Photo Set: Northern Ireland

The trip to Northern Ireland was by far the most important part of my trip. I was going to meet a “new” friend, someone I’d written about extensively over the last five months, to interview him and speak with him about the project. This is what I love about writing! 
Our adventure started at Waterloo Station…

Northern Ireland is picturesque, with rolling green hills of farmland and trees. It is a place of tradition, simple needs, and simple wants. Life on the family farm. Animals.IMG_1445  This is the cottage my friend Colm built, by hand, on his family’s land, which he can trace back thousands of years.… and these are his cows!The first night he took us to Brysons for dinner and a couple of pints (of Guinness, naturally). He’s well known around there, and rightfully so, he’s been going to that same bar for over 30 years!After a morning spent working, we decided to break for the afternoon and do a little exploring around Northern Ireland. We had a couple destinations on our list, but we were up for the adventure! Colm told us some great history about the places we visited!
This is the Northern Coast!
As a Game of Thrones nerd, Matt absolutely had to see The Dark Hedges!We also checked out Dunluce Castle!The last night was really special though, when Colm took us to The Crosskeys, a bar that’s been operating since 1654. Yes, 1654. The history there is never-ending, and there’s even a ghost that haunts the bar! We stayed late (like 3 AM), long after the bar had closed, drinking Guinness and singing songs with the a group of guys and the owner. It was one of those nights when I was given a rare opportunity to get a peek inside someone’s idyllic life, and it felt like a scene from a musical. Despite the downsides, and Colm’s had many, his life is rather wonderful.

Unfortunately, we had to leave early on Sunday, but spending the weekend with Colm was an experience I’ll never forget. Until next time, he’ll just be “going with the flow.”
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BONUS: In the picture below, I am holding an actual comm, a letter written on cigarette paper and smuggled out of Long Kesh Prison in the early 1980’s. These tiny pieces of history were integral in spreading the horrors of what happened inside those walls.

This finishes my European trip! Relive the beauty, starting back at Photo Set: Love in the South of France!

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Photo Set: London and Rochester, England

I’d had about as much romance as I could handle, so it was finally time to say goodbye to France and move onto the next destination. I hopped on the high-speed train from Paris to London, under the English Channel.IMG_1146
It was a really cool experience, and apparently super efficient, which made me question why we don’t have these high-speed trains in the United States. Commuting around California would be so much easier!
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My time in London was going to be primarily spent writing and researching, but I did manage to get out and see a few things. The first night I spent with my cousin, then joined my friend in Waterloo for the week. It was go time!
Naturally, I checked out the London Eye and Big Ben because they were so close by!IMG_1190IMG_1194IMG_1239
Here’s a segment of the World War II memorial. I couldn’t possibly capture it all.IMG_1223
And Big Ben! IMG_1225
This is a Marriot hotel now, but for 64 years, this building was the London County Hall!IMG_1237Mary Jane Seacole was a Jamaican businesswoman known for setting up the “British Hotel,” a pseudo-hospital for sick and convalescent soldiers during the Crimean War. In 2004, she was voted the greatest black Briton.IMG_1690
I ran into a friend in a tiny bar (small world right?) and she invited us to join her and her friends for their Fourth of July festivities, on the lawn by Tower Bridge. We may have been on the other side of the pond, but we held it down for ‘Murca. Shotgun!IMG_1292
The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment… naturally.IMG_1300
One of my favorite little gems in London is The Graffiti Cave and The Vaults Theatre, by Waterloo Station. If you’re into street art, this is the place to check out! The entrance is relatively unassuming, reeking of danger and “Do Not Enter,” but we all know that’s where the best stuff is normally hiding…
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It’s an entire tunnel covered in graffiti, top to bottom. It’s unbelievable! So colorful!IMG_1305IMG_1312
This is a shot of the ceiling! Anybody know the artist?IMG_1313
… if so, let’s get on a conference call! (That was a joke about the four phone booths.)IMG_1333
It turns out, a friend of mine from my days in Australia lived just outside London in Rochester, so I took a day to go see her and explore Rochester. It’s a really cool city! And look, another awesome castle!
IMG_1345The Rochester Castle was built in 1087 to protect England’s south–east coast from invasion.IMG_1591IMG_1360
And this beautiful church!
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Charles Dickens lived in Rochester, and is said to haunt the moat on Christmas Eve.IMG_1372

As a first-time American traveler in Europe, I was enamored at the age (old) and resilience of the buildings and castles. There’s so much history in Europe, it’s like America is brand new!

