Saturday, June 29, 2013

Goodbyes: Real, Fake, and Everything In Between .

Lately I've been working my way through all of the episodes of the office, from the very first episode. I just finished watching Season 7 Episode 22, which is the episode where Michael Scott says goodbye, on his way to move to Colorado to marry Holly and live there happily ever after. Steve Carell shows his true prowess in the episode, bringing to life every single quality about the character that made The Office such a success. Many fans say that the show in fact was Steve, and that without him, The Office simply wasn't The Office.

I've caught a few episodes here and there in season 8, but I have to say, Steve Carell brought that character to a place where no other actor could. As I sit here and watch all these episodes I can't help but think that no one else could be a Michael Scott. No one else could keep you laughing through the "that's what she said" jokes and the corny lines and inappropriate office behavior, to the funny faces and pranks, to the bottomless pits of despair he falls into after each relationship.

The whole episode is about saying goodbye to people. Michael Scott even carries a list around with him, making sure he says goodbye to each and every one of his employees. I actually did something similar on my way out of Clemson -- made every effort to see people one final time. To say goodbye. It was actually really hard to hug someone, and say to them that I wished them the best -- not sure when, if ever, I would be back in Clemson, or if I would even ever see them again. It's truly mind boggling to me, that some people that you grew so incredibly close with might exit your life forever. It's weird to spend so much time with them, make such good friends and then try to conquer that. I've never moved (save for moving to college and back) and I think I totally understand why kids hate that now. It's like leaving an entire life behind.

It never occurred to me what it might be like to be a boss, or really any employee in a company somewhere, and have it be your last day of work there. Or even harder, imagine the day you retire? Having to say goodbye to a company, and to people you may have worked with for decades? Pretty wild. There's something simultaneously sad and refreshing about those goodbyes. The chapter ends, but a new one begins. And as long as they chapters keep coming, hope is always on the horizon.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Reasons Why the Mall is Dumb .

I recently went to the mall to pick up a few cheap-o shirts. I forgot how much I hate the mall. Now you get to listen to me complain :)

1. Parking. It's always an issue. Somebody always tries to run you over. Who caressss. Walk a little farther!
2. Mall security. Honestly, it's a joke. What are you doing with your life. And how many donuts have you eaten today?
3. Mall rats. They're always there. All around. And they're inescapable. I'm never going to let my kids go to the mall to just "hang out." Whatever that means.
4. Kiosk salespeople. They hate their life and their job, but their job depends on selling you shit. And so God forbid you make eye contact with them, they'll probably talk to you. But no, buddy, just because I have an earring doesn't mean that I want to buy all kinds of shitty jewelry from you. Nor do I want shampoo, or moisturizer, or any of that other crap.
5. Lines. At the Starbucks, in the stores, and even dodging all the people moving in lines between the stores. It's like playing Frogger ... only I'm an asshole driver blasting down the road dodging all these damn frogs.
6. They get rid of good stuff! Like there used to be a Johnny Rockets at our local mall. It no longer exists, and was replaced by Qdoba. I don't even know how to pronounce that shit. Johnny Rockets is an American classic. And you replaced it with Mexico. How unamerican.
7. All the people. SOOOO MANY PEOPLEEEE. I guess people just have nothing better to do. Oh well, I guess it's better than sitting around watching TV all day!

There's definitely more of these but I'm exhausted and it's time for bed! Goodnight!

The Most Frustrating Yoga Ever

After last week spent on vacation, it's been a little tougher getting back into my workout routine. I had intended to do a lot of foam rolling and such last week, but only ended up doing it once. Such is life... and I really enjoyed the vacation, so that's good. This week, I did my yoga routine and man, it sucked. For a workout where you are supposed to clear your mind and really focus, I lost it. I got so frustrated at how difficult everything was -- especially since I started it up again six weeks ago and had already made considerable progress.

Ain't that the worst? When you finally get somewhere with your workouts and then lose it? Physically, it's not as bad to get it back. Mentally and otherwise, it's impossible. I guess that's all the more reason to not give up on a workout or let it slip by the wayside in the first place. Like biking, or anything else physically and exercise related, if you don't do it regularly, you're going to lose your abilities so fast. It could take you months to get to a specific point and then you could lose it in a week.

The amazing thing was how much of an impact my lack of focus and mental concentration had on my physical ability during that short hour and a half. Falls and imbalances and all kinds of crap, and there I am, totally losing my focus, and getting beyond frustrated.

Somehow I did actually make it to the end. But I sure as hell hope that I end up doing better next week. Just gotta work that much harder.

Summer: A Season for Love?

I've been paying attention to the posts that have been getting the most traffic lately, and three of the top viewed posts this month are chemistry, secrets to being a good kisser, and dating tips for girls from a guy. Immediately my mind jumps to the cheesy (getting ready for the flack for this next statement) Grease musical where they sing Summer Lovin'.

But maybe it's true! There are loads of people out there that are obsessed with summer, and being in better moods, perhaps they are more outgoing and looking for love! Though maybe not actually "love" persay... and just flings. Who knows. Regardless, I found the info interesting.

Personally, I'm a winter fan. I'm a spring fan. I'm even a fall fan. But I detest summer. It's hot. It's humid. It's loaded with traffic of people going to the beach. It means I'm usually working at a job that I don't really enjoy. It means kids out of school and crawling all over every store everywhere. Am I sounding like I'm an 80 year old crackpot yet? Mission accomplished.

But seriously. I love winter. Snowboarding. And for that matter, snow! Mountain biking. A burning feeling that stings on the way down your throat and into your lungs as you inhale the first frigid air of the season. Fires in the fireplace, snuggling up warm and enjoying the quieter things in life. Hot chocolate, waking up early and seeing the warmth of the sun as it raises. And of course the appearance of the Orion constellation (my favorite one!). I even love the shadows the barren trees cast on the ground as the sun rises.

Many people think of winter and think cold, barren, dead, and lifeless. For me? It's the most full of life I can possibly be. I think I'm just an old soul.

Anyways, what do you guys think? Is summer really a season for love? What fun things do you have planned out for this summer?

Monday, June 24, 2013

"About Me ."

Define yourself in a short phrase. Tell us all about yourself in a few short sentences. Somehow, find a way to convey friendly, optimistic, compassionate, loving and more in those few words. The definition of concise, maybe? Pretty wild stuff.

I've recently started up a few new networking profiles, on and Google Plus, specifically to try to boost some connections in the architectural community. I've previously wrote an average-lengthed 'about me' section on LinkedIn, but should I just copy and paste it? About me sections are not easy to write. Because it's true -- you want to say so much, but not so much that someone can't be bothered to read it. Maybe Twitter hit the mark. In a world where no one wants to spend too much time on any one thing, Twitter makes you be concise. Either that or it just makes you talk about stupid things like what you ate for breakfast.

What sorts of things do you think about before writing an about me? How does that change depending on whether the account is for personal versus professional reasons? Would love to hear your thoughts.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Pouring Rain .

