Another Bike Story: First Date Edition

This is another one of the many experiences I had while in Philadelphia. This is the story of a first date I went on that ended in a car accident. While I lived in Philly I didn't have a car though, so let me explain.

For this particular first date we decided to just go hang out by the Schuylkill River and talk. It was a beautiful late spring afternoon and the sun was setting over the river, so it was pretty ideal by first date standards. If anything it was a bit too romantic, but at this point in my dating life I was open to just embracing the experience instead of attaching anything else to it.

Everything went fine, the conversation was effortless, we were both pretty new to the city and it was overall just a nice experience for two people that knew few people in Philadelphia. We had both biked down to the river, so we began to bike back up the trail so that we could get in to the city proper.

The trail follows Kelly Drive and has a few inlets into the city, one up near North Philly, and the other near the Art Museum. Any other inlet is kind of difficult to maneuver, or at least I had thought so at the time.

We made our way down Kelly Drive to the Art Museum, and for those who haven't been to Philadelphia the road around the Art Museum can be kind of stressful. At least six lanes, pretty dark at night due to trees and traffic lights everywhere. Not to mention it winds around the museum creating blind corners for pedestrians and drivers alike. As the light began to turn red we stopped at the light about to cross the street.

Call it first date jitters, or distraction toward someone you like, or just plain ignorance, but when traffic began to clear my date started to edge her way across the six lane road. Before I realized this she was already peddling and I shouted "Stop!"

Across the road another person tried to yell to her as well, but it was already too late. The seemingly empty street began to bustle back to life as a new wave of traffic sped around the blind corner right into my date.

The first car slammed into her side sending her over the hood and out of sight. The car that followed hit something that I couldn't see with a deafening "thud." 

I was certain I had just witnessed someone die, someone I had just begun to know.

As the traffic cleared I saw my date sitting on the ground struggling to get up, and the second car with a bike wedged beneath it. Thankfully that was the thud I heard, her bike not her body. 

As soon as the "walk" sign was on for me I made my way into the road to see what I could do to help. After years as a lifeguard and trained in emergency response I at least had some idea of what to do. 

By the time I was able to get over there another woman who was a nurse had already gotten out of her car and handled the initial assessment. My date had no broken bones, and since she had a helmet on she probably only had a mild concussion. Everyone around kept asking me if she's normally like this to which my response was "well it's our first date, so I have no idea." 

As the ambulance arrived (which my date insisted she didn't need but the man who hit her wouldn't have it) I started to exchange information and try to come to terms with what had happened. Not long after the EMTs began checking her out, a black Cadillac pulled up going the wrong way down the street and two men hopped out.

"This man's been stabbed in the front and the back, where's the EMTs?!?"

"They're in the truck," I replied, still dazed from what had happened and what was now unfolding.

I looked into the car which was now lit up by the interior dome light and there was indeed a man with what looked like a red shirt on. As the EMT helped him out of the car I realized that the shirt was originally white, and the blood leaking from a wound on his upper right chest and middle left back were what caused the shirt to be so soaked.

The man who hit my date then asked the EMT "What about the girl?"

"She's fine, take her to the hospital if you want," the EMT shouted back while helping the stab victim into his ambulance and then speeding away.

The man who hit my date still wanted to wait for another ambulance, but by now it had been an hour and a half and was approaching 10 PM. We all decided to part ways and check back the next day if need be. I walked her mangled bike home as she repeatedly told me that I didn't have to do this, but I would've done this for anyone. Like I told her that night, it was the right thing to do, and not enough people do the right thing anymore.

So I walked her home, set her bike down inside, gave her a hug and made plans for a second date that hopefully wouldn't end as poorly.

Nerves and you

You'll always have nerves.

They're what stop you from going to that meeting, or what courses through your body as you anxiously wait for your date to show up.

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Or they'll paralyze you, making you unable to do what's necessary.

I struggle a lot with nerves. The act of actually doing something is rough for me because I think of every possible outcome, and obviously I want the best one. And when you haven't actually done anything yet there's still the possibility that what you want most will happen.

But once you've done what you've been meaning to do, the opposite holds true. It feels like you're only inching closer to the worst possible outcome. Every second that ticks by moves you closer and closer to a denial, to a blank screen, to a lack of response.

