For Damon Mitchell, health is important. What you may not know, is that even though he has a strong professional and personal background in physical fitness, he’s also had the writing bug for a long time. Like working out, he does it daily.
A Los Angeles, California replant to Costa Rica, he and his wife Cristina ended up in Tamarindo in a last-ditch plan to make it work in this country. And, it’s working.
As owners of PIZZA & CO, they are a thriving part of this community, and Mitchell spends time each day creating content for a variety of outlets.
THE Tamarindo News was able to catch up with Damon to learn what’s going on
THE Tamarindo News: What were you doing back in Los Angeles?
Damon Mitchell: I took my first training certification test in L.A. when my plan of waiting tables while chasing an acting career didn’t pan out. The only other thing I was into, other than acting, was fitness, unless you consider partying. I couldn’t see a pathway for income through partying that didn’t end in tragedy, so I became a personal trainer. I thought I would become a private trainer to the stars or something shiny like that. Instead, I became a desk jockey. The parade of promotions and management gigs paid well and I learned about subjects I never thought would interest me: business operations, leadership, reading people. In the end, it wasn’t the dream, so we dumped everything for Costa Rica.
TTN: Did you meet your wife, Cristina, in the gym?
DM: Yes, when she and I both worked for 24 Hour Fitness. She was a rank below me at the time, so it was kind of naughty. I had to tell my supervisor and the head of HR. They advised me to be careful. At the time I was a district manager. We used to flirt when I would come in for development meetings; well, I would flirt. She would act cool.
TTN: When did you decide to write?
DM: I would say I’ve always been a writer, fascinated with the art of words and storytelling. As an actor, it was more about the words. I’m more of a William Shakespeare than an Arthur Miller actor on stage. There’s something about sinking one’s teeth into a text. As a writer, I still relish the right words, but I obsess with how to tell the story. I still suck at storytelling, which is why I keep doing it. Every time I publish something I think about my writing mentors, how ashamed they must be of the crap I turn out. It motivates me to try harder. Working as writer was something I sort of fell into in 2013, about a month after I stopped drinking. The timing was perfect. An opportunity came up, which led to another, and over time the work snowballed. I’m so grateful for my good fortune, may it never end. For me, writing is like exercise. When I don’t do it, I get sad. It might seem like some sort of liberation for a time, but it catches up fast. My whole chemistry collapses in on me. The best thing for me is to stay consistent. Sorry for this, I don’t like quotes, but Chekov said it best: “If one wants to lead a good life, a human life, one must work.” For me, I had to learn how to do so without being a workaholic. I have no shallow end in my pool.
TTN: Aren’t you working on a novel?
DM: For three years I hammered out an autobiography about leaving our lives in L.A., moving to Costa Rica, getting sober, buying the pizzeria. I was so sure that book would sell, but after submitting to 150 agents, and consulting with published friends, I decided to let it go. Maybe those stories will get a new life elsewhere, I don’t know. The experience was worth it, regardless. It taught me discipline, sitting in the chair, yes, but going back to the work. The third or fourth draft (I lost track) was something like 150,000 words. Good novels from superfamous people can be 90,000, but are more likely close to 70,000 words. No agent would seriously consider my book at 150K. I had to edit it down. Even at the right word count, I was still trying to sell a book from a nobody. Long story short, too late, in the end I shelved my pride and made the grown-up choice to let it go. I know what you’re thinking, self-publish, but this has been done already. I wanted the validation of legitimacy with my book. It’s okay. I have other books in me when I’m ready, and now I know better how to approach those ideas.
TTN: Why did you move to Tamarindo?
DM: We were living in Playa Azul, near the Tárcoles estuary. It’s not a nice beach, but we had a nice two-bedroom rental for a steal. At the time, Cristina and I were in the produce business. We don’t know what happened; we lost almost all of our savings. We were close to moving home. Instead, we liquidated our retirements, shopped a bunch of businesses, and found one worth consideration in Tamarindo: PIZZA&CO. It was our “hail mary” play. It worked. We’re still here.
TTN: What do you write now?
DM: I write mostly blogs. I have two main employers, but I do contract work too, when there’s time. The blogs are on history, some transhumanist stuff and cars. Tranhumanism; is basically using technology or other means to evolve the human experience to the next level. It’s nerdy stuff.
TTN: You recently wrote a very courageous story for the Tico Times about wanting kids at this later age, and then getting a reverse vasectomy?
DM: I think the more vulnerable we get, the better the story. There’s a risk, which I’ve learned, but it’s worth it to me. Yeah, but kids, that’s real life. People have been reproducing for tens of thousands of years, so we’re trying to keep it in perspective. It’s not like we’re solving hunger or something. Someone once told me, “Marriage is an adventure for the unimaginative.” I’ve been thinking about that regarding having kids. It’s no big deal, Damon.