About pandemix

At the risk of starting a new hipster trend, I’ve decided to document what life is like in the modern world with a flip phone. How has switching from an iPhone to the LG Exalt brought me so much amusement that I’ve started blogging about it? A few reasons:

  1. I’m a Millennial and this puts me in an alienated minority in my generation
  2. The reactions from others has been a case study in psychological projection and others’ refusal to take action
  3. To document the real differences I’ve noticed in myself and lifestyle without a smartphone

Disclaimer: I still own my iPhone and tend to use it when I’m on Wifi, but in a far different manner than I did before at my peak addiction.

Any cheap humor aside, I’ve made enough discoveries and have had enough notable interactions with strangers and friends that I couldn’t resist writing about it.

So I’d like to welcome you to the Flip Phone Chronicles.

And I’d like to start off by telling you something you already know about yourself:

You know that you frequently use your smartphone and often have difficulties releasing your hand from its grips.

You know that your smartphone is valuable tool and a godsend in human evolution, although it often controls you more than you’d like it to.

And you know that instant connectivity, unlimited dopamine rushes, and endless jingles are oftentimes worth more than where you are in the moment.

This is not a series designed to shame or signal a sense of superiority, but a case study in personal development, human psychology, and thriving in the modern world.

Instead, I’ll satisfy that nagging curiosity you’ve had about living in an overly connected world without a smart phone, and I’ll show you why that statement is not as ridiculous as it sounds.

Day Before Daytona

Writing instead of packing. Guess I’m ready as I’ll ever be. Naturally second guessing between consciously gratifying. Keeps things in check, I’m done this enough to know what needs to be done.

The grom adds a twist to it all and I love it. Tomorrows a big one, especially on the Tacoma. hitch a trailer, fill it up with bikes, throw grom in the back and go to Florida. and I’m sure a billion other things too. No problem.

The day before Daytona has been solid. oil changed, good interaction with the guy waiting next to me, probably could’ve talked the whole time if his car hadn’t just finished. Figured out how to code Woocommerce buy buttons into MD instead. Nightmare.

Good interactions with people can make a day and so can Columbus Pizza. Threw on the Trump hat, blasted music and banged out more work for Not My Business. the hat will make interesting interactions in the near future.

Figure I’d throw this up. I should write more no matter how it comes out just because I tell myself that’s what I want to do. Revisiting later for nostalgia does make writing worthwhile but seems more forceful than just knowing others read and feel what I say in the same way I read and feel what others say. Kind of cool.

Hopefully tomorrow this makes sense. Who knows what you’re thinking at this point. But I guess it doesn’t matter because I have to just make sense of what comes ahead of me. I’m suddenly very excited to go to St. Augustine with everyone now that I think about it.

Stating I’ll make more meaningless blog posts during the trip as some kind of project. Probably about Daytona and probably for the reasons I said above. After all I started writing this blog at Bike Week in 2012 I’ll get a rush off the meaning and emotion I attach to that sentiment and see what I create next.

Planning has never been one of my strongest skills, or rather, sticking to a plan never has.

I’m not immune to following a plan but I appreciate the ability to be able to deviate and improvise when necessary. For better or worse, the past 2 weeks have been a reminder of how important of a mindset that is.

I hardly know where to begin as I’ve put thousands of miles on my truck in only a short amount of time so I’ll start on November 22nd—Mile 0—back in Austin.

With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up it was time for me to head up north to spend it with my family.

…yet if you asked me just a day before what I was doing for the next week, I would have told you I’d be scrambling to finish my newest product at.

Call it laser focus or blatant negligence but realizing Thanksgiving was only 2 days away I packed my truck up and booked it to Florida. Notably, I enjoyed one of the most refreshing sleeps I’ve ever had at a rest stop somewhere in Mississippi later that night.

Thanksgiving was everything I had hoped for: a delicious feast cooked by my dad, Black Friday people watching with Eric and Mary (even getting hit on by a desperate, middle-aged sunglasses sales-lady), and of course, some time locked up in that damn hotel room.

It wasn’t soon after Faith and Kevin arrived from Virginia that we were all in that damn hotel room together. Luckily we all know how to have a good time with each other and I’m glad it lasted for almost that full day.

In the back of our minds we were wondering where Uncle Jim was. He was supposed to meet with Faith and Kevin from New Jersey and drive down with them to Florida, but no one had heard from him. This was unusual, even for Jim.

