortunately, I got to see their Charlotte show on their The Noise tour on June 5, 2013. The recap on that can be found here.

Finally, Astoria, their follow up to Ever After, was released October, 2015. Just a mere four years after the last album. Side note – Let’s not wait that long again guys. Okay? Okay! Yet another concept album with this one being inspired by the 80s. The songs on this album hit me in a much more emotional place than any album I’ve listened to. One Love is the album’s first single. Who Do You Love is full of the band harmonizing gorgeously. Wildfire may be my favorite song. Not just by Marianas Trench. My favorite song ever. It was a song I just got in the first piano notes. Once the drum beat kicked in, I was sold. Josh, again, kills the lyrics on this song. Dearly Departed is amazing for the simple fact that it name-drops lyrics from the previous album. Forget Me Not is absolutely beautiful but crushing about his mom’s battle with Lewy body dementia.

So when they announced they were touring the Southeast again, I jumped at the chance to buy tickets to both the Charleston and Charlotte dates on their Hey You Guys tour.

I can’t even begin to describe the Charleston show. It will probably wind up being the worst-sold show on their tour, as there may have been 200 people there. But it will easily be one of my most cherished, special nights I will ever experience.

Before show even started, I lucked out and got a free tshirt from the merch guy. The shirt I wanted was sold out of XL sizes, so I settled on another design. But they had a lot of old merch from previous tours they were giving away to anyone who stood out or spent a lot of money. Turns out, they had an XL in those, so he threw one in for me. San Diego and I spent about 15 minutes chatting with him about the tour, the fans he sees, how he was filling in for a buddy and how his scene (arena rock) is so different. It was fun to talk that side of a concert with someone.

As soon as the band came out, I could tell something was off. Josh struggled hitting some of the notes and words in Astoria to open up the show. I distinctly remember thinking I would be bummed out if they cancel the Charlotte date the next night because he’s losing his voice. It was that bad. Then he wasn’t drinking water and brought out a red Solo cup. I thought he might be drunk and missing notes because he was a bit out of it. But then during One Love, he lost it. He missed lyrics, was visibly emotional, and started tearing up. It really hit home when he came back out to sing Good To You for the encore.

He stopped the show and told the crowd that he needed to “break character” for a minute because he “was struggling.” He said that sometimes it’s hard to perform in front of a crowd when life isn’t going right. He said he had a challenging day and started to lose it again. Then pulled himself back together to thank the crowd for helping him make it a bit better. It didn’t help that he played Good To You by himself without a band backing him because he was visibly upset trying to sing the song. But it made for an amazing atmosphere towards the end of the song when the crowd was singing back with him.

On one hand, I felt terrible for him, having to put on a show in front of a small room of people after having something clearly emotional happen to him. I can’t imagine how hard that gets when everyone’s expecting you to be this character and you’re struggling through it.

On the other hand, I can’t explain how grateful I am to have gotten to experience that. That’s probably only ever happened at a handful of shows, if ever. It was such a human, humbling moment to see him just be like any other person struggling through a tough day. Something about that just makes me appreciate him, his band, and the music that much more. And in every song he struggled through, I have moments I’ll relive every time I hear that song, knowing how real those lyrics are for him.

If only to drive the point home of how rare it is for him to break his on-stage persona, he sent this tweet out two days later.

I can’t overstate how perfect that show was for me. I will never forget it.

The Charlotte show was the next night (January 27th) and noticeably different. The crowd was massive compared to Charleston’s stop. Josh was back to being his usual, killer performer self, working the crowd and stage. The atmosphere was so much more alive, given Josh’s energy and the larger crowd feeding off of it. The merch guy even recognized me, saying he thought he was having deja vu.

Some funny points about the night were that I had mentioned to San Diego a couple of things while walking to the venue. First, I noted how many more people there were in Charlotte at the show this time than Charleston the night before, as well as the Charlotte stop three years ago the first time I saw them. Second, there was a guy who was easily 6’5 at the Charleston show camped out up front with his wife/girlfriend. I had made mention at the show how that was sort of a jerk move to be front and center, while being the tallest guy there, blocking the best view from everyone. He wasn’t lively or moving around. He didn’t even bob his head to the beat. But he knew every. single. word. to every song being played.

Well, in between songs when Josh was addressing the crowd, he made mention of both of my stories. He said it was only their second time in Charlotte but that the last time they were there, it was the worst selling stop on the tour. Then later in the night, he went on a rant about the tall guy. He said it was terrifying because he was a giant dude, just staring a hole into him all night, but mouthing every word to every song. Just a funny coincidence how he mentioned both stories I had been talking about already.

I’m really glad I got to see the “normal” performance in Charlotte, so I didn’t miss out on the usual expectation of a Marianas Trench show. But seeing the Charleston show makes me feel lucky to experience it at all. It gives me an entirely new perspective on the people, the band, and the songs. Fall Out Boy may have just been bumped from the top spot.

Here’s the set list and my favorite lyric from each song.

  • Astoria – “I’ll see whatever doesn’t make me stronger kills me”
  • Celebrity Status – “And I pray at the church of asses in the seats”
  • Burning Up – “Sometimes a whisper’s just too much”
  • All To Myself – “I’ve been blaming myself and I think you know why”
  • Who Do You Love – “I hear the words I’ve spoken and everything comes out wrong”
  • Fallout – “To fight for you, after this long, I shouldn’t have to”
  • Stutter – “So here I am, you can take or leave me. But I won’t ever be anywhere but here.”
  • One Love – “And I’ve been broken but I’m better every day”
  • This Means War – “I’d rather be a riot than indifferent”
  • Desperate Measures – “For a first effort, this feels kind of last ditch”
  • Shut Up and Kiss Me – “You can say you’re kind of bored with this, but if you’re young, it’s new, I guess”
  • Pop 101 – “Hipster music on cassette but you probably don’t know them yet”
  • While We’re Young – “So sing it back if you’re with me, I wanna hear how your heart speaks”
  • Cross My Heart – “Take me home, I don’t wanna be alone tonight”
  • Good To You – “I’d be good to you and you’d be so good to me”
  • Haven’t Had Enough – “But I still need you, need you, don’t mean to tease you”
  • End of an Era – “I’m so afraid of trying something new, cause every start begins with saying goodbye to you”

It was a great song lineup. The only thing that would have made it perfect would have been adding Wildfire into the mix somewhere. Selfishly, it’s my favorite song they’ve ever done. But in response to a fan on Saturday, he made it clear he’s just not ready yet.

Take your time, dude. That’ll just make it that much better when you’re ready.

Can’t wait until next time!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What I Learned: January 29, 2016

  • My job has me so incredibly beat down. Nearly every business day in January, I’ve either worked from home after hours or been in the office until 7pm. Every. Single. Day. Our office was closed for winter weather last Friday and I was there from 10-3. I took two days off this week (more on that in a bit) and I feel like I’m going to have to work this weekend just to make up for it. Yesterday, my manager mentioned to a group of us that our jobs were “about to get harder” and I just gave up. There’s not much more I can give this place without just completely burning myself out from the grind.
  • The Carolina Panthers are going to the Super Bowl! They’ll play the Denver Broncos February 7th in San Francisco. Any other year, I’d be rooting for Peyton Manning to pick up the win and go out on top. That’s always been my guy. But this year, I’m riding the Panthers bandwagon all the way. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live in a city that wins a big time sporting event. It’s also pretty cool to watch the similarities between the Panthers and Clemson’s season, given how many fans the two teams share.
  • I did the unthinkable – I bought a PlayStation4. I’ve been an Xbox guy since the beginning and love everything about my Xbox One. And I’ll still play most of the big cross-platform games on my Xbox. But there’s a group of guys from work who play together and peer pressure broke me. I had a gift card from Christmas that helped pick up a portion of the tab, so I’m not completely out of much cash. And this does give me an excuse to play a couple of Sony exclusives I’ve always wanted to try out in The Last of Us and Until Dawn. But damn, does it feel dirty…
  • Clemson’s 2016 football schedule was released on Tuesday. I like how everything lines up so far. The season opens in Auburn, AL against our Tigerbros. The Georgia Tech game in Atlanta on a Thursday looks a little worrisome but it’ll make for a nice weekend trip to the College Football Hall of Fame and the Atlanta Zoo. I’m liking the Clemson/Louisville match ups, so this should be a good home game. Boston College on a Friday in Boston will be a little awkward but I have been planning this trip for awhile. Florida State in Tallahassee will be a struggle but at least we have our open week before it. And, as always, we close out the year with South Carolina. It seems like a pretty manageable schedule to try and hit my goal of attending all 12 games as well.
  • I got to see my boys Marianas Trench this week with San Diego. Twice! As soon as they announced the second leg of their US Tour was heading south, I made sure to buy tickets and request days off. Tuesday was in Charleston at the Music Farm. The venue was cozy, the merch guy was incredibly friendly, and the crowd was small intimate. Wednesday was back in Charlotte at my home base, The Fillmore. The venue was comfortable, the merch guy had deja vu, and the crowd was so much more alive. I really want to elaborate on these two nights because I think they were truly special in combination with one another. So look for a much longer post about this in the near future.
    2016 Marianas Trench CHS

    CHS @ Music Farm

    2016 Marianas Trench CLT

    CLT @ The Fillmore

    Hope you guys enjoy your weekend. Pour one out for me, as I’ll be slaving away for The Man.

Posted in What I Learned | 1 Comment

What I Learned: January 15, 2016

  • I spent New Year’s Eve in Miami with my brother for Clemson’s game against Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. It started out as the worst trip I’ve ever made. Our flight was delayed 4+ hours. Budget ran out of rental cars, so we were stuck with a 12 passenger van. The hotel reservations should have been planned better. We made it 15 miles down the road on gameday before realizing we forgot the tickets. Traffic was horrendous to the game. I lost a car flag at a toll booth. We missed our exit to the stadium. The escalator to our seat level was broken down. We went in the wrong entrance at the stadium. Fortunately, Clemson got it together at halftime and crushed Oklahoma 37-17 to earn a spot in the National Title game. Clemson 2015 Orange Bowl
  • After the game, I was talking out my plan of action to get tickets through IPTAY for the National Title in Glendale, Arizona. But my brother kept the single greatest secret in the history of Clemson football. Before the NC State game on 10/31, he had bought the rights to National Title game tickets through TeamTix for $5. And he hadn’t told anyone. He just sat on that bad boy for months. We were going to the National Championship game to see Clemson play!Clemson 2016 Title Tickets
  • We flew out to Phoenix Saturday, giving us a two day cushion between the flight and game. We learned our lesson the first time. My brother’s college roommate met us after flying all the way from Germany for his first trip back to the US since joining the Air Force. We spent Sunday hiking A Mountain in Tempe, checking out the Fan Fest in downtown Phoenix, and grabbing some dinner at Spinelli’s, a fun little hipster pizza joint. We walked in to 2005 pop-punk blaring on the speakers and a League of Legends tournament on the TVs. That’s my people!Clemson 2016 Title Sign
  • The game was bittersweet. On one hand, it was an amazing back-and-forth game that wasn’t decided until the 4th quarter. Realistically, it was the best title game since Texas vs. USC in 2005, which is regarded as one of the best title games ever. But on the other hand, it was rough because Clemson lost 45-40 despite holding the Heisman winner to 4.4 yards per carry, Deshaun Watson setting the record for most yards accounted for in a championship game, and recording our 11th straight game with 500 yards of offense. I really, really wanted to see Clemson win a national championship in person. But after a few days removed from it, the trip was amazing and I’m glad I was able to be there to see it. Clemson 2016 National Title
  • I’m ready for a break from football. After hitting 12 of this year’s 15 games and making trips to Miami and Phoenix within 10 days of each other, I need to take a breather to regroup and re-energize. Sure, I’ll still casually follow the Panthers since they’re doing well. And I’ll be sure to be incredibly unproductive at work during Signing Day in February. But for once, I’m kind of looking forward to take a step back from sports for the next couple of months. After all, there’s only 230 days until it starts all over again!

Hope you rung the New Year in well. I’m looking forward to my three day weekend for MLK Jr Day before gearing up for Marianas Trench concerts. Have a great weekend!

Posted in What I Learned | 1 Comment

Previewing 2016

Happy New Years!

My 2015 could not have ended any better. My brother and I watched Clemson dismantle a cocky Oklahoma team from section 351 in the corner of Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida. My 11th (out of 14 total) game attended in person. The win guarantees that Clemson will play for the National Championship against Alabama in Glendale, Arizona.

And guess who already has tickets?

You leave some big shoes to fill, 2015. So let’s see what I plan to take on in 2016.

