Monday December 31 2018


Waking up at 11:20 a.m.

Oatmeal with Cinnamon, Strawberries, Maple Syrup, and Kefir. Earl Grey Tea.

Basketball at the Rec. I get on team 3 with the hot headed duo to which they like to constantly command me to play “their game”. At some point I figure out their rhythm, knock down a few 3’s, and set their screens.

Grilled Sourdough PB&J. Cara Cara Orange. Coffee.

At Music Makers. Turns out I didn’t have to teach today. Most parents get mixed up around the holidays and thus lessons get canceled very easily. I hang out with mom at the front desk and later restring a guitar.

With Ana and mom at Auntie Vangie’s apartment on Shore Drive visiting with Ana’s family. There’s an amazing Filipino spread: Oxtail Soup, Pancit, and Ana’s favorite desert treat, Espasol. We mingle with her family for a little bit while the movie Dumplin’ plays on the TV.

Later, Will, Ana, and I drive out to Norfolk for the last leg of NYE. At Shannon’s mom’s house they’re having a small gathering. I crack open a bottle of Champagne and share with everyone. Shannon’s dad is determined to build a fire pit out in the backyard despite the wetness. I grab a guitar that’s handed to me and strum some familiar songs – everyone sings along.

Will drives us back to VB. After a long scenic route guided by Ana we make it back home.

Sleep 3:30 a.m.

[i] Images by me.

Sunday December 30 2018

Waking up at 11:20 a.m.

Sourdough Puff Cream Pastry. Orange. Irish Breakfast Tea.

Ana’s baking a cake for Austin. Meanwhile, I have the entire day off so I catch up on chores and other things on my to-do list.

Running errands – picking up champagne from Total Wine – a couple things at Whole Foods – thrift store browsing at CHKD.

Back at home.

Scrambled Eggs. Bagel with Butter and Jam. Beets. Coffee.

Watching The Predator (2018).

Cleaning these plastic drawer stacks to help organize things in the dining room – general cleaning.

Business – organizing.

It’s Austin’s birthday at midnight. Him and Ana arrive home from work. We light some candles and sing the tune. Enjoying a “mound cake” as we call it – Ana had a difficult time stacking the cakes but in the end it tastes amazing.

At the studio playing piano.

Sleep 4 a.m.

Saturday December 29 2018


Waking up at 11:20 a.m.

Oatmeal with Cinnamon, Strawberries, Maple Syrup, and Kefir. Irish Breakfast Tea.

Teaching afternoon lessons at Music Makers.

Ugli Fruit. Banana.

Back home.

Leftover Spaghetti with Cucumbers and Naan Bread. Coffee.

Finishing Bird Box (2018).

Chores around the house.

Errands – dropping off recycle – picking up some pastries and bread from Prosperity – Target – Trader Joe’s.

While at Target I run into a couple of kids who used to take lessons at Music Makers. They’re hanging with a family friend, a guy who said he went to Ladada’s last show at The Bunker – he also plays in Starcoast.

Back home.

Making dinner: Peas with Onions, Peppers, Kale, and Grilled Sourdough Bread.

Ana and I practice songs at the studio.

Sleep 4 a.m.

[i] Image by me.

Friday December 28 2018

Waking up at 10:45 a.m.

Oatmeal with Cinnamon, Strawberries, Maple Syrup, and Kefir. Irish Breakfast Tea.

Basketball at the Rec. They’re running 5 teams on one court today so they can open the gym up for the holiday vacation kids. I play a few full court games and some 2 on 2 matches.

Scrambled Eggs. Sourdough Toast with Vegan Cream Cheese. Corn Tortilla Chips with Avocado and Tomato. Coffee.

Watching Bird Box (2018).

Teaching all my in-home lessons. Traffic today is unusually backed up. A streetlight fell into the middle of the street right off the Rosemont interstate ramp – had to take an inconvenient detour to get to my first lesson.

Back home. Making dinner with mom: Rockfish Filets with Roasted Potatoes, Green Beans, Carrots, Rice, Onions, and Peppers.


Green Tea Ice Cream.

Ana and I practice songs at the studio – it’s been a month since we played these songs – gotta get ready for our next show.

Sleep 4 a.m.

Thursday December 27 2018

Waking up at 10:40 a.m.

Oatmeal with Cinnamon, Blueberries, Maple Syrup, and Kefir. Oolong Tea.

Running errands with Ana. She pokes fun at the phrase “running errands” and explains that it’s like putting a bunch of Aaron’s on a treadmill, hence “running Aarons”. I love her mind.

Scrambled Eggs. Bagel with Butter and Jam. Roasted Potatoes. Coffee.

Watching Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017).

Teaching lessons at Music Makers.

Black Beans with Shishito Peppers, leftover Vegetables, and Jasmine Rice.

Ladada rehearsal.

Apples and Yogurt.

Sleep 3:30 a.m.

Wednesday December 26 2018


Waking up at 10 a.m.

Breakfast Bar. Coffee.

At CrossFit TakeOver. Hannah, one of my adult guitar students is coaching. It’s been over a month since I’ve been here. They got us running and doing overhead squats to the maximum.

Orange. Scrambled Eggs. Sourdough Toast with Vegan Cream Cheese. Roasted Potatoes. Irish Breakfast Tea.

Teaching lessons at Music Makers. It’s a short day. Around 6 o’clock Cecily stops by for a visit. She was my old boss at China Wok back in the day. They shut down the restaurant a few years ago and I hadn’t heard from them until yesterday. Her, mom, and I talk a long time. She’s getting into real estate now. She might be signing up her daughter Janice for the band. There’s much more happiness on her face, a huge contrast to my memory of her when working at the restaurant.

Tempeh with Kale, Carrots, and Quinoa.

Catching up on business.

Ana comes home after attending the open mic night at Colley Cantina with friends. She’s been extremely sad tonight for some reason. We talk it through.

Working through some music at the studio.

Chamomile Hibiscus Tea.

Sleep 3:30 a.m.

[i] Image by me.

Tuesday December 25 2018


Waking up at 11 a.m. on Christmas day.

In the kitchen with mom and Ana fixing up a batch of Pancakes. We got this special rice flour that’s gluten free for mom. Adding some Blueberries is a must. Sharing them with cups of Coffee.

Then, opening and sharing presents/cards. All the emotional feels and thoughtful gifts make this a special morning. For me Ana painted a picture of Elvis riding a horse in the clouds. I happened to also get her something related to Elvis. I commissioned a stitch picture from Karen Estrella. Christmas gift win!

Taking care of chores and stuff.

Ana, mom, and I drive out to Norfolk to visit with Ana’s family at her mom Jessica’s house. Her brothers, Jeremy and Miggy, are here and her husband Sean. Pancit Noodles and Roasted Vegetables on my plate. And of course Ana’s famous homemade Chocolate Chips Cookies. The four little dogs running around provide entertainment. Jessica constantly holds one or two in her arms like it’s normal. Jeremy’s got a slew of guitars in his room. We all jam out to some familiar tunes – I give him a few pointers. Later, we all corral in her mom’s rec room where there’s a piano – I fiddle on the keys while Miggy does improvised singing.

Back home. Will is visiting! We haven’t seen him since he moved out last month – he’s been busy renovating his new house.

PB&J Toast.

Chamomile Tea. Orange.

Sleep 2:30 a.m.

[i] Images by me.

Monday December 24 2018


Waking up at 11 a.m. in dad’s house. It’s been incredibly quiet all night and morning – no jet noise, lawn care noise, or general house noise. Not something I’m used to.

Breakfast Bar. Coffee. Orange.

Fiddling around on the guitar in the living room. The sun shines through the blinds just perfectly. 50 degrees out – nice Christmas weather.

Dad and I caravan out to my great uncle JW’s house in Pitt County. Inside he’s hooked up to an oxygen machine sitting in a chair near the TV. He always has tons to say – reflections on the old times like how he used to drive back and forth from Columbia, North Carolina to Norfolk to bring back cars to sell (being a car salesman was his big business) and how his brother Herbert keeps demanding the farm when he dies, which he repeats to us about ten different times. I like hearing his stories though – he’s a good man with a good heart – he also helped my dad when he was a young man get up on his feet when he had no place to go.

I take a breather outside and run around with a neighbor’s dog – gazing out into the cotton fields and enjoying the Fall farmland environment.

Dad and I continue on to Washington, North Carolina to meet up with my aunt Pansy and her husband Peter. We were invited to a Christmas Eve dinner at Bowers Hall, a big historic house in downtown owned by a male couple who are antique dealers. The house is absolutely stunning – so many old objects and beautiful décor catch your eye. It feels like being inside a painting or picturesque magazine. Dad and I don’t know anyone here but Pansy knows the couple. Somebody brought a mandolin and is playing quietly in the den. An old baby grand piano from the 1930’s sits there looking enticing to play. After enjoying a classic southern spread for dinner I tickle the ivories with familiar Christmas songs and other oldies tunes for a sing-a-long.

