Today is your fourth birthday big guy. It’s hard to believe that four years ago you were born on a day where there was a surprise April snow shower. Besides being born on April 4th (04/04), you are also a 4X4 for how tough of a kid you are. You could run full speed ahead into a brick wall and not cry. On the other hand, you do need to work on not crying when you are told no, but that will come with time.
This past year, you got to go to Disney World, learned how to swim, broke your nose, started school at the Downtown School, and were a genuine joy to be around.
You had a great past year and my favorite parts of the past year are my times with you and our whole family. Here are several reasons why you are my best bud in the entire world and some lessons for you for the year ahead:
You love to give thumbs up. Every time you look my way and give me a big smile and a big thumbs up, it gives me great joy.
You are an excellent brother. You look up to your big sister both literally and figuratively. You all do have the occasional fight, but for the most part you get along and really enjoy being with each other.
Keep thinking you are a superhero, because you already are one to me.
Keep being nice to all animals. This year you got to name a puppy for the Forsyth Animal Shelter and you named in McKinley. Then another puppy in the litter was named Hudson for you!
If you want to play sports that will make me happy. But if you decide it isn’t for you, I will be just as happy. As long as you are doing things you enjoy and that YOU want to do.
Keep wearing cowboy boots with shorts, and don’t care what anyone else thinks. Remember that for the rest of your life. You will be more happy if you go for it, and don’t worry about what other people might say.
Now that you are four, it is probably time to avoid going to the bathroom outside and making sure you wear underwear that fit and are on the right way.
Keep loving desserts as much as you do, but maybe try to like some healthy foods too!
Keep being a daredevil, but also remember you need to be safe.
Keep being close to your family. They will be there for you!
Most importantly keep being you! You are a great little man and I wouldn’t trade you and your sister for anything!
I can’t wait to see what this year is like for you. If it is anything like the past year, it will be another great year for us! If you ever want to go fishing or to a lighthouse, I will always want to go with you.
I love my life. I have a great job, a great hobby, and most importantly a great family. There is one part of my life I used to hate. I suffer from panic attacks. Twenty years ago, ten years ago or even two years ago, I would have never said that to anyone. I think I could count on one hand how many people know that I have these attacks (until now). Panic attacks don’t define me, and they definitely don’t mean I am a weak person.
I’m not ashamed of this one small portion of me anymore. It’s a kink in my DNA, and while having a panic attack is a very scary place for a person to be, I’m now okay with this one tiny piece of my life.
This is definitely the hardest blog I have written to date, and also the hardest one I have shared. The panic attacks are not only scary for me but also for my loved ones, because I go to a different place and there isn’t anything that anyone can do to help me.
My attacks are something I have always wanted to write about and share, but it wasn’t until I saw a clip from the NBC show, “This Is Us” that I felt comfortable actually sharing them. You don’t see panic attacks portrayed frequently on television or movies and “This Is Us” did a great job of making this attack as realistic as possible. To see the whole scene: CLICK HERE.
During my attacks, I go to a different mental frame of mind. In the scene in the “This Is Us,” the actor suffering the attack needs comfort from someone, whereas I want to get outside and as far away from anyone else as possible. If I could push a magic button to send me to the middle of the woods a hundred miles from the closest civilization to get away from people and be outside, I would push it every time. I like to pace when I have the attacks, it seems to help ease them. When the attack is happening I am very embarrassed and don’t want anyone to see me in that state.
The earliest attack I remember was when I was sixteen and went on a class trip to Germany. For the first two days there I suffered multiple panic attacks and they continued throughout the ten-day trip. I’m not sure any of my classmates or instructors had any idea what was going on with me. I didn’t know at the time either. One day, I sat on a park bench near our charter bus for close to five hours while my group toured around Munich, scared out of my mind about what was continuing to happen to me. It was a scary situation to have these attacks start when I was thousands of miles from my home and family in an unknown land.
