Friday, February 24, 2017

Oliver Trask: 10 Years Later

I woke up this morning with enough Facebook notifications that I thought it may be my birthday. Or perhaps a celebrity was dead.

No, apparently ten years ago today, The O.C. went off the air. I remember watching the finale by myself in my fraternity's formal room while drinking a box of blush (white zinfandel the OG rose) Franzia and crying. When Ryan flashed back to the pilot episode, I couldn't help but think of the four year journey I had been on with all of these characters. I ALMOST stayed in. But it was a Thursday and I was 20. I probably went to Kilroy's and pissed myself.

BUT BACK TO NEWPORT. There were lots of postmortems today, nostalgic strolls down memory lane;


10 years later Kirsten is still BAE

77 reason Cohen should have picked Anna

Blair's top 10 eye rolls

5 time Ryan and Seth were SQUAD GOALS

An Ode to Sandy Cohen's eyebrows.

You know, shit like that, thanks Buzzfeed.

But all I could think of today was how much I fucking hated Oliver.

See, over the years I have routinely watched the first 13 episodes of the OC's first season, and that is for two specific reasons.

1. I typically throw on OC on Sundays that I am violently hungover...and being as the first 13 episodes are 559 minutes long, that's about the length of one of my hangover (and my Sunday)

2. The last scene of the first Christmakkuh episode (1.13) that miserable fuck Oliver Trask shows up. I will usually throw my Mao's at the wall and storm off because I can't stand the sight of his shit eating grin on my television. He single handedly ruins the rest of the season and arguably Ryan and Marissa forever (therefore arguably ruining the rest of the series)

However, unbeknownst to me there is some sort of grass roots movement that Oliver was actually a good character, that added lots of needed conflict on a soapy series about rich white kids. This is specifically a mountain that my friend Kenny Lodge will die on. People in this camp think of Oliver as a character kind of like The Joker. I suppose The Dark Knight is a less entertaining movie if it is just about a rich guy trying to steal his childhood sweetheart from a shady district attorney.

So today as a thought exercise, I will go back and give Oliver a second chance, all these years later.

Oliver Trask; from Oliver's perspective

So let's get this right out in the open. At the age of 16, Oliver was living by himself on the west coast where he had a hotel penthouse, a beach house in Malibu and a house in Palm Springs. He furthermore has zero supervision and a near endless supply of Zima. I, on the other hand had one house in Indianapolis with zero back doors to sneak out of and a locked liquor cabinet.

This guy could probably stab my little brother and I would still hang out with him.

Money aside, we know in his past Oliver had some substance abuse issues (who hasn't) and there may have been a suicide threat in there. But we don't know if it was like a REAL suicide threat or one of those "I'll kill myself if you don't let me go to this party mom" suicide threats.

So one day our boy O, (that's what his friends call him) is just sitting in outpatient rehab for a laundry list of white people problems and he sees this.

Holy shit, look at her. Not bad for overdosing in TJ mere hours before!

Nothing says I'm lashing out because my dad just Madoff'ed all of my homies like that expression right there.

So our boy Oliver is thinking 'She's rich, I'm rich. She's probably out of my league a bit but I HAVE THREE UNSUPERVISED SO CAL HOMES AND LEGIT MORE MONEY THAN GOD.

Marissa tells him she has a boyfriend, so he thinks to himself, fine it will be a bit of a slow play. We're 16. People date for like a week and then it's over.

"I know what I'll do, New Year's Eve is coming up. I'll throw a banger at my house, the penthouse of the St. Regis in Dana Point. That will be fun. At the very least I will ingratiate myself to the crew."

Oliver can't believe his luck when Marissa shows up solo.

"This will be easier than I thought. Marissa's mopey trash can of a boyfriend from Chino was intimidated by my wealth, we'll eat finger foods all night and then kiss at midnight.

Things seem to be going well until this happens...