Back at Pansy’s house...

Being amused by Pansy’s Pomeranian duo as they skittishly run around hopping on your lap and making funny noises. Listening to conversations about first world problems like isolating power plugs for front lawn Christmas lights and general house upkeep. Dad recalls memories of growing up on the farm.

After 10 o’clock I say my goodbyes and hit the road into the cold dead night. It’s Christmas Eve and not a creature was stirring except for this old station wagon on 17. Snacking on Fudge and Chips.

Arriving home. Recollecting the past two days with Ana and settling down in bed at 3 a.m.

[i] Images by me.

Sunday December 23 2018


Waking up at 9:20 a.m.

Oatmeal with Cinnamon, Blueberries, Maple Syrup, and Kefir. Irish Breakfast Tea.

I hit the road driving to go see my dad in Goldsboro, North Carolina. I take 13 to 11 to 13 through Ahoskie, where I remember my mom taking me to meet my dad halfway for summer vacations as a kid. Putting on some podcasts and listening to old original Tokyo recordings – getting inspired by my own music.

Arriving on Joscara Drive in Wayne County – I always thought it was funny cause my dad’s name is Wayne. After eating a PB&J he recruits me to help him clean the gutters out on the house. Putting on work gloves, grabbing the ladder, and pulling the leaves/soot out. This is the kind of good quality father son time we like to have.

Sitting in some rocking chairs on the driveway watching the sun about to set in the distance – a beautiful display of cirrus clouds amuses us. I confide in him, talking about my thoughts on having kids one day and how the expectations have changed in this day and age.

After popping in to say hi to his neighbors we drive into downtown Goldsboro, the historic side where he says they’ve been putting a lot of money into. A lone piano sits along the sidewalk with an invitation for anyone to play. On the front is painted: “...Play Like Nobody’s Watching...” I tinker on the ivories and the blues chords echo along the main street.


Hardly any place seems to be open except for a Mexican restaurant and a sushi/burger place called Jay’s. We settle on Jay’s. Sitting at the sushi bar ordering Tempura Shrimp, Red Snapper, and Burgers (vegan for me). My dad’s never really had raw fish before or at least he acts like he hasn’t cause he keeps asking the sushi chef dude if that’s raw fish. He asks the Asian looking guy, “Are you Japanese?”

I answer for them both, “He’s American!”

Dude nods his head in relieved agreement. But it’s all in good fun. My dad just likes to socialize and have a good time.


I drive us down the street with dad’s directional guidance to see a neighborhood known for decorating their lawns for Christmas.

Back at his house. Lounging in the living room with the TV playing football games and John Wick. Eating some Sweet Potato Pie and sipping on Oolong Tea. We get into conversation about how much music has changed.

“I was in about 10th grade in high school when they came out – that was when they had the long hair...” he explains when The Beatles were popular.


He describes his early childhood memories on the farm. In the cold winter months they didn’t have heaters or anything – so when you went to bed you wrapped up in a heavy quilt, got in a comfortable position and then slept. And if you had to go to the bathroom there was a “slop bucket” underneath the bed to quickly relieve yourself. Otherwise, you had to brave the harsh cold air to the outhouse.

“We had fresh cow’s milk, fresh eggs. For lunch we’d catch a young rooster. My daddy and I would catch it, he’d shoot it with a 22. Mama always had food out. She’d make a meal out of nothing.”

Sleep 2 a.m.

[i] Images by me.

Saturday December 22 2018


Waking up at around 11 a.m.

Breakfast Bar. Oolong Tea.

At Music Makers – mom is finally back behind the front desk. She’s still in off and on pain from the radiation therapy.

Leftover Brown Rice Quinoa Spaghetti with Sourdough Bread. Coffee.

Watching Braven (2018).

Working on Christmas cards and gifts. Catching up on business.

Ana and I head to The Bunker, a very new venue/brewery in the Peabody’s building at the oceanfront. Ladada is playing along with Step Pets and Invisible Landscapes. It’s our second show night in a row. The head count is no match compared to last night but it’s a chill night. We are slotted to play an hour set, something Ladada isn’t used to doing but we manage just fine.

Enjoying some Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos with Waffle Fries and some brews.