I've dealt with a lot of denial, mostly through applications. Chalk it up to the ease of applying in the internet age, or the lack of experience for the positions I want, regardless of what the reason is.

I'm very familiar with the letter saying that "we've decided to go with another candidate." 

Sometimes rejection can get to me, but overall I think that it's healthy. Denial centers me, takes me back to the drawing board and makes me really think about what I'm doing. That all happens later though.

When failure does consume me things can get pretty bad for a bit, and the truth is you'll never really know how long it'll last. Every time something happens that brings me out of it, it's never what I truly want, just something that I need. Never the ideal, only the necessity.

So this time I'll wait.

I'll wait for the ideal. I'll slog through the failure and tough out the pain to get what I truly want and deserve, instead of another band-aid that'll just hold me over until the next fall.

So take this as inspiration, and don't let it get you down even though it doesn't have the best tone. I know things might be rough, but learning from your failures will help you move past them to victories. Failure is a possibility when you take chances, but if you let your nerves get to you then you'll never take the chance that leads to something greater. Don't let failure consume your mindset.

Good things do happen.

Creative Stagnation via a Warm Blanket

Creativity is fickle. It can flourish in the most hostile conditions, and be stubbornly stagnant when things are going great.

Lately I've felt as though the latter is true. I've fallen into the routines that cause my creativity to go dormant and not want to try new things.

I work, I go home, I dabble in creative work and applications, rinse and repeat

 A recent push to stimulate myself creatively, calling back to the architecture that inspired me when I first started taking pictures.

A recent push to stimulate myself creatively, calling back to the architecture that inspired me when I first started taking pictures.

Each day I push to read and write, but even if I do both not much comes of it. One of the most important sayings that I swear by is that nothing good comes from being comfortable, and I can feel that comfort surrounding me again. Like a warm blanket tucking me in to sleep, but that sleep is a monotony that I can't stand.

Insulating me against the fears of the world. Lulling my creativity into a debilitating slumber that I don't want to go into. 

So how do I break out of it? Simple. Become uncomfortable.

Now even though I know the solution, I don't know the extent of what is uncomfortable to me at this point. I'm struggling with a lot of discomfort right now, but not in the same way. My current discomfort is in my sense of self, when it's my environment that has been the important factor previously. I need to push myself past that comfort barrier and wake myself up again. I need something fresh to breath life into my work, where currently I just see the shell of what could be.

So what will it be, new collaborators? Different style? A project? Maybe all three, but time will tell what ends up being the solution.

For now all I need to do is start.

Reflecting on Roommates - Philly pt. 1

I originally wrote this piece when I moved back to Philadelphia after leaving Alaska and was reflecting on my first house there in North Philly near Temple University. Things were tough for me there, I brought two bags, had no job, and had little savings. 

More often than not going home is usually a place where you can find peace of mind and calmness, but that wasn't really the case for the quaint row-house that I shared with four other men.

Issue One - Hostile Home Environment

Roommates can be rough, especially when you don't pick them. I moved to Philly because a friend had a cheap room in his house for rent, a house he shared with three other guys. Living with guys can be rough because honestly most guys are terrible at keeping house. 

These guys definitely fit that stereotype.

If they end up reading this it will come to no surprise. They've understood that they're messy and that I did my best to help. So if you're reading this then three of you are OK. And you know which three you are, because I had met you before moving in.

Only one of my roommates was the real issue.

This last roommate, who we'll name "Steve" for the sake of the post, was a mess. He was a garbage cook, made food that smelled like garbage and neglected to take out the garbage. His favorite dish to cook was peppers and gluten-free noodles in way too much olive oil and dehydrated mushrooms. By now you probably think I'm over-exageratting, but if you put your dish in Tupperware and the oil is an inch over the noodles/peppers, that's too much oil.

Add to this the fact that our kitchen was also our living room where the rest of us would hang out and it meant we had to deal with his terrible cooking on the daily.

If you thought that was the only reason he was a bad roommate, you are sorely mistaken.

We had three bathrooms, two downstairs and one on the main floor. I was supposed to share the main-floor one with Steve, but after trying that for a couple days I couldn't take it anymore. Steve would regularly take hour-plus long showers multiple times a day and leave soap scum EVERYWHERE. That bathroom was disgusting. 