It was later that night we found out that Jim had suddenly passed and that was one of those things you just don’t see coming from a guy like Jim. The funeral was going to be in his hometown in North Carolina and I had to quickly figure out how to incorporate that into my travel plans.

With my next stop being Philadelphia for WordCamp U.S., I decided I’d head straight back down to North Carolina when the event was over. It was going to be a lot of driving, but for my family, it was completely worth it.

WordCamp U.S. was an amazing event. In short, it was put together for the passionate people who develop for and use WordPress to run their websites.

Until you’re actually sitting in the same room as hundreds of other people talking about a single piece of software that powers over 25% of the internet you don’t really grasp just how monumental the community really is.

And the community is really what made it—from the dozens of informative talks to faces I recognized from Twitter, I had as much fun learning new things as I did meeting new people.

Nina made travel easy for me by letting me crash at her place and my business partner Chris made transportation from Media, PA to the Philadelphia Convention Center less stressful.

I’m grateful for the new friends I made in Ryan, Carl, Gifford, Pete, and Mike, and even grateful for that strong IPA I drank with a stank look on my face at the after party.

For all the great times that came from WordCamp U.S., I couldn’t help but leave angry at myself.

Why wasn’t I on stage speaking? Why didn’t I know more people at the event? Why didn’t I feel like I had more accomplishments in the industry I’ve spent nearly 10 years in? Why haven’t I given back more to this incredible community?

The moment where it all clicked for me was at a talk with pretty basic content (at no fault to the speaker), and all around me people were having “a-ha!” moments at knowledge I had learned years ago.

I don’t strive to become the next big company in the space or have any desire to run a giant team. I just want to create the best products I know I’m capable of and teach what I learn as I go.

If nothing else, WordCamp U.S. was a wakeup call to me that I haven’t been putting in enough to get more of what I want out of my own life. This gave me a lot to reflect on on my drive down to North Carolina for Jim’s funeral when death started creeping back into my thoughts.

It was only fitting to come from a place where I felt unaccomplished with my own life to go mourn for a life that had so abruptly ended. Call it a coincidence or see it as a sign, but death always has a way of getting in your head.

The viewing before the funeral is always surreal, to see a member of your family lying cold in a casket. Just like at my brother Jason’s funeral, I was waiting for Jim to pop up and yell “Surprise!” to the whole room, only to leave disappointed yet again.

Most of what I remember about Jim are only in flashes from when I was much younger, but there was a moment he and I had on my 21st birthday a summer ago that will always stick with me.

Though not a drinker, I wanted to take a shot of something to celebrate turning 21 and Jim was the one I wanted to take it with. Having heard some of his crazy drinking stories before, I knew we’d be in for a good time.

Vodka was the poison of his choice and he told me to drink beer right after because he knew I’d get sick if I didn’t drink a chaser after. We took the shots, sitting in that damn hotel room, and that chaser of Miller Lite may have saved it from becoming that damn stinky hotel room.

After talking and bullshitting for a while with Kevin and little Jimmy, we started talking about our family and how he wanted to see the kids make something of themselves in the way that he and other hadn’t.

He knew I had my own business and was proud of that. Whether it be success in business or a degree from college, he told me he knew I’d be the one who did something, if nobody else.

To hear that from someone I didn’t know very well but who had been paying attention to me meant a lot.

The idea that I could be someone who did something great in the name of my family was one of the first times in my adult life that I valued family as something more than just people who took care of each other; it made me think about legacy.

Jim’s legacy is with his son Jimmy and the rest of us who’s lives he impacted with his one-of-a-kind personality. I wish I had gotten to spend more time with him, but I will be grateful for the time I did get with him and the opportunity to say goodbye.

If you’re reading this and knew Jimmy, or just want to help, it would mean the world to our family if you could donate a little to help us pay for his transportation and funeral costs. Jim is now peacefully resting in Shallotte, North Carolina.

So maybe this trip for the holidays hasn’t gone exactly as planned and the circumstances that have made me appreciate the versatility of my lifestyle have been far from ideal.

In return I’ve gotten closer to forgotten family, revitalized a passion for my business, made new friends, and gazed upon beautiful scenery from the road I may have never seen otherwise.

I still have thousands of miles to go as I sit here in this coffee shop in Virginia Beach and who knows what will happen during those miles.

All I know is I have a lot to be thankful for, a lot to build, and more plans to break.

It was 10pm on a Wednesday night and my body had just given out on me.

…60, 70, 80, 90…

There’s no way I’m finishing my 100th squat.

