Monday, August 29, 2016

GET IN THE PIT!


After the first round of suitcase bottle service trays were done, me and Zack were shootin' the shit and talking about doing wood LED light bulbs.
 We often converse about all the things we WANT to do or try, but sometimes the business of being in business has other plans for us.
 Many ideas get shelved all with the intention of getting around to them when time permits.
I needed a gift.
 I hate buying gifts, when I can make a gift.
There was a chain lamp that I had stolen the lamp parts off to make another lamp. That bare chain lamp base had been sitting around the shop for months, so I thought it was time to put Humpty Dumpty back together and bestow my wonderful gift.
 I cleaned it up, welded some new pieces to the base, and gave it a finish coat.
It sat by the coffee pot waiting to receive the parts that actually make it a lamp. I left work on Friday, jumped in the shower, and Zack had sent me photos of the wooden light bulb that he created.
I had built that wood light bulb in my head a thousand different ways since our conversation, and was so blown away by how Zack knocked it out.
 It's just the beginning.
When ideas get executed, it's kind of like a first date. Everything is as exciting as it is awkward, but through repetition, and modifying, it just keeps getting better, more refined, more streamlined.
 The fact that we can create cool lighting without the need for an outlet is an exciting prospect.
We spend our summers in our yard, and when night falls, the ability to just plop a lamp on the table and be able to see those seated around while the kids chase lightning bugs is exciting.
 We are refinishing table tops for a restaurant in Chicago.
We were about to load up a finished batch and install them. Zack was pulling up the truck and I stupidly swung one up on my shoulder to carry out and in the process managed to rip my lower back muscle from my pelvis.
 It's not the first time that I've managed to fuck myself up, and surely won't be the last.
The thing that got into my head was a lot responses to my injury we're "ya gotta be careful...you're getting old" or "the old gray mare she ain't what she used to be" and many other age related digs.
 Fuck that,
I'm 44. I'm probably the healthiest I've ever been, I'm probably in the best physical shape I've ever been in.
 I didn't hurt my back because I'm old, I hurt it because I was stupid.
I used the "Family Guy" method of lifting that table top by doing so with a "sharp jerking motion".
 I know a lot of people who use their age as an excuse to not do this or that.
My father-in-law is 83 and STILL slinging sheets of 3/4 plywood. My brother-in-law is chasing 50 and is still jumping around stage in a hardcore band. My 72 year old mother climbed a rock climbing wall at my kids birthday party.
 I still went to the shop Saturday morning, I still threw over 200 pitches to my son and my nephew...Now granted everything I did was done a bit slower, and let's not overlook the fact that I've been eating Advil like a kid eats fuckin' Skittles, but I didn't, not for one second, lay around feeling sorry for myself.
 The thing about aging isn't so much about what you "CAN'T" do, it's about what you shouldn't do.
I shouldn't go to a RAVE (cause then you're the creepy old guy), I shouldn't go into a SlipKnot mosh pit (not because I can't mosh, but because the younger generation doesn't know how to act in a pit). To be honest, I can't think of a whole lot of things that I did when I was younger, that I shouldn't do now, and things that are a little sketchy...now I just do em' with way more style and grace.
 We're all gonna age. It's inevitable.
How you choose to age is entirely up to you.
 Do you wanna sit around and complain about your ailments? Do you wanna watch your kids go flying down a water slide while you stand there rubbing your belly? Do you think you're too old to dream? Do you think you're too old to chase your dream?
 That shit is on you.
I simply choose differently.




Monday, August 22, 2016

TAKE NO SHIT



I can honestly say that it feels like it's been a little while since I felt really fulfilled by a build.
 We constantly are building, but from time to time you work on a piece that makes you feel good.
The bed build was great because we have always wanted to build a bed. Shit, I need a bed, Zack needs a bed, everyone seems to NEED a bed, but finally, someone put some cash in our hand and said "build me  fuckin' bed!".
While our minds were building some of the craziest beds one would ever lay their big fat asses on, our client gave us some photos of what they desired. Even though we had a creative leash on, because the customer should get something in the realm of what THEY want as opposed to what WE dream up, it was fun as hell to make.
 Now that our bed making cherry has been officially popped, hopefully there will be a long line of funky beds going out the door.
 It's funny because as you watch the stain dry, you stare at this monster in the middle of the shop thinking of all the things you want to do on the next one.
 The last photo are vintage suitcases turned into bottle service caddy's  for a bar/night club in Chicago.
They first came to us about a year ago and had us turn a vintage piano into a DJ booth.
 God bless Zack's fuckin' soul for having some magical gene in his DNA that enables him to master all things electrical and mechanical.
 He spent countless hours soldering tiny wires to these LED strips and battery packs in order to make these things light up like the Ark of the Covenant in that Indiana Jones movie.
 The customer had picked them up on Friday, and on Sunday morning I got a text from the owner saying that they needed 5 more.
 My not so little guy starts first grade tomorrow.
First grade for kids is a pretty big milestone, for us parents, it's just another level of heart break.
 When my son was a baby, all he did is cry and shit for the first year and a half of his existence.
Seasoned parents would always tell me "hold on to those moments when their babies, they grow up so fast."
 Um, I never figured out which moments they were talking about. Was it the 12 hours of "moments" at a time where he'd basically scream in my face? Was it the moments of projectile vomit that would decorate my shirts? Was it the alarming amount of fecal matter that I would have to handle in any given 24 hour period?
 The only reason I don't suppress those memories, is so that I can use them as a weapon. I often remind him how the day HIS hands are covered in MY shit, THEN and only then, does he get to call the shots.
 I'll start my moment cherishing at the age of 2 and beyond.
At 2 he's walking and talking and discovering everything, and not to mention that at that age, I am a fucking GOD in his little eyes.
 What I have done over the last 6 years is created another "ME".
Not so much the shitty parts of "me", but a more handsome, loving, caring and funny version of me.
 The other day Max is sitting in his underwear playing a game and his mom is going on about how we didn't stay to see his cousin get his trophy for soccer, and how no one told us he was getting his trophy and how she felt horrible and so on and so on, and Max looks up from his game and says "a closed mouth doesn't get fed" and went right back to his crossy road game and completely shut down the tirade...just like his old man would.
 Now...first grade. Shit gets real in first grade. He has a uniform now, no naps, a more diverse classroom. I'm going to be spending more time de-programming him from the things our society deems as an educational system.
 There are many nights when Max will fall asleep in my arms and I will beg the gods and the universe to let my son stay 4 forever. The gods and the universe gently whisper in my ear "go fuck yourself...time waits for no one."
 Leave it to the gods and the universe to state the obvious.
The last few years I have made an extremely conscious effort to REALLY enjoy my son. By doing so, it seems to have lightened the heart ache of a child, my child, my baby...growing up.
 Off to school you go young man. Take no shit, question everything, and remember...yer old man has ALWAYS got yer back.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

GETTING RIGHT



I really had no intention of posting this week.
 With this whole blogging thing it's been a little more enjoyable for me to post every other week as opposed to my previous weekly tirades.
 To bitch about the wrongs of the world on a weekly basis while trying to showcase cool shit me and my partner make, has never been a simple task.
 Every now and then, something compels me. When that happens, I have to get it off my chest in order to proceed with my life.
 In this instance, I have been compelled.
Before I get into the nitty gritty, I'll skim over a few furniture happenings.
 A couple of my girls relatives came from Uruguay to visit. In case you don't know where Uruguay is, it's at the southern tip of South America, which explains why they only come once every 10 years.
 While her cousin was at our house, she fell in love with a wall vase I had made for the back of our door. I gave it to her so she could have a piece of our life, and it's way better than bringing back a t-shirt that says "Chicago" on it.
I was so used to that wall vase being there so I made a new one to replace it.
 The next photo was a coffee table we had made for a friend about a year ago.
I never got a photo before it went out the door and to be honest, completely forgot about it.
 They wanted a bed made, so we went to go measure for it, and saw it in their living room. It was weird. It was like seeing an old friend. Sometimes shit goes out the door and you never see where it was meant to be.
 A couple years ago, I made some Breclaimed t-shirts.
A bunch of people ordered them, but I got a message from a woman who's husbands birthday was coming up and she wanted to get him one because in some way, shape, or form my blogs inspired or motivated him.
 This couple was going through some serious life shit and she honestly could not afford to get it for him.
I sent it anyway.
 She had promised to pay me when they got back on their feet, and to be honest, I didn't care about getting paid, nor did I ever expect to get the message I received...2 years later.
I copied and pasted the message as well as my response.