The attacks continued throughout college, and then I finally saw somebody about them. After trying several different ways to get better, I found what works for me about seven years ago. This doesn’t mean that I am cured by any means, but for now these methods have significantly aided in reducing the number of attacks I have so now they are very infrequent.
In some ways, I was scared to become a dad because of my attacks. A dad is supposed to be somebody who is strong at all times for their kids. Luckily for me, having kids has been part of my cure. While I still have the occasional attacks, the past six years, since my daughter was born, my number of attacks have significantly dropped. Another prevention is to stay as busy as possible. The busier I am, the less I think about my normal panic attack triggers.
Luckily, my wife is a nurse. She does a great job of trying to help me through the attacks, but she also knows to give me space until I can get over the attacks. Also, I’m usually able to feel an attack coming on or know the general reasons I get them, so I’m able to avoid putting myself in a bad situation during an attack.
My panic attacks probably won’t ever completely go away. They are something I will always live with, and I’m okay with that. I’m just one of over forty million people in the United States who deal with these attacks. People with anxiety issues shouldn’t have to hide them. If you see somebody not in their right frame of mind, don’t always judge that person off of that one encounter.
A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. -John Steinbeck
2016 was a great first year for my blog, and I thoroughly enjoyed doing Famous Winston-Salemites and Local Difference Makers, plus my blogs about family and friends. I love Winston-Salem and its people, and I wanted to add another dimension to my blog that incorporated more about our city.
Just in the two short weeks I have been Uberring, I have received a lot of questions, specifically: why I am doing this? A lot of these questions are less like: “Why? That sounds great,” but more like “Why in the world would you do that?” Or another one I have been getting is “what does your mom or your sister or Katie think about you doing this?”
My short answer to this “why?” question is: “Because it is great!”
My long answer is much more detailed. I love meeting with people that are doing great things in our city or have moved onto do great things outside of Winston, but I was missing something with these blogs and I felt I needed to search for the missing piece. Katie and I were at dinner one night with some couple friends, and somehow Uber came up. In all honestly, at that point I hadn’t even been in a car as an Uber rider and knew very little about it.
I got home that night, and it came to me that there would be no greater way to travel around Winston and to meet more of a diverse crowd besides uberring around the city as a driver. It would give me a path to meet people from all backgrounds and drive down more roads in the Dash than any other option I could imagine. Politicians travel around and meet lots of people, but I am not sure that they always listen. As an Uber driver, I have nothing else to do but listen.
The biggest obstacle to Uberring this year was making sure that it didn’t cut into any family time. The good thing is that Katie has to be at work at 5:30 in the morning so she typically goes to sleep with the kids. I don’t really sleep that much, and I have never been a great sleeper. So I usually am twiddling my thumbs after 8:00, watching television or playing games on my computer. Heck, three years ago, I wrote a book late at night (shameless plug; buy it at the top of this page). I was able to mentally clear that obstacle that I could definitely do this without missing out on my family.
After getting the whole Uber thing down, I realized that I could flip it on after I dropped the kids off for a bit in the morning or on my way home from work in the evening, and give some new friends a ride. I have met a man from Detroit in barber school here; a man from New York City living here to get cancer treatment; a woman who was on her way to Forsyth Hospital to pick up her baby in the NICU; found out there is another Jigar in Winston besides my brother-in-law; a couple from South America that spoke no English; a drunk guy; a movie star; a kindergartner who likes Paw Patrol; another drunk guy; a high school girlfriend of two weeks; lots of Wake students; a group that talked twenty more minutes about the Kardashians than I ever want to hear again; and many other Winston-Salemites. And the great thing is that I have only been doing it for two weeks!
I have people ride in my man van of all ages, races, backgrounds, orientations and most of them have great stories to tell. If they don’t want to talk that is fine too, they can just listen along to my music as we ride. Winston-Salem is a diverse place with a lot of history and I get to explore unknown territories (to me) of our city every time I turn on an app. Our family also has trips to Spain and Disney World this year, so the extra pocket change isn’t a bad thing!
