Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Post #12--Things Fall Apart

I'm back to trying to describe the indescribable.

After day nine, came day ten. Then day eleven. And with each day came either nothing, or, a few times, another breathtaking rejection from another publishing house.

But still there was hope. There were 16 proposals sent--and all the rejections had been so encouraging, so kind and warm. So hope-giving.

And so devoid of offers.

All of that is easy to describe.

What is indescribable is what was happening within me as this all took place. My dreams. Dreams that I had had since a little boy. Goals I had been striving towards actively for years. Words uttered in blessings. Spiritual promises I had felt deep inside my soul. All of these things seemed to be finding fruition in our agent and our book and these publishing houses. It had all come together with such surprising speed, and with such a undeniable confluence--it was so obvious to me that the Lord had orchestrated all of it. He had made this happen. 

So why was it not working?

More days passed. More vacillation between exultant hope and bitter fear. At the three-week mark I had to admit it to myself: I was starting to wonder if this was going to happen at all. The unimaginable fear that nobody would buy the book became more plausible. It made me sick to my stomach, but the thought occurred to me intermittently. But that felt like a lack of faith! I had to have faith! After all this, after all these things coming together for our benefit--after this situation being so perfect, and all the stars aligning, why would this not work?

It is also impossible to describe the crushing totality of dreams that weighed upon me. When that much money is suggested, when that much success is at your fingertips--when your life's dearest dreams are so tantalizingly close to your grasp after years and years of work and sacrifice and so many hours of quiet, isolated effort--you cannot help but visualize the realization of these dreams. You cannot help but imagine how your life is about to change. We did. We talked about it. We talked about it as if it was going to happen. We believed. You cannot help but count chickens before they hatch in a situation like this. They have all but hatched! You are looking at the eggs, feeling them, warm and speckled and filled with potential life!

And at the end of week three, the sorrow started to filter in. It was gritty and filled with bitterness. I remember sitting with Lolly, both of us crying with exhaustion, and saying words filled with agony. "If this doesn't happen," I said, "then I just don't understand. It just… feels mean. It feels like the Lord set me up to fail. That He was trying to hurt me, dangling my fondest dream in front of my face, and then, just as I am about to touch it and feel it in my hand, yanking it away."

I remember being in the Stake Clerk's office one morning at around the same point, fulfilling my responsibilities as assistant over finances. The office was empty, and I was alone. I checked my email for the four trillionth time, and found, as always, no exultant news about the purchase of our book. And then I realized: "It's not going to happen."  I felt the weight of it so profoundly that I actually had to lie down on the floor. I just lay there, alone in that office, barely able to breath, feeling the minutes pass, feeling the crushing weight that had followed me for weeks push me to the floor like a physical force. I had to be on the floor. I was being smashed. The pain, still commingled with the weak, tinny anticipation of "maybe he'll call today. Maybe today is the day!" was almost more than I could bear.

That's the one thing about fantastic heights: the falls are terrible.

Eventually the email from our agent came. The text said "calling now" and the body was the submission list--that long list of names and publishers, all followed by the dreaded word: pass

They had all said "no."

He called. He had no explanation. "I'm so sorry," he said. "I'm usually so good at this. I have no idea what happened. I'm completely baffled." He went on to explain that usually he can get a sense of what the market wants, and that he's made his career on knowing what works. He was sure this would work, and he was so sorry it hadn't. He also explained that he can usually gather what went wrong by the rejections--usually there is a common theme, or a running current between them. Sometimes there's even a direction you can go to fix things. "But your rejections were all totally different. No rhyme or reason. No running theme. No identifiable problem."

No rhyme or reason. No explanation. No sense to be made of it. Nothing to work on or improve.

They had all just said "no."

The finality hit with a deep, guttural thud. And so did the full sorrow.

And so did the anger.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Post #11--Keep the faith

This is the part that's impossible to put into words.

Imagine waking up every day knowing that the most amazing thing that has ever happened in your life could happen that day. And then imagine going to bed that night, having had it not happen, and the disappointment that brings. And then waking up the next day knowing it could happen that day. And then it not. And so forth.

Then, imagine those days piling up.

Imagine knowing that something you have created is in the hands of some of the most powerful publishers in the history of the world. Imagine knowing they could be reading your words--things you yourself wrote--at this very moment.

And then imagine not hearing from them.

Imagine the roller-coaster of thrill and disappointment, of self-doubt and hope that creates. Imagine the whiplash, all internal, of thinking any email and any phone call could be "the one." Imagine trying not to check your email four trillion times a day. Imagine how much you learn to hate your phone, and the fact that it continues--doggedly--to not ring. Imagine watching it, sitting on your desk, trying to will it to buzz.

Anything. You just want to hear anything.

Then, try to imagine 9 or so days in, seeing that first rejection.

The first one came from Penguin Books.

It said some really nice things. The editor said she "agonized" over the decision. She complimented my writing. She said our book would add a "unique and compelling voice" to the national conversation. She said she took a long time to think about it. But in the end, she decided to pass. Her hesitancy centered around audience, and but more than anything it centered around her feeling "torn." She knew she wasn't the right fit.

And that makes sense. We wouldn't want someone who didn't feel good about the project representing the book.

But still, that rejection came as a jolt. Suddenly, it wasn't just all fantasy-world. These real people were reading our real book proposal, making real decisions about it. They were making decisions based on market, and they were making decisions based on "fit" and they were making decisions based on readability.

But in the end, they were making decisions based on their gut emotions. And sometimes they were going to say "no."

"Keep the faith," said our agent. He was an expert at this. He had seen rejection before, of course.

If there is anything Lolly and I are good at, it's keeping faith. Surely we would hear a "yes" soon. Surely the Lord had inspired these events, had made the stars align, so that he could inspire the right person to represent our story. Surely, He hadn't just set us up to fail and be disappointed--bitterly, painfully disappointed.

Faith. We had faith.

We went forward, waiting for our "yes."

All it takes, as they say, is one.



Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Post #10--The Waiting Game

Suddenly, we were "on submission."

'On submission' is short for "on submission to publishers." It's the period of time where your agent is taking your manuscript or proposal and is sending it to their contacts in the literary world. In my case, our proposal was being sent to every major publishing house I had ever heard of. Like seriously, pull a book off your shelf. Look at the publisher. Do you recognize the name? Then that was one of the publishers my agent had sent our proposal to.

There are no words to describe what this process feels like.

I've read around online and people talk a lot about how hard this part of the process is. They give recommendations like "only check your phone once a day" and "try to be social to get your mind off of the anxiety." I didn't have any idea what to expect. Lolly and I just wandered around in a daze of anticipation. There was such a thrill about it all! It was truly amazing.

Just imagine: at any moment, any second, I could get a call or email that would change my life forever. A call that I had been dreaming about for years--and in some ways most of my life. The call in which I'm told I've sold my first book.

Breathtaking

During the first week of being on submission, Lolly and I were so optimistic. It just made sense that this was happening. It fit in with everything the previous year or so of our life had been. Being on TV, speaking to large audiences, etc. This was just another obvious step in our journey. We were sweetly excited, talking about hopes and dreams. The word naive could perhaps be used, but I don't feel like it fits exactly. We were just hopeful and happy. And very, very excited. And grateful--often filled with gratitude for what was happening.

And then we got to week two.

It's very natural as this process goes forward for a writer to start to doubt that things will end well. The question starts to creep in: what if nobody responds? What if this thing doesn't sell?

We wanted some reassurance. We talked to our agent. "Guys," he said, "I can't make any promises. But I just want you to know how much I believe in your project. I've been doing this for a long time. A really, really long time. And… how do I put this? Let's just say, at this point in my career I don't take on a project unless I expect it to sell with a six figure advance. I believe in this. Totally and completely."

Six. Figure. Advance.

My head was spinning. I'd never even contemplated anything like that.

He really did believe in this, and he had the reputation to back it up. Hearing that helped Lolly and I to take heart. Waiting was excruciating of course--more excruciating than I could ever begin to describe--but we knew we had a project that people believed in. We knew our story was worth telling. We knew our agent believed in us, and in our project… enough to stake his reputation on his. Enough to expect really big things--amazing things.

Now, it was just time to wait.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Post #9--Proposal

Looking back a year-and-half, I can see the warning signs that were interlaced with all the excitement.

That's how hindsight works.

At the time though, they were undetectable.

At the time, this felt like an absolute culmination of all things in my life. It felt cosmic. It felt like God had done the crazy-viral thing with our blog post, and then now He was orchestrating this thing with the book. Every step forward felt like confirmation that God wanted us to get this book out in the world, and He wanted it to happen fast. It felt so exhilarating. It felt like the fulfillment of promises He had made to us long ago--certain promised blessings we had been awaiting for years. It felt like an "I love you," from God. It felt like it had his signature all over it.

It felt like He was guiding the process, step by step, just as He had guided us so often in the past.

The proposal came next. Our agent sent us proposals from some of his past clients--proposals from real, live books that had been very successful. It was so crazy to read those. It was crazy to see how the process had worked for them, and how it was now happening for us.

Lolly and I worked on the proposal at nights--finishing the polish on the first 20 pages of our book, and then writing the proposal itself--boasting our book's finer qualities, on what it was, on how it contributed to the literary world.

The work on the proposal felt very different than the synchronicity that we had felt as we worked on the actual book. Working on the book itself had been amazing--it had felt organic and exciting. But as we worked on the proposal, we kept hitting road-bumps. There was a lot of conflict between us, suddenly, about how things should go. Things felt strained. We would come together to work on it, and instead of feeling exciting and fun, there was a dark pall over our interactions. It felt very stressful and bleak.

Like I say: hindsight.

We plowed forward. After all, this was a very stressful thing, very potentially life-changing. It was a process that was bound to contain some conflict. But if we worked hard we could get through it.

It took longer than we expected, but after about six weeks and a million emails back and forth with our agent, we had finally perfected our proposal. And it looked good. We had a full perfected draft of the first 20 pages, and the proposal itself,  and chapter summaries for all the chapters we hadn't written yet. It was a compelling story, with a good arc. We had done our job well, and our agent was very excited.

But I didn't feel connected to the template as we had it. It felt… obvious. Dry. Commercial. Insipid. It absolutely worked, and we had done a good job. It told our story, and in a compelling way. But I didn't feel a yearning to breathe life into it this proposed book. I didn't yearn to see its ideas or story spread around the world.

I just wanted to sell it.

Hindsight.

Finally, in the middle of the night after hours of work, Lolly and I gave that perfected proposal a final-looking-over. We had worked hard, and we were relieved and excited to be putting this book into our agent's capable hands. He had already looked it over many times, and was excited to put it out there, too. We had all worked hard on this, and we were all very ready for the next step: selling the book to a publisher.

We had done all we could do. It was time for us to let the process just happen--letting our agent do his job. After we sent this, it was just a matter of waiting. Any day we could get the phone call that would change our lives forever. We could get a call for an offer on our book. We would meet our editor. We would know what publishing house we would be associated with. Would there be a bidding war? Would we like our editor? Would we feel connected to the publishing house? Would everything feel right?

It could be days, or it could be weeks, or it could be one or two months. But it was going to be soon.

This was actually happening.

We pressed "send," looked at each other, and smiled.


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Post #8: Snapshot of my life right now

We interrupt this story to bring you a snapshot of my life right now:

My sister and her family pulled up to my house two hours ago. The kids are running around the house screaming. Luggage is being brought up the stairs, gifts are going under the tree, there is hugging and laughter and the eating of snacks, and there is lots of chatter. There is a baby crying as he's being put to bed, and there is the screaming of grumpy but ecstatic cousins, and there are lots of footsteps on the stairs. There is"let's not play that tonight, let's wait till the morning" and lots of "let's get on your pajamas! It's time to go to bed," followed by a lack of follow through, and children doing basically what they want.

There is lots of chatting between my sister Jenni and me. Chatting about wonderful things, and also chatting about loss and pain and disappointment. Chatting about the tragedies that can occur in a family system, and about how all we can really do is cling to each other and try to feel love. There is pain and joy in our chat. There is loss and redemption, already, even after only two hours.

If there's one thing we Weeds can do, it's get real. Fast.

I live for moments like this: A bunch of people in a house, existing together, feeling each others' warmth, listening to each others' voices.

Being with each other.

This is family. This is Christmas. This is what life's all about.

(Next post is about "writing a book proposal is really hard." Stay tuned.)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Post #7--A fun ride.

I could barely contain my excitement.

I had trouble conceptualizing what my life even was. I had always known I would break into the literary world… but this? A memoir? A co-written memoir about my marriage?

