Posts Tagged With: justin zoradi

10 Years From Now…[Part 2]

Sorry guys. I forgot to upload the video for the movie “10 Years,” which reminded me of this question, spawning this series of blog posts. It may help you get the gist.


So, to back up.

The hardest class I ever took in college wasn’t even required for my major. And the worst part of it was… I took it “for fun”. Ya, I was that guy in college. I took extra classes, “just cause”.

[So I totally understand if that makes you want to tune me out right now. But I promise this series of posts isn’t about school. Unless you want it to be. Hopefully, it will mean something different to everybody.]

Anyways, I took this Public Relations course, where your grades were judged from projects like raising money for a non-profit cause, by putting on a benefit concert, or selling raffle tickets. Stuff like that. Very unconventional class, to say the least.

Our groups created imaginary P.R. companies. If we didn’t succeed, we didn’t pass.

Ya, there was no pressure on us or anything.

This teacher was like Mr. Keating, but raging on steroids [Dead Poets Society]. I think I’ll call him “Dr. Reality Check”.

Instead of bubbling in scantrons, I found myself drawing up a business model and creating commercials for TV and radio, to promote our company’s cause. It was almost all out-of-class work.  In class, we gathered around for fireside chats and discussed, realistically, how we planned on executing our business plan – the specifics. No generic fluff. He spotted that quicker than a fat kid tastes splenda in his “sweet” tea. We quickly realized that proposing solutions for problems are easy, when everything is hypothetical and the hot air never rises beyond the classroom ceiling.

With Dr. Reality Check, the usual college-kid bull shit answers were not acceptable. We all feared the moment he lifted his pointer finger to call on one of us. There was never a “right” answer, it seemed. No quoting the textbook. He would pace back and forth, saying, “hmmmmm….does anyone else have a better answer? That’s not what I’m looking for.”

But in my defense, it wasn’t our fault. We had been programmed over the past 18 years of our life in the public education system to give the predictable, textbook highlighted “right” answer. It’s what the teachers have always wanted to see, grading our tests. I think it is every bit like answering “Jesus” for any given question in Sunday School; Yes, it’s expected, but never wrong. But that wasn’t what this teacher wanted. This dude required us to think for ourselves and show how we came to that solution.

We all hated him by the end of the semester.

Poetry would have been a whole lot easier to come up with, on the spot.

We barely slept. My classmates, to this day, will attest to having violent, PSD-induced night terrors, imagining him calling on us. We thought we had the school system all figured out, by this point in our college career. But this random class was more work than all my other classwork combined. This isn’t how it works! We had no clue how far off we were. But none of those are the reasons we dreaded his deep breath, before announcing end-of-class assignments. Well, mostly. I did enjoy sleeping and having a social life, before that semester.

Yes, we loathed, even feared, the inevitable homework  which we wouldn’t humanly have time for. But the real reason for this dread is, we couldn’t stand the fact….. the answers couldn’t be copied, word for word, out of the book. He made us think.

We just wanted our standardized testing back. And his hardest portion of the final test was the question:


What do you want to be in life? What are your highest aspirations, if nothing stood in the way?

[Give essay answer]

Sounds easy right? Everybody has dreams and shit– you know, the stuff that keeps you awake at night. Or daydreams at a dead-end job. Either way, we all got ’em. Everyone could write a novel here. But the second part was harder.


Now list 10 specific steps you will take to get from here to there.


Ya, that’s everyone’s reaction. I dare you to get out a pen and paper. Because it’s really hard to commit to the second part, listing verifiable ways to actually see them happen. This is the part that stumps most of us. We have the first part, the easy part down, like our last name. We’ve rehearsed it a million times in our head. But the second part, we’ve contemplated about as many times as Lindsay Lohan has sobriety.

Dr. Reality Check said it is very easy to keep creating these elaborate dreams, if we don’t feel the pressure to follow through on them. No commitment factor= no pressure, basically.


Even today, as I write this, the question still hangs over my head.

So, what’s it gonna be? I mean, sure, I have an pretty good idea. But I sure as hell don’t have it all figured out.

There were no easy answers for the “solution” to this problem.

There never will be.

Because nobody can take control of your life for you. It can feel like others are integral to it sometimes, as they help guide you, walking along a similar path, in step, but nobody can walk it for you.

For example, a couple months ago I was sitting in the doctor’s office, waiting for him to show. I asked the nurse, “What kind of vitamin supplements should I be taking, as a 21 year old guy?”

Her response: “Oh, just Google it. I don’t know.”

Gee thanks.

But honestly, the secret is really this: nobody knows. Almost everyone’s faking it. The few who “get it,” have already been to the lowest place, the place where everything is stripped away, where only the bare truth remained, where they were forced to find the answers themselves, because those higher-ups who were “supposed” to know didn’t– a place where there is no Google solution.