Pouring rain, watch it start and stop;
sheets fall down, just a single raindrop.
Driving blind on a two lane highway,
hazard lights flashing so the cars can get by me.
Past pain alleviate, let stress deviate,
from the path it was on, cause the Weather Channel's wrong.
Sunshine, mostly, pull me in closely,
from dawn, 5:32 am; until nightfall, when I go to bed.
Driving down the local roads, under some stressful loads,
focusing on driving slow, 10 mph under the speed limit he goes
Mind draws a blank, what's the next line?
Searching through my mind but can't seem to find a rhyme
Escapee from the job, Guantanamo's oppression;
Steadfast like a heart that allows no digression
Drive safe, indicator lights flash, jump out the driver's side door in a mad dash
for the house and its safety, and the desire to escape the
exterior thundershower, relentless downpour,
at least we ain't got tornadoes knocking down our poor door.
Short little thing that I wrote down right here,
the rain's got me tired, need to sleep, it's true
pounding raindrops on my face, 'til I let loose.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Bloglovin' .

Hey guys, so as most of you know (if you pay any attention at all to blog-related news) Google Reader is shutting down in a few weeks (at the end of June maybe? I guess I don't really pay attention after all) and given that that is what I generally used to read everyone's posts, I decided to give Bloglovin' a try, because that seemed to be what the general majority was switching to. I'm such a leader, don't you know.

I have always had a strong distaste for Bloglovin' but only because the name sounded silly and that alone turned me off so much that I had no idea what its functions even were. Well, long story short I caved and registered, and now use that more than anything else when it comes to reading blogs. Someone was thinking when you could separate all the unread posts, and then mark them as read or unread just like emails. In addition you can cycle through the unread blog posts oldest to newest. Basically, everything is practically, rationally and logically sound as far as I can tell.

And so basically what this is coming down to is that I have a Bloglovin' now, and you can feel free to follow via that if you so desire. I even like the "Top Blogs" or "Popular Posts" button just so you can get sent to something random and read some good stuff. It's like having StumbleUpon for blogs... (I should invent that...).

What are your thoughts on the switch? I'm glad I got off the high and mighty Google Reader horse. It just goes to show that you gotta try something before you decide whether you like it or not.

Church, Emotions and More .

That title is stated as such because I honestly have no idea what to call this. I often have ideas for posts on the tip of my tongue, but they turn into jumbled messes, partitions of ideas and concepts and other weird puzzle pieces. Anyways...

At church today, I had a lot of stuff on my mind. I don't really enjoy going to the 5pm mass on Saturdays, but it's a necessity if I want to go during the weekend because I usually have to work both Saturday and Sunday mornings from 6am to 2pm (which honestly is totally cool with me; I love getting up early so I can get out early). The Saturday evening mass used to be the mass that lots of younger people went to, because they didn't like getting up early to go on Sundays. What I realized today was that it seems that a lot of those people only really went because their parents made them. Now, perhaps I started that way, but I came to find that going, for me, is a healthy thing. Even if some weeks I don't get as much out of it, it is a healthy break from the chaos that is everyday life. It's a break from struggles at work and struggles at home, a time when I can pray and gain reprieve from my emotional rollercoasters (and yes, often there are multiple).

I suppose an easy explanation could be that all these kids, now graduates of college, are out of the house and moving on with their lives. I have a feeling that's not the case given the job market (and man would I consider myself to be in a sad state of affairs if that were the case), however, and that instead my age group just decided church wasn't worth the time. What a fucked up world we live in. Of course, I'm well aware that not everyone likes it, and that not everyone is going to stick with it, and heck, not everyone is even going to ever try anything remotely close to church, and that's totally okay.

During the homily, the deacon (who was subbing in for the priest) mentioned that we should "live every day as if Jesus himself were coming tomorrow." Am I prepared for that? Would I be happy with myself inside if Jesus were to show up on my doorstep tomorrow? I think I literally need to take things a day at a time for that to be the case. But I can't imagine living every day assuming I was going to die tomorrow. I'd do things completely different if that were the case. Imagine trying to knock out a new bucket list every day; it'd be exhausting! Despite the jokes and whatever else, I wouldn't be ready if the second coming were tomorrow. I am not fully satisfied with who I am. And while there's always room for improvement, there are basic building blocks that are crumbling, and mortar that needs to be replaced to solidify a base I've spent 20 years attempting to build.

For reasons unknown to even me, I almost started tearing up today during mass. Maybe my emotions were too overwhelming. Maybe I made a connection spiritually that I haven't made in a long time. Life has been so hard, busy, and chaotic and I just needed a break. Vacation was really good, and it was nice to relax. But I never really checked out of the real world. I brought my laptop and maybe that was a mistake. I wanted to be able to work on music and blogging and all that other stuff. Instead I ended up working on stuff for my second job. All that said, though, I have been much less involved in Twitter and other things that generally waste time... Social media is great for keeping in touch; but I prefer writing a letter (Sidenote: If you want to start mail correspondence send me an email!). Tonight felt lonely, but sometimes that's just how things are. Not much to be done about it, but head to bed and hope that tomorrow will be a better and less exhausting day.

Backstories .

Being young, it's always interesting to ask those who have more years under their belt how they got to where they are. Because in reality it's not really about where they are now, so much as how they ended up there.

Unfortunately, quite often the answer you'll hear is "well, I never really intended to be here. It happened by accident." Is the economy today so poor that what we want to do rarely aligns with our working reality? Or is it that the average person refuses to press on to achieve dreams? Are we lacking in motivation? Sometimes it's hard to sit down at the end of the day, after a full 8 hours of a job you're working because you need the money, not because you enjoy it, and try to tackle a "dream."

Back when I was a park ranger, I used to work summers at a place down the road from me. Being that it's a bit of a behind the scenes job and also not something where you sit at a desk with a shirt and tie on, it attracts an interesting crowd. But all the senior park rangers and principals that were there, at one point or another in time, shared their previous life plans, and none of them aligned with the fact that they currently were a park ranger. In fact, many had intended it to just be a job to help them get some money and get on their feet -- and ended up getting stuck.

Just yesterday I was talking with the electrician who comes to do a lot of the big deal electrical work we need at the club, and asked him how he became an electrician. Turns out, it was never something he had intended to do in the first place, either. Rather, he started working for his cousin when he was 14 years old during the summers, and began to slowly learn the trade. The first summer all he did was carry around the bags and containers of materials and learned all the parts, and has since progressed to what I gather to be a vast understanding of the necessities of electrical wiring. Like architecture, if it's not done right, there could be serious consequences. People depend on you to know your shit.

As I begin to reflect on these stories from other people, at times I question whether I will end up like them -- with a plan to work in architecture, but instead working something else just to pay the bills. It's no secret that architecture is not the most reliable field. When times are good, times are really good, and firms will hire lavishly to make sure that their work gets done on time and on budget. But when times are bad, you can just as easily be cut from projects, or worse, laid off. As a student, the stress of getting your foot in the door early and making connections are not mentioned nearly enough at the universities around the country (in my opinion, anyway).