I had never, in a million years, considered that this would be my bold break into the world of books. And yet, it was happening.

Like the email instructed, I called the agent for the first time since we'd talked nine months before.

I called my agent. MINE. 

In my research of the literary world, I had learned that the way to get published was that a person wrote a manuscript, finished it, perfected it, and then queried an agent, offering to let him or her see it. If the agent liked the finished manuscript, then he or she would try to sell it to a publishing house by sending that finished manuscript to editors who might be interested in purchasing it, offering an advance. 

An advance for the product. For the finished product. 

But our agent was flipping that on its head. "Sometimes, with memoir," he explained in our phone call, "it's best to just have 20 or 30 pages completed and then a really well-constructed proposal. That way an editor can know what they're getting into, and can help guide the process if they want to." 

I was shocked. What was he saying? Was he saying that we were ready to start submitting to publishers? Already? Like… now?

"So," he continued, "we'll take a few weeks to have you and Lolly write the proposal and get the first 20 pages in tip-top shape. Then we'll go on submission."

My mind reeled. On submission in a few weeks. 

Suddenly, the timeline in my brain shifted drastically. When I sent him the email the week before I'd been expecting to get some encouragement, a nice head pat, and a "send it to me when you're done." I was maybe thinking that, in a dream-land, he would offer to represent us. 

I had never, in a million years, expected that within a week I'd be starting to work on a proposal that would be seen by every major publishing house in the industry.

Later that day, I sent him an email:

Hey, great talking to you this morning. Sorry if I seemed a little subdued--truth is I'm kinda freaking out over here at what's happening, and trying my best to remain staid. We are incredibly excited by the possibilities...

Anyway, we're totally pumped to have you as an agent. We feel that we're in good hands.

His reply came quickly:

Totally understand. It's a lot to process. Just know that I've been doing this for a long time and I'll be here for you guys every step of the way. It's going to be a fun ride, I promise.

So quick, so abrupt--in one week we'd gone from working on a half-written first draft in our little office at nights to, all of the sudden, being represented by an amazing agent who was having us write a proposal which the biggest names in publishing industry would soon be seeing with their very own eyes. 

It was terrifying.

But also… it was thrilling. This was actually happening! 

The train had left the station, and we were on it. We had just had our ticket stamped, the conductor had validated our seats, and we were speeding toward our destination. It was time to sit back. Relax. Enjoy the view. Enjoy watching as my dreams came true, and in the most unexpected and exciting way I could have ever imagined. 

Lolly and I read his email and then took a deep breath.  Our new agent had been doing this a long time. His track record was solid. He was going to take care of us. He said it, right there in black and white. A fun ride. It was going to be a fun ride.

He promised.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Post #6--The best possible news.

I was in my office between sessions when I got the agent's first response:

I just started it today and am already impressed. More to come very soon.

I can't describe the sensation that little email created… two sentences, that meant so much. He had read it. He was reading it and he was impressed. He was going to write more very soon. He was going to write me and tell me something. Was this the thing that happens to writers when they finally get an agent? Was this about to happen to me? Was I about to score a top-tier, millions-of-dollars-making agent?

I stood up and took a walk to center myself. I walked the serene, empty, dead-end street next to a stream and a forest that I like to take walks on during my work day. I sent the email to Lolly from my phone. We both sent frantic texts of what could this possibly mean??? and this is so totally amazing and awesome and such.

Something big was happening. It felt like it was happening really fast, too.

Break-neck fast.

The next days were agony, of course. But the best kind of agony. The kind of agony where you know something really good is coming, but you just don't know what the good thing is, exactly.

The second response came on a Thursday, three days later. I remember the exact moment of the day it came, the exact client I had just seen, and I remember what I was wearing even (which is very atypical of me--usually I don't remember things like that). I checked the account he and I were communicating through for the four millionth time, and there was his name in dark black. He'd sent something.

I took a deep breath and clicked on it, and started reading the words I had been craving to see for years--the words I have wanted an agent say to me since I'd first sent a query. I was shaking with excitement.

I would absolutely love to try and sell this for you guys. It's really such an amazing love story--so well written--and it is going to be a very special book. 

Can we get on the phone and talk things over? 

This. was. happening.

It was happening so fast. And things were about to get even faster. Fast like a shooting star: brilliant, luminescent, and then… gone.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Post #5--A draft in the agent's hands

The work was beautiful. It felt synchronistic.

We were both immediately engaged--we got home from that trip and felt ready to pounce on the project. We didn't tell each other what we were doing--there was little-to-no prep work--we just sat down and started writing. Lolly and I would put the girls to bed, and then it was time. I would grab four or five caramels, then she and I would and sit side by side in our office. We wouldn't write for long--thirty minutes maybe. But we'd get a good chunk done, and then we'd compare notes.

It was uncanny how everything lined up.

The things she was writing, I didn't write, and vise versa. She wrote scenes I was sure she needed to write, and I wrote scenes that she anticipated I would write. It was as if we'd planned it. We were continually amazed. We did check in occasionally and assign some stories to one person or the other, but for the most part our instincts remained aligned. And it was so much fun. We revisited so many wonderful memories of our childhood and youth. It was great to reminisce, and it was fun to put to paper important memories that added to the special context of our union.

At the same time, the work was slow. The months crept by, and soon I started getting anxious. I started wondering if the opportunity to be represented by the agent that contacted me had passed me by. And, after several months, the work started to stagnate a little bit. Lolly and I were busy living our life--not writing about it. I wondered if we'd ever finish.

One evening I got a tiny itch.

I opened up my email account and typed in that agent's name. Part of me was sure that so many months had passed that he would no longer be interested in our project. It had been almost nine months since he'd contacted me. Surely, he would feel hesitant by this point. It's not like he'd ever followed up with me--he'd never shown any interest except in the week following the viral post. It was entirely possible he'd moved on, and that we were pretty much on our own.

I typed the following message:

Hi,

My wife and I have been working on our memoir together. We have around 40,000 words. Were you still interested in representing our story? If so, we'd love to touch base with you.

Then I hit send. Impetuous. Always impetuous. This guy was no slouch, and it was nerve-wracking to think that I'd just shot him an email like that.

But, that's how I roll, I guess.

Not a day later, I got this:

Hi Josh,

It is great to hear from you. I would very much like to see what you guys have put together. Please by all means send it on

Don't hesitate to give me a call if you'd like to talk anything over before you press send.

