Phteven’s Phorty Phird Birphday

43 Things


On the surface, my husband and I are night and day.  He is as quiet and calm, as I am boisterous and gregarious.

But 17 years with this incredible, complicated, kind, quirky man have taught me countless lessons, and showed me in a multitude of ways, the kind of person I aspire to be.

  1. His bravery – Steve is a man who has lived through incredible things.He’s faced emotional, physical and general trials that might turn a person bitter or cause them to shut down completely, but he’s lived through them and fights tirelessly for causes and people and projects.  He calculates risks, and even if odds are against him, he does what he believes is the right thing to do and he does it with conviction and bravery I have not seen in any other person I have met.
  2. His Superman Curl – Needs no explanation, he has beautiful dark hair and a curl that falls over his left eye, and I Love that curl and that face so much that sometimes I think I will cry.
  3. His humor – It is dark. It is smart. It is a thing of beauty that makes my heart stop as he not only crosses, he obliterates “the line” at times.
  4. Hard Shell, Soft Centre – Don’t get me wrong, I call him Grumpy in earnest, as he can be what our dear friend Eva would call a “curmudgeon” most of the time.Underneath his huffing, puffing and complaining lies the softest, most tender heart.  He cries at weddings, and feels everything so deeply.
  5. Tenacity – Man, the man is NON-STOP!  Once this powerhouse of intellect and vision has made a decision about something, he will make it happen.  He follows through and no barrier will dissuade him from reaching his goal.
  6. DGAF – Equal to his perseverance and tenacity, Steve is able to give not a single fuck about most things. Someone doesn’t like him?  Not a single fuck will be given.  Someone acting like a tool and making things difficult for him?  That’s fine, he’ll just keep on going and destroy barriers with time, patience and brilliance.  It’s a beautiful thing and I get weak in the knees seeing him smash the walls, ceilings and fences that come between him and his goals.
  7. His giggle – I’ve always loved his giggle, and wish I heard it more.
  8. He is a Big Kid – When my husband sees something he likes, he absolutely shakes with excitement. He is not above jumping up and down and clapping when something that excites him comes to light.
  9. Crass AF – My husband swears like a total boss. We’re trying to curb it as our latest company matures from start-up culture to growth (we have lots of brilliant new staff who are amazing and we don’t want to scare them with our swearing) but when we are in the company of our nearest and dearest, this man could strip the paint off the walls with his acid tongue and colourful vernacular.  It makes me so proud.
  10. Loyal – Steve’s not super fond of most people. He doesn’t hate too many people (as that would mean giving a fuck, and we’ve established he’s not one to) but he does have a long shit-list of people he just doesn’t feel the need to go out of his way for.  But, when someone makes their way into this man’s head, heart and life, there are virtually no lengths he will not go to for them.  Once he cares about a person he is on their side forever, eternally, and will forgive nearly anything imaginable.  This is pretty lucky for me, as my mental health issues would have scared a weaker man off a long, long, long time ago.
  11. Honest – Do not ask him a question if you do not want the answer.He will tell you without candy coating and without mincing words or thoughts about how hurt your feelings may be if he responds.  His honesty is legendary.  His candour is exquisite.  I Love this about him.  I don’t often wonder how he’s feeling for long, and he’s never aloof or distant.
  12. Optimism – Most of us agree that we are living in very fraught and frightening times. Rather than stew on the situation, Steve has always been more interested in getting things done.  ChargeNet NZ was born of this pragmatic optimism.  Climate change is a huge problem, so what was the MOST impactful thing we could do to combat it?  Build a network to help NZ expedite EV adoption and get closer to total energy independence.
  13. Generous – Steve likes to be pampered, and he likes to enjoy some of the finer things his success has afforded, but he is always eager to share experiences, resources, and most importantly his vast and varied intellectual repertoire. Steve spends hours helping, researching, supporting and buoying friends and family in their times of needs.  He does reach a saturation point, and the door has been known to close on his bountiful generosity, but this is in the name of self-preservation and another thing I adore about him.
  14. That’s a good segue! Pragmatic – Steve is pragmatic to the point he is basically a Vulcan.  His logical approach to life in undeniable, and can make it difficult to remember that underneath the staunchly rational surface, a cauldron of feels bubbles and sometimes boils.  He has had to talk me down from countless ledges, and around from numerous rash decisions.  He does so gently, but with flawless logic and I do Love that about him.
  15. His Smile, laugh, and Gafaw – I think I Love everyone’s smile, but his eyes twinkle when he smiles and means it, and when his loud belly laugh joins in, it is contagious to anyone around. He will smile and laugh until he coughs and sputters and struggles to breath.
  16. Adventure – Steve does not like roller coasters or heights, but he will gladly follow me into any jungle, slum, or junk store on the planet. He is fearless and we have travelled the world and met people we Love like family in the strangest places.  He loves an adventure, and will happily leave me to do the introductions.
  17. We fit – He is one head taller than me, so my head fits on his chest and he never has to lean down to kiss me (which he does a dozen times a day under normal circumstances). His fingers fit perfectly in mine, and his arms are exactly long enough to be wrapped around my waist and make me feel safe and a bit tiny.
  18. We fight – There are people on this planet who crave conflict, and there are those who avoid it. I crave, he avoids.  After nearly 20 years of being best friends, soul mates, business partners, parents, lovers, and sometimes vehemently opposed to the others’ plan or idea… we are learning to fight fair and fast.  I’ve always questioned couples that say they never fight; it seems impossible to grow without conflict and resolution.  I break his heart by being the hot mess of self-destruction I am, and he breaks mine by being thoughtless or basic.  We hash a lot of it out and air our laundry at therapy sessions, which ought to be more regular than they are, but we are traveling so often, it is difficult to sneak in appointments.
  19. We’re Tight – There’s a phrase; “Thick as Thieves” which refers to marginalized criminals being extraordinarily loyal and close. Steve and I were both bullied mercilessly throughout our youth and childhoods.  We know what it feels like to be lonely, misunderstood, and anxious.  The bond between us as two awkward and lonely children who found each other and blossomed is unbreakable, trust me, in fits of rage I have tried to break it.
  20. His Arms, Back and Glorious Guns – My husband is shaped like a barrel.He is the height of masculine perfection tied into a tiny but tempting package.  He has beautiful broad shoulders, strong arms and his pects are something to behold!  Swoon city!
  21. His BRAIN – More than one of the things I Love about Grumpy is tied up in his galaxy sized brain. To say my husband is intelligent is akin to saying that I am somewhat friendly or occasionally outgoing.  Steve is one of the smartest people I know, and our journey in life has afforded us the pleasure of companions from across the globe who are the top of their game, the top of their class, and geniuses in various and wonderful ways.  When Steve is faced with a problem, either his or someone else’s, you may not even know he’s heard you when you explain it, as his face shuts down a bit so his brain can engage into some sort of magical and electrifying dance.  He synthesizes and spits out answers and knowledge with casual confidence, and he is so frequently right about so many things it has become difficult to question him. His brain makes my heart dance. His intelligence and lateral thoughts make me weak in the knees.  He is a genius on too many levels to recount to you now, but should you get the chance, please enjoy listening to him talk about something he knows and loves.  He will turn that subject into a sweet and delicious morsel that you will find it impossible not to feel excited about too.
  22. His New Babyface – Our first date, I explained to him that I was breeding, and if he was not going to have kids there was no need for a second date. Steve was never getting married and certainly NEVER having children. After a very short time dating, he proposed, and we were pregnant only months after our wedding.  The day his son was born he cried.  Those tears of joy were replicated with each birth, but in a totally unique and beautiful way.  Our last two babies he caught in his strong hands and held in his beautiful arms.  For a man who wasn’t getting married or having children, he’s always the first to volunteer to cuddle a friend’s newborn and he’s a proud beautiful papa bear to all four of our cantankerous cubs.
  23. Food – We both like so many of the same foods. We travel the globe masticating magical morsels of cheese and seafood.  We’ve enjoyed street food and Michelin star degustation together.  What’s not to Love about that!
  24. Born Romantic – My husband is the most romantic man on earth. On a day to day basis, he can be proper daft and come across like he’s a bit uncaring, as he’s busy thinking about a million ways to change the world and make it better.  Then, for no good reason, he will do the most ridiculously romantic thing. On my 26th Birthday he bought me a ski lodge.    A ski lodge.  We had just started to make money at Serato, and we both loved skiing and a throw away comment about how much cheaper houses were by the mountain than up in Auckland.  So we did some research, packed his mother in the car and headed to Okakune.  The day after we signed the papers for the “Happy Hobbit Love Shack” we found out that we were pregnant with Daniel.  Oops!  But we kept both the lodge and the baby and we’ve decided to keep the kid and sell the house after several years of being too busy to use it.  We’ve made memories there though, and so many of our friends have had a magic time on the mountain staying at our happy Hobbit home.
  25. Shock Value – Steve is AMAZING at clangors. I won’t regale you with any actual examples as I think I shall put this blog up on my LinkedIn. What I will say is that after several times around the globe and back again it takes a lot to shock me.  Yet my husband still manages to do so.  “You didn’t just say that!” is a common phrase and makes little to no difference to my strange and sincere sweetheart.
  26. Why Not – While I wouldn’t call him risk averse, he coolly calculates every minute detail of a business venture, great or small, before embarking.However, he is fearless when faced with risks, if doing something he believes in. To use a poker term, he put us “all in” when we started ChargeNet NZ.  We are responsible for over a dozen people’s livelihoods, and have been credited with expediting the move to total energy independence and carbon divestment for the nation we know and Love so well.  New Zealand is our home, and we have poured our time, knowledge, and money into doing the most impactful thing his galaxy sized brain could come up with the help secure a cleaner, safer, kinder future for his home.  The risks were great, but his conviction to do what he believed was far greater.  Stay tuned to see how this story ends as we are just warming up.
  27. Diapers – He changed the vast majority of diapers, despite working full time at Serato for most of our first two children’s younger years. What’s not to Love about that!
  28. Humility – Some people misconstrue his shyness for arrogance, but I am floored by my husband’s true and tender humility. His eyes fill and flow whenever he earns an award or even a kind word from a known and respected colleague or friend.  Steve does not view his success as his own, but rather he feels like the lucky guardian of some well timed thoughts, algorithms and ideas, and he knows that he would be nothing without the hundreds of people who help him to fulfill his dreams every single day.  He’s said to me more times than I could recall, that without my crazy, hurricane to his calm, he would be nothing at all.  I can’t tell you what it feels like to live in the shadow of such a huge and whole heartedly humble giant of a man.  Most of the time it is lovely, sometimes I do want to strangle him though.
  29. Gratitude – Any gift, or award, or word he gets is cherished beyond measure.Some months ago, we stood in front of a room full of our peers and accepted an award for championing the EV movement in New Zealand.  The audience thought he was being dry and somewhat ironic when he handed me the mic, but he was so overcome with emotion and gratitude, that he literally could not speak.  So I spoke for him, and MAN can I talk!
  30. Religion and Woo – Being the consummate scientist that he is, my husband says he does not believe in mystery, religion, magic or miracles. I believe in all of that enough for both of us, despite being agnostic in my religious convictions. However, he has seen and even been privy to a miracle or two in our time together and I know that he believes in Karma, and the power of kindness and the miracles that make themselves known in our darkest hours.  So I Love that he tries to deny it, but in so many ways, even having found each other or grown to be adults is a miracle, and something we both acknowledge as such.
  31. Dancing Dork – We can’t dance. It doesn’t stop us, and we know we are ridiculous.
  32. Daughter’s Daddy – My husband can say and do cringey things. When I see him with our daughter though, and he is tender, and honest, and loving and protective and demonstrative… Well, it is beautiful.  He is equally engaged when it comes to our boys, but he is setting the bar pretty high, as I doubt many (if any) men will be able to measure up to Stephanie Maria Jane’s brilliant daddy.
  33. Play – He’ll get on skis, trampolines, in pools, and jump off things with our kids. He leaves the adrenaline sports like roller coasters and skydiving to me and Daniel, but he is so involved with the kids when the opportunity presents itself.
  34. It’s in His Kiss – After good times, bad times, happy times and very sad times, he still cups my face in his hands and kisses me every single day.I’ve pushed this man away so hard, and gone so far to prove to him that he can and should do better, and yet he remains.  I wonder if I’ve placed the final straw on the camel sometimes, and then he kisses me and I know that I am his and he is mine and we will be together for all time.
  35. Fairness – Steve weighs things up to the point of absurdity. He is not quick tempered or one to make rash or emotional decisions.  He does not choose sides or engage in gossip.  We’ve had a few unfortunate situations recently, where I have gone whole heartedly to bat for people who have quite simply shit all over both of us.  While he had told me continuously he did not like these people, I pushed for and defended them vehemently until their actions and inactions could no longer be ignored.  Rather than layer it on thick with “I-told-you-so” or even “see what you’ve done?” he held me when I cried because my heart was broken again by being naïve and trusting, even after his sage warnings.  Neither of us is perfect – far from it – but together we make an amazing team of passion, perseverance, kindness, enthusiasm, calm, storm, sarcasm, sardonic wit, willingness to make mistakes, loyalty, and most importantly Love.  And I do Love you Stephen Marcus Jason West. I do, I do, I do, I do.
  36. He Knows Me SO WELL – Anyone who knows us knows that we tow an untraditional line. Our marriage has been long, and is going strong because we are honest with each other. I’ve tried lying to him as he has in return lied to me, but it never lasts long and the truth always comes out. Beyond that, Steve has learned my faults, foibles and superpowers and can read me like a book even when we are on different continents.  He finishes my sentences, knows my motives, and holds me to task.  He knows me better than anyone on this earth, and better than I know myself when storms of emotion take over.  He waits out the tempest and is there to hold me when I have done and said things that I never should have.  And he believes in me, even on the days I am wrapped up in bed like a catatonic human burrito.
  37. He Listens – A friend once told me, that despite his random acts of lasciviousness, Steve was actually the best listener and advocate she’d ever known. He does not care much if a person is a man or a woman or what colour, creed, or religion they ascribe to, he will listen to reason and he will destroy and disregard stupidity.  If a person has a point, it will be championed and heard by this man.  He can also tune people (specifically me) out at times, but when a point needs to be made, and it is done so in a balanced and brilliant way, Steve will hear it and he will likely take action.
  38. Few Words, Many Deeds – Steve is not a talker. He is a doer.  He does not expend energy in arguments or attempts to be the big man on any campus. He listens to my blathering and brilliance and separates one from the other with ease, and he supports me with all that he is when I have a well formed plan to do anything.  From travel to revolutionary ideas, Steve is a man of action, and his actions have always spoken so much louder than my words.
  39. Justice – Steve has an unquenchable thirst for justice. He does not believe that things are as they ought to be, and he will stand up and do and say the most incredible things in his quest to make the world a more transparent and just place for all of us. He knows what it feels like to be powerless and put down, and he has invested his whole working life to making it a fairer, kinder, cleaner, and more musical world for everyone.

The older children are going to share their favourite things about their Darling dad, and then we are done for the day and will go and play.

  • Steph – he gives awesome hugs and massages. Like when I chickened out of the zipline he was there to give me a hug when I felt bad. And if I come home from training with a sore back or something he’ll get alllll the knots out with ease.
  • Steph – he spoils us all. This is kinda self explanatory, because we’re currently on a cruise ship. He not only spoils us in gifts, but in love. He always loves us with his whole heart even if he doesn’t always show it.
  • Daniel – And from Daniel:“He Makes Sense” – Pretty much, when he makes a point, its not just pulled out of the blue, and he clarifies when it is. He always has information to back up his points, as if he’s in a debate, which always makes him sound like a man that knows what he’s talking about, and hard to judge.
  • He Stands Up, Even If He’s the Only One Who Does. When I think of dad, I think of the times he stood up, even when it made people uncomfortable. He stands up when so many others would have just let it slide.

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