Author Archive for C Hodges – Page 2

Raison d’être

PaintMo Week 1

To celebrate my first week working at a French café, I painted a few items off the menu.

The new job is challenging, but I’m working hard and meeting lots of new people. It feels great to work again, even if it’s in food service. I knew that I wanted to work as soon as possible, but I hadn’t realized just how much I missed it until I started again. So I’m working, painting, and exploring every day – what a rush!

PaintMo

With November around the corner, several of my friends are preparing for National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. Starting November 1st, they’ll write an average of 1,700 words a day, resulting in a 50,000-word novel by the end of the month. An impressive feat by any measure.

The NaNoWriMo community is very friendly, and there are several incentives to making it to the end of the month. However, I will not be writing anything this year. Instead, I’m kicking off my own Painting Month (PaintMo) in my Brooklyn apartment.

From Nov. 1 to Nov. 30, I will make a watercolor painting every day. I’m choosing watercolors because, well, they’re all I could fit into my suitcase during the big move. However, I see a lot of potential with the medium, and I’m looking forward to seeing what techniques and experience I can gain from 30 days of daily painting.

To celebrate a month of painting and experimentation, I’ll post my 4 favorite paintings every week with a brief description of my progress. Feel free to offer advice or criticism. I’m still an amateur with watercolors, so I need all the advice I can get.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy the paintings.

Be Prepared

Living in New York requires a lots of planning. If you don’t check the weather in the morning, you may find yourself cold and miserable before you get home. There’s no option to keep a coat in your car, or to drive home to retrieve a forgotten phone charger. You only have what you carry on your person, and it may take hours to go home again.

This is tough, and it applies to far more than just comfort. Preparedness extends to jobs, social obligations, and shopping. You have to be ready for anything.

And right now, I’m preparing to work in food service or retail for a while. Not the glamorous New York debut I had hoped for, but life works in unexpected ways. I’m disappointed that my original plans haven’t panned out yet, but I’d be more disappointed to let my pride prevent me from work experience in the city. After all, there’s something romantic about working in a New York cafe.

So I’m continuing to apply for jobs in every field. Maybe a web design gig will work out, maybe I’ll work coffee for a while. I certainly have a preference, but if everything always went exactly to plan, this wouldn’t be much of an adventure.

Disappointed or not, I know the next few months will be one crazy ride. In an ironic twist of fate, the only thing I can predict is the weather.

Give, Give, Give

Applying for a job is scary. Whether it’s online, a phone call, or Craigslist. Applying for a job requires exposing yourself to employers, and letting them look you over to see what they enjoy.

This week alone, I’ve been asked in-depth questions about my skills. I’ve also been asked about times I’ve been challenged, and my goals for the future. It takes several months to broach these subjects with friends, yet it only takes a couple clicks on the an online application. I’ve found myself giving my time, contact information, and a list of my abilities to dozens of anonymous employers over the last month, only to be met with form letters and silence.

I knew finding a job in New York would be difficult. After all, there are thousands of people applying for every position. What I didn’t expect to be difficult was the process of applying, itself.

Talking about oneself constantly is a bad way to make friends, yet it’s a necessity in the world of job chasing. Employers want to know what you can offer them, and they have no obligation to respond or show interest. It’s like going on dozens of blind dates where the other person simply isn’t interested in carrying the conversation. Talk about exhausting.

I have to remind myself not to take any of this personally. In the city of opportunity, employers have every right to wait for the perfect person to fill a position. Heck, I’d do it if I were in their shoes. But, despite believing in myself and my abilities, it’s hard not to feel self conscience – to worry that I’m doing something wrong. In reality, I’m just not in Montana anymore. I can’t rely on old connections to help me find a career.

I know there is a company in New York that will hire me, and we’ll both be better off for it. I have the passion, work ethic, and creativity that NYC values. The hard part is dealing with the uncertainty of an empty inbox.

Seven Days in Brooklyn

I’ve been a New Yorker for almost a week, and it’s everything I expected:

Big, loud, and full of challenges.

However, it’s not full of mean people, at least not that I’ve met. Whether it’s people giving directions, friendly cabbies offering advice, or people on craigslist giving away furniture, there’s a lot of warmth in the Big Apple.

With all the new people I’ve encountered, it’s hard to deal with the realization that 99% of my interactions are unique – I’ll probably never see these people again. When you meet someone you want to see again – you need to act quickly.

I learned this firsthand at Dan’s bar, where I was introduced to two of Dan’s regulars. What started off as small talk quickly turned into a business discussion, and contact cards were exