Life Is A Road Trip

The Amazing Adventures of a Zoobroker and a Sentiographer


30 days on the road ...

california, food, i wonder, musingszoobrokerComment

The trip starts for me tomorrow ... and the way it's scheduled, I'm on the road for 30 days straight. The official road trip doesn't start until the 11th ... look for updates starting around then ...

In the meantime, enjoy this tip of the day:

Things You Can Slice With An Egg Slicer

Eggs Mushrooms Strawberries Pieces of Banana Boiled Potatoes

Things You Cannot Slice With an Egg Slicer

Apples Zucchini* Raw Potatoes*

*Not actually tested, because it broke on the apple.

RT4: Zoo's Closing Thoughts

musings, ZoobrokerzoobrokerComment

I've said this before, but road trips, like life, are unforgiving. You get one shot at a city, to make the most of it, and then you've moved on. Your mistakes and your successes are amplified. This was a pretty sedate road trip. I was more introspective than a good road trip partner should be, with long quiet stretches. Part of that was because I didn't really take that quiet time for myself in the weeks leading up to the trip. But Phaux was built with the emotional sense to let me be. Thank you, Phaux.

I've been to all the places we visited on our road trip ... this time we took a different path to get there. Even the drive to Whistler was repaved for our travels -- Fuck it, I'm sick of metaphor and aphorism. I can't even continue with that thought. Vomit.

The posts ... those events that reached some level of noteworthiness ... only tell part of the story ... these were my highlights:

I like your parts more than you like mine. The last time I was down this road ... I was in love. Who knew hairspray could provide so much amusement (read comments) Who knew I had worn those jeans for 7 days? Enjoy my awesome leather jacket .. it's yours now.

Phaux, thanks for being an awesome friend, for picking up the slack when I was letting it loose. Of any cohort (who I'm not going to have sex with) I could choose for a road trip, the mohawked sentographer is certainly the best. RT4 is in the books. Already looking forward to the Great Lakes.

Phaux's Closing Thoughts, Part 1

musings, on the road, washingtonMatt Hill1 Comment

I am sitting in seatac airport with five'ish hours to go until I liftoff for home, and want to record some thoughts while they are fresh and juicy. First off, Zoo is a GREAT road mate. Words cannot express his huge contribution to the road trips being extraordinary, but I'll give it a shot..

He is unflinching about being alive and living life his way. I have great respect for him, even when I disagree. His travel is experience is deep, so having him along adds a layer of comfort, especially when he says, "Can we drive down on that iced over river?"  (unnamed rental car company, please do not read this). His encouragement of me and other people to go outside their boundaries and live a little makes life interesting and fun. There's so much more, but my point is sincerely that I appreciate you, Zoo. Thanks for the miles and the smiles, dude.

Places #1 Portland #2 Banff  #3 Vancouver 

I could move to Portland tomorrow and be a very happy man. I will visit Banff many times in the future. And Vancouver is a damn cool city.

Highlights Kennedy School - just plain awesome The Doug Fir and Rontoms are great bars with fun people. Always wanted to drink at the Doug Fir and I learned that the Indie Music scene in Portland is great at Rontoms. My beautiful skull Banff, the beautiful Best Road Biggest Unanswered Question Whistler Village, BC


Favorite People Photo  

Best Breakfast - Voula's (Sorry, Portland!) Best Lunch - St. James Gate Gangers and Mash Best Dinner - Tie between Slo Bar (burger) in Portland and Grizzly House (fondue) in Banff


Growth Every single road trip we make includes opportunities taken to plant seeds, leave room for gestation and let the new rear its head. On this trip, I was a lot more emotionally stable than prior trips, so instead my personal growth included being a bit more "one of the guys." My life prior to this didn't really have opportunity to ever be a wingman, play in bars, flirt outrageously, etc. It was a fairly "normal" path towards the American Dream of having the house, marriage and kids. Now I am living a new bachelor life and finding out that not only do I like being alone, but I also like learning more about what I may like in a relationship with each new gal with whom I spend a little time.

The result? I still believe in love and fidelity in a committed relationship. But it's not something I'll die over if I don't get it now... In the meantime I'm having fun.

