Anniversary Season: Road Trip Day Three – Little Rock

Day Three took us past the Mississippi River and into Middle America. The scenery changed instantly – flat ground for miles and miles, and strong gusts of wind that you could feel moving the car back and forth slightly. Hints of an upcoming ice storm that we were going to hit.

Our only stop today was at the Clinton Library in Little Rock, Arkansas. This building was pretty much the only reason for stopping in Little Rock; it was a lengthy horizantal glass structure right next to an old bridge over the Arkansas River.

Clinton Library, Little Rock

The Clinton Library in Little Rock, Arkansas

Inside was a number of interested artifacts from Clinton’s presidency, including a replica of the Oval Office. The Library itself was on the top floor and for those really fascinated by the man and his legacy. For the general public, there was a museum-like showcase of the important things that happened during his time as President, including a rundown of major events in each of his 8 years.

There were some light-hearted pieces of memorabilia, including a picture of his cat Socks, and his collection of saxophones.

Tomorrow is Day Four, our first day in Texas. As I said before, we ran into some weather issues, which delayed our plans a bit. Check out the site tomorrow to find out more.

Previous Days:

Day Two – Memphis, Tennesee

Road Trip Begins

Anniversary Season: Road Trip Day Two – Memphis

Day two of our road trip took us to Tennessee, where 6 months earlier I had the privelege of attending the Bonnarroo Music Festival, to see such great acts as Metallica, Pearl Jam, Ben Folds, Jack Johnson, BB King, Chris Rock and a whole lot more.

This time around we went straight to Memphis, specifically for the purpose of seeing the famous Graceland, where Elvis and his family lived (and also where he died, but we won’t talk about that).

The house was pretty impressive, most if not all of the rooms were kept just how they were when he was still living (cleaned up a bit I’m sure). The back shed was converted into a shrine of sorts – all of his gold and platinum records, memorabilia, his vegas outfits, the works.

In the back, there was another sort of shrine – the gravesites of him and his immediate family.


The Priestly Family laid to rest

Elvis’ countless fans have sent flowers to Graceland over the years, for this precise purpose. In fact, we had only missed his birthday by a couple weeks. I’m sure it would have been a much crazier and somber scene at Graceland if we had been there at that time.

After taking in all Graceland had to offer, we explored downtown Memphis a bit. We had dinner at BB King’s Blues Club on the famous Beale St. Great Memphis BBQ and some great live blues acts performing right in front of us on the stage. And we got a couple of huge tall boy pint glasses to boot.

That’s it for day two, check in tomorrow for day three, where we stop through Little Rock, Arkansas.

Previous Days:

Road Trip Begins

Anniversary Season: The Cross-Country Roadtrip Begins

A year ago today, my father and I set out on our cross-country road trip from Boston to Los Angeles. We filled up the brand new 2009 Hybrid Civic, loaded up some tunes and comedy albums, said goodbye to the family and kittens and headed on our way.

While I made it my duty to take pictures throughout, I neglected to take any pictures on this first day. Not even a “before” picture of the car, still relatively clean from only being driven two weeks. (You’ll see the “after” pictures in a week).

Throughout the week, I’ll be posting my favorite pictures from each day of the trip. Today we went through the northeast – Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, then finally landing in Roanoke, VA. (Not unlike the European Settlers 500 years ago…actually quite unlike those settlers.)

Tomorrow, I’ll start with a picture from our second day of the trip, which included various places in Tennessee.

I’ll finish off the week with a retrospective blog post about the trip, and touching on the past year of my life. Hope you all read and enjoy them.

Day Two – Memphis, Tennessee

Day Three – Little Rock, Arkansas

Day Four – Lubbock, Texas

Day Five – Sante Fe, New Mexico

Day Six – Grand Canyon, Arizona

Day Seven – Las Vegas/Hoover Dam

I’ve been a non-student for a year…

It took me awhile to figure out how to word the title of this post. I guess it’s still unbelievable to me. This weekend marks the final weekend of the BUinLA program, meaning that a year ago today, I was done with college classes and essentially out of school. I didn’t officially graduate until January 25th, so I guess I really have a little over a month, but I know that month will go by before I know it.

It’s been an interesting year. Last December, I knew I wanted to move back out to Los Angeles, but I was unsure of when. It took me about a month to decide, and then another two weeks to plan the week-long, cross-country trip my father and I took at the end of January. The week’s worth of driving and traveling was a good cushion for me to reflect on the huge life move I was making. Once I got to LA, the Friday night before Superbowl Sunday, it hit me – I’m in Los Angeles, I’m here to get started on the rest of my life. College is over, welcome to the Real World, Josh.

That weekend, things happened quickly. I was staying with my friend Rob on his couch, and as comfortable that situation was, I was really eager to find my own place, so I could settle into this new environment as quickly as possible. I went looking for apartments on craigslist and after viewing the second place I looked at on Sunday afternoon, I took it. I’m still in that place now, despite thinking I may move on a couple occasions throughout the year.

Obviously at this point I’ve settled into the living arrangements, and my general life schedule. I’ve been working the same internship for about seven months now, on and off depending on what other project I’ve been involved with. Despite not having a full-time, or even part-time job, the internship has helped give me experience, a regular weekly schedule and kept me busy three days a week. My off days normally consist of heavy job searching in the morning, a couple hour break in the afternoon at the gym, and the rest of the day working on whatever editing project I’m involved with.

