August 2016

13 September 2016

No sooner had I unlocked the door to my new apartment was I on a plane again. Back to Schenectady. Like Greenville-Spartanburg, the Albany Airport was a familiar haunt. Despite certain layovers, there’s something to be said about second tier international airports. The workers are pleasant, security light, and the terminals easy to navigate; yet you can go anywhere you need for much the same price as starting at a hub–Hartfield-Jackson, O’Hare, etc. Gerald R. Ford, my home airport, is much the same. And although I’ve rarely used it, it has the same calm appeal of home as GSP and ALB.

 

MSY, from the first of this month and onward, has evoked the same feeling–but in a different way. Upon first arrival, it felt like a caricature of the new city: jazz playing over speakers, purple and gold coloring on advertisements, the fleur-de-lis tattooed on every other sign. But I soon learned that the airport, like the city, owned its image. It wore it with pride and was deaf to criticism. Whereas Upstate New York seemed littered with ego and self-consciousness, New Orleans stood with confidence and character. The subsequent interactions I’ve had with the city–be it the people, work, grocery store, restaurants, or on the streets–has stood true to this perception. The city seems alive, despite its awareness and acceptance of danger and death that surrounds and pervades it. Hurricanes, alligators, heat-lightning, voodoo, raised cemeteries, giant sewer rats, decrepit buildings, and vomit-filled potholes; the city is dynamic. It contains a playful wisdom–a full acceptance of all things that have occurred, are occurring, and are to occur–that is manifested in its many quirks. I enjoy these quirks and hope to indulge in as many of them as I can. However, my time here is temporary. I don’t know what came before me or what will come after, but from stumbling around this August, I can be sure of this:

 

I’m happy to spend the rest of the year here.

 

Florida

7 August 2016

Another six months disappeared. A few days ago, I moved out of Greenville and drove down to New Orleans, where I will be spending the remainder of this year. It was a great time of year to move further South, especially in a truck without air conditioning. Shortly after leaving South Carolina, it started to rain–which meant more humidity and closed windows. It was a sweatbox for me, but a greenhouse for my plants. At least somebody benefitted.

 

En route to New Orleans, I stopped at Britton Hill, Florida’s highest point. At a soaring 345 feet, Britton Hill was the lowest of the fifty U.S. highpoints. Similar to the flat peaks of Indiana and Delaware, Florida’s was nestled beside a cornfield. Next to a parking lot at the entrance to a wooded park, the highpoint was denoted by a stone marker, some benches, and a prominent wooden sign perfect for posing. As usual, a stranger was kind enough to snap my picture.

 

Britton Hill. 345 ft / 105 m. 30 July 2016.

 

Florida

 

July 2016

6 August 2016

This month I had my latest Samwise Gamgee moment of “If I take one more step, it’ll be the farthest away from home I’ve ever been.” That farthest step lies somewhere in the Hungarian countryside.

 

My company was gracious enough to send my colleagues and I to Budapest, Hungary for a month of IT training for two and a half weeks. There we learned broadly about Big Data–from warehousing to reporting and database design to governance. It was good to fill some of the gaps I had in my technical know-how and hone expertise in SQL and Tableau. We also saw a few of the company’s manufacturing sites, located in the countryside . In addition to the time in Budapest, I explored other parts of Europe before and after, as this was my first time leaving North America.

 

I flew into Paris and saw the usual tourist attractions for a day, took a train to Zurich and visited a lake and design museum, and took a night train to Budapest. While there, I thoroughly enjoyed the bathhouses and was surprised to find zero nude people. Pokemon Go helped me discover several small landmarks on both the Buda and Pest sides of the city. There was a lot of beautiful old architecture–which was evident across Europe. After training concluded, I was nickel-and-dimed (or the Forint equivalent) on Wizz-Air en route to Rome. While in Rome, I visited more touristy things–Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, and the Vatican–and ate pasta at several family-owned restaurants. Although each of these restaurants were owned by different families, they had a franchise feeling of sameness–same dishes, same prices, same tablecloths, same complimentary bread. Europe, as a whole, was an alright experience. The public transit was very good, seeing as it was available, timely, and affordable. The food was also good–healthy and tasty and served with an ample amount of time to enjoy it. The architecture was old and historic–aesthetically nice but filled with the problems that accompany it: leaky pipes, spotty electricity, and poor air quality within. Most cities were walkable, but decentralized to the point of sameness throughout. Most buildings were low (less than 10 stories) and identical to their neighbors. Generally, the lifestyle was lame. People sat around at cafes and restaurants most of the day and had subpar service. Elevator floor buttons were labelled sensibly with integers (-2, -1, 0, 1, 2) and the date and time formats (21:00 – 12 July 2016, for instance) jived with my logic. Europe wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. It was different, but it was still the Western World. And on that front, I prefer America.

