Archive for the ‘Growing Pains’ Category

I Feel Like I’ve Been Losing You

April 19, 2010

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve failed miserably at maintaining this site in 2010. The lack of updates can be attributed to many more important time consumers (work, wedding planning, general exhaustion)…and at the end of the day, it’s much easier to shy away from spending time on longer digital contemplations.

Thus, I started a new companion site about a month ago intended for more frequent, concise updates on all the things I’m enjoying these days. I can’t bring myself to tweet, so a Tumblr account felt like a slightly less narcissistic way of keeping friends and family updated.

I still love WordPress and plan to update here whenever I have the time and energy to post something of substance, but in the meantime, I’ll still be trying to find truth in words, in rhymes, and notes in all the things I wish I wrote (with a little more brevity) over here

Advertisements

Insert Lee Greenwood Lyrics Here

November 11, 2009

I’ve received some flack for my lack of up-keep over the past month, but I feel comfortable attributing my absence to some exciting recent developments.  While in Atlanta for a Regionals tournament during the first weekend of October, I was offered a Nashville-based client services management position at Mozes…and I accepted.

Paraphrasing our CEO’s words, Mozes aims to connect its customers to their audience at the point of inspiration through great mobile experiences. As the mobile phone becomes everyone’s most important device, the company creates billions of trusted connections around the world between people and the things they care about. As a Client Services Manager, I’m responsible for providing strategic services that help clients execute their mobile marketing strategy. Additionally, as live event point person for the company, I also lead all logistics involving the facilitation of in-venue services for live events, conferences, and tours around the country.

Being back in the occupational swing of things has coincided with more travel and less free time.  Over the course of my first month, I’ve already flown to company headquarters in Palo Alto, as well as the Billboard Touring Conference in New York. Both trips provided fantastic means for catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. The New York trip was especially appreciated since I was fortunate enough to celebrate Championship #27 in Times Square with thousands of fellow fans. When not traveling, I’ve been catching up to speed on the company platform by day and moving into a new place by night (pictures coming soon).

The job opportunity initially became available as a result of the current manager needing to deploy to Iraq for duty. Thus as one can imagine, the first few weeks with Brian still in the office were paramount to learning as much as possible while he was still accessible. Last Thursday was Brian’s last day at Mozes, so I’ve officially been “on my own” for a week now. Given the circumstances, I figured it was only appropriate to finally update everyone on Veteran’s Day.  Plus, I was inspired after seeing the following reunion video of an excited dog greeting his returning owner:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I can’t begin to imagine how hard it would be to leave my family for months at a time, especially if my destination was a war zone. The reunion above was successful at two things — making me teary-eyed and increasing my desire to own a dog as soon as possible.

I’ll proudly stand up with the classic Mr. Greenwood to thank all the men and women out there like Brian (and Pat Tillman) who volunteer their services to help protect our country and way of life.

For the gleam in someone’s eyes, bring ’em home

A Lifetime as a Human Resource

August 17, 2009

If nothing else, long distance relationships requiring air travel beneficially allow one the ability to catch up on magazine subscription reading.  This past weekend, my Tampa-bound flight to meet up with my mom and Christina for my cousin’s wedding celebration provided the opportunity to dive into Esquire‘s new September issue.

While discussing the recent spike in U.S. unemployment, Stephen Marche’s A Thousand Words About Our Culture piece titled “Why Are You Working So Hard?” especially struck a chord by elucidating the root of my current life-defining contemplations of sorts:

In American pop culture, as in American life, work has become the ultimate cipher, simultaneously giving meaning to our daily lives and stripping away, filling our time and emptying it, making us who we are and crushing our souls in the same sweeping and terrible gesture.

Once the work started to disappear, we were left with free time and uncomfortable questions.  What is the point of all this work if the end result is more work for the purpose of yet more work?  Could it be the economic catastrophe has been a relief?  We needed a pause and we got one, and we’ve started to ask ourselves what the hell we’re working for.

Granted, my situation is by no means unique to my age bracket, but I’d love to figure out a resolution as soon as possible.  As I beat my head against the wall (of life!), I envy those that already have an answer to what they’re working for.  All that being said, while I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, my love for cinema surely provides an exciting escape.

