Candyce’s Coffee Shop, Paying Taxes

I’ve come to this coffee shop for a year. For some weeks, this is the only place I can spend time with Candyce. She makes coffee, and I type on my laptop. Over the course of this past year, I’ve seen this place transform. I’m in awe of how this uncool place has fostered such a cool community of people.

I mean, this little coffee shop is a part of these people’s lives. It’s almost like a small town grocery store that you see on an old movie. People gladly come in here by themselves, knowing that they’ll run into friends and join them for a drink. It’s great. It’s the kind of coffee shop everyone wants in their neighborhood, but you don’t think would really exist.

I am so proud of Candyce, because she’s helped create this community. She and another barista named Dan work hard to make their Saturday morning shift a good time. They get to know the customer’s names, they joke around, they make people laugh. They make good drinks. Whenever they work, there’s always a line of smiling people. They’ll wait for ten minutes to get a drink.

I just never thought this could happen in a coffee shop that is so dorky. There’s no cool art, no hip music, no hip furniture. Just some chairs, tables, and some coffee-making equipment.

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This afternoon I’m going to meet with my friend Mike who’s going to do my taxes. He’s a good guy, and he has a fun family. It’s always interesting to go over to his house because he always has some new project he’s working on. So far, he’s my first friend to put in one of those beds that fold down out of the wall. I think it’s called a Murphy bed. You always see them on TV, but who really has one of those?

Got Engaged, Launched Website

I am slightly embarrassed that I am writing about launching a website and getting engaged for marriage in the same journal entry. Getting engaged deserves it’s own shrine on this website, but by the time I got that done, I’d already be married. I understand that my life is messy, and this journal will be messy too.

Matt Smith holding Candyce

We went back and took some more photos when the light was better.

I asked Candyce to marry me on Saturday, April 1, 2006. Again, it’s messy that I proposed to her on April Fool’s day, but it’s the only chance I had while Candyce and I were in San Diego. I knew I wanted to propose over the weekend, but Friday was Danny’s big day because he put on a big concert/event for his school. I didn’t want to steal away any attention from all of his hard work. And by Sunday night, she would be in a frenzy with our flight leaving early the next morning. So April Fool’s day it is.

I knew I was going to propose at sunset, so all day Saturday was a thrill. Nobody else knew how the day was going to end, and that was exhilarating and nerve-racking at the same time. I’ve never felt so much suspense watching the sun slowly trace a path across the sky as the day passed. By four o’clock, I was an emotional mess. With thirty minutes till sunset, I conned Candyce into walking with me down to the beach.

We snapped a couple pictures from the top of the cliff, and then ran down the stairs and onto the beach. We climbed up into a lifeguard tower to watch the last ten minutes of the sunset. The little ring box in my pants pocket poked me with every step up the ladder. I asked Candyce to pray a decade of the rosary with me for my parents, who just returned from a week of helping Hurricane Katrina victims in New Orleans.

As each rosary bead passed through my fingers, my heart trembled with suspense and joy. I started crying on the seventh bead. I was so excited about what was going to happen–that our lives were going to change. I closed the prayer by asking God to bless Candyce and I and to watch over us. And then I turned to her, dropped on one knee, and through my tears, I asked her to marry me. She said yes. (Oh man…my eyes are watering up right now just writing about it.)

Candyce was so in shock that she gave me her right hand, not the left had which she was supposed to. It was pretty funny because it didn’t fit–I had to push the ring onto her finger. We laughed at the bad fit, then we laughed harder that it was on the wrong hand. So we slid it off, I dropped on my knee, and then I proposed again.

She wrapped her arms around my neck and I lifted her off her feet. We hugged and cried. I felt her left hand lift off of my shoulder, and I knew she was looking at her ring. That’s okay. I paid a lot of money for that thing, and I wanted her to like it.

We watched the last few minutes of the sunset over the Pacific. It was beautiful. The climb up the stairs and the walk across the street was intense. I don’t know if ever in life I’ve savored moments like that. I knew that we had only 200 feet left before we stormed back into the house and gave their family the good news. It was beautiful.

We cried and hugged once we got inside. Everybody was happy. We proposed toasts and drank champaign for a good thirty minutes. It was awesome.

;Candyce

Candyce in our own little photoshoot on the forbidden;lifeguard tower.

;

Candyce and Matt walking on the beach.