I took the train back to London late on Thursday night, because we had to be up and out early on Friday. The sole reason for my trip, the research, the history, was the next destination on my trip… Northern Ireland.

CHE

Did you see the other photo sets? Photo Set: Love in the South of FrancePhoto Set: Saint-Malo, The Walled CityPhoto Set: Mont Saint-MichelPhoto Set: Normandy and Cancale, and Photo Set: Dinan and Paris

Photo Set: Dinan and Paris

We left Saint-Malo and headed toward Paris, not without making a pitstop in Dinan, a beautiful old village along the way. Gorgeous old architecture, and beautiful views!IMG_0887IMG_0919IMG_0909IMG_0938IMG_0898IMG_0896We arrived in Paris at the perfect time, rush hour… which also happened to be happy hour! I booked a bed in the Generator Hostel, located not too far from where Graham and Kate were staying, so after taking this picture from their window, I kissed them goodbye and headed toward my hostel.IMG_0965IMG_0974IMG_0986IMG_0991I only had one day in Paris, and as I wandered around one of the most romantic cities in the world, I was making a list of the places I wanted to see in Paris… when I come back with someone I love. (Yeah, that’s sappy, whatever! It’s my trip!)IMG_0995IMG_1059Accordingly, I spent most of my day at the Eiffel Tower, eating a baguette, drinking Rose, smoking cigarettes (sorry, mom!), and writing in my journal. It was so quintessentially perfect that I couldn’t possibly not, you know what I mean?IMG_1062I also made this cool time-lapse!ezgif.com-optimize
My last night in Paris could have been a quiet one, if everything had gone to plan. As I was heading up to the rooftop bar to watch the sunset, I ran into a group of young travelers from Southern California. We chatted, drank, played foozball, then headed out to Bastille for dancing. This is the last clear picture I took that night.IMG_1140.jpgThe last morning in Paris, I checked out, and walked along the river (trying not to throw up from a vicious hangover), heading to the train station…IMG_1114IMG_1123
My trip to Paris was far too short, but I definitely have a list of things I need to come back to see. What’s the old phrase, “Always leave them wanting more?” Well I want more Paris, that’s for sure.
But now, the adventure must continue, I was about to jump on a train to London!

BONUS: Is it just me, or is this Space Invader?
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Check out my other photo sets from France! Photo Set: Love in the South of FrancePhoto Set: Saint-Malo, The Walled CityPhoto Set: Mont Saint-Michel, and Photo Set: Normandy and Cancale.

Photo Set: Normandy and Cancale

It was a rainy day. We’re talking, big, fat, ugly drops. We debated the game plan…
“We’ve come this far, I would remiss if we came all this way and I didn’t go to the Cemetery at Normandy.” Graham said, matter-of-factly. “They didn’t exactly call off the invasion because of rain either.”
He was right, of course. So we loaded into the car and drove the two hours to the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. When we finally arrived, it was apparent this was not intended to be an enjoyable experience. It was meant to change your perspective on a pivotal moment in world history. New appreciation. Gratitude. Respect.I didn’t take many pictures of the museum, you should really go see it yourself if you can, but some images were just too powerful not to capture…
The memorial, established June 8, 1944, features this beautiful, 22-foot tall bronze statue titled The Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves There are 9,387 Americans interred here, most killed during the Normandy invasion and the ensuing battles of World War II…
… many are still unknown. The mosaic ceiling inside the chapel at the cemetery, depicts faith in a time of war.IMG_0745The weather finally got to us, so we sloshed our way back to the car and made our way home, with a dinner pitstop in Cancale, famously known as the “oyster capital” of France. And let me tell you, they weren’t kidding!IMG_0757
The small town is nearly overrun by restaurants, close to all of which specialize in some kind of seafood… and oysters. It’s no surprise when you hear that Cancale harvests roughly 25,000 tons of oysters every year!IMG_0760IMG_0772By the time we finished our amazing (and cheap) dinner, the rain had finally let up, so we spent the last remaining daylight at the beach (before the tide came up) and on the pier in Cancale. Special.IMG_0781IMG_0795It was the perfect way to spend our last night as a group together.
Tomorrow the group would be splitting ways, most returning home to the states.
But me? My European trip was only halfway done…
IMG_0799… next I was heading to Paris.
CHE

