I’ve long had a goal to visit all 50 states. These are the stories from each one. 50 States, 50 Stories.
If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to take a selfie with it, does it really matter? In today’s society, the answer seems to be no. So I decided to take a selfie in each of the 50 states and compile them together in this video.
If you want to check out the individual pictures, you can see them here on Flickr.
I recently wrapped up 18 months of being a nomad. During that time, I lived primarily out of two carry-on bags. Here’s what was in them.
My fully packed Red Oxx Airboss ($275.00) bag weighed in at 22 pounds.
It included the following (pictured in the featured image):
- Homage Zip Hoodie. One of the softest hoodies I’ve ever worn and a main part of my wardrobe. It’s great for fall and spring temperatures, plus air-conditioned summers, and is a nice added layer for really cold winters. $65.00
- Next Mileskin Jacket. It took me going to Scotland to find a coat that looked good on my slender frame. This is a great winter coat that layers nicely and isn’t too heavy when carrying it. £90.00
- Tommy Hilfiger Rainwear Jacket (now discontinued?). A very lightweight jacket that repels the rain and can easily be folded or scrunched into a bag. Also makes a decent make-shift pillow.
- Clarks Leather Sandals. A casual pair of sandals for beach days, laundry days, and quick errands. $29.99
- Nike Downshifter 6 Running Shoe. $49.94
- Aldo Men’s Boot (similar to these). The first pair of boots I owned were great but started to fall apart with all of the walking I did, so I switched to a pair of Aldo Men’s boots that are comfortable for most of the day and look nicer than gym shows. $109.95
- Aldo Edoewin Oxford Dress Shoes. A nice looking pair of dress shoes to go with the navy suit I have for events. $79.95
- Going in Style Travel Laundry Clothesline. A must-have for drying out clothes in hotels and AirBNBs. $12.95
- Metolius Carabiner. A carabiner I used for attaching said clothesline to things. $9.95
- Travelon Inflatable Hanger. For hanging up clothes when a hanger isn’t available; I never used it. $10.00
- Microfiber Travel Towel. A compact towel that dries quickly. It doesn’t feel nearly as nice as a real towel and can start to smell quickly, but is a must for when you’re crashing somewhere that doesn’t have an extra towel for you. $14.95
- Parachord Bracelet. A combo chord and whistle; luckily I never had to use it. $8.99
- Inflatable Neck Pillow. Always better in theory than in practice, I tried using it periodically and never really enjoyed it. I still travel with it just in case. $13.99
- Bounce Dryer Sheets. These served more than one purpose, including their intended use when drying clothes, but also to prevent shoes from smelling, and to (supposedly) prevent mosquito bites. $15.99 for a big pack you don’t need.
- Small Lint Roller. Useful for cleaning off hairs and fuzz from your clothes, particularly helpful when you crash at someone’s place who has a cat or dog. $7.99 for 4
- Uniqlo Men Heattech V Neck T Shirt Long Sleeve. A long sleeve shirt that is thick enough to provide extra warmth but thin enough to be used with other layers. $14.90
- Woolly Men’s Merino Wool Short Sleeve V-Neck. A staple of any nomad wardrobe is merino wool and this is a cheaper alternative than a lot of other brands. I replaced an Icebreaker shirt that started gaining holes with this one and was happy with it’s performance. It’s odor resistant, easy to wash in the sink, and quick drying. $39.99
- Icebreaker Men’s Anatomica Short Sleeve V. The second merino wool shirt I bought and worked great in alternating with the other shirt. By switching between the two daily, I could go at least a week between washing if I wanted to. $51.99
- Uniqlo Men Heattech Tights. Uniqlo calls them tights, I think of them as long underwear, but either way they provide a nice base layer for the legs when the temperature drops below freezing. $14.90
- Ex-Officio Men’s Give-N-Go Boxer Brief (x3). Another staple of a nomad’s packing list is the underoos. These boxers are odor resistant and quick-drying. With three pairs, you have flexibility and can do your washing every other night. Hang them up while you sleep and you’re good to go in the morning. $14.99 each