  • 12 Books: I’ve tried to hit 15 books the last two years and have fallen short. So let’s dial back this goal to 2013 levels to see if I can get back on track. I’ve got a sizeable backlog to try and make a dent in as well. Finders Keepers by Stephen King. Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Zeroes by Chuck Wendig. My mom’s newest book, Edisto Jinx. I’ve kicked around the idea of starting the Harry Potter books to see if they’re worth reading.
  • 12,000 Dollars: Two years earlier, I set a goal for saving $10,000 and met it. This year, I’ve upped the ante a bit. I’m making more than I was two years ago but I also have more expenses, mainly IPTAY and Clemson football. Not to mention a last minute trip to Arizona. Until I find a better avenue to invest my money, the goal is to keep stockpiling what I can.
  • 12 Parks: In 2014, I met this goal. In 2015, I fell short. I believe I’m up to 20 of the 47 South Carolina state parks. Realistically, I should be able to wrap up a visit to all of them by the end of 2017. There’s a big patch of the parks in the northwestern corner of the state and a handful along the coast that I still have to cross off of the list. Harper and I may need to pack up the tent this year to hit some of the farther parks.
  • 12,000 Push-ups/Sit-ups: My first of two health-related goals for 2016. The idea for this one began with doing the same number of push-ups and sit-ups each day as the week of the year (i.e. 1 push-up and 1 sit-up a day in the 1st week). Using 52 weeks, that totals 9,646 of each by the end of the year. Upping the total up to 12,000 should push me a bit more. It means I’ll need to average almost 33 a day (or 230 a week) instead of 27 a day (186 a week). I figure I should be able to start with more than 1 a day and by the end, I should be in shape enough to add a few more each day.
  • 12 Football Games: In 2015, I attended nine of the 12 regular season games. Ten of 13 with the ACC Championship Game added in. Eleven of 14 with the Orange Bowl. Which got me thinking about how much more of an effort it would take to hit all of the games. In 2016, I’ll find out. There are seven home games: Troy, SC State, Louisville, NC State, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and South Carolina. With season tickets, I had already planned on hitting those seven. That leaves games at Auburn (brother and I were already making plans to attend), Boston College (dad and I were already making plans to attend), Wake Forest (an hour and a half from Charlotte), Georgia Tech (four hours from Charlotte), and Florida State. The Tallahassee game will be the one that requires the most effort to fit into the schedule. But it’s certainly doable.
  • 12,000 Gamerscore: Xbox.com had a “Year in Review” feature for my 2015 gaming efforts. Apparently, I spent 1,286 hours online (top 5% worldwide) so this could have easily been 1,200 hours. But Destiny should get me halfway there in any given year as it is. My gamerscore since January was 11,020 over 504 achievements (top 1% worldwide). That leaves me roughly a full game’s worth of achievements to close that gap from 11,020 to 12,000 gamerscore. I received the new Tomb Raider game for Christmas. There’s rumored to be a full Destiny sequel release in the Fall. I’m already planning on picking up The Division, Quantum Break, Gears of War 4, and Mass Effect: Andromeda. Combined with the Games With Gold free games each month, I should have more than enough opportunities to get the achievements.
  • 12 Pounds: The second health-related goal of the year. I jokingly mention to my family that I’m fat. In reality, I know I’m not. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a little weight to lose. After P90X in 2015, I had dropped down between 190 and 195. By the end of the year, I had gained my lost weight back and then some, hovering between 215 and 220. Averaging a pound a month would put me back down around 200. The sit-ups and push-ups goal should help with this one.

What do you have in store for 2016?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Recapping 2015

2015 was a significant year in the timeline of my life.

Fifteen years ago, I made the turn towards my last 6 months of high school. Ten years ago, I graduated from Clemson with my undergraduate degree. Five years ago, I quit my job in Chapin and traveled the country on my own.

So how did this year turn out?

