Super Bowl Sunday

Super BowlI want to sit down here and write something profound about putting together the Sports section on Super Bowl Sunday when the “local” team is playing for the title, but I’m spent after my work shift, so that’s not going to happen tonight. Maybe later. I’ll just say, it’s daunting, fast-paced, a little bit crazy, a whole lot of fun, and scary AF.

It really was fun and it is exactly where I wanted to be doing.

Oh, and here’s my 365 photo.

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365 photo project: Day 35. I took this photo for a lame social media joke about the XFL coming back, then I probably edited it a little too much. 

One month in

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365 photo project Day 31. Old school rap in an old school format.

Today is the last day of the first month of the year. The last day of the first month of my 365 photo project and the last day of the first month (though I started early) of my “Create something every day project.” I feel I should have something profound to say about all the stuff I learned, and that I should have all these great things I created this month to show off.

Well, I don’t.

That doesn’t mean this project is a failure and it doesn’t mean that I haven’t learned anything or created anything. Far from it. Maybe it hasn’t been the blockbuster success I want it to be, I haven’t started to make these amazing photos, I haven’t started work on those short stories I want to write, I haven’t drawn more than a few doodles at work, but I have worked on things, I have learned some things, and more importantly, I’m creating habits.

I hope I can kick things up a notch in February. I’d like to actually plan some photography adventures (and I want to shoot pictures of some people), I definitely want to write more, and I’d like to start exploring a few other creative avenues.

January could have gone a lot better, but the year and this project is not off to a bad start.

Cutting out distractions

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Seth Rollins T-shirts are typical gym attire for me these days, which leads to dude’s distracting me from my workout because he wants to talk about the Royal Rumble.

I walked out of the locker room at Planet Fitness, ready to do some sort of a workout. I had my ear buds in, The Watcher 2 (Rakim’s verse might be my favorite 40 seconds in music) on blast, and was thinking about zoning out for an hour or so while I rode the bike and did my physical therapy exercises.

Before I could make it to the stairs, I was stopped by a dude who had cut off the sleeves of his “Rocky” T-shirt to show off his arms. His biceps were the size of my quads, I’d be showing them off too. He motioned for me to take out my ear buds and tugged at the collar of his shirt.

“Nice shirt,” he mouthed as I removed my ear buds. “Who do you think is going to win the Rumble Sunday night?”

I wasn’t even sure what T-shirt I was wearing, but knew there was a pretty good chance it was a WWE shirt since I basically only wear wrestling shirts to the gym these days and he was asking me about the Royal Rumble. I looked down and, sure enough, I was wearing a Seth Rollins “Burn It Down” T-shirt.

I mumbled something like, “Oh um, I don’t know,” and he started going on about “Shinsuke Nakamura. But I don’t know, Nakamura doesn’t really do it for me.” It’s not that I didn’t want to talk about the Rumble (if I was booking Finn Balor would win and they’d turn the Balor Club into the biggest group of asshole’s since DX, but Vince didn’t ask me, so …) but that’s not why I went to the gym. I do my best work at the gym when I can focus on the music in my ears and what I need to get done. Talking about the Royal Rumble is just a distraction, like all that damn social media on my phone. Distractions that keep me from doing the work I’m often not motivated to do anyway.

I’m kind of the same way when it comes to creating, I need to find a way to eliminate distractions. Lately I find I work best when I can find a decent work space (in other words, not my bed), turn off the internet, put my phone in airplane mode and turn on some really loud music in my ear buds. If I can just ignore everything and focus at the task at hand, like when I do my best work at the gym, is when I do my best work.

It hasn’t always been this way.

For years, I did my “creative work,” which also happened to be my day … err night … in noisy spaces. Designing pages in newsroom, with the phone ringing off the hook, people gathered around the TV talking about whatever game is on, editing shouting across the room to reporters, you get the idea (actually, I still do that for my day job, it’s just not so loud anymore). Writing stories in high school gyms or hockey arenas while another game is played in the background or music is blasted while people mill about waiting for rides home.

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The newsroom, mostly empty. Sometimes it is rather loud and distracting.

And I worked fine in those environments. I still do work fine in that environment when I’m at work. I have a job to do so I sit down and do it, I have to tune out the distractions and hope I’m not missing anything I need to hear (I don’t, usually).

But when I’m not at work, if I want to get anything accomplished creatively, especially writing, I need a desk, my headphones, no TV, and no Internet. I’m not like Stephen King, who writes with the door closed (if you haven’t read “On Writing” I highly recommend it. I can work in public spaces most of the time, though I do have to make sure to keep the people watching to a minimum (same at the gym). I just need to shut off the distractions. I drown out the noise with my headphones, I turn off the Internet and I tuck my phone away in my back pack (I should try that at the gym, I really need to get an iPod) and usually, I can accomplish something.

I don’t know when this change happen and when I became so ADD that simple distractions keep me from being productive, but at least I understand the circumstances and can plan around it. Finding a place where I can comfortably be productive and don’t have the distractions of my TV, the Internet or a comfy pillow, is crucial to me actually accomplishing something.

It’s exactly the same way at the gym, if I could just get this dude to stop talking to me about the Royal Rumble  Oh, and if Finn Balor can’t win, how about Seth Rollins?

Taking the pressure off

Jan. 26, 2018

Spent a good chunk of time at the gym today, not all of it taking pictures. 