- Darn Tough Men’s Merino Wool No Show Socks (x2). The final staple of the nomad’s wardrobe is socks. These Darn Tough socks work great while wearing tennis shoes. Also odor resistant and quick drying. $15.95 each
- Darn Tough Men’s Warlock Crew Light Cushion Hiking Socks (x2). A long version of the Darn Tough Merino Wool socks that go great with boots or dress shoes. $19.95 each
- Suitsupply Sienna Blue Suit. An incredible well-made suit with a tailored fit and a professional look, perfect for the presentations I give and more formal affairs. $599.00
- Olivers All Over Shorts. Multipurpose shorts that can be used for casual attire, workout shorts, or swim trunks. They’re probably more expensive than what they provide, but nice to cut down on space. $65
- Uniqlo Slim Fit Straight Leg Jeans. Fashionable jeans that fit well but also stretch when moving around. They aren’t the most rugged–I went through 2.5 pairs during my trip–but there may not be a jean that exists that can survive the wear and tear of nomadic living. The plus is that these are cheaper than alternatives from places like Bonobos. $49.90
- Adidas Performance Training Pants. Comfortable pants for lounging around or working out in colder temperatures with the added benefit that they are part of the ComedySportz uniform. $29.99
- J.Crew Slim Washed Shirt (x2). A slim fitting button-down shirt that works great for business casual situations and is part of my standard jeans+button+hoodie look. $19.95 each
- J.Crew Thompson Dress Shirt (x2). A nicer quality button-front shirt that goes well with a suit. $34.50 each
- American Apparel 50/50 Crewneck T-Shirt. A casual t-shirt for summer days. $20.00
- Ohio State Buckeyes Shirt. A casual t-shirt for rooting on the Buckeyes (or showing off Ohio pride). I’m not sure of the price because my mom got it for me.
- Various Toiletries (see below).
In the Red Oxx Bag was a Tom Bihn Clear Quarter Packing Cube ($32.00).
I used to used toiletries, including:
- Travel sizes of: toothpaste, hair gel, shampoo, lotion, sunscreen, body spray, and cortizone.
- Regular sizes of: bar soap, deodorant, fingernail clippers, cuticle scissors (surprisingly TSA compliant), thermometer, and beard trimmer.
- A “switchblade” style toothbrush (much better than the ones you put into the long tube).
- A small plastic soap holder and a small empty spray bottle.
On my back was a Tom Bihn Synapse 25 ($200.00) that carried my electronics along with a few other tools (and snacks!).
- Microsoft Surface Pro 3. I started out using a Macbook Air and enjoyed it. Then I got the Surface Pro because I doing an event for Microsoft and I didn’t look back. All the benefits of the Macbook Air plus I never had to put it away on flights because it’s also a tablet. $799
- Seagate 1 TB External Drive. For backing up large files and for carrying various media with me. $57.99
- TROND USB Hub for Surface Pro. A USB hub for the surface pro so I can connect multiple devices at once. $13.99
- PNY Mini Displayport to HDMI Adapter. To connect my Surface Pro (or Macbook Air) to projectors. $8.99
- Rakie Mini Displayport to VGA Adapter. For older projectors. $9.99
- Cmple 1.5ft HDMI Cable. A short HDMI cable for hooking up my laptop to projectors and hotel TVs. $5.99
- Logitech Professional Presenter R800. A remote for my presentations. $47.99
- Zoom H2n Handy Recorder. For picking up audience sound and for recording audio interviews. $159.99
- GoPro HERO4 Silver. For recording video for shows and general adventure (like snorkeling in Hawaii!). $399.99
- Joby Magnetic Tripod with Smartphone Mount. A gorillapod-style tripod for the GoPro / my smartphone. $22.99
- Stony-Edge Simple Lav Microphone. A lav to record audio straight into my phone for videos. $59.95
- Anker Lipstick Sized Portable Charger. A rechargeable charger to maintain phone battery on long trips with no power source. $19.99
- Travel Surge Protector. For when outlets are sparse, particularly great at airports when someone is using all of the outlets, you can ask to replace it with this for more spots. $12.99
- Universal Travel Power Adaptor. For international travel. $21.95
- iPod Touch. They no longer make the version I have but it has 60GB worth of music on it.