  • FSU and Bama got beat in the first playoff to set up an Oregon/Ohio State title game
  • Lost guy #1 at work
  • My dad sold his house in Alaska
  • A new Fall Out Boy album came out and I was incredibly unimpressed
  • I started P90X
  • Saw Motion City Soundtrack in concert for the first time
  • Saw Ingrid Michaelson in concert
  • Better Call Saul premiered on AMC and was excellent
  • Upped my IPTAY donation to the $1600 level for season tickets
  • Accepted a supervisor position at work
  • Bridge Run #9 (8th consecutive)
  • Called 911 because of yelling and crying from a neighboring apartment at 3am
  • Went to my first Charlotte Hornets’ game where they won 102-78
  • My brother got a new job close to home
  • Found out coleslaw, sriracha sauce, and peanut butter isn’t bad on a hamburger
  • Lost guy #2 at work
  • Tried geocaching for the first time
  • Crossed my 50th state off the list by landing in Hawaii!
  • Tried poke (raw ahi tuna) for the first, then second, time
  • Visited Oahu, Hawaii, and Kauai islands
  • Rode in my first helicopter
  • Went to a college friend’s wedding in St. Augustine
  • Lost girl #3 at work
  • Volunteered for Habitat through work for the 2nd consecutive year
  • The House of Wolves Destiny update came out
  • My oldest nephew graduated high school
  • Hit 100,000 miles on my truck
  • Took a day off of work to stay at home and watch E3 press conferences
  • There was a shooting in an AME church in Charleston
  • The confederate flag came down from South Carolina’s statehouse grounds
  • Gay marriage was declared legal by the Supreme Court
  • I made it three years at work
  • My mom and step dad bought a new boat
  • Work was audited by the CFPB
  • Saw Wiz Khalifa and Fall Out Boy in concert
  • My step brother bought a Dodge Challenger – my dream car
  • Inadvertently took a sick day and watched the Gamescom conference
  • Lost guy #4 at work
  • Went to Carowinds for the first time since I’ve lived in Charlotte
  • My mom and step dad built a super cool treehouse for my nephew
  • Attended my first game as a season ticket holder since 2009
  • Game #2 with San Diego
  • Planned a family trip to Louisville for Game #3
  • Visited Kentucky’s football stadium and all nine Bourbon Trail distilleries
  • The Taken King Destiny update came out
  • Game #4 against Notre Dame was my favorite game I’ve ever attended
  • Columbia and much of South Carolina flooded
  • Game #5 with San Diego
  • Steve Spurrier quit on South Carolina’s football team
  • Lost guy #5 at work
  • Game #6
  • Read Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman
  • Game #1 (Miami) I missed
  • A new Marianas Trench album came out and it’s my new favorite album
  • Halo 5 came out
  • Game #7 in Raleigh with S&T for Halloween
  • Clemson was ranked #1 in the College Football Playoff poll
  • Game #8 against FSU to clench the ACC Atlantic Title
  • Game #2 (Syracuse) I missed
  • Adele’s When We Were Young blew my mind
  • Game #9 to close out the home games for 2015
  • The Citadel beat South Carolina
  • Hiked 12-ish miles with San Diego at Table Rock State Park
  • Charlotte Turkey Trot #4
  • Game #3 (South Carolina) I missed
  • Clemson finished 12-0 for the first time in my lifetime
  • Game #10 in Charlotte for the ACC Championship Game to finish 13-0
  • Bought Orange Bowl tickets in Miami
  • Saw Senses Fail and Silverstein in concert
  • Met my new nephew (DJ)
  • Bought two Adele tickets for October 2016 in Atlanta
  • Lost girl #6 at work
  • Christmas’ed in Summerville, Chapin, and Columbia
  • I’ll ring in the New Year in Miami with my brother in front of Game #11

But before we turn the page to 2016, how’d those resolutions for this year go?

Spoiler alert: Not very well.

  • 15 Books:
    • 4Q projection – 15
    • 4Q actual – 10
    • Another year to take a swing at 15 books, another year I came up short. The only book I’ve finished in the 4th quarter is Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman. I’m about 60% of the way through Halo: Contact Harvest but I couldn’t ever muster up the motivation to knock it out by the end of the year. My favorite this year was probably Halo: The Fall of Reach by Eric Nylund.
  • 90 Days:
    • 4Q projection – 90
    • 4Q actual – 90
    • I finally took down the monster that is P90X! I started on January 26th and made a good effort at religiously doing each workout on its intended day. There were a few of them I put off until the rest days and I took my Hawaii trip around the rest week of the second month. But I rallied after Hawaii and finished everything up.
  • 12 Parks:
    • 4Q projection – 12
    • 4Q actual – 7
    • The good news is that I had a pretty good 4th quarter. I visited three parks in the last three months: Cheraw State Park for a 4.5 mile hike with Harper, a stop at H Cooper Black Jr Recreation Area for my stamp, and then the 12 mile hike with San Diego at Table Rock State Park. The bad news is that I still fell five parks short. Adding so many football games (10 of a possible 13) this fall certainly occupied weekends that would have been park weekends in previous years. I just have to be better at time management!
  • 2 Trips:
    • 4Q projection – 2
    • 4Q actual – 4
    • I had this one in the bag by May with the trip to Hawaii and then the followup weekend in St. Augustine for a friend’s wedding. But then the family made a week out of the Clemson/Louisville game in September to push me over the top. All three trips were vastly different but amazing experiences.
      Edit: Lost in the mix was being in Miami for the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Eve. I was chalking this trip up to 2016 but let’s count it!
  • 200 Pages:
    • 4Q projection – 200
    • 4Q actual – 0
    • Nothing to see here. I didn’t make much of an effort to even outline a draft of my story traveling the country, much less write 200 pages’ worth. I’ll go through periods where I really want to sit down and knock it out. And I never do before the feeling subsides. One day…
  • 2 Tattoos:
    • 4Q projection – 2
    • 4Q actual – 0
    • No ink made its way onto me either. I had downloaded some pictures to put together a draft of what I wanted. And I had looked up which tattoo place I wanted to talk with. But then life and Clemson football got in the way. So this will have to wait.
  • 1 Rental:
    • 4Q projection – 1
    • 4Q actual – 0
    • Most of my money stayed in my bank account this year. The idea was to look into buying a rental house as a way to earn a better return on my money than the measly interest rate in my savings account. So on one hand, I didn’t follow through on the resolution to buy a house. But on the other, I was able to upgrade my savings account to Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program. So at least I’m earning a better return on my money than I was at the beginning of the year. Baby steps…
  • 4 Season Tickets:
    • 4Q projection – 4
    • 4Q actual – 4
    • 2015 had been setting itself up for me to jump back into the Clemson season ticket game. Clemson was playing in Louisville for the first time and I had been looking for an excuse to go back to tour the Bourbon Trail. Notre Dame was playing in Clemson for only the second time ever. Florida State was coming to Clemson in November for a game that usually decides the division winner. What’s not to like about that? The 13-0 record and #1 playoff ranking have been icing on the cake though. It’s been a great year to be a Clemson fan.
  • 100 Photo Pages:
    • 4Q projection – 100
    • 4Q actual – 0
    • I made it as far in making a photo book of my cross-country trip as I did with writing a memoir. I guess technically, I made it a step further since I actually created an account with MyPublisher. But outside of that, both projects are still stuck in neutral at the starting line.
  • 4 Concerts:
    • 4Q projection – 4
    • 4Q actual – 4
    • In a photo-finish, I added my fourth concert on December 10th. I went to see Silverstein, Senses Fail, Hundredth, and Capsize at Amos’ Southend. I tried to add a little of everything this year. Motion City Soundtrack fits into the pop punk genre. Ingrid Michaelson is indie pop. Fall Out Boy is more of a rock band now. Wiz Khalifa is rap. Silverstein and Senses Fail are post-hardcore. So there’s something for everyone!

The final tally looks like four resolutions met, two came up short, and four never made it past the drawing board. I started the year ambitious with ten resolutions and the end results show. But I’m glad I added some new goals to try out even if they did come up short.

How did your 2015 treat you? I hope you were able to accomplish some of your own goals.

And with that, we’re outta here 2015! Beginning at 4pm, my brother and I are closing out the year in Sun Life Stadium watching Clemson take on Oklahoma. So one way or another, the end of 2015 is going to set the tone for how I ring in 2016. Here’s to hoping it’s for the better! Go Tigers!

Posted in Resolutions | Leave a comment

What I Learned: December 25, 2015

  • An 18 year old was shot and killed yesterday at Northlake Mall in Charlotte. It sounds like a pretty open-and-shut case, given that two groups argued, fought, then exchanged gunfire before an undercover cop took out one of the shooters. But it’s unfortunate it happened in a crowded mall on Christmas Eve. Not only was a life taken but now countless families are affected by the whole situation. Just do what you’re supposed to, people. Chances are, you won’t get shot doing it.
  • Tremont Music Hall in Charlotte closed last Saturday. It bums me out to see local music venues shut down, as that just leaves The Fillmore and Amos’ Southend as the small venues left that bands I listen to will play. But I’ve got a history with Tremont. My “first” show was seeing Good Charlotte with the Halo Friendlies in 2002 at Tremont. Throughout college, Tremont was a familiar spot, seeing everyone from My Chemical Romance to Hawthorne Heights to Story of the Year. So it’s disappointing to see the place that started it all for me shut down to make room for more condos and apartments in an already crowded area.
  • Speaking of music, I’m now the proud owner of two Adele tickets to the October 28th show in Atlanta, Georgia. With the mad dash for crazy fans bombarding the internet, I was helping San Diego add another Ticketmaster window in the digital line to buy tickets. As it turns out, Ticketmaster likes me more than most, so I had no problem getting two. Now, I just need Clemson to not schedule the Boston College game for that weekend. Which means Clemson will schedule the Boston College game for that weekend.
  • This year’s wrapping job is dedicated to my trip to Hawaii earlier this year to cross off my 50th state. I stumbled onto the paper at Paper Source in South Park. One of the employees told me it was a brand new design they had just put out that they were launching for the Spring. The paper flowers and rope came from blindly wandering the aisles of Michael’s. Side note: There are a LOT of white girls wearing yoga pants in craft stores this time of year. 2015 Christmas Wrapping
  • Last but not least, I got to meet my new nephew! This one’s nickname is DJ (to complement FJ’s nickname). This means I just have another kid to pay IPTAY dues for now. Because, under no circumstances, am I allowing these kids to not be Clemson fans! But really, it’s cool to have another nephew around. It’ll be really fun in a couple of years when they’re just tiny humans running around. DJ

Merry Christmas, y’all! Hope you’re enjoying your holiday with your families, wherever you may be! May the presents – not the coal – find their way under your tree. See you guys next year!

Posted in What I Learned | 1 Comment

What I Learned: November 27, 2015

  • Spontaneous visit by San Diego resulted in a spontaneous day off on Monday to go hiking. I crossed my 7th state park off my resolutions list with my trip to Table Rock in Pickens, SC. We got there a little before 11am and checked in at the visitor’s center where a sweet little old lady told us we wouldn’t have time to hike the route we were eyeing. Naturally, that just made Stubborn Matt mentally say “Oh yeah? Watch this.” Sure enough, we hiked the 4.2 miles up Pinnacle Mountain to the summit. Then the 1.9 miles on the Ridge Trail. Then the 1.5-ish up to the Table Rock summit. And finally, the 3.6 back down the Table Rock Trail to the parking lot by 4:30. With 30 minutes to spare. I’m still sore from walking roughly 12 miles – and topping a 3,425′ and 3,124′ mountain – in 6 hours… but damn if I didn’t prove that lady wrong!
  • I crushed my expectations in my 4th consecutive Charlotte Turkey Trot. Given how sore I was from the hiking, I told myself anything under 35 minutes was perfect since I hadn’t run since early last week and nothing longer than 2 miles. But I finished in 32:55 clock time (31:03 chip time). And that included a minute break to walk at the 20:00 mark and another at the 25:00 mark. I’ve got another test coming up next weekend in the ACC Fan 5K.
  • Speaking of the ACC, I wrapped up my first football season since 2009 with season tickets. I originally got tickets because of the Notre Dame and Florida State home games. But I wasn’t expecting Clemson to make a clean sweep at 7-0 at home this year. So that was a nice treat. With my dad moving back from Alaska this year, it was also good to spend some time with him at his first games in years, as he made it to every game except Florida State. It ended on a high note with Military Appreciation Day, complete with a C-17 flyover, purple uniforms, and a chilling fallen soldier salute at halftime. Clemson has perfected it’s military appreciation ceremony.
  • South Carolina. LOST. To. The. Citadel.
  • With San Diego in town, we swapped albums. She got a copy of Marianas Trench’s Astoria and I got Adele’s 25. For as big a fan as I am of Hello and When We Were Young (the live version released on YouTube is better than the album version, unfortunately), the rest of the album just doesn’t do it for me (AbsolutePunk’s review seems to agree). Props to her for absolutely destroying the market though, selling 2.433 million copies in 3 days. It broke the record previously held by NSync since 2000. There’s a tiny caveat though, as Adele’s numbers include digital purchases and NSync is physical copies (which is mind blowing). But it’s good to know there are still a handful of powerful movers in the music industry who aren’t completely fabricated, commercial brands.

It’s Rivalry Week! So I’ll be making the annual trek to Chapin for our family get together, sitting in front of the TV for 12 hours, stuffing our faces with chicken wings, watching the best week of college football.

Go Tigers!

Posted in What I Learned | 1 Comment