Category Archives: Home

1942-2012

My dad and I didn’t always see eye to eye, but I think that’s how some fathers and sons are supposed to interact. While my dad and my sister often got along famously, he and I butted heads frequently. Looking back now, I realize it might have been because he saw me about to make a mistake that he made growing up and already knew how it would turn out. Sometimes I listened, sometimes I didn’t, but I usually fared better when I did. For example, he knew long before I did that the girl that would one day crack my windshield was no good for me.

The older I get, the more I realize how much I inherited from my dad. I have the same big head, the same fascination with technology, his corny sense of humor (much to my wife’s chagrin), and an abbreviated version of his nickname. Like him, I’m more comfortable in a button-down than a t-shirt, and though I try not to overdo it, I have the same appreciation for cologne.

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We also shared an appreciation of anything with a motor, though he preferred his John Deere tractor while I was growing into faster and sportier cars (though I should point out that I currently drive a station wagon). One of our favorite places to go was a local hobby shop where I’d pick out a model car to put together. Once home, I always wanted to start building it right away and had no patience for painting, so we would split the duties. He would paint the main pieces of the model while I would start putting together the engine and interior.

A few years later, I got my first job at that same hobby shop and I loved it when he’d come to visit while I was working. I’d often try to show off while he was there by demonstrating how much I knew. At every job I’ve held since, I always tried to impress him with my knowledge and responsibilities.

Chuck & Sean

I think the most fun I had with my dad was when we went searching for my first car in the summer of 1994. We pored over every used car lot in central Iowa every chance we got for a month. He wanted to put me in something safe and practical that wouldn’t go over 55mph, while I wanted something fast and red and flashy and attractive to the opposite sex, etc. We settled on a white 1985 Mazda that was just enough of a compromise for both of us.

Once the paperwork was signed and I was about to drive it off the lot, my dad and I had an odd but touching moment: We had spent the last few weeks bonding in our search for the perfect first car, driving everything from pickups to stately sedans and having fun together the whole time. Just like that, it was over, and I was no longer the front seat passenger in my dad’s car. He handed me the keys, told me to be careful and not to stay out too late, and we went our separate ways. I remember being excited about having a car and gaining some independence, but I also knew that things would be different from that moment on.

Chuck & Sean

My favorite piece of advice he gave me, though it’s not the most insightful thing he ever said, was “put the tools back where you found them.” This was not only to keep things organized, he said, but so that things would be where the next person could expect to find them. This created an ethic in me to think ahead and be considerate of others in a proactive way. It also taught me that if you keep things organized, you can focus on the bigger problem and not get bogged down with the trivial details.

There are lots of stories of my dad helping people that he barely knew, and that’s just who he was. He wasn’t interested in being recognized for helping someone, except maybe a call or letter to let him know how things turned out. He truly enjoyed people and loved to make strangers smile. I didn’t say it often enough, but I love you, Pop. Rest in peace.

Chuck.

Socially Regarded

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It’s 3:34am on Black Friday. I’m not up for any reason other than I’m winding down from the day. I suppose I could stay up a little bit longer and go wait in line for Target to open at 4am, but there’s nothing in this world that I need that badly.

Nobody reads this site anymore because I pretty much abandoned it 19 months ago. Cool. I was pretty active on Twitter for a while, but that feels stale now. Now when I check Twitter, I end up unfollowing 4 or 5 people when I can’t remember when why I started following them in the first place.

I’ve been more active on Tumblr as of late, but mostly just to reblog links, pictures, and videos, though very little original content, if any.

I’m trying to use Facebook more, because it seems that’s where people are, but I still feel like my generation (and those before me) are out of place on it. By the time I graduated college, Facebook was still requiring a .edu email address, which I didn’t have access to anymore, so I didn’t bother.