But no worries, Oliver thinks to himself. I can get tickets to Rooney. And in 2003 Rooney was fucking big. I'm talking like Father John Misty big. Coachella before Beyonce cancelled big. Me and my friend Quinn spent an entire summer on his boat just listening to that Shakin' song on repeat. It was dope.

How great was post gay dad Luke?

 So Olly hooks up a few passes to the Rooney show and things are going well. Then, you know because Oliver is basically Dan Blizerian 1.0 he decides he wants to add a little party to the atmosphere. Who wouldn't? He's just trying to impress his new friends! Tell me that Luke wouldn't get down on 30 key bumps in a rock venue's bathroom.

But of course glory boy Ryan catches the deal going down. Of course the Chino kid would have a nose for a drug deal. His parents were probably addicted to crack.

A fight breaks out, cops come, the whole thing is totally a disaster. Oliver obviously gets out of it because he has money DUH, but this is another strike against him in his pursuit fur Marissa.

I went to an indie rock show in high school and my friend Dan got too drunk to drive home, which was fine because I was sober. But what wasn't fine is I didn't know how to drive a stick. I learned to drive a manual home at 1 o clock in the morning on a Friday night in 2005, I only stalled twice. That could have been a terrible OC episode.

So now our boy is all embarrassed and shit and he thinks, 'I know, I'll take everyone to my dope pad in Palm Springs. No one can be mad at you if you take them golfing!' Luke and Ryan are seeing right through his shit at this point, so he invents a fake girlfriend! A classic move by 7th graders all across the country. Spoiler alert, your buddy that told you he fingered a girl in a hot tub 20 years ago was lying. Also there isn't a farm where big dogs can run and play. Your dog is dead.

Cut to: we are now playing PGA West and drinking Zimas life is good.

It's all in the hips.

Well life is good for Oliver. I mean look at that little Poor in the background. Couldn't uncle Sandy hook him up with some golf appropriate clothing?

This all comes to a head of course when Ryan accosts Oliver in the kitchen, 'next time you want to plan a weekend with my girlfriend, you can just tell me to stay home.'


What do you do, when the guy whose girl you are trying to steal calls you out on it?

Fake a nervous breakdown of course!!!

And wouldn't you believe it?


Marissa blames Ryan for everything!

So, and I'm only guessing here. What do you do when you have your girl's boyfriend on the ropes?

Transfer to her school of course!

Totally sane! Gotta step on that throat!

So to recap: A kid with a history of mental health problems has now in the course of four episodes, met a girl, infiltrated her friend group, taken them on vacation and transferred to their school.

Do we think this is weird?

Nah, he's just trying to get closer to the crew! Forget all about that old restraining order talk and the fake girlfriend. Everyone has fake girlfriends in high school!

So Oliver begins going about his life at Harbor while the bromance of Luke and Ryan (underrated btw) try to destroy him.

Spoiler alert, they fail and Ryan gets suspended. Sounds like the Traskdaddy is finally going to get to make his move.

Finally, Oliver decides that he will have Marissa to his beach house and make his grand romantic gesture. TBH, he hasn't done anything THAT crazy yet. Inviting a girl to a party, to a concert, to a golf course and transferring schools are things that 16 year olds do! Right?

Let's check in on how the beach house love proclamation went!

That escalated quickly!

Ok guys...

I can't keep up this charade.

I hate him.

I hate him so much.

He is a colossal piece of shit.

Honestly the biggest regret of my life is not writing Josh Schwartz fan letters begging for an on screen death.

For anyone else hoping for a bit of closure here is Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre ripping Oliver in half.

Oh that is soothing.

Really wish I could have been on set that day.

 Well I apologize to everyone for trying to humanize Oliver. Sure, he may have just been a hormonal teen trying to hook up with a beautiful yet damaged young woman. But at the end of the day, and at the end of my reflection, I can say with confidence that Oliver is the biggest piece of shit to ever hit television waves.

That said, The OC's first season was still near perfect and I wouldn't have changed a thing...

Friday, February 17, 2017

Whiskey and Wine

It all started with an Adderall.

I woke up Thursday with a dream of productivity but after my spin class I somehow found myself cataloguing my activity closet. Anyone who has ever taken those delicious 20 mg of amphetamine salts to the face knows this feeling well.

1 Drone
2 Lacrosse sticks
1 set golf clubs
1 snowboard
1 pair skis
2 tennis rackets
2 racquetball rackets
1 pair high heels ??
1 sleeping bag
1 tent

That's a lot of stuff in a small closet and a lot of possible activities for my Thursday afternoon. Perhaps I could take a stroll to the park and get some drone footage. Maybe I could take the sticks to the driving range and work on my horrendous slice. I could even God forbid call someone and ask them to play tennis.

But with all those rational ideas readily available, I impulsively threw my tent and sleeping bag in the Mini and drove three hours east to Joshua Tree.

I didn't do it to find myself. I didn't do it because camping by yourself is cool. I did it because I was buzzing super hard on my legal cocaine and I wanted to go.

By 2 o clock, I had gone shopping and pitched my tent at Black Rock campground #8. I was feeling quite pleased with myself until I started to inventory everything I had brought with me.

A bag of potato chips, a pound of meat, one potato, a 7 dollar bottle of whiskey, 2 apples, 2 bananas, firewood, a lighter and some...uh medicine.

This completely blew my whole sunset hike plan to shit. You can probably ask the ranger for some spare firewood or even a lighter. You can't demand that they lend you their bong. Fortunately my campground had mediocre cell service so I was able to do an emergency Google search.

Surely I was not the first idiot to leave a pipe at home while packing in a haste. I was right. There are apparently LOTS of ways to smoke weed in a pinch. Coke cans, tinfoil, some guy on the internet even used his own damn hand.

I used an apple.

To create the apple pipe you also need a pen (which I didn't have) but I was able to improvise using a screwdriver from my spare tire kit. I carved a bowl hole, a carb and finally a spot to inhale. I felt like MacGuyver, the high school drop out version. And with that my day was back on track as I prepared for the 5 mile West Loop hike which would take me on an elevation gain of 1,000 feet and take me just under two hours.

I walked the serene terrain of Joshua Tree National Park while listening to a podcast about notable goat testicle enthusiast John Brinkley. I made sure to take lots of selfies because in my anecdotal research I have noticed that outdoorsy equals likes.

By the time I returned to camp the sun was setting over the San Jacinto Mountains and I was now free and cleat to get shitfaced. I turned my car on for maximum amplification and put on The Eagles Hell Freezes Over as I poured my first cocktail (this is a lie, I drank straight from the bottle all night)

After a couple more visits to my tent to meet with my friend the apple I realized that starting a fire probably would be easier with a clear mind. What was worse is that I forgot how fucking dark it gets in the desert and of course I had left my head lamp at home.

Now about five drinks in I am staring at 5 large blocks of wood and my small Bic Lighter trying to figure out how the hell I am going to get this thing lit. Usually when I go camping I make my friend Andrew start the fire while I get drunk and wrestle control of the music. When camping alone there is no Andrew to start your fire. So here I was drunk, stoned and feeling like a total beta male that can't survive in the wilderness. Sure there were neighbors, but no one wants to be the loser than admits defeat.

I looked in the car, nothing. I had already used my one paper bag and it hadn't done shit. I was about to call it quits when I remembered the one place I hadn't checked; my glove box.

My glove box is full of about 22 unpaid parking tickets which actually make pretty great kindling! There was also an old Newsroom script. Those things were like 80 pages long! The night was saved! I proceeded to burn 5 years of street cleaning infractions and my fire roared to life. I mashed the beef, peppers and potato into some tinfoil and threw that bitch straight into the fire (tinfoil dinners are lit) and smugly sat on the ground (forgot a chair) to resume pounding my whiskey.