- Audio Technica Over the Ear Noise Canceling Headphones. So you can actually hear music or a movie when on an airplane. $99.95
- Petzl Tikkina Headlamp. To scare off bats in Idaho. $19.95
- Light My Fire Titanium Sport. To consume delicious food when utensils aren’t available. $13.95
- Various cables including: iPod cable, spare phone cable, 3.5″ mini cable, and micro USB cable.
- Various travel accessories including: EZpass for NYC, FastTrack for Bay Area, and USB car adapter.
- Various health items including: Advil, diarrhea pills, and first aid kit.
- Various snacks often including: Pop Tarts, protein bars, and candy.
- A plastic water bottle.
- Various travel documents.
Check out pictures all of my gear in this Flickr album.
Today’s the day. After being a nomad for 550 days, I’m hanging up my traveling shoes and settling back in NYC (Brooklyn to be exact).
From March 1, 2015 to September 1, 2016, I lived out of two bags, traveling the world for work, fun, and selfies. After 18 months, I decided to return to the homeful lifestyle (though I’ll still be traveling quite a bit, including a 3-week stretch that starts in 3 weeks).
To honor the closing of one chapter in my life, I decided to take a quantitative look back at the experience (much like I did when I surpassed 1,000 performances).
Travel by Month
In total, I traveled an estimated 159,023 miles (that’s 255,922 kilometers).
Note: This is only the miles it took to get from one place to another; I didn’t track distance traveled within a destination (such as all the walking I did in Texas when PokemonGo came out).
159,000 miles is the equivalent of roughly 6 trips around the globe (given the Earth’s circumference is measured at 24,874 miles), or one circumnavigation every 3 months.
I averaged nearly 8,900 miles per month. A few notes:
- The most I traveled in 1 month was 28,910 miles in March 2016 (18% of total miles traveled). That involved visiting New York, Madrid, Lisbon, Dallas, Los Angeles, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and San Francisco. 8 major cities in 5 countries in 31 days isn’t bad.
- The second busiest month of travel was this last month, August 2016, at 12,165 miles, which included trips to London, Edinburgh, Oxford, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Cincinnati, and New York.
- The least I traveled in a month was July 2015 at just 3,240 miles. Even though it was my lowest total, I still hit Cincinnati, Philadelphia, New York, DC, Chicago, and Detroit.
Not all time periods were equal when it came to traveling.
I definitely traveled the most at the beginning of the year, nearly 50% more than the other quarters. The summer was (barely) my lightest travel time, mostly due to a slowdown in work engagements.
Tuesday was by far my busiest travel day at 47,609 miles or 30% of all travel coming on that day. That likely has to do with the fact that flights tend to be cheapest on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
The next busiest was Friday at 28,476 miles (18%). My most relaxed day (at least when it came to travel) was Sunday at 11,084 miles (7%).
Naturally there were ebbs and flows to my travel.
The most I ever traveled in one day was 9,130 miles, which included a flight from Singapore to Los Angeles and then on to San Francisco.
I did some form of significant travel on 247 out of the 550 days (45%). On the 303 days I didn’t travel, I often did local trips to restaurants, parks, and theaters, I just didn’t move from one location to another.
A few notes:
- Over the 550 days, I had 247 stays. 54% of those stays (135 total) were for a single day. 84% were for 3 days or less, 97% were for 7 days or less.
- The longest I stayed in one place was 18 days, in January 2016, when I stayed at my girlfriend-at-that-time’s (GATT) place in Palo Alto.
- The most consecutive days I traveled was 17, during my summer 2015 road trip with my brother, when we covered 8,027 miles (6,000 of which were via car), hitting 39 cities in 19 states.