While in the past, people often chose one career path and followed that for the entirety of their lives, it seems that today many get bored, or decide that they initially chose wrong, and often people have multiple careers that they pursue and undertake over the course of a lifetime. Maybe I'll be one of those people, or maybe I won't. In the end, I guess it doesn't really matter so long as you're happy. Lord knows I'm certainly not happy at the job I'm currently at. So maybe it's time to finally get off my ass and really pursue something else with vigor.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Working Out is a Way of Life .

There's a guy I follow on YouTube named Elliot Hulse and his channel is called "strengthcamp." I've been watching his videos for everything under the sun from types of lifts to explanations of routines and eating habits, nutrition and more. The guy is huge and really knows his stuff about everything from muscular construction to all the physiological and psychological aspects of working out. As I saw today in one of the comments, why would you ever pay for any sort of workout information when you have everything you need right here? His videos have been a huge help.

Most of his videos are responses to questions. People send in questions about various things related to their workouts and he'll answer them. One I watched a few weeks ago was a kid who wrote in saying that he'd been working out for about a month, and wanted to know when he would see results. Now, anyone who has started lifting and has been lifting for awhile knows that you're not going to see any noticeable difference for at least a year. It may even be more.

But more importantly, workout out is not just about the visual aspects that will change about you. If that's all it was about, you could take drugs and just look the part. But you want these changes to be functional, you want to be able to actually use the muscles that you work to develop, and you want it to be so much more than just changing how you look. Working out and all that it entails, from heavy weights to cardio to nutrition; it becomes a lifestyle. I was just on vacation for five days and didn't do much in terms of physical health apart from foam rolling, and honestly I feel like a blob. If you don't do stuff, if you don't regularly feel those burns you feel like shit.

It's amazing when I go through a day and I can tell when I don't have enough water, or when I don't get enough sleep, or if I ate foods with too much grease. In the same way that when I walk around the building I know it so well that I can just listen for certain things and know if something is up, I am equally as attuned to the goings on of my body. I love being able to tweak things as if I am a well-oiled machine, and it's nice to feel like you are truly in control of what's going on. There are always things that I could improve, but I like that too -- that you can never really be good enough. There is always room to be better; there is always a way to push yourself harder.

Yes, perhaps I started workout out because I wanted to change the way I looked. But what it turned into was a body that I can functionally use, and that will help propel me to a longer, fuller life. I don't want to grow old and have a body that is going to fall apart on me. Life is too precious to miss out on even a minute because I am stuck in a wheelchair or have legs that can't support me anymore. Age will happen, but staying healthy in all aspects of life will help so much.

So that's it. Being fit, physically active, health-conscious; it has all become my way of life. I'm obsessed, addicted; I can't get enough. And actually I'm really happy and proud of myself for getting to that point. Now it's just a matter of always sticking with it and always remembering all the work it took for me to get there.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Two Brothers Music .

One of the first few days I was on my trip, I asked my brother to write me something musically that I could rap to. Let me preface the rest of the post with the fact that he is extremely talented when it comes to producing music. This kid has music running in his veins. He can pick out stuff on the piano, and flesh it out with full chords and runs and everything else. I don't know how he does it, and I'm a pretty musical person myself. He just really has a knack for it.

Anyways, I got back tonight and he showed me some stuff that he'd been working on. By this point, it's been a few days and it's certainly not like he's been working on this nonstop for the past couple of days -- it's incredible. Absolutely fucking DOPE. I realized that him and I have so much potential musically just in that one moment I was sitting there listening to what he had put together. Maybe I'll have to put together some money and get him some producing stuff for a gift sometime... he's honestly that good.

We've done some stuff together musically before and it came out really good. Whether he's playing sax, guitar, piano, or producing it all digitally, he is a true champ. And the best thing is that no matter what happens or where I go, we can always work on stuff and email it back and forth all the time. And that is just freaking awesome. Can't wait to set up my makeshift vocal booth and start some recording... Maybe in the future he and I will make a great team (not that we don't already): me writing the words and rapping, him producing the music! Stoked.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

on Coincidences .

Sometimes, things happen in just the right way that it just absolutely blows your mind. Coincidence? Maybe. A few weeks ago I just happened to have this one Twitter account pop up related to architecture, after I just happened to start spending more time on my architecture Twitter account. I happened to email a guy about maybe potentially working for / with him this summer. He works alone and didn't really have any open positions, but there happened to be an AIA function going on in his district that he just happened to invite me to that just happened to be that very week that I emailed him. He figured that at the very least that I would be able to gain some valuable contacts and maybe snag an interview. At the function I just happened to run into a guy named Richard, who happened to look at me and figure that I was a student, who happened to be looking for people to hire for the summer at the firm where he works. He happened to tell me to come in the next day for an interview, and I happened to have my résumé and portfolio all ready to go. I went up, interviewed, and this week, got a job offer. Is that a ridiculous number of coincidences or what? There is something special going on here. Whatever is at work, it's pretty awesome, and I'm eternally grateful.

As it turns out, I can't take the job because with the commute and the fact that they can't even match the current pay I'm getting, I just can't afford it. But man I would love the experience. However I know that not all hope is lost. As I've told my parents and other people, if I can just get myself in somewhere for an interview, I can get a job. All I need is to be given a chance. If there are any architects out there or if there is anyone that stumbles upon some opportunities or architects to connect with, definitely please let me know!

Completely unrelated to architecture, I'm up in Vermont this week on vacation. I'm playing some golf courses, enjoying good food, and creating some memories with my dad. We've been doing a golf trip for almost the past four years now; we missed a year in there somewhere, but we do try to do one when we can, and while I still have the work flexibility to do so. Yesterday we changed our tee time five different times (or I should say, my dad did... ridiculousness) to try to escape the rain. Eventually we just decided to go out at 1:30pm and hope for the best.

It rained for about the first three holes, and then was just cloudy, and by the end it was virtually sunny. It truly turned into a gorgeous day. Amazing how that really works out sometimes. I can't help but think that there was someone up there watching out for us... making sure that the clouds cleared for a few hours during the day so that we can build some memories.

That's all I've got for now, but I will definitely plan on writing a little more about Vermont and what it's like up here. It's a beautiful part of the country, just as much if not more so than I remember from the last time I visited.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Just Life .

No make up.
No hidden scars.
No break ups.
No broken hearts.
No lying, cheating, or stealing,
just living life and healing.
No confusion, no hot and cold,
no fighting until we grow old.
No arguing through the night,
just dancing and enjoying life.
No blank stares inside,
just seeing fire in your eyes.
Take a cold heart of stone,
open it in secret, alone;
feed it love and watch it grow,
life happens now, so here we go!
No repeat problems, don't try to avoid and dodge them,
talk it out, laugh about, and never cease to be a gentleman.
Never wanted complications.
Never needed innovations.
Just some well-deserved conversations,
without any implications.
Sitting on the beach tonight,
feet wet with sand, in the moonlight,
if we do this now let's do it right,
Drive safe as you head home tonight.