As far as social networks are concerned, I’ve really gotten into the Instagram app for iPhone, but it seems that the site and all uploaded content lives primarily in the app itself. There’s no way to revisit your old photos in a web browser unless you know each photo’s specific URL. So, here are a couple of my favorites among my own photos:

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And one taken of me by my lovely wife:

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Highway to Hull

I’m writing this in the backseat of Sonja’s parents’ Audi as we make the drive home to Mineapolis after a quick trip to Alcester, South Dakota, for a family reunion. (We’re actually quite a ways past Hull and have just driven through Sheldon, Iowa, but “Highway to Sheldon” didn’t make as catchy a title.)

I’ve now got one full week of the new job under my belt, and I’m happy to say that I still like it. The four days I spent there in mid-July were, in fact, a fine representation of the company and I wasn’t just being shown the “shiny bits” to make it seem nice.

Everyone I’ve met so far has been really cool and I’ve yet to meet anyone not suited for the position they’re in, which is a relief.

The funny thing that I’ve noticed is that, since this company is new to producing their own commercials, each shoot is still something of a novelty to them. On Friday, for example, there was a shoot at a local house. At previous jobs, the crew might have consisted of the producer, director, and copywriter (often all the same person), a shooter and maybe a grip. Add the talent and maybe you’d have four or five people on set.

Here, each one of those positions was an individual person, but add to that a couple sound guys, makeup, gaffer, another grip, lighting, and so on. Plus, the account manager was present. Then, throughout the day, various others would leave the building to “go see the shoot.” This included a couple other copywriters, a VP or two, the creative director, random executives, and another audio guy or two. I, on the other hand, was in the office all day working with the other editor but I think we were a couple of the only people from the creative department who did not visit the shoot.

I’m sure that once the “newness” of producing video in-house wears off, there will be fewer gawkers on location. But as someone who has been on countless shoots and knows how monotonous they can become over the course of a few hours, I can’t imagine wanting to hang around one all day if I didn’t have a legitimate reason to be there.

Maybe that’s why I prefer to work in post, and only occasionally go out on shoots. I’m fine with being there if I’m needed or if I have a reason to be, but I’ve never been one to hang around shoots for too long otherwise, especially if the director has already established a “rhythm,” or lack of a better term, on the set. New people showing up mid-shoot only distracts the talent and crew that is already in place.

So that’s my week. Sonja and I are still trying to decide where we’re going to live. A house may not be out of the question, and right now is probably the best time to buy one since the sellers’ market is in shambles. We still have to find the right house (though we already found the “perfect” house just outside our price range), and we still need to unload the house in Kansas City (see previous statement about sellers’ market). The good thing is that we don’t have to be in any rush, since Sonja’s parents are generously letting us live in their home until we make up our minds. Still, I miss my cats (who have taken temporary residence with my parents in Iowa), and it would be nice to have a place to call a home of our own again.

It’s an exciting (and a little bit scary) time in my life right now, but all the changes have been positive so far (when did this turn into a motivational blog?).

Signing off from Kansas

In a matter of hours, I will leave this house.

Then, I will leave this neighborhood, this city, and this state altogether. My car will be full of as many clothes as I can pack in the giant suitcase I bought for my honeymoon, while still leaving room for my iMac, my television, and whatever else I can squeeze into my hatchback.

I will be making my way north. Destination: My inlaws’ home in Minneapolis, where I will be staying for a few weeks while I get settled into a new position at a new department at a company that is just beginning to do what I’m heading there to do. I will be working as a contractor–basically freelance–for a few months, and then hopefully turn it into an “official” full-time career. It’s what I want to do, where I want to do it. And that’s what I keep telling myself.

Still, I keep getting choked up when I think about what I am leaving behind here in Kansas City. First and foremost, the friends. Sonja and I moved to Kansas in July 2002, and in six years, we have met some of the greatest people I’ve ever known. So many talented people with diverse backgrounds, somehow all crossing paths with us through a total of seven jobs, two apartments and one house. I didn’t get a chance to say a proper goodbye to everyone, but I don’t consider it goodbye anyway, because these are people that I know I will see again, many times.

