Monthly Archives: June 2013

Inspiration: Fuel for the mind and body

Inspiration sparks the flame of motivation. It allows your mind to think of all the possibilities that are available. You dream. You process. You go forth.

This may be one of the most important things I learned in college, and no, I didn’t learn it in a classroom. Surprise!

There are a lot of things that I do and people that I interact with that give me the inspiration to go out and accomplish things. At the same time, there are a lot of variables that push me back to square one; things that ground me; things that discourage me.

Lucky for me, those aforementioned things that I do and people I interact with allow me to get back up and continue on my way. But things don’t just work themselves out, you have to make sure they work out, and your personal motivators help you get there. Those things and people put gas in your tank; they give you that extra push when you sit there staring at a computer screen wanting to smash your face into it.

So what’s the point of all this?

In your life there will be a lot of things that bring you down, your job is to find those people, those things, or whatever it is that inspires you to be whatever it is you’re shooting for; whatever you want to do, be it professional or personal; for work or recreation.

At the same time, be open to potential influences, even if they seem bad. Let them teach you something about who you are and that will lead you to finding out what you want to do, or not do, with your life

When something influences you and you get inspired, then the next day you get up and are motivated to go out and do whatever it is you’re thinking about, you’ll find out if that is a passion of yours or if you need to find a different path. But don’t get discouraged. Keep looking.

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A Rich Diet of Endless Endeavors

“my eyes are too big for my stomach
it can’t process all that i do
a rich diet of endless endeavors
at the expense of me and you
there’s a thousand reasons why I can’t open up
every combination is one turn off
there’s no rest for the weak
I need a week’s rest desperately” – Sesame,  Touche Amore

I always found it strange, and at the same time comforting, that lyrics can connect with people the way they do. It’s hard to put words on paper, or a screen, to properly convey the way you’re feeling at a particular moment.

Right now, this is how I feel. I’m trying to rich this “goal” and I occupy myself with as much as possible to reach it. At the same time, I can’t realize that I’m too busy for my own good; that I can’t handle (or process) everything that I have going on in my life.

I realize it has a negative influence on other aspects of my life and it’s something I know I need to change. I’m just not sure what happens when there isn’t anything left to do: No work. No extra activities. No end goal. It just seems foreign to me. I don’t get it.

Maybe I should concentrate more on what I do have going on already; change the focus of my life so that I get better at things that are the most important to me and that don’t just give me something else to do. I need to slow down and not make every idea I have some grand scheme. I need to practice what I preach, which is, take small steps/strides in the right direction and see where it goes.

There’s a long road ahead of me where I’ll be able to grow and learn. But for now, I need to shrink my life a bit and focus inward.

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Mixed feelings: When is it time to move on?

I’ve defended Oswego for a long time. Anytime someone said there was nothing to do, I had a list of reasons why it was the place to be. Whenever I left, I wanted to come back. I always said, “This place has a charm, it just takes you in.”

Lately, however, I’ve been feeling like maybe Oswego is just something I’m used to; something I know so well, making it part of who I am. I know to take, or not to take, certain roads at specific times of the day, which place has the best beer selection, where the best spots are to hang out by the lake, and who makes the best wings. Bartenders at my local watering hole, The Raven, even know what my favorite drinks are. It feels like home because I’ve made it my home. 

This city needs a lot of work, and I’m not saying I want to run away tomorrow, but unfortunately I don’t see myself here for years and years to come. I want to stay here a while longer, maybe start my professional career and live cheap for a while, then see where it takes me. I want to be committed to making this city better; to making it somewhere I would want to live for a long time. But right now, 20-something year old Jon needs a little more and you know what – it’s time for me to be selfish. 

I want to start my life here: get on my feet, get a decent job, have some fun, and move on when the time is right. I look forward to the day where I get to learn to love a city the way I learned to love Oswego; to learn which bars have the best beer; to learn about the people, the roads, and the restaurants; to learn why other people love it.

Like I said, I’m not running away tomorrow, and to be perfectly honest I’ll probably be here longer than I think. Who knows what happens in the next year or so. Maybe a job pops up I can’t refuse and I stay a while. I’ll leave that up to chance for now and work hard regardless. 

Right now, Oswego is home and I’m happy to be here. But I’ll always think about the day that I move somewhere else. 

One day I will. 

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Why I love history:

“There’s nothing wrong with history, but simply being old doesn’t make you historic.” – Dave Lozo

Though Dave Lozo was talking about the NHL and the constant use of the “Original Six” when hockey analysts talk about Chicago, Boston, New York, Montreal, Toronto, and Detroit, Mr. Lozo’s quote really struck a chord with me. It made me really think about history and what makes something or someone historic.

For me, it depends on who you ask. The meaning something has to one person may not exist, or exists differently, for someone else. There are many different parts of the past that I find interesting, and more so if I get the opportunity to interact with people who lived through it. To me, that makes the person I’m interviewing historic.

For example, today at Safe Haven Museum and Education Center, where I am currently working, I told Lois, an 85 year old Experienced Works employee, I was working on a Dust Bowl Panel for an exhibit on SUNY Oswego’s campus. She told me that she was a little girl during that time period, so, I started talking to her about it and asking questions. The fact that she remembered and could tell me what she went through, how it felt, the things that were going on gave her a historic quality. It’s not because she lived through it, but because she had the information to pass on to me, teaching me about history.

An African proverb helps in better understanding what I mean, “When an old man dies, it’s like a library burning to the ground.” All of that information is lost, unless passed on to someone who connects with it.

Lois and I ended our conversation, and she walked away into another room. A few minutes later, she reappeared and handed me these.

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I was amazed. I’ve been in close contact with quite a bit original materials from the 19th and early 20th century, but for some reason these made me appreciate the opportunity I had all over again. I’m sure people hold these things every day, but to me, it was special.

Lois didn’t seem to think they were all that great and even said that she had ones from the 1930s that I could have. I was shocked. To me, being able to interact and begin to understand history on a personal level is what makes it all worth while; it makes it something worth knowing; it becomes a part of you even if you weren’t there to experience it.

That’s why I love history. It let’s me outlive my own life by hundreds of years, through different people’s perspectives.

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Sempre Imparare. Always Learning.

I’ve met a lot of different people in my close to 23 years on this earth, but I’m beginning to understand more about myself through simplifying my life; by breaking down these structures I built up in my head for so many years that I thought meant happiness, especially in my daily life.

Many of the people I encounter on a daily basis tell me what they’re background is in, “Well, my background is business administration,” “Mine is in marketing and graphic design.” For the last few years my goal was to be a historian, whatever that means. I wanted all the credentials I’d ever need. The solid Master’s GPA. Internships. Jobs. The whole nine. What I’m realizing is, you need more than this narrow track to become what you want.

I don’t want to focus my present on the few things in my past that make me a  “historian.”I want to have a broad background that allows me to gain skills in every aspect of my life, professional and otherwise. My resume is full of jobs, internships, fellowships, assistant-ships, all of which tell the story of how I became who I am and who I want to be.

Umm, what do I want to be?

I want to be an educator, teaching people parts of history they’re interested in and how to use it in their daily life in a setting that is comfortable. A museum is the perfect place. They show up willingly, they ask questions, I either answer the question or we find the answer together. Conversation sparks the flow of information. We learn together. No one is smarter than anyone.

I listen to the aforementioned people speak and think, “Is this their whole life?” “Is this all they have that they’re proud of?” If it’s not, it sure as hell seems like it is.

I want my life to be integrated. I can’t separate all the different aspects of my life and be a different person everywhere I go. I want a seamless, border-less life that allows me to learn everywhere I go, with every person I speak to, and with every experience I have.

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A (post) Father’s Day Post

I always had a Dad. He was somewhere, though it wasn’t always with me.
I learned a lot from him through mistakes, work ethic, determination
and need to be the best, and even my temper.

