Hindsight 2021: Life, Loss & Cappuccinos

Jim on 60th birthday

Right now is the final day of 2021, and I’d prefer to let free my feelings and share just a few private highs and lows of the yr.

Quite a lot of issues occurred, however none in comparison with the occasions of the yr’s previous couple of months.

The passing of a superb buddy

For those who had run into my buddy Jim Phelan on the road of San Francisco, you wouldn’t have observed him. And he most likely wouldn’t have observed you, both.

The primary image I took of Jim in the course of the time we began working collectively years in the past

Jim was the sort who minded his personal enterprise. He carried an detached, borderline grumpy look on his face by default. He was by no means ostentatious and at all times blended within the background. He appeared unusual.

However Jim was an instance of how we are able to’t decide a ebook by its cowl. I’m a type of fortunate sufficient to get to know the true him. And to those that knew him, amongst different issues, Jim would at all times be there when wanted — extra available and at occasions surprisingly stronger than he’d seem like.

For years, Jim and I labored collectively. He filmed and minimize most of my assessment and how-to movies. The recording sections had been at all times the highlights of my days. Jim had a pointy eye for element and was fast at seeing reality vs bullshit. In some ways, he was my mentor.

Between takes, we talked. Jokes. Critical ideas. Foolish ideas. Household points. Work points. Love. Life. Politics. Racism. Good. Dangerous. So on and so forth. We laughed loads and stubborn fairly a bit, too.

I keep in mind dreading having to do movies initially. I used to be a type of who’d really feel nauseated when listening to their recorded voice performed again — I nonetheless am. That’s to not point out the remark part which, on the time, was the cesspool of humanity’s conscience. (It’s nonetheless is as we speak on some web site/social media.)

“You realize, I received numerous detrimental feedback mocking my identify and accent,” I instructed him.

“Screw that racist bullshit, Dong. You’re nice!” Jim stated. “How about we Ding Dong proper again at them?” And that was how the “that’s as a result of I’m Dong Ngo” ending in every video got here to life. We had enjoyable with it.

Jim knew loads. It was at all times enjoyable and even eye-opening to speak with him on critical subjects.

Over time, Jim and I had many loopy conversations, however I might always remember our very first.

It began with me asking him the mundane query of the place he was from as he was getting ready the cameras and lighting in our San Francisco studio.

“OK. That’s Oklahoma,” he stated. “Have you ever been?”

“Nope,” I stated, “however I’ve heard of it. Are you buddy with that Timothy McVeigh man by any probability?” I requested jokingly and instantly realized it could possibly be offensive, contemplating we hardly talked earlier than.

To my shock and aid, Jim laughed and stated:

“His bombing put us on the map, ain’t it? And no, I’m not associates with that terrorist man. That occurred near the place I grew up, although. How about you, the place are you from?”

“North Vietnam. Close to Hanoi. ” I stated.

“Oh, the Nam as they used to name it. B52s’ bombing put you guys on the map, too. That horrible warfare modified every thing.” He stated.

And proper then, we clicked and have become on the spot associates regardless of our huge age hole.

I keep in mind sharing many non-public ideas with Jim and, later, discovering out that another co-workers did, too. There was one thing about Jim that was comforting and reliably reliable.

And he shared his with me, too.

“I like the Bay Space, and that’s a superb factor. I additionally love Oaklahoma, however I can’t transfer again after residing in San Francisco for over a decade. They received’t settle for me.” He as soon as instructed me after which went on elaborating the explanations, to most of which I may relate.

“I’ll retire and die right here,” Jim added.

Jim and Lisa
Jim and his spouse within the final photograph he despatched me when he was underneath most cancers

In early 2018, once I began this web site, Jim provided to assist if I wished to open my very own YouTube channel. “It is best to! You’re actually nice!” he stated.

We ended up agreeing that we might do one thing on this entrance collectively when he retired, which might be someday in 2022. And we had been each considerably wanting ahead to that.

The pandemic broke most of our deliberate gatherings, and we saved in contact by texts and calls regardless of residing comparatively shut to one another.

In early 2019, Jim was recognized with prostate most cancers and needed to undergo some tough therapies. I instructed Jim issues can be OK and that he’d kick most cancers’s ass.

“You’ll beat it, Jim. I’ve little question.” I texted him.

“Hell, sure, I’ll,” he replied with the 💪emoji.

On the within, I saved my finger crossed. And by late 2021, Jim did kick most cancers’s ass — he was cancer-free.

Jim was joyful, presumably happiest in his life. He simply moved to his favourite neighborhood. His retirement was on the horizon. He and his spouse had a number of plans for a brand new stress-free future. He even received himself a brand-new Apple watch.

In one in every of our final exchanges, Jim was excited to listen to that my spouse and I might have a 3rd baby. “After which there have been three.” He stated, referring to a youngsters’s music. “Congratulations! Can’t wait to satisfy him!”

Life was transferring alongside considerably expectedly.

Then. It. Stopped.

On November 12, I acquired a textual content from a former colleague that Jim had handed the day earlier than.

Instantly, I assumed it was nonetheless his most cancers in some way.

Quickly later, I received an agonizing name from his spouse. “I misplaced my finest buddy.” She stated in tears. Selfishly, for the time being, my thought was, “I misplaced one in every of mine, too!”

Jim was strolling residence from a BART prepare station in San Francisco, and he collapsed on the sidewalk. And that was it. Paramedics and medical doctors couldn’t save him. The entire thing performed out like a horrible prank, a nasty dream. He died simply days earlier than my child was born.

Jim was solely 64.

Jim on 60th birthday
Right here’s the final image I took of Jim on this sixtieth birthday in our residence. We had been having a good time.
Relaxation in peace, my buddy! You’ll be missed.

To place it in a sentence, Jim processed a singular human spirit that was form, caring, real, and brutally sincere, shrouded in a bizarre, fast, and nice humorousness.

Jim Phelan had flaws like all of us. However he certain was actual, like all of us would need to be — some by no means succeed.

I do know many people will miss him dearly — I really feel for his spouse and former co-workers who’ve needed to alter their fast and long-term plans with out him. His sudden passing made no sense.

Aristotle was fallacious. Not every thing “occurs for a motive.”

Jim was an organ donor. A part of him will dwell on in others.

Per his want, the remainder is cremated and scattered within the San Francisco Pacific ocean. For eternity, he will probably be the place he belongs.

Jim was survived by his spouse, Lisa, their canine, Max, and the recollections now we have of him.


With that, let’s transfer on to some brighter notes.

This time final yr, I discussed how your Ko-Fis had helped me by 2020. That occurred throughout this yr, too.


On this entrance, THANK YOU for the love and assist. I respect each Ko-fi, little or huge, and the accompanying message of encouragement.

One other huge THANK YOU to everybody who helped make this web site higher through nameless typo studies — that’s the aim of the floating button to the suitable of the display screen.

I acquired over 200 corrections in 2021. Whereas not so happy with that reality, I certain appreciated each single one. That’s additionally to say I’m conscious of my flaws, so please hold them coming!

All through 2021, I continued my morning-coffee-to-diner day by day routine. And issues labored out considerably routinely till the final a part of the yr — as you may think about. And there was extra.

A brand new espresso machine

My day by day espresso routine lately received a major improve. Final Black Friday, we snatched an awesome deal on this Breville BES880BSS Barista Contact Espresso machine, and my spouse has been pleased with it.

With a three-cups-a-day behavior, she had been eyeing a superb espresso maker for a few years. “It will save us numerous time!” she satisfied herself.

2021 Breville BES880BSS Barista Touch Espresso Machine
Right here’s our new 2021 Breville BES880BSS Barista Contact Espresso Machine. I like to recommend it.

However no convincing would have been essential — the proof is within the pudding, as they are saying.

The day the machine arrived, we tried it, and he or she agreed once I stated its 120-second-from-start-to-finish cappuccino was comparable to at least one she’d spend some 10 minutes to make manually with our Moka pot. (And belief me, her hand-made cappuccino has at all times been arguably among the many finest.)

So the acquisition proved successful. And a well-deserved one, too.

However in all seriousness, my spouse deserved far more than a flowery beverage maker. The thought was not even remotely relevant.

A brand new child

In mid-November, we welcomed our third baby. That was the joyful half — and I didn’t essentially imply the newborn himself.

The being pregnant had been laborious on mommy. Amongst many different issues, she couldn’t stand the scent of espresso or her favourite meals — she’d puke. But, on the within, she craved them and was hungry. It was like torture. No, it was certainly torture since that lasted the whole being pregnant.

The supply was loopy, too. There’s no phrase sufficient to explain the quantity of intense ache concerned…

(That was to not point out the logistics — we had two toddlers who wanted a moring routine, meals, showers, taken to and again from faculties, tucked to mattress, and so forth., and no family close by. We had been fortunate to have associates who had been there for us. They had been the household we selected.)

So, on the time, I used to be simply joyful that my spouse’s ordeal had a cheerful ending. Most significantly, it ended. What’d occur subsequent — the parenting — won’t essentially be straightforward, however at the very least I may take part in a extra significant approach. Or so I assumed.

Take my phrase that nature is de facto unfair to ladies relating to procreation. For each human on the market, behind all these stunning child footage, there’s one girl who needed to undergo an awesome deal. And that’s only the start of it.

So, should you’re a person, particularly one which’s not (but) a father, hold that in thoughts. Perhaps give your mother a name!

By the best way, to those that are about to develop into mother and father, be sure to get as a lot sleep as you may.

Baby Picture
And right here’s one other a type of stunning footage of infants. Simply think about the quantity of ache and struggling my spouse has needed to endure…

Goodbye 2021

The conflicting feelings of getting a baby vs shedding an expensive buddy and the extended stress of getting ready for a new child throughout a pandemic proved to be an excessive amount of.

For the primary time in years, I got here down with a weeks-long debilitating chilly of some kind — not COVID-19. For days, I couldn’t communicate with out coughing uncontrollably — a lot for serving to my spouse with the parenting.

So, 2021 was loopy, to place it mildly. It had many good moments, however total, I’m glad the yr has come to an finish.

By the best way, I’ve been again in good bodily form for a few days. And, such as you, I’m prepared to begin one more flight across the solar, now geared up with a brand new understanding of how fragile life could be.

It’s the identical journey, however the journey is completely different each time! I communicate from many years of first-hand expertise. This spherical, let’s not sweat the small stuff.

Right here’s to conserving it actual!

Pleased New 12 months 2022!

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