I thought, “What a dull place filled with rubes.” I lived in a bubble, riding my commuter bike all within a 3 mile radius in Atlanta, Georgia. My love for California was no secret and Horace Greeley’s quote, “Go west young man, and grow up with the country,” reverberated in my head on a loop. After talking about leaving for over a decade I finally packed my bags and headed west.
My traveling companion and I drove 3,500 miles from Atlanta to Ventura, California. Along the way we visited New Orleans, Fort Worth, Austin, Las Cruces, the Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree and San Diego. During this trip I saw, with my own eyes, what a wonderful place this country is.
We have so much naturalbeauty and breathtaking landscapes. So much good food! We have an amazing interstate system making it easy to travel. We also have freedom.
There’s always been a lot of confusion, anger, misdirection and sleight of hand in this country. However the “idea” of America remains solid.
I’ve always loved how Bono describes America as an idea. Our country represents this idea of freedom of expression, that anyone can come here and have a better life.
No America isn’t perfect. 241 years old and we’ve still got issues. We struggle with dysfunction, pride, racism, inequality and fear, but the idea of America is strong. I believe it. I believe this idea will remain for a long time to come.
Without getting too Lee Greenwoody, I’m proud to say I’m an American. I’m not always proud or supportive of the actions of those in our government that represent us, but I know we live in a wonderful place. I implore you to get out of your bubble and see this country for yourself. I think you’ll find what I found, a country that’s imperfect but rich in natural beauty. You’ll see a country as an idea, which stands for the freedom of self-expression and offers an opportunity to change your life.
Bro do you even lift? Yes, yes I do. I started weightlifting when I was 14. I played football and part of being on the team was lifting weights. It was total bro lifting: bench press, preacher curls, shoulder press and I think we did squats. That was a long time ago so the memory’s a bit fuzzy. I’m glad I got an introduction to weights when I was young. I’ve always loved it and starting so young removed any fears or quibbles I had about lifting weights.
My 2 favorite routines from the past year are the Stronglifts 5×5 program and Layne Norton’s PHAT. Both are great!
Stronglifts is outstanding if you’re a beginner lifter or coming back to weights after a long time. It’s simple and focuses on compound exercises. You add 5 lbs. every time you workout as long as you complete 5 sets of 5 reps. You can download the free mobile app which has everything you need: videos, explanations and an easy way to record your workouts. My favorite feature of this app is the timer. The timer is essential to muscle fatigue and keeps your workouts moving without getting distracted.
Start light with Stronglifts. If you start with too much weight you’ll plateau too quickly. Trust me, it gets heavy fast.
I did Stronglifts after a long time away from the gym and it was a fantastic way to get back into the groove.
After Stronglifts I got into Layne Norton’s PHAT routine. I absolutely love it and I’m going to start it again in July. For me this is the perfect routine. It combines the heavy weights of Stronglifts, but it also adds a high rep, low weight component to increase hypertrophy. You do a full-body workout twice a week. It was when I got into this routine that folks started asking me if I was working out. That’s always the best!!! When your hard work in the gym is evident to others you know it’s working. You’re usually the last to notice your gains. (That’s why photos and measurements are crucial!)
Hitting the gym is the easy part for me. Diet and nutrition? Now that’s a whole other topic for another post.
What workout routines do you like? Which ones have given you the best results?
I’ve been committed to health and fitness for a long time. I’m like a Tim Ferriss always searching for optimized, legit and proven methods to make me feel better and keep me healthy.
So when my co-worker told me about the “Hulk Loads” Kale shake I immediately knew I’d try it.
For nearly a year I’ve eaten twice a day, skipping breakfast. This is known as intermittent fasting. I eat my first meal around 1300 and my second meal around 1900 or 2000. That’s it. I’ve been seeing a Naturopath in Torrance and she suggested I increase the number of meals. That’s also why I was excited about this shake. I could have it for my first meal!
I got the ingredients, minus the apple, and made the shake this morning. The result? IT WAS SO FOUL AND DISGUSTING I NEARLY PUKED!
I can scarf down nearly anything, but this shake was so gross. Maybe adding the apple with its sweetness is the missing link, but I doubt it. I don’t see how my co-worker, or Joe Rogan for that matter, can force this down. I’d even held back on the garlic and ginger!
Please enjoy this lengthy update from me. I have to tip my hat to the ever-amazing Alison for encouraging me to write. When you’re done reading her blog, please check out my pal Jes too as she travels to Seattle.
Might I interest you in some excuses as to the recent silence over here?I’ve been justifiably preoccupied. Moving and dealing with movers, unpacking and looking for fun government documents, trips to Target, Vons, Trader Joe’s, and the Manhattan Beach Library, and starting a new job, ended my 3 month stint of homelessness and unemployment. I chose to call it a mini-retirement, but let’s not haggle over semantics.
I left Ventura on Saturday, June 4th and moved to Manhattan Beach. Finally the last trip, driving my packed to the gills car, on US interstates. I’d misunderstood the movers’ ambiguous message, thinking they’d arrive on Sunday, June 5th. Nope, they were only loading the truck (my items were stored in Atlanta) which would ultimately deliver the items to me on June 16th. For 12 days a lovely Serta air mattress served as my bunk, and Trader Joe’s frozen food sustained me. I knew when everything arrived this brief interval of discomfort would quickly fade. And it has. The most important thing is that I now have internet.
I looked at a number of places from Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, and El Segundo to eastwards, towards Lawndale. The proximity and convenience of this spot to my job, Trader Joe’s, the beach, and nearby parks, made it an easy decision. For some strange reason not having a refrigerator is a thing out here. Nearly half of the places I perused had no fridge. Yes, you must provide your own fridge if there isn’t one. This spot also has a fridge and a gas stove in its favor. It’s old though. The walls are so thin you might as well say, “Bless you,” when you hear a neighbor sneeze.
Manhattan Beach, and the entire South Bay, flows with money. Every other car cruising by is a Maserati, Tesla, Ferrari, or a Benz or a Beemer. If you want to live near the beach and get a 2 bedroom, it’s $3500 a month. The weather, the food, the beach, the vibe, and the scenery, it’s all beautiful and it will cost you. Some call this cost the “Sunshine Tax.”
One thing that is not beautiful is what the locals call June Gloom. There’s also May Gray. In the morning a thick, gray fog spreads out over the city. The clouds don’t leave until early afternoon, sometimes later. Some like it, they enjoy the cooler temperatures the fog brings. Not me, I demand sunny skies and warm temperatures at all times. That’s why I moved here! I won’t have to endure these awful 60 degree temperatures much longer. June Gloom is almost over.
I am learning a lot about marketing, writing, and the semiconductor industry at the new gig. I’m writing press releases again, something I haven’t done since 1999. I’m observing and noting the office rhythms, learning who does what, how do things get done, and which roles the players have.
Skateboarding is something I do now. I even rode into work one day. However I am nowhere experienced enough to ride the deck along these busy streets. One weird move or fall and I could be under a truck. I do ride it around my place and I’m getting better. I’m learning how to stop more fluidly and turn with more control.
This past Thursday, June 23rd, my buds from the rocking Atlanta band, Big Jesus were in Echo Park. I excitedly drove through rush hour Los Angeles traffic to see my pals. They played a very short 30 minute set but those that saw it, saw a tight, rocking band with lots of confidence. To see their growth over the past few years was special. They’ve worked hard and I’ve said they’re the next band to break out of Atlanta. Don’t forget I used to sign bands. I’d definitely sign these guys.
A post shared by James 🎼MusicianProducerWriter (@jamesstaubes) on
Thank you bike, you served me well :(
While so many great things have happened, unfortunately my bicycle was stolen on June 20th. I locked it outside our office that morning. It was still there during my walking breaks. Around 4:30 I was outside on the phone when I noticed it was gone. I went into the nearby businesses to ask if anyone saw anything. They didn’t and it was gone. It’s a bummer, but I’ll get another bike and this time, a much stronger lock!
I started the Ketogenic way of eating (woe) back in April while I was in Ventura. When I moved without any of my cookware I was in a bind so I broke ketosis and ate carbs. I’m happy to be eating Ketogenic again! My goal is drop my body fat and gain muscle. After I get a bit more settled I find a decently priced gym where I can work out.
Today, June 26th, was a day of firsts. I had a first date. A first Bumble date. It was my first time in Downey (we met there as a halfway point) and it was my first date with a Filipino woman. While it wasn’t a love connection we both agreed to stay in touch. We’d talked on the phone several times previously and we texted almost every day. So I have a new California lady friend!
Before you go here’s what I’ve been digging.
Movies: Devil Wears Prada – This year marks the 10 year anniversary and I’ve always loved that film. Very inspiring.
Eye in the Sky – Excellent film with an excellent cast which asks hard questions about modern warfare.
Brothers Grimsby – I’m a Sacha Baron Cohen fan and this film might be his best yet.
The Martian – Simply an amazing and awesome film.
Embrace of the Serpent – Loved this film about an Amazonian shaman across several decades.
Shows: Maron – I’m a Marc Maron fan and this season may be my favorite so far.
GoT – I have a love/hate relationship with this show. I’ve wanted to quit watching it so many times but then something amazing happens.
Silicon Valley – One of the best comedies out now.
I have some more exciting news! Before I get to that, I want to own my lack of consistent posting here. Writing consistently is a tough discipline. To take it a step further, to write with precision, quality, humor, personality, and originality it’s a discipline and a huge time commitment.
To be fair I’ve been busy with important stuff: hiking, reading, laying by the pool, going to the beach, cooking for a keto diet, interviewing, and getting a job. That’s right. I GOT A JOB!
I’ve accepted a job with a semiconductor distributor. It’s a phenomenal opportunity and the work I’ll be doing is truly what I wanted to do. I’ll be writing blogs, making videos, posting on social media, and managing the company’s Internet presence.
The company’s in Hawthorne and I’ll be living in nearby Manhattan Beach. This area is known as the South Bay.
I’ve learned a lot, relaxed, and had so much fun during these 3 months off from the daily grind. Now it’s time to get back into the game, earn some more money, and plow ahead for a while. I’m excited to create this new chapter.
A post shared by James 🎼MusicianProducerWriter (@jamesstaubes) on
It’s all about pain. Pain is the greatest motivator I know. We’ll repeat the same behaviors over and over, even ones that do not serve us, until we’re in exquisite pain. You won’t quit smoking or drinking, lose weight, change your diet, or quit your job and move across the country, until the pain is too much. Pain is a good thing. The pain of living in Atlanta forced me to make a change and that’s how I ended up in Ventura.
When I set the plan in motion to move to California, the options laid out before me were Laguna Beach or Ventura. My good friend Kelly in Ventura told me I could stay with her while I looked for a job. Option # 1. Option # 2 was a beach house in Laguna Beach. Yes, an amazing option, however the gentleman who owned the house and I played an unbelievably comical game of phone tag. So I chose Ventura and I’m glad I did.
Right off the 101 and the PCH, Ventura is about 55 miles north of Los Angeles. It’s a laid back, easy going town with a population of about 109,000. You can get from the east side to the west side in about 20 minutes, practically any time of day. There’s an active surfing community. I hate to use the word quaint, but that’s how I’d describe downtown Ventura. It’s a nicely manicured, clean and has a decidedly small town vibe.
Driving around Ventura gives spellbinding and breathtaking views. The beauty proves dangerous while driving. I’m tempted to look at the amazing views when I’m driving, but I don’t want to die! At one turn you’re treated to sprawling mountains, and at another, the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. Leaving town, all sorts of farms line the roads of Ventura. The rows of citrus and strawberries line the hills for miles.
A post shared by James 🎼MusicianProducerWriter (@jamesstaubes) on
Kelly once said about Ventura, “If I ever say I’m tired of this scenery please punch me in the face.” You laugh but that happens. Some lifelong Venturans take this beautiful city for granted. The palm trees, the mountains, and the ocean dim from their awareness. Like Kelly, I don’t ever want to grow tired of this beauty.
Until the next chapter begins Ventura is my home, I’m loving it, and I’m not in pain.
I got off track at Coachella and I had 3 interviews last week. Time to write again.
I care about this blog. I’m often thinking of how I can make it better, funny, useful and worth everyone’s time. I don’t want it to be boring and I don’t want to be a boring writer.
You might ask, “Why are you writing every day? Why don’t you just post good stuff that you spend time on and has quality?”
I’d reply, “Because I have to do what Steven Pressfield talks about in The War Of Art! I have to show up and face resistance every day. I must show up and win, and be a pro!” To quote Tony Robbins, “Repetition is the mother of skill.” I have to do this over and over.
As Pressfield commented, there is an assistance which emerges with a daily process. The muse honors the commitment and gives heavenly gifts. The Beatles knew that gift. Prince knew it. Mozart and Beethoven, they knew it.
One of my favorite all-time quotes is attributed to Woody Allen. The quote goes, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Using that belief if I keep showing up day after day, I’ll find success. I do believe it’s true.
Greetings from Coachella! There’s a lull in the activity so I wanted to update.
We got in to tent city around 2am. My traveling companions are expert campers and had the site set up quickly.
We were all shocked by the news of Prince’s death. He was just in Atlanta playing and blowing minds as usual. But now he’s gone. 57?! It doesn’t make sense.
For me Prince represents the ultimate in being a musician, inspiration, songwriter, virtuoso, artist, and a unique voice. He said and lived what he believed. We never doubted his authenticity for a moment. His mythology was immense. It always will be.
I’m writing this on my iPhone. I had a few daily posts written but I didn’t get them finished or posted in time to keep the streak going. That’s okay. I’m going to keep up the writing because I want to meet the resistance and break through.
Last week I spent a day with a new friend I made in Ventura. We met through some mutual friends. He asked me what I did and I mentioned I had a background in music. His eyes lit up and he asked if I knew anything about recording and working with Pro Tools.
“I need your help! My mother and I just bought a recording setup and we’re having a hard time getting things going. I’d love to ask you some questions. My mother was signed to Capitol Records a while back and she can still sing. I used to play in hair metal bands in the 80’s.”
We traded numbers and finally got together. We got some coffee first and he described how he wanted to record. The more I listened I could see he had limited recorded experience. So I explained how tracking works. How ideally instruments are put on separate tracks and then mixed down to 2 tracks.
After coffee we went over to his place and I showed him how to record using GarageBand. Pro Tools doesn’t have all the built-in instruments that GarageBand does and it’s much simpler.
After a while we stopped and his mom, ya know the one signed to Capitol Records, came in. She was interested in what we were doing and was clearly glad to hear some music happening.
She invited me to dinner and we had a wonderful time. We talked about music, Ventura, and they asked a lot of questions about me. It was a great night. I enjoyed hanging out with this new friend and his mother.
Once I get back from Coachella we’re going to get a song down.