Yesterday was a pretty big day for me.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a little over 9 years since I first moved to Florida, and subsequently lost track of the ability to keep that website current as I scrambled from the independence one finds after finally moving out of his Mom’s basement and on his own. It’s kind of weird for me to look back at those times because for a good couple of years, Just Laugh was my life and yet at the drop of a hat it just sort of vanished during those weeks while I was still living out of a motel in South Tampa, then moving into my first apartment, then finding a real job, and well – you get the idea.

I even managed to lose justlaugh.net to a domain squatter because its renewal lapsed while I was still getting settled – that still rubs me the wrong way, even though about a year prior we had been able to snap up the .com address I had wanted all along without paying a ridiculous ransom for it.

It’s no secret that I’ve tried to rebuild this thing that once stood admittedly pretty tall at least half a dozen times since then, each getting a little further than before but ultimately still having to give way to whatever priorities were big in my life at the time. Truth be told, I actually started working on the current design that you see there now back in 2009, but I guess it just took me finding a certain place in my own life before I could really start to turn things around and give them the attention that they deserved to truly give Just Laugh a second chance.

That day began yesterday. Well, technically about a month and a half ago when I spent some time reshuffling priorities on the 12th deck of a cruise ship while my wife and I were on vacation. I realized that part of the reason previous re-launches had failed for Just Laugh was simply due to the size of the site and its ever-increasing needs as technology continues to distance itself from all of that code that I just barely slapped together back in 2002! I decided that as much as I wanted to whip off the sheet with one tug and showcase a bright, shiny new website from top to bottom, that just wasn’t going to be feasible with just me doing everything by hand. So instead, I put together the plan that you can see outlined on the site today – a phased approach that breaks up the redesign into about four parts, the first of which was completed yesterday.

There’s still a ton of work left to do and I’m trying not to get overly excited about all of it because that’s when the doubt starts creeping in, but I hope for my own sanity’s sake that I’m finally in a place where I can really stay on task here because I’ve got a whole lot of new ideas for Just Laugh and some of them are I guess what you would kind of consider to be career defining. They’re very big, and bold, and I honestly wish that I would’ve had the guts to start on them five years ago because time is precious, but here I am just the same. I’m not going to list them out here today because this doesn’t seem like the right venue, but I spent some time listing them out on the white board in my office last night … some of them are very personal, some of them are more focused on helping support the rest of the creative community, and there’s at least one or two that would pretty much blow my mind if I was able to put them under my belt in the next 5-10 years!

I don’t really feel like I’m back yet, but it feels good to be back just the same. My writing process for the last several years has been very isolated, for better and for worse, so I’m particularly looking forward to getting back in touch with people again, both any of the old contributors who feel up to the occasional collaboration and also hopefully some new ones, too, as I try to rebuild Just Laugh in a way that is as beneficial to everyone else just as much as it is to me. I go back through some of my archived e-mails and see just how many submissions we used to get from people for Just Laugh magazine or the twists that some of our off-the-wall projects took along the way …  it really burns me that we don’t stand here today with another 9 years of content in those vast archives, but all in the same, I’m looking forward to starting things fresh and seeing what we can come up with to make people laugh all over again.

Yesterday I completed the first phase of relaunching Just Laugh. I really hope that people like it because I’ve never been more anxious to start on phase two of a creative project, and there’s a lot more to come even beyond that.

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