My last major gripe with Steve was his daily attire. This ranged from a too-tight t-shirt and 3-5" inseam shorts to no shirt and childrens sweatpants, all on the frame of a 6'2" man. I assure you I'm not over-exaggerating. I've lived with roommates before that hang out shirtless all too often, and it's definitely not something I'm a fan of. Live and let live, but when you're living with others please be considerate.

Issue Two - Dirt Inside and Out

So I lived near Temple University in Philadelphia, which isn't the best neighborhood. I knew that moving in, but I guess I just didn't understand what a place where people actually lived was like. In Detroit you see lower-income neighborhoods, but for the most part they're seldom inhabited. Sure theres some trash, but it's not unbearable. In Philly there's an abundance of trash.

Like a lot.

I understand litter, it's unfortunate but it happens, but this was just ridiculous. The people that shared the building with us just didn't understand when trash day was, so they would put bags out whenever they had them. This would ensure a constant stream of garbage in front of the house.

That sucked.

It was everywhere too. You couldn't escape the constant litter unless you were in Center City, and even then it was still present, just tucked away

That filth also found it's way inside by way of lazy/messy roommates. I'm kind of compulsively clean. I like a neat room, house, sink, what have you, so when I entered the chaos of that place it was a shock. Dishes were done when they were needed, the sink was constantly full, the counters were full, the tables were full, the trash was forgotten on occasion. I hated that, and when I tried to fix it or slow it's growth, things just changed back soon after.

My only solution to these issues was to move out, and shortly after returning from Alaska I did so with my friend to another part of the city, which I'll cover in part two. If you can't wait for the next installment then go watch any episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, that should tide you over.

 

 

 

Why You shouldn't care what Instagram does

If you're reading this, then for whatever reason you care about what a small photographer thinks about the current algorithm on Instagram. So for that I thank you, although there's really no reason you should because IG certainly doesn't.

But that's beside the point.

The point I want to get across in this post is that it doesn't matter what the algorithm is. If you make your living from IG then try to diversify your income stream. If you source the majority of your clients from IG then I suggest you take the same advice. Diversification is the life-blood of freelance work, so solely relying on one social media platform to be the building block is something that isn't sustainable.

We barely even know how social media works, and people are basing their futures off of it.

If you look at it like any other type of freelance work it's easy to see that there is no sustainability for creators. Curated lives can only fool advertisers for so long before they catch on to what's happening. A great example of this is how The New York Times released an article on follower farms where you can buy realistic bot followers. The fact that this is news is ridiculous. Anyone thats had an account should know fake followers are a real issue, and it doesn't just happen to large profiles.

Last month I was victim to a bot farm business that liked one of my images on IG over twelve times the normal amount it should receive. They then DM'd me asking if I saw the post and if I wanted to pay for their service. 

I felt abused, it sucked.

So what's my advice for everyone now that IG is deciding to change their algorithm on a monthly basis? Just forget about it. Honestly, you'll be happier. Post when you want, post what you love, post because you're proud of you work, because even though IG is trying desperately to monetize itself the right eyes will see the right work. 

In the beginning IG was never meant to be a place where actual photographers post work. Now its a platform for influencers, models and the like, all with an agenda. 

Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if we used IG like it was originally intended...

Just a thought.

 

Opportunity Paralysis

 

 

I first heard the term "opportunity paralysis" in an episode of Black Mirror that dealt with online dating where an optimal match was found and you were required to match with them. They used it to describe the old system of dating and how since there were so many different opportunities that many couldn't settle on one.

This immediately struck a chord with me, but it wasn't until later that I realized how deep it resonated.

I mean sure, at first it was definitely about dating. I mean with real life and the heaps of swiping apps it feels like opportunity is endless, something I'm actively trying to get better at staying away from. After writing it down and thinking about it though I realized that it also related to my every day life.

The amount of information we have about various things is incredible, so if you're interested in multiple outlets it's hard to choose just one and stick to it. Growing up I played four different instruments (including "percussion" which was like 40 instruments) and ten different sports. In college I had six different majors, in life I've held over 20 positions in various fields. My interests vary by the day, and for someone trying to find a common thread and make that into a career that can be difficult if not daunting. 

So now that I know what I'm dealing with, how do I go about actually doing something about it? 

The truth is that I'm not really sure, but writing more is a start.

