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2,000 Views in 40 Countries

WordPress.com prepared a 2012 annual report for my blog, thank you to everyone who has been viewing it!

Happy New Year!

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 3 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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The Five Stages of…the Job Search.

Let’s face it…searching for a job is awful. I’ve just arrived home from being an Aupair in Berlin for the past two months, and I am now back in Atlanta to face the “real world”. Speaking of which, I apologize for this post coming a bit spaced out from my previous one. I was without Internet where I was staying and the busiest I have ever been in my entire life. Those families aren’t joking when they say they need an extra hand around the house (and this family even had two Aupairs…). It was an experience to say the least, and now I’m happy to be back in Atlanta and to find that first “real world” job to jumpstart my career.

I believe that with any process, there are stages that a person goes through. The same occurs with attempting to find a job. I’ve been through some of these steps before in this process, but it was when I was trying to find a part-time video production job while in school, so I was completely busy during the whole search. Now that I have graduated from college and the next “step” in  the process of this thing called “life” is to find a job, it’s easy to start to freak out. I mean if you think about it too much, you picture yourself constantly on the computer applying for jobs that you know you may never hear a response about. You sit typing away on your computer with no money coming in the door, and it’s a bit overwhelming. The stages  of the job search that I have come up with are as followed:

  1. EXCITEMENT: In this first stage, you are extremely excited to start your job search. It is the first step to that dream career of yours! You may have narrowed it down to one city or to a few tens of cities, but that doesn’t overwhelm you…the more cities, the more options, right? You decide just to browse a bit – no need to actually apply for things yet. I mean, you still need to do some final touches on your resume, so for now, you’re just simply looking at your options. Ah, there are so many options!
  2. PREPARATION: After seeing the possibilities, you think, “I need to polish my resume fast before it’s too late to apply to those jobs!” But, with today’s society, it’s not only the resume that needs some final touches. You have to update the LinkedIn page and make sure it matches the resume, and then you have to make sure your online portfolio or website is talking about the right things, and so on. Perhaps a Vimeo page needs some monitoring? You have to think about every aspect that an employer will see and everything that your one simple resume will link them to see. Yeah, it can be a bit overwhelming. My hint: act like you are the employer who is receiving the resume and links to the online portfolios, blogs, and the like and see if everything adds up in your head. And, of course, when all else fails and you need a second opinion, only one word is necessary: “Mom!”
  3. DETERMINATION: So, you’ve perfected your resume and looked at your options; now, it is time to actually begin your job search. I know in your mind, you started the job search at step one, but let’s be honest, that was your lazy day to slowly absorb the job listings without actually doing anything about them. In the beginning of this step, you apply to two, maybe three jobs, and you feel accomplished. “They’ll have to get back in touch with me…I’m perfect for the job.” You even filled out a few of those really long applications where you have to fill out every detail about anything you’ve ever had experience with. You know, the one that takes two hours and when it’s finally completed, you feel like you’ve completed a marathon? You might even take a little break, eat some chocolate as a reward (Dove chocolate in my case), because you deserve it…that application was ridiculously long. But, it only means they’re really serious about finding someone, right? Those applications that only require a resume to be sent have to be some sort of scam…they just seem way too easy.
  4. MELT-DOWN: Where are all of the short applications?! I refuse to fill out another application with all of my past experiences, when I performed them, and why I am the “perfect candidate” for the job! I just am, trust me!  You’ve cracked. Or, you’ve experienced the first break into your foundation at least. At this moment, stop. Yes, I know that sounds like bad advice, but I don’t mean to stop forever. Simply stop for that moment until you know you can efficiently fill out the next application. There is no point for you to “kind of ” fill out an application or to rush through it. Just relax. In today’s economy, there isn’t some huge sea full of jobs just waiting for you to choose one; there is a limited supply. So why would you ever ruin one of your opportunities just to have it out of the way? If it gets to a point where applying for jobs upon jobs is causing you to crack, then just stop. Maybe apply for one of those jobs with a long application in the morning, and be content with that. Take a break, have a snack, and then return. In your mind, make it so that you feel satisfied with having three applications finished in one day. I mean, let’s face it…you have nothing else to do. Sorry to be blunt, but it’s true. (Hey I’m writing this post on one of my little “breaks,” so you’re not alone).
  5. CLARITY: The last stage is a grey area, which is ironic given its name. Either, you cracked so badly because of the last stage and you’ve become mentally deranged or desperate: “I don’t care what job I get…I will scrub toilets…just give me a JOB!” Or, you have successfully timed out your applications and realized that patience actually is a virtue, and you are calmly waiting for that email of congratulations. This email of success may be offering a job or simply an interview, but let’s face it, even getting an interview can be a stretch at some times, so you should celebrate. In this stage…you get a job. Yes, people, relax, you WILL find something. It may be weeks or maybe months, but you will find something if you are persistent and keep trying. I know it will feel like eternity, but it will happen. So, like I said before, just relax. In this stage, I suppose you really can relax.