Aside from the park ranger I hadn't met any fellow campers. I wondered what the protocol was for a solo traveler. Is it like a hostel where you just walk up to people and say hello? Or do people come camping to get away and be alone with their thoughts? I was debating the merits of going on a campground walk when a guitar chord played, one that I hadn't heard in a very long time. In a daze I walked over to a neighboring campsite. A man was sitting outside his RV strumming away on an acoustic.

"Excuse me, are you playing Matt Costa?"

He was. He was playing Sunshine, which for a period of 2005 I would have told you was my favorite song ever.

"I'm Rick, and this is my daughter Abby. She has Down's syndrome, but she finds guitar music soothing. So I bring her out here and sing to her."

Rick offers me a beer and sings Matt Costa songs to Abby and me.

"Do you know the words?"

"I do."

"Join in, Abby loves a good duet."

So on a Thursday evening I found myself singing "Whiskey and Wine" with a 40 year old man and his 9 year old developmentally disabled daughter. It was amazing.

After Rick and I performed a mini set of about 3 songs he told me about his quest to hit every National Park with Abby. They travel around in his RV look at the stars and play guitar. Not a bad way to spend your days.

Around 8:30 Rick told me that he and Abby were calling it a night. He asked if I would be around for the whole weekend. I told him I would not, but I hoped that he would find new travelers to sing Matt Costa with.

Retreating to my campground I saw that my fire was starting to die a bit and that my bottle was almost empty. Since I obviously forgot silverware I ended up eating my dinner using the screwdriver I crafted the apple with. I was still hungry after my beef stew so I ate the weed apple too.

Drunk, tired and starting to get a light case of the spins I took a look at the stars. They're so clear when you get outside the city. I felt like I was seeing Orion's belt for the first time in HD. A horn breaks me out of my daze and I realize I'm standing directly in the middle of the car path and a giant RV is in front of me.

I sheepishly smile and move out of the way when a window rolls down. It's a 20ish Filipino girl.

"Hey do you know where site 10 is?"

"Ya, this is 8, it's the next one."

"Oh cool, so you're our neighbor?"

"Ya. I guess."

"Ha, the lucky one that got put next to the Bachelorette party..."

Wait, what?

There were 8 of them in the RV. They looked much more prepared for Coachella than a long weekend in the desert. Sue was the bride to be, I don't really remember any of the other names, I had abused several substances at this point.

I joined them for a bottle of Rose and Sue made it abundantly clear that 4 of her friends were single but if we wanted to have sex it would have to be in my tent and not the RV.

One of them asked me if my hair was fake and another asked me why I would go camping alone.

"I don't know, I just felt like it?"

She thought that was the most bad ass answer ever. One bottle of wine turned into two, one of the girls suggested we play spin the bottle, another brought up Sue's infidelity and that she shouldn't marry Thomas then Sue called her a bitch...

I was sensing it was time for me to go.

I looked down at my phone and realized it was past midnight and I was likely to vomit if I had one more drop of alcohol.

I said my goodbyes and stood to leave.

"But wait, we haven't even started the party yet."

Sue pulled out a gigantic bag of mushrooms.

I froze for a moment and pictured a time when I would have said yes and stayed up all night partying with these Filipino women of loose morals on a Bachelorette party who were only in Joshua Tree instead of Ibiza because they were broke. I likely would have hooked up with one of four of them and had a great story for years to come.

But I'm 30 now and I was tired.

"Maybe another time ladies."

I walked the 50 feet to my tent as they blasted Blink 182 cackling about old boyfriends, their first blowjob, all the shit that you joke about with friends when you are on the cusp of losing them to a domestic partner.

I laid down and thought about my day. Thought about that new Diplo song Jen played at spin, thought about my impulsive decision to drive here, the apple bong, parking ticket kindling. I thought about Abby and smiled at the thought of her deriving such joy from listening to her father play guitar as the stars shine down. I thought about Sue and her fiance Thomas. I wondered if he would ever find out about Eduardo the valet driver. I envisioned how hungover I would be the following morning for my planned hike of Warren Peak. And then I closed my eyes and went to sleep.

That's how the story should have ended.

