Dancin' Cross The USA

I read an article the other day outlining some scenes from the classic 80's "family" film, National Lampoon's Vacation (For those you unfamiliar with this work, best to just check out the Internet Movie Database entry).

As soon as I heard the chorus to "Holiday Road," I was suddenly filled with memories upon memories of watching the dubbed tape of this movie at my grandma's house. The quality was bad, we constantly had to fix the tracking, and the scene when they visit Dodge City and get their hubcaps stolen always had a lingering static gray line along the top of the frame. The dubbed VHS also cut off the credits and switched to the movie "Glory" which my sister and I never took the time to watch, since our 6 and 10 year old minds couldn't quite grasp the themes of prejudice in the civil war (to this day, the extent of that film I've watched is the 3 seconds in the middle of the title sequence the dubbed tape cuts to, right before I got up to press stop and rewind on my Grandma's VCR).

This movie especially hits home for me since my brother, sister, and I spent a lot of time at my Grandma's house (every weekend, nearly) in San Francisco. These weekends spent in the city are partially why even growing up as a resident of the East Bay I still consider San Francisco itself to be home. But what these weekends also did was give me a repetitive 3-4 hour regiment of the same 3 or 4 videotapes my Grandma happened to have at her house (Angels In The Outfield and Home Alone 1 and 2 were the others), because what the hell else were we supposed to do there? The Bayview neighborhood wasn't exactly the safest, and the Game of Life box was missing all of the paperwork.

Thank you, Wally World, for the memories.

Really now?! Walking to work and a tour guide for a group of Asian tourists asked me to please stay with the group...


Off The Top Of My Head

Part of what I plan on doing to maintain the liveliness in this blog is to randomly post lingering questions that came up for whatever strange reason prior to me deciding to write them down:

-I am honestly curious as to what compels people to post up selfies without any sort of context

-On that note, when did everyone I know stop using Twitter? Instagram is where it's happening.

-So does anyone realize that any kids born in the past few years will now have a treasure trove of comments that complete strangers wrote on the naked baby pictures their parents posted on Facebook?

-How does one obtain flaming bagpipes, and who can teach me how to play it?

-It may be because of the industry I work in (a more elaborate post will come in due time), but why does it seem like I'm one of the last of my friends who still drinks like a college student? And is that a good thing or a bad thing?

"I feel like arguing with you two right now but I can't think of a way to provoke you. Ideas?"


Not Going Forward Development

As I mentioned in my previous post, I've come a long ways since I was the ripe age of 23 and wallowing in the clutches of Corporate America. Well, technically, I am still in the clutches of Corporate America, but it's a much less soul-sucking facet of Corporate America. I don't think anything exemplifies that fact more than this email I received a few months ago:

And to a lesser extent:

VIP tickets to the NFL Draft? VIP pass to the Big Apple BBQ (the largest bbq event in all of NYC)?

I didn't actually make it to the draft that night, but the fact that I simply had the option was, well, fairly bad ass. Working in media certainly has its perks, and unfortunately I think the young'ns I work with can't fully appreciate it like I can. I mean, just a few years ago, this was the most exciting thing to have happened to me at work:
"We don't get out much, can't you tell?"

"That is just the best feeling ever. A battery at 99%"


2 years in NYC, as of about...........now.

With much less fanfare than my celebration of my first year here in NYC, the second anniversary of the day of my origination here on the east coast came and went quietly with a simple Facebook and Twitter post (and now a blog post, I guess). Unlike last year, I didn't have any moments of deep self-reflection or even any relative panic, and rather immersed myself in a marathon run of playing time on What's The Phrase.

Now it's not to say my 731st day here didn't cross my mind (obviously, since I'm writing about it), but I think it has more to do with the fact that for the first time in a long time, I feel like I finally have somewhat of a handle on where I'm headed. Kinda. Of course, nothing's perfect, but I'm a hell of a lot better off than when I was ranting about life happening but not changing. There's still a good number of question marks for my future, but definitely a lot less than back in 2010.

And what's even better (and this was emphasized with my recent trip back home and after I did my rounds with friends) is that I see all my old friends, colleagues, chums, croonies, acquaintances, sympathizers, compadres, associates, contemporaries, and well-wishers whom I've grown up with finding their stride too, developing their careers, relationships, tastes, and that general disdain for the younger generation that comes with age. As my friend would say, there are certain people you just don't have to worry about.

Kinda. It troubled me a bit that a few of my friends at home seem to have lost the taste for beer.