Hopefully throughout the year, some of my riders will try my Uber challenges, I will be able to raise a lot of money for various Winston-Salem organizations through donations, and I will meet a lot of great people. This is just a trial a lot like my blog was just a trial last year. I have never done anything like it, and I am not sure anyone else really has either.If you do everything in life worrying about what others might think, you might not do much that you really want to try. There might be some missteps along the way of these adventures, but I wouldn’t want people from any other city to join me for the journey.
In 2017, I plan to become an Uber driver to meet all kinds of people in Winston-Salem, NC and then write about them and my adventures. I will offer various challenges to my riders, and 10% of my tips will go to a different Winston-Salem organization each month.
When I got the idea to add the Uberring through Winston series to my blog, I had no idea that my first night would be so brilliant. I will never be able to forget night one of Uberring as my first ever pick-up happened to be an ex-girlfriend of mine from ninth grade, and my last pick-up of night one was a Famous Winston-Salemite and Hollywood star, Julianna Guill. It was like Zoltar from the movie Big granted me Uber adventures for night one and sent me to blog heaven. It will be hard to top and I am just getting started with these adventures.
I signed up for Uber on December 24th, and received a message that my background check and paperwork was clear and I was able to start driving on the 26th. That night, Katie and I got home from dinner and were getting ready to put the kids to bed, when I randomly decided to turn on the Uber app. Within two minutes, I had a message that a rider needed a pick-up. I gave the family a kiss and then ran out to the minivan.
The first pick-up was just a couple miles from my house, and after getting lost a couple times (the Uber maps aren’t the best), I found the right place. First a man walked over to the van that I didn’t recognize and then a pretty blonde lady walked over. The first thing she said was “shut the &*%&% up” as she looked in the passenger window. Hopefully I get that reaction a lot during these adventures, but only for good reasons. Shockingly, my first ever Uber pickup was one of my first girlfriends from the summer after ninth grade.
Jenny broke up with me after about a week. My maturity level now is still about ten years behind my age of 36, so you can only imagine what I was like at fifteen. I am sure she had plenty of good reasons. Jenny and her husband currently live in Charlotte. They jumped in the backseat, and after a quick detour to buy some wine at CVS, we stopped by to pick up another old friend, Caroline, who I ran track with for three years at Reynolds.
I took them to a house where I spent a lot of time during my high school years, where they were meeting up with several of their high school friends. I saw another old friend, Courtney, and met her husband and then I was off back to the house with four new dollars in my bank account and a great photo in my phone.
Once I got home, I went upstairs and Katie and the two kids were asleep in my bed and I was about to get ready for bed, when I got another message that a rider was waiting. I jumped in the van again and had four more pickups over the next forty-five minutes. The first two pickups were groups of four.
I picked up one foursome at The Beer Growler and took them to Burke St. Pub. They were talkative and actually spent most of the ride complaining about a guy I used to play soccer with growing up. Immediately after I dropped them off, I had another message from a block away at Mozelle’s. This foursome practically acted like I was non-existent until I got them to their house in Ardmore, where they did say thanks.
The next two rides were young women, who had jobs near the Mall area. I took each of them back to their houses. One of them recently received a DUI and is without her license for a couple months. She uses Uber to go to her managerial job, and to go home after work. She was incredibly friendly, and helpful with some Uber tips. The second young lady lived near my work at Salem College, and after I dropped her off, I started to head back home planning to call it a night.
I was driving down Robinhood Road, when I got another message since I forgot to turn the Uber app off. It was the same Buena Vista street where I dropped off Caroline and Jenny, and I thought it was them again trying to get a ride home. When I pulled up to the house, it was the house next door, where I also had been to a couple parties growing up.
