Wednesday, June 14, 2017

I've come to look for America...

I feel like the Simon and Garfunkel song they're currently using in Volkswagen commercials fits my bizarre mood at the moment - it reminds me of a wanderlust and paranoia that I don't actually possess but kind of want. Well, more the wanderlust than the paranoia but I digress.

It's been a while since I last wrote here. I've tried a few times to take a crack at writing again, and while journalistically I've been fairly successful, the personal writing that I used to have a good groove at I've gotten decidedly, well, rusty. So here's hoping that draft number 5 sticks!

I count myself incredibly lucky. As much as I despise long stretches of active travelling (being on a physical plane, bus or train for 6+ hours), I do really love to travel. I've been able to do a lot of that recently. I've been to Washington, D.C. twice (for inauguration-related things), New York City twice (WPPJ and the Globe),  Detroit, Michigan (the Globe) and most recently, Manchester England. 

I've learned an awful lot about travel and myself these past few months. For one: I don't much mind living out of a suitcase at this juncture. 

Also, if I travel with a camera I take a lot of pictures. Hundreds. Only about 10% of these ever see the light of day, and travelling more has built a backlog of images, but nonetheless they exist for me to mess with as I see fit. 

I don't remember how I got into photography, but I do know that I've been getting progressively better and smarter with it. I prefer landscapes to people (which shouldn't surprise anyone who knows me well) and I prefer vivid color and depth to brightness. 

There's a fine line between documenting a trip and actually experiencing that trip. There is no way to non-intrusively document a trip. For the most recent trip to England, I attempted to do so by isolating my intense photography to two days and keeping a personal audio recorder with me to record little things like the tramlines and the behind-the-scenes of a radio show.

I should probably explain why I was in Manchester. I was in a group of eight Point Park students (3 animation students, 5 broadcast students and 2 equally displaced and confused professors) and went to study radio in the UK as well as seek a cultural exchange. It was a ten day trip most noted by the outside for day 8 when some soulless fellow decided to detonate a bomb outside an Ariana Grande concert. 

I've said my peace in the media swarm that followed, and I maintain that I personally don't add anything to this story. To me, my 10 day stint in Manchester was a wonderful cultural exchange where I met some amazing people - like Tom Hinkley who works with Shock Radio, or Samantha Potter who was on a two week intensive with the BBC, or Geoff McQueen, a fascinating lecturer from Scotland who served as our general guide throughout the Manchester Experience. 

I consider myself incredibly lucky: I've been afforded the opportunity to travel to some amazing places for minimal expense (DC both times, NYC the second time, and Detroit were completely paid for by the University). I'm now working a summer job with Forsythe Mini Golf as well as at an internship with 90.5 WESA, Pittsburgh's NPR News Station. 

And I'm not satisfied, or remotely comfortable. Which I consider a blessing. A wise man once challenged me to get out of my comfort zone. Never too far, but far enough that it's something new. In that case, it was camping with the scouts. Which led to a New York City trip 8 years ago. And I have kept moving forward since. 

I have this philosophy on life wherein if I'm comfortable either I'm not trying hard enough or there's something amazing about to happen. 

I consider myself lucky: I've created two radio shows, a television show, planned four floor events as a resident educator, and a 50th anniversary event for a newspaper that I have no business heading just yet but am anyway. 

I start getting super introspective during the summer, because for once things slow down a little. I've always had trouble properly relaxing, but I feel like I'm getting a little better with that.

I'm not sure where I'm going next, but frankly I welcome that unknown.