Saturday, June 11, 2011

I don't know dick

No pictures needed here. I admit it. I do not know dick...about a lot of things, in spite of an alleged education and experience. One thing it seems I don't know dick about it journalism, specifically motojournalism. I would like to know dick, but I don't. I admit it. Coming clean is the only way to get better.

Once upon a time, back in the days when I had no gray hair, I had no spouse let alone children, I had a dream. You see I had many interests, but topping the list was cars and motorcycles...and guns, but that is another story. In my so called mind, I thought I could do it. I thought I could write about what I loved. At the time I had a freshly minted degree in American Studies. I even graduated with honors. I had the bright idea to apply to New York University's graduate program in journalism. Today it's called the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. I studied both broadcast and magazine journalism. I had great teachers like Jon Katz, Udayan Gupta, Jane Stone, David Dent, John Capouya, Bob Spitz and Mary Quigley. I also ran out of money, but that is another story too. I used to joke that I got a Harvard education for the price of a NYU education, but that sentiment is lost on most. It was and is a very expensive school, but you will be exposed to people and opportunities not found anywhere else.

Back then, the new media didn't really exist. There was newsprint, magazine and broadcast. I did a hybrid as both appealed to me for different reasons. Broadcast is fast paced, exciting and there's nothing like being in a studio with a live broadcast ready to go and the director counts down to show time. On the other hand, traditional print allows for more development of ideas and it appeals to my cerebral side. That said, life happens and through a series of circumstances, my life changed direction and the idea, the dream of writing or producing content for journalism went into the dustbin. One of things I did carry away was computer technology. When producing an issue of Manhattan South, the school magazine, I learned how to do magazine layout on a Macintosh. You see, no one else in the class wanted to do the dirty work. The other editors wanted to edit other students work or write the articles themselves. I ended up volunteering for the job of doing layout, but at the time I didn't realize where it would lead me.

Not long after this, I met my future wife and I decided to change careers. I wasn't doing journalism at the time, and I ended up going into technology, which I have been in for 17 years now. I specifically went into Macintosh technology, supporting pre-press shops and service bureaus in my first IT job. I got married, we had kids, bought a house and life moved on. During a period of underemployment after 9/11, I had gotten a new bike, a Vulcan 800 Classic, and the idea of writing crossed my mind again. At the time, I read several magazines and one of them was Roadbike. The tech editor at the time was Mark Zimmerman. I decided to email him and ask him out to lunch. To my total bewilderment, he accepted, and not only that, he took me out to lunch and although I had to ride up to Danbury, it was worth the trip. Mark is an incredibly funny, articulate and knowledgeable person. He's also gracious and open. I asked him if he could read some of the stuff I had written at NYU and give me his opinion. Like others before, he said I could write, but I need to work at more and develop my voice. Once again, life intervened and I ended up taking a job in Iowa, which move our family 1200 miles away. Over the years I have kept in touch with Mark although we haven't talked shop as it were.

Now, some years later I find myself at a point in life where I feel I need change. May be change isn't the right word, may be truth is the right word. I am tired of IT and even though I can do it, I feel no affinity for it, not anymore. It's like being able to do an autonomic bodily function. At that point, it becomes just that, if you know what I mean. So at the advanced age of 49, I have examined my options. Underlying this though is what I call "the four legs of the stool", and I am not talking autonomic bodily functions either. Consider it like a bar stool. One is engagement. I have to be engaged mentally, emotionally, may be spiritually and sometimes physically. I have to use my faculties to their fullest extent, if possible. Two is voice. Do I have a voice not only in what I will do or how I will do it, but just the act of being able to be heard, to have my opinion valued? Three is the social aspects. If I am with a group, how do I fit in, do I have a place where I am comfortable and am I accepted? Four is, "do I make a difference?" Is what I am doing shedding any new light, offering some value, making a difference in someone's day, in a more meaningful way than just "I fixed X".  Honestly, right now I am 0 for 4. My options are to do nothing, to look for something in my current field and "settle" for a leg or two, or to change careers. Problem is, I don't know dick. I don't know Dick either. I'd like to as he seems like a good chap (someone I met on Linked In who gave me some advice), but where do I start (besides from the beginning)?

Hope is a funny thing. Not funny ha ha, but funny interesting. For me it has ebbed and flowed with the days and weeks like the tide that comes in and out of Monterrey Bay, which is down the block from where I am writing this now. If anyone has pointers, advice, words of encouragement or even deridement at this point, all will be welcome. Like Sisyphus, I need a rock to push against, but unlike Sisyphus, I need to push it over the hill.

Thank you for reading this blog. 

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