Four Years

Four years. I made it out in four years. College was great in ways, but I can’t say that I understand why people romanticize it. I had senioritis from day one of freshman year.

School always seemed like a roadblock to actually accomplishing something. I gained some good experiences and opportunities, but an amount of time was listening to droning, hour-long rehashes of the same information it took 15 minutes to read or a enduring a 20 minute rant in response to the ever-present question, “what’s going to be on the test?”

That’s why I wasn’t a straight-A student. I studied art and journalism. It was a surprisingly uncommon combination at MTSU, considering the relationship between both disciplines, the shared interest in documenting and commenting on society, and the mutually moderate levels of cynicism.

I sent my résumé and work samples out as the end of my final semester was approaching. I got calls back within hours and had an interview the next day. I accepted a job three weeks before the semester ended.

This isn’t about how terrible higher education has become or about how lucky I was to get a job right out of college (higher education is terrible and I was very lucky). For all the wasted time, I gained a few important things. I gained friends and a few mentors. I had so many opportunities to make my own luck and other opportunities that simply fell into my lap.

I interned with the University’s marketing department, worked with the local newspaper to sell advertisements for the campus paper, managed an ad campaign, hosted an on-campus event, led in rebuilding a student organization, and made an impression on quite a few faculty members and industry leaders.

I have a lot to show for my time at MTSU, but I still wonder if I have as much to show for the last four years as I really should. I’m not proud of many of my projects because the constraints of assignments (whether topic, time frame, or supplied materials) didn’t always allow for great work. Professors rarely gave assignments that would allow for portfolio building, nor did they seem to care that their class might not be the most important thing in the world.

My senior portfolio should have been better. It could have been better. Most assignments should have been smaller, less time-consuming, and more focused. Others should have allowed wider exploration and better expression of personal ideas and goals. Side projects should have been encouraged more, and the final portfolio should have taken a more forefront role in both journalism and art classes. There should have been more opportunities to be recognized for things other than academics.

I never got a chance to intern off campus. Between working to support myself and the coursework, I could’t afford an unpaid internship. I’ve been set up with a fantastic foundation of training and given amazing opportunities, but the ability to make the most of the training and opportunities just wasn’t what it could have been.

So here’s to a year of proving myself, a year of making up for lost time, a year of making something out of the ideas that have been bubbling in my mind for the last four years. Here’s to a year of big things. While I have a lot under my belt, I’ve lost way too time. It’s about time I actually get to do something.

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Untitled Thoughts

Sometimes, sitting down to write, there’s a very clear picture of what I want to say. Other times, not so much. Most of the time, it’s both. I know exactly what I want to say right up until I sit down to say it. Then I write a few words and realize that I haven’t made any sense at all. That’s how it usually goes.

From my starting point of nonsense and loss of direction, I try a few more halting lines. Nothing sounds right. I’m not ready to say what I was about to say. I don’t even know what I was starting to say. Where was I going with that again? Select all, delete. Flip through my trusty notebook and restart. I know it’s crammed with thoughts I’ve had recently, one of these pages might be a good starting point. Blank pages. Once I find the pages with something on them: this one is too personal, that one doesn’t make sense. I wrote the one I wanted in another notebook, on a napkin, in a card that I gave to someone else. This one is perfect! To bad it’s a weird doodle…

Why can’t I just get my thoughts out?

Then I start to write about my frustration with writing. It happens every time. The words start flowing, and whatever was buried inside, whatever it was that I wanted to say, finally bubbles to the surface. It’s rarely the thing I meant to say at the beginning, but it’s usually what I wanted to say all along. It’s a funny thing.

I’ve wanted to write so much lately. But my writing has been incoherent and unimportant. Mostly just me complaining about life. About almost dying in a car accident, about ridiculous traffic laws, about bosses, school, and situations that really don’t matter to anyone but me. Most of it is unimportant, a lot of it wouldn’t be proper to publish. I’m too responsible for that. Every action matters and a single stray word can cause pain and problems that were entirely unintended. The temptation to vent is often present lately.

I’m learning patience. I’m learning to balance complacency with impatience, and vice versa. I don’t give up easily, but sometimes I should. I don’t like sitting on my hands, but sometimes I need to. I have a tendency to do way too much, and then to slack off and do absolutely nothing. I strive for balance, but what I get most of the time is contrast. What I’m trying to say is getting fuzzy again. My clarity is fizzing away like a seltzer tablet.