These stages will happen to everyone; it’s just human nature. Unless you are some really special person who lands a job on the first day of their job search (in which case, I hate you), then you’re just going to have to sit through it. But, there’s good news, you’re not alone. There are tons of people in your same exact position, which may make you think…great, even more competition for a job. However, sometimes your “competition” can be your biggest advantage. What I mean is, all of these people know what you have been going through, and they are not all looking at the same jobs as you. Instead of trying to rise above them, join them. Meet up with them at a professional job networking event and see what they are looking for. They may be in accounting, and what do you know, your dad’s an accountant. They can, in turn, help you connect with a potential employer.

Networking is key!

Use LinkedIn, and use your contacts. Think about all of your connections to potential jobs. There are networking events at churches, at cafes…it’s actually really easy to find one! The easiest way for me, other than at my church, has been a website called, Meetup (http://www.meetup.com). On this website, you can find people getting together for certain things all over the world. I used it in Berlin, and now I’m using it in Atlanta. I simply typed in, “job networking” and boom, there they are: pages of groups that organize meetings for unemployed people (and even those with jobs) to attend with business cards and resumes to network. You talk, and they talk. It’s as simple as that. Connections are the way to a job nowadays. It’s sad to say, but it’s mainly who you know rather than what you know. However, you can now use that to your advantage.

So, there you have them, the five stages of the job search. The cure to cracking is to simply treat the job search as a job itself, and then relax! Wake up early, write those emails, and apply to those jobs. However, when the clock strikes five in the afternoon, just stop. Most people won’t be checking their emails after that time anyway, and you need to be fresh on your feet and still determined to wake up the next day and apply to more jobs. And, to spice up your “workday” a bit, go network! It is a fun and social way to look for a job. Get out of your house and off of your computer and meet people!

Hey, even if you don’t find anyone to connect you to a potential job, you still made a few friends in the area and maybe you helped them out! And, I am a strong believer in karma: what goes around comes around. You help them find a job, and somewhere down the line, they may find something for you. My life motto is everything happens for a reason. Trust that, and just stay determined. That’s all you really can do. I suppose while I’m on here, I can promote myself a wee bit: I’m looking for a job in Atlanta, Georgia in media production, social media, or basically anything in the communications department! This includes film, television, radio, and the likes. My online portfolio and resume can all be viewed here: http://melissamsmith.webs.com. Now that that’s over, I hope you all enjoyed, and I promise my next blog post won’t take so long! (I do have Internet now, after all!) And when you have moments when you can’t take it anymore, remember: relax and do something else. I carved a penguin pumpkin in my time of despair):

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Late Night Confessions.

This is a post I wrote my third night in Berlin…let the culture shock commence.