Truth be told, I just wanted to leave and finish the article I had due in just a few hours. Amongst the exhaustion, the anxiety was starting to set in.

I had no boss to answer to, no team waiting on me, and nobody waiting for me to publish.

All I had was a ticking clock, an idea burning a hole in my mind, and a fear of missing a deadline that meant so much to me.

Thursday was coming and I could barely move my body let alone think straight. I had the perfect excuse to call it a night.

And why not? I succumb to these mental fallacies all the time; give it my all in one area so there’s nothing left to give in another.

Forget the last 10 squats. Forget publishing in the morning. There’s time for it tomorrow when I’m ready to make it.

But as fast as Thursday comes around, it goes just as fast.

Truth be told, Thursday doesn’t give a fuck about me.

Thursday doesn’t need me like I need it. Am I so vain to play with time like it owes me something? Like it cares about my weakness?

There’s a certain type of strength that comes from the actualization that you have no control; that you’re a microscopic cog in a machine that functions seamlessly with and without your existence.

It makes the pain of the next 10 squats seem trivial.

It makes the tiredness from the lack of sleep an afterthought.

It makes the anxiety of missing a deadline go away.

…98, 99, 100…

It gives you the fire you need to push through when you have no strength left.

Thursday may not give a fuck about me, but I give a fuck about me. And despite the pain, Thursday did not get the best of me.

See you next week.

What can I say about running a business?

When the good times are going, there’s not much that can knock you off from that “top of the world” feeling.

Money coming in, customers are happy, and you’ve built something your proud of. It just doesn’t get much better than that.

Conversely, it doesn’t get much worse than waking up one day realizing that everything you built is gone; realizing that you could have done something to prevent it.

But this isn’t about regrets and this isn’t about living in the past. A business isn’t built on what worked in the past but on how it innovates for the future. This was a tough lesson for me to learn because for most of my career, I knew nothing but success after success.

Maybe that’s why it took me so long to get a damn clue.

Continue reading →

Go Time

Months and months I’ve been waiting for the moment. Building towards the moment it was finally perfect.

Months and months and I never knew when that moment would be; working towards a goal without no defined endpoint.

There was no chase for perfection, though I fell down that rabbit hole more than a few times. I always came out better though.

There was nothing at first, but what happened last was a big something. I had built this thing I wanted to share with others.

When it felt right I could release it. It will bring me success when its finally out there in any currency I valued most.

When it felt polished I’d know it. I could use what I’d built for myself and sell the results to others.

Built years ago and rebuilt countless times. I knew success back then but will it show again? Or did I fall behind in my obsessions?

Built for others out of needs of mine; built of preference learned from others. Built for the times or built of experience?

Whatever it is. Whatever it brings. Whatever happens. I have something I can’t explain; that is an enigma in my life.

Whatever I get back is the result of what I put in. Oh, the possibilities. I can say I put in everything, but what does the outcome tell me?

No, it’s not about the immediate result. Nothing I’ve achieved now came immediately. But I’ve done this before, am I missing something?

No, I’m starting something. Something out of nothing and something I’ve never done before. This time is not like the others, just like last time.

I need this. I need the thrill. I need the rush, the uncertainty that comes with this. I love it and I hate it.

I need this constant push, these endless puzzles to solve. I don’t know what I want or a whole lot of who I am but I have this.

Today I have something to do, something to show everybody. A thrill, an embarrassment, my best yet.

Today is the day I take that next step. Another small step closer to the top of the next bottom.

Haley wrote to me, asking:

I came across an article about you online, skipping college to go for your business. I am in a dilemma and would love you opinion. I’m 18 years old (graduating in a few months, woo-hoo!). However, I have started my own business/Etsy store. It is going very good. I am contemplating going to a small local school to get a backup degree, but still continuing my business as I go to school, from home. I understand that you just skipped college; do you think you missed out on the “college experience.” Just wanted to get your input.

My answer (I sent the poor girl a novel) was the following:

Continue reading →

Last night I made a declaration that really helped me put my life into perspective. That declaration was about what really mattered the most in my life and I had to be brutally honest about what those things are.

There are things from my past life that I haven’t been able to let go of that I have been holding me back in ways I never cared to acknowledge.

I can’t say what triggered these revelations but I’d like to try and start making sense of some things by talking about this quote I read earlier that day:

Continue reading →

Everyone is becoming an entrepreneur these days. Such a loaded word can mean so many different things to people, but the constant that remains true in any definition is simply:

You need to put in the work.