The editing projects, most of which have been visual effects work with After Effects, have also kept me busy and given me great experience in post-production. While the work is also on an unpaid/deferred basis, I don’t mind because I need the practice and eventual footage for a reel.

The production work I did, while not very regular (I’d work as a PA about once every couple months, on average) was also valuable in the fact that I got experience, met some great people, and was able to learn all about things that you just can’t learn in school.

Sure, it’s a bit disappointing and discouraging when most of my friends out here have more substantial jobs than I do, but I made choices about what kind of work I would look for early on and stuck with them throughout the year. I could have gone a different route and probably got a more regular job, but it would have been at something I wasn’t as interested in doing. In that same sentiment, I could have stayed in Boston, lived at home, not be paying rent and working a job that I was even less interested in doing. To me, the whole point of moving out here was to pursue a dream of working in entertainment as a writer (now I’ve revised that goal to include being an editor). Obviously there isn’t one path to get to a goal, especially not in this industry, but a personal goal was to remain happy with what I was doing, and to be honest there are some jobs and paths that I could not see myself being happy in doing, even if I was happy to be getting a regular paycheck at each week’s end.

There’s a balance I do have to address, in that I can’t live off savings forever, and eventually will need some form of income. That may very well end up being a part-time job of some sort, but as long as I can keep writing and editing in my spare time, and as long as I keep pushing toward that career goal and don’t get sidetracked or distracted by other things, I can stay out here and keep at it.

I’m nervous but excited for the “1 year in LA out of school” mark. There are things I’ll have to deal with – do I risk driving around with an expired Massachusetts inspection sticker just to keep my Mass plates and Mass ID, or do I go through the process of registering as a California resident? Up until now, despite living in the state for almost a year, I still don’t consider myself a resident. That may change if my car and my license say I am.

There are also things I’m excited to try out – a few friends and I may begin to take Improv classes, something I have only really done on a very small scale – a class at camp, joking around with friends, etc. I figure as a comedy writer I should flex or at least train my comedy muscles in as many areas of the genre as I can. I even started writing a standup act (although have no real plans to perform just yet).

I’m also writing music again, and with the great decision to bring my electric guitar back to LA with me, there’s more potential to jump back into that arena. Why not? I’ve always considered music to be just a hobby, despite how talented people have said I am, and how much I enjoy it. But why? I’m out in Los Angeles now, pursuing a dream of becoming an entertainer, why would pursuing music be any different?

Ambition is a great thing to have out here, and while I may not be the most ambitious person in the world, or the city, or even among my own friends, I do want to succeed, and I do want to be happy with whatever I’m doing. I’m not sure I needed a whole year to convince myself of that, but hey – we all work at our own pace.

Going Home

Although I’ve been home a couple times since moving out to Los Angeles, it hasn’t really hit me until this time how much has actually changed, despite everything staying the same. Here’s what I mean…

I don’t know if it was just my state of mind or generally positive mood the week prior to coming home, but this time around it wasn’t that I didn’t want to come home or was not ready to come home, I just didn’t NEED to come home. I could have stayed in LA for the holiday, and I would have had people to spend it with, and it would have been different, but fine. But two months ago when I planned this trip I was unsure of how I would be feeling at this point in time, and figured a trip home would do me good either way. In previous trips home I had just come off a tough few weeks – professional or personal setbacks had me itching for a vacation. This time around I was good, no need of a vacation, no itching desire to get the hell out of LA. Just going home because it was Thanksgiving and it would be a nice week to see friends and family.

I get to my house and everything is pretty  much the same, my mom has plenty of food waiting for me, my dad has taped some shows on the DVR, they’re both in bed before midnight, I stay downstairs and watch late night shows. Throughout the day, I notice subtle changes to the house that have occurred while I was gone and without my knowledge (things the parents deemed unimportant to bring up in our phone calls or email conversations). The bathroom is painted differently. So is the front door and entryway of the house. There is new furniture in the basement. Things that would have been bigger deals to me when I was still living here, now just signify how much more removed I am from this environment.

Even my friends, who I have yet to see this week, are the same but different. Many have moved out of Needham and into Boston (Cambridge/Brookline, etc.) That’s exciting to me, because if I didn’t choose to move across the country, that’s what I would’ve wanted to do (I was used to it after living 3 years in Boston for school.) They still have the same conversations, the same hang out spots and activities, but most are now working real jobs and are busy most of the day. As I was thinking of my Needham friends in Boston, I realized that my Boston friends were no longer in Boston, or at least most of them are not. More of my home friends now live there than my school friends do.

I keep coming across blogs and comments about people our age and how they deal with the huge life changes that hit them (quarter-life crisis). For the most part its common – a sense of bewilderment and uncertainty about the real world and our futures. I’m now realizing that as excited I am to be back in Boston, where I’ll always be from and always have an emotional connection to, I am glad that I moved to LA and am pursuing my dreams of being an entertainer. I hate using clichés to close out blog posts, but it really does feel like a new chapter in my life, and for the first time I’m really excited and eager to see what the cliffhanger ending is that keeps me reading into the next chapter.