What's up! I'm J.

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The Ada Pour House Gastropub

The Ada Pour House Gastropub

The original concept for this blog, before it had a name, was that it was going to be an outlet for me to just bitch about all the little (and big) things in life that piss me off. Yeah, I know, that sounds terrible and makes me look even worse.

My biggest character flaw is being critical of others, usually most clearly displayed when I witness someone’s utter lack of self-awareness, lack of consideration of others or just plain laziness. It almost always appears as if they, somehow managing to do both at the same time, willingly and obliviously go out of their way to seek the path of least resistance.

In early 2008, I purchased the domain dismantlerepair.com (where this content will eventually live). For Christmas that year, my brother Justin purchased dsmntlrpr.com for me, too. It was his way of encouraging me to do something I loved, to create. When we’d see each other for the holidays or special occasions, he’d bring it up. He’d ask if I had put anything in motion yet, and I’d have to be clever about rationalizing why I hadn’t. When I couldn’t answer him, he'd pitch me ideas - just trying to ignite a spark. I felt guilty every time I dodged him, especially when all he wanted to do was see me do something amazing. Embarrassingly, I’ve been procrastinating. That’s it. No other excuses. I was the one being lazy. It’s been a tough pill to swallow, to come to terms with my own self-awareness, realizing that I’ve wasted so much time criticizing others when all it’s done is distract me from achieving my own goals.

I’ve been on a personal journey of self-rediscovery, albeit a very slow one, for the last couple years. My goal is to continually evolve into a better version of myself, while knowing it can’t be accomplished until I’m able to break down and recognize who I am and what makes me tick so I know what and how to improve. Thus, DismantleRepair. Thank you, Anberlin, for being a positive light in my life, particularly during the darkest days of my twenties. Thank you, Justin, for protecting that light, ensuring that it never went out.

So. What was originally going to start out solely as an internet bitch session must now be held to a higher standard. Because I’m trying to do the same for myself, I have a name, a family and a purpose with which to leave a meaningful legacy. No, I’m not perfect. And, yes, some of the words I will eventually get off my chest might sting you or me. But, the challenge I’m waging against myself is to write, create and share with a sense of maturity and responsibility. In my attempts to break it down, I will also work to put the pieces back together to understand them, myself and life with more clarity, and, if I’m really lucky, more patience and compassion as well.

Beyond just pulling apart something that gets under my skin in order to come to terms with it, part of this onion peeling process is also being able to recognize and acknowledge when something beautifully simple happens. Next to the extraordinary, I don’t think the little things get enough credit.

Katherine and I spontaneously went out to brunch yesterday because the sun was shining and I wanted to sit on an unfamiliar patio. Leaving downtown Grand Rapids, I called The Ada Pour House, the coolest little hidden gem neither of us had been to before, to confirm their patio was open and available. Jacob, their Bar/Service Manager, answered the phone, and in the 20 seconds we talked he sold me without even trying. He was probably the most courteous and welcoming restaurant team member I’ve ever talked to when calling ahead a restaurant or bar. Dude was authentic, and smoothly told me he’d go out of his way to make sure my wife and I got set up on the patio.

When we arrived 15 minutes later, there he was - spray bottle and towel in hand, running the floor. Within two minutes we were sat. We would’ve been outside sooner, but that’s because he picked up a table from one end of the patio and carried it to the other so that we’d be hit by the sun (because he paid attention to what I mentioned earlier on the phone).

I thanked him for the way he took my call in that it was a rarity to be talked to with such genuine kindness. His response, as honest and sincere as one person could be: “It’s easier to just be nice to people, right?! When I wake up every morning it’s my choice, and I choose being nice. It just makes the days better.”  

I turned to look at Katherine, humbled and impressed, and my eyes said to her, “Who IS this guy?!” After being sat, and before our sweetheart server Miki took care of us, he chatted up beers he thought I’d like (he was 2-for-2), and complimented my shoes (typically not a guy thing to do, but I was flattered). I’m telling you, this guy rocked.

I'm certain he was there because I was supposed to meet him. When you cut through all the day-to-day bullshit, there are people like Jacob at the core who remind you that being alive is a gift.

Jacob, if you ever read this, your next Fresh Squeezed and Dirt Wolf are on me, man.

So, yeah, DismantleRepair. It won’t all be negative. It can’t be, because there are people out there making music and changing lives like Anberlin, my brother pushing me to make good on promises to myself, and guys like Jacob just being too nice to ignore.

Things are going to change now for the better...

[Update, 9.18.15, since being published: In a turn of small world coincidences, I discovered the owners of the Ada Pour House are Rob Aldridge and his wife, Nikki. Turns out, Rob and I were fellow family members at Mongolian Barbeque in Okemos, MI, circa early '00s. Love finding out that an old school colleague is doing something great and stayed true to our Mongo mantra that encouraged "friends taking care of friends."]

European Vacation: Getting There - Grand Rapids to Chicago to Dublin, 15.06.15

European Vacation: Getting There - Grand Rapids to Chicago to Dublin, 15.06.15

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Bell’s Brewery’s Funvitational