My Wife and I Have Been Performing and Publishing Original Songs I’ve Written… Largely Due to Cancelling Netflix and as a Way to Overcome My Existential Crisis

Earlier this week I revealed the top 5 highlights of my 2019 in review: one of those is that my wife and I have been releasing songs that I have written. While I have published them on YouTube and shared them on Facebook, I have yet to really talk about the how and the why of it.

So here’s the story…

My wife and I both moved to Nashville to pursue music careers; she arrived in 2004 and I showed up in 2005. We met in 2006, starting dating in 2007, and got married in 2008.

Since then, my wife earned her Master’s Degree (2009), we had a son (2010), we become debt-free other than our mortgage (2013), we moved into a brand-new houses in the suburbs (2015), and we had a daughter (2016).

And then, my employer of 12 years shut down my branch, releasing about 40 people at the same time; giving us a 2 weeks’ severance pay and a hand shake.

For the next 6 months, while being a stay-at-home dad, I spent any free time I had on writing songs, and eventually releasing my newest song on YouTube, in 2018.

“Maybe It’s a Dream” is an autobiographical song exploring the concept of how “removed” from the human experience I felt after I started living my life with the knowledge that being offended or disrespected is always my own choice. It was me realizing how much of my time, energy, and emotions had been wasted on letting the free world affect my emotions, when it was my decision every single time.

Shortly after releasing that song, my 6 month stint as a stay-at-home dad/blogger/YouTuber ended when I gained employment at a Fortune 500 company; where I have been employed for more than a year and a half now.

That led to new inspiration for writing songs, as it ushered in my “existential crisis of 2019”.

My salary nearly doubled, putting my wife and me in a situation where we could finally start building our retirement. We are very grateful for all the help with investments, thanks to Charles Schwab.

This caused me to have to re-evaluate my identity, as I found myself at the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid; no longer triggered by the fear or anxiety of money, or even my own emotions.

Therefore, I started coming to terms with my existential crisis (some would call it a midlife crisis); as I had basically reached all of my life goals before the age of 40.

My next song, written just a couple of months ago, would be called “Tripping on Existence”; which was my way of sorting out my experience. I found that going through an existential crisis at a younger age put me in a situation where few people I knew could relate; which only intensified my feeling of floating in the universe like Tony Stark in the trailer for Avengers Endgame.

There had been other songs I had written during my 6 months of unemployment, but that didn’t get released due to me getting a job.

One was called “Fort Payne, Alabama”; another autobiographical song addressing the paradox of how my hometown undeniably helped form my identity, yet ultimately prepared me to move away after college and live my own life in the next state over in Tennessee.

So after releasing that year-and-half year old song, I decided I wanted to include my wife on my final leftover song from 2018: “We’re Gonna Leave in the Morning”.

It was a song I written, fantasizing about being able to just “up and go” on a road trip to anywhere; just she and I.

This is a fantasy because we haven’t gone on a fun road trip without the kids, since… we had kids.

I finally got to show off my wife’s singing in one of my songs. I was so proud to share her with the world.

It is truly a song about us; written from my perspective. It is my version of a love song. A love song when you’ve been married for over a decade, have 2 kids, and live in the suburbs.

During the time we were rehearsing that song, I casually wrote a song called “The Meaning of Life”. We decided to record that as well; the song was barely a week old when we published it.

The song was me exploring the irony in that none of us asked to be born, yet it is up to us to determine individually what the meaning of life is, though we have no idea how long our lives will be.

My next couple of songs, which I determined I wanted us to record on that same night; were complete opposites in mood:

The loud and upbeat “(Subtitles) I Dare You Not to Fall in Love with Me” would serve as our very first true duet together; as the autobiographical song explores what was really going through our minds on the night we met: October 5th, 2006.

Meanwhile, the somber and reflective “You Won’t Remember My Name” was written to remind the listener how the default is often to arbitrarily make perceived enemies of the people on the other side of the political fence.

The last song of 2019 that my wife and I recorded is a cover of Patty Griffin’s “Long Ride Home”; imagining the regrets of a man at his wife’s funeral, after they had been married for 40 years.

This one was special because it served as my wife’s first solo of all the songs we performed together. I simply played guitar on this one, as I wanted to only showcase her amazing ability to sing.

I currently have 3 more originals that I have been practicing; likely to be released in January 2020.

There is the somewhat novelty Country tune, “Jeep Wrangler Theme Song”, explaining the micro-culture of Jeep Wrangler owners, along with our Jeep wave.

Another loud and fun song is “I Feel Like You Want Me to Care”, which points out the power (and humor) of refusing to give emotional control to others when they are eager to take it from you.