We need to learn to be okay with that.

Especially in our (my) generation of get-it-quick-results and Googling damn near ev-er-y-thing.

High school and college can be great times for learning and thinking outside the box. Yes, I know that. I’m not discounting their importance. [More in part 3]

But, after that, what are you going to do–when the regimented structure and prodding is stripped away?

You will only have yourself consult. Only yourself to fault for failure, not the system.

No matter how much other people may want it for you, the choices in life are ultimately yours.

And, as I described in Part 1, not deciding to do anything IS making a choice.


So, 10 years from now, where do you want to be?

[To Be Continued…… Part 3]

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Visual Design: Intentionally Invoking the Senses

So, my communication teacher wants to know why I picked the layout colors of my blog.

Let me address this in the most possibly meandering way I can.

I don’t usually think about it consciously — why I like the certain aesthetic properties I do.

I know, I know – we’re a visual culture… and it’s kind of my job. I kick myself, “Shouldn’t I already know this?” I really should start paying more attention.

so here goes.

Well, for starters, I was given some pretty awesome tips from my South Africa director, Justin Zoradi, about the art of simplicity.  [ — he’s also a really great, recognized writer! Check him out!]Justin Zoradi

I’ve been thinking about making a website for my photography.

One of my graphic designer friends, Tiffany, said she imagined my website would be something which would look…..clean. (hence the plain wood & tan/grey background). Ya, I like that. Keep It Simple Stupid, right? But seriously, simplicity and ease of access is what we aim for in our culture, right?

By the way, Justin’s blog is a perfect example of this kind of professional layout, better than mine.  He really “gets it,” as we like to say.

Well, aside from the “graphic design bifocals” I have to admit I often see through as a communication major,…. I just really dig the look of the wood paneled background.

The house I live in right now was built in the 1930’s. It’s really old. In fact, it had push tube electricity when we moved inIf you don’t know what that is….there’s a good reason. It’s not allowed anymore. Something about houses catching on fire because of the thin, exposed wiring….

but anyways, it’s a beautiful, rustic 7 bedroom house, completely wood flooring. It’s got that awesome distressed quality to it. It’s the kind of stuff you just can’t fake. Only the years gone by produce that smell and feel.

I guess, it kind of takes me back to another time period when I enter the front door. It’s like a portal to another world. We tried to keep the majority of the house (minus kitchen appliances) the same when we restored it.

and the photoshop edited banner “Wordplay Revolution”?….well that’s my creative techie/ graphic art side coming out. I used to have a blog called “The revolution” or something. Can’t remember.

The picture on the banner?

Oh, wait this is a good story. (remember, behind every picture is a story)

I took that picture on a road trip with my dear friend and mentor, Andrew.

It was a snowy day. The first fall of the winter actually. Well, half sleet, depending where you were in Oklahoma. It was Thanksgiving. I didn’t have a family to spend it with, so he invited me up to Oklahoma City to eat with his family. We took the back roads – the whole way. He said I could take as long as I wanted and we could stop every time I wanted a picture. There was no rules. No schedule. No time deadlines. We could take as long as we wanted and do whatever we wanted along the way. My reaction was like a little kid high on a multiple bags of skittles.  This creative junkie was about to get 150 miles of endless fixes.

UM HELLO! Have you met me?! haha I’m not sure if you’ve ever ridden in the car with me….but I hope you don’t plan on getting there anytime soon.

Needless to say, Andrew is a good friend.


I guess, that banner picture means a lot to me because it brings with it that familial sense of longing. It automatically takes me back to the bitter frost of that oddly half-sunny Oklahoma day, his red truck, abruptly shaken from my depressed weekend I had planned to spend by myself, to Andrew’s phone call, pulling me from the couch and promising we’d stop to get syrupy french toast somewhere along the way

I can remember… standing in the middle of the lonely highway for a good photo as he watched for oncoming cars, mother nature’s science experiment of orange leaves still trapped under the flash freeze, the smell of coffee and cigarettes with every stop, 40’s bop raging on the radio in between long conversations, warming my numb hands in front of the heater, his mom’s home cooking and family albums, watching the sunset and backyard bird-feeders — feeling completely content after an awesome day. Feeling….safe. Happy. Relieved and removed from all the complicated mess of my life…..even if just for a day.

It was a simple day really. By any standard. Just a road trip. Nothing fancy. Nothing elaborate that would strike most people as particularly “memorable”. Just…simple.

But sometimes I have to remind myself…..I need simple.

We all do.

It’s a welcome relief for our eyes and heart, from all the stressful, twisted mess of our complicated lives.

As a general rule, good design is simple and easy.


But I’m a very “visual” person, and this is my blog, so I’m biased.

So all ask your opinion– does it have that calming effect on you? Even if for a completely different reason.

What does the layout make you think of?

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