As soon as Julianna got in the car, I said I had been to a couple parties at her house, and her first words were, “I am sure you have!” Julianna is a lot younger than me, but her sister, Lucy, was good friends with one of the sisters of one of my good friends. We spent some time hanging out with Lucy, and I am pretty sure she dated one of my good friends (I can’t remember which one).
Julianna has gone on to star in countless movies and television shows, and she also is a member of the band, The Girls, with Cyrina Fiallo (from the television show, Community). Julianna has starred in movies like Friday the 13th, Captain America: Civil War, and Crazy, Stupid, Love (with Steve Carell). She has been in countless television shows like How I Met Your Mother, Criminal Minds, and CSI. She is currently in a Hallmark movie with Vivica A. Fox called Summer in the City.
Though she is a big-time Hollywood star, Julianna couldn’t have been any nicer and down to earth during our ten minute drive to Camel City Barbecue Factory. We talked about parties at her house, our dads working on the BB&T building in the eighties together, and our holiday seasons. I also hopefully convinced her to do a Famous Winston-Salemite blog, so you can learn more about her one day soon.
After I dropped Julianna off, I cut the app off and went home with two hours of excitement and twenty-five dollars in my pocket (actually in my phone). I was too amped up to sleep when I got home and stayed up too late, excited for my next upcoming adventures in Uberring through Winston.
Some Uber tips I learned:
Pay attention after you drop off a customer. I dropped off a customer near Ebert St. and then turned the wrong way and I think I was in Mecklenburg County before I figured it out.
Carry candy at all times in case a kid gets in with their parent (thanks Richmond Hill).
Don’t forget to swipe that you have picked up a customer. I was at CVS with Jenny and her husband before I figured out that I didn’t start the trip yet on the phone.
You don’t get paid a ton driving around Winston (but it is worth it)! Also, I don’t think tipping is a mainstay for Uber passengers, so I might need to rethink how I can work out getting more money for charities.
Winston-Salem is one of the greatest small cities in the world. Famous Winston-Salemites will feature some accomplished people that lived in Winston-Salem and now have moved on to do great things. All of the questions will be about their time in the Twin City.
After a ten year hiatus, the band Jump, Little Children continues to have a loyal following all across the country. The members of the band (Jay Clifford, Matthew Bivins, Evan Bivins, Jonathan Gray, and Ward Williams) now live throughout the United States in Charleston, New York, Atlanta, and Chicago, though they call Winston-Salem home and it is where the band was born. I had the opportunity to talk to Matthew Bivins (the older brother, vocalist and accordion, harmonica, and mandolin player) about the bands upbringing in Winston.
“Winston is such a strange place to grow up,” said Matthew. “Winston-Salem has more culture and art than most cities its size and even bigger cities. It is small enough to know all of your neighbors and know them well and there is just something about it. Every time I come back to Winston, I leave so excited. It feels so much like home, it feels good to be there!”
In the early 1990’s, Matthew moved to Downtown Winston to 2nd St. in a time when Downtown was a ghost town. The brothers went to school at Brunson Elementary, Wiley Middle School, and R.J. Reynolds High School. Matthew was a friend of Cary Clifford (current owner of Winston’s Camino Bakery) and that is how he became friendly with her older brother, Jay, who is the lead singer of Jump, Little Children.
The family also lived across the street from an Irish family, whose son was Christopher Pollen. The three were also friendly with Ward, and both of the brothers plus Jay and Ward all ended up at the North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA). In 1991, Jay and Ward were in a band called, The Sound Painters, and Matt and Christopher were able to lure them away to form a new band.
They all lived together in the Washington Park area, and Evan wanted to join the band. He didn’t have an instrument to play, so he taught himself how to play an Irish frame drum. The musical origins of the band were more Irish folk music than rock & roll. They practiced at UNCSA and played local folk festivals. They also played several live shows on Wake Forest’s local radio station (WFDD).
Jay, Christopher, and Matthew all decided to take a break from UNCSA and they moved to Ireland to focus on their music. Matt said, “we knew we weren’t going to be soloists in a classical band, so we traveled to Ireland and stayed in monasteries, while playing in Irish pubs throughout the country.”