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Hit&Run

This post was written on September 19th

Hit&Run

 Pictured: The bike who lived.

Pictured: The bike who lived.

 

I’m not a superstitious person. I believe luck, karma, curses and the like can all be attributed to hard-work and a positive attitude. That being said, my experiences biking in Philadelphia have really tested that resolve.

Last night I was run down by a moped while biking home from work.

If you read my last post, you know that I’ve had quite a few flat tires, which sucked in their own right, but I could at least understand.

This incident was totally out of my control.

I was only a few blocks away from my house in East Kensington, and biking down the route that I take every night. Things were uneventful as they usually are until I saw a white truck quickly backing up a one way street across the intersection, a moped going the wrong way following closely behind (or in front) of the truck.

Immediately I flagged this as strange and moved away from them so as to avoid the situation.

Next thing I knew the guy on the moped sped up so he was next to me at an uncomfortable distance.

“Where ya goin?”

“Home,” I said as I began to bolt away. There was something in the way his face looked. I’ve seen people that aren’t in the right state of mind plenty of times before. This guy had a similar look.

I’m not sure why I thought I could out run a moped on my bike, but then again I wasn’t really thinking. I just needed to get out of there. I could hear him behind me and I could see the headlights of the truck behind him.

I didn't know what they planned to do, I didn't know if they were working together, but I did know that I didn't want to find out.

Before I knew it he was next to me again only closer. If he wanted to he could’ve grabbed my handlebars, but he didn’t. Instead he decide to swerve into me and push me into the parked cars on my right.

I fell. 

It hurt.

But all I could think to do next was scramble away from the street and the car that I believed were his friends. I honestly thought they were going to run me over. I’m not sure I’ve ever been more frightened in my life.

To my relief they stopped.

“Grab your bike, were gonna go get that fucker,” a voice called out from the truck. 

Still in shock I scrambled to move my battered bike from the street so they could get past. Looking back at the scene I saw earlier I realized that something like my situation had happened to them as well. That explains why they were reversing up a one way street and the moped was going the wrong way. 

After the truck sped past in pursuit of the moped I just stood on the sidewalk for a moment trying to collect myself. There was a lot to unpack, the most pertinent being how to get home. My front tire wouldn’t move and I was concerned that the moped was around somewhere.

“Are you OK?” A woman asked me from her car. 

Apparently she had been behind the truck and also seen the accident. 

“Why’d he do that?” Asked a man from his stoop across the street that I hadn’t seen.

“I’m fine, a little banged up and same goes for my bike,” I replied, “and I have no idea, all he asked me was ‘where ya going?’”

“Stupid fucker,” the man said in consolation.

“That’s insane! What would make him want to do something like that?” The woman said, as well as ushering me to seek medical attention.

After assuring the woman I was alright and talking with the man on his stoop for a bit about the neighborhood, I couldn’t help but ask myself but ask the same question. In fact that question is probably the scariest thing about the whole interaction.

What would make him want to do something like that?

I’ll never know, which is the fear that makes you not want to do things again. The unknown of situations like this that keep you from doing things like bike home from work, or walk around at night. But if you let the unknown stop you then you’ll never truly live. So my only option is to get back on that bike, otherwise he wins.

So that’s what I’m going to do, once I figure out how to fix a bent front fork.

Gym Therapy - Depression Part One

Depression is a hell of a disease. It's a mind-numbing and a vicious cycle that ends up making you more depressed. Traditionally it has been treated with therapy and anti-depressants, but recently there have been some studies correlating the benefits of exercise to combat depression.

Various surface level findings have led to researchers' decision to pursue the correlation of exercise and overall well being. Basically since you feel good after exercising, some people wanted to figure out why/how.

The traditional explanation has been endorphins. When you exercise endorphins are released in the brain which help to activate opioid receptors in the brain to release pain/stimulate feelings of euphoria.

Or in short they make you feel good.

So that's great, if you exercise you feel good, which naturally would be a good thing for those impacted by depression, but specifically there are other reasons why depression can be treated with exercise. One of those being that opioid receptor I was talking about earlier.

Antidepressants are drugs that have different classes and, generally speaking, they block serotonin re-uptake. This is one way to treat depression, but not all prescriptions work for all patients. Psychiatrist Anna Fels has speculated that certain opioid use, like that experienced when exercising, could be beneficial for other forms of depression.

Moving forward, exercise actively promotes neural growth in the brain. It creates new reward pathways to feelings like calmness and well being. This is the kind of solace that I spoke of in my last post, that calmness of mind which can be found in the gym or on the mat like in yoga.

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Next time I'll expand more on how focus, calmness and schedule in exercise can help with depression, but in the mean time what do you think? Has this post been helpful, or are you unsure what to do with the info? Please comment or reach out with any questions or feedback you may have, I'd love to help!

 

 

Gym Therapy - An Introduction

Working out is rough. I grew up playing sports and doing stuff outside, so when it came to actually hitting the gym I would avoid it. I wanted to get fit, but I would end up just losing money to another gym membership that went unused. 

That changed my senior year of college when I decided to actually learn the science behind it and change for the better. I've learned to love researching and learning, so applying that to the gym made sense.

 A year later I moved in with a friend who had a similar appreciation for this research, which doubled my motivation. Now almost four year laters I am still incredibly interested in the science, nutrition and function of body/strength building.

This series of posts will attempt to put together some of the research I've learned along my journey, along with how it has actively changed me. I've named it "gym therapy" as a tribute to how much it has helped me in various aspects of my life. From depression, to anxiety, to ADD and even addiction, the gym has helped me overcome many hurdles in my life and effectively become my version of therapy.

Before I moved to Philly I would tell people how important it was that I found a gym here. I knew how it would help me keep on somewhat of a schedule when I had none. It's the one place I find peace of mind and solace, especially in a busy city.

So if you'd like to learn a little bit about why the gym is great for you, feel free to read the upcoming posts Alternatively if you're feeling down and don't know where to start, these posts will offer some advice, because starting is always the hardest part.

 

Two Months - Ebb and Flow

Sometimes life is hard. Now more than ever I've felt the ebb and flow of emotion toward my current situation. Some days are easy, and it seems like opportunity is abundant. Others are difficult and it feels as though I may never find work.

May 9th was one of those days.

It signified that I'd officially been living in Philly for two months. Two months of applying to countless jobs with very little to show for it, professionally speaking. Two months of living in a less than ideal arrangement in a not so great area. Two months of trying to meet new people in a city I know very little about, despite what I had believed.

It was daunting, no it is daunting, still. That day was long and depressing, the fact that it rained the next few days didn't help either. I was trapped inside with my thoughts for comfort.

But in the end I survived, I'm still here and pushing through, which is what I had set out to do in the first place.

Now is one of the easiest times of my life to do things I feel uncomfortable doing, and I implore anyone thinking of making a big change in their life to try it. I have no ties other than family, have great credit and can deal with a few months of not working regularly.

In the end I know I will make something of this, be it a career or a building block for the next step. I just need to keep trusting the process, and dealing with the ebb and flow.

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Update - As of posting this Gary Vaynerchuk (entrepreneur, youtube, all-around motivator) reposted an article that rehashes one of his videos. The gist of it is exactly what I talk about above, why now is the time to try new things, or "hustle" for the life you want as he puts it. Check it out here, it's definitely worth the read, or if you'd rather just watch the video it's here.

Almost Two Months - Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Like I've said earlier in this blog I gave myself about a month to land a real job. After that I began looking for other work, starting with jobs I thought I'd actually enjoy. Well that search came to a head about two weeks ago when I realized my savings was drastically dwindling and I needed a job ASAP.

Enter three new jobs: bar, gym and retail.

Sidenote - I'm not going to write the names of the actual establishments for the sake of my employment.

So let's start with bar. It's an Irish place in Old City (which literally does nothing to narrow it down) that had open interviews on craigslist so I thought why not. I had worked in a bar before. I went to the interview, talked myself up to someone that turned out not to be the person I was supposed to interview with, and was then offered a job on the spot. My first day was the following weekend.

That same day I had an interview at a mid-range retail store that had a a "fun" (their words not mine) vibe. They emailed me an hour later to offer me a job.

On the day of my first shift at the bar I was also offered a job at a local gym. So now I had three jobs, but worked none of them. Things were going great.

Night one, and potentially only, of work at the bar. My shift was 4-3, I knew it was going to be long, and I knew it would be grueling, but I didn't realize how stupid they thought I was. I really don't want to go into detail about that whole shift because it could go on for pages, but here are the highlights.