Years ago, my Dad and I didn’t have a great relationship, which is
unfortunately becoming more common these days in America. I grew up scared of him. “If I wanted to catch you, I would,” I would hear as I was running away.

I remember getting hit across the kitchen floor and being afraid to talk to him for a long time as a kid.

Eventually, like 50% of American kids, my parents split up when I was
in middle school and I barely saw him. He said that he didn’t want to
take me away from my life like all my friends Dad’s did every weekend.
Though I understand when he told me a year or so ago, I never forgave
him for it. It was hard knowing he was there and not hearing from him.

In the mean time, I was lucky enough to have other Father figures in my life for a while growing up. My Grandpa was with me nearly every day until I went to college. He brought me to hockey 6 times a week, whether it was on Long Island, Pennsylvania , New Jersey, or Montreal. He brought me to girl friends’ houses, stores, vacation, drivers ed, and everything in between. He taught me to drive, how to get around Long Island, Brooklyn and NYC, and brought me to college for the first time. He was always there.

I also had a hockey coach, Chris, who took me under his wing when everything first happened with my parents. If my grandpa couldn’t bring me to practice, Chris was there. I played on his teams for years, hung out with his family, became good friends with his son, Mikey, and drove with him, along with Giovanni, J.T, and Mikey, to New Orleans for the Junior Olympics where we won a gold medal. He was always there.

My Mom started dating this guy, Jim, a year or two after my parents split. They’re still together. Jim brought me to hockey, taught me how to drive, and helped my Mom through some really tough times over the years. They now live together on Long Island and have recently remodeled (nearly) their whole house. He was always there, even if it wasn’t always directly for me.

Nowadays, my Dad and I have mended our relationship. I’m still afraid of him,
but in a, “I really hope he doesn’t mess up again” kinda way. As I got
older, it got harder and harder to hear about how broke he was, how broke “we” were, and how little things led to huge problems. I was sick of it.

He’s been better lately with a lot of it. We talk more often, I make a
point of seeing him when I’m on Long Island, and we even find more to
talk about than Brooklyn.

My one problem is that I see him being ambitious opening 3 bike shops,
a tattoo shop, buying an apartment complex in Binghamton, all while
being majority owner of a construction company, and I have a hard time
believing it’s all stable. I guess it’s not my job to worry, but I
worry about him as a person. It makes it hard to sit and watch him as
his kid not having any way to help if it all comes crashing down.

But I guess today isn’t about that. He’s been successful, just like
his dad. Our Italian heritage has some positives, though our intense
attitudes, awful accents, and need for spaghetti and meatballs 3 times
a month can be annoying to some. I’m proud of what he’s done, but I
wish he would sit and enjoy it for a second and relax for a change. I can only hope his good luck continues.

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Addiction: Music

I’m not “addicted” to any substances, I don’t think. Maybe coffee and french fries. However, I am addicted to short, fast punk songs. I think a lot of people listen to hardcore or punk and get bored because it’s the same thing over and over. But the way I think about it is, if the band does it well enough 2 or 3 minutes with a rock n roll guitar riff,solid drums and passionate lyrics, it should leave you wanting more. This is why I’ve been listening to the same records for the last 3 months. I listen to it once, and I just want more of it.

When I was in Burning Bridge Street,  my junior and senior years of college, we had trouble writing songs because of all the different influences we had as individual musicians. Though my “hardcore phase” came after the band was pretty much over, when we were writing I never found the need to change things up from verse to verse, adding different post-chorus riffs or interludes. 

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I just wanted to write songs I was passionate about and that I loved to play. For the most part, we wrote songs that we all loved to play and there were only a few that we completely trashed or just didn’t play live, though live meant playing at a house party that we threw so we could play in front of our friends. I don’t get to play drums much anymore so I’m forced to look at them every time enter or leave my apartment. I’ve been trying for a while to get back into it, but there aren’t many people in Oswego not already in bands or who want to play acoustic jam-band stuff. I never got sick of playing or writing music, and I hope that I get back behind the kit with a band soon. 

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