Posts by Jeff

“Can’t I be a lover and a fighter?”

KNEE SURGERY & TRUTH SERUM

Re-posted from my original post on VAGABONDORIGINAL.COM


 

Back in March, I took a bad step and injured myself pretty badly.

Stepping off the front porch, I rolled my left ankle and fell all-sorts-of-stupid onto my right leg. Prettymuch everything attaching my quadriceps to my knee came apart. Painful, yes. Surgery was worse. Luckily, as I write this, I’m way past the worst of it and well on my way to having a functional leg again. Still on crutches with a straight brace, but I’m putting up to 75% of my weight on it now, and hope to be off crutches within a couple weeks and to get on with physical therapy ASAP.

Of course the whole thing has been an unexpected bummer (to say the least) but I wanted to have some fun with it. So I turned it into a concert poster.

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My wife, Allison, and I have had a lot of laughs about the first handful of things I said once I was coming out of anesthesia. And this is where I got the “Truth Serum” bit. According to my wife, I was fun and kind, keeping my voice soft while swearing like a sailor, and mostly succeeding in my doped up efforts to be charming and polite. I tried to make reference to our favorite movies, YouTube videos, and inside jokes. Most of all, I just wanted to hear one of my favorite songs, Weapon of Choice, from my favorite band: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (or “BRMC” to fans like me).

At one point, I asked Allison if I could get some water. She told me we could ask the nurse in a minute when she gets back.

“Tell her to get over here right now, I’m paying for this.”

Even in that stupor, I was aware of our predicament. Being self-employed means getting creative, sometimes, with insurance (of which we had none) and medical bills (of which we now had plenty).

RISK MANAGEMENT

As an aside, I might take this opportunity to point out that – with all the worry and warnings I receive from friends and acquaintances concerned about my motorcycling, defensive training, and travels to foreign lands – the two worst injuries I’ve ever received occurred:

  1. Working overtime behind a desk.
  2. Walking in the front yard.

Both required surgery, and months of painful recovery. I’m not saying motorcycles, guns, judo-chops, and foreign travel don’t have their associated risks. Just saying there’s plenty of risk out there for all of us, regardless of your hobbies. Makes me re-evaluate how safe “being safe” is. That’s all.

TIMES OF PLENTY & TIMES OF FAMINE

As for being a small business owner (especially in a freelancing/consulting business), I’ve heard it said:

“In this business, you wake up every morning unemployed.”

For the last year, business has been increasingly good. We get better and better clients, and several side-projects are blooming into exciting, separate business partnerships with trusted colleagues. Still, the small-business part of this is new. And that means we have to really earn every client and project we get. Those projects seem to come in waves; the ebb and flow of which can be tricky to balance in.

Happily (with the above quote in mind), we’ve adopted a pattern of paying ahead our rent by several months at a time and being strategic about our grocery list, being sure to stock up on food that stores well in the medium-to-long term.

It’s always tempting to go out and buy new gear every time we land a new project or client . . . maybe upgrade the computer, buy a new camera an expensive lens. Don’t get me wrong – at times, we’ve done exactly that. But we’ve tried to be deliberate about when to invest in our business with new gear, and when to prepare for the days of famine that are sure to come before the next big wave of projects lands at our sandy feet.

SPECIAL THANKS

We’re so grateful to those who have helped and supported us right now. We’ve got a wonderful safety-net of family and friends who have offered/provided transportation and other means of support. We’ve got great clients who have been flexible about my downtime for a couple weeks there post-surgery.

We’re feeling a lot of love right now, and we want to say thank you.

VIDEO | Going Home – Part 8
Athens to NYC

Well this is it. Last video of our travels to Greece last summer. It takes you from our last days in Athens to the streets of NYC (my first visit ever). Amazing and surreal to go from seeing the remains of temples and buildings first constructed 5th Century B.C. to seeing the modern-day Manhattan.

The video starts out with us cruising through nearby neighborhoods and familiar sites that we walked through during our weekly routine. The Parliament building at Syntagma square. The food and markets at Monastiraki. Our metro station. The U.S. Embassy. Of course, before leaving Athens, we had to hike up the hill in the center of it all to see the Acropolis close up.

We were ready to go home.

Each time I’ve flown internationally, I’ve returned via NYC. But this would be the first time I actually left the airport and visited the city. It’s always a thrill to see the skyscrapers from the airports from the plane as you’re about to land. I almost don’t even mind the long wait to get through customs (almost). I enjoy the feeling of being back in the US, and seeing that giant American flag watching over the endless zig-zagging queue of travelers shuffling through line and waiting get their passport stamped.

Anyway, here’s last video from our wandering last summer:

Watch the other videos on our home page by scrolling down to that section. Or click here.

 

Allison’s sister, Annie, was there to pick us up when we got stateside. We arranged to get a hotel and spend a little time exploring some of that NYC has to offer.

I’ll include a few of my favorite images from NYC, in [roughly] the order that I saw experienced them.

 

TAKING THE STATEN ISLAND FERRY

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CENTRAL PARK

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MIDTOWN, THE SUBWAY, & LOWER MANHATTAN

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9/11 MEMORIAL MUSEUM

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BROOKLYN BRIDGE & NY AT NIGHT

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It was stunning and a bit unbelievable to see the city up close for the first time. I’ve been to some big cities, but nothing like New York. I was amazed by the cleanliness of Central Park. I was surprised by the filth and complexity of the NY subway system, as compared to that found in London and Athens. I was gratified with the reverence and tone of the 9/11 Memorial Museum. I was both overwhelmed and underwhelmed by the busy-ness of Times Square.