We were thrilled. We didn't call him. We just pressed send. We sent him what we had and said "we'd love any feedback." And just like that, a major New York agent had the little manuscript we'd worked on together at nights in his hands. "Maybe he can just give us some tips on how to finish this thing well," I remember thinking. "Maybe he'll give us the push we need to get this thing done."

I couldn't have been more surprised by his response.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Post #4: Memoir

Isn't the thought of a (then) 32-year-old writing a memoir hilarious?

That's what I thought. I spent the next few days saying things like "Sorry, Lolly, I can't come and help with dinner right now. I'm too busy writing my memoirs…" *puts hand to forehead in a dramatic pose*

As if.

As if I had lived enough life to have anything valuable to say in a memoir. "Yes, I'm 32 now. So, I'm an expert on life, you see. I went through childhood, puberty, and most recently, college. And now that my children are (mostly) out of diapers, I think it's about time to share what I've learned in life!"

I had no idea how to do this, nor even if I wanted to.

I would sit down to write and just feel… stupid. How does one encapsulate a life? What does one take from one's own experience to pen in a book, and more importantly, what does one leave out?

Writing that last sentence made me remember something I'd forgotten until this moment. In my phone call with the agent, after he proposed I write a memoir, I asked him if he had any advice for someone so young trying to do this. His counsel?

"Leave out the boring parts."

I actually think that's some of the best writing advice I've ever heard.

I just had no idea how to do that, in any practical sense. It all seemed so huge--so gargantuan and preposterous.

I did what preparation I could. I went to the bookstore and bought several memoirs that stood out to me. (My favorite of the batch was Joyce Carol Oates' book about being widowed.) I read parts of a lot of them and tried to get a handle on the genre. There was some good, compelling stuff. There was also some trash. I found that interesting--memoir could be breathtaking, and it could also be tawdry and plastic-trinket-like.

Before long, I'd decided to just launch in. I started with--you guessed it--birth. A bit of a cliche, but it got me going. I wrote 30 pages or so, but something was missing. Something wasn't working out. I was having trouble expressing exactly what, but it had to do with perspective. I was having trouble fairly representing anything that had occurred in Lolly's life. Our stories were just so intertwined, yet the only perspective I was comfortable representing was my own (for obvious reasons). It was a significant problem, and one that I grappled with for some time. It halted me.

At times I wondered if this was even something I wanted to do. Was I feeling pressured into it? Did I actually want to write this book? Something felt off to me about the whole thing, but I couldn't pinpoint what.

One weekend, Lolly and I were in Utah doing some presentation or another, and we had dinner with one of my dearest friends, Zina Petersen. Zina was my professor back when I was at BYU. She's also a brilliant writer herself, and we often critique each other's work. She asked how the writing was going, and I tried to explain this problem I was having--the problem with perspective. "I just can't seem to give Lolly's voice a valid place. I don't know how to work around it." She looked at me over our dinner of quiche and clam dip, then she looked at Lolly, and said simply: "The two of you should write it together."

It hit us like a lightning bolt. Of course! The story wasn't my story. It was our story.

Of course we would write this together. We were linked in everything. Our story had been the story of two people from the very beginning--since I was three years old, when we first met--not just one. This would be a project undertaken the same way our marriage itself was undertaken--side by side, with love, and eyes wide open. It made perfect sense.

We got started right away.





Monday, December 15, 2014

Post #3--Timeline

So, here's the sequence of events, kind of.

2009--I wrote a novel. It about killed me. Queried, got a positive response, but realized I hadn't edited the manuscript and that I'd queried prematurely. (For the record, it still sits, unedited, rotting in my hard drive. Someday, I say. Someday.)

2010--Started The Weed. My blog was about ADHD. I had a lot to say. For about a month. Then I tried medication for the first time and things tapered off.

End of 2010--I read a blog post online that made me laugh. I realized in that moment that I had wasted so much material talking about ADD in a serious way. Something clicked. From that day forward, randomly, I started writing humor posts. I became obsessed with it, started submitting my stuff to small contests, started gaining followers. It was fun.

Concurrently I was very purposefully building a writing platform. The undergirding of the whole operation was to build a platform to eventually be able to sell my book. From the very beginning, blogging has been about eventually selling books for me. I love it in and of itself, but the driving force for me is always that bigger picture.

2011--More humor posts. Still a lot of fun, but things started to get a little strained. I felt very constricted only using humor Most of my followers by that point had joined because of the comedy. I felt boxed in, but I also really loved it.

Beginning of 2012--I started really getting back into my novel, trying to finish it. I felt like that would be the next step. As you can see from this post, I had big plans. You can probably tell that I had no idea what was going to happen in two months.

Also near the beginning of 2012 the feeling of inauthenticity grew as I wrote humor posts. One day, I sat with writer's block and Lolly came in and said "I know what's going, Josh. You feel inauthentic." Then she hesitated before saying "I think there's a part of you that wants to come out of the closet." I'd never seriously considered it, but we both felt something powerful in that moment. That conversation sparked a months long process of getting blessings, receiving personal revelation, etc. all indicating that I needed to share our story. It wasn't until the middle of the year that I realized I needed to do that on the blog. I cannot emphasize the level of complexity the first six months of 2012 involved.

2012, June--I followed my gut and came out of the closet on the blog. Then the blog exploded and became something else entirely. It morphed into an account of a gay man married to a woman.

But this blog was never really about me being a gay man married to a woman.

And it was always about writing.

Which is why, when a major literary agent contacted me through the blog a week or so after my viral blog post, I paid attention. Suddenly, I wasn't querying agents. An agent had just queried me. And he had sold some major things. Things you've probably heard of.

It was all very breathtaking.

I set up a phone call and we chatted. I was all nerves and excitement. I told him about my novel, about my aspirations, but he wasn't really interested in any of that. "Let me know," he said, "if you end up writing a memoir. I'd be very interested to represent a memoir." And with that bug in my ear, we hung up.

I didn't speak to him again for a very long time.



Saturday, December 13, 2014

Post #2--Back Story

In its earliest iteration, this blog was a writing blog.

Actually, no, scratch that. In the earliest iteration, this blog was about ADHD. But even then, the whole idea was writing.

The year before, I'd written my first novel. I knew I needed to build a platform in order to be able to sell the thing. I'd queried a couple of agents--one major one was interested, but passed when he couldn't open the attachment of my partial. His interest was thrilling though--a rare thing that early in the process, especially from an agency so huge. I knew I was on the right track, but I had no platform. I knew I needed a blog. So, I started The Weed.