Speaking of the house, perhaps that’s what hurts most. It’ll be easy to stay in contact with the people, but leaving our first house under these circumstances, so soon after moving in and making it our home, that’s what hurts. It hit me hard a couple nights ago, and even now, as I sit at my desk during what is my last real night here, it makes me ache.

We were really fortunate with this house. It’s in the perfect neighborhood, surrounded by perfect neighbors on all sides. These people welcomed us so warmly last May, and just as we were getting to know them, we’re leaving them behind, too. As silly as it seems, I feel like we’re kind of letting them down. Stupid, I know.

I love this little house, even with its squeaky floors and too-small garage. More than any other place I’ve lived, this feels like my home.

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What I keep having to remind myself is that this is a positive change. It’s a step in the direction we want to head. Sonja and I always planned to eventually move to Minnesota, where she grew up, just not this soon. But then, starting in mid-April when I was laid off, a series of events started to unfold.

First, three job interviews for three jobs that I didn’t want, though I tried to make it seem otherwise when talking about it with my friends. I think all along, I was trying to convince myself that these were jobs that I wanted, even when I knew they weren’t.

Each position was close to what I wanted, but each had something I didn’t like about it. One was a “junior” position that was beneath my skills; one was at a fledgling company that I didn’t feel had the resources to ever really become anything more than what it already is; and one that was so stiflingly corporate, I knew before I walked in the front doors that I did not want to be there.

During all this, a person from my past called me to do some freelance work, which saved me both financially and mentally, as well as prevented me from having to swallow my pride and work full-time at my other gig, a part-time retail job at the Apple Store. That job was supposed to be just for fun and a little extra spending money, but was looking more and more like it may have to become my real job instead of just my “retail experiment,” as I called it.

Freelance turned out to be a big success, and at times, I was busier than I had ever been, but loving every second of it. I was finally able to do what I wanted to do on my terms and make some good money at it. At one point, I even had to scale back my availability at the store so I could devote more time to my freelance projects.

Then on the last day of June, we were dealt another blow when Sonja was part of a round of layoffs at her job (though vindication would come in time), which forced us to seriously look at our options for the future. I still hadn’t heard back from the third job after my second interview there, so I announced a decision to Sonja while we were standing in the backyard: If I didn’t get the job, we’d move to Minnesota.

Wait, I need to back up: In April, the same person that gave me my first freelance job had also asked if I still had plans to move north, which I did, but hadn’t given them any thought. Now that we had a house, we were more tied to Kansas City than ever, or so it seemed. A little bit later, that same person announced he was moving to Minneapolis to build the video department at an established marketing agency, and told me he’d need help.

So I called the hiring manager at the third company, but the tone of his voice told me the answer before he could get the words out. Yet, even as I was being turned down, I was feeling relieved, very similar to the feeling I got when I walked out the front door of my last job back in April. Had they offered me the job, I would have taken it for the money and benefits, but I knew that it was not what I wanted to do, and it wouldn’t get me where I wanted to be.

That phone call started us down the path that leads to where we are now. Sonja and I spent about 10 days in Minnesota a couple weeks ago. I got the rare chance to “test drive” the company while they got to do the same with me while I worked there as a contractor. When I left at the end of the week, I felt something completely different than I had about the jobs I’d interviewed for and the jobs I’d held over the past six years: Hope.

I started the week hoping that the company was well-established and intelligent, and that the position would be a good fit for me. At the end, I was hoping that they’d seen the same promise in me that I saw in their organization. I was only there for four days, but I was excited for the future of the company, and I hoped that I’d be a part of it.

That brings us back to today. Our home on the market, packing our belongings back into the boxes we pulled them out of a little over a year ago, and cramming what we can into an 8′ by 8′ storage unit across town.

And so, when I set out in a few hours for the unknown and the uncertain future, I know that I will be feeling a lot of sadness for what we are leaving behind, but I know that the opportunities that await me are, without a doubt, the best thing that could have happened to us at this point in our lives. We’ll be in the place we wanted to be, and I’ll be doing what it is that I love to do, at a place that is serious about giving us the resources to do the best job possible, and really, that’s all that I could ask for.