…so happy together…

Matt + Candyce in the sand.

TLA.

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That was Saturday night. It’s Tuesday night now. We flew into Phoenix early Monday morning. Candyce spent all day yesterday in the studio at ASU, and I spent all day yesterday at the lifeteen.com studio. She had homework, and I had a website to launch.

I actually finished the website just before 9 PM Arizona time, which makes it midnight on the east coast. I promised people on lifeteen.com that we would launch a new site on April 4, and I realized I could actually launch it on midnight. So I did. It was wild to post the site, get in my car, and drive thirty minutes to my house.

And here I am at my house. I’m engaged. I launched a website. I’m very happy about both. This engagement thing is too new to reflect on. I just know that it is very good that we are engaged now.

Played Basketball on Suns Court

This afternoon I played in a basketball game on the Phoenix Sun’s court at the US Airways center. St. Tim’s set up a full-day with around the Phoenix Suns. It started yesterday at one with a Life Teen v. Edge basketball game. It was pretty ridiculous because all of us in our 20s looked like we hadn’t played since the seventh grade. But the high schoolers on our team ended up carrying out team to a victory.

Suns Fan

I got bored after the first quarter, and I asked if I could do commentary on the arena sound system. It was a lot of fun to bring life to an otherwise pitiful game. I’d harass the handful of people who came to watch the game. I’d pick on the players. It was cool too because this is the arena that I watch on TV all the time, and for one afternoon, I got to play in it and do commentary too.

Candyce and I went to Kevin and Stephanie Day’s art gallery after the game. I’ve been downtown to their gallery a half dozen times since it opened two months ago. I enjoy supporting my friends, but it gets boring cheering for your buddies while they play Xbox. I don’t mind making a trip downtown to support people who are creative and have the courage to show their work at a gallery. It’s okay if not all of my friends are go-getters, but the truth is I like go-getters the most.

Later in the day, Matt Maher and the band played outside. It was pretty cool hearing Matt’s voice echo through downtown Phoenix. Then it was game time. Matt Maher, Tom Booth, and a couple others sang the National Anthem down on the court. That was cool in itself, because it was a sold out game. What was cooler though was Shawn Marion walked over than shook their hands after they were done.

Our seats were in the upper level, but I could still tell what was going on in the game. But I think people in the upper level who are not hardcore fans entertain themselves by making trips to the bathroom and the concession stand. I mean, I must’ve stood up 200 times to let people out. No kidding, this one kid left his seat eight or nine times.

I was excited to see Carmelo Anthony play. Every time he got the ball, he scored. I mean, he has such a high percentage of field goals. It’s almost like watching Tony Parker. House, Marion, Bell, and Nash hit enough threes to keep the crowd rowdy. No night is complete with out Marion leaping above the rest and dunking it at least six times. This time of year is exciting because the Suns are moving towards the playoffs and the fans are more fanatic. It looks like Nash could be the MVP again. Whenever Nash was on the free throw line, the crowd would chant “MVP! MVP! MVP!”

The only other NBA team I watched play was the Hawks when I lived in Atlanta. I don’t remember those games being as entertaining as the Suns. Of course the Suns are better than the Hawks, but the in-between entertainment at; Suns game is almost as good as the game itself. They had the usual things, like a guy from the crowd trying to make a goal and win money. They had cheerleaders and dancers. Then there were things that were just amusing.

But the cooler stuff was an indoor blimp, a team of high-flying gymnast basketball players, and awkward team of dancing dads. Then they had tryouts on the floor where five dads tried to outdance each other to get a chance to be on the dads dance team. The winner’s daughter got a $2500 dancing scholarship. It was just funny. This is all the stuff you don’t get to see when you watch the game on TV.

Candyce has to work at five in the morning, so I dropped her off at her car and told her she should just go straight home and not come over my house. We like each other a lot, and we always find creative ways to keep the night going. But I didn’t want to ruin her Sunday by keeping her up late.

I type this while I’m watching Sports Center on ESPN. It’s fun watching highlights from a game that I was just at. I feel a little stupid because I haven’t followed any of the NCAA tournament. Oh well. Bedtime.

Rediscovering a House

It’s a beautiful Friday night in Arizona. Tonight at 6:00 PM I called each of our summer camp directors; and told them that the camp website is ready to go. There’s some fine-tuning to be done, but the site is ready to go up.