So I've been meaning to get back into the whole blog writing thing. I haven't quite decided whether I want to continue through this medium (Blogspot), or to move onto something a bit more mainstream nowadays (wordpress), or perhaps something completely different altogether. Knowing me, though, I probably won't bother to make the switch.

I actually had quite a few topics I've been meaning to write about in the past few months, but got too caught up with Reddit, Arrested Development binge watching, or other weapons of mass free time destruction. Here's a preview of some topics that were supposed to have come, but have not yet come:

-The 2 year rule, where my career was then and where it is now
-Something about the 6 days I went without a phone
-My new Video-A-Day project! Definitely need to elaborate more on that later

Instead of olive branches we should extend churros. Nobody's mad when they're eating a churro.


Coming Changes

Hi Paul,

I want to reach out to you personally first to say thank you for everything you've done for me these past few weeks. You've demonstrated an openness and flexibility that anyone would be hard pressed to find at any other company, and I appreciate all the time you've devoted to me.

That said, it makes it incredibly difficult for me to say that despite the anticipation of positive changes to the team and culture here at Starcom, I have decided to go with a new opportunity elsewhere. That's not to say that I discount anything we discussed yesterday, as the possibility of these great things to come here in the New York office has made staying here very tempting. However, and I understand that some things are out of our control, I don't feel there was a tangible enough timeframe for these promises. Personally, I am in need of a change that is more immediate, and I have been able to find an opportunity for this change elsewhere.

I will draft a formal resignation letter tomorrow. I appreciate everything I have been able to learn from everyone I have been involved with here at Starcom, and I hope the best for you, the GE team, and everyone else as well.

Best Regards,

Mark Solomon | Search Analyst


The Pursuit Of...

Obligatory statement on how I've been missing in action for so long. Generic and vague explanation as to why I haven't blogged in awhile. Repeated false promise to be "better" at this. Overdramatized emphasis on some event , date, amount of time passed or realization that serves as the inspiration for me to dust off the blog again.

And now that we've got the formalities out of the way, and despite my uncanny self-awareness, I do have some sort of overdramtaized emphasis on some event, date, amount of time passed or realization that inspired me to click on the "blogger" link while browsing gmail tonight. Because tonight, I want to ask you: are you pursuing your dream right now? Are you on the path to your dream job at the moment? And if you actually are, are you really doing it absolutely on your own?

Chances are, unless you're working 20 hours a day in order to keep your low-paying/no paying creative jobs (i.e. non-boring desk job), you're most likely not going at it completely alone. The sacrifice is displaced or shared elsewhere, whether you're living at home or your current mate or spouse is supporting you in some way emotionally or financially. When the mate or spouse is involved while you're pursuing your creative dream job, usually that mate or spouse has to work the more "serious" profession that may or may not lie within their own dreams or aspirations but hey, it pays the bills and provides some sort of stability.

My point is that in a relationship, one gets to pursue the creative dream job while the other serves as the rock, the foundation, the stability. One gets to be in the spotlight while the other keeps things running in the background. And whoever is following through on their dream has to keep in mind the pursuit may not yield dividends for anyone but themselves.

Of course, while my diatribe above just reeks of bitterness and cynicism, I bring it up because I've begun to question whether I'm really pursuing my true "dream." If you ask if I'm happy with the work I'm doing, I'd answer with a resounding "yes," if only because I know that I've found the perfect mix of creativity, stability, and free beer in the office fridge. But is it what I really want to do? To that question, I'd say no, not really, but I understand that what I really want to do will involve an inordinate amount of unpaid work hours that would not be possible unless I still lived with my parents, or had a sugar mama (neither of which is happening anytime soon). And as such, I will begrudgingly accept that I should be content with keeping my "dream job" as a hobby (for now at least), because most responsible adults realize that you can't have two creatives in a relationship who eventually plan on being able to afford to raise a family.

I know everything I said is purely conjecture, but prove me wrong in the comments.

"I'm glad you're worried. If you weren't, I'd be worried."


Day Zero Redux

"The Year In Review"

 That's what the subject line read on an email I received today from the chancellor of my beloved alma mater. "Our commencement exercises earlier this month marked the ceremonial end of a year filled with outstanding accomplishments by UCLA’s students, faculty and staff" Good lord. What day is it? It's already past graduation weekend for the quarter-system students? Brace yourselves, summer is coming.