The past two days, as I worked on things other than being creative (trying to fix my parent’s computer, going to the gym to do physical therapy and to run, work), I’ve thought about this blog and my creative process. I did a few creative things yesterday, but nothing I felt like posting about on this blog. I could say the same thing about today. I got a late start this morning, then spent an hour and a half at the gym (there was a lot of wasting time, I need to work on that), and headed to work.

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Don’t break the chain. (Thanks Austin Kleon.)

And I felt bad that I not only hadn’t really created anything of substance, but I also hadn’t updated this website. Can I really consider this project a success if I’m not sharing my work and updated this site? Am I breaking the chain if I don’t post it here every day?

I don’t know the answer to that.

I’m going to cut myself some slack on this one. Yes, I want to create something everyday, and yes, I want to make something of substance to post on this website every day. I want to write post on this blog that are thoughtful and interesting and, most importantly, well written.

But the idea behind this whole project is to create habits and develop skills. Putting pressure on myself to keep this site updated on a daily basis is going to take all the fun out of this. And that is really the reason I am doing this. To have fun. Sure, there is plenty of value in doing this, specifically if I can learn things that will help me at work, but this is just something I want to do to challenge myself and to do things that I enjoy.

So I guess what I’m saying I’m probably not going to update this site every day. I hope to more often than not. Some times those post might just be a few pictures, or a page I designed at work. Some times it will just be a topic I want to write about. Some times, it will be something really in depth, that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about and working on. I’m taking the pressure off of myself to make sure that this is still fun and something I enjoy.

I don’t want to break the chain, but more importantly, I don’t want to feel bad.

 

Creating at work

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This was work tonight. Nothing special, but I kept the chain going and created this (and four other pages) today. 

Today, I created at work. It wasn’t anything that will blow your mind, but I laid out the Sports section and we made deadline. Plus, I didn’t do anything creative before work, so this is going to have to count.

Actually, of course it counts. I’m planning to write a post about my “day” job (it’s in quotes because I work nights, but you get the gist) and how I feel fortunate I have a job that allows me to be creative. Right now, it’s 12:15 a.m. and I’m just not feeling it. So, I leave you with the front page of tomorrow’s sports section (above) and my work space at work, which is way better than my work space at home.

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My desk at work and the tools of the trade. It’s a little messy and could be more organized right now, but it’s a spot for me to create. 

My street — My new project

 

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There is a flower shop across the street from my new (relatively) apartment. It’s a light green buiding, with a green and white sign jutting off the roof at a right angle. There are apartment buildings and houses lining the street in both direction of various colors. The building next door has a basketball hoop that I have not seen anyone take a shot on in the nearly four months that I have lived here. There are cars, trucks, vans and motor cycles lining both sides of the street.

It’s a scene I see every day. When I leave home in the morning. When I come home a night. I park my car on whatever side of the road I can find a spot and walk the sidewalk to my apartment, looking at that flower shop which has been in business for over 100 years, according to its website, all those different color apartment buildings and houses, and think about grabbing a basketball and throwing up a few jumpers on that basketball hoop.

On Christmas Eve, I left the house for a trip to the gym and took in that view of my street. The road was covered in ice and slush after a recent snowstorm and I thought, “White Christmas my ass. It looks awful brown to me.” I pulled out my phone, knelt down in the middle of the street and snapped a photo to post to social media.

A day later, it Santa brought us a snowstorm and brought me a nasty cold. I didn’t have to leave the house on Christmas Day, my family changed plans and celebrated on Christmas Eve because of that snow Santa decided to drop on us. I didn’t want to leave the house either. I felt terrible.

That afternoon after a few cups of coffee and a couple of naps, I thought it would be a good idea to get out of the house and at least clean off my car. I thought I needed to move it off the street because we’d have a parking ban (we didn’t), so I tugged on a wool hat, grabbed my jacket, my boots and gloves, and headed outside.

And when I saw that view of my street, with all those old buildings, their roofs covered in snow, the sidewalks and streets untouched by traffic or footsteps, I thought, “Now this is a white Christmas.” I pulled my phone out of my jacket, walked to the middle of the road and tried to capture the same image I did the day before.

That’s how this new project of mine started. I don’t know where I came up with the idea and why I think it is a good one, but I’ve decided to try make that same picture every day for a year. As you see in the slideshow posted above, I’m six days into this new endeavor. When I head out to the gym in a few minutes, after starting my car to let it warm up (it’s -6 at 10 a.m., brrrrrr), I’ll walk to the middle of street, kneel down, and snap a photo.

It has just become part of my routine. In the morning I wake up, spend a few minutes mediating and journaling to get my brain ready for the day, make coffee and a slice of toast, waste a little bit of time on the internet, then hopefully get out the door for a workout, stopping on my way to the car to snap that picture. I’m much more productive when I have routines and follow them, I guess I’m hoping that making that picture part of my routine will kick off my creativity every day.

There are no big goals with this project. I’m using my phone, not my DSLR, to take these photos. I let the in-phone editing software edit them and I crop them to 16×9 ratio. That’s it.

The goal is to do this 365 days in a row, but obviously if I take a trip and I’m away from home, I won’t be able to take the same picture. No big deal, I’ll either skip those days or I’ll take a similar picture wherever I am. I’m looking forward to scanning through these photos as the year goes on, seeing the changes in weather, the different cars parked on the street, just capturing those moments in time in this neighborhood that looks like a throwback to a time before I was born.

And one of these days, I’ll drain a couple of jumpers after I do it.