Also, I was unimpressed by New York pizza that I’ve heard so much about. Meh. I’ll have to try Chicago next.

I really enjoyed walking the Brooklyn Bridge. While taking in the sites and sounds, I remembered watching the news footage the day of the 9/11 attacks, and watching all the masses leave Manhattan on foot using this same bridge (and others).

Overall, I was in awe of the scope of it all . . . just how big, and just how small New York is. I mean, they built it on a tiny little island, and filled up every possible space with buildings and people. To get to one of the biggest cities in the world, you have to take a boat or a bridge. Unreal.

By the time nightfall came – after all the flights and sleeping in airports and walking around Manhattan Island on foot – we were spent. Sitting on the ferry, the low hum and rumble of the engines was a soothing lullaby, and Allie prettymuch passed out immediately. Aside from getting back to Utah, our journey was at it’s end.

 

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Find more of my stuff on VAGABONDORIGINAL.COM or find me:      

 

VIDEO | Getting There – Part 7
Saying Goodbye to Mystras

My original plan with Allison was just a two-day, one-night motorbike ride to Sparta and back. But the exhilaration and beauty of being back on a motorcycle . . . in mountain country . . . in Sparta . . . we fell in love with the place and couldn’t leave right away. In fact, the tiny little town of Mystras (just 5 minutes outside of Sparta) was the place that really stole our hearts. So after ditching our plans and getting lost in the Taygetus Mountains west of Sparta, we made our way back to the town of Mystras and found a place to spend the night.

 

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Mystras is a formerly-fortified town that sits on the steep slopes at the base of the Taygetus Mountains. They still proudly fly their own, bright-yellow flag side-by-side (sometimes) with the Greek flag. There’s some great Byzantine history there, and they still pride themselves on the role they played in the Greece’s long, war-filled history. In fact, the night we were there, we were surprised to be witness to the grand finish to a half-marathon which they hold annually to celebrate their heritage, and more specifically to commemorate the death of the last Byzantine Emperor, Constantine Palaiologos, who ruled in Mystras until he went to war; he fought and died in defense of Constantinople from the Turks. His statue is prominently displayed in the city center.

I had a hard time sleeping that night, and after hours of trying to go back to sleep, I decided to go out for a walk at sunrise. The town was silent and bathed in golden light from the east.

 

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My favorite part of that walk was the snap dragons (pictured above), growing right through the mortar of a rock wall. A fitting tribute to a tough, beautiful town stuck on the side of a mountain.

It was hard to leave Mystras. It’s become one of our favorite places; we’ve even remarked, since leaving, that if we ever go back go Greece it would be to stay in Mystras longer, and wander those mountains some more. But it was now Day 3 of our motorbike adventure, and we had some miles to cover if we were going to make Athens by sunset.

 

 


 

Find more of my stuff on VAGABONDORIGINAL.COM or find me:      

VIDEO | Getting There – Part 6
Sparta on a Motorbike

Exactly one year and one day ago (as I write this), Allison and I rented a BMW F650GS and left our Athens apartment for someplace better. For those of you who appreciate more details, there’s a more contextual post about it here.

We couldn’t get out of Athens fast enough. We sped along the coast to Corinth, then south through the mountainous Peloponnese Peninsula. It was on this ride that Allison and I rediscovered just how much we belong in the mountains. Skiathos had shown us what a Greek island paradise is all about, and we loved it there. We needed it. But – for me at least – the beaches and sand didn’t hold a candle to what happened to my soul in the Taygetus mountains overlooking Sparta. This was originally going to be an over-nighter, leaving on Friday, staying the night in Sparta, and returning to Athens on Saturday. But waking up that next morning in Sparta, the mountains were calling to us. We answered.

We originally thought we’d take a quick ride up the canyon for a bit that morning, then get back on the road and head home. But once we found ourselves in those winding canyons and cloud-covered peaks, we abandoned all our planning and routes and schedules. We spent all day getting deliberately lost. It’s a lesson I learned in Morocco, and had to re-learn here:

It’s amazing what you can find when you shed your fear of not knowing where you are and replace it with the wonder of discovering where you are.

This latest video starts where we left off in Part No. 5 and takes you through Day 1 and 2 of our Sparta ride.

 

Watch the other videos on our home page by scrolling down to that section. Or click here.

 


 

Find more of my stuff on VAGABONDORIGINAL.COM or find me:      

 

VIDEO | Getting There – Part No. 3

And here’s Part No. 3 – and it’s the first motorcycle one, so you can imagine I’m a little extra excited about this one. This is the BMW F800GS (named “Sophia,” if you remember) that we rented while in Florence (for those photos and stories, click here).

So this video takes us through the Tuscan countryside from Florence, through Siena, Asciano, Monte Oliveto, to Buonconvento, where we turned around, headed back over that amazing pass back to Asciano, then headed east, looping back to Florence as the sun set.

I wish I could describe what it felt like. This will have to do:

Watch the other videos on our home page by scrolling down to that section. Or click here.

 

Trivia: “Hate the Taste” is dedicated to the Radicchio Risotto that Allison ordered in Siena. It really was the worst. Heh. “But I’d do it all again . . . .” (and, of course, the chorus speaks for itself).

Here’s the route we took:

 


Find more of my stuff on VAGABONDORIGINAL.COM or find me:      

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