 

After flying home to Greenville–with logistically irritating stops in Charlotte and Atlanta–I packed my apartment and tied loose ends. I then moved to New Orleans to start my new assignment. Along the way, I stopped at Florida’s highest point and followed the Gulf Coast through Alabama and Mississippi.

 

There were a lot of new experiences this month. I look forward to some time to reflect on them.

 

June 2016

2 July 2016

June was my last month in Greenville, SC. It was a busy time–defined by finishing up work for this assignment, a brief visit to Grand Rapids, MI, some more publishing with Ugly Sapling, and getting up close and personal with a 17-year cicada.

 

It was my first time in Grand Rapids this year, for the occasion of my sister’s graduation. Since two of our cousins shared a party with her, it was a good opportunity for me to see friends and family in a single gathering. I also played 9 holes of golf with another cousin and scored high enough for an 18-hole game. (I later redeemed myself in spades with mini-golf.)

 

Ugly Sapling published two more works–our first unsolicited novel and a lit journal. Both are good reads and feature work not created by me. This realization is significant for a few secret reasons.

 

I also had the pleasure of finding a 17-year cicada by the pool. It was much larger than I would’ve thought–its body was about the size of my thumb; length, girth, and probably weight. I hope to see it again in 17 years.

 

Six months flew by, as usual.

 

May 2016

2 June 2016

This month’s video features large millipedes, geese, and a heron slowly squeezing the air out of a pufferfish. I had mixed thoughts on the latter matter. First, I felt bad for the suffocating pufferfish. Second, I conceded that this was merely nature. Third, I thought pufferfish excreted a poison and that maybe the heron was being paralyzed because of it. Fourth, the third made me feel bad for the ignorant heron. Fifth, the third made me grin at the cruel irony. It was the perfect lose-lose situation.

 

That experience occurred while on an extended weekend trip to Clearwater Beach, Florida. A friend and I saw a pod of dolphins swimming near the shore and a shark beneath us while parasailing. The rest of May was spent using my library card, working, and buying then selling boxing equipment that was too loud to have in my apartment. My parents and sister visited over Memorial Weekend, and we got to spent a good deal of time hiking around the area’s various parks.

 

May the month be remembered for these things.

 

Dash Dash Fever

6 May 2016

I tend to use – – because I struggle to select the appropriate punctuation. Commas are tricky, since they are so often overused or spliced. Semicolons are even trickier; I often misplace them. Colons, though, are beyond sexy: just look at this statement. Yet my dashes are more conversational – – inviting a new thought in the midst of another – – freeing me from the constraints of proper punctuation.

April 2016

2 May 2016

There were few showers, but there are now many flowers. This April, I explored several state parks around Greenville and found a handful of waterfalls. I had the pleasure of navigating the South Carolina DMV to legalize my motorcycle. Despite the complicated process of crossing streets to pay taxes and register a plate, I use the word “pleasure” without sarcasm–the DMV workers were exceptionally helpful. A pleasant surprise indeed. Also, I spent my 23rd birthday with a friend in Durham, NC promoting Ugly Sapling at Zine Machine. And aging somehow bettered my eyesight. According to the eye doctor, my vision improved by .25 points, likely due to less eye strain–now being out of school and on a somewhat consistent sleep schedule. This is more likely due to my incessant gnawing on carrots. Anyway, the month concluded with a 5K color run. For the record, the dyed corn starch is worth a lick. Or two.

 

March 2016

2 April 2016

This month, I experienced springtime in South Carolina. It was reminiscent of childhood spring breaks to Myrtle Beach–new experiences and temperatures that can’t be felt. During the month, a friend who had exposed me to House of Cards visited and accompanied me to Gaffney’s Peachoid. We, too, were surprised at its existence. At Greenville Tech, I took and passed a motorcycle safety course. On the final day of March, I bought a 2009 250 CC Honda Rebel on Craigslist.  Until I acquire insurance, registration, and a license; I will live up to the model name.

 

February 2016

1 March 2016

Another month has passed. We all know that 2016 isn’t getting any younger, but I’m surprised it’s already March. February was an interesting month for me, as I transitioned into a new work assignment in Greenville, South Carolina. Moving south in mid-winter is a dream to many; and although it was never one for me, the change of pace has been nice. It was a bit short-lived, as the last week of February was spent back in New York. But I’ve now returned to my new routine, much of which was depicted in the following video:

 

January 2016

10 February 2016

This year I made a resolution to take daily two-second videos. At the end of each month, I’ll compile the clips into a minute movie. By the end of the year, I’ll have a twelve-minute film. The purpose of the project is self-serving: to help catalogue daily experiences and trigger smaller memories with each playback. The act of filming something each day, even if it’s only a couple seconds, challenges me to be mindful. Even if I haven’t done something “exciting,” I’ve been more in-tune with the present and my immediate surroundings. With one month down, I’m curious how the next eleven months will change my perspective.

 

Here’s a glimpse of my January 2016: