It really is something to read back on last year’s reflections today, a whole year later. Of course I knew things were going to change - as they never cease to - but I didn’t realy know how much or how it would impact me or to what extent. But, again, here I am. Humbled, amazed, eager, and so grateful.
One year ago, I sat down in a dim bar in snowy Oklahoma with my MacBook, a sazerac, and a half-packed car ready to move to Los Angeles. I was tired, but I was peaceful and excited.Today, I’m sitting down under a heater at the cafe les philosophes with a brand new notebook, an old pen, a 50cl pichet de Bourgogne and a freshly unpacked suitcase at an apartment in the Marais.LA has been a dream - everything I was looking for, everything I needed, and more. Paris has always been a home to me. I’ve lived here at age 2, 15, 22, and now 25.
Quick aside, I just spent an hour talking to Carlos and Olga, who are sat next to me at the café. They’re lawyers living in Mexico City, and this is their fist time in Paris. I love this city because everyone who comes here is so hopeful.Now I’m home, finishing the rest of this article — on the computer now. Back at my apartment. It’s people like Carlos and Olga who remind me why I’m here. We take life slowly and enjoy everything. It’s special, how everyone finds themselves at home in this city. My mom posted to instagram today, and wrote a caption:
“On this first day of a new year: I want you to see and know your true beauty and power. This truth is never found in the opinions or validation of the external world. It is found within you. You will not find it by pushing or pressuring yourself. You will not find it in perfectionism. Walk past the door that's all lit up and marked "Productivity." Look for the other door, the secret door, marked "Presence and Play." Everything good lies beyond that door. True abundance, true safety. Fulfillment. Freedom. Go into this new year gently, with great self- compassion and self-kindness. Every day is a new opportunity to love yourself a little bit more. You are a gift. Your contributions are valuable. You are safe.You are infinitely loved.”
I can’t think of anything better to say. We are all on our right paths, and I see it so strongly every single day. My friends all over the world are all doing exactly what we are all meant to, and it’s incredible to watch.So, in a somewhat chronological order, I’d like to thank the people who made this year so special.In February, I got a call from Jacob and Brett, who invited me to come work at Launch House. Now, then I was still in my “moving to LA and not doing any work” mode — they shook me with the vision of what they were making to break out of my comfort zone and to come contribute to something bigger than myself.What I didn’t realize at the time was that I’d been looking for an excuse to get back into the startup game since before I had moved to LA. Launch House, from February to July, was the perfect introduction I needed to get back into the world I knew I belonged in. Jacob, you’re a fearless leader and your tenacity is admired by myself and everyone you’ve ever been in passionate conversation with. Brett, your galaxy brain is showing everyone the possible future that no one knew could ever exist. Houck, your sense of process and logistics will be the guiding light that brings your company to widepsread success in the months to come. You three guys have made my year something I could’ve never ever imagined a year ago today. You’ve showed me a world I forgot had existed and I’m grateful still exists — It’s a world of passion and excitement— of daring and eagerness to experience more, to be bigger than the sum of our parts.
After my time at Launch House, in August, I decided to finally go full time with Circusfish, my agency. It’s funny how, last year, I wrote about Circusfish, and it was a completely different concept than it is now. I guess all things mature and evolve with time. I’ve had the privilege of working with five incredible early stage startups since launching my agency, and I’m so beyond excited to work with more in the new year to come.This last year, I’ve made more friends than I’ve ever made in a year. Not overlooking anyone, I want to give particular thanks to Kathryn, Pey, Cat, Luis, Tristan, Lynn, Philip, Carlos, Gail, Andrew, Kristen, Gaby, Alex, Meral, Pavan, Yash, Ibrahim, Kevin, Aidan, Rajya, Kirten, McKenzie, Mia, Tony, Ulrik, Samee, and countless others. Apologies if I left anyone else out; you all have made my year more incredible than I could’ve ever hoped for. You’re truly the best and brightest of our generation and the fact that I was able to spend some time living and working with you all is a privilege I never dreamed of.
Carson, thanks for always picking up the phone and being a true friend to count on no matter what. We really almost got ‘em at beer pong this summer. Next year, WAGMI for real.
Madison, thanks for sliding in my DMs in September.Honestly, I thought you really wanted branding help. It turns out that you just wanted to move to Paris with me, and there’s no one I’d rather have here with me. I love the life we’re building together and I’m so excited for the year to come together. Your tenacity, drive, enthusiasm, and grit is constantly inspiring to me, and I’m endlessly grateful to have met you this year. You’re an angel and your willingness to do life with me leaves me humbled and grateful without words every single day. Thank you for coming on this journey with me.
Hunter and Justin, our weeks in Palm Springs have made my year so special. I’ll always love the days we’ve spent on architecture tours, marveling at the art around us, scheming up new dreams, and wondering about the limits of our imaginations. The days we spent by the pool drinking Orange Juliuses and Shazamming songs will be something I look back on for the rest of my life, and I can’t wait to do it all over again with you in the new year.
Timo, thanks for taking me out in London. I know I got COVID, but I’m glad you didn’t. Your singing voice is something I’ll spend the rest of my life being jealous of.
Mom, I’m so glad I got to visit you like, 5 times this year. I was really worried that moving to LA would make us more distant, but I got to spend more quality time with you this year than any other that I was living down the street from you, and that’s really special to me. I love you so so so much, Huey.
I don’t have much else to write about. I don’t have many stories. Frankly, this year went by really fast. I will always be grateful for countless evenings at Dan Tana’s and Harlowe in LA, and for the trips I got to take to New York City and Austin, seeing dear friends all over the country. I met so many people this year, I couldn’t possibly fit everyone into one letter.
Frankly, I’m overwhelmed. I mean, good lord — I’m in Paris and last year I was in Oklahoma. This year was the best year of my life and it isn’t even close. I don’t know what to say, and I can’t possibly fit it all into one letter. I’m going to go now, there is tea boiling and music playing. I have friends in Paris who are coming over for dinner next week. I have clients all over the world who have work that needs to come into the world. I have dreams that deserve to see the light of day, and all of that needs time to stew and brew. Circusfish is quickly becoming the best agency in the world for startup branding, and that’s a lot to live up to. I’m constantly amazed at the serendipity and beauty this life keeps showing me, and I feel like I have a duty to this life to keep showing grace and joy back to it all.For my friends in Paris, in Los Angeles, in Oklahoma, and all over the whole world— thank you. Thank you for being here with me, thank you for being amazing always, and thank you for always being amazing. I’m beside myself with love and appreciation, and I can’t wait to see what this next year brings for us all.
One of my favorite non denominational holiday songs is "What A Year For A New Year", by Dan Wilson. The first time I heard it was on a 2002 holiday music compilation CD called "Maybe, this Christmas" that was distributed by KCRW, LA's NPR station. Still to this day, 18 years later, it's the only Christmas-ey album I actually like.
We need it like we needed life, I guess.
Something about those words hit differently this time around, after a year that knocked the collective crap out of pretty much everyone. We need this like we need life. What a year for a new year. Oklahoma City, my home for the next two days, woke up blanketed in a foot of snow. A fresh start. It's time for a common recalibration and a sense of getting back on track. It's time for Springtime.
Last night, I hosted an intimate private jazz concert at my house. We had a sax-keys-drums jazz combo come by early in the day, around 4:30, and play til' 7. I was filled with joy over the fact that six out of the nine masked friends in my living room were strangers even a few months ago. We all drank champagne and danced in utter amazement and fascination at the level of beautiful musical skill we were witnessing. Timo brought his saxophone and played with Spunk, the leader of the trio. When they played together, it was like eavesdropping on a conversation in a foreign language that you only sort of understand, but most definitely feel on a cellular level. I'm overcome with pride when I think about the friends I've made this year (of all years to make lifelong friends!) and I have a bittersweet twang in my heart when I think about how these next few days are going to go.
What a night for a sunrise.Here's how these next few days are going to go:
I'm moving to LA. I've been living by myself in a three bedroom house all year. I haven't had roommates since 2015. I love it because it's just me and Memphis, my lab-husky, but this year is going to see change to that. I had an opportunity for a life change present itself, and I took it. In a couple of days, I'm packing up my trusty, rickety old 2001 Honda CR-V along with a few boxes, a few bags, and the dog to make the drive west across I-40 as far as it'll go, until we wind up at our new home, a lovely apartment in West Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA. I'll have two incredible roommates who I can't wait to get to know better, and I'll be centrally located in the city I grew up in. It will be a grand homecoming.
As of two days ago, I'm officially unemployed. After a year and a half building Fringe with Sophia Janz, my amazing cofounder, I've handed over the reigns and resigned my shares of our partnership. I'm thrilled for what she's going to continue to build, and I'll still be involved on projects here and there. I'm confident that Fringe's best days still lie ahead, and I'm cheering everyone on every step of the way.As for me, I'm thinking a lot about how design can work at scale. I don't want to say a whole lot right now, but after a brief break (we all know I can't stay quiet TOO long) I'll have more news about my next projects. It's called Circusfish!, and that new path is already looking to be a long and exciting one.
A few notes from the year: I started 2020 with a goal to write a song. In December, I wrote two songs. Thanks, Justin. During early quarantine, I rediscovered a new love for cooking and realized I'm actually a very very talented chef. When this pandemic nonsense is over, I think I'd like to stage in a kitchen somewhere. I like the idea of chopping onions and getting yelled at for hours on end. A more personal goal I had was to broaden my group of friends, especially friends that truly uplift and inspire me. For a while I've thought that I would always have a large group of acquaintances and very few real friends— and this year I proved that wrong. I love my friends, all over the world but especially my OKC putes. Y'all know who you are.I didn't get to travel as much as I'd hoped, but I still had chances to get a few quick trips in. Key West with Brody was the perfect 24th birthday, and Fraser with The Ampersand Crew couldn't have come at a better time. Thanks to everyone who was a part of that. I fell in love and experienced gutting heartbreak, which I'm grateful for, too.
And now? I'm hunkered down with a Sazerac, listening to French Rap, and writing stories— because some things will simply never change. However, I'd like to end this little note with a story about personal growth.
I used to operate under the assumption that everyone, if given total creative control, has a perfectly ideal idiosyncratic breakfast. Mine, for example, was scrambled eggs, slightly cheesy, with crispy hash browns and burnt bacon. I'd always stress to whoever was taking my order that I wanted them to be personally embarrassed at the state of the bacon as it came out. Burnt, burnt. I'd crack the bacon into tiny bits and mix it in the eggs, and eventually mix the eggs into the hash browns. "Breakfast is meant to be a textural experience", I'd say. Recently, I've started ordering my breakfast differently, which for me is huge. Now I get eggs over easy with sausage links and hash browns. I'll plop an egg over half of the hash browns and let the yolk mix with the potatoes. There's no moral or resolution to this story, I just wanted to share it. Maybe I'm just really passionate about brunch. Make of it what you will.
Happy 2021, friends.