For those that know me well, I’ve been of fan of making amateur hour videos that barely pass as movies for years.  While I was catching up on my July edition en route to my special lady, my usual partner-in-crime took the leap into filmmaking competition by collaborating with some close Nashville friends to create an award-winning 48HR Film Project masterpiece.

For your viewing pleasure, I bring you Bret, Tyler, and David’s gem, “Shadow of a Woman” — the dramatic winner of five 48HR Film awards, including first runner-up overall:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

As Robert Altman once said, “filmmaking is a chance to live many lifetimes.”  While I’m trying to figure out my own, what better way than to spend time doing what you love with the ones you love.

On the next production, I’m definitely clearing my overwhelmingly bustling schedule to heroically lead our team’s march out of the shadows into the promised land of blue ribbons and worldwide acclaim.

The Joy of Less

June 16, 2009

I read an interesting article from New York Times blogger Pico Iyer championing Bill Shakespeare’s Hamlet proposition that “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”  Without a bicycle, car, or media outlet, Iyer’s recent days after moving to rural Japan feel like eternities and he claims he can’t think of any deficiencies:

At some point, I decided that, for me at least, happiness arose out of all I didn’t want or need, not all I did. And it seemed quite useful to take a clear, hard look at what really led to peace of mind or absorption (the closest I’ve come to understanding happiness). Not having a car gives me volumes not to think or worry about, and makes walks around the neighborhood a daily adventure. Lacking a cell phone and high-speed Internet, I have time to play ping-pong every evening, to write long letters to old friends and to go shopping for my sweetheart (or to track down old baubles for two kids who are now out in the world).

I’ve been fortunate enough to accomplish several early life goals involving (among other things) academics, athletics, and relationships.  Personally, academic and professional success have always been extremely important, but I’ve noticed that most accomplishments rarely result in satisfaction.  Every achievement serves as a stepping stone to something bigger.  As a post-graduate, the focus shifted to the obtainment of higher career-based positions.  “Poor man wanna be richRich man wanna be king, and a king ain’t satisfied until he rules everything.”  The pursuit never ends.

Iyer suggests “happiness, like peace or passion, comes most freely when it isn’t pursued.”  I absolutely agree.  For example, our family lake house is a technological black hole, forcing all that enter to relax and enjoy the serenity that comes with no cable or cell phone signals.  As a result, heavy exploring, fireside chatting, card playing, and late-night swimming (among many other amazing, impromptu activities) tend to ensue.

As much as I think I like the security of preparation, my favorite days are always those where plans come about freely.  This is why Christina is most definitely my better half and I can’t get enough of her.  This is why this past Sunday of exploring and waterfall jumping through Tennessee state parks with Bret was one of my best weekends since moving to Nashville.  This is why the themes behind Bruce Springsteen and U2’s music easily make them my favorite artists of all time:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Nonetheless, following this advice is easier said than done, especially for someone with my high-strung tendencies.  I’m still running and probably always will be, but I enjoy a friendly reminder to slow down once in awhile…

Just the Stirring in My Soul

May 27, 2009

Quarterlife

My early college roommate sent me this article over the weekend after a recent phone conversation where we both realized we were experiencing the same kind of frustrations.  With the exception of the relationships section, the article felt eerily familiar.  I highly recommend the read as it essentially serves as a thesis to why this blog began in the first place.

In a nutshell, the article describes the “Quarterlife Crisis” phenomenon that this generation of twenty-somethings seems to be finding itself in:

Unrelenting indecision, isolation, confusion and anxiety about working, relationships and direction is reported by people in their mid-twenties to early thirties who are usually urban, middle class and well-educated; those who should be able to capitalize on their youth, unparalleled freedom and free-for-all individuation. They can’t make any decisions, because they don’t know what they want, and they don’t know what they want because they don’t know who they are, and they don’t know who they are because they’re allowed to be anyone they want.

Boomer and post-boom parents with more money and autonomy than their predecessors has resulted in benignly self-indulgent children who were sold on their own uniqueness, place in the world and right to fulfillment in a way no previous generation has felt entitled to, and an increasingly entrepreneurial, self-driven creation myth based on personal branding, social networking and untethered lifestyle spending is now responsible for our identities.

While I certainly don’t fall victim to the needless spending, drinking, or relationship problems associated with this life phase, I completely identify with the overall theme of the discussion.  Even though it can most likely be attributed to the quiz’s underlying superficiality, I was happy to see that most of my answers were “A” to the “Are you having a Quarterlife Crisis?” quiz at the end of the article.  As she always does, my mom summarized the situation best:

Life in our 20’s has always been difficult, because you want to step off the bus where your parents left you.  You forget that you must start at the beginning, not where you left off at our house.  Enjoy the ride, you will kick yourself later if you don’t.  Life goes by fast, so enjoy the moments, handsome.

Yes, my mom thinks I’m handsome!  More importantly, I did as suggested this past weekend by enjoying a relaxing, action-packed Memorial Day with great friends down at the lake house.  I guess those simple joy kind of moments are what it’s all about in the grand scheme of things and I believe I have a lot more to look forward to in the future.

Land of Hope and Dreams

May 6, 2009

“To me, the idea of a romantic is someone who sees the reality, lives the reality every day, but knows about the possibilities too. You can’t lose sight of the dreams.” – Bruce Springsteen

Although I’ve been told a follow up is necessary, I’m afraid to describe the experience knowing whatever I write won’t do the night justice. One of my biggest dreams came true, and I can say with conviction that this concert from the front row will be one of the best memories of my life and most likely the pinnacle of all concert experiences.

Over the course of 3 hours, Bruce and the band eased away any stress or pain I arrived with. I was part of a congregation. On paper, last year’s Greensboro show was superior, but the intimacy from our vantage point took this one to a whole new level.

The moments leading up to the memorable night feel destined now. As amazing as my first four Bruce shows were from assigned seating, I knew I needed to experience E Street on the general admission floor. When Bruce announced a Nashville date during the final leg of the Magic tour last summer, Bret and I secured our floor seats unaware of the policy requiring GA ticket holders to arrive several hours in advance to receive a numbered wristband for the pit section lottery.

With Bret in Europe for the Working on a Dream tour, his awesome younger brother Tyler ironically became my partner in crime this past weekend. We had the entire day to make the two hour trip to Greensboro and investigated every touring FAQ forum possible to ensure we’d be ready for the opportunity to be front and center. Wristbands were given out in a specific three hour window before the show’s listed start time, which led us to believe we needed to be there by 4pm to secure a solid low lottery number.

After some fun jet skiing and delicious lakeside lunching in the Charlotte sun, we ended up leaving an hour later than planned, landing us at the venue around 4:45. Regardless of the slight delay, we were feeling good until a little yellow flyer attached with our parking pass provided an unsettling wake-up call — Wristbands distributed until 5pm. With minutes to make it to the complete opposite side of the venue parking lot, we sprinted with Taco Bell and tickets in hand as if our lives depended on it.

The next few minutes were full of doubt and self-loathing. How did I not hear about the 5pm cutoff earlier? Why did we stop for Taco Bell thinking we had plenty of time to kill? Did I lock my car before we started sprinting? Was the car still going to be there when we got out of the show from our less sweet seats? Why wasn’t I in better shape for this pivotal race to the box office? The worries temporarily evaporated when we luckily secured #1235 and #1236 of the 1241 total wristbands.

As we attempted to ease our adrenaline with soft tacos, the tour manager quickly announced that the number was about to be pulled. Silence drew over the 1250 avid fans awaiting direction from the powerful (but slightly inaudible) megaphone. “We have 450 spots available for the pit area tonight” (pause for hoorays) “All 1241 wristband numbers are inside this container. We’ll be pulling a random number out momentarily. The owner of the wristband with the number that gets pulled will be the first person allowed into the pit. From there, the next 449 numbered wristbands will be allowed to enter. If your number is not within the range of 450, you will still be on the floor with great views, just not in the pit.”

Dead silence as a number gets drawn. “Again, the number that I have just drawn will be the first of the 450 winners for the pit area.” Stillness.  “Tonight’s number is #981.” CHEERS ERUPT FROM THE #981-1241 CROWD!  RIGHTEOUS FIST PUMPS ALL AROUND!

At #1235 and #1236, Tyler and I were golden. It was destiny. Had we arrived at 4pm as planned, our numbers would have surely fallen in the range of heartbroken fans. My musical icon came through in the clutch, with the most appropriate timing imaginable. Even if we live in an often disappointing reality, you can’t lose sight of the dreams.

The no camera policy prevented us from documenting the epicness ourselves, but we were literally on the front guard rail by the third song. We could see the sweat flying off of Bruce’s fingers during guitar solos. The cameramen used our section for the “pumped fans” jumbo screen shots. On multiple occasions, Bruce was inches away.

The entire show was outstanding, but my favorite moment came courtesy of “The Promised Land”. At the 3:35 video mark, Bruce was looking directly at us and put his arms out to the front row fans. Typically a wallflower who avoids singing at shows, I’ve never been more into a song as I was singing face-to-face with one of my heroes:

Darkness on the Edge of Town has become the soundtrack to my life these past few years. “The Promised Land” especially hits home, so it was only appropriate that I was throwing fist pumps with the legend during that song of all songs. I momentarily reached that place he was singing about. Of course, instilling hope has always been Bruce’s ultimate goal, especially touring during these specific hard times, and he more than met that mission this past Saturday night.

BEGINNING OF ENCORE – “HARD TIMES”:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

What You Say, What You Do, and Who You Are

April 23, 2009

Working in the digital marketing field, I try to keep up with Seth Godin’s blog as much as possible.  I found one of today’s posts to be very ironic given the conversation I had with Bret over email just yesterday on the same topic:

We no longer care what you say.

We care a great deal about what you do.

If you charge for hand raking but use a leaf blower when the client isn’t home
If you sneak into an exercise class because you were on the wait list and it isn’t fair cause you never get a bike
If you snicker behind the boss’s back
If you don’t pay attention in meetings
If you argue with a customer instead of delighting them
If you copy work and pass it off as your own
If you shade the truth a little
If you lobby to preserve the unsustainable status quo
If you network to get, not to give
If you do as little as you can get away with

…then we already know who you are.

Even after a loss of faith in society these past few years, I am still a firm believer in having a sense of morality.  I think this is why I love movies as much as I do.  With so many disappointing current examples of corruption, I am hopeful that the leaders of the next “great generation” learn from the past and take us out of this depression by putting more emphasis on the importance of integrity.

As my dad always says, “these things come in waves”, so I’m banking that Newton’s Third Law of Motion also applies to generations.

Dey Tukk Ar Jerb

April 18, 2009

I’ve been putting off writing “this” post for the past few days, even though it seems like the most important update to document if I plan on looking back on these entries years from now.

At 11:00 am CT this past Wednesday, our entire company was surprisingly informed that it was being dissolved into Ticketmaster over the course of the next 60 days.  Thus, Echo will cease to exist around my 23rd birthday and I have officially experienced my first widespread lay-off.  I’m still wrapping my head around the thought process behind the decision, but I think it will be something I reflect on for years to come.  From an analogy standpoint, I initially felt like the mouse in the following clip (which, on an unrelated note, makes me excited to see Earth in an IMax theatre):

Although the news was certainly disheartening at first, I will be leaving after gaining valuable experience in the sector that I was most interested in learning more about when I accepted the job last summer.  At Echo, I consciously made an effort to be as involved as possible with the ticketing side of the business, most notably by volunteering to implement and manage all pre-sales for our team.  Regardless of what comes next, I’m glad that I was able to be a part of the process and to work and learn from such a fun, talented group of people.  Without a doubt, I will miss them more than any specific job role I held.  For example, where else could I have found a job where a fellow co-worker can have a good enough sense of humor to post the following clip on Facebook the same night we all received the news:

The closing of Echo obviously affects every employee, so my heart especially goes out to those with families and mortgages to worry about.  For me personally, I think this week’s events will be a blessing in disguise over the long run, opening the door to more exciting opportunities.  Plus, whenever I get overwhelmed with the thought of what just happened, I try to remind myself that things could be a lot worse.  Once my stomach stops dropping from the thought of having to job search and interview again, I find myself optimistic about what the future holds.