I call this “Late Night Confessions” because I am currently awake at 2 A.M. (Berlin time), after having fallen to sleep only three hours beforehand. You guessed it: jet lag. As most of you know, I recently flew to Berlin to get a bit of traveling out of my system before settling down and finding that real-world job. I arrived here two days ago now, I guess (who really knows), and it has been a whirlwind. Having traveled to many European countries and having lived in London for four months, I have never explored any part of Germany before.  I cannot sleep because all of these new things are swarming around in my head. So here are my rambling thoughts and cultural revelations:

  1. Today I had to teach a German boy how to spell. It became awkward when I realized I did not know how to pronounce their letters. I do now. Their pronunciation for the English “y”…I’ll let you just look that one up. Not so similar.
  2. There are bees everywhere. They are on all of the food in the bakeries, and Germans just swat them away like they’re flies. How do you spot an American? They are those who are running away from the bees and doing everything within their power to avoid them (AKA me). I pride myself on the fact that I’ve never been stung by a bee or wasp before. Knock on wood. I have a feeling this will be short-lived. I would say the bees are equivalent to the prevalence and harassment of American mosquitos…but that just leads me to a whole other topic. See number four.
  3. Whenever I am around Germans who speak too fast, I just nod my head and stare back. When they laugh, I laugh. That is as far as it goes as of now with most of them. Some are patient enough and wait for me to spit out some German. Yes, I meant to use the word “spit.”
  4. So, the mosquitos…basically they are also everywhere and find their way into my apartment and just sit on the walls ready to attack. That’s not the problem though (although, yes, that does pose somewhat of a problem). The main issue is that they are HUGE. And I’m not exaggerating. In an attempt to prove my point, they even have these two long antenna-like hairs on them that drape down their nasty “little” bodies. They come in through the window, because we have to leave the bathroom window open to prevent mold. I’ve begun to keep every door closed to keep them in the bathroom if they do come in…but they still get through somehow. Right now, there are three in the kitchen. I know they’re there, and they know I know they’re there, you know? But, they stay so high up just to bother me so that I can’t reach them. Or maybe because they’ve seen me kill fourteen of their friends. Yes, I’m counting. I’m not actually sure why I am; I suppose it motivates me that I have power over them. I may’ve basically broken the bed last night trying to hit one way up high with a shoe, but the main point is that I got him to surrender eventually, and he is now splattered on the wall. Ahem, anyway, a bit morbid, but you get the point. They haven’t made me crazy.
  5. Moving on. The landlord here owns the place. I mean that in more than just the literal sense; yesterday, I walked into my apartment building, and a man said a lot of things to me in German. All I made out was something about a flower. Well, I went downstairs to my door and it was wide open. Yes, although I had locked it, it was open for anyone to come into. And what was on the table? A flower, along with a cell phone and jacket. I quickly made sure everything in my room was there and then locked the door. Even though I still had someone’s cell phone and jacket, it scared me. He then knocked on the door and called someone so they could translate. The girl on the phone said he is the landlord and has a key to all the doors, even the family’s house for whom I am aupairing. The flower wasn’t for me; he had a birthday party to get to in the afternoon. Now I know why there’s a single key for my bedroom. I now lock my door all the time. Fun fact: he sounded exactly like the man who drives the characters in Eurotrip to Eastern Europe when they think they’re going to Berlin. The ironic part is that he is apparently from Eastern Germany where they learned Russian instead of English because they were part of the Soviet Union.
  6. Germans eat bread constantly. And for their dinner? One small slice of bread with marmalade. That is usually for breakfast, too. Naturally, I sometimes have two breakfasts and dinners.
  7. Chocolate croissants (my favorite) are only one euro. Das ist sehr gut, ja!
  8. “J’s” are pronounced as “Y’s”. “I believe it’s called ‘yogging,’ with a silent ‘J.’. Apparently, you just run for extended periods of time.” Thank you Ron Burgundy for teaching me this beforehand.9.It is actually pretty hot in Germany in September. Who knew? Not me.
  9. Carbonated mineral water does not quench your thirst, people. When I get water out of the tap, everyone stares. I like the all-natural. However, I have also noticed that the tap water has an “egg-like” after-taste. Not a fan. (I later found out that this is because the water is filled with sulfur…which is bad for you. Shout-out to you, Mom, for always having my back).
  10. I heard that Germans like their personal space. That has proven to be very, very wrong.
  11. I feel like I’m inThe Sims game; language and all. I’m still waiting for a green diamond to appear over my head.

*Note: I have nothing against Germans or Germany. I am simply becoming adjusted to it all, and honestly, I think the ones I’ve met are extremely funny and nice. And they think that I’m funny, too (although not for the same reasons I’m sure. Basically, I’m made fun of a lot because of my accent and lack of German knowledge, but then I’d like to see them live in America.)

P.S. I found this on the kitchen table the other day from the landlord…this flower was for me this time. Nice or creepy? I’m leaning a little more toward the creepy side…

Thanks for reading, and there’s more to come. “Auf Wiedersehen!”

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Stage 32: The Inspired and Inspiring

Social media is changing constantly. Every day, there is a new site to create a profile on that allows you to be socially connected with the rest of the world. My main issue is that it is hard to become connected with others who have the same interests as myself. Most of the time when I log into Facebook, I don’t see fun posts or articles about movies and travel. Instead, I see pictures of someone’s dog sleeping in a chair or statuses from someone who is in a bad mood and just had to share it with the rest of the world. No offense to anyone who is known for doing these things; they are simply not things that I, myself, am interested in reading.

Because of this, I am always wary to join a new social media platform. However, my point of view changed once I received an e-mail about Stage 32 (http://www.stage32.com/welcome2/). Having never heard of it before, I ventured onto the website and explored. I was shocked once I learned more about the organization. It had everything that I was interested in as well as members upon members who shared those same interests. Basically, it has the same structural factors as Facebook and LinkedIn, but it comes with a new twist: it is designed specifically for those involved in film, photography, and basically media production altogether. Yes, I speak the truth. I created a profile and was quickly linked to filmmakers and actors all over the world.

These people with mutual interests continue to spark my curiosity when they post questions in forums, share blog posts, and keep me “in the know” about film festivals, competitions, and news in the industry. It is a very neat way to stay connected socially with others online, and the best part: it is guaranteed that you will be connected with others who like the same things you like, because the pool of people on the site is very specific. Thus, say good-bye to those pictures of pets filling up your newsfeed and posts where people ramble on and on. This website can do wonders not only for your own motivation, but also for your career.

I recently had an interview with Richard Botto, the CEO of Stage 32, to hear what he had to say about this new social media platform. I wanted to know the motivation behind the idea and what it has to offer creative professionals like myself. The interview is located below:

MS: How did Stage 32 come about?

RB: The embryonic idea for the site came to be while we were at the American Film Market a few years back. AFM is a sort of dog and pony show where screenwriters, filmmakers, and producers from all over the world travel to Santa Monica to pitch their ideas for projects and completed films. For many, this is a Hail Mary pass of sorts – a lottery ticket play, if you will. All this time is spent preparing for this 7-10 day chance to sell your product,
or, in many cases, yourself. Many leave dejected. They spend the next 51
weeks preparing for the next show.

We felt there had to be a better way. A way for all creatives to be connected 24/7/365. That was the nugget of the idea, and it has, of course, evolved into something much more spansive.

MS: What were the initial thoughts, ideas, and concerns?

RB: To be truthful, there was only one: Would people take to the site? As creatives ourselves, other social networking sites just weren’t cutting it. Facebook is too family and friends oriented. To me, it takes you away from your career focus. It’s a distraction. Great for downtime, but not for primetime. LinkedIn, while perhaps helpful for certain professionals, doesn’t really lend itself in a beneficial manner to the creative community, especially when it comes to the group postings. There’s simply too much spamming and self promotion. I’ve made a positive connection or two on LinkedIn, but they have been few and far between. Any time I tried to open a dialogue in a certain group, the posting would get drowned out by spam. I found that frustrating.

But, let’s face it, those networks, along with a few others, have a fervent following. So the concern was that many would not see the need for another social network. What we found was that almost all creatives shared our frustration. They were clamoring for a focused social network – A place where opportunities presented themselves daily, and yet where they could also spend some downtime just connecting and communicating with others. I receive letters all the time from members telling me they’ve dropped their other social network accounts and are now exclusively on Stage 32. We’ve often been called Facebook meets LinkedIn for creatives. I find a hard time finding fault with that assessment.

MS: How does one benefit the most from it?

RB: By being active. By utilizing all the features. By checking in often. Like anything else in life, you get out what you put in. But I think this axiom is elevated – if an axiom can be elevated beyond its undeniable evidence – for those in the creative community where competition is a constant obstacle to success. Creatives need to fight for every inch. You need to beat out the next actor, dazzle the next director, and outsmart the next producer in an effort to win an available investment dollar. It’s an ongoing battle and the most successful creatives understand the war never ends. You show me a success story and I’ll show you someone with a plethora of contacts. A master marketer. A person who treats him or herself as a brand.

At the end of the day, it’s all about putting yourself in the best position to succeed. The site presents a myriad of opportunities, it’s up to the member to seize them.

MS: What are some of the site’s most unique characteristics?

RB: Unquestionably, it’s the community first and foremost. The site could not exist, could not survive, could not thrive without the community being as selfless as it is talented. Whether it’s through postings in the Stage 32 Lounge, support and assistance on a member’s wall, or gracious comments to a guest blog post, the community always rises up. They contribute. They share. They root each other on. It’s always a thrill to learn of a member scoring a job, or launching a project. But it’s even more of a thrill to see other members rally around and celebrate the win.

MS: Tell us a little about the Stage 32 blog. It seems as if you brought your RAZOR editor’s hat to the site.

RB: This is very true. My desire was to bring quality content to the site. To build a library of pieces that were as entertaining as they were educational. The fact is, I love a good story. And I love good writing. So to be able to have such accomplished artists such as Doug Richardson, Rex Pickett, Danny Rubin, and most recently, acting legend and Academy Award nominee, Terence Stamp, grace our pages, well, that’s a gift of inestimable measure. But, our bloggers span many fields and have experienced varying levels of success. And I think that’s where the beauty lies: All of these stories are relatable. There’s a takeaway no matter who the author and no matter what your profession.

MS: What is the overall goal for the website?

RB: I don’t think the main objective will ever necessarily change. At the risk of sounding pollyannaish, we want every member to see his or her dreams become a reality. As for the site itself, it will continue to evolve. We have some exciting features planned for the future. Ultimately, we’d like to be a creative’s Home Depot of sorts. One stop shopping to assist in building your career.

MS: For those just now entering the production world, what would your greatest piece of advice be?

RB: Learn to market. Take a business class, or at the very least, read a few
books. With the advent of crowdfunding, the need to understand how to handle marketing and promotions is more important than ever. Same when it comes to the influx of distribution channels. You will be fighting for every dollar, every eyeball, every eardrum. Those who put themselves in the best position to win are not only terrific at their craft, but also have a firm grasp of how to capture the attention of those who matter.

MS: What other things have you worked on before this, and what do you hope for it to be like five years from now?

RB: I was the founder of RAZOR Magazine, and during its six year run, I served as publisher for four years, editor for two. More recently, I worked as an associate producer on Sam Levinson’s first film, ANOTHER HAPPY DAY,
starring Demi Moore, Ellen Barkin, Thomas Hayden Church, and Kate
Bosworth.

As for the future, I have a screenplay in development and another being considered by a major production company. I’m also in the process of outlining a novel, which I plan on breaking ground on in a month or two. And, of course, just taking Stage 32 higher and higher. Changing people’s lives, we hope, for the better.

