2016 in review: Words by the numbers

Since June 2016, I wrote and published 146,067 words across 286 articles for four clients (not counting my personal work). I have no idea how this compares to the industry average, but if you had told me in May that I would write the equivalent of a couple of books’ worth of words in the second half of 2016, I would have laughed at you. (Like, I don’t even read books that quickly. Also, why didn’t I just write a book?)

I still feel like I’m faking it, not sure when I’ll really make it. I constantly need to remind myself that I get to write for a living, which is pretty dang cool, even if it comes with a host financial challenges. 2016 was a difficult year for numerous reasons and staying focused on the positive wasn’t always easy. I’m thankful that I have a supportive family and strong network of friends. (Even if I don’t really talk to y’all that much, know that I appreciate you. I’m just very introverted, so a little goes a long way.)

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but if I did, I’d say my job for 2017 is to better appreciate what I have. And to write a book. And to see Pinback in concert. Twice. February 6 and 7, Doug Fir, be there.

The power of a portrait: bringing free school pictures to inner-city students

This post was originally published on PICR, but disappeared after the company restructured. I have shared it here because it’s a story that should be seen.

When she was a child, Nicole Bozickovich took her school photos for granted. Most kids did. They’d show up on a particular day, wait in line, sit down, wait for a flash to go off, and then continue about their days. But when the 23-year-old college graduate landed a job teaching art at STEAM Academy of Akron, she found out that the majority of students planned to opt out of annual school photos due to the cost.

Bozickovich got her start in teaching while a student at the Cleveland Institute of Art, where she studied photography. While there, she enrolled in a somewhat experimental course, titled “Putting Artists in the Classroom.” The elective aimed to provide CIA students with teaching experience by placing them in the classrooms of schools that couldn’t otherwise afford art teachers. Bozickovich fell in love with it.

“I realized my place was helping inner-city kids,” she said. She went on to repeat the course four times. Continue reading

Freelancing – the first two months

Freelance – noun. A mercenary warrior not sworn to any lord.

This will be brief. In my first two months since quitting my day job and working full time as a freelance writer, I have written 53,482 words spread out over 120 articles for four publishers. My desire to update this blog, therefore, has been significantly lessened.

A new chapter

It’s eighty-nine degrees in my house as I write this, so apologies for any typos.

Yesterday was my last day at Pro Photo Supply, my employer for the past six years. I am incredibly thankful for the opportunities I had there to grow as a writer, which I am still a little amazed they let me do.

I will be taking the plunge into the terrifying world of freelance writing. In the same week, I was offered contract positions at Digital Trends and PICR, where I will be writing about photography news and related such things.

It’s impossible to say what comes next, but I’m excited. And right now, I’m very hot, so sorry for the sloppy blog update.

The road to an MBA

Note: I originally wrote this on 10/29/2014 for Pacific University’s MBA blog. The blog, it seems, never came to be. Now that I have completed the program, I’ve decided to share that original post here.

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The past 12 months have been full of transitions for me. It started a year ago when my wife asked me for a divorce. It had been some time coming (we’d been separated six months) but that didn’t soften the blow. Now that I think about it, it was Halloween night when she gave me the news, and I’m writing this almost exactly one year later, October 29, sitting at a bar right across the street from where it happened. I suppose this is as good a time as any to reflect, but also to look forward.

The next transition was much more mundane, but nonetheless jarring: I turned 30 in July. When I had graduated Pacific back in 2007, I promised myself that if I was still earning under $30k per year by the time turned 30, I would take drastic measures to promote my professional life. Without getting into details, I’ll just say that when my 30th birthday finally flew by, it was time to fire for effect. (Some clarification: I majored in Media Arts and money really wasn’t an immediate concern of mine at the time. Still, I had the foresight to know that, at some point, I would have to make some of it, and 30 seemed like a good age to start doing that.)

When I took stock of my situation at that moment—getting divorced, entering a new decade—I realized that now, more than ever, was the time to affect positive change in my life. That’s when a friend, a fellow Pacific alum, mentioned that he had heard Pacific was starting an MBA program.