If this inevitably marks the end of my time in Nashville, it’s been a good run.  For prediction purposes, I see myself living in one of five places by the end of this year (each of which would have its pros and cons):

  1. Tennessee
  2. Chicago metropolitan area
  3. North Carolina
  4. Someone’s basement
  5. A van down by the river

The Franklin Street Celebration

April 7, 2009

“I swear I’ve seen a lot of stuff in my life, but that was… AWESOME.”

Pat Forde vividly described it as both an “absolute pile-driving” and a “seal clubbing.”  Although habitually abhorred, I even enjoyed Bob Knight adamantly claiming “72,000 fans didn’t make a damn bit of difference.” Adding to the general excitement, my Facebook news feed has been dominated (in a seemingly Spartan-inspired fashion) by a plethora of links to the official Daily Tarheel celebration montage:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I’m pumped that the “gamble” on returning paid off for the upperclassmen.  I’m also excited that my younger UNC friends were able to experience their own championship celebration as I did my freshman year. The night of the 2005 championship will always be one of my fondest college memories, and as I watched the helicopter views of the 2009 party, it certainly didn’t seem right not being there with the rest of the guys this year.  My good friend and roommate of 3 years accurately summarized how bittersweet it felt in his recent blog post.  I share the same sentiment (minus the part about not feeling like Carolina was home our freshmen year).  

I’m assuming this feeling becomes less extrinsic the longer I’m removed from campus?  Only time will tell, but I certainly hope the nostalgia never goes away.

Everything’s Amazing

March 22, 2009

I’ve recently come to a realization.  Not a sudden epiphany by any means, but rather something that comes as a result of several smaller reminders that gradually add up into a much bigger awareness.  I’m incredibly unappreciative of all the amazing fortunes I undeservedly have.

I guess I’ve always been conscious of this flaw, but I’ve decided I should seriously attempt to cut down on my growing pessimism.  In the interests of saving everyone from what is bound to be some humdrum egocentric post, I’m going to try to keep this as brief as possible.  Earlier this week, Christina forwarded a New York Times story (originally sent via my mom) by an older Nashville songwriter recounting his wife’s devastating car accident.  Although very depressing at times, I highly recommend taking the time to read the article as the author’s reflections leave an impact.

Adding to the build-up, I decided to make the four and half hour trek up to Bloomington, IN to meet my mom and Christina for my sister’s basketball tournament this weekend.  Instead of listening to music (typically a huge sacrifice), I decided to finally pop in my audio CD copies of Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture.  My mom insisted that I copy her originals onto my laptop over this past Christmas break, but I had forgotten to burn them until this week. I had been aware of the lecture since its initial publicity in 2007, but never got around to watching or reading. Needless to say, I’m glad that I finally did.  Although some might consider the quote cliched, one of my favorite takeaways from the lecture was when Pausch stated, “It’s not about how to achieve your dreams. It’s about how to lead your life. If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you.”

As you probably know, I’ve always identified with Bruce Springsteen’s music.  A fundamental reasoning for this affinity was fairly accurately summarized by Jon Stewart during his time with Bruce this Thursday.  Jon concluded the interview by thanking Springsteen for introducing him to a concept which Stewart felt was at the core of Bruce’s musical message: “By working to get away from your circumstance, you can make something better of yourself, but there’s no guarantee…the joy of it is chasing down that dream.”

The theme from listening to Randy’s lecture during my road trip seemed to loosely coincide with the message being discussed on Thursday’s edition of The Daily Show, which ironically also seemed to correspond with the New York Times article that I read on Monday whose story happened to complement certain lyrics from the band I’ve been obsessing over recently (“Where you invest your love, you invest your life.”).

I’ve spent way too much time staying unhappy and frustrated instead of searching for possible solutions.  Among many other benefits, I’ve got my health, a solid education, and an incredible support net of family and friends.  I’ve had an unbelievably easy life up to this point, but I’m still never happy.  Louis C.K. nailed it on Conan last fall, and it’s time for me to stop being one of people he describes:

We’ve all been given this amazing gift, and it’s our own responsibility to make the best of it.  I can do a much better job personally, so call me out if you see me finding ways to continue dropping the ball.