Know what? Feels pretty good.
Reflecting on Forty years
Normally, I don’t put much stock in birthdays. But today is a different. Today I turn 40. For me, it’s a milestone marked with joy, sadness, creativity, dramas and pure bliss. No one should be so fortunate.
40 years ago, I was born in a warm tropical climate, into a special family. My Grandparents raised 12 children to be good, honest, kind people. Alas, my Grandfather (who I share my middle name with) died before we could meet. My Gran, carried on his legacy with the help of a grieving family. Supporting each other. Loving each other as families are supposed to do.
My mother found that out herself, when her first marriage ended, leaving her with 2 young boys and pregnant with a baby girl. At 3, my young my body was not prepared for Winter. But along with her mother, brothers, sisters and young children, my mom leaped into the unknown for a chance at a better life in Canada.
My mom is in the polka dots:
My mom tells me that when we landed in Toronto in February, I refused to put on a snowsuit. But after one step in front of the automatic door to the cold Canadian Wind, I knew that I was far from the warm sea. That feeling has stayed with me my entire life. I miss it.
We all lived the traditional Canadian Immigrant story. Too many people living in a tiny town house with only love to keep them going. I could remember a feeling of separation from my father. A sadness that was replaced when my mom met a great guy who lived a couple doors down. They fell in love with each other. After they married, we moved in with him and he gave me what I needed more than anything: A Father. A real one. Love you pop. And I love you Mom for choosing such a great guy to share your love and life with.
My brothers and sister are very precious to me. How lucky I am. Truly. And for those who have passed, I miss you every day. Gerald. Gran.
I have seen things. I’ve gone places. I’ve had some adventures. All and all, it’s been a great ride so far.
All good things…
I’ve lost some friendships along the way. Some things are just not meant to last I suppose. Like it or not, they have all left a mark on my soul. I learned something from each. I’m leaving that all behind in my thirties along with any regrets. I’m certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. Know what – I’m actually alright with that.
And if I have ever offended you or rubbed you the wrong way: sorry. Hanging on to those feelings are pointless, because that guy is long gone. I’m pulling a “Command-Z” and starting fresh. Not New Years Eve Fresh either. A whole new chapter.
A DJ saved my life
Today I got a call from the other side of the country from my oldest friend. We have been friends since we were 13. His dad was a well known DJ in NY. Every day after school, we hung out in his basement and listening to his Dad’s galaxy of records. He taught me a great deal about music and what it means to be a friend – 27 years worth by my count.
I developed a love for music and the late night Toronto warehouse parties of the late 80’s. Back then, it was secret. No 50K emails and bottle service. We crafted our flyers with photocopy machines and telephone calls did the rest. I was in high school during the day and galavanting around the city at night. Great times.
Back then, NY and Chicago were on fire with music that was commanding the attention of the world. Toronto’s proximity and multicultural makeup was a magnet for all of it. The music surged below the radar on college radio. The internet wasn’t even a thing back then. All that mattered was sneaking out to hear that music. I loved it.
Those days will never happen again. I feel blessed to have experienced it. Allot of the people that I partied with back then, have gone on to become designers, artists, and innovators. I’m so proud of them. You see, I remember music before “the web”, so I am qualified to say this:
It was better back then. Sorry. It’s true.
The young folks may disagree, but consider this:
You had to work to get it back then. You had to travel for it. I think that makes it more special than anything you can wave a ring tone at. But that’s just one 40 year old’s opinion. What the heck do I know?
Remember the future
Even when it began to fade away, I continued on with an event called Reminisce (1995 – 2003). All selections of music from 1990 and beyond. Before the internet spoiled it all. The DJ’s and door girls always got paid first. My partners and I split the crumbs. We didn’t care.
I never made any real money from it, but I loved stepping into the past with my friends. I loved to see a room filled with people taken over by music. If you remember what the after hours party scene in Toronto was like in the late 80’s – then you know. And like all good things, they one day fade into a distant memory. Did I do all that?
That’s my Mom below in one of my flyers. Once upon a time, a Carnival Queen, and such an inspiration to me. Love is not a big enough word for how I feel about her.
