Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Let's See How Far We've Come 2015: The Year in Review

I did this two years ago, and missed last year because my computer was consistently on the fritz, but that makes no difference. 

For a year where so much happened, I posted the least amount of things (this makes 19) that I have ever posted in a year. It's a paradox really: when you do so much, you have less time to document what you've done, and so on your blog it looks like you did nothing. But as usual I digress. 

I did write a Christmas letter this year, and if you're interested, here's a link to it. My problem with it is its brevity. I needed to write it to fit on a singular piece of paper in 11 point Georgia which limits a year to a mere five or six paragraphs. So here I expand my narrative. Sorry about the rest of my family, but this is my blog... Let's do this! Sorry in advance for how frickin long this is going to be.

January brought my Eagle Court of Honor, along with the Carnegie Talent Show. I don't have anything else on my calendar, and honestly don't have my Eagle COH on the calendar, so that shows you how my state of mind was at that time. I did my job shadow at KDKA. I was also working for The Cougar Times at that point prepping the January issue.

February brought my venture to Dormont for the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I didn't give an annual Valentine's Day message (thank goodness. If memory serves me right, my then-girlfriend and I split that day anyways so....). I was in the midst of Senior Madness, which is what I'll call the first five months of the year. 

In March I bought an album (Hozier's self titled album which is still fantastic). I also went to a SHASDA dinner where we talked about the future of education. I was named to Trib Total Media's Top 50 Outstanding Youth Citizen list. Which is cool, but didn't come with a journalism job offer so... 

April brought with it my 18th birthday, as well as the Trib Total Media Top 50 OYC banquet. I went to the They Might Be Giants concert with Clay, and attended High School Musical the next day at Carlynton having sufficiently blown my eardrums out. I was also on the radio as a part of WESA's Life of Learning Education panel. And Troop 831's last ever Court of Honor

May brought a whole lot of school-related nonsense. I took my AP tests, and I went to Washington DC with the band. I also went to prom with some friends. And that was all fun. That whole whirlwind was reflected upon in a blog post linked below under "graduated form high school".

In June I graduated from high school. I also got my diploma. Along with it, I was awarded a $5,000 scholarship from Carlynton, which was pretty freaking awesome. I also began my journey at Point Park by attending the Pioneer Experience thingy.  I had my graduation party, and a lot of other stuff happened.

In July the world kinda stopped. I dropped off the face of the earth, and for a while was employed by GetGo. I'm not going to talk about that.

August began my new life. I went to the greatest city, Chicago, with my Aunt and mother. I had my wisdom teeth taken out, and a week later I moved into my new home in Thayer Hall with my fourth floor family. Later that month I started school, and was quite great!

There's a lot of stuff that happened in September. I started writing for the Globe, started a radio show on WPPJ, was elected to the United Student Government, and started working for the Post-Gazette. I also ended up emceeing the Carlynton Festival of Bands. Which was kinda great to get back in touch with my alma mater. There's no easy way to link blog posts, so here's the September archive:

October continued September's new adventures. I kept working for the PG, and was hired on as an assistant news editor for the Globe. On Halloween I invited my floor to my house for a campfire and passing out candy and such. 

November was more of the September-October Blur. I broke momentarily for Thanksgiving, was a part of Rock-A-Thon for WPPJ, and attended the Eagle Scout Recognition Banquet, as well as spoke at it. 

In December I finished my first semester of college ever. And I reflected a bit on that. I also began Christmas Break after helping participate in a 24 hour film festival with some friends. Here's what I'll say about my fourth floor family, and I already wrote it once: 
Besides that, I'm going to live in Carnegie [again] for a little under a month. While I'm excited to see my family again, I will greatly miss my extended family - those 22 goofballs I live with on this floor - and I'm also aware my family all work during the day, so perhaps I'll start writing a novel or something. I don't need a pastime, but I do need to learn how to take a break because since August 24 I've been running at a consistent 100 miles an hour and now I have no more highways to speed on, I'm relegated to back roads for a while.
So with that, I'm easing my way into 2016. Since August I've been going a hundred miles an hour, and during the break I eased it to about 65. Still not technically legal on a highway, but entirely okay considering where I was. 

Here's to a 2016 just as full of adventures, and just as much insanity. Why post today and not tomorrow? Tomorrow I'm going on a hike and possibly attending a NYE party with my high school friends. We'll see. I just had the time now before my shift at the PG. 

That Time I Served on an Eagle Board of Review: A Life Update

I last posted here 20 days ago, which at one time would be unacceptable, but nowadays life moves too fast for me to guarantee anything.

