2020. Where to begin?
As I sit down to write this at the end of the year I find it difficult to put into words exactly how this year impacted me. As a whole 2020 was a flaming dog shit sandwich on rye, filled with egregious politics, a horrendous global pandemic, parental struggles and of course Tiger King. You certainly don’t need me to recap the misery of this year. We all lived it and in a strange sense we will all be bonded forever having gone through this unprecedented moment in history together.
But the strange thing is, on a personal level, removed from the giant chaos umbrella that we’re all standing under, 2020 has kind of been amazing in a lot of ways. I think a lot of people like me who were lucky enough to come away from this year with something to show for it probably feel a little bit of guilt. I know I certainly do. But the fact is 2020 saw me achieve some truly wonderful things thanks to the kindness of others and through my own sheer determination and will-power. So I want to take a moment to take a little bit of the narrative back from this year and say thank you to the many people who helped me get through it all, and to take a bow at some personal highlights of the year.
Like most of you, being confined to our homes and limited to those we can visit with this year means I’ve spent a LOT of time with my family. I’ve been working from home for the vast majority of the year and my son has also been distance learning for much of it as well. I’ve gotten to spend a lot of time with him and I try to recognize that it’s a really special thing to be able to be this close to him all day long, something my wife is used to since she works at the daycare my children attended/attend. Watching Elliott work, and grow this year has been awesome. I remember thinking over the Summer as we took off for an impromptu bike ride through the park that while the rest of the world might be falling apart, I was incredibly happy to be able to spend so much time with my little guy.
Norah has been a constant source of laughs and smiles as she is really coming into her own personality. Every night we all laugh at the crazy 3 year old circus that keeps us reminded that no matter how crappy the outside world is, inside our house everything is right as rain.
My wife has been just about my only form of adult contact and interaction through this and it’s not lost on me how lucky I am to have a partner who supports and loves me in everything I do. She has carried a lot of weight and responsibility on her shoulders this year, working and providing childcare for essential workers throughout the pandemic. While many of us were furloughed, laid off, or sent to work from home, my wife not only has gone to work every day, but worked tirelessly to assure people’s children are safe and cared for during the worst crisis of our lives. And she comes home every night to be an amazing mother to our own kids, and a supportive wife to me. She truly is the best person I’ve ever known.
I made it a point at the start of the year to try and cultivate more meaningful relationships in my community. The fact of the matter is last year I was drowning in conditional friendships. There were too many people who were giving me pats on the back as long as I was doing something for them. People I would reach out to and support but I would never hear from unless I was the one to speak up first. There were a lot of one way streets in 2019. I knew that in order to thrive I needed to surround myself with people who truly cared about me as much as I care about them. So this year I restructured my friendships and social circle and said goodbye to people who didn’t better me as a person. The result is a much healthier me and a broader group of individuals who help me see the world in a better way. These are some people I want to shout-out for being there for me.
Danny Pena & Parris Lily – Danny and Parris have motivated me more in 2020 not only with their actions in the same professional space I occupy, but by believing in me and giving me a proper outlook on life. Yes, they have given me many opportunities and helped me achieve my goals, but it’s the conversations and the insight that they have provided that means the most to me. Many times I have reached out to these guys and expressed where I am and where I want to be headed and they have always been there to mentor me, to inspire me and to listen. In a year where it’s been easy to lose my way, or to feel bad about the missed opportunities I never got, Danny and Parris have been there to tell me not to give up and to remind me that I have people who believe in me. Hopefully next year I will have an opportunity to meet these guys in person. They truly are great people.
Luke Lohr – I’ve known Luke for a long time and while this year we probably haven’t spoken as much as we have in the past, Luke is a person who genuinely cares in a selfless way. There have been countless times where Luke has picked up on something I’ve said in a tweet, or a podcast and had the insight to know that I needed someone to talk to. Luke also challenges me to have better discourse and conversations in public spaces which is very important and appreciated. He calls me out on my nonsense, and we have genuinely thought provoking conversations that always leave me impressed. I genuinely consider him to be the smartest person I know and he sets the bar for maturity and social decency.
Team Mega Dads – I couldn’t possibly single any of these guys out because the truth is we’re a brotherhood. The friendships I’ve made with this team are invaluable and I don’t go a single day without getting lost in our team discord chats. There is no better group of guys to go to for a laugh, moral support, or inspiration to craft the next idea that’s bubbling up in my brain. I’ve also gotten quite close to some of these assholes and always appreciate when I get a DM or a text from someone on the team. It reminds me that we’re doing more than just dick jokes and game coverage here. We’re making memories and lasting friendships. Except for Berto. Fuck that guy.
When John and I sat down at my kitchen table 7 years ago to discuss creating Mega Dads I have to be honest, I thought it was a fun silly idea that would maybe last a couple of months. I had no idea either of us would have the commitment, fortitude and drive to continue pushing this snowball down the hill all these years later. Because of Mega Dads I have achieved so much and I have my eye on the horizon with bigger plans and hopefully bigger successes. I’ve always known I had the skill and work ethic to create something truly special, and I really feel like this is the pivot point where I start seeing these goals come to fruition.
Mega Dads – With the help of the team 2020 has not only been the biggest year for Mega Dads, but we’ve shattered every record for engagement and content that has come before. In 2020 we created more podcasts, articles, videos, artwork, music, streams and… well more EVERYTHING than ever before. We are dropping something new nearly every single day, in some cases twice a day. That is positively mind-blowing. We’ve had more downloads, website hits, watches, likes and more than ever before… by a lot. I couldn’t be more proud of our team who continue to not only bust their asses at Mega Dads, but be excited about the future. The better we get at what we do, the more opportunities open up for us and each of us is excited about the future.
Artwork – This year was hard on me artistically as I had no events to showcase my work. Typically there are a small handful of conventions or art sales that I attend and get to share what I work on in my studio, but 2020 took that away from me. Thankfully I found other opportunities to share my talents and in some incredible spaces no less. This year I created more logos for creators like The Trophy Room, The Xbox Expansion Pass and NintenTalk, my artwork was featured for Gamertag Radio’s 1000th episode, and just this month I was contracted by G4 to create a custom illustration for their website. It’s an amazing feeling to see my artwork spread across the internet in surprising placed. I always love when my twitter feed is populated by avatars I create for my friends. Very cool.
Sometimes people can have an impact on your life and they don’t know it. Whether it’s someone who helps you through your day by making you laugh or maybe it’s someone you feel inspired by but don’t necessarily engage with them on a regular basis. I just want to shout-out some people who have made this year better.
Riana Manuel, for being a positive voice who seems to always be lifting people up. I won’t forget the opportunity you gave to me and I appreciate your looking out for a middle aged dude trying to make his mark in the video game space.
ZombaeKillz, for being a friendly voice and setting the bar for what people like us who have passion and drive can achieve by keeping our chin up and pushing forward.
Stephen Duetzmann, for constantly showing support for everything we do at Mega Dads. It’s invaluable to have someone in your corner to remind you that the work is paying off. Stephen has been incredibly kind and always reminds me to keep pushing.
Finally, none of this would happen if not for my brother. Mega Dads was his idea and without it I wouldn’t have this platform to learn, grow and improve in everything that I do inside OR outside of the Mega Dads world. Yes, we’ve grown the team and there are a lot of moving parts that could keep this thing going with or without John and I, but honestly when you take away all the achievements, the success and the constant work, Mega Dads is still about two brothers in their 40s finding a way to share their love of video games. I wouldn’t do this without him, and I wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t brought this idea to me so many years ago.