Hairstyles by Darin™

When you think back to your childhood (or most recent visit to the salon), maybe you look back fondly on other people styling your hair. I remember girlfriends doing “makeovers” at sleepovers and thinking they felt awesome. There’s nothing like that warm feeling of personal attention and the tingly scalp feeling you get when someone is styling your hair.

With curly hair, I spend so much time trying to make sure everyone DOESN’T touch it (whoa, frizz!) that rarely is there a chance at this golden throwback feeling of someone playing with my hair. The other night, nostalgic for the tingles, I asked Darin to quick braid my hair before bed. (I sleep in a braid most nights to avoid choking on my mass of hair.) He offered not just a simple braid, but a signature hairstyle that was sure to be unique and beautiful. While not relaxing like the salon, it was definitely hilarious. When he was finished I asked him to photograph the wonder.

First, he took exactly 7 selfies.

Then he photographed his masterpiece:

A lovely triple braid.

A lovely triple braid.

I explained that, while fit for a runway, this hairstyle wasn’t exactly a great way to sleep. Not missing a beat, he tied the three together.

You wish your man was this resourceful.

You wish your man was this resourceful.

So lovely, but so difficult to sleep on. So he went for a single braid – a vast improvement which also managed to defy gravity and levitate off the back of my head.


Darin is now accepting reservations for his signature hair services, in case any of you ladies would like to hire him for your next wedding, girls’ night, Quinceañera, holiday party or other formal outing.


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Filed under Author: Jack

What’s $100 Worth in California vs Wisconsin? released this map showing the relative value of $100 across the United States. To paraphrase the article:  Average prices for similar goods are much higher in California than in Wisconsin, so the same amount of dollars will buy you comparatively less out here. The difference from Wisco to Cali? About $19. Damn!

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Filed under Author: Jack

The 6 Month Check-up – Darin’s First Half-Year in Cali-Forn-I-A

It has been a totally unacceptable amount of time since I last wrote of my own volition. Typically I’m writing for work; stories of esports, news, or features about the talent that occupy that scene. Today I was spurred by my wonderful companion and wife to write about our first six months in L.A. As I was the one that ripped up our roots to traverse the nation to live here, it’s only fitting I abide, as the dude is wont to do.

P.S, that means “Let’s go” in french. Thanks, Doctor Who.

In regards to work…

Ah, the reason I was drawn here. The work. You know, there isn’t anywhere in Wisconsin, save one place I know of in Madison, that would have allowed me to pursue my passion of video games and writing. Freelance and online endeavors, sure, but an actual career? It was just too barren in the ol’ Wisco. But in Los Angeles, and the West Coast in general, it’s a common commodity. The video game career is abundant and thriving, and I get to be part of it. Not only that, I get to be instrumental in the growth of a company looking to forge an identity and niche.

To me, this is incredibly exciting. The company, Azubu, has a long road ahead of it. If you click that link, you’ll may wonder where I might reside. Easy fix: Click here.

That is my home. And as Managing Editor of this little corner of the web, I’ve learned so, so much. I have an incredible little team that consistently impresses me with their resourcefulness and ingenuity. Our little writing and editing team crosses paths with other departments not daily, but seemingly hourly, and this makes the job fun beyond measure. We brainstorm, we shoot the shit, we figure out how to do cooler things. We learned quickly that working in “silos” and not inter-departmentally was a hindrance.

I don’t write as much as I’d like, but that’s fine. I know I can write. My team knows I can write. I’m more concerned about being a better leader.  So when I’m at work, I’m this guy:

And when I’m off work I can be this guy:


Or turtle. Whatever.

But, in the case of posterity, and since this is my blog post, here are some pieces I’ve written thus far:




There is a lot of content I’m proud of that is on that little site that isn’t my own, so take a look around and get an idea of the space I’m in.

Overall, I am loving my career. It’s a dream job, and I work everyday towards doing it better.

In regards to not-work…

It was rough going for the first few months for Jackie and I. I guess your mileage of “rough” may vary, but it was more of an adaptation period, not an episode of strife. I was working a lot, she was working from home … so when I would come home at 5:30 (initially) she would want to go out, explore, do things. I cemented my view that we needed to play it cool and be on the down low for a few months while we got our feet under ourselves, but it was more or less me saying “my career is more important.” This is untrue, and nothing is more important than Jackie Babe.

As time went on, we started doing more; we found seemingly forgotten and hidden roads that led to beaches built of both golden sand and obsidian shores of rock. We experienced incredible  culinary delights, both familiar and foreign. We’ve made friends with people of all walks of life, and continue to do so. Everyone’s a transplant, and everyone wants to tell their story. That common thread ties us all together in L.A.

And we’ve only scratched the surface. There’s so much to see and do. Hiking trails to conquer, food to eat, and parties to chill at. It was a struggle to balance work and life, but life is not work. That’s something I learned here.

And the best thing? I think we’re going to be alright out here.

What started out as:

Has turned into:

(Read: adventure time, discovering cool things, etc.)


Moving here was the best decision we ever made.


Filed under Author: Darin

Jack’s 6 Month Check-In


Last night marks 6 months since our arrival in California on St. Patrick’s Day. So far we’ve kept our heads above water and we’re adjusting to Los Angeles life pretty well.

For instance, on our visit back to Green Bay I thought anything below 75 degrees was frigid, and I wore a sweatshirt around inside my parents’ house. It steadily rained overnight while we were there – something we experienced only once so far in California.  I left the window open just so I could listen to the rain while I slept. While I don’t miss the rain, I did find myself missing petrichor. I also missed empty streets.


I’m still working from home as a graphic designer for the job I held in Wisconsin. I’ve applied to a few jobs out here, and had a few interviews. I’ve been rejected, and even rejected an offer myself. So far nothing has been the right fit. While it’s a little disheartening not to find what I’m looking for amidst a sea of available jobs, at least I’m (for the moment) still gainfully employed, doing what I love. Working from home has it’s perks (dressing comfortably, not having to style my outrageous mane, short commute), but it also has some disadvantages that are especially obvious in a new city.

I’m not meeting new people through work, or socializing/leaving the house at all most days. Making friends has been tough – though not impossible, even for me! The lack of social contact means my Skype/Google Hangout/[Insert Chat Service Here] dates with the people back home are all the more valuable. I’ve considered joining some kind of group or club, but I’m too chicken to actually do it. *Queue panic attack.*


Our place itself has grown on me, despite it’s tiny size. It turns out we didn’t need a lot of the space in our last place, and in a city with places crammed in everywhere our condo seems pretty par for the course. We toured a 2-bed, 2-bath condo recently and I was blown away by how huge it seemed. Then we saw the listing – it was the same size as our place in Green Bay was. Man, how perspectives can change.

People often ask how our cats are adjusting. I’m happy to say they’re doing quite well, and seem to have no opinion at all. I will mention that due to the hardwood floors (we had carpet before) they seem fairly reluctant to run/skid around. I worry they aren’t getting enough exercise, but they seem to be maintaining their weight. They’re so adaptable it boggles my mind.



The city itself is a strange mix of wonderful and crazy. There’s a ton of stuff to do at any given time – a lot of it free/inexpensive (beaches, museums, markets, etc). The trouble is getting there. Traffic is a hindrance if we want to leave the valley,  so we’ve spent more than one weekend using it as an excuse to Netflix binge. Honestly, sometimes we feel like parodies out here.

The struggle is real.

The struggle is real.

We have gotten to see some really amazing things, though. So far I’m pretty partial to the beaches up in Malibu that are less populated and more geologically interesting. In the valley, I’m really a fan of the Arclight cinema near us. It has assigned seating, and offers 21+ shows where you can drink and watch movies without children screaming and moving about. (Instead, adults are drunkenly cheering and laughing appropriately.) The tickets are pricey ($15.50/each) compared to any cinema in Green Bay, but then again – so is everything else. I’m also a huge fan of the Goodwill that’s a few blocks away. Such good deals.

Ventura boulevard, the main drag where we are, has a ton of great restaurants on it. We’re only a block off of Ventura, so sometimes it’s hard to make the better choice of staying in and eating healthy when you’ve got so many great places in walking distance. Most weeks we hit Chipotle at least once (it’s about two blocks away and totally a “healthy” choice), and then go out a few times on the weekends. It’s great to sample all the places – we haven’t even made a dent 6 months in.


One time it rained. Another time it was hot. The rest of the time has been incomparably beautiful. It’s making us soft, but making my natural hair fabulous.


Naturally fab


I think we’re pretty optimistic about our future out here. Everyone asks if we’re ever going to move back to Wisconsin, or if we’re Californians for life. Honestly? I don’t know. It’d be hard to beat the opportunities and weather out here, but it’s also hard being away from family and friends. Our trip back to Green Bay made us realize how quiet it is there (freakishly quiet), and it was both comforting and tedious. Maybe as we age (oh my god 30 is coming in just over a year, where is my eye cream?) we’ll find some need to settle down. But we’ve only been out here six months, and we’re not old fogies yet, so we’ll be out here carpe-ing the crap out of these California diems.


Filed under Author: Jack

Wisconsin’s Getting Ready for Us

I’m so excited to for our trip back home! I can’t wait to see everyone and get a good dose of all the things I’ve missed. I’m all packed and ready to go, and I’m about to go to bed early so I can rise and function for our early flight in the morning.