God's Country .

In our busy lives it is far too often that we forget to 'stop and smell the roses.' Despite the cliché, it really is true. The daily rat-race to New York City, job schedules and daily workout routines, time spent with friends and rushed meals, who has time to go on leisurely walks or lay on the grass and turn clouds into creatures? Yet today driving on the highway, when you've been on the road for hours you can't help but notice the beauty in some areas.

Did you know that Vermont has some sort of ordinance that forbids billboards from being put up in the entire state? I feel like Vermont has a real similar feel to Oregon. Coming from suburban, overpopulated Jersey, all of a sudden you're on highway roads that take you through forests, mountains and the middle of nowhere towns. A random house here or there, a bridge and river create this magical woodlands oasis; who knew those even existed anymore?

As the sun set behind the mountains, the cloud cover softly rolled in and all you could see was the blurry waves of light from small towns and hotel signs in the distance. Out here, what you see is what you get -- pure natural beauty. No neon signs, no billboards, no airplane lights. You are out here with nature, more or less alone.

My mind takes me back to when I started reading "Walden" by Henry David Thoreau. While many might take one look at the verbiage in the book and bag it, I decided I wanted to try it -- of my own volition. That's right, I didn't even have to read it for school. I got through about half but the summer waned too quickly and soon I found myself with school around the corner. I returned it back to the library and haven't been back to it in almost a year but maybe it's time to pick it up again. Thoreau was on to something, something about having this own outdoor oasis where you can be you and no one else is privy to the things you discover about yourself.

There's something really special and really comforting about that. That as you discover things about yourself, you can either tell the world -- or hold it secret, locked up in your heart.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Car Mods .

Lately I've been on this trip to make some modifications to my truck. Whether it's paint or accessories or replacements, I've spent a lot of time doing research to figure out what I wanted that is within my budget. Recently the boxes have been coming in and so when I can, I go out and do some work on the truck.

First thing I started with was my horn -- the stock one is more an "excuse me, I'm coming through..." and I was really looking for more of a "GET THE F*** OUT OF MY WAY" sound, if you catch my drift. I ended up buying a two-tone air horn from Wolo, which not only gave my horn the sound of a semi truck, but also cranked up the volume from about 90 dB to around 125. The horns were intended to be mounted on the roof, but I decided I wanted them in the grille, and so thankfully my dad was around to help me figure out how the heck to do that (it wasn't exactly easy, took us four long nights of work to get it all squared away). However, now the compressor is mounted, horns solid, wiring clean, and I'm loud as ever. Just today I spray painted my grille black while it was off the car, and also put in some new interior lights.

More stuff is on the way, but the point I'm working towards here is that this sort of thing is a big accomplishment for me. While I know quite a bit about handyman operations around the house, I'm certainly no grease-monkey. As much as I'd love to be a mechanical expert and always do all my own work on my truck and whatever else, I'm just not good at that stuff. I am making an effort though and it's so awesome when you get all the wires squared away and turn the car on and stuff works! Needless to say there will almost certainly be times when you turn everything on and nothing works the way you want it to, which basically turns into you testing every wiring connection for hours.

In this case, I actually did all my interior lighting work in about two or three hours, which for me, is huge. I'm really enjoying the work on the car and look forward to more! It's really going from an Xterra in a sea of many, to my own personal little work of art.

How bout you guys, any grease monkeys out there?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Doors .

No matter what happens, or how you may think your life is progressing, you must always remember that there will always be doors. Doors are generally opportunities, but sometimes they can be people or places that will enrich your life like you had never dreamed.

I'm a strong believer in the idea that there is a plan for each person out in the world. Each person has their own plan, and they are allowed to diverge from this plan, but only to learn and grow. After all, the planner knows what plan will be best for plan-ee (is plan-ee even a word?). Just keep trying. Keep calling places or people, give them your attention and make your desires known. Sooner or later something has to yield and the tides will turn in your favor when you stretch your sails. But most importantly? I think that just like dating, the best opportunities aren't the ones you're looking for -- but rather the ones you aren't.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Stairs v. Elevators .

When my dad used to work in an actual building instead of telecommuting from home, he used to always talk about how he would walk up and down the stairs for the four floors to his office. Though it probably didn't do too much for him in the way of exercise, it probably at least kept him on his toes a bit.

Yesterday, I watched an episode of The Office where the whole office is in a competition with the other Dunder Mifflin branches to lose the most weight, the prize being five days paid vacation (I have been working my way through all the seasons of The Office; and I've already seen 1, 2 and 3 so I'm currently in the 4th).

One funny part was when Stanley pretended he forgot something in his car, but as it turned out he actually just taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

I've always been a stairs person. I hate waiting around for the elevator. However when I started working my current job four years ago, I started waiting for the elevator. This year, I decided to make a change. Every once in awhile, my legs are just too gassed to bother with the stairs, but for the most part, I'm up and down multiple flights easily a good twenty times a day (sometimes more).

Elevators can definitely help. I mean, how else would you get to the top of  the Empire State Building, or Willis Tower in Chicago, or the Eiffel Tower?! But some of those sweet monuments still make you work for the view. I'm pretty sure you can't climb on the Great Pyramids of Giza, but if you could, I doubt there's an elevator to the top (someone correct me if I'm wrong). One of my most vivid childhood memories includes going to the Statue of Liberty, and walking up the narrow, steep stairs to get to the top, looking out the windows in the crown. By that point the torch was closed off to the public, but you get the idea.

In the sport of rock climbing, or climbing in general, whether it's walking up a dirt path or up the ice wall of a glacier, there is always that huge sense of achievement, success at the top. It can even be something as simple as climbing a tree and planting your mark at the top, whether that be in the form of a carving or flag or some other doodad. There is nothing sweeter than hiking up a mountain, getting a wonderful view, and seeing a big sign that says, "Summit: XXXX Meters". I wish I had the picture of my siblings and I are climbing a 6000 foot mountain in the Canadian Rockies. We were exhausted but thrilled, and rewarded with a beautiful view of Angel Glacier.

Stairs are the world's man-made mountains. There is a sense of achievement at the top, especially if there's a lot of flights. The "stair high" exists so much so that they even created that gym machine where you can just climb flights of stairs forever. Sure, it sucks doing it, but your legs get the best burn. Athletes often do bleacher stairs in their stadiums (I know my high school football and lacrosse team did them all the time).

Are you a stair person or an elevator person? Too torn between the two? Can't decide? Okay then, screw stairs and elevators. That's why there's escalators, you middle-of-the-road person, you!

Finding a Title .