But after having my eyes closed for about 5 seconds I shot up in my sleeping bag. The ending of the movie Dumb and Dumber always bothered me. Like why didn't they just get on the model bus?

I'll just go next door for a few more minutes. What's the worst that could happen?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Are You the One?

As I type this sentence, it's just past one o clock in the morning on a Saturday. I had a somewhat uneventful evening. I watched a movie and then went to a bar. I was home by 12:30. I showed incredible restraint at said bar, turning down multiple rounds of shots and a particularly enticing offer in the bathroom. But I just joined a gym and I have spin class in the morning.

"New year, new me," I smugly replied when my friends protested.

And then on the way home I listened to a political podcast and smiled ear to ear about how I could tell people in the morning that I stayed in on Friday night.

In all actuality my Friday night was probably substantially more eventful than most in their 30's, but I did not hit the required threshold for 'going out' which in my definition is 10 drinks or $75 spent. And it is precisely this line of thinking which I presume keeps me single.

Before I left, I looked around the bar at how people were interacting. There were girls smiling at boys willing them to like her. There were your garden variety savages throwing game on any two x chromosome with a pulse. There were the couples, some old, some new and then of course there were the groups of friends out celebrating something; a birthday, an engagement, another Friday night above dirt.

There is a theory out there of a 'soul mate.' Some people believe that there is a person out there for every single one of us. Others dismiss this as a hopelessly romantic ideal and argue a more pragmatic case, you end up with the person you're dating when you are ready to settle down. The other side of the fence sees this theory as depressing, settling for something that will lead to a bitter existence.

MTV has gamified this theory on a reality dating competition called 'Are You the One?' Basically they take a bunch of lower middle class trash from Staten Island and put them in a house in the Domincan Republic or something, but through some sort of fuckery, the producers have heteronormatively matched each male to a perfect female partner. Obviously this is hidden from the contestants, but if they can figure out all the perfect pairs everyone splits a million dollars.

The set up really doesn't matter, the show is about a bunch of strangers getting drunk and having sex with one another. If a male/female tandem finds out that they are not indeed a perfect match, they are encouraged to ditch that partner and find someone else to go hook with, a fascinating social experiment.

Concurrently with watching this show I read a book of a similar subject matter called 'The Rosie Project.' In the Australian novel, a genetics professor with Aspergers syndrome tries to develop a system to help him find the perfect mate. It's somewhat similar to the premise of Along Came Polly. Obviously his system fails miserably and he ends up with the last person he would expect, but the interesting portion of the book stems directly from his lack of filter. Due to his affliction he can't take social cues and often speaks his mind in very inappropriate situations.

This got me thinking...

We spend so much time self consciously analyzing every thing we do and say in this world. It's as if our teenage angst never left. The 'Bumble' games, the 'being coy, hard to get' it really is an extreme case of inefficiency.

So what if we just said what we felt?

I'll use a personal example.

There are women in my life that I am at least interested in exploring something beyond friendship. I say nothing because it's easy. It's awkward to share. It is much easier for me to drink a 6 pack of Lagunitas and throw things at the cat than to have real talks about human emotion. And maybe it's because I am a total coward or perhaps I'm worried about the rejection or even worse the fall out from a rejection. I create these lanes for myself, these specific relationships with specific people. If that relationship shifts for me, it throws my whole equilibrium out of whack.

But let's psychoanalyze this further and talk through the potential outcomes of sacking up and putting myself out there.

Let's say I know a girl named Brenda (I literally know no one named Brenda, I don't think anyone under the age of 70 has that name)

Brenda and I are friends, but I have always wondered if we could be something more, so I ask her one day if she would be curious in exploring a potential relationship. Go on a date or two and see what happens.

From here there are really two things that could happen.

1. She says yes. We go on a date.

2. She says no. We do not go on a date.

Seems fairly simple thus far, but this is where the possibilities spiral out.

1.1 She says yes, we go on a date, it's great we start dating.

1.2 She says yes, we go on a date, it's weird, abort!

2.1 She says no, we stay friends and laugh it off.

2.2 She says no and it's weird now.

OK so maybe there were four possibilities.

But no my friend, there are so, so many more.

1.1.1 She says yes, we go on a date, we start dating, we get married.

1.1.2 She says yes we start dating but then we have a catastrophic break-up down the road. She says yes, we start dating but then we have a catastrophic break up down the road largely due to my fault, I lose all my friends.

etc, etc etc,

Obviously this decision tree goes on forever because in life there are infinite possibilities stringing from every decision we make. So while the MTV reality producer would tell me to just move to the next one, it's easy to see why many of us are so hesitant to pull the trigger.

I don't know if this is a personal thing or not, but every time I see someone on my Facebook wall that I dated, hooked up with or even had a secret crush on and I see they are engaged I immediately think 'is there a timeline where it would have been me?' And then the alpha male in me kicks in and I stalk the guy and try to determine if I'm cooler than him but then I shrug and resume living my life.

So we're back to a fundamental question. Do I share my feelings and accept the wreckage that comes along with it or do I solemnly brood about missing 100% of the shots that I didn't take.

It may sound crude to say I'm going to inform every woman in my life how I feel about them. "I've always wondered if there could be something between us," is a fairly loaded gun to give someone.

But I guess if you put your cards out there at least you'll know?

My immediate assumption is it would make a lot of people uncomfortable but may yield some good results. And if reading this makes your skin crawl as you look at your phone waiting for my number to pop up with a declaration of love, I assure you that you needn't worry. I would never. But In terms of finding your soul mate, it might not be the worst strategy to throw a ton of shit at the wall and see what sticks.

I'm not really into hitting on girls at bars unless I am hammered on a dance floor, thus conventional wisdom holds that I will probably end up with a friend of a friend. I will likely end up married to the person I am dating when about 72% of my friends are married...or I'll end up living with Tulip the cat forever, but just know that I had some things that I kept bottled up inside of me. Maybe I could have told the truth on an MTV dating show. Perhaps I could have been more honest had I been somewhere on the autism spectrum.

But as it turns out, I was just as scared as the angsty protagonist in the first act of a coming of age story that never had the balls to ask the cute girl out.

Well not yet at least. Maybe some day. I suppose at 30, I'm entering the second act of my life and that's usually when the protagonist gets his shit together.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Hit Me Baby One More Time

In 1998 on a rainy morning in November I was riding the bus to Belzer Middle School furiously trying to finish homework from the night before. I don't know how I could have possibly been expected to complete it at home. I had three hour basketball practices every night and the internet had just come out. Therefore I was given two options, do my homework and miss out on weird chatroom stuff or lie to my parents.

Sorry mom and dad.

The first time I heard Britney Spears was on Hoosier Hot 96.3, primarily a rap station that dabbled in a little R&B. At the time I probably assumed 'Britney Spears' was an African American teenage pop star, similar to Brandy or Monica. You can imagine my surprise when I got home from school later that day and turned on this...

And that's the exact moment I realized that I liked girls.

She was everywhere for the next two years. Britney ruled MTV, she was bigger than N Sync and The Backstreet Boys combined and was unquestionably the hottest woman on the planet.

I probably never finished my homework on the bus that day. I didn't finish it a lot of days. Perhaps it would be indicative of things to come. When a teacher (in the gifted and talented program no less) would look at me and ask me why I didn't do my homework, I would simply say 'I don't know. But that was a lie. I DID know. I didn't do my homework because I wanted to watch TRL, I didn't do my homework because I wanted to now race home to talk to all my classmates on instant messenger.

Me: Hey.
Hot Girl in my class: Hey.
Me: Sup?
HGIC: Nothin, you?
Me: Same.

That was usually the end of the convo but at 11/12 years old that shit was THRILLING...and I've found myself nostalgic a lot lately. With so much crazy shit going on in the world right now it seems silly that the biggest deal in the world used to be telling my parents I got a B- on a test or I missed two free throws in basketball. I used to lose sleep over that kind of stuff and now I realize none of it ever mattered.