Back home. Sweet Potato Morning Bun.

Sleep 3:30 a.m.

[i] Images by me.

Friday December 21 2018


Waking up at 11 a.m.

Oatmeal with Cinnamon, Blueberries, Maple Syrup, and Kefir. Irish Breakfast Tea.

Christmas traffic in Hilltop is insane. I stay away from the hustle and bustle and stick to my own personal agenda and Christmas organizing. Cleaning a drum set for a student. Writing Christmas cards. House chores.

Scrambled Eggs. Sourdough Toast with Butter and Jam. Potato Chips. Coffee.

Watching Braven (2018).

Mom finally arrives home after being the hospital for a week. She had her second radiation treatment today and will continue these treatments regularly. I’m very happy she’s back here where she belongs with me and at Music Makers.

Ana and I ride out to Norfolk for the rock show at Taphouse or as it was advertised “Holiday Hell Hole”. Ladada is playing along with Shy Low from Richmond and Zach’s band, Demons. I’ve never seen Taphouse this packed – they must be at capacity cause you get used to the feeling of being brushed by others constantly. Around the holidays is the best time to book a show cause everyone’s back in town and has nothing to do but socialize. We did a couple of new old songs re-imagined that turned out decent. Mingling with friends...

Ana and I walk back and forth between the venue and this house down the street where the Flavoured Water couple is throwing a potluck/dance party. The spread includes homemade Bean Chili Stew, Tyler’s Corn Pudding (a hit), and Ana’s Chocolate Chip Cookies. Sam, a guy I frequently see around Norfolk, is deejaying on his phone – blasting some Crystal Castles.

Back home. Settling in. Getting off to sleep early at 2:30 a.m. next to Ana.

[i] Images by me.

Thursday December 20 2018


Waking up at 11 a.m.

Oatmeal with Cinnamon, Blueberries, Maple Syrup, and Kefir. Irish Breakfast Tea.

Catching up on business – running errands with Ana.

Grilled PB&J. Potato Chips. Coffee.

Watching Shot Caller (2017).

At Music Makers running the front desk and teaching lessons back and forth. I keep getting asked questions about mom and how she’s doing – I don’t know what to say yet.


While closing up the store I feel overwhelmed handling all of this extra business mom usually handles. But overall I just feel sad and melancholic with mom not being here. When I arrive back at home I’m alone – Ana and Austin are at work – and I’m left to cook dinner. But first the dishwasher has to be unloaded and the sink cleared out. It takes me longer than usual to cook dinner. I put on some classical music to help fill in the background noise of my mind. I’m really worried about my mom – she doesn’t deserve to be stuck at the hospital with cancer.

Brown Rice Quinoa Spaghetti Noodles with Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Onions, Red Peppers, Kale, and French Baguette.

At Ladada band practice with Josiah, Bobby, and Jonnie. We run through a couple sets for the weekend shows.

Back home. Discovering a huge striped black spider in the downstairs bathroom...

Sleep 4 a.m.

[i] Images by me.

Wednesday December 19 2018


Waking up at 10:45 a.m.

Oatmeal with Cinnamon, Strawberries, Maple Syrup, and Kefir. Guayusa Tea.

Basketball at the rec. During the last game I hustle up and knock down a couple of crucial 3-point shots.

“MacBook came alive!”

Scrambled Eggs. Poppy Seed Bagel with Vegan Cream Cheese. Potato Chips. Coffee.

At Music Makers. I don’t have as many lessons to teach but running the business phone and dealing with the schedule gets stressful. Christmas traffic causes so many delays with teachers and students arriving late.


Shortly after 8 p.m. I’m home cooking dinner for myself: Maple Mustard Salmon with Black Beans, Kale, and Rice.

Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Stopping by Kroger to pick up some fruit then heading over to the hospital to visit with mom. She’s had a stressful day as have I. We keep finding out little by little what’s going on with her. One thing is for sure she has cancer in her uterus and we will begin radiation treatment. In the meantime, we’re both itching for her to get out of the hospital and continue with her life. She is greatly missed at the studio – so many people are asking about her – and I’m pulling double duty with her not there. I give her some pineapple and yogurt and some other fruit for later. It’s important that she continue staying positive and hopeful.

Back home. With Ana and Austin downstairs at the dining room table. I fold/cut Christmas cards while Austin chows down on his Taco Bell.

Pineapple and Yogurt.

Sleep 3:30 a.m.

[i] Images by me.