I’d like to thank Mr. Botto again for taking the time out of his busy schedule and also for his informative words.

Richard Botto is the co-founder and CEO of Stage 32.  He is also the co-founder and CEO of Fair Warning Productions.  Prior to launching Stage 32, Botto was the founder, publisher and editor of RAZOR magazine, a national men’s lifestyle magazine with a readership of 1.5 million at its peak.  He was also a sports radio host for ESPN and Fox Sports affiliates and still often appears as a guest on a variety of sports and entertainment shows.
 
Botto is also a producer and screenwriter.  He was an associate producer on Sam Levinson’s first film, ANOTHER HAPPY DAY which premiered at Sundance and stars Ellen Barkin, Demi Moore, Thomas Hayden Church, and Kate Bosworth.  His latest screenplay, THE END GAME, was recently a top 10 finalist at the Creative World Awards, and is currently in development.

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Norway: Culture Shock is Real.

 

As I’ve already mentioned, there will be some travel posts mixed in throughout all of this, especially in the upcoming months. Now, most people hear about culture shock and think, “Yeah, yeah that’ll never happen to me.” That’s what I thought, too.

During my time studying abroad in London, my friend and I traveled to Oslo, Norway, and it was a complete accident. As embarrassing as it is, we saw an extremely inexpensive ticket on Ryanair to a city called Oslo and bought it instantly. Instead of researching the city before clicking “Submit,” we had committed ourselves to a long weekend in Norway…not Switzerland, where we thought Oslo was located. Ahem, anyway…

The weeks before the trip, we were amused by the fact that we would be going to Norway, a place neither of us had thought very much about before, to be completely honest. It isn’t the most spoken about country when visiting Europe, and I definitely thought I would’ve been to France or Spain before ever setting foot in Norway. I guess we raised our hopes too high, however, because once we got off of the plane, we immediately had our first encounter with culture shock.

It started out small, and then gradually grew. It wasn’t even the land or country that was the catalyst, but the pepole themselves. I am not judging or placing a title on them at all. We simply did not run into the nicest of people in the beginning, or in the entire first day. This was the first culture, and the only one in my case, where we experienced culture shock. I had heard about it countless times from my study abroad leaders, but after falling in complete love with London and Scotland, I thought that maybe, just maybe, it could have been overrated. Boy, was I wrong. I realize all of the steps of culture shock usually occur over a few weeks or months, but we experienced the entire scheme within four days. For those of you who do not know what stages I am talking about, let me enlighten you…

1. Stage 1 – Excitement:                                                                                                                                             

  • In this stage, you are fascinated by everything revolving the culture. You are happy to experience it because you have little to no knowledge of it. It’s new and exciting, and you have a positive outlook on everything. For my friend and I, we had talked about going to Norway so much that we could not wait to get there. When the pilot announced, “Welcome to Norway,” we looked at each other laughing and were excited to step off of the plane.

2. Stage 2 – Withdrawal:

                             

  • Once you reach this stage, all of that excitement will have diminished by some extent, if not completly. You notice negative differences between the culture and your own and generate some resentment. You don’t understand how people could be so mean, things could be handled so poorly, etc. You may even criticize those living there and reserve yourself. This definitely happened to me; my friend and I were nice to others and, in return, were treated with disrespect and hatred. Our fascination quickly turned to a negative outlook, and we didn’t like to associate with Norwegians. We actually tried to change our flight back to London, missing the city we had fallen in love with and feeling upset that we would be spending our time in Norway instead. However, since we had already checked-in, no changes could be made. We decided to make the most out of the time we had there and to not give up completely on the culture.

(Just a side-note: We even spun a Krone, a Norwegian coin, as a totem to see if we were dreaming. We weren’t.  See the movie Inception if you do not understand what I am talking about).

3. Stage 3 – Adjustment:

                                      

  • This stage is where everything changes. You began to accept the differences and do not feel so alone. The excitement felt in the first stage is regained in small doses, and your sense of humor even comes back somewhat. This stage changed our outlooks on the trip completely. Everything definitely happens for a reason; because we were unable to change our flight, we did not give up and actually began to like the culture. It helped that we met some locals who were not only extremely nice, but also very funny and the Norwegian equivalents of ourselves personality-wise.

4. Stage 4 – Enthusiasm:

                              

                                                        Posing with my curling shoes!

  • With the last stage, you adapt to mostly everything and enjoy the culture as your own. You experience new things and are comfortable in your surroundings. Two of the Norwegians we met were Junior Olympian curlers who even taught us how to curl for the very first time. Who else can say that they traveled to Oslo on accident and then were given curling lessons by Junior Olympians themselves? Like I said, everything happens for a reason. …I have many videos of my curling experience; however, this one is my favorite.

Summary: Don’t give up on a culture simply because it frightens you or makes you uncomfortable. Those can be the biggest challenges which can lead to some of the greatest experiences overall. I am so fortunate that we were unable to change our flight. I can’t believe we even tried to in the first place. While leaving our hotel room, my friend and I both simultaneously, without even planning, said out loud, “Bye room, I’ll miss you!” What started out as a terrible “mistake” turned out to be one of our favorite trips. I have a feeling both of us will be back in Norway at one point or another.

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Venturing into the Unknown.

Today was my first day off in a while. You would think it would be full of relaxation and absolutely no stress; however I feel like it has been just the opposite. As I was getting things organized for my upcoming move to Germany in a month, I started to have a sort of panic attack. I started to think about my plans after I return from Germany such as where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing. And that’s when the panicking began. The fact is, I don’t know where I’ll be once I return, and there is no telling what I’ll be doing.

“All of life is a foreign country.”
– Jack Kerouac

In my perfect world, I would find some job in television or film production in New York City that would provide me with a steady income and wonderful benefits. However, as we all know, those industries are very hard to break into, especially the movie business. I am not set on living in NYC, but I know that I need to be where the opportunities are taking place. Will I even have enough money once I return to move if I did somehow get that magical job? If not, would I settle with living in Atlanta for a couple of years to earn more money for a potential move? There are, of course, movie and television productions happening here. The problem with that is, I don’t want to live in Atlanta. Having been born in Houston, Texas and then moving to Atlanta, Georgia when I was sixteen, I’ve come to the conclusion that Atlanta is not the place for me. Sure, it was great during my high school years and I wouldn’t have changed a second of it, but what it comes down to is that I don’t become inspired in this city, and I don’t see myself happily living here for the rest of my life.

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”
– Martin Buber

This may sound far-stretched and a bit crazy, but ever since I studied in London and became absorbed with filmmaking at the University of Alabama, I feel like there’s something bigger out there for me. I realize many people probably have this same feeling, but I didn’t feel it until only a year or two ago. I had never envisioned big plans for me before; I always thought I’d follow the black-and-white, or the very simple and obvious, route that most individuals follow: college, any job you can take, marriage, kids, and then boom you’re forty. I used to see that for me, but now I want something more in the job department. Yes, I still want to be married and have kids, but unlike most of the people I know in the South, I would not want to get married until I am 26 or 27 years old. Even with that age on the table, I’m terrified because there is so much I want to do beforehand. The fact that I did not envision so much for me before actually makes me sad, because now I know that I would have missed out on so much if I did not have my sort of epiphany.

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born, and the day you find out why.”
– Mark Twain

(*Street Art from Berlin, I do not claim rights to these pictures.*)

Basically, what I’m saying is, I don’t know what is going to happen when I return, and I don’t know where I’ll end up; as of now, all I can do is continue to do what I love and inspires me and hope that everything will fall in place after that. My life motto is, “Everything happens for a reason,” and that phrase has seriously been the shoulder I lean on when unfortunate things happen. I need to live completely in the present and not worry about the future, especially when the future I’m worrying about is over a year away.