I have all of the subdomains directing to the correct files on the site. This is handy for each camp to market themselves. They don’t have to say, “Go to camps.lifeteen.com, then click on Covecrest”. They can now say, “Go to covecrest.lifeteen.com.” RockyVine is really lucky because I bought a URL for them so there line is simple, “Go to rockyvine.com.” Then that will direct to rockyvine.lifeteen.com. This stuff matters because I’ve spent seven years telling people about my websites in conversations, and I can always see people bail out when I give them too many instructions. That’s why I got nomoho.com. It’s quick, simple, easy to spell, and hard to forget.

Now that the camps site is wrapping up, I’m getting closer to going part-time. I’ve loaded all 1100 journals into the new database for supafly.com, and that’s most of the work to get the new site up. I have to tweak the CSS and I’ll be ready to go. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to add a portfolio until later. It’s just not a priority right now.

Tonight after work I drove around my favorite neighborhoods looking for for sale signs. I found one scrappy ranch house that was backed up to a huge stand of date palms. It had good lines on the house, but it was in rough shape. My guess that it was 2000 square feet with the addition, and I wanted them to ask $475k for it. But I knew they would want something in the high five hundreds. I was thrilled on the drive home because this could be the one. I was so bummed when I got home and went online and saw that it was listed for $690,000.

Not only was I disappointed, I was embarrassed for the owner and the poor Realtor who’s expected to sell that thing. For $690,000, you can get a nice house close to the beach in San Diego. Why the hell would I buy a rundown ranch house next apartments, small homes, and two miles from the ghetto?

So I kept looking online, and I re-discovered a Tempe home in a neighborhood that I really like. I actually walked through the house a few months ago during an open house, but I ignored it because it was way too big for me. Plus, it was two-stories–which I don’t like–and it had a funny look to it. In the months between then and now, I’ve scoured that area for any home for sale. I mean I watch online throughout the week, and I drive through at least once each week to look for a “for sale by owner” sign. They never go up for sale, and when they do, they are too expensive for me. So tonight, I stared at my computer screen at a house I could actually afford in the neighborhood that I like, and I wondered, “What am I waiting for?”

I drove by and saw it tonight before I went to pick up Candyce for dinner. This house has so much potential! It definitely needs a new look on the curbside, but it has good bones. I think people have skipped over it because it does look so out-of-place in the neighborhood. I’m going to go back tomorrow morning in the day for another look.

Some good news this week is that Amare Stoudamire is back after an injury that has kept him off the court for the past six months. The Suns have done quite well even without him, but its good to have a big man as we head into the playoffs. It’s funny because the day after Amare’s first game back, I was so happy that nothing could bring me down. This is proof that I need more diverse interests. Because when I put all my time, talent, and hope into the stuff at work, I run the risk of getting hurt when things don’t work out.

Change in House Remodel

For the past year and a half, one of my biggest goals was to remodel my kitchen to make my house more livable. Over the course of 18 months, that plan changed three times.

First I wanted to take down the cabinets that separated the living room from the kitchen. Before I could get started, I decided I should take down an additional wall and open up the kitchen to the den to give it an open floorplan. Then several months later, I realized it would be better if I took down all kitchen walls, and absorb the dining room into the kitchen. It would be big and easier-to-use. I’d then move the dining room table into the den. So I’d reduce the number of rooms from three to four, but what I lose in numbers I gain in spaciousness. I mean, who wants to live in a house divided into little boxes?

Then yesterday Candyce’s dad suggested to me over the phone that I not do this major kitchen renovation since I’m planning on selling my house. He explained that a job that big might upgrade my house so much that it would be too hard to sell. At first I was discouraged by this, because I thought that my remodel was smart and efficient project, but now I realize he has a valid point. I’d ask more money for the house, and it could sit on the market longer than I am willing to wait.

So now the plan is to put in new cabinets and appliances, tile, carpet, and bathroom fixtures. I’ll pick out some nice paint colors and put up a for-sale sign. Hopefully I can get this done in the first two months of going part-time at work. This puts me in a good place with the real estate market because families generally like to buy and sell during the summer because it doesn’t mess up their kids’ school year.

I am so excited to have a new house to work on. I’m aiming for a higher-end neighborhood where I’ll have more freedom to be creative without losing money in the end. It’s going to be fun. I guess I am ready for a new set of challenges, a new neighborhood, and a new drive to work.