When I start my posts, I usually start with an idea. It is just one thing that may have touched me throughout the day, a thought that went through my head, a quote, or a simple event during the day. But just because you have one thought doesn't mean that you can write an entire post about it. I guess what usually happens is that one little piece kickstarts the rest of the post. It will wander and go places that I never intended to, but that's totally okay.

My boss often talks about writing books this way. I'll ask how the writing is going and how the story is going and he'll say he's not sure what's going to happen next. In the most simplistic way, basically he puts the characters in a situation and just lets them react. As long as you know your characters beyond slight acquaintance, you'll know what they would do in the situation.

However one of the hardest things I find about blogging is putting a title up there. Sometimes I don't know what to write. Sometimes I want to just leave it blank. Often is I'll mold the idea that I had into some semblance of a title, that supposedly explains in a phrase what the entirety of the post is about. But how is it even possible to condense an entire lengthy post into a few words? With the utmost concise clarity is probably a viable answer.

I do think that the important thing to remember here is that the title does not have to fully dictate what you are writing about. It's your blog and your words, and if it wanders off the beaten path a bit before coming back to the beginning, so be it. In fact the deviations from said path are often the most interesting part because they are the sidenotes, footnotes, and added thoughts by the person writing. They are the pieces that the person will chuckle to him or herself while writing. Or something that popped into their mind that they wanted to share.

Of course, if you run a blog that is centered around a specific topic, you sort of have to stay within some boundaries, and maybe even all the stuff I just wrote down is all null and void.

At the end of the day it all comes down to your style. You gotta do you, and some people start with a title, some people find it halfway through, and some still struggle to find it at the very end (fun fact: the same thing happens when you're writing songs!). So what's your style? How do you write? Feel free to share in the comments.

Reflection: From Blog Posts to Books .

Lately I have been working on putting my blog posts into a hard copy book. Each six months, I make a new book, and the hope is that eventually, at the end of all things I will have an entire volume of my life. It will sort of be like an encyclopedia collection, albeit hopefully a touch more interesting.

I don't spend too much time editing, but even so it takes a long time. Copy and paste every single post from the internet to the MS word document I'm using. I have to only use the Firefox browser, because it copies text a certain way. I need to adjust spacing, and include post breaks (usually just a * * * sandwiched vertically by blank spaces). And somehow the spacing always gets totally screwed up. Certain words will go from legible text to those random boxed wing ding characters, and I have to search for those. Ideally I would reread through all my posts to correct grammatical , spelling and contextual errors, non-sequiturs and confusing parts. Because as I'm sure many of you know, Blogger neglects to correct spelling as you type. Thankfully my Macbook Pro usually does correct spelling no matter where you're typing or what application you are in, but regardless it sometimes even changes stuff to a word you don't want.

In the essence of saving myself time in the long run, I've begun to type my posts a little bit slower. My fingers have a tendency to like to really fly across the keyboard, mishitting all kinds of keys like a toddler trying to play Chopin on the piano. My hope is that taking a little bit of extra time on each post will save me a lot of editing time later down the road.

The author I currently work for bought me a book a few months ago called "APE", co-authored by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch. It's all about self-publishing a book, digitally, from start to finish. I knew some extremely basic ideas about the publishing process just from talking with my boss, but I realized after reading the book that what I really knew was practically nothing. There is so much more than typing words on a page, designing a cover and printing it.

Because of the sort of work I do for the author (Carl T. Smith if you have any interest in looking him up) I focused mainly on the entrepreneurial section, which revolved around marketing techniques and other similar topics. That alone blew my mind. In a sea of social media options, automated application supplements, and 6 billion people in the world, it just isn't easy to pick which platforms you want to use, because Lord knows you cannot use and manage and be active on them all. I only work one, maybe two hours a day and I rarely even get to log into all the things that we run, between Twitter and Facebook, Author's Den, Goodreads and more.

Basically what I'm getting at here is that putting a book together takes so much time. Don't get me wrong it's totally awesome to have my words printed on the page, and while I fully expect this website to be here and hold my info, it's really nice having a hard copy of it. It's cool to even see a bar code on the back cover, with a blurb that I wrote myself about that particular six months worth of time, and even an ISBN number assigned by Lulu, the online publisher I use.

I'm sure that there are errors all over the place in the book. But in the end, the main point gets across. However as of recently, while I've been copying over my posts from early 2013 to a word document, I noticed that a lot of my posts have been really short. It made me start to wonder if maybe trying to blog everyday can be detrimental. That maybe what should yield a nice stream-of-consciousness flow in fact results in an obstructed thought process. I do really like writing everyday. And sometimes I just don't have time and so I write multiple posts later on to "catch up." I don't mind doing that in the least. But if I do write, I want to have the time to make it worthwhile. To really be able to get a little bit lost in my thoughts and explore all that I'm writing about. Granted sometimes I don't have that luxury. But when the majority of posts I see from myself seem abrupt and cut off, as if almost unfinished business, it seems as though I can do better. And so in the coming weeks, I'm going to attempt to let my thoughts seep through my mind to my fingers as water through a tea bag -- letting out all those tantalizing literary flavors, while filtering out the nonsense.

I hope you've enjoyed the journey so far, as I know I sure have. Everyone is busy, everyone has an ongoing list of things to do, places to go, and people to meet. Sometimes you get behind, sometimes you need to regroup, sometimes you need to focus in and sometimes you need to step back and look at the big picture and adjust your focus (to use a huge photography metaphor...). But what can you do? That's Simply, Life.

Monday, June 10, 2013

a "Sacred Choice" v. "Shameful Status"

I check this site called "Waiting Till Marriage" mildly often in my web travels. More often than not I click on an article that the site tweets, as those are the titles of things that often pique my curiosity. It's not like I avidly seek out everything there is to offer. For those of you who aren't familiar with WTM, it's basically a support site. There are stories, columns of advice, links to articles and more regarding the ever less-popular decision to wait to have sex until marriage. This has always been my belief; sometimes you are ridiculed and sometimes you are exalted for the choice to wait, but at the end of the day it's got to mean something to you and it has to be something that you truly believe in, not just for the sake of morality or because it's what your parents might want; it has to be something that you want.

Sex is in the forefront of everything, everywhere. It is an attention grabber that we, as a society, just can't get enough of. And I totally get it. It's intriguing, and mysterious, and everyone's experiences are different and no one wants to feel like they're being left out of something that many hold in such high regard. But why such the drastic polar opposites? How can one person call it a "sacred choice" and the other a "shameful status"?

Virginity, for me, is something to be celebrated. It is one of the few things I've really stuck to my guns about, and really held on to as tight as I possibly can. The reason I save it is because I only want to give it to one person, and if and when I do, I can say that I truly gave that person everything I had in me to give.

Society, with all its interest in sex, generally seems to disregard those who choose to wait, calling them "old-fashioned" or stuck up. But I think it's important to realize that people who wait are not trying to hold it over your head. If you're not a waiter, that's your personal choice. I'm not trying to come off like I think I'm better than anybody who doesn't want to wait; I just feel very strongly about it and maybe sometimes that's the connoted tone.