And while the idea of the summer season has not made any difference for me since I spend every season in the office on a chair behind a couple of computer screens nowadays, I know what it will entail: tourists swarming the streets, summer interns filling the empty desks around me, Facebook posts about people's study abroad adventures or 3 week vacations they've been saving up for, and the fact that I'll be dripping in sweat whenever I enter a room that is slightly warmer than the one I was in before.

But this year, the coming of summer marks a certain milestone people don't usually give a second or third or seventh thought about. You see, this being 2012, I have now been out of college for as long as I was in it. And I think that's what drew me to actually open this canned email tonight that I would normally have automatically sent to the trash. It's now been officially 4 years since I had any real commitment to Westwood (though I did take summer classes that year so technically…), and so naturally, the first thing that comes to mind is "what the hell have I been doing this whole time?"

I feel like I ask myself that a lot. But be honest, you've probably asked yourself that multiple times these past few years too. And I feel that this lingering bout of self-reflection is exacerbated by the fact that today marks another milestone for me. You see, this this the 366th day I've spent here living in New York (not 365, thanks to Leap Year), and needless to say, life is very very different from where I was a year ago.

I mean, plenty has stayed the same, if anything. I'm still living on my friend's couch, I'm still wearing the same basketball shorts at home, and I'm still drinking out of the same blue plastic cup I bought at Rite Aid the night I moved here. But yes, I do have to say that this grand east coast experiment has yielded mostly favorable results.

And I say mostly because I do still question some of my motivations for coming here in the first place. Career, new experiences, new people, and the fact that it is New Fucking York were what drove me here in the first place. But what worries me the most about being here is that the wonders of the internet and the omnipresence of the socially media active can't replace the familiarity and belonging you get with an immediate circle of people to rely on (being in a different time zone from everyone has its difficulties as well). While I wouldn't say that any relationships I have with anyone are strained at all, the feeling of missing out on experiences that bring you closer with those you love can be difficult. Anyone who's graduated and moved away from the locale of their college can attest to that. Anyone on active duty can too. My brother can vouch for it after moving to China 4 years ago, and missing out on our family growing up and growing old.

Dwelling on that too much is not healthy for anyone who's 2,924 miles away from home (ironically making me the one who lives closest to my parents out of my siblings, with my brother living in China and my sister residing in Spain for the summer).

And the best way to remedy that is to carve out the best experiences you can out of where you are and to expand the circle of people in your life that you love. Yeah, yeah, I know:

 Which I have done, and I still do. And I can say that thanks to quite magical things such as meetup.com, I've met hundreds of different personalities here. Every other person I meet here in New York is not actually from New York. And though everyone has their own unique reason for being here in the first place, one of them most common stories I've run into is "I needed a change of scenery, and I just packed up and moved here." And they move here, with no idea where they're going to sleep their first night, no idea how they're gonna make money, no idea if they'll be able to afford to eat in the next week. They take their jobs at Foot Locker, at Starbucks, at Trader Joe's, and that's all they need to be content here, just because it's New Fucking York. And they enjoy every moment here because in a matter of weeks they could end up back where they started, whether it be St. Louis, Minnesota, or one time I heard, "back to old country." That kind of ambition takes cajones (or in the case of women, well, still cajones). And knowing that I'm nearly on the same level as these newly well-endowed travelers from afar is enough to keep me motivated.

"New life goal: Hundreds of years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove... But the world may be different because I did something so bafflingly crazy that my ruins become a tourist attraction."




Day 215

Your world was just turned upside down.


Day 208

Everyone else's greetings in the office had their names on this. I don't think my coworkers know my name:


Day 201

One nice thing about working with Google regularly is that whenever you visit their offices, they always provide food (even if does happen to be in miniscule portions)


Day 200

Despite the New York Giants Super Bowl victory parade not happening for another 16 hours, people were still lining up already:



Day 199

An appropriate meal for a Super Bowl:


Day 198

In my quest to visit all the major cities within a bus ride of NYC, I decided to take a quick day trip to sunny, sunny Pittsburgh (cause when you think of a hot touristy vacation spot, you obviously think Pittsburgh). Why there? I dunno. Cause it's there?My trip started off at the Duquense Incline, a historical Pittsburgh cable car incline up to the top of neighboring Mt. Washington.

As such, the top of the mountain offered oh so pretty views from a natural vantage point I thought didn't exist on the mostly flat East Coast.

I didn't realize Occupy was still going strong in some places:

And given that I had run out of things to do by 6pm there, I figured I might as well ride the incline up again at night.
Pretty, pretty views.