From 4-11 it was incredibly slow, I spent most of my time standing around doing nothing because the other barbacks working would show me a job and then say they would do it since it's so slow. So I also learned nothing. I chopped limes, lemons and oranges from 8-10, so that was fun. From 11-2 the bar was somewhat busy, but with 4 barbacks to clean up one small area, there was a lot of downtime. Unfortunately for me this meant that I was yelled at for standing around a lot. Thanks for the warning guys.

Cut to the end of the night. We do the cleanup, more of the same "I'll just do this so go sweep or something" and then it comes time for tip out. This job was of the sort where the hourly wage was supplemented by a tip-out, so my $4 hourly wasn't so much of a slap in the face. What did hurt, and solidified my decision not to go back, was when they gave me around 6% of the tip-out while they walked out with 30% each. At the end of the night I didn't even make minimum wage for the hours I worked, which is only $7.25 here.

-Also fun addition, I haven't heard from them since and it's been a week, so there's that-

The Consequences of Removing Public Restrooms

So far I've been pretty lucky in terms of bathroom availability in the places I've visited, lived, driven through or all of the above. Never have I truly been far away from a gas station or McDonalds that has had facilities that are functional. Even when traveling abroad there were public restrooms in Paris and London that could be used. What I'm trying to convey here is that nothing prepared me for the amount of human fecal matter that I've seen in the street during my almost two months of residence in the great city of Philadelphia.

So you might have some questions/comments after reading that, the main one being "how do you know it's human?" Well for starters I have unfortunately seen it happening on more than one occasion, so there's that. It's not some thing you go out of your way to stare at, but when you see a man in that stance next to a car your mind draws that conclusion pretty naturally. At which point you immediately look away, but still keep him in the corner of your eye cause you have no idea what could happen next. 

Additionally there are certain characteristics of human poop that you can just kinda tell. Size, shape, color, it all looks entirely too familiar and you just kind of put the pieces together that form a terrible, terrible mental image. 

So yeah, I implore anyone that is going into public planning or city design to include public restrooms, because that shit is disgusting. Literally and figuratively. 

Job Interview - The One-Man Publication

When I search for work I pretty much use every job board available. LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor and even Craigslist. I know a lot of people shy away from craigslist, but sometimes you can find some gold there, even though mostly it's just ridiculous ads. Especially in the "gigs" section. So many ads looking for women for "photo-shoots" that are most definitely adult films, but that's not my problem.

Anyway in late March I had responded to an editorial ad that was for a theater publication. It was a lengthy ad, said there would be a stipend, lunch provided and that you would be learning from the editor of the publication as well as the owner. It seemed like a pretty great experience so I applied.

To my surprise I received a call later that day from a man, who I'll call Steve out of respect for his privacy as well as his publication. I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't pretty excited after that call, even though it started off terrible. Steve had a thick accent and immediately began the call by telling me what was wrong with my resume and cover letter. It was a pretty terrible way to start, because while I listened and wrote down some of his points, it felt like he was rambling. 

He then finished that call with an offer to interview and an explanation of his teaching style and what I should expect, which was a mentor experience and the title of assistant editor. The interview was to take place in the form of a day with him at his house in Philadelphia, where he worked out of an office. I said sure, and next thing I knew I was walking up to his house the next day.

I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it was definitely something a little more composed and grandiose. He had explained his house as an old three-story home with character and vigor, which it had both for sure, but it also had a lot of other stuff. Like a lot a lot. My grandfather was a hoarder, and I knew the stages all too well, and the lack of seating and wall space wasn't a good sign for this man. There were paintings, trinkets and paperwork everywhere, and I had only seen the first floor.

In retrospect this was strike one.

He then proceeded to give me a tour of the house that ended on the third floor where his "office" was. I use office loosely as it was also a kitchen and a general explosion of stuff, including countless piles of paper and folders.

Steve said part of my duties would be to help him go through and organize these papers that seemingly had been sitting there since he moved in. Papers that were old tests and manuscripts of students long past. Oh, I forgot to mention that he was a tenured professor at a few schools, another reason I was excited. But that excitement was fading fast, and it wasn't even 10 A.M. yet.