And now, five years later, here we are. A lot has happened.

So, writing.

It's kind of a big deal to me.

I really don't know how to talk about this.

There's this thing that happened a year and a half ago (summer of 2013) that majorly impacted my life. I haven't written about it publicly because it was so hard--one of the hardest things that's ever happened to me as an aspiring writer. It's one of the hardest things that has ever happened to me as a person, period.

In some ways, it changed my life and the way I view… everything.

I feel like not talking about this is part of what has killed my blog. Like somehow I've been keeping a secret. I'm starting to see this clearly now--it's something like this: this blog has, on a very fundamental level, always been about writing. So to have a really major, really horrible, event pertaining to writing occur and not talk about it here did a major number on my brain. Like my mind interpreted it as a betrayal to this space. It rendered me and my participation here inauthentic.

My brain doesn't really "do" inauthentic.

So, I've just been absent. Silent. Incommunicado.

When I started writing a post randomly yesterday, I had no idea why I was doing it, or what I was doing. It felt random and abrupt and angsty. I just knew I needed to occupy this space again--quietly, personally, independently, intimately. I wrote about my day, called it "post #1" and pressed publish. The only thing I was sure of was that I couldn't have comments on, and that I had to do this.

Brains are funny.

Today it occurs to me that what my brain is trying to do is to give me a safe space to tell this story.

It's time. Given where I am today, it's definitely, definitely time.

This might take a while. It might take a lot of posts, or it might just take a few, but it will probably be a little messy and disjointed. I'm okay with that. I need to get this out there. Without fanfare, without a ruckus. I don't care who sees it.

I need to get this out there because there's really no way I can talk about now without explaining then.

And I need to be able to talk about now.

I have no idea how to end this.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Post #1

Hi!

Here's my day so far:

I woke up at the crack of dawn, by which I mean to say 8:32am.

I rolled over and tried to sleep while my daughters were screaming about getting their hair done.

At 8:53, Tessa came in and climbed in bed with me. She made me play "alligator" where I pretend to be a big alligator that eats her. Then she jumped on my face.

Next I rolled out of bed and walked downstairs and drank a glass of warm water because I have this thing where I'm trying to get a routine in my life and my brain has decided: drinking warm water in the morning is the perfect routine. Obviously.

Oh wait, before that I did pointless crap on my phone for 57 minutes.

Forgot about that.

Next I came into my office to "write."

Sometimes, when I say "write" I actually mean ricocheting through endless cycle of checking Facebook, checking email, checking Yahoo News, looking for Youtube clips of authors and artists that inspire me, checking a million blogs that never get updated, etc, etc, etc. over and over and over and over and over until my brain feels like it's filled with numbness and Q-tips and quicksand and sadness.

All I want to do is write. All my brain wants to do is ANYTHINGBUTWRITE

In case you are wondering, that is NO FUN.

(As you can guess, at this moment I am "writing.")

 I have no idea how to end this.



Friday, October 31, 2014

I AM a big deal.

Sometimes people ask me "Josh, what's it like being a Mormon celebrity? Like, seriously, is it hard to be such a big deal?"

Gotta admit, it can be hard to be someone who exudes relevance all the time.

I'm wearing a tux. I am relevant. 

Like, for instance, it's really time-consuming to write in this blog. Once a quarter.

It's also hard to know what to be for Halloween. Do I go as some other relevant celebrity? Or do I just go as myself, and risk getting lost in the sea of other people who have decided to be Josh Weed for Halloween?

Decisions.

The most challenging part, though, is when people play coy. Like the other day at a coffee shop...

Thursday, August 7, 2014

This Man Discovered Five Ways to Know an Article is Total Link-Bait Crap (Before Clicking Through).

In this article I will share with you an awesome secret that will change your life and will make internet gurus hate you!*

Hi!

If you're anything like me, you spend a good deal of your life these days clicking on links you encounter on Facebook and other social media platforms and then wondering things like "why am I looking at this list of cereal from the 80's" or "I never knew there could be this many pets in vases" or "Did I *actually* think this list of '20 Characteristics all Confident People Share' would include tips beyond what my next door neighbor could have thought of when he was in 8th grade?

As I read through an article today about 50 ways to lose weight that included such educational gems as "eat more veggies" and "lift weights"(seriously, these were actual tips) I realized the truth.

I am wasting my life.

You are probably wasting yours too. And seriously, guys, we have to stop it.

I have devised this handy list to help us differentiate between stuff we should be spending our time on and articles that are constructed solely to get clicks.

These five tips are iron-clad, Jean-Claude Van Damme-intense, surefire, tried-and-true ways to make sure you don't end up wasting any more of your life reading stuff you could have thought up yourself if you did a five minute brainstorming session or had a camera in a zoo.

Ready?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Totally not weird or gay

I'd like to introduce you to my new friend:



This is Ben Shafer. 

He and I met a few of months ago when we were both performing Rob Gardner's "Lamb of God" (which is incredible, btw) in Tacoma. We hit it off immediately, and he was like "Josh I want to be your best friend ever" except he didn't actually say those words. Well, actually, he pretty much did say those exact words, but it wasn't upon meeting. It was waaaay later. Like that night after friending me on Facebook.

Question #1 for Ben was: are you a homosexual?

Though he wept like a bleating lamb while singing his solo for the performance, dresses like a True Live Seattle Hipster, and occasionally plays basketball dressed like this:



his answer was simple. "I love vaginas and breasts waaaaaay too much to be gay. But I really love gay people."

Pretty definitive.  

I find myself a little bit baffled by our friendship. I've had some really, really good friendships develop for me in the last couple of years. Guys who will probably be my friends to some degree or another for the rest of our lives. But Ben and I seem connected in a way I've never experienced before.

1. We both like ice cream. Seriously.
2. Neither one of us is color blind.
3. We both eat cereal in the morning.
4. We both like music.
5. We are both homo… sapiens.