Travel by Location
In those 150,000+ miles I went to a lot of places, including 142 different cities, all 50 states, 14 countries, and 3 continents. (You can check out a list of all the cities if you’re interested.)
All told, I had 609 “visits,” where a visit means I did something in that place, whether it be leading an event, going to a local attraction, or sleeping there (hey, sleeping is something). So if I was driving through and stopped to do a show and then moved on, that was 1 visit. If I stayed in a city for 5 days, that was 5 visits.
Despite having left NYC, I still found myself back here quite a bit, thanks in large part to working with companies based here and it being a great launching point for European travels.
The #2 and #3 most popular spots weren’t that surprising, considering my mom lives in Ohio and it gave me a spot to crash when I wasn’t headed somewhere specific, and the Bay Area was where my GATT was and was a potential destination when I decided to stop the nomadism.
On the flipside, I visited 81 cities (57%) just once.
The top three states weren’t surprising, considering what I just mentioned about the top cities.
#4 wasn’t a surprise either; my brother lives in Texas and I visited a few times to guest teach his classes, as well as had a couple of events elsewhere in the state. Arizona at #5 seemed high, but it was popular due to conferences and wanting to see the Grand Canyon (which I did twice on these travels).
USA! USA! USA! accounted for 89% of my visits. Second was Norway and Singapore where for both I spent 10 days doing events and sightseeing. I was only in Belgium and Malaysia for one night each, still managing to do an event in both.
Travel by Transportation Method
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles isn’t just a 1987 comedy, it was also how I got around during my nomadic journey (plus buses and a ferry).
I took 66 flights (not including layovers), 181 car trips, 47 trains (not including subways), 8 buses, and 1 ferry. A few notes:
- 72% of distance covered was via flights (114,709 miles). If the average plane speed is 575 miles an hour, that’s 200 hours in a plane, or 8 days. That doesn’t count taxi, take-off, landing, or waiting for the boarding doors to close.
- 24% of my mileage came by car at 38,936 miles. If I averaged a speed of 60 miles an hour (which is generous considering the amount of time I spent in LA traffic alone), that’s 651 hours, or 27 days, in the car.
- 3% of travel was by train (or subway) at 4,596 miles, 0.7% by bus (1,077 miles), and 0.00% by ferry (1 trip for 5 miles).
- My longest flight was 8,800 miles from LAX to SIN (Singapore). My longest car trip (in a day) was 685 miles, driving from St Louis, MO to Burlington, CO (en route to San Francisco).
Travel by Companions
I had the pleasure of seeing and hanging out with hundreds (maybe thousands?) of people throughout my trips. Being nomadic gave me an opportunity to visit friends all over the world, attend a variety of conferences and festivals, and of course meet tons of interesting people along the way.
That said, a majority of my time going from once place to another (e.g. flights) was done alone. 88% of the miles traveled (140,807) were done by myself. As an introvert, I didn’t mind this at all.
5% of travel (7,869 miles) was done with my brother, including our epic road trip in the summer of 2015, and 4% (6,505 miles) were with my GATT, including cross-country drives to and from Palo Alto.
Accommodations by Place
While most of my travel was done on my own, most of my visiting was not. I certainly could not have pulled off this adventure without the help and support of some incredible people.
I mean that on an emotional level, but that’s hard to quantify, so here’s the support some provided on a “you can sleep here” level.
There were a mix of different types of accommodations, including staying with friends, family, friends of friends (FoF), AirBNB, while in transit, and at my apartment.
Which I guess now is a good time to confess something: though I’m ending my nomadic journey today, I’ve technically had an apartment for about a month. BUT I barely spent time there this last month, which was also my second busiest travel month of the entire experience. Plus 18 months sounds a lot better than 17…
That said, here are a few notes about where I stayed:
- 38% of my stays (208 nights) were with friends. 86 nights were at my GATT’s place. 28 nights were with my now current roommates, and 25 nights were with my best friend since 7th grade.