In a world where sex sells and especially being in my early twenties with sexual imagery and triggers all around me, it's not easy. If I'm honest with myself it really never has been. It is so inspiring to even have a community online where everyone supports each other for their personal choices, and it's cool even to see those who do not escape the limelight to voice their opinions and decisions without shame or hesitation. Honestly, what's to be ashamed of? It's a question I have never been able to answer.

Maybe it's just an expectation. A feeling of acceptance of those who embrace infidelity with their boyfriends and girlfriends, husbands and wives. They get a slap on the wrist, but unless you're the one getting hurt, or you're publicly humiliated, I guess many people don't think it's a big deal. (Sidenote: I can't stand this and believe me, am wholeheartedly against it...)

So what is the label on virginity? Sacred choice? Shameful status? I think it is what it is. Embrace it, or don't. Save it, or don't. But whatever you do, don't regret what you do with it -- because once you give it up you don't get it back.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

on Reconnecting .

There are times in life when you just lose touch with people. But the best feeling in the world is being able to reconnect with them. Being able to go out and grab a bite to eat, and completely lose track of time. Here I am sitting here at midnight, after a short dinner turned into a 6 hour conversation that covered everything under the sun.

I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to bring this person back into my life after not seeing them for four years, and I am so glad I took the chance of asking to get together! Friendship is such a wonderful thing and definitely not something to be taken lightly.

If you've lost touch with someone who means a lot to you, take a moment to get in touch with them today! It may just change your life.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Morning Inspiration .

Since I've been waking up at 5am most mornings nowadays, I've taken a little bit of extra time to really just ease my way into the day a bit. This usually includes checking email, the weather, and catching up on all the wonderful blogs that you guys write. It's a nice way to start the day for sure, and I savor that time before I head into work.

This morning, as I began to peruse my email, I found something that hit me, from one of my daily Bible verse services. I tweeted it and it even ended up getting some favorites. Anyways, the verse for the day was Proverbs 19:21 - Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.

I feel like there is constant battle between those who believe that their fates are designed entirely for them, and those that believe that they have the freedom of their own choice for the entire life. Being the religious guy I am, I think that there is a plan for me that is much bigger than those plans or goals that I set for myself.

Faith is not so much about blindly following, I don't think. I think rather it is a choice -- to believe that you are being watched over and watched out for, to trust that no matter what happens that in the end you will be in the best place possible for you, to trust that you will never be entrusted with some challenge that you cannot overcome. No doubt, there are stops along the way that will royally suck. No doubt there will be things that you're not sure how you will get through (been there, done that). But in the end, I think that I'll be able to look back on life with a smile, knowing that I was so blessed and led to the right things in life.

I believe that God doesn't force you down paths. I think that He guides you. He puts opportunity in front of you -- but it's up to you to take the initiative to seize those opportunities. It's not always obvious, but that's part of the reason for prayer. Prayer and regular mass attendance is not about obligation, but rather about an avenue through which you can build a spiritual relationship, and have a sort of communication with God. Once you can communicate, you can understand the directions you are being pointed in.

Just as with anything, sometimes the communication can get muffled. Sometimes you don't hear it clearly. And sometimes you do, and just don't understand it. But you have to trust that even if it doesn't make sense at the time, it will later on. It takes a lot to get to that point where you can have that sort of trust, especially when a lot of people you come across in your life may prove that trust is not the answer, and that you maybe should automatically distrust others. I don't like living like that though. It's just doesn't seem healthy.

Just like any other recent college grad, I have goals and dreams, future plans, desires, things I want to spend money on, skills I want to better and practice more regularly, places I want to visit, and career aspirations. But with all of the grab bag of little hobbies I have, I know that I'll have a guiding hand to push me in those directions which will truly enrich my life and allow me to live life to the fullest. I just have to remind myself to carry that trust with me always and through anything.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

on Drumming .

When I first got my drum set, never would I have expected that years down the road I would be so into it. Because of how big it is and how many pieces there are, I've never been able to bring my drums with me to school. Even if I could have and did, I still would have driven everyone within 3 floors of me nuts... unless I had an electric set (which seems to be the solution for many people who live in apartments these days).

Now here I am, drumming almost daily, learning songs, teaching myself more tricks, building up an endurance and finesse (not to mention callouses), and I am probably better now than ever. As it turns out, I auditioned for a band a while back, and they seemed to really like my playing and what I could do, and so we're now practicing the song set and preparing for some gigs.

Though I have always thought it would be awesome to be a part of a band, I never had the opportunity to actually play in a band that was actually serious about stuff. I messed around with some guys, I've recorded my own stuff (not drums though, really ever. I don't have the mics for it) and I've dabbled every so often in the basement. I now find myself listening to drums more than anything else when I listen to music, and envision how I would go about playing it on my own kit.

Though I don't plan on dropping a lot of cash on new gear just yet, I'm already excited about adding some small new additions to enhance what I can do, given the songs we are practicing. I'll try to keep people posted on gigs.

On a quick side note before I sign off tonight, I have been contacted by a few of the people I wrote recognition posts for. The messages contain utter grace, thankfulness etc. It's so great that you can make people feel so good, and so worth it with just a few words. What a difference it makes! I'm so glad I wrote that down, and even more thankful that those people found their way to those posts. Thank me all you want, but honestly, thank you for being the people that you are!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

on Photography .

Ever since I got to the end of my recognition series, I've been thinking about things I want to write about. I often have a lot of ideas that pass through as I go through my day, and usually I write these down but today I just forgot. My mind wandered and my thoughts scattered themselves, as if acorns in leaves, and I just drew blanks as I looked at the draft I was trying to finish. And so what I normally do, is to just start writing. And just like that, boom: idea.

I think that pictures are amazing. Until photography, memories were all you had to treasure those parts of your life that were absolutely extraordinary. Even more amazing is the ability to absolutely freeze a moment in time. To keep it there, in its perfection, save for the aging effect that happens as the white paper turns to yellow and image loses its vivid hues. The thing I love most is how you not only capture a scene, a person or a view. You capture emotion. You capture feelings. You capture a forlorn look in your subject's eye, or carefree laughter. You can see joy, compassion, understanding and love. You can see trust. You can see hurt. How is it that a frozen a moment, a fleeting instance in time, can hold so much? Is a picture really worth a thousand words? Absolutely not. It's worth hundreds of thousands.

But was the art of imagery-enriched writing lost with the advent of cameras? Perhaps not. After all, before cameras you could have yourself put into a painting. Albeit more expensive and much more time-consuming, painting maybe started the movement. And look, now here we are dropping thousands on new equipment, lenses and the like. Just like old times, eh?

Photography has and is still becoming an art - frame rates, lighting, it is a talent that involves capturing that which already exists, but is not noticed. And then bringing that focal point to life, pushing your viewers to see something a certain way. Though I am no expert on the field, so for those of you out there who are, perhaps you'd like to chime in now...