While in Berlin, I will be making videos for a production company, exploring one of the most historical cities in the world, and becoming involved in the Berlin Film Festival where I can hopefully make contacts that can seal that future job for me. I mean, I may even be bilingual by then! I may not know how the future will play out, but I know I’m taking all of the right steps. Where those steps will lead me, who knows? But you have to admit, there is some type of excitement in the not-knowing part. Hopefully, a year or two from now, I will look back upon this post and laugh. I will think about how ridiculous I sound considering how great the future turned out. The truth is, I’m scared. However, I know from experience that the situations that scare you the most and force you out of your comfort zone are usually the greatest lessons of all. Wish me luck! I will do the same for you. As Mary Oliver once said, “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

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“All You Need is Love”

I’m guessing you’ve heard that quote before. I’m also guessing that you’re guessing why I guessed that. Did I guess right? Ahem…well, regardless of the obvious innuendo I could be making in relation to London (to be fair, I warned you that I’m obsessed), it is a more literal correlation this time. I am, in fact, talking about the Beatles, of which I’m sure you’re very aware. Now, why am I bringing up the Beatles? Well, other than being one of the most popular and influential bands in the history of the world, they have a strong realtionship with England. Although most of their history lies in Liverpool, England, they left a lot of their footprints in London! When I say footprints, I mean it in a literal sense once again, as in Abbey Road…yes, the Abbey Road! It is located just a short walk from Regents Park in London, which is where I actually took the picture(s) located above (and below).

So yes, I’ve been there. And when I say I’ve been there, I mean I’ve literally been in their footprints. So, I guess the past few sentences have had a circular effect, but the point is (yes, there is a point…I think…) that one needs to explore unique things about the cities he or she visits so that amazing memories, and pictures, can be made! If you have lived under a rock for about, oh, fifty years or so, then this is the famous crosswalk I am speaking of: http://www.abbeyroad.com/visit/

Yes, there is a constant webcam which films everything around the crosswalk, and yes, I watched this before going there with my friends. And no, that isn’t creepy…

Anyway, two friends and I walked to Abbey Road and were quickly surrounded by many other tourists. We knew they were tourists, because, like us, they would quickly run onto the crosswalk, scream to their friend, “TAKE THE PICTURE! QUICK!” and then sprint off of the street as a double decker bus sped by blaring its horn. I realize this was probably not the safest thing to do, but it was worth every second.

So, about seven attempts and much more than seven horns later, we ended up with the best picture we could get. I realize I ruined it…in the sense that in the real Abbey Road picture with the actual Beatles, they are all facing one direction and looking serious. I, on the other hand, am facing the camera with a goofy look on my face (you can’t blame me…I mean, I had already been threatened by buses at least six times). However, I feel like the picture came out well. We then saw Abbey Studios as well as a red Sharpie.

What was the Sharpie for, you ask? Well, go to Abbey Road and see for yourself…as you will see my name written next to two of my friends’ names. We were able to sign the wall and write our own history.

The point is, in any city you live in, there will always be the typical tourist attractions to see, but it is important to find those that have a special meaning to you. Although Abbey Road was obviously known to many other tourists, it was a spot that was special to me. My best advice when traveling would be to research the place you are about to go to, not only so that you check the major attractions off your list, but also so that you can find certain places unique to you that will make your trip stand out from those typical tourist itineraries. You don’t have to put too much time into it, simply know what is there beforehand so that you don’t arrive back home and say, “Wow…I wish I had gone there or done that,” when you had been right around the corner. It has happened to me and is not too great of a feeling. Although there is much time to return and to see it “later”, if you keep saying “later” then chances are you will never make it back there. Take advantage of the opportunity at hand.

We definitely made our mark on Abbey Road just as it made its mark on us.

And if you’re bored, feel free to look at the webcam of Abbey Road to watch as tourists speed across the road attempting to take the picture without being run over. Yes, I’ve done this, and again, that is not creepy. …What?

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