- 32%, or 176 nights, were at hotels. A majority of stays were split at either Wyndham properties (47 nights) or Marriott brands (44 nights).
- 19% of the time (103 nights), I stayed with family. 72 of those nights (13% of all stays) were at my mom’s. I also stayed with my brother David, my grandma, my cousin Jean, and my cousin Stephanie.
- 4% of stays (23 nights) were via AirBNB, including 2 nights on a houseboat in Amsterdam.
- 2% (13 nights) were with friends of friends, including friends through CSz, friend’s parent’s places, and someone’s office.
- 2% (13 nights) were spent sleeping in transit, including 5 flights, 3 trains, 3 stays in a Walmart parking lot and two different nights in a rest area.
Like I said, I couldn’t have done this alone.
A Few Final Pieces of Data
As of this line, we’re sitting at over 1,400 words for this post, so I’m going to wrap it up. Here are a few random pieces of data that I couldn’t fit anywhere else:
- I did 151 engagements for work and 136 performances over the 18 months of being a nomad.
- I traveled with 33 pounds of stuff. On average, I wore 6 pounds worth of clothing, had a backpack with 11 pounds worth of gear, and a carry-on bag of 22 pounds of clothes.
- I spent $44,000 on travel over the course of the journey, an average of $2400 / month. A lot of that money was reimbursed by clients when they brought me in for various events, the rest was out-of-pocket.
- On January 1, 2016, after 9 months of traveling (and getting through the holidays), I was statistically the fattest I have ever been. I weighed in at 151 pounds with a 33″ stomach. I’m now back down to 144 pounds with a 32″ stomach.
Over the course of 18 months, I went to 142 cities in 50 states, 14 countries, and 3 continents. Here’s the master list of all the places I went.
Bold = when the story takes place for that state with the (#) denoting the order.
Italics = international countries that are outside the scope of the book.
New York, Ohio (1), New York, Switzerland, Italy, France, New York, Virginia (2), Maryland (3), DC, New York
New York, Ohio, New York, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium, New York
Ohio, New York, Massachusetts (4), Vermont (5), Maine (6), Rhode Island (7), New York, Ohio, Tennessee (8), Alabama (9), Mississippi (10), Arkansas (11), Louisiana (12), Alabama, Florida (13), South Carolina (14), Pennsylvania (15), Ohio
Ohio, Illinois, California, Illinois, Iowa (16), Nebraska (17), Kansas (18), Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma (19), New Mexico (20), Colorado (21), Wyoming, Utah, Idaho (22), Montana (23), Wyoming (24), South Dakota (25), North Dakota (26), Minnesota (27), Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio
Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, DC, Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois, Michigan
Michigan (28), Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, New York, Georgia (29), Texas (30), Arizona (31), Utah, Arizona, California
California, Alaska (32), Canada, Illinois (33)
Illinois, Oregon (34), Washington (35), Ohio, Indiana (36), Ohio, New York, Connecticut (37), New York, New Jersey (38), New York, Ohio, Kentucky (39), Ohio, Canada, New York
New York (40), California, Nevada, Illinois, Wisconsin (41), Illinois, New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Delaware (42), New York, Ohio, Alabama, Louisiana
Texas, Ohio, New York, Ohio, Missouri (43), Ohio, Missouri, Colorado, Utah (44), Nevada (45)
Nevada, California (46), Georgia, West Virginia (47), North Carolina (48), Georgia, New York
Maryland (49), New York, Alaska, Hawaii (50)
Note: After I finished all 50 states, I continued to live as nomad until September 1, 2016, going to: California, Illinois, Ohio, New York, Spain, Portugal, Singapore, Malaysia, Arizona, Washington, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Kansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Texas, England, Scotland, and Florida.