I've been thinking a lot about the past recently. Let me make one thing entirely clear: I don't want to relive, I just want to acknowledge. Anyways, I've been looking over the past year's worth of blog posts because this is the time of year where I write the Christmas, and I will make my annual "Let's See How Far We've Come" post later today, but as for now I want to evaluate where I am.

Two weeks ago I served on an Eagle Board of Review. To be entirely fair, I have never once served on a Board, and the last time I was at an Eagle Board was, well, my own almost a year prior. This was the last Board for Troop 831 because we couldn't recharter for 2016 with none members. I was asked because, as usual, this was a down-to-the-wire during-the-week case. They needed manpower that didn't have work on a Tuesday. But the symbolic thing in all this was that it was indeed that last board of review. And so everyone who was asked (and then some) appeared.

The maximum number of adult registered leaders who can appear on a board is six. Mike had six. They were Mr. Y (my mentor, and the man I credit with me becoming a more confident human being than I thought possible), Mr. Ellenberger (the district advancement chair commissioner dude, also an Eagle), me (you know me), my dad (you should know my dad), Mr. Fenton (a family friend of Mike's who knows him outside of scouts), and a personal favorite, Jake Urbanek. If you've followed my life for a long time, you know about Jake. Officially he's the camp director at Seph Mack in Indiana, he's also a junior at Cal U. Personally, he's been one of my best scouting friends and a huge influence on me taking on leadership roles and advancing full on to Eagle. We've been great friends ever since the April 2009 NYC adventure.

We realized a few things in us discovering we were both on the board: we were there for Mike's start in Boy Scouting (which was the NYC trip) and we signed off on his end. We were, progressively with the exception of Jake Seanor between Mike and I, the last three SPLs of Troop 831.

There was a lot of symbolism in that room: three Eagle Scouts, the old guard and the final guard of Troop 831, and we ended the troop with the pinnacle of scouting - seeing our last youth member make Eagle.

It felt hollow, our last Court of Honor. People shared their memories from a bygone era and mourned the lost of that which they left. I'm sorry I don't know the troop 831 of the 90s or 2000s, and that I barely recognize anyone that showed up. Here's my sidebar: yes it was a magical reunion of yore, but it was the mourning of something completely preventable. They mourned their memories of 831, not the 831 that held that court of honor. As the scouts from years past walked up to speak about their memories or advice or whatever, each one of them recounted memories and punctuated their speeches with a near-condemnation of the current administration for ending it. Here's the deal: we had 4 scouts legally and on the books. I saw this coming back when I was SPL: we lost our feeder pack because the cubmaster pulled the jenga blocks and while that's an excuse it isn't a good one. In 2010 and 2012 we needed to look at recruitment, not sustainability. Because without the first one, the second was and proved to be impossible. We reached out nowhere, and this grand network of alumni remained silent and detached until April 26th. That's the reality. It wasn't overnight, people just didn't join. And those of us that were there aged out.

So it's over. Well, the troop is at least. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but I do know this much: we will go on. Jake, Mike, and possibly some other 831 alums plan on taking an alumni reunion hike in Settlers' Cabin tomorrow. Who knows where we go from there.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

We Were Dreamers Not So Long Ago

I have officially completed everything for my first semester of college, which is pretty insane. Unlike high school, the break surrounding Christmas in college separates semesters, which by hours is roughly equivalent to a year of high school, and in several ways it's just as exhausting. But at the same time, perspective must be maintained.

The reason people say college goes by so blindingly fast is that it truly does, but it also doesn't take as long as high school did, for the most part. Actually living and working in the same place on the same projects makes things go faster, and frankly boosts your productivity.

But now I find myself at yet another 'in between' place. I'm in between semesters, and by credits in between years, I'm just in between several things, but no real one place, you know?

For years I've avoided completing things like the plague because I was fearful of what would happen upon its completion. That fear stems from a spectrum of everything from lackluster final projects to the downright laziness of not wanting to start something new to a downright creative block. At the completion of high school, I had exactly this: nothing much to do, no real places to focus my efforts, and I'm desperately trying to avoid that same feeling of nothingness and (not necessarily counter-productiveness but like) un-productivity. So I've signed up for more shifts at the Post-Gazette, and I've made several lists of things to accomplish over the break. I'm also going to send Christmas cards because I'm a little old man.

If I'm bored enough they'll all be typewritten.

Besides that, I'm going to live in Carnegie for a little under a month. While I'm excited to see my family again, I will greatly miss my extended family - those 22 goofballs I live with on this floor - and I'm also aware my family all work during the day, so perhaps I'll start writing a novel or something. I don't need a pastime, but I do need to learn how to take a break because since August 24 I've been running at a consistent 100 miles an hour and now I have no more highways to speed on, I'm relegated to back roads for a while.

So you'll probably see more of me here as I ramble about different things. We'll see. So we beat on.