I look back at the elaborate schemes I used to do to prevent my parents from finding out my bad grades. There are puzzle boxes buried in the woods behind my house full of bad tests. Like I legit ripped them up, put them in old puzzle boxes and BURIED THEM LIKE DEAD PETS.

You know what else would have probably worked? Throwing them away in literally any trash can in the city of Indianapolis.

I was weird.


19 years later I found myself in a rented Chevy Tahoe driving East down I-15 arguing about the rules of Taboo, it was my 30th birthday and I was heading to Vegas to celebrate in style.

The car was full of people ranging from 26-74 which may sound strange on its face but is rather a good encapsulation of life in Venice.

Upon dropping our car off at the Las Vegas Airport a limousine picked us up it was 3pm, we had precisely 18 hours until our flight on Sunday. Less than one day in Vegas, One last hurrah in my 20's before I chalked it up to a decade of debauchery and opened the next chapter in my life.

We checked into a Penthouse at the Vdara. For 8 people we had 3 beds, 2 couches, 4 bottles of whiskey and a funfetti cake. We would have to make it work. It was temporary after all.

I had kind of been viewing this trip as my last stand. While 30 can be viewed as just a number, I have been thinking a long time about changing a few of my life habits. There comes a point in everyone's life where staying out all night and sleeping all day just isn't cute anymore. I started to ration that I was getting close to the expiration date on my laissez-faire lifestyle. After all, you can't live with two roommates and a cat forever. So much like last year's Coachella trip, I viewed this Vegas as a bit of a coda on what had been a wild 10 years. It wasn't a funeral, more of a memorial service for my 20's. But if I was gonna go out....might as well go out big.

Our first stop was at a golf simulator inside the MGM Grand. While I hoped the technology would be a bit forgiving, I can confirm that I put just as many balls into pixelized lakes as I do into real lakes. After four hours at Top Golf, it was already time prep for dinner. I diverted toward Aria to try my hand at the TODs beer chug challenge and for the first time in my life, I lost.

Back in the room I declared to the group that we would be having cake as an appetizer.

It would be the last thing I would eat that night.

Strolling onto the Las Vegas Strip with a blazer that I had bought one day earlier (I treat party blazers like disposable razors. I wear them once and know they aren't coming home with me) we set off for a place to dine with no real destination in mind. I had stayed at the Planet Hollywood a few weeks earlier with my dad and because of this I must have steered the group in this direction.

It seemed that the group had decided to go get some famous dumplings for dinner with some sort of club plan to follow. But when I looked up and realized that we were standing outside the AXIS Theater I played out the rest of my life in  a few seconds. In that moment of clarity I pictured every time I would tell someone about my 30th birthday Vegas trip, 'I got dumplings,' didn't seem quite as cool as "I went to Britney, bitch." With that I walked to the box office and handed them a stack of cash,

It was the greatest decision I have made in the past 5 years.

If you are looking for a mini review of the Britney show I will say the following:

She does not sing.

And I do not mean that she lip syncs or sings over an exaggerated backing track...she. does. not. sing.

Hard stop.

The Britney Spears Piece of Me tour is a dance show. Britney plays all of her top 10 hits with absurd dance routines, sometimes bordering on cirque de solei level theatrics and it is awesome. I was having so much fun that I forgot to take a picture, a picture that would have easily eclipsed 200 likes, and I'm not even mad.

Britney still looks as good as she did that first day on TRL and yet I can't help but compare our last 10 years. She's certainly had some ups and definitely had some downs. (As have I) but on the night of January 28th, 2017 we were together in the same room and it was perfect.

Around 11:30 the show ended. People had been handing me drinks all night as they found out it was my 30th. I was starting to lose track of time or how much I had consumed, but somehow I ended up with my old roommate at the Wynn.

"Where are we?"

"I think I can get us into Dillon Francis."