Hi Brian, it's been a very long time since one of us has written!  To get right to the point, Rich and I are finally in a point in our lives where we are able to "make good" on previous debts. I know it may not sound like much to you and hey.... You may have even forgotten, but we didn't.   Every single time Rich wears the shirt you sent him number one it reminds ME of how you were there for him years ago when he needed a friend to talk to desperately and number 2-I think.. (This is just how I'm wired)...."oh shit...I owe Brian money for that shirt still"!!!  I saw your PayPal address above and wanted to make sure you still use it before I make the transaction. I know a lot of people after a couple of years would say "fuck it... water under the bridge".. but it me/us, it's really really important to pay back those I owe.... (And I can finally look at him wearing the shirt and think "wow!! That's a mighty fine t shirt you have on there, Rich"!! 😉. So please... Without trying to talk me out of it, let me know if that is still the address you are using on PayPal!  Thank you!! And BTW.... your little guy isn't so little anymore!!! He's getting so big and is absolutely adorable!!! Take care!

My response:

THU 3:10PM
That shirt was a gift to good people on the road to getting right. Buy your kids an ice cream and tell em there's still good in the world.

By stating "there's still good in the world", I wasn't referring to what I did by sending a free t-shirt, I was referring to what this couple had done.
 They had gotten themselves into a hole. They fought to claw their way out. Once they climbed out of that dark hole, they went on a mission to make right with anyone who they may have dragged down with them.
 THAT, in my book, is some stand up shit.
They took responsibility for what they realize they got themselves into, made the changes to get right, and then went to great lengths to make amends to the people in and not so in their lives.
While the majority of the time humanity makes me want to projectile vomit, every now and then it makes me smile.
 I come from Chicago. A place where the murder rate on a daily basis is starting to rival an episode of the Walking Dead.
My view of the world is askew.
 I've been all over the world, I've lived in a couple of different states, I know my present location isn't a catalyst for the rest of the world.
 It's situations like this that give me hope though.
Kindness goes a long way. Even the smallest act can change someones situation.
 Throw some kindness around, it doesn't cost you anything.

Monday, August 8, 2016

COOLSHITOLOGIST




The top photo appears to depict a cluttered shop, but what I was trying to capture was the 5 farm tables in various stages of completion.
 It's kind of a bummer on production pieces, because the first one...you feel pretty good about. Everything fits, everything is good, you did a really good job...now do exactly what you did four more times.
 Next up was a dining table for a friend of ours.
Building stuff for friends and family is a little different.
 Our heart goes into everything we make, but when a piece is for friends and family, the build comes from a different neighborhood in our heart. There's also a little more freedom to the build, we can let loose a bit, and enjoy a build with no concrete deadline or pressure.
 The shelving unit is for the same friend.
It was fun delivering these 2 pieces because after a few short minutes of bringing these pieces into their space, you got to see what was ones "space" become ones "home".
 The last photo is a vintage suitcase circa 1930, transformed into a bottle service display.
The client and their "mixologist" came up with the idea as a selling point for their bottle service.
 I have to stop right there because the term "mixologist" was tossed around in every conversation we had with the client. Every time he said "mixologist" I wanted to say "bartender?".
 Man I get it. I, of all people, understand being fully immersed in your craft. I eat, sleep, shit, fuck, breathe my craft, but I am by no means a "woodologist" or a "steelologist".
 I don't think any more or less of someone the gives themselves a special title for a job that they execute well, in fact my "sandwichologist' made a wonderful comparison with "Barista" and "coffee maker".
 I'm convinced that the birth of the term "mixologist" went down something like this...
There was a bartender hitting on a pretty woman sitting at his bar. He's loading her up with free fancy drinks, and putting on a Broadway worthy show, in the hopes of getting in her pants. As closing time approaches the bartender asks the woman to come home with him and the woman says "I'm not going to fuck a bartender" and just like that,,,,the term "mixologist" was born.
 Are you defined by your job? Should you be?
I wouldn't say I'm defined by my job as much as I would say that I'm consumed by my job.
Consumed in the sense that I'm always thinking about how I can do better, be better, build better. I constantly think about how to reel in my emotions when building. That last statement is the most difficult because when I'm excited about a piece, I tend to rush because I want to see it completed. When I do a job I don't like, I tend to cut corners or slop my way through something only to have it bite me in the ass later.
 I've only discovered my emotional pitfalls because I'm consumed by my work. That's the shit I think about when I'm laying in bed staring at the ceiling.
 A title can't encompass me. I'm much more than a "coolshitologist". I'm a father, I'm a son, I'm a friend, I'm a lover, I'm a sherpa, I'm an artist, I'm a musician, I'm a writer, but all these facets of me lead back to my work.
 Maybe I am defined by my work. Maybe I should be.