I mean, need I go on? The connection should be pretty apparent…



No, but in all seriousness, it's been interesting to find a friend like Ben. So many of the things about myself that I have often felt weird about, or excluded from maleness because of, he exhibits. Shamelessly. It's just part of who he is, and he owns it. For example, he enjoys having deep conversations about relationships, philosophical concepts and religion for like, hours. Like, he prefers that to doing stuff. I've always been that way, and have always felt a little weird about it--like there were very few other guys out there like that. But being friends with him makes me feel way less weird, which is a nice feeling. Also, he also isn't afraid to share his feelings. Guys, I'm gay, and I'm terrified to share my feelings 80% of the time. It's interesting to have a friend who is so openly affectionate to those around him. It's good for me. Then there's all the other stuff, like that we are both musicians and our musical tastes are almost identical and we both write poetry and we both served in the same mission at the same time (though only met once for like five seconds) and our kids are similar ages and our senses of humor are complementary and we both have really cool wives (like really, his wife, Whitney, is amazing. She's also the Fruit Ninja's cousin. It's NBD).

I think what it comes down to is that sometimes you meet people that you just feel tailor-made to relate to. Sometimes you realize after you've met a person that there is a connection there. A connection that transcends time. A connection that…

Well, I think this expresses it best:




Yeah. Totally not weird or gay.*

I promise.

All kidding aside, I am curious to hear others' thoughts about friendship. Do you have a best friend (or multiple best friends) and if so, what are the things that keep you connected? Do you spend lots of time with your best friends, or is it a meet-up-every-year-like-no-time-has-passed situation? Are you closest friends with people that are really similar to you, or do you tend to be friends with people who are your opposite, thus keeping things interesting? When you get together with your best friends do you *do* stuff, or do you end up just hanging out? I'd genuinely love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

*Clarification: I actually am gay. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

This Post is Not About Fathers

Oh! Hi there!

Um, this is awkward isn't it? It's been a while. How are you doing? Good? How's your [sore body part of choice] feeling? Better now that you've gotten some rest? And your job? Going well? Sure hope so. Did your son/daughter finish learning how to do that thing he/she was trying to learn how to do since last I posted? I certainly hope so. Weather's nice, isn't it?

All right. Enough small talk.

Did you miss me?

I sure missed you.

Sorry I've been gone so long. I don't have a good excuse. But it all started when...

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Who's the freak show? + FFAQ poll UPDATED WITH PHOTO

When I was in college, I played in an orchestra concert, and afterwards a friend of mine in the viola section came up to me and said "My girlfriend was in the audience. She noticed you playing." I was all flattered for a second, and then he broke the news. "She was like 'who's the freak show?'"

It took me a moment to realize what he was saying. 

It was me. I was the freak show. 

I hadn't realized it, but when I play, I look freaking weird. 

Just try this mental image on for size. This is what that girl must have seen. Imagine an overweight guy with a white-man fro in a disheveled tuxedo. He is playing the violin madly and he has a crazy-looking lazy eye that wanders wherever it wants. And then, to top it all off he plays with his mouth open.

Seriously. I do. It's weird. I can't explain it.

And yes, that's what she saw. 

I wish with all my heart I had a picture.

Instead, I have footage of me playing a few weeks ago. The angle doesn't show my open mouth as blatantly, so you don't see my "freak show" face in all it's glory, but there are a few moments where you get the picture. Also, I weigh a lot less now. And you can't see my crazy eye. But it's still kinda fun. Plus, this is the fourth movement from the symphony I talked about in this post, so now you have a visual. Killing multiple birds with one stone. It's what I'm all about.

Enjoy:


(Decent open-mouth points: 2:14, 3:44 (kinda), 4:38--these are all okay. The best open mouth sequence starts at 5:09ish, plus there's a glasses adjustment that makes me miss a note. LOVE IT.)

I should probably look up how to link those. 

TOO LAZY.

Item #2 on the agenda: 

See how on top of things I am? Logo at the beginning of the sequence. BAM.

Okay, so it's Saturday, which is admittedly a weird time to do a Friday's Frequently Asked Question poll, but I'm a rebel who plays the violin with his mouth wide open, so what did you expect?

You know the drill. Ask questions (about anything). Do dittoes on questions you like. Question with the most dittoes wins. Voting's open for 24 hours (which means halfway through Sunday. Weird.) I've loved the last few winning questions. Thanks for your creativity and ingenuity. Don't be afraid. Ask! That's the run down on how this whole thing works.

Any questions? 

(See what I did there?)

Bye.

UPDATE:

I feel the need to provide a picture of me earlier in life so you can see the mental picture necessary for the "freak show" comment.

I found a winner:

Well, hello there.

That's me on the left. Dressed in a plaid shirt (which I wore every single day no matter what even at the beach, apparently). Check the white-man fro. Check the face. Now, imagine that face playing a violin, mouth agape, weird eye blowing in the breeze in a frumpy tuxedo.

That should give a better picture.



Friday, March 14, 2014

Dear Anna (Letter #1)

I have no idea when you'll read this.

There are some things you need to know about me.

Right now I want to tell you about our latest attempt to talk to you about my sexual orientation. I want to record this so that you never feel like we were keeping secrets from you or hiding anything from you. I know you, sweet girl, and your personality is so curious, so filled with inquisitive energy, and your trust in us so implicit, that if we wait too long to tell you about the fact that I'm gay--or if you feel like we didn't try--you will feel very betrayed. You will feel like we hid an important truth about you from you, and you would be right. Because for as much as my sexual orientation is about me and my life, my sexual orientation, and the decisions I have made around it, is also about you. Your life literally hinged on the choices and decisions I made around my sexual orientation. Ergo, it is not my truth alone; it is also your truth and your reality. It is as much your story as it is my story, as much your legacy as my own.

That's how families work.

We've always known the importance of this. That's one of the many reasons I decided to come out in the first place. So that, when the time was right, we could talk about my sexual orientation openly, in a context that didn't feel shaming or shrouded in secrecy.

Right now, though, we find ourselves in a space where you aren't developmentally ready to know this very important detail about me and our family.

We've been laying the groundwork.

Friday, March 7, 2014

FFAQ attack!

It's already that time again.

Time for more questiones (pronounced "queschiones"). But before we get to that I wanted to share these pictures from a birthday party Tessa went to. Our friend Katie hosted a Ninja party for her daughter, Macie, and Tessa was invited.

We didn't really have a Ninja costume. So we improvised. We dressed her in black, and then we put a headband on her head. A pirate headband.

Given this post, I bet you can guess what happened when it was time to take pictures:


She is now officially a pirate.
(Our friend Jennifer who took the photo said she realized too late that she wasn't supposed to tell Tessa to smile for the camera… and I'm glad, because this is awesome.)

Pirates love cake. Arggggh!

All right, and now it's time to get FFAQing. 

You know the drill now, yes? 

Rundown: ask questions in the comments (about anything) for today's Friday's Frequently Asked Question. Ditto questions you like. The question with the most dittoes is the one I answer next Friday. And so and so forth, into perpetuity. You have 24 hours to vote, after which comment moderation will be activated and any questions or dittoes will not be published. Questions asked earlier fair better because they have more time, but we've had winners asked pretty late in the game. Don't be afraid to throw a question out there--few dittoes doesn't mean it wasn't a good question. I've had questions not get attention one week, only to win another week. Be brave and curious.

Ready, set, GO!

Oh wait, I always forget to make this official. 

There. Much better.

All right. NOW.

Friday, February 28, 2014

My response to Well Behaved Mormon Woman

Dear Cora,

I'm not sure if your name is actually Cora. I'm just imagining it's Cora, and I want to call you by your imagined first name because I know that you're not just some pixelated words on a computer screen. You are a real person with real feelings. I'm a blogger myself, and I know how hard it is to have people talk about something you have put out into the world with good intentions and in good faith in a negative or controversy-filled way. I want you to know that I am writing you this open letter from a place of respect and understanding.

The reason I don't know your first name is because I haven't read your blog post yet. Honestly, I've been avoiding it. I saw a lot of the ruckus online, and read a couple of indirect responses to your post by friends of mine (like this one and this one). I also saw the response your daughter wrote because it was posted in some online forum that I'm magically a part of on Facebook even though I never signed up for it (thankyouverymuch Facebook). I know the post's general premise, but I haven't read the actual post. I've been scared to. I'm scared it will hurt me and make me feel sad and frustrated. I'm scared of the feelings it will evoke in me, and I'm scared of the helplessness I might experience knowing that whatever it is you said is probably emblematic of how many people think about me and people like me.

As it turns out,

Friday, February 21, 2014

FFAQ poll + I think I'm back?

Hi!!!

So, today is FFAQ (which stands for "Friday's Frequently Asked Question."



The fact that I'm doing FFAQ today says a couple of things.

First, I am happy to report that I am truly feeling more comfortable in my skin. As you could probably imagine, based on the threat to my family I shared in this post, I was seriously contemplating whether or not blogging in a public forum is worth it--if it can come to a threat to my family, is this a risk I'm willing to take? Before posting that horrific exchange, I didn't know what to think. I was confused, in some denial, and frustrated. Once I hit "publish" though and got that man's words out there for all the world to see, I immediately felt more powerful and in control. And then the comments started flooding in and when so many of you came (as has happened in the past) to support me and my family, I was buoyed up. It helped me see that even though there are very real risks and consequences to putting one's voice out there, there is also great value in doing so. There is so much that is beautiful in this community and so much support here, for myself and for others. I find myself saying thank you a lot on this blog, and I really mean it. It was very, very helpful to see so much support and so much appalled horror at what happened to me and my family because of this blog. Thanks for helping me remember why I'm doing this.

Second, alongside all of that, the last month saw an interesting thing happen with my coming out post. It somehow went viral again (on a smaller scale) and was read by thousands upon thousands of new people. I have no idea how this happened--like seriously, it felt totally and completely random and I couldn't identify a source other than Facebook (thank you Facebook!)--but this means that there are a lot of new people here that might have questions.

And that's what FFAQ is for, friends old and new!

So here's how this thing goes down.

If you have a question--about anything at all, could be gay-related or just about my life or perhaps about quantum physics--leave it in the comments. If you see a question that you like, reply to that question with a comment that says "ditto." The question with the most dittoes at the end of the day is the one I answer the next Friday, and so on and so forth, into perpetuity. Please only one ditto per question (you can ditto more than once). Please don't cheat. It's not a sophisticated or complex process, but it has worked well.

Tips: questions asked earlier in the day have a better chance at winning (for obvious reasons). Also, questions that win tend to be focused, pretty concise, and genuine.

Are you ready for this?

All righty then.

GO!




Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tessa's smile

I'd like to show you a recent picture of Tessa, our three-year-old.

I know, let's make this into a guessing game!

What is wrong with Tessa's face?

Monday, February 3, 2014

The trauma of cyberbullying

Guys, I'm not sure if you've noticed, but I've been struggling as a blogger. I've been erratic in my responses to comments--hyper sensitive and strange. Very defensive. I've also felt afraid to post. I avoid coming here. It fills me with anxiety.  I feel fear posting even the most innocuous of posts.

I realized yesterday what is actually going on, like a photograph coming into sharp focus.

I'm having a trauma response to something horrible that happened a couple of months ago. I'll tell you more about it below.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Winners! + Go Hawks!

All right, I just got an email from Sally DeFord, and I'm ready to announce the competition winners. I was really sad when the online poll didn't work out last week, but the truth is, I think it made the selection of winners cleaner and more fair. I had a panel of judges with many music degrees and tens of thousands of hours of musical experience between them. They judged the contestants based on five criteria (pitch, tone quality, expression/style, uniqueness of voice, and overall performance/effort). I did not participate in the judging. Sally's deliberations ended up dovetailing exactly with the final judging outcome after all the marks were added up, which I think means we have some very solid results.

So, without further ado, here are the winners:

First Place: Joshua Watson

Second Place: Cecily Jorgensen

Third Place: Franchesca Retford

Congratulations to all three who placed! I will contact you directly to get your address so I can send your prize.

And thank you to all who submitted and made this song their own. I will be featuring each contestant (winners and non-winners alike) in an interview along with their version of the song once a month during the year 2014.

________________________________________________________________________________

In other news, I'm not sure if you heard, but there's this thing happening tomorrow. Like, a sports game. Two teams are playing football. It's kind of a big deal, especially since I live in Seattle where the entire city is covered in blue and green.

So, I'm not really into sports. BUT, I have kind of felt swept up in the momentum of this one. I was really, really proud last night when we were out with some friends and I knew more about what is happening tomorrow than Lolly. This was a triumph for me.

Lolly: So, wait, who is #12? Why do I keep seeing his jersey everywhere?

Josh: Sweetie, the #12 is not for a player, it refers to us as fans. Like, something about if a player got injured, we would join in? *voice trails off in insecurity*

Friend: That's right Josh! Good work! You knew a thing about sports!