As we settled in to a corner of the office I sat on "the good chair" behind his computer, which was an ancient dell laptop because his other was being fixed. Now I can neither confirm nor deny that there was any other computer, but for his sake I hope so because this thing was difficult to do anything on, let a lone run a publication which I was slowly realizing consisted of one man in an attic.

The next four hours was like when you visit your grandparents to get some information, but end up staying for hours listening to stories from days gone past. Interesting for sure, but not very educational. 

Also Steve couldn't keep his stories straight, which was really difficult to deal with. He would start talking about one thing and then branch off into another story over and over again without ever rounding back and finishing the first thought. The amount of notes I have that lead to nothing filled up five whole pages. Oh yeah, I was instructed to take notes. Not encouraged, instructed. 

Strike two.

I mean I would be taking notes anyway because I like to look back on interviews to learn more about what went well/didn't go well, but when I was already writing and he would interject to say "make sure you write this down" was mildly unnerving. The unlimited tea I was promised was bland also.

Strike thr-- actually I don't really like tea anyway.

As slow as the morning dragged it was now about lunch time. Time for the free lunch I was offered. If there was one bit of solace I had about this day it was that I was going to get a decent meal out of it. 

I was sorely mistaken.

For lunch I was tasked with walking his dog, something I was happy to do because A) dogs are great, B) I needed to get out of the house and C) dogs are the best, and his dog reminded me of the one my family has back home.

While on this walk Steve would make lunch where he gave me some options: lentil soup or bread and cheese. I opted for bread and cheese, hoping that he meant a sandwich.

He did not mean a sandwich, he meant literal toast with cheese and a side of boiled beets. I may be living in poverty while trying to survive a new city, but my god at least I was eating real meals. 

So yeah, that was strike three. And as we all know: three strikes and you're out, which I was desperately trying to do. Get out.

The afternoon proceeded much the same as the morning, except I took more bathroom breaks to try and get someone to pick me up to no avail. I ended up embellishing the fact that I had to make it to a friends workplace around 4:30 in order to attend a charity event, and to do that I had to leave by 3:30/4.

At first Steve was fine with this, but then he received a call saying his computer was fixed and offered to give me a ride. Apparently he also wasn't taking no for an answer.

We left the house and he gave me his dog to hold while he got the car out of the garage. As a distinguished man of foreign descent I assumed either an old jag or BMW would roll out, but to my surprise I saw an depressing red hatchback. Honestly I probably should've expected it by now, but I was still hopeful.

As I got in and we pulled away I was somewhat taken aback at the aggressive style he drove. Two blocks later I was actively gripping the handle as he swerved around potholes, parked cars and traffic. I severely regretted not putting up more of a fight to just take the train. 

All the while he told me more half-stories while also telling me that he really liked the way we worked together. To this I simply nodded, because I had done literally nothing the entire day except for check his email, crop a picture and walk his dog. 

Steve let me out on a corner three blocks away from where I wanted to be dropped off, but this was at my request. I said thank you and goodbye, knowing this was the last time I would be in contact with him. Walking away all I could think about was the severely bizarre experience it had been, while also trying to figure out where I was. 

Did I learn anything? Sure, life is full of experiences, and this one happened almost a month ago. The fact that it's still so burned in my memory confirms the bizarre nature that the day held. Always say yes, and always keep going, because in the end that's all we've got, our experiences. 

Weeks Three and Four - The Search Continues

After two weeks of living in Philly I told myself that I'd begin to start opening up my search perameters in regards to a job. Well, now that two weeks have come and gone that is exactly what has been done.

I started slow, looking for some places I'd be interested in/still have something in common with my overall goal. A bike shop with room for photography, a few fitness studios, a book store, places like this where I could potentially network while making a living. 

After a few interviews so far nothing has come to fruition, but so far that has just made me more resilient, but also makes me nervous for future bills. I know that soon push will come to shove and I'll have to get a job I wouldn't prefer just to make ends meet, but hey, I guess it's just another experience. And I've always said that experience leads to good writing.

Which is something that I've actively tried to do more of after moving here: saying yes to new experiences. In future posts I'll talk about some of these that have happened, including dates that I would never have gone on if I acted the same way I did a year ago, or job interviews where I just couldn't see myself there.

Because at the end of the day life is about experiencing new things. If they're good, then that's great, if they're bad, well that sucks but now you have a story and a reason to be wary the next time.