I want to create things, I want to use my passion for art and communicating. I love to communicate. I’m not an advertiser or a journalist, I’m a communicator and a connector and an innovator and I’m like a bottle of tonic water. I’m also rapidly going flat. Designing, advertising, marketing, writing, drawing, experiencing, solving, sharing—I am drawn to those, and I have nowhere to do them. Instead, I’m pouring my passion into… into what?

I don’t give up easily, and I don’t disappoint. It’s not in my nature. I don’t know what I’m trying to say, but maybe I said it. Maybe you read this and understood. Maybe it inspired you. I really hope so. I want to inspire people. I want to inspire the world with everything I do.

On why I have not recently written

The short answer: life is busy and I probably have some degree of an attention disorder.

Actually, that first part is not entirely true. Life is busy, but it really hasn’t affected my time for writing. I just haven’t been writing here. I think it’s some kind of odd internal struggle that I’m going through. Trying to find the balance between saying nothing and saying nothing of value. I’ve noticed this a lot in my recent journals and usage of social media. On one hand, I want to capture more of the moment (see Instagram and Twitter), sharing things as they occur to my unbelievably overactive mind. But on the other, I want to be more reserved, fleshing out my ideas before committing them to the infinite memory and scrutiny of the Internet. I want my stuff to matter, so I’m writing less fluff. (As an aside, I wonder if parenthetical insertions could be logically included in digital prose as <abbr> tags.)

Keeping a journal has likely affected the frequency of my writing as well. I’ve been keeping a Moleskine with me for the entire month of May and I’ve been filling it up with my beautifully horrid handwriting. It gives me a place to write down the thoughts that aren’t quite ready for prime time – you know, to let them mature a little (or for me to annotate in the margins with remarks like “this is rubbish” or “am I retarded?”). It also acts as an outlet for my writing, which doesn’t flow in a river great enough to supply both a full on journal and a regular blog. Not yet, anyway.

Twitter has become my primary online sharing medium, I think. At least for the moment. My tweets are posted to Facebook (something that I have mixed feelings about), so you can keep up with me there. Maybe I’m just looking for more sharing, interaction and networking and less ranting or public babbling. Follow me and see the articles and various other things that are inspiring me at the moment. I’m all about curation, so I try to keep away from the “here’s my sandwich” stuff – unless, of course, it’s a really good sandwich.

An advertising student’s perspective on AP style

The style guide published by the Associated Press is a beautiful thing. It’s practical, concise and usually well organized. It keeps us writers on our toes. It ensures that everyone is using proper grammar.

I, however, have a problem with the relationship many people seem have to the AP style guide. In its very name, the word “guide” is used. It’s just that – a guide designed for Associated Press content. While this is incredibly useful for newspapers, press releases and news items (keeping everyone honest and on the same page), it really shouldn’t be used as the measure by which everything is determined proper or not. There are many other, often more comprehensive, style guides – Chicago Manual of Style, Modern Language Association, American Psychological Association, among others. Each differ on one point or another, and each was designed for a specific usage context.

I have taken two classes where AP style was required. One was a media writing course where I learned the very basic tenants of this legalistic religion. The other was a design course where we focused on the use of InDesign to create flyers, posters, brochures, letterhead and business cards. While I understand that AP style is important, if it’s so deathly important as to be used on a business card, why have I only had one course on it? Why are students of graphic design not required to learn AP style?

Even in the College of Mass Communications, would we actually require our songwriting students to use AP style in everything they write? Really now, that would just be absurd and I really hope no one would argue with me on that.

Now, you might get the idea that I hate AP style. I do – but I also wish I had been taught to use it more effectively. I’ve only had one course on it, and only two of my professors have ever cared whether I use it or not. If AP style is as important as some people claim, why haven’t I learned it and why is a design class the only place that it actually matters?

I feel like advertising students are left out in the cold when it comes to AP style. We aren’t taught it, but we’re required to know it. Though only sometimes. As much as I dislike AP style ( I grew up on Chicago and classical prose), I think it is unfair that I’m expected to know it without it having been taught. Why is Chicago not considered a valid style guide why it comes to design. Chicago words are so beautiful and free. My designs don’t follow the AP rules every time, why should the words in them?