Entrepreneurs work long hours for themselves so they don’t have to work fewer for somebody else.

Entrepreneurs live their lives like nobody will so one day they can live their lives like nobody can.

These mantras personify what it means to be an entrepreneur and sound great when you have no other way of describing what you do to “normal” people, but what is it that makes an entrepreneur truly different?

Continue reading →

Needs

After 2 years of upsizing my life, I’ve gradually been downsizing.

2 years ago, I got my first apartment. It was a pretty spacious 1 bedroom unit.

1 year ago, I “upgraded” to a 2 bedroom apartment. This place was huge and I furnished every corner of it.

7 months ago, I started selling my stuff. Stuff I told myself I’d never have. Stuff that just seemed to be endless.

Furniture, electronics, decor, even clothes.

I was selling stuff, but what was really happening was a shift in my mindset.

I sold my stuff because I needed the money. But what I learned is a valuable lesson about needing and attachment.

The stuff I sold was purchased under the pretense of need.

I need an apartment to be happy.

I need that huge table so my friends have a place to sit.

I need that 60” television to watch my favorite programs.

I associated the outcomes I wanted with the need of stuff. Once my stuff stopped serving their purpose, it all just became a pile of crap I had to carry around.

Once I disassociated stuff with outcomes, I started seeing my life in a different way.

I have more to say on this, which is why I’m breaking it down into a few parts.

I’m about to leave Austin to head back home to New Jersey for Christmas. I’ll be driving, so I’ll have a lot of time to reflect on this topic.

See you then.

I said I wanted this

Today, December 13th, 2014, I’m officially broke and homeless.

I left a deep, loving relationship for the unknown. I broke my own heart, and even more painfully, I broke the heart of the person I love.

All I have are my laptop, my truck, my ideas, and $15 in cash. I’m going to sleep in a Walmart parking lot tonight (cheers to, uh, new experiences!).

Those are definitive facts about me today. I don’t know much else to say about myself these days.

My gut says it’s all apart of something bigger. A something I can’t yet visualize, but one I know will come together. It has to.

This post isn’t a cry for help or pity. Quite honestly, I’ve felt clearer than I have in a long time and the future seems brighter than ever (if I told you I wasn’t just rationalizing, would you believe me?).

From here, I can only move forward with a head held high, confident that the skills I’ve developed as a creative and human will take me in the right direction.

After all, I said I wanted this.

Sometimes you can’t help but feel the hopelessness buried underneath the strength that comes from plummeting into the unknown.

I’m a horrible decision maker. Rarely do I ever fully know what I want, and oftentimes don’t think things through clearly in the moment.

I even struggle making decisions when I have time to think about them. I’m a chronic over-thinker, and do not want to ever make the wrong decisions. Especially if they impact other people.

One minute, I’m fine with a choice I made, and the next, I’m regretting it in favor of the other choice. This is a cycle that can go on and on for the same decision, and it’s really a huge mental drain.

Is the other person happy? Is it for the good of the group? What is every single pro and con of this choice? — My brain

Present to me a good argument, and I can change my mind in a heartbeat. Throw in a counterpoint somewhere, and I could go right back to where I started.

It’s not that I don’t have the capacity to think for myself, or that I can’t formulate my own opinions. That’s not it at all.

It’s just that when push comes to shove, and I have to make a big decision, I struggle. It’s a flaw of mine. I put way too much pressure on myself, and want to please everybody else.

But you know what I’m starting to realize? It’s perfectly fine to make selfish decisions; decisions that serve you, and not necessarily anybody else.

Sometimes the difference between happiness and unhappiness is making a tough decision.

Should I make a decision that benefits me, even if it isn’t in the best interest of someone else? Absolutely. If it’s something I know will make me happy, I have to do it.

I don’t believe every decision I make in life has to best serve me, though. But I do believe that I need to make more self-serving ones, because I wasn’t put on this planet to serve anybody else.

Alex Mangini is the most important person in the world to Alex Mangini. I like how that sounds.

Maybe I’m not all that fucked up in the head. Maybe I just wanted everyone to like me.

Regardless, I just want to do what makes me happy.

Perfect The Way You Are

I had a conversation recently that fired me up. I was getting to know a new friend and was telling them about my fitness ambitions. I’m a skinny guy, so I want to put on some weight and build muscle.

My goals are simple, but putting on weight isn’t something that comes easy for me, making them very challenging to accomplish.

They took what I said as a cry for validation and proceeded to “comfort” me:

Your goal is to gain weight? You’re perfect the way you are, but whatever makes you happy. Just don’t overdo it, everyone wants to get into it when they’re young. It’s every kids dream.

First of all, I understand the point this person was trying to make. You’re perfect the way you are. It’s true, I have great health, all of my limbs, an active mind and I honestly couldn’t ask for more; I’m truly blessed and I know it.

But is that where it should stop? In today’s world, where feeling good and being comfortable are at such high value, is going out of your way to make yourself uncomfortable as a challenge to get something you want such a crazy idea?

When did a challenge become such a bad thing? Should I just wait for my metabolism to slow down so I can start gaining weight, or accept the screaming voice inside my head and go after what I want? Latter, please!

And don’t drop the “happiness” bullshit on me. This isn’t a matter of happiness, which so many people associate having a goal with.

Happiness is an independent decision defined by nothing. After a long time of torturing myself, I’ve learned that there is no correlation between happiness and wants. Achieving my goals, fitness and beyond, will not impact that in any way.

Take emotions away from a goal, and you still have a goal to accomplish.

We’ve become so hesitant to pursue what we want in favor of comfort. The fear of failure trumps the gains of success, and God forbid the path to getting what you want adds a few negative feeling into your world for a short time.

The kid in us aspired to change the world before we knew what the world was. The adult wants to protect it.

Break some rules, push yourself, cry, sweat, dream, and just go fucking get it.

The Blessed Skillset

I have a skill that’s going to make me a millionaire someday. I know it.

Does that statement make you uncomfortable? Are you offended? Do you doubt me because it sounds unrealistic, or do you make fun of me because “you’ve heard it before”?

No, I know what it is: it’s the arrogance. I’m arrogant because I have a skill and a goal.

People tell me, “well the rest of us weren’t blessed with your skill”, and it breaks my heart a little. And no, the little “get off your high horse, asshole” jab everyone tries to make with that statement isn’t what kills me.

The part that kills me is to hear others put themselves down like that; to admit that their lives are out of their control and they could never attain “such a skill” themselves.

Let me tell you where my skill came from, because I sure as shit wasn’t born with it.

I avoided dances and parties throughout High School (remember when I was still a “regular person” in High School?), gave up tons of sleep over the years, and even moved across the country to be in an environment that better suited my skill.

I’ve made a lot of money, a ton of mistakes, and have pissed plenty of people off.

But I love my skill, and it enables me to do what I love. I’m going to use my skill to benefit my life in every way possible, because my skill is who I am.

It started as something that was purely a hobby; a little fascination. It was an interest most didn’t really understand, and something I’ve almost given up on a thousand times. Yet, I’ve always had some weird, unexplainable desire to keep going.

And we all have those things. I’ve turned mine into a lifestyle. And I’m so fucking proud of that.

My path is not your path, but our interests are the same. I promise.

This is more than “hippie-dippie feel good bullshit”. This is life, man. It’s that thing we only have one of.

Who’s in control of yours?

The Slump Life

Responsibility is a real pain in the ass. But Voltaire put it a lot better than that:

With great power comes great responsibility

When it boils down to it, you’re the one who’s in control of your life. You rely on yourself to make the best decisions you can, for yourself and maybe even others, so you can live to fight another day.

But what if you can’t even trust yourself to take care of the basic things in your life like your health, job, or household? If you don’t trust yourself, how can you muster up the energy to care for others who are important to you?

It’s not that there’s something wrong with you, it just means you’re living The Slump Life.

The Slump Life is for those who accept their unhappiness, and procrastinate on achieving their goals to set everything aside for “tomorrow”. It’s for those who refuse to move out of Fantasy Land and face themselves in the real world.

The Slump Life is for those who don’t give a shit that their actions, or lack thereof, impact others. Eventually everyone else will stop giving a shit too.

And most important of all, The Slump Life is for those who don’t believe they have what it takes to pick themselves up. It’s for those who don’t want to remain accountable, and accept passively moving through life.

Some people just aren’t about The Slump Life, though. Some people can’t handle carrying the weight of mediocrity on their shoulders, knowing they’re the ones in control of their lives.

We all go through slumps, they’re simply unavoidable. But the moment you become complacent about it is the moment you’ve embraced The Slump Life as your own.

And it’s not something to hate, it’s something you should embrace; a reality. Denying it only digs you deeper and deeper. Once you’ve embraced The Slump Life, you’ll know exactly what to do next.