I don't consider myself a photographer. I don't own a DSLR or any other type of nice camera. In fact ever since my swan dived into the beach, I don't own any camera. It's one of those many things I dip my feet into. Architects are often described as being very mediocre at a seriously broad spectrum of things. They have an idea of structure, but can't do the math. They can draw, but they are not artistic perfectionists (just architectural perfectionists -____-). They can place things and organize program in a building, but they surely aren't interior designers either. And so here I am, already filling the mold before I'm even involved in my field. Wanting to do photography, music, a band, weightlifting, biking, blogging, writing letters and more (speaking of which... ahh, I'll mention it at the end). I'm quickly realizing you can't possibly fit it all in. Not in the way you want to. But I refuse to believe that and I still try.

Back to photography. If you do such a thing for a living, bravo to you. Your creative knowledge and expertise shines through in everything you post (seriously). Maybe it's because I'm so detail-oriented, but I find myself able to catch little nuances here and there. Not well, but occasionally, yes. I suppose at the end of the day, starting is as easy as picking up a camera and pressing the same little button located on the upper right corner. The flash illuminates, the shutter closes, and you've got yourself a jumping-off point.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

on Friendship .

There are few people I enjoy spending time with as much as my buddy Tom. Despite the 25+ year age difference, Tom exemplifies so many qualities that any role model should have. He has been blessed financially, but I have never seen anyone that is so generous with what they have. Examples...

Tom and I golf often together. We always go to the same place for beers and food afterwards, and Tom always refuses to let me pay. He won't even let me put the tip down. He always tells me that I'm in college, and to save my money for what I really need.

A few days ago, I was talking with him about how my dad offered to get me some new clubs for my graduation, either a few hybrids or a driver. He brought up how he had bought a new driver and 3 wood, and he said, if you want the 3 wood feel free. I graciously agreed, and said I should pay him something for it, and he declined before I even finished my sentence. "It would just sit in my closet," he said. Today, after the round we played, he taps me on the shoulder and hands me his old driver. "I don't need it anymore, it's yours," he said.

As we talked about life, relationships, money and other things, I realized how much of an amazing person Tom really is, and I notice it even more every time we talk. He's put away a humongous college fund for 4 or 5 kids already, who aren't even out of their toddler stages. He never lends family members money. Ever (Wait for it...). He says, if they need it, I just give it to them. If they want to pay me back they can but I'll never ask for it, it's theirs.

I'm sure every once in awhile he treats himself, and believe me when I say it's well-deserved. This guy deserves the world, and I hope that life has been all that he has dreamt it to be. Between a condo in Florida, trips overseas, time at home, and everything else in between, this guy deserves the world. I hope one day that I will find myself to be as generous and selfless as he.

It reminds me of my time when I didn't have a car at school. I'd always hitch rides, and friends would go out of their way to include me and keep me in the loop and cart me around, always delivering me back to my door at the end of the night. Once I got my own set of wheels, I made sure to always give friends rides when I could. What's a little more gas? It isn't and shouldn't be a big deal. There's no reason to be stingy. Can you imagine if everyone in the world was a little less selfish and a little more selfless?

Tom joked that if that were so, the world would be a lot poorer too. It's all in good fun, but honestly, he has changed my life for the better. He has always been there if I need to talk, bounces ideas back to me and listens to all I have to say... I just can't say enough good things about him.

The next time you reexamine yourself, think about your friends. Have you been there in the way that you'd want them to be there for you? How can you do better? Have you given yourself wholly to them? One day maybe I'll get there. But I'm young, and I'm still learning. Thankfully I've got time...

Monday, June 3, 2013

Recognition Series: pt. 24 - Tyler M

I didn't want to end this wonderful series on a gloomy note, so there is one last person I want to talk about. Though I haven't known this fellow for too long, he has been there through it all. He's one of the first people I think of to get in touch with if I'm struggling with something (after my brother), and he always has a very practical perspective that brings you back to reality from your blinded notions. Grounded, I guess is a good way to put it.

He has always opened his ears and his home to me. Whenever I'm upset, he'll listen to all the nonsense that I spew. He'll accompany me to church, even though he doesn't go himself. He is all the things that you look for in that perfect friend. Laid back, but hardworking. Pensive, introspective, yet aware of all that's happening around him. He's as close to being a brother as you can get without sharing blood.

Tyler is the only person that has adamantly told me that no matter what, he'll make it out to Oregon at some point to come visit me. The cool thing is, I know he's telling the truth. Some people will say stuff or promise things that they may not follow through on. But I have no doubt in my mind that I'll find myself driving to Portland Airport at some point over the next two years to get him as he walks off a plane.

This summer he has undertaken a research opportunity in Japan, and will be there for quite some time (I wanna say that the program is 8 weeks or so?). What a huge accomplishment and I'm really proud of him. It's people like him that make me wish I would come back and see off the class below me on their graduation day, but alas I will still be studying in Oregon (our school year doesn't end until the end of June).

Tyler will always be one of my best buddies, I have no doubt about that. I look forward to hearing from him often and reading his life's adventures on his blog, Inner Ramblings of a Fellow Human Being.

And with that said, the Recognition Series comes to a close. There are countless people who have touched me in various ways over the past four years, and some more than others, so I just gave you guys those who made the most impact. I've really enjoyed looking back on all the people over the years, and I maybe I'll do this again after I graduate from Oregon. It's a great way to remember for sure. Thank you as always for your attentive and vigilant returns back to my blog, and feel free to stick around for more!

Recognition Series: pt. 23 - Courtney B

I have struggled long on this one, debating whether or not I should bother writing anything down. Debating whether I should acknowledge something that involves so much hurt that is so recent. However, I know that despite the difficulty that still haunts me daily, that later in life I will appreciate having written it down now. And so I'll push through. After all, Courtney ended up being a pretty large part of my life for the better part of my senior year.

I guess what it really all comes down to is what I learned from the experience. Embrace the good times, struggle through the heartbreak, and just look at what I can and should take forward with me. I'd like to think that each day gets a little easier, and that each day I can allow myself to heal a little more. I'm still not sure if I'm confident in saying that, but that's what I try to convince myself.

It was amazing to have some to connect so easily to. Amazing to have someone you thought would never give up on you, and amazing to have someone struggle everyday with not being able to see you, but still send you the cutest texts, sweetest emails, and pictures. And at the end of the day, to call that person, and have them excited to tell you about their day, and to end the night with a smile on your face as you confidently tell the other that you love them with all your heart.

We only had the opportunity to see each other 3 times once the long distance started. Four days during Fall Break when she came and visited me, the couple of weeks I was home for Winter Break, and the week of Spring Break when I flew down to Florida and visited her. That time collectively was about a month -- and we dated for almost 8. I feel accomplished in that alone, for it's so hard to go 8 or 9 weeks without seeing someone you love. And even seeing them, you can't hug them, can't hold their hand, can't cuddle with them, can't kiss them or tell them face to face you love them. Relationship-wise, it is the hardest thing I have ever done. But I found myself treasuring every moment, and always bragging to everyone at school that even though I couldn't see her every day, that I had the best girlfriend in the world, that despite the odds that we were making it.

I guess in my mind we could have at least tried to make it work through the time I was at grad school. If at that point, it didn't, so be it. It wouldn't have been easy to be that far for two years, and I get that. It didn't help that the breakup occurred through email, and I came home from a bike ride to find that email sitting in my inbox when we were supposed to Skype as soon as I got back. That hurt just as much as the breakup in general, that someone didn't think I was worth it to even tell over the phone, or on Skype. Maybe it would have just been too hard, I don't know. But I would have had a lot more respect for her if she did it that way; it would have been the better way to go about it.

I've always wondered about what pushes people to the breaking point. When do you take your doubts and worries and decide that they will prevail over your heart? How to you rationalize it all to yourself? I guess at the end of the day we all have to be a little selfish and just know that sometimes we have to do things for ourselves that might end up hurting others. Being selfless is great, but we need to be happy too. At least I can take solace in the fact that I truly gave it my all. I tried to take everything to heart, to always be there even when I wasn't physically there, to do the cute things that showed I loved her. And I can get down on myself and tell myself it wasn't enough, or I can tell myself that there was nothing I could do, and that it's just her loss and move on. It's never that simple, but it's a start.

Dating Courtney was the best and worst possible thing in senior year that could have happened. It's never fun to have your heart put through a wood chipper and delivered back to you in pieces. But, you cannot know the strength of your faith until it has been tested. And so I persevere. My faith has been tested and I have to give myself up; I have to trust and believe that there is a much greater plan out there for me, and whether that includes a girl or not, I know that my life will be as fulfilling as it can be. A good friend told me recently that I was 'created to be loved.' I have never heard a greater compliment in my life. I think my heart will always yearn for another to share life with, to love unconditionally, and to give the world to. And I haven't found the right person yet, clearly. Who knows, maybe I never will. But I think the great part about life that you can always hope and you can always dream, and no one can ever take that away from you. Your heart is your own, and you can choose to give it to whoever you please, no matter who they are. And if things don't work out, you mourn, you recover, you learn, and you keep trying. The important thing is to never stop trying.

I'm sorry if this didn't make sense or whatever. It wasn't easy to write. While I'm doing better, I do still struggle sometimes. Thanks for all the wonderful people who have been there.

Recognition Series: pt. 22 - Andrew M

Andrew was one of those people that I always knew but never got to really know until later in my college career. A quiet guy but a great designer, Andrew is a really stand up guy who I really respect. He was in my sophomore year studio for both semesters (I think) and really thrived despite the workload and high expectations. He also was known for always being able to finish his work without pulling all-nighters, which some of us still don't even have figured out...

This past year, Andrew and I took a few classes together and became quite close. We got in the habit of going to lunch together and chatting, a luxury that soon began to really look forward to all the time. Being able to take a break from your work and go and grab lunch and just talk about life and studio and everything in between is time well spent in my eyes.

Andrew did the long distance relationship thing, too, kinda. He dated a girl who went to school a few hours away, so never really had a chance to see his lady during the week. I've been there and that of course means sacrifices in your personal life and your work, to make things go smoothly. Mad respect for that too.

I'll be living with one of Andrew's good friends from studio (and one of my friends of course too) in Oregon and Andrew and I have joked about Skyping so that we can still have our lunches. I think that would actually be pretty cool, to be honest!

This month, Andrew will be getting married and this fall he'll be going to NC State for graduate school. I'm happy for him, and really hope that we'll be able to keep in touch. He is one of the most practical and down to earth people that I know. His soft personality and undying friendship will always mean a lot. Best of luck, buddy.

Recognition Series: pt. 21 - Erin C

Though Erin and I had been in studio together for a year already by the end of sophomore year, we never really became good friends until the Spring semester of junior year, when we sat across from each other. That semester we ended up having very similar if not identical schedules, and we got along so well that we actually planned to take classes together from then on.

We would wait for each other in studio to walk to class with and discuss life on the way, from grad school to studio woes to everything else. We'd sit together and make jokes about the material, competing with scores and me poking fun at how she'd still always be working on her architecture projects in other classes.

During Junior year we worked on a project together to redo the entirety of the campus planning proposition that Clemson University had put together, and in my opinion this is one of the best projects I've ever been a part of. Our presentation was extremely successful and very well-received, and kickstarted me into another of my best projects when we each designed a different building from our overall plan (the second project of the semester).

Erin is a genuinely nice person, and quiet until you get to know her (and even then she's sort of still quiet). She laughs easily and works hard and loves doing those crafty projects around the house. I'm so happy for her that she has found the man of her dreams (she got married the summer after our sophomore year) and that she even added a couple of pets to the family.

As far as I know, I think she's moving to Charlotte and trying to find a job there. Regardless of where she goes or what she does, though, she'll be a success. She has this innate ability to just pursue things with fervor and vigilance, and follows them through to the end. I'm not sure how much we'll really be able to keep in touch, but I'll miss the silly little emails with class notes and reading materials, or the architecture jokes or whatever else there was. Sometimes, at the end of the day, it's just great to have a friend around.

Recognition Series: pt. 20 - Emily S

Emily and I first met in studio I think, but we also were part of a group that went to church together. There were four of us in all (I think I mentioned them before) and we went every Sunday before going to brunch. Over the course of sophomore year, Emily was also in my studio section and I think just having all of Dave's projects to struggle through brought the entire studio together, in addition to Emily and I.

I remember asking to take her out for dinner at Olive Garden, and we got all dressed up for it and stuff. It was really fun! Though I can remember being very nervous. Not only for the usual reasons, but also because my roommate lent me his car (which blew my mind and still does). His stick-shift Civic survived, thankfully. He was so nonchalant about it, too. He basically shrugged and said, "If I was taking a girl out I'd want to be able to pick her up."

Olive Garden was a blast and we continued to spend lots of time together, whether it was working in studio, or meals at dining halls, or savoring those few free minutes of time we managed to carve out of our busy schedules. I remember being so happy just to have someone special around to share my time with.

As we neared the end of the Spring semester, I really wanted to make things official. However, we were both going to be studying abroad over the next year; her in Barcelona in the Spring, and I in Barcelona in the fall. Tack that time onto the summer, and we were looking at a good year and a half apart before we even saw each other. I brought the idea up anyway, and she smartly and calmly pointed out how hard it would be.

We left things be at the end of the school year, saying that if our feelings were still there when we got back from our trips, we could definitely still pursue them at that time.

As it turned out, they weren't the same as when we left, but I think that was to be expected. She's still a really cool girl (one of the few you could go longboarding, snowboarding or waterskiing with), and had such a cheerful and bubbly personality. There will always be a special place in my heart for her, and I wish her the best in the future.
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