As for Zoo, I know he had his own thoughts gestating during the trip. I won't presume to comment on them, but I do think they are going to stay underground for some more nutrients and water in the dark.

On another topic, I have some more thoughts about authenticity. It is a slight paradox that I choose to use a pseudonym on this site, but firmly believe in transparency and authenticity. This is brought into relief by one of Zoo's posts where during that evening I gave out personal information, but not info about this site. It turned out for the best, because the fun-poking from Zoo could be hurtful should the site be found. Nothing terrible, just not entirely nice. And here is the crux of the matter... What Zoo posts is not my responsibility, but I do share the site with him. Do I reveal what he posts by revealing the site, or do I let it pass? That question lies unanswered at present. So I also have something that needs more time to grow before I can make a decision.

It's also apparent that I am still learning the fine art (snicker) of being a wingman. It's foreign to me, and my beliefs. In parallel, I also believe that it's far easier to condemn something without every trying it. Greater understanding comes with experience. Easier said, I'll try anything once. In this case, if everyone is out to have a good time then it's a part of the "game." My gut feeling is that I am far too sincere to be a wingman. ;)


Compare to before RT4

Biggest personal disappointment: Ummm... being a little naive about 'signals'

2nd biggest personal disappointment: Not actually engaging in deliberate Sentography, only holistic.

Biggest personal success: Frankly, enjoying myself with unfamiliar women on short notice. I've been removed from that world for a long time... I usually work into relationships over a long period of time. Bars and dating are almost a foreign language to me.

Wrapup Every road trip is a potent reminder that we have to choose to enjoy our days, not wait for enjoyment to find you. Make the things you want happen, but don't expect to be able to plan every road between here and what you want, leave that to chance - it's more fun that way.

And finally, get yourself a mohawk. It's the tits.


milestones, musings, ZoobrokerzoobrokerComment

There was a time when I had a list of things I wanted to accomplish in my life. A bucket-list ... I called it "my 50". I dragged myself through that list for the past decade, laying the bricks of my edification and education. The bricks -- the places I had to see, the books I had to read, the accomplishments I had to conquer -- were kilned and lain steadily in the hope that I would be something more than I was. But as I started to empty the list faster than I could add to it, I still had an inconsolable emptiness. It was the emptiness of knowing that I was less than I had ever hoped to be. So I paused the list. I took a different tact, and embraced an ascetic life, a quiet and mundane existence. I left behind those things that others might have seen as an extraordinary life and replaced them with the daily repetition of the ordinary.

I found a girl, lived in one little city, worked a somewhat regular schedule, hung out in the local bar. I had date night, poker night, bar night, my phone time with a few friends around the country.

Eliminating the constant distractions let me see that it was not the bricks that mattered, but the mortar. The people who accompanied me for all those accomplishments. The opportunities for self-examination in those hours waiting at the airport.

The road trips are one of the few obviously extraordinary weeks I have each year. But as much as I look forward to them, it's what they do to the 6 months in between. How they gild the mundane, remind me to relish my own smallness, magnify what is important to me -- magnify it to ignition. The last time around, I needed a push -- there's no doubt that I got it. This time around, I don't need a kick in the pants, I'm not looking for anything but to enjoy time with a friend (and maybe grief some Mennonites). I know it will remind me that I am right where I'm supposed to be.

I've removed all but one last goal from "my 50". Phauxtog, keep an eye out for feral cats.

What's Under Your Skin?

musings, new yorkMatt HillComment

You are where you are - sentography
You are where you are - sentography

Last time around we posted separate pre-trip musings to set the emotional and cerebral stage for what could easily be seen as a vacation for two rowdy guys. Heck, we're not nearly as shallow as we may come off. We certainly like to have fun, but it's easy to say that both of us derive a lot of enjoyment from working out the bullshit from daily life and coming home a newer and better person each time. I expect this trip to be just as illuminating, if not more.

The only thing that is a real shame is that I wanted to shed some poundage prior to this, but I chose other priorities. My own damn fault. Whatevs, I am who I am, all the time.