I had never considered myself a candidate for grad school. It simply wasn’t in the cards. I paid my dues: 16 years of school were quite sufficient, thank you very much. But, I also had a promise to keep to myself, and with no relationship, no kids, and flexible employment, I knew I would never have a better shot at going back to school. Perhaps this was the positive change I was looking for. But an MBA degree? Other than running a wedding photography business for a handful of years, I had zero business experience—or interest, really. Nevertheless, I said, what the heck? It can’t hurt. I applied to Pacific’s nascent MBA program, resting completely on my essay because I knew it kicked ass, and called it good. I didn’t apply anywhere else (you probably should; it’s what you’re supposed to do, but I didn’t. Because I’m a rebel.)

The next few months flew by, until on one Friday in October, I found myself at Pacific’s Hillsboro campus for the MBA orientation, surrounded by the other members of my cohort, all of whom were much more qualified to be there than I (undoubtedly). Now, I’m just two days away from taking my first final—for Accounting—and it feels somewhat surreal. I mean, I never wanted to learn accounting. Throughout the class, I kept being reminded of an old Southwest Airlines commercial in which an employee of a fictional company is sitting in a meeting, humorously imitating his boss who is giving a presentation on “making accounts payable exciting again.” When the employee gets caught, the commercial cuts to Southwest’s motto: “Wanna get away?” Ironically, I didn’t want to get away from Accounting class (although, I assure you I still have no plans of becoming an accountant). I actually found great value in it—value that extends far beyond what you probably consider to be the confines of the accounting discipline. Sometimes you a take a class that directly affects the direction of your life; other times, you take a class that merely, but importantly, exercises your mind and allows you to see the world from a different perspective.

So, anyway, yeah, my final is coming up and I should probably be studying for that instead of writing this blog post, but I’m just one of those weirdos who enjoys writing. I don’t have a moral to this story, perhaps because it isn’t finished being told. I still get really depressed at times because of my divorce; I still say I’m 29 by mistake when people ask my age; I still feel loads of stress from working two jobs and being in school; I still think about dropping out (I wouldn’t be the first). But for now, I’m continuing to manage, to hold true what I hope is the fulfillment of a promise I made to myself all those years ago as I walked across that stage and grabbed my diploma. Positive change.

You might be wondering what I plan to do with my MBA, but I’m not someone who enjoys making plans. I roll with the punches; an MBA might help me land a few of my own, and that’s all I’ve got for now.

High school bomb threats

I took a physics class my senior year of high school. One day, we were assigned an in-class project to make radios by wrapping copper wire around cardboard paper towel tubes. (And I think there was a magnet in there somewhere. All science things have magnets, right?) After class, we lined all of our radios up along the counter so we could come back the next day and finish them.

Coincidentally, a disgruntled student (not from my class) called in a bomb threat that next morning. We students got to stay home while the police searched every classroom high and low. As my Physics teacher later recalled, when he unlocked his classroom door for the police, they saw the 40 copper wire enshrouded cylinders stacked on the counter and yelled, “Holy shit!” They thought they had just uncovered the largest bomb ever seen in Nevada County.

And as I recall, no students were suspended.

Interviewing a famous Instagram dog

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Kelsey Rodas, the human behind the @rustyrodas Instagram account. Rusty, a golden retriever, has an incredible tale to tell of how he went from abandoned pup to canine celebrity. He has over 60,000 followers on Instagram now and his own line of greeting cards. He also volunteers at a local animal shelter, helping coach other rescue dogs to recovery. What’s also interesting is that I followed Rusty and Kelsey separately on Instagram for about a year before realizing they worked together. I knew Kelsey from college. It just so happened we both went to the Portland Gear #PDXMEET earlier this summer, where she was there with Rusty. Small world.

Anyway, you can head over to Pro Photo Supply’s News Desk to read the article now. An excerpt has also been added to my writing samples page.