And lastly, I have an alternative rock power ballad (?) called “Shotgun”, addressing the ridiculously dangerous risk and gamble that two young people make when they choose to marry each other, for better or worse.

My wife and I both moved to Nashville a long time ago to pursue music. Could we have been doing this all along? Maybe.

But I don’t think it could have been this genuine, this mature, or this good.

We had to live more of our lives together first. We needed more life experience first. We needed to get to the point where we were financially set so we psychologically free to create and perform in the way we can now.

Ultimately, the gate opened as a side-effect of us choosing to cancel our Netflix subscription back in May of this year. That was what created the time and space for us to focus on these songs.

Our music is what happens when Netflix is out of the picture. That’s pretty interesting, actually.

Dear Jack: Your Hamster’s New Aquarium

9 years.

Dear Jack,

It turns out, cages sold for hamsters aren’t truly intended for the type of hamster you have. A teddy bear hamster, or Syrian Hamster, is much happier in an aquarium; as opposed to a cage.

So last week, on a random school night, I took you to the pet store to help me pick out a 20 gallon aquarium for Alpha.

Not only is he clearly much happier in the open space, but it is undeniable that you are much more excited to have a pet hamster now!

You are actively involved and excited each evening when we get him out to play.

Plus, it is much easier to clean his home that he predictably pees in the same corner now! Out with the cage, in with the aquarium.

Love,

Daddy

My 2019 Year in Review: 5 Things That Defined My Life in the Final Year of the 2010s- Existential Crisis, Jeep Wrangler, 20th High School Reunion…

I only recently realized that we are actually coming to the end of another decade. This decade itself has presented several major milestones for me:

2010: I became a parent for the first time when my son Jack was born.

2011: I turned 30 years old. Parents Magazine chose me as their official daddy blogger- a side gig that was last the next 4 years.

2012: I became the manager of the retention department at my employer at the time, which triggered my fascination with emotional intelligence- especially, the concept that being offended is always a person decision.

2013: My wife and I became debt-free, other than our mortgage.

2014: We started building our new house.

2015: We moved into our brand-new house; having previously owned a town home. I also started my first YouTube channel, which currently has over 8K subscribers and earns me an average of $500 per month.

2016: Four days after my 35th birthday, my daughter was born.

2017: The company I had been working for the past 11 years closed down my branch, starting a 6 month stretch of me being a stay-at-home dad.

2018: I made by television debut on the Lifetime Network show, This Time Next Year. I also got a new job, at a Fortune 500 Company, where I have now worked a year and a half.

As for 2019, there are 5 particular events that come to mind…

1- Existential crisis: Having reached all my major life goals before the age 40, I came to a point where I had to re-evaluate my goals and ambitions.

2- Jeep Wrangler: After owning my Honda Element since 2006, I finally got a new” vehicle- a 2010 Jeep Wrangler JK 6 Speed.

3- 20th Year High School Reunion: My wife and I had a great time with the people I grew up with and graduated with in 1999.

4- Releasing Original Songs: So far, my wife and I have released 4 new original songs together on my YouTube channel. Despite both moving to Nashville to start music careers, we had never publicly performed together.

5- 1st Family Pet: Despite our “no pet” policy in our home, my son wanted a teddy bear hamster for his 9th birthday. Ultimately, the hamster quickly became my pet- or at best, the “family” pet.

Now, with the 2020s ahead of me, I shall enter the decade in which I turn 40 and became of the parent of two teenagers. That ought to be fun.

Dear Jack: We Saw WWE Wrestling at Monday Night Raw in Nashville on December 2nd, 2019

9 years.

#WWE

#WWENashville

@carbonhouse

Dear Jack,

Like clockwork, the moment you turned 9 years old (just a couple of weeks ago), you instinctively knew to trade in all of your interest and fascination of Pokemon, for WWE Wresting.

It’s amazing how much trivia you know about all the wrestlers already.

Mommy looked up online to see if by chance, a WWE event would be coming to Nashville anytime soon.

We were in luck: Monday Night Raw would be taking place at the Bridgestone Arena on December 2nd.

Needless to say, Mommy immediately bought the tickets (just $15 each)!

Your favorite wrestler is the masked Mexican-American living legend Rey Mysterio. Naturally, you had your hopes up that he would actually be at the event we would be attending.

When you looked up the roster the WWE website, he was not featured as one of the wrestlers for that night.

But our amazement, this past Monday night, we were pleasantly surprised when Rey Mysterio made multiple appearances throughout the night!

We could not have planned it that way had we tried.

The event started at 6:30 PM and it wasn’t over until 4 hours later! I had never been to a WWE wrestling event either, so I had no idea we would be getting so much bang for our buck.

It was definitely a coming of age milestone for you and I am so proud to have gotten to share it with you.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Making Blankets and Diapers from Kleenex

3 years, 7 months.

Dear Holly,

With Christmas coming up in just a few weeks, I have a feeling you’re going to be all about the baby dolls.

This past weekend when we returned from our Thanksgiving trip to Alabama, Mommy and I noticed you quietly entertaining yourself on the far side of the living room.

You discretely discovered a travel pack of Kleenex from one of the suitcases and decided that a few of the tissues would make the perfect sized blanket for one of your small baby dolls.

Then you determined that it was time to change the baby’s diapers, so you made her a new diaper with a few more of the tissues.

I know you are going to love any new baby dolls you get this year for Christmas!

Love,

Daddy

At Age 38, I Am Now the Proud New Owner of a Teddy Bear Hamster (Formerly My 9 Year-Old Son’s Birthday Gift)

Two weeks ago, my wife and I finally cracked on our “no pets in our home, ever” policy, when our son authentically and repeatedly asked for a pet hamster for his 9th birthday.

Being the extremely frugal Jewish-minded parents we are, we cut a deal with our son:

If you buy the cage, we’ll buy the hamster.

So after he went all out and spent $50 on the coolest hamster cage ever, my wife and I dropped the $16 required to purchase a hamster.

Things were off to a shaky start of our son’s pet ownership when as he was attempting to place the hamster in its cage, it bit him on the hand, drawing blood.

I felt bad. So I took it upon myself to hand-tame the 3 month-old hamster.

By Thanksgiving, I had successfully trained the hamster to crawl out of the cage into his hamster ball. Naturally, the rodent and I began to bond.

Throughout the process, I continually invited my son to be a part of the process. He just wasn’t that impressed.

With a 30 day return policy, I began openly talking about returning the hamster. At first, he pleaded against the idea.

But this past weekend, he actually asked if we could return the hamster.

Well… too late.

Because I had already told my wife the day before, “The hamster openly shows me it appreciates me. It depends on me yet I don’t feel taken for granted. I will adopt the hamster as my own.”

I admit, there’s undeniably some psychology in there. I accept that, often, as a parent, you don’t get much verbal appreciation from your kids.

Granted, I’m a grown man. I don’t need confirmation to know I am loved or appreciated.

But the hamster is able to provide something my son is not in this time in his development.

Therefore, the hamster and I now have a symbiotic relationship:

I clean his cage, feed and water him, and provide entertaining exercise for him.

He crawls up to the cage door anytime he is awake and sees me, as if to say, “Hey Buddy, I’m ready to come out so you can take care of me.”

My son named him Alpha. I’m keeping the name. He’s the alpha male of hamsters.

Dear Jack: Your Reptile-Themed 9th Birthday Party

9 years.

Dear Jack,

This year for your birthday party, I feel like it’s safe to say that both Mommy and I were feeling a bit ambitious, as we hosted ten of your 9 year-old friends at our home. Notably, there were all boys.

You were very involved in the planning process, though. The theme: Reptiles.

It was your idea to start out by having all your friends paint a wooden snake at our kitchen table.

Next up on the agenda was to play “Pin the Tongue on the Cobra”… of course!

Then, I took you and your friends out on a scavenger hunt hike around the walking trail in our neighborhood:

Jack’s 9th Birthday Scavenger Hunt Hike

As a group, the following items must be discovered and tasks must be completed.

If not, no one gets pizza or cake- and Jack can’t open his presents- he has to give the presents back.

-Corn cob

-American flag

-Poisonous berries

-7 dog poop signs

-P on door

-Owl on door

-4 painted metal signs of flowers- blue, red, green, yellow

-Predators’ flag

-3 signs of a man with a floating head

-Everyone throws a black walnut into the woods from the top of the stairs

-Everyone runs backwards across a wooden bridge

-Everyone sits on a bench at the same time

-Everyone yells “Happy Birthday Jack!” on the same side of a tunnel, while he’s on the other side

(I helped you all out by pointing to the big letter “P” on our neighbors’ door, as that’s the letter that their last name begins with.)

It was perfect timing- because by the time we all returned to our house, the pizza had just been delivered.

I can not remember the last time I had Domino’s pizza, but I was thoroughly impressed!

And of course, the finale of the party was letting you all have a massive swordfight with inflatable snakes out in the cul-de-sac.

Your birthday party went so well that I suppose we could get away with hosting it at our house again next year!

Love,

Daddy