Lolly: Oh, that's funny! I thought it was one of the players. I thought it might be that Crabtree guy.

Josh: ...Oh, I know all about this because I am obsessed with reading news on the internet! Lolly, Crabtree is not a Seahawk. He's... on that other team that they played recently. And that Sherman guy had all the drama with him when he disrespected him in an interview or something, and then he spent the week going on shows using big words to show he went to Stanford and knows how to speak proper English. See how I know things? I know about sports! It's like I'm a real sports fan or something!

Lolly: I've never been more turned on by you.

Josh and Lolly start making out.

Friend: You guys are gross.

In conclusion:

GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!

Photo credit here




Friday, January 24, 2014

Hey hot mama! Let me empty your bucket!

At the beginning of the school year, Anna, our 2nd grader, started coming home with all of these little notes in her folder.





As a mom who is constantly cleaning out papers from her backpack, I didn't think much of them.  Then one day Anna mentioned the notes in her bucket.

"Your bucket?" I asked.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

COMPETITION (Only Love Vocal Competition) --UPDATED--

IMPORTANT UPDATE:

The voting on this public opinion poll was compromised severely, blatantly and verifiably. I have discontinued this portion of the competition. The contestants have been notified that the winners of the "Only Love" Vocal Competition will be chosen based on the judges' markings (already rendered) as well as any input Sally might have. Those results will, as stated below, be available by the end of this month. The public opinion portion of the competition will not be used in the final tally, and--for anybody playing along at home--was not in any way an accurate reflection of ability or like-ability of the contestants.

Needless to say, I'm pretty disappointed. And, frankly, offended. For me, and for the participants in this contest. I apologize to anyone else who is disappointed, or who feels that someone they love and support was poorly represented in this part of the contest.

I was probably naive to assume that a public opinion poll about a song of this nature could be approached with integrity and honesty.

Lesson learned.

(PS--thanks to so many people that came, listened, and voted in a genuine way. It is much appreciated.)

________________________________________________________________________________

So, remember last year when Sally DeFord visited my blog and encountered this video of me singing Trololo, which somehow led to her deciding to write a song with me, and then it turned into a competition where people submitted their own versions of the song, and it was really, really awesome?

Well, I have the finalists, and it's time to vote on the version of the song you like best. (Voting will take place on the sidebar to your right, below the ad and above the "followers" box.)

These finalists were chosen by a panel of judges who have extensive musical training. I'm proud of all of these finalists and their work and talent.

Online voting can be an interesting thing. While I don't want this to become a "who has more friends on Facebook" contest, there's really not much one can do to prevent people from trying to drive random people they know to get to a page, not listen to the entries, and just vote for the person that sent them.

I hope that if you are here as prompted by someone's (understandable) self-publicity, you will take the time to listen to at least 20 seconds of each entry and truly vote for the one that sounds best to you. These guys really poured their hearts into this, and each person deserves a running chance.

The online voting will only be one component of the final tally, and the winner, first and second runner up will be determined based on various factors. Online voting will close at midnight on Sunday, January 19th. Winners will be announced by January 31st.

Here are the finalists, in alphabetical order by first name. Again, please listen to at least 20 seconds of each entry (which will take two minutes) before making a choice. Also remember that the name of the person singing is above the embedded video, not below.

All right. Go for it. (Remember voting takes place to your right on the side-bar, below the ad and above the "followers" box):

Amiee Erickson



Andrea Reynolds



Cecily Jorgensen



Franchesca Retford



Joshua Watson



Robyn Paskett





Saturday, January 4, 2014

Boundaries in Friendship

About four million years ago, we left a FFAQ poll dangling in the wind. It was a really fun one for me because in the instructions I asked people to do a silly thing in their comments, and it was interesting to see how many people picked up on it as they read the post. (Confession: I would probably have been the type of reader who missed it.)

Anyway, it's time to pick up that thread, dontcha think?

Here was the winning question, posted by Wyochick:

Most typical marriages have some sort of boundaries in regards to the opposite sex (i.e. - in our household, we consider it inappropriate for one of us to go out alone with an opposite gendered friend). How do you handle this situation in your marriage...where its your same gender that you might be attracted to, but clearly need to have some dude friends?


This is a really interesting question. It's probably a good question to explore.

One of the most frequent things people tell me as they process the fact that I am gay--like, really truly gay--is

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Blogolutions

There's no really good way to phrase that, is there? Blogsolutions? Bloglutions? Blutions?

Basically what I'm getting at is that for 2014, I'm setting some goals for my blog.

Ambitious, right?

2013 was an interesting year for The Weed. It was a year of transition. It took this blog from its phase of being about the direct aftermath of my coming out post to... whatever it is now. It was a good year, but I do have some things I'd like to work on and change.

2014 will see a lot of good things. I have things planned, but I don't like sharing the plans because then I feel like a big loser if I don't end up following through with the plans. But let's just say that I have some good things in store--things that I'm excited about. While I plan to talk about the issue of homosexuality still, I also plan on this year to focus more on other components of my life too. More posts about my family and friends. More posts about writing. More posts about the hilariousness and awkwardness of life. Just more posts in general.

I'm also going to do this thing where I allow myself to stream-of-concious sometimes. I have no idea what that will yield. It might be really, really horrible, actually. But it also might be really interesting. It's an exercise in letting go of control and letting my thoughts appear unfiltered and raw. Insecurities, strange thoughts, randomness. I'm excited to see what happens.

I'm focusing this year on really letting go of outside voices and publishing the things that are a true reflection of self. I'm going to try to be less self-editing, and more open and real and authentic. That being said, I also am passionate about making sure what I post is entertaining, thoughtful and articulate. Basically, I want everyone to have a good time when they're here. Including me. I'm hoping 2014 sees a lot of that.

I have other goals. It basically boils down to this: I want to get better and better at blogging. I hope this year sees me really get good at this craft. I want to be better to my readers, and I want to keep promises to them and to myself. I want to be consistent and fun. I want this place to feel like a good, comfortable, reliable space for all of us.

I'm excited for this year of growth and expansion, and I'm so excited to have each you of you along for the ride.

Happy New Year, friends. My hopes for each of you are cheesy and filled with joy and amazing things--such amazing things for you this year. May pain decrease and joy enter in. My there be prosperity and may there be delicious food and good health. May those you love grow closer to your heart, and may each of you become closer to becoming the person you were meant to be.

Thanks for being a part of my life.

Josh