Catch up on the trip! Love in the South of FranceSaint-Malo, The Walled City, and Mont Saint-Michel!

Photo Set: Mont Saint-Michel

Mont Saint-Michel is an island commune located approximately a kilometer off the Normandy coast of France, and it looks like a goddamn fairy tale. (It is, nearly, a fairy tale, as the city was the inspiration for the Disney film Tangled.)IMG_0399Part monastery, part fort, part village, Mont Saint-Michel is designed to mirror the feudal system, with the monastery at the top, the village at the bottom, and there were allegedly houses outside the walls for farmers and fisherman.IMG_0407We arrived in the afternoon so the tide was still low, allowing you to walk around the outside of the walls (if you so desired). It was really rocky and muddy, so I decided to pass, but inside the walls is unbelievable… yep, that’s a drawbridge!IMG_0409Narrow, steep streets, lined with little shops, restaurants, and cafes.IMG_0412According to the legend, the archangel Michael appeared in 708 to Aubert of Avranches, the bishop of Avranches, and instructed him to build a church on this rocky islet. From then on, it was referred to as Mont Saint-Michel.IMG_0418Saint Michael, considered an “archangel,” was not only a healer, but also a defender of the people, famously depicted slaying Satan in the form of a serpent. The Eagle represents Saint Michael himself, so there’s gorgeous gilded statues interlaced with the architecture. Here’s the Eagle head!IMG_0444IMG_0462Behold… the abbey! A destination for monks (and once used as a prison), the abbey is breathtaking, silent and still, a series of Gothic rooms and vaulted architecture. Since the island is somewhat small, and flat land is difficult to come by, the sacred space is divided into many rooms for their individual purposes!IMG_0467

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The dining hall had a beautiful overhanging installation of feathers, hanging over the middle of the room. It was easy to imagine the long tables of monks dining here.IMG_0496IMG_0512One of my favorite parts of Mont Saint-Michel is the giant tread-wheel, which required six workers to power the hamster-style wheel, allowing the monks to haul up thousands of pounds of stones and supplies from the landing below!

IMG_0533IMG_0521IMG_0575IMG_0473From the ramparts, you can see (intruders?) for miles! The tide’s starting to come in!IMG_0558IMG_0557The bridge to access the island was built in 2014, allowing later access to the island and helping with the tidal flow around the island. (See how the water came in?!)IMG_0607
Walking along the walls and ramparts, it’s hard not to feel a little romance, right?IMG_0632
Cemeteries in magical places like these are especially fascinating to me, when you consider the small population (under 50) that has lived here consistently over the generations, and those that have fallen here by chance, now remain forever.IMG_0657IMG_0660Mont Saint-Michel is by FAR one of the most magical places I’ve ever been to in my life, so I had to snap this panorama before I left, and I think it’s the best photo I got.IMG_0685And the trip continues! Where to next you ask? We take a somber, rainy trip, to the American Cemetery in Normandy.

CHE

Did you see the photos from Chateau de Bouthonvilliers and Saint-Malo, The Walled City? You gotta check them out!

Photo Set: Saint-Malo, The Walled City

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Saint-Malo, located in Brittany, Northwestern France, is a walled port city on the English Channel. A friend of mine read All The Light We Cannot See, which takes place in St. Malo, and convinced us to spend a few days there intra muros… inside the walls.

Saint-Malo, a port town, was historically notorious as the home of the corsairs, French privateers and pirates. Walking around the port, you can see why this little city has been so popular for so long.

Jacques Cartier, credited as the discoverer of Canada, hailed from Saint-Malo!

I was immediately enamored with the old cobbled stone streets, narrow and caked in history, with the intricate brick patterns guiding you down the city’s adorable streets and alleyways, where you could find boutiques, bakeries, and high-end jewelry shops.

In late 1944, General Patton’s US 3rd Army, advancing into western France, laid siege to Saint-Malo and it was only through a large scale bombardment that the last stubborn German defenders were dislodged. Accordingly, a majority of the city was destroyed… but they rebuilt, and it’s remarkable.

 

The tide plays a major role in the defensibility of the city. When the tide rises, the beaches disappear and accessibility is limited, or completely eliminated all together. This swimming pool is above ground at low tide, and the diving platform is completely under water at high tide.

The National Fort, built in 1689 is only accessible at low tide.

 

You can walk (almost) all the way around the entire city on the raised walls, looking outward or inward. There was a little bit of construction so a segment was blocked off, but we walked most of it!

Quality people watching going on up here!

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… and some delicious crepes. Check out that chocolate!IMG_0260Last, but certainly not least, I knew I would love Saint-Malo forever because their official mascot is an Ermine wearing a cape. Yes, you read that correctly, a weasel wearing a motherfuckin’ cape. Here’s a shot of their drain covers to prove it:Saint-Malo is definitely on my list of places to recommend to anyone traveling through Northwestern France. Really cool spot. Lots of history and gorgeous views.

Where to next? Mont Saint-Michel!

CHE

Did you see my photo post about Chateau de Bouthonvilliers?

Photo Set: Love in the South of France

Last month, I embarked on my first trip to Europe; a whirlwind of love, travel, work, and adventure. It was the trip of a lifetime, which would start in Paris, France, for a best friend’s nuptials. I connected with friends after landing at Charles De Gaulle Airport, cohorts heading to the truly destination wedding.

Our train was delayed, so why not catch a quick nap in the park by the Natural History Museum and the Botanical Gardens, right? Right.

In order to reach the chateau, we had to take two trains from Paris to Bonneval, where we were picked up at the train station and brought to the breathtaking Château de Bouthonvilliers. It is absolutely gorgeous.

IMG_9751IMG_9829IMG_9833IMG_9758The sprawling Chateau is complete with carriage house, chapel (with underground cave), swimming pool, and a one-acre garden! Oh yeah, did I mention there’s livestock, too? No big deal. (Side note: I wanted to kill the three roosters. Still do, as a matter of fact.)

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The caretaker, Edward, told us many stories about the Chateau, starting with the amazing fact that the property has been in his family for over 300 years! It was home to some very important historical figures, the location of some “secret world history,” and don’t forget about the high-ranking Nazi Officials that took over the chateau during World War II. (They fled when Patton came through.)

I wasn’t initially able to come to this wedding, and I was truly heartbroken about it, but something magical came up with regards to a project I’m working on, and I was going to be flying to Europe after all… so with some good graces and friendship, I was able to loop in the wedding after all! Best choice ever!

Back to the Chateau. Here’s the Carriage House! Those colored tiles around the edges are awards the property has won… I think?

I slept with some old friends out in the carriage house… which was also really fun! It’s like we were teenagers again, bunked up dorm room style! Now we’re just older, a little wiser, and drunk, right?

The little chapel had a “cave” (pronounced “cah-va”) underneath it…

… jam-packed with wine, champagne, beer, and foie gras. If you wanted something, you just picked out a bottle, wrote it down in the book (honor code!), and they’ll bill you for it later! Simple, and unmistakably dangerous.

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The bride and groom are some of my best friends in the world, and I was honored to be there with my other close friends, pitching in as we could to make it truly a dream day. The wedding was absolutely gorgeous (as expected) and I have no shame in admitting I openly wept at the sentimentality of the beautiful moment. Love is all you need!

First dance for the newlyweds!

I can’t remember what time the first dance was, but we didn’t stop tearing up that dance floor until 4 AM. (Special shoutout to the DJ for throwing on “Ignition Remix.”)

It was one hell of a wedding, you guys.

Bonus Adventures: One morning we took a quick trip into Bonneval for a little breakfast. It was an adorable little village!

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There was a “welcome party” thrown by the groom’s mother at another quaint country house nearby, located in France’s “bread basket,” the region where most of the wheat in the country is grown.

I mean, look at all those baguettes!

Where did we go next? Saint-Malo, the Walled City

CHE

Steamroller Printing with Magnetic North

This past weekend was the 2017 Portland Letterpress Printers Fair! Artists from all over Portland gathered at the Redd building in southeast Portland to share their craft, support the arts, and have a good time!

One of the main draws to the event is the steamroller printing. Studios entered to create these massive linocut stencils, which are then printed on 4×4 pieces of paper using a real steamroller! These prints are then raffled off with proceed benefitting the Portland Printmakers Alliance. (I bought 12 tickets.)

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Massive linocut by the artists at Magnetic North! (Photo courtesy of Walker Cahall)

All week I’d been stopping by Magnetic North, sometimes with planned meetings to see Walker, sometimes completely unannounced. Great people. So when I saw Walker’s picture of the final massive linocut, I knew this was going to be something special. This was sparking my creativity, how should I say, “bigly?”

This is Portland. We make art, rain or shine. For a little while at the beginning of Magnetic North’s printing session, the rain came down, so the canopies went up. It might have even hailed. But it was short lived, and in a matter of no time, we were back up and printing.

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A little rain wasn’t going to stop the steamrolling!

The first color the team decided to use for their print was green. (Great choice in my opinion.) Everybody chipped in with a roller, making sure the ink is nice and even.

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Green was the first color used.

Chances are, the paint may have been a little thick on the first one, but look at how pretty it was!

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Make sure you don’t miss a spot!

Once the linocut was properly inked, you move it over and place it on the plywood guide. The blue tape is for the linocut, the yellow tape is for the paper. You put a cloth over the top so the paper doesn’t get dirty or damaged.

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Laid down on the plywood guide to ensure the steamroller delivers an even press!

Look at all the detail, too! I love the succulents theme. It works great with the green, too!

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Looks centered to me!

Once everything was lined up, it was time to bring in the steamroller. Sadly, I was not allowed to drive the steamroller, or even get remotely close to the driver’s seat. It was an absolute blast to watch, and I have to admit, it’s a pretty sweet way to make large prints.

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The steamroller!

Once the paper is peeled up, you’ve got a beautiful finished product! Thanks boys!

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Successful round of printing!

The prints get put off to the side to dry, to be raffled off later!

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Setting the print to dry!

After we did a couple rounds of printing with the green, it was time to switch to black.

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After a few rounds of green ink, the team switched to black.

If there’s any extra paint on the guide or on the tape around the linocut, it could get on the paper and smudge. We had to take a quick break to scrub off some excess ink with acetone.

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Touch ups!

All clear!

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In order to keep the paper from slipping, we applied tape to the paper. Smart move!

How about a time-lapse?

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Look at that pressure!

The best part about the whole steamrolling process is peeling up the print at the end. You never know what could go wrong (or right) under the press, so the final reveal is always a blast to watch.

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Peeling up the print is so cool!

Here’s that beautiful finished product!

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Beautiful final print!

As of the publishing of this post, I did not win the raffle and have yet to acquire my own print from the awesome linocut! Nevertheless, I was incredibly inspired by the creativity I saw from all the vendors at the fair and from all the prints being made and sold.

So much fun! Can’t wait to go back next year!

CHE

P.S. I want a steamroller! #bucketlist

Happy Hour! Card Game Now on Kickstarter!

Happy Hour!the first bartending card game, is now available on Kickstarter. It’s the latest game I’ve been working on with my good friend, graphic artist Walker Cahall. We’re really proud of it and we’d love it if you checked it out on Kickstarter, but first…

Dinner’s Ready, the first game I created on Kickstarter back in October of 2015 was really a proof of concept for a style of gaming I call “competitive learning.” You’re playing a card game, focused on the competition and gameplay, but the more you play, the more you subconsciously learn about a particular topic. With Dinner’s Ready!, we wanted to teach people about healthy eating and whole ingredients. With Happy Hour!, our aim is to get people familiar with the world of mixed drinks and to start learning cocktail recipes.

tumblr_okv3mm2v4e1rt7qgbo1_500Bars pride themselves on having fully stocked bars and the ability to make “any drink you want.” The problem is, with the limitless possibilities behind the bar, we’re overwhelmed so we inevitably defer to our “go-to drink,” a simple, unimaginative, cocktail. It inevitably involves three ingredients, one of which is ice. If we knew more about mixed drinks and cocktails, maybe our palette would expand also!

Happy Hour! was born!

From the beginning, we set out to make Happy Hour! both fun but also somehow an educational experience. We bounced around between different formats of gameplay, styles and designs, and base rules in order to best deliver the information we want to get across. In doing so, we made some tough decisions. We decided to omit the facts on the ingredient cards. We chose to ignore the “preparation method” of each cocktail for the sake of clarity and ease of play. We increased and decreased the size of the bar and the number of orders waiting at the counter. But after every play test, it would always loop back to that feeling: we were onto something special.

happy-hour-handHappy Hour! is the FIRST competitive bartending game that’s not only fun to play, but also teaches you an array of actual mixed drinks! Soon enough, you’ll be a master bartender!

Imagine this… it’s a Friday night and you’ve got three friends in town. In anticipation of your friends arrival, you’ve stocked up on some booze. Around 5 o’clock, commonly known as “happy hour,” you bust out the Happy Hour! card game and set up the bar and counter.

Now it’s time to choose an alcohol: whiskey, vodka, tequila or gin. For the rest of the evening, when any drink is played that contains your alcohol, you’ve gotta whatever drink you happen to be consuming. (Extra points if you pair your alcohol to your side drink.) When a player collects 21 points, everybody else has to finish their drink. Sounds pretty good, right? (You can obviously play the game without this optional drinking rule, but… why?)

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Whiskey Sour!

The games typically last 7-15 minutes for 2 people and around 30 minutes for 4 people. That means you can get two rounds in, and (maybe a little north of) two drinks. Not only does that get your evening started for a night on the town, you also have a head start on ideas for drinks later on in the evening!

The Kickstarter page is now up and the campaign will run until February 28, 2017. You can still get the game at the “Early Bird Special” price of $25 (including shipping), otherwise the game is $30 (including shipping). Join the Happy Hour! community by backing the game, following us on social media, and sharing our project with your friends!

At the time of posting, we’re currently at $1263 or 21% of our overall goal!

Thanks again for your support, and I look forward to sharing a drink with you all in Happy Hour!

CHE

Did you like this post? Check out some of our other popular Mystery Tin posts!
The Wisdom of Shark Tank 
is a mega-post of the insight I gained by watching every episode of the investment show Shark Tank
Starting A Monthly Newsletter is a look at the inner workings of my new Mystery Tin Monthly e-mail newsletter. (You can sign up here!)
How to Run a Successful Crowdsourcing Campaign is a fantastic overview of the nuts and bolts in running a crowdsourcing campaign.

Personal Fire Ecology

Fire ecology is the scientific discipline of fire’s role and effect in the environment and specific ecosystems. In habitats like prairies, chaparral, and coniferous areas, wildfires are essential to vitality and renewal. Maybe Mother Nature’s onto something…

tumblr_mjj9jwkzsh1rt7qgbo1_500I was first exposed to this concept as a child growing up in Southern California, where we frequently witnessed the mountains behind our house ablaze, casting thick black smoke into the sky. In college, I received a call during film studies from my mother asking, “The fire’s over the ridge so I’m standing in your room right now, what would you like to me save?” And just a few years ago, my father and I watched on the news as another fire in Santa Barbara tore through my childhood friend’s home, a house they’d built on an empty lot. They’d sold the house and moved away long ago, but my dad called them on the phone. They were watching the news, too. That beautiful house was going to return to an empty lot.

In high school, I went on trail rides through stretches of freshly scorn earth in the Sespe Wilderness. Absolutely everything had been reduced to carbon, or torched and covered in ashes and soot. It was crazy to see sections of land completely black. The amazing part is the fire, and the extensive damage resulting from it, is a major key in the rebirthing process for the land to return nutrients and minerals to the soil. The current yield wasn’t worth it, so burning it all down and starting over from scratch is natural part of the ecological lifecycle.

tumblr_oj5swzqvsa1rt7qgbo1_500Yesterday was my own semi-annual purge by fire, where I went through my all my boxes of bills, writings, and “random stuff” to organize, record, and get rid of whatever I’m not in an immediate need of. Some people are absolutely terrified at the idea of hours worth of cleaning up your disheveled history of thoughts, but I couldn’t have imagined a better way to figuratively “start with a clean slate” then by purging the useless tokens I’ve collected over the past year. The result was two bags of clothing I’m ready to donate, close to 15 pounds of paper in the recycling (completely making that weight up), and a few of the more special items made a more ceremonial departure in the fires of the furnace.

These types of revitalizing extirpation have become more common for me as I continue to pick up my life and move somewhere else in a smaller and smaller vehicles. Perhaps more importantly, these purges have become a valuable tool in allowing me to reconnect with the cold irons of my creative past. I took the time to read through the scribbled notes about plot lines and jokes. I organized the essays and research materials into their own labeled folders, and I once again thumbed through the photographs, drawings, and paintings in the portfolios I’ve managed to hold onto over the years. Combing through the pages of creative ideas, I couldn’t help but become excited again about all these projects I’d brainstormed up long ago. Short stories. Films. Multimedia artwork. Card Games. Photo series. I’m telling you, there’s some good shit in here!

There’s also some bad stuff in there. A lot of bad stuff, in fact. Starting fresh is harder than it sounds, especially when you’re going boxes you’ve packed and unpacked twice over the past year. The pictures. The love notes. The cards and ornaments. I tucked them all into a wooden box. I can’t get rid of these things yet. I don’t want to. But I know I can’t keep them around. It’s the same with this box of rejection letters I received from law schools. I tucked those, and the copious amounts of paper from the unemployment saga, away in a folder marked, Fuel for the Fire.

tumblr_mudljpeb4u1rt7qgbo1_500But for most of the items in these boxes, I struggle to figure out why I’ve held onto these things for so long? You obviously keep the portfolio of work, but there’s also a plethora of useless trinkets, receipts, ticket stubs, that fill in the cracks around my art. I’ve held onto these pieces of my history because, presumably, I hope someday in the distant future I’ll go through the box, see a placard with my name on it, and be immediately transported back to that place, reliving the best days of my life. And while that’s completely true about many personal totems I’ve collected, I have absolutely no idea what party this crinkled up purple, paper wristband came from. This bead necklace? It’s just garbage now. It’s gotta go.

It’s important for me to keep in mind that just because I’m throwing out that crinkly wristband, it doesn’t mean the party didn’t happen. Throwing away this birthday card doesn’t mean I didn’t have a birthday that year. In fact, the biggest and most valuable moments in our life don’t leave us with a series of collectible trinkets, they leave our entire perspectives changed forever. It’s about everything that happened around the item that’s worth remembering, not the receipt. So I thanked the notes for what they were, then like the others, tossed them into the fire.

tumblr_ni2mvwjbve1rt7qgbo1_500Truthfully, not all is lost either, we do live in a digital age after all. For the notes, I used the app CamScan on my iPhone and took .pdf images of everything before I recycled them (or burned them). Now I’ll be able to go back through the documents, rename them, organize them, and then start creating a list of actions to promote progress or implement them. These are the seeds for the next generation of projects and ideas, rising from the ashes.

Everybody has their own methods when it comes to resetting your system. Mine involves tons of organizing and a little fire. My personal fire ecology. Whatever your recalibration techniques are, it’s important to embrace them as a necessary part of the process. There’s nothing good or bad about how you choose to narrow down your footprint, it just is what it is. If you come out on the other side motivated, inspired, and just a little bit more organized, who can say your process doesn’t work?

Just don’t hurt anybody with actual fire, okay? Thanks.

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