Nomad City List
Amarillo, TX. Amsterdam, Netherlands. Anaheim, CA. Anchorage, AK. Ann Arbor, MI. Athens, OH. Atlanta, GA. Bakersfield, CA. Baltimore, MD. Bandalier, NM. Barre, VT. Baton Rouge, LA. Berlin, CT. Bessemer, AL. Big Sur, CA. Bismarck, ND. Boston, MA. Bozeman, MT. Brooklyn, NY. Brussels, Belgium. Buffalo, WY. Burlington, CO. Cameron, AZ. Cheyenne, WY. Chicago, IL. College Station, TX. Colorado Springs, CO. Columbia, SC. Columbus, OH. Craters of the Moon, ID. Dallas, TX. Denver, CO. Des Moines, IA. Detroit, MI. Dijon, France. Dillon, SC. Dubois, PA. Durham, NC. Fargo, ND. Flagstaff, AZ. Geneva, Switzerland. Goodland, KS. Grand Canyon North Rim, AZ. Grand Canyon South Rim, AZ. Gulf Shores, AL. Helena, MT. Highland Heights, KY. Hoboken, NJ. Hollywood, FL. Honolulu, HI. Houston, TX. Huntington, WV. Huntsville, AL. Hutchinson, KS. Indianapolis, IN. Jackson, MS. Juneau, AK. Kanab, UT. Kansas City, KS. Kasha Katuew, NM. Kent, OH. Kirkcaldy, Scotland. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Labelle, Canada. Lancaster, PA. Las Vegas, NV. Lincoln, NE. Lisbon, Portugal. Little Rock, AR. London, England. Long Island, NY. Los Angeles, CA. Louisville, KY. Madison, WI. Madrid, Spain. Manchester, NH. Manhattan, KS. Mason, OH. Milan, Italy. Mill Valley, CA. Milwaukee, WI. Minneapolis, MN. Moab, UT. Montreal, Canada. Mt Kisco, NY. Mt Rushmore, SD. Nashville, TN. New Orleans, LA. New York, NY. Newport, RI. Ogden, UT. Oklahoma City, OK. Omaha, NE. Oslo, Norway. Oxford, England. Page, AZ. Palo Alto, CA. Philadelphia, PA. Phoenix, AZ. Pierre, SD. Pikes Peak, CO. Pine Falls, AR. Pocatello, ID. Pomona, CA. Portland, ME. Poughkeepsie, NY. Pringle, SD. Provo, UT. Quad Cities, IL. Queens, NY. Rawlins, WY. Richmond, VA. Rock Springs, WY. Sacramento, CA. Salina, KS. Salt Lake City, UT. San Francisco, CA. Santa Fe, NM. Savannah, GA. Scottsdale, AZ. Seattle, WA. Sedona, AZ. Singapore, Singapore. Somerset, PA. St Louis, MO. Stavanger, Norway. Stevensville, MI. Stuart, IA. Sturbridge, MA. Tarrytown, NY. Topeka, KS. Toronto, Canada. Turin, Italy. Venice, Italy. Washington, DC. Wheaton, MD. White Plains, NY. Williams, AZ. Winnemucca, NV. Yellowstone, WY. Yorklyn, DE. Zion, UT.
Note to future self: I need to visit cities that start with E, U, and X.
In my 1,000th performance in my 50th state on my 32nd birthday, I shared the journey of what it was like to live as a nomad, why I did it, and what I learned from the experience.
A big shout-out to Civil Beat in Honolulu for letting me tell this story and for putting on an incredible storytelling event.
To learn more about the journey, check out my other travel posts.
Do you think you can be anything you want to be, as long as you set your mind to it? I didn’t used to think so. I mean, people are limited by education, environment, and circumstance.
And then I saw something, or rather someone, who changed my mind.
The Butt Sketch Artist
I was sitting at the closing event of the Women’s Foodservice Forum in Dallas, TX. Earlier that day I had delivered two breakout sessions to 400 aspiring women leaders on the topic of humor in the workplace and was now celebrating the end of the incredible conference.
To my left was a VP of Coca-Cola. She was telling us the story of those “Japanese coke machines” that allow you to pick any flavor you want that in no way started in Japan. To my right, was a VP of Starbucks. She had recently helped improve the food selection that sits in those glass cases along with the delicious marble loaf.