Now, I hung up my dancing shoes for diaper changes a long time ago. But, I’m proud to say that my late nights shaped me as an artist and person with respect for all people. A waste of time? No. An education.
Over the years, my tastes have broadened. I owe that to ones who exposed me to it. This one is for my friends:
Leaving the nest
My 20’s were a roller coaster ride. Art school, working 3 jobs and broke. I got very lucky. My roommates and I split the rent on a corner unit loft with large windows overlooking the CN tower in the heart of Toronto. We rocked that place something proper.
This is where I became an artist. I had always painted, but this city did something to me. It changed me. I was exposed to people and places that made me want to create things and tell stories.
192 – Spadina Avenue (it even rhymes).
I love art. Can’t get enough of it. I like to make it and inspire it in all of it’s forms. I adore the people who create it. This next phase of my life will be filled with it. I know this for certain.
I have not picked up a paintbrush since 2003. But something tells me that painting isn’t done with me just yet. I’m going to look out for it when it comes around again.
I was romanced into a career. I knew that paintings did not pay the bills, so I accepted the next best thing: Advertising. Over 16 years of my life has been spent telling beautiful lies for a wide array of brands. I’ve been very challenged by this industry. I like to think I left a mark.
Although many people contributed to that success, I owe a special debt of gratitude to those who have been generous with their knowledge. The ones who have taken time to show me a few tricks. Thanks.
In my 30’s I found love. By far the biggest shift in my life is when I met my wife (that rhymes too!). She is a miracle. A blessing and my best friend. Together, we went up against the odds and made it work. Words cannot fully express how I feel about her. She is a gift given to me as a reward for living a good life. I cherish her.
I also gained a Mother-in-Law who cooks like a master chef and believes in me. Match that up with a supportive Brother-in-law who I share allot in common with. We both hustle for the ones we love. He’s on track. He doesn’t talk about doing it. He does it.
God said: “Put those two together”.
Working on my own has been a rewarding but lonely path. Close friends have a strange way of turning into “Facebook friends“. My wife is a real person who cares about me. She’s on my side.
Hands off Internet. This one is mine.
Real love is not accepting a rose on TV. It’s facing challenges head on together, and then sharing the rewards. I found a woman who is generous, considerate and loyal. She makes me feel like I can do anything. With a cheerleader this fine – I wouldn’t bet against me if I were you. You’ll be disappointed at the outcome.
My little miracles
We have raised 2 beautiful kids together with the help of a supportive family. When I look at their little faces, I am so inspired. They bring me such joy and laughter. The purpose of my life is very clear to me now: Protect them, love them, teach them and watch them grow. I never knew how deep love could be until they were born.
Look out now. These two kittens are going to change the World. Believe it.
My delightful little distractions
Building an ad campaign by yourself is difficult. Squeezing in 23 non-billable hours a week playing Barbies on top of it, is downright challenging. But I do it. I don’t care what your boss looks like at your office. Mine are cuter.
I’m not good at working inside a box. I’ve done my time in an office. For many years now, I have worked on my own. As an independent, I get to choose who I work with and when. I also get to eat meals with my family and actually get to shape my life and the people in it. I don’t do traffic jams anymore either – an unexpected bonus.
But rest assured, I work. To maintain this life, I have to hustle. It’s definitely not a lifestyle recommended for everyone. But then again, the alternative is to go back to an office and try to hold onto the illusion of stability. No thanks. I’de rather hustle twice as hard and walk my kids home from school. Once you taste that life, you have a hard time giving it up. I tried. Didn’t stick.
I designed a career to fit me. Not the other way around. Like my Mom, who brought us here for a new life – it required a leap of faith. Something tells me, this next phase will require more of those. Once you do it. It gets easier. Still scary. But easier.
One click at a time
Vectorvault is my laboratory. It’s my connection to the world of design and ultimately the vehicle I use to effect it. It’s not what the critics measure it to be or a sum of statistics. It’s a love letter to vector art and the talented people who create it. It saved me, in ways that will never be fully realized.
To those who have forgotten me
Farewell. Bon chance.