So I stood there for a moment, considering sitting down to shut my eyes for just a second when I saw a side door open.

" here!"

After walking through what appeared to be a janitor closet, I realized I was in the back VIP room of a club.

"What is this?"

"We're at Dillon Francis."

I wasn't quite sure if this was all real or some sort of Narnia fever dream, but someone handed me a whiskey and ushered me onto a stage, directly below a CO2 cannon, an ideal spot for someone who has a proclivity to sweat like I do.

Before long, our entire party had managed to make it back stage of the Dillon Francis show and I realized I was dancing in full view of a bunch of bros that had spent likely thousands of dollars to get a dance floor table at Omnia.

I walked through a broom closet.

The crew started thinning by around 4am. The first round of flights was at 8am. Fortunately I had the foresight to book something afternoon. By the time I returned to the room, the best available bed was the pull out couch right next to my elderly friend, certainly not the woman I was expecting to wake up next to on my 30th.

The next morning I was predictably in rough shape. I had 2 more pieces of cake and a bag of potato chips before grabbing a beer out of the fridge. I think I had two more before I made my way to McCarran.

I returned to LAX to find a total shit storm as every left leaning person in person in Los Angeles county came to protest Trump's travel ban, ensuring that I would have a top 10 awful hangover.

I walked from terminal 3 to the In n Out on Lincoln and grabbed an Uber home, praying that there would be no activity waiting for me at 627 Westminster.

Of course there were people there with bottles of Champagne, whiskey, cupcakes and pizza.

It could have been worse.

And then I woke up Monday on the couch, 30 and a day....with the rest of my life ahead of me.

What now?

It's a scary thought. I'm more lost now than I think I have ever been in my life.

As cocky and stupid as I was when i was younger, I at least thought I had the answers.

High school: Do JUST well enough to get into Indiana.

College: Join a frat, graduate from Kelley, have fun, move to Chicago.

Chicago: Work this awful job for 2 years and leave.

LA: Start your career as a TV writer.

Well I started my career in entertainment and it stalled a little. I'm 30 and confused.

But then I look back at what just happened...

Seven of my friends came to Las Vegas with me on a whim because they like spending time with me.
10 more were waiting at my house the next day to welcome me home. 9 more came over the following night to watch my favorite movie with me and eat popcorn.

If I have 20ish people that want to spend time with me, I can't be doing that bad right?

A few of my close friends wrote me notes online and sent me cards. None of those cards said, 'I hate you, you're a huge dick.' They were all messages of love.

Family members reached out to tell me how proud they are and people all over the world told me they were thinking of me.

It got me thinking...what if my perceived problems now are just as insignificant as the ones I was worried with 19 years ago? Is beating myself up over work stuff the equivalent of burying my bad test scores in the backyard?

My car got towed last week and I really thought it was the end of the world. It cost me $1500 to get it out and I kept thinking 'welcome to 30, life sucks now.' But in reality, my life doesn't suck. I had a ton of fun in Vegas and there is no reason to make a blanket statement like 'time to grow up, can't be blacking out in Vegas anymore.' Just like after last year's Coachella I didn't truly feel some cathartic release with a decision to finally be over it.

I think what I have realized is this 'thing' that is inside me, will never be out of my system. I'm not going to wake up one day and just be done being me. This is who I am. I'm a single dude living in LA (omg I just paid off the blog title) trying to make it doing something cool. I'll have professional and personal ups and downs, but I think the maturity lies in picking my spots moving forward.

Again I'll bring it back to Britney, she had her kids taken away from her in 2007. That's a real life holy shit problem. You all remember it, she lost her mind, shaved her head and then spent most of the next year and a half in rehab. And now she makes half a million dollars a night dancing around to her old music. I do that shit every Saturday and no one pays me a cent!

It's important for me to remember that there will be good days and bad days, days with regret and days full of hope. But if we have our health and the love of those around us anything is possible and the future remains bright. I'm 30 now and I don't know where I'll be in 5 years, but I do know there are a lot of people willing to help me get there.