This morning in my preparatory excitement I checked the upcoming weather for Green Bay. (I am my father’s daughter.) I was surprised to see an incredible lineup:

Can this be right!?

Spoiler: No.

I checked the weather again tonight, just to be sure. I haven’t been away so long that I’ve started trusting Wisconsin weather reports. That’s when an entirely new forecast finally revealed itself.

I knew it.

Within the span of a day everything has changed! Oh geez. There’ll be rain, obviously. Thunderstorms even. It’s like Green Bay knew we hadn’t seen a thunderstorm in months and was more than ready to surprise us with one. Wow, thanks!

Looks like we’ll be going from this:


This very afternoon at our pool.

To this:

But then again, maybe not. What’s the saying? If you don’t like the weather in Wisconsin, wait five minutes? Yeah, maybe it won’t rain at all. I’m keeping my hopes up. No matter what the weather, the trip back will be awesome. Can’t wait to see everyone!

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Filed under Author: Jack

Interview SwagPatch: How I Got Over Myself

We’ve lived in Los Angeles for almost six months. In that time, I’ve been working from home and have had very few (if any) reasons to get fancy. So leave it to me to come up with a raging eye infection right before an interview for a job out here. I mean, seriously? I’ve been sitting at home with no makeup or contacts for months, and then when I finally have to look presentable my eye looks like I got in a fight with Drax the Destroyer. It was painful just looking at it. You can’t walk into an interview and immediately gross out everyone, but what’s the alternative?

Behold, my ultra-stylish solution:

Pirate Chic

Pirate Chic?

A freaking eye patch. Totally not conspicuous at all. They’ll never notice.

I have to be honest: I had to summon up an unholy amount of confidence to leave the house for an interview with an eye patch on. I felt like Daryl Hannah in Kill Bill.

Utterly Fabulous

But you know what? It wasn’t even a big deal. (Well, driving was super strange and anxiety-inducing with limited depth perception and peripheral vision, but let’s focus on the interview.) I mentioned my funky eye when we sat down and explained that it was a temporary thing. The interviewers gave their well-wishes for recovery and we moved on. As far as I could tell, it didn’t effect their opinion at all during the discussion. Things went super smoothly until I went to shake one of my interviewer’s hands at the end…and overshot and shook her wrist. Awkward!  Thank my lucky stars – she laughed heartily and told me they wanted a second interview.

For all I know, the eye patch helped. Perhaps it made me memorable. Perhaps they were impressed at how ballsy I was for wearing it. Maybe they were just glad I didn’t cancel over something so trivial. Maybe they didn’t think a single thing about it and I’m making a huge deal out of a really small thing. (Likely that.)

I learned a valuable lesson in getting over myself yesterday. I feel liberated. Millions of people live in this city. My hang-ups are so insignificant. No one cares about a dumb eye patch.

Time to reevaluate my life and learn to care less.

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Filed under Author: Jack

I Cooked Something: Chicken Sausage Flatbread Pizzas


Credit for the original recipe for this one goes out to Clean Eating, you know, since Darin and I eat so clean now. Lysol-as-celery-dip clean. Seriously though, we’ve been trying to eat healthier. What’s the point of busting your butt in the gym if you’re going to eat like a blimp? I’ve already talked about how much “pressure” there is here to stop cultivating mass like a black hole, so we’ve started getting serious about our groceries. Enter these ridiculous pizzas.

Original Recipe – Click to go to Clean Eating

The recipe looked pretty tasty and relatively simple, so we went to the grocery. While there, I was completely unable to find the whole wheat pizza crust, and settled on some tasty looking whole grain flatbreads (specifically these). Then we got to the checkout line (there’s always a huge line here, get it together Pavillions) and sure as hell the damn whole wheat pizza crusts are right there. We grabbed one, but on comparison to the flatbread the whole wheat pizza crust was like something on the CDC watch list. We put the crust back and kept the flatbreads, which ended up being a freaking awesome decision.

Fast-forward to dinner time, and I was able to make these with ease. I’ve never purposely wilted spinach before, so I was really surprised at how much was put in the pan compared to how little came out. Fun! We ended up deciding on making two flatbreads – one for each of us. However, we didn’t double any part of the recipe except the cheese. I also added black olives to mine, since I’m a black olive fiend.

As you can see in the photo above, the pizzas turned out just great despite our modifications. The crust was so dang crispy. Each pizza was maybe 8″x10″, making about 6 good-sized pieces. I ate half mine for dinner, and will eat another half for lunch today.

10/10, would make again. (Honestly, if it wasn’t something I’d make again, why would I post about it?)

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Filed under Author: Jack