The three came back to Winston and decided to move to the most Irish city in America, Boston. Evan joined them, while Ward stayed behind to finish up at UNCSA. Things didn’t go as planned in Boston after Christopher left the band, so they decided to move to Charleston permanently in 1994.
Jump, Little Children as we know them today, officially started once they moved to Charleston. Jonathan, their friend from Myrtle Beach, joined the band as the bass player and Ward, the cellist and guitar player, finished up at UNCSA and moved down, and the band was formed. They kept a lot of the same instruments they used as a folk band, but they started writing rock songs. Hootie and the Blowfish and The Dave Matthews Band were starting to become popular, and this set the stage for a grassroots musical movement.
JLC made their name in the Carolina’s, but it didn’t take long for them to earn national radio play, and start to tour across the country. Between 1995 and 1999, the band released The Licorice Tea Demos, Buzz (a live recording), and perhaps their most famous record, Magazine. Songs like “Cathedrals” and “Quiet” became radio hits, and the band began playing to sold shows of 100 to 5,000 fans. They also started playing New Year’s shows at the Dock Street Theatre in Charleston, and the concerts were revived after their ten year hiatus in 2015.
In the early 2000’s, the band released studio albums, Vertigo and Between The Dim & The Dark, plus a live recording, Live at the Dock Street Theatre. They spent time touring with bands like Guster, Rusted Root, Butch Walker, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and Howie Day.
In 2005, the band decided it was time to pursue other areas, including starting a family. Matt has been married for four years, and Evan is engaged. Jay is married with one kid and lives in Charleston. Jonathan also lives in Charleston, and is married with three children. Ward is in Brooklyn, and has one son and a baby on the way.
During their ten year hiatus, their song “Mexico,” which is perhaps my favorite song of the band, was featured in Zach Braff’s movie, Wish I Was Here, and became a hit. Other songs have made it on television, including shows like Party of Five, So You Think You Can Dance, Everwood, and Scrubs.
In 2015, JLC decided it was time to get back together. In April of this year, the band will embark on a tour that includes shows in Asheville, Chapel Hill, Birmingham, and Atlanta. They will also be joining bands like Shovels & Rope, The Avett Brothers, and The Shins at the High Water Festival in Charleston. You can buy tickets to their upcoming tour and merchandise at their website (here).
Below, Matt answers some questions about the band’s favorite parts of Winston-Salem:
Growing up, what were some of your favorite restaurants in Winston?
Growing up, Winston wasn’t a culinary capital like it is today. I just came back to town recently and ate at Quanto Basta and it was great. When I was young, I loved the West End Cafe. We also loved the Rose & Thistle. I think everybody in the band had a job one time or another at Rainbow News.
What were some other things about Winston you really appreciated?
My dad, John Bivins Jr., was a restorationist, and did a lot of work Downtown and at Old Salem. I loved all the people at MESDA (Museum of Early Decorative Arts). My mom, Mary Lucy, who currently works at the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, VA, was a theater professor at Wake Forest, and we loved going over there. I did a lot of performing arts growing up, and spent a lot of time in plays at The Little Theatre.
Who are some other musicians from Winston that you know?
Growing up, I remember spending time at the Shakespeare Festival with Becca Stevens and her family when she was very young. Jay’s older sister went to Reynolds with Ben Folds, and Greg Humphries from Dillon Fence was good friends with Ward. I don’t know Paul Defiglia from The Avett Brothers, but look forward to playing with him at the High Water Festival.
Where are some places you enjoyed performing in Winston?
We played at Ziggy’s a lot and at the Millenium Center once we were touring. When we were younger we did acoustic shows at UNCSA that were great!
What do you think about Winston-Salem now?
The revitalization of Downtown is amazing and inspiring. I love to see how much Downtown has changed. My dad moved us there and there weren’t many people living Downtown, and now a lot of people live there.
I said during our last game that “I love everything about this team,” and I meant every word of that statement. I love my coaching staff and wouldn’t trade them for any coaching staff in the country. I love the determination and relentlessness of all twenty-six members of the team this Fall. I love the quirkiness of each member of the team and how each member, through their differences, fit together like puzzle pieces to make a dominant team.
This team wasn’t perfect, no teams ever are perfect. All teams have their ups and downs, but one of the best parts of this team was how easily you put the imperfections of the team behind you to merge together to have a stellar season.
The first husband of Salem College, Bert Lain, told you all that through his journey to nine different institutions, including two of the best athletic departments in the nation, UNC and Stanford, this version of the Salem College Soccer team was his favorite team ever to watch. Bert is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met, and he knows what he is saying when he talks about the guts this team stepped on the field with every game.
There were some doubts at the beginning of the season how a team with only one senior that was joining a new sixteen-member conference would handle a season. Anchored by Morgan and the leadership of this team, everybody came together after a couple rocky pre-season games to put together the best season in school history. You can read this article to see all the great accolades this team has received so far (ARTICLE).
Players on the Salem soccer team don’t get the exposure you all deserve. Being in a city where one of the top men’s soccer programs in NCAA Division 1 doesn’t help, but you all continue to play hard for each other. We don’t have the same facilities as many programs in our conference or in the nation, but you all continue to play hard for each other. There isn’t a big crowd besides your families at the games, but you all continue to play hard for each other.
We have had great teams before in the history of Salem College Soccer that have achieved incredible accomplishments. Better than all of those accomplishments, we have great people that played soccer here and they paved the path for this season.
Salem College as an institution has the one of the brightest histories of any institution for women in this nation. What you all did this season is one of the greatest accomplishments a group of women has accomplished in the 245 year history of Salem.
This team defied all odds. You joined a new conference with sixteen members and won the regular season championship, which, to me, is harder than winning the tournament. The conference didn’t make it easy on you at all. You traveled more than twice as far throughout 2016 conference play as the team that traveled the second most in the conference, and over three times as far as most teams, but you still prevailed.
This program had never beaten Maryville College in our history, but you did it this year, and not just once but three times. Maryville was the New York Yankees of our old conference, the Great South. Nobody in the former Great South had won a game at Maryville since the early 2000’s until you all did it in one of the most exciting games I have ever been a part of as a coach or player. This team came together to put on a stellar performance in your first ever USA South playoff game to defeat Maryville and move to the USA South Semifinals.
We don’t get huge crowds as I mentioned earlier at home, but you all continued to be valiant soldiers protecting your home turf. Once again, we went 10-0 at home this season. This program now is riding a twenty-five game home win streak protecting the Salem soccer field. In fact, our last home loss was in 2014 to the number one team in the country and eventual national champions of Lynchburg.
In the USA South Final Four, once again, you all had the odds against you and you defied them by having to go on the road as the number one seed for the semifinals and championship weekend. Playing on turf was a bit like kryptonite to Superman for us this season and you had to do that during the Final Four weekend. We didn’t play our best game this season in the semifinals, but you never let your guards down and once again you pulled out an exciting overtime win.
Even though, we lost the championship game, the last twenty minutes were the best twenty minutes you all put together all season. Falling behind, 2-0, with 20 minutes remaining, would cause most teams to buckle, but you all stepped it up. We got one goal back with 12 minutes left.
Life is a game of inches where mistakes can be made, and our season ended that way. You all battled to the very last second of our season, and you scored the goal that should have tied the game and sent us to overtime, where there is no doubt in my mind that you all would have prevailed. Unfortunately, the referees made the mistake of missing the clear goal, which ended our season.
Even without the tournament trophy, you all are true champions due to your character, your effort and determination, and your hearts. I am truly privileged to be a part of what you all did this season, and I can’t wait to see what you all can do together as you continue on your path as soccer players, tremendous students, and great people.