So here I sit in my apartment, drinking some Peets Major Dickason's and waking up from a long week (seven weeks) of work and visiting friends and their art shows. All in all, I am very happy with how my life is going right now. I'm being social in the wake of an extended separation and rough divorce last year, I'm making new friends, making art, shooting more than ever, making great progress at work, meeting gals I like and some like me back, and growing up in big ways.

For instance, I've learned one of those really important life lessons - how to be friends with a woman I think is attractive. Seriously, it's hard! Well, it was. I think it's one part controlling primal instincts and one part choosing the more important benefit over satisfying said primal urge. For sure, the benefits of having meaningful friendships with members of the fairer sex outweigh a lack of it any day. But it's something I really didn't know how to do until this past year or two. I had a best friend, and she was a gal (and previously my wife), so it's a skill I didn't try to develop since attraction and friendship were wrapped together in one package. Being on my own, it's now part of  my healthy lifestyle. After all, attraction is one of those intangibles that can strike quickly, but when you ask yourself, "What's the benefit of not being myself because I am attracted to this gal?" it gets pretty easy to identify that there are none. So, on to being myself always. In the end, that is the goal paramount to staying happy all the time.

So what big things can I focus on for this road trip? Sentography, right? 

Sentography: dynamic forms of communication of emotion and qualities.

A portrait photographer worth their salt always looks to make a person or people a story out of a moment. A sentographer has to take this one step further - not just make someone look good and natural, but capture them in a natural state of emotion. And make it cathartic, damnit! (snicker).

So in addition to my regular path of always reaching for more self-improvement and having maximum fun, I will add to this my ability to help people delve into themselves and then capture those moments. Perhaps we'll post interviews, too. Not sure how this is going to work, but I do know that somehow, it will.

I guess that last sentence is something I say to myself often and that's a big part of who I am today. I believe in me.

So, RT4 (Road Trip 4 for the uninitiated), I'm coming for you. Be ready to bare your soul.

RT4: Phauxtog weighs in on waiting it out

musings, new york, Phauxtog, photographyMatt HillComment

I'm thinking about the road trip that's only one month away... these things come to mind: Vistas. Panoramas. Breathtaking views. Open road. Skiing. Canada! Seattle! The Canadian Rockies! Portland! The Pacific Ocean. 

Potential. Progress. Presence. Authenticity. Expansion. Refinement.

One thing I've realized being a passionate night (photo)sentiographer for so long is that is easily perceived as darkness, over time, becomes something much closer to day.

Red Hook, Brooklyn

Continues after the break...

Four minutes exposed, and night becomes day. Thoughts, over time, expose deeper meaning much the same way.

I've been on an expansive path for a few years now, and the more I learn about myself, the more I know I can be more, do more, achieve more of my dreams. Coffee and cigarettes may fuel my body in the morning, but passion and dreams fuel my choices. I choose to pursue an open-ended road trips because it enables possibilities. Thinking in terms on long exposure, I wish that the 10 day road trip were two months. 

Why? It's certainly not vacation greed; I enjoy my day job very much. No, I know that I would get much deeper insights over a longer stay away from my daily existence. Much like a 15 minute exposure

69th street transfer station

reveals a bright city bustling even in moonlight behind a darkened and forgotten rail transfer station and glassy water that is the visual sum of all its movement, I am thinking about what the total experience would equal over a period six times longer.

My best guesses:

  • I would discover that I have larger goals that are dismissed out of practicality  
  • I would meet other people experiencing a similar freedom from "normal" life
  • I would relax more than I have in ten years
  • I would come up with previously unfound and potentially amazing creative ideas
  • I would find twenty more places I would consider living

Why am I even doing this mental exercise? Am I ungrateful for this 10-day window? Not at all - I live for this. And I ask myself because I want to push a boundary. That being that I have a fairly standard schedule to my life. I am grateful for its consistency, but I wonder if I am using my time the best I can... I am certainly growing in many facets: career, knowledge, skill, etc. but something feels like it wants to explode out of the gate - my creativity. and nine'ish hours a day allow only restricted access to that.

All that out of the way, Rt4 is one month away and it's gonna be one hell of a ride. We have a surprise or two for you, and I'm sure we'll be served some of our own ;)

So, start counting the days. Seattle, here we come!

Spammer's Closing Thoughts, Part 2 (Metaphysics in ReAction)

musings, SpamZalotMatt HillComment

You know how I was talking about juxtaposition? How about following up such a tremendous journey with a full day of "work" on 4 hours' sleep? LOLz. There's a certain phrase bandied about, "The grass is always greener on the other side." I've heard it applied in so many ways, including in reference to relationships (and how it isn't... eventually), work  (and how it isn't... eventually) and playtime (and how it isn't... eventually - getting the point?) But a new insight is that I appreciate vacation more for having a regular job and vice versa. Like not knowing how wonderful light is only in its absence, you have to have opposites (or dissimilarities) to appreciate. Again, comparisons are the key. They are the reference, the measuring stick and the opportunity for insight. (more...)

On the other hand, it is conceivable that you can appreciate something simply because you can. If you have the clarity of self to see what you have/do and like it for what is is, is it not possible to simply enjoy that without juxtaposing? I believe so.

If you believe your grass is green, then it is. 'Nuff said.

So now I am at home, enjoying the comfort of my well-chosen green couch, cat by my side, after a full day of work where I am appreciated and I appreciate it. I like spam, and it likes me.

Let's visit a moment from the road trip. Night in Cheyenne, and our new friend Tyler asked me, "So what does the rest of the country think of us in Wyoming?" My blank stare left room for him to elaborate. He continued, "You know, with all of the bad things that have happened here?" He gave me some details and I simply remarked, " I don't watch television, listen to the radio or listen to newspapers. I don't know what these things are and my own opinion, because I can't speak for everyone else, is that I like Wyoming, and everyone I have met so far. In addition, it's getting better all the time. I am having fun and I'm going to tell everyone about it." So there you have it, lots of beliefs wrapped in a tiny little conversation:

  • What do other people think of me? (and how does that inform my own opinion of myself)
  • I believe I am a good person and live with good people.
  • What do you think of me/us?

I believe that every single person is distinct and different. Groupings and categorizations are unfair and unrealistic. Zoo figured this out, too. This is such a wonderful belief to reaffirm over and over while on the road. You meet the best people while holding this belief.

So, here is the real meat of this closing thought - you are what you believe. If you believe yourself to be open to new experiences, you will be. If you believe the gravel road under your wheels is the best possible path you can take at that moment, it will be. If you believe that the Amber Ale is crap and that the Stout is better (Zoo...), then so shall it be. And if you believe that you can do what you want to do and it will make you feel good... then you will feel like I do right now.

Zoo's Favorite Moments

musings, ZoobrokerzoobrokerComment

Of our one-hundred or so posts, I wanted to distill for you the best of the best, in my opinion ... First, we started with a bang in Omaha, then I got to talk to a future mad scientist.  I got my ass kicked in virtual kung-fu under the stars.  We really did see The Most Amazing Road On Earth.  There was no you could plan this.  And we opened up the vault and found a great surprise.

There were so many more moments, but those are my top 6 ... only two more posts from me before I close the door on RT3 and start looking forward.

Zoo's Closing Thoughts, Part 2


What is wrong with you people?

When I said I was taking a road trip through the Plains and the Rockies, some people asked “Why would you want to do that?”. Others warned me of racists, guns and small minds and who knows what else. Forget that most of these folks have only seen the middle of the country from 30000 feet as they fly coast-to-coast: the mentality was that there was almost no reason to go check out what my Mountain Time Zone brothers are up to, except maybe for a ski vacation.

You might think you’d hear the similar complaints from the citizens of the Rockies – they did after all vote for George Bush, right? What love could they have for us liberal, wine-tasting, Prius-driving snobs? Wrong. Most people were genuinely interested in the goings-on out on the coasts, asking probing questions, and mostly, they just wanted to have a good time with us.

Think twice before you denigrate the “red states”. If you think the differences in our politics mean you can’t enjoy all the people and places around, you are the ones with the small minds.