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The Challenge - Part 1.


I woke up to a phone call at midnight. I held it in my hand and contemplated letting it go to voicemail as I looked at the caller ID; it was Abram, and I knew exactly what he was going to tell me. This was the the moment that would change everything... I let it go to voicemail.

Let's back track from there to how this all started; Abram got a call from MTV a couple months prior, asking if he wanted to be on the upcoming Challenge. This was something he was accustomed to as he had been continually appearing on reality TV since 2001. Only this time he had to find a relative that was willing and able to join him on the show. I wasn't his first choice, in fact I was his third... and I don't blame him. Years earlier we had met with executives of MTV about filming a reality TV pilot about the five Boise brothers, and I couldn't have been less enthusiastic then or now. I always preferred a life behind the scenes, having worked in concert and video production for the past eight years. I also tend to be more of a listener than a talker, which in turn makes me a less than ideal candidate for a reality show. None the less, Abram's first two options had backed down, and now an opportunity that would probably not come around again in my lifetime was knocking at my door... or in this sense, calling me at midnight. Before I could check the voicemail he called again, this time I answered. Me: "Whats up man?" Abram: "Pack your bags, we have to be on the plane at 10am tomorrow." I will admit that I panicked a little in that moment. This was really about to happen despite all doubts, since filming had already began, and I had done everything I could to passively avoid going, such as change the pay rates, cross lines out, and write in my own terms in the contract. We were sure by this time they no longer were considering us as alternates. Despite all of this, they did call, and gave us no time to prepare. In this moment, it was all or nothing. me: "Alright, let's do it." Abram: "Okay, I'll pick you up in the morning." I hung up the phone. What the hell did I just commit to? Did I really want to do this? Summer was about to kick off, my girlfriend just moved to town a week prior, and my job was counting on me to organize and coordinate with 25 different artists for a festival scheduled to take place in three weeks. This meant I had just set all of that aside for something I knew very little about and there was no definite answer as to how long we would be gone. My mind raced all night as I weighed the pros and cons and played out scenarios in my head. I didn't sleep that night.

As the sun rose, I sat up in bed, grabbed the laptop and opened my email. one of the producers had been in contact with me via email, so as a last ditch effort, I decided to send a short message: "I will not be going on the Challenge". At the time, I wasn't aware that production for this show does not sleep and is in constant communication with everyone. My phone rang seconds later, it was Abram. Abram: "Hey, uh... what's up? I thought you just said last night that you are going. Why are you backing out now?" Me: "I can't do it man, this isn't for me. I could lose my job and my girlfriend. I don't want to just dropping everything for this. I'm sorry, I can't go. " He hung up the phone, and minutes later was banging on my door. We argued for a bit as he tried to reason me in to going. My girlfriend had woken up when Abram came in and had now joined us in the living room. Sophia: "Michael, you should go. You know you'll never get the chance to do this again." I knew she wanted me to stay, but didn't want to be the reason if I did. I was torn. I realize that this was a huge opportunity, and that many people would kill for something like this, but not all people. I had no desire to go... but at the same time I would get to fly half way around the world and take part in a show on national television... So curiosity got the best of me. I'm sure that if I did not go I would have always looked back and said "what if?". Plus, I would be letting down my brother and family who all said "Yes! Go!" I had no more leverage and I was out of time.

I packed one carry on bag, said a last goodbye to Sophia, and got in to the car with Abram. I looked back to see her watching through the window of the house with billowing eyes as we drove out of sight. I was on my way to the most surreal adventure of my life, and despite all the disagreements leading up to this point, would soon discover there is bond between my brother and I that is deeper than our bloodlines.


Above picture: Abram and I in 2007, enjoying a couple beers at 3am after a long day of construction on his house.

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