In the middle was a very distracted me. Despite our interesting conversation and the fact that these were two very powerful women to know with regards to business, I couldn’t help but focus on what was happening directly across from our table:
A man stood drawing on a white easel. One woman posed off to the left. A line of ten women stood off to the right, awaiting their turn. The man was not a caricaturist, nor was he a painter, but he was an artist, specifically of drawing women’s backsides.
For each volunteer, the Bob Ross of Butts would give a warm greeting, turn them around, and then help them pose in a fashion to accentuate the lines of their tookus. He would then sketch their butt, sign his name, and and give the drawing to his butt subject. The process took one to two minutes and then the next volunteer would step up.
I was fascinated. A butt sketch artist. I had never heard of such a thing. Immediately I wondered: how did this all come to be?
I’ve dwelled on this a lot since then and have come up with three theories:
1) Failed caricaturist.
My first thought was that he was a failed caricature artist. I imagined he went through art school and was decently talented but he could never draw faces. Like he’d get the frame right but then butcher the nose or draw the eyes lopsided. Eventually he said screw it and drew what he was good at: curves.
2) Artistic integrity.
My second theory was that he was actually incredible at drawing faces, so good, that he would include the blemishes and flaws of his clients to the point of insulting them with his accuracy. The only way he could get around making his clients happy while not offending his integrity as an artist was to turn them around.
3) Passion to profit.
My third, and what I considered the most likely theory, was that he had recently attended a motivational seminar. In it, the speaker asked, “What are you most passionate about? Find a way to make money doing it.” The guy thought to himself, “I like looking at butts. How can I profit from that?”
Like most businesses, I’m sure he started with a few ideas that wouldn’t work. Create Yelp for butts? Too offensive. Become a casting director for Victoria Secret? Too hard to get into. Do caricatures but instead of drawing faces, draw butts? Perfect.
Part of me wishes I had gone up to the man and asked him how he started his business. Part of me thinks the speculation is way more fun. All of me wishes I had gotten in line to get my own butt drawn.
11 May 2015. Somewhere outside of Portland, ME
I awoke at 06:30 in the morning. It wasn’t the most restful sleep I’d ever had, but that’s somewhat expected when you are sleeping in a Walmart parking lot in a Ford Fiesta.
I had done a standup show in Montpelier, VT the night before and had driven through state of New Hampshire on my way to Maine, and decided to stay the night in my rental car. I certainly could have gotten a hotel room, but I was curious about what the “car in a parking lot” experience was like. That and it did save me a bit of money.
I had done a little bit of research online before attempting the non-luxurious slumber, at least enough to learn that Walmarts were among the most popular car-sleeping destinations. They’re typically a safe spot to set up car camp as they’re regularly patrolled and have a policy that allows for overnight stays.
Despite my research, I had made a couple of rookie mistakes, the biggest being that I had forgotten to confirm that the Walmart was of the 24 hour variety. This one wasn’t.
I had been surprisingly productive before going to bed. Thanks to the mobile hotspot on my T-Mobile plan, I was able to send emails and catch up on a few things that I’d missed during the day because of all of the driving.
Around midnight, I looked up for my work just in time to see some employees locking the front doors to customers. I hadn’t brushed my teeth yet and needed to use the bathroom, so I had to start the car and find a nearby gas station.
Once arriving at the gas station I decided to skip the “brushing my teeth part” for the night as it somehow felt dirtier to open my mouth in the bathroom than just letting the night go by without a rinse.
I finished up and headed back to the Walmart parking lot, trying to find a spot that was reasonably away from other vehicles, not too directly under a light, but also not so far away that it was easily accessed by creatures of the night.
I had woken up a few times in the night to turn the car on briefly to get the air going a little bit, crack the window some, change positions, use my hoodie as a blanket, throw it off as a blanket, try it as a pillow, try other things as a pillow, etc. But in between those moments I actually got some rest. Again, not the most restful of sleeps but it did seem to suffice.
In the morning, as the sun shined through the windows, I awoke. I got out of my car/hotel room and made my way into the now open Walmart so I could brush my teeth, go to the bathroom, and grab a box a Pop Tarts for breakfast.
11 April 2015. Columbus, OH
I looked around the room at the 30+ people playing the warm up Kitty in the Corner. Everyone participating was at least 18 years old and having an incredibly fun time.
I was the oldest person in that room (by just a few weeks). I was also one of the reasons they were in that room to begin with.
I was in Columbus, OH, having returned for the 8th Floor Alumni Weekend. The 8th Floor, an improv comedy group me and 5 other friends started while at The Ohio State University, was still going strong. One of the many traditions, along with others like music making you lose control and unique birthday celebrations, was that every year there was a reunion weekend where as many of the groups’ alumni return for socializing, practicing, and performing.
As one of the founders, I try to return as often as I can, not just to see old friends and group members, but to also to check in on the group.
This was the 11th year of the group’s existence as the premier improv comedy group on Ohio State’s campus, and while we never really imagined it getting this big, we selfishly wanted the group to survive as long as possible. After all, it’s part of the legacy we’ve left at OSU.
The whole thing started while playing Halo (the video game). My best friend wanted to start an improv group… so we did. We started as 6 friends practicing in the basement of Residence Halls. By the time I graduated 2 years later, we were a cast of 16 performing twice a week at a black box theater on South Campus.
After the founders left is when the group really took off. Some very smart people came into the group and got them performing at Freshmen Orientation. Immediately every on campus knew who the group was. Now, 11 years later, it was one of the established things to do on campus, with shows selling out 150+ seat auditoriums.
Tonight was about celebrating that history. In just a few minutes we’d head upstairs to the theater in the Union, where we’d do long-form sets as teams mixed of all generations of the group.
But for the moment, kitty was in the corner, and he went that way.
31 March 2015. New York, NY
“Who was the best teacher you’ve ever had?”
The question was posed to me as part of an interview. I was sitting in the The Flatiron School’s headquarters in New York. They were about to embark on a massive initiative to teach high school students how to code in 6 cities around the US during the summer; I was going to see how I could help.
I regularly lead for The Flatiron School’s adult programs. I help the students in their immersive programs learn how to communicate the skills they are learning so they can network, interview, and talk with colleagues more effectively.
And I’m a big believer in teaching kids to program. Even if they never become a developer, learning to program is learning a strategic way to thinking. It’s like improv, I think everyone should do it regardless of vocation or occupation.
Due to my passion for programming and my new nomadic life style, we were seeing how I might be involved. Unfortunately based on my schedule I wasn’t able to do much, but it still left me with this interesting question, “Who was the best teacher I’ve ever had?”
I’ve been very fortunate to have some incredible teachers in my life. Mrs. Kinney, my 5th and 6th grade teacher in middle school taught me it wasn’t enough to just be smart, you had to work hard as well. Mrs. Sherman, my 7 grade English teacher taught me to have high expectations for myself. Mr. Ferris, my 12th grade Theory of Knowledge teacher taught me to be inquisitive about the world.
But the best teacher I’ve ever had was my brother, David.
My mom likes to say the reason I did so well academically was that David, 2 years older than me, would come home and teach me everything that he learned in school.
And it was true, David always liked to share new things with me, though they weren’t always things he learned in school. It seemed that if David ran out of things to teach, he would just start making things up.
I’d then go spouting it off as fact and would learn that it was just fiction. As it turns out, there is no such thing as a “take off” bird. Birds typically don’t need to run on the ground for long distances in order to get enough speed to fly, nor do they come in and hit the group running when landing, like an animalistic airplane.
But whether what he taught was fact or fiction, he was very good at it.
Given my brother’s passion and skill for teaching, it’s no surprise that he’s now a professor at Texas A&M, where he consistently ranks as one of the top professors in the Communication department.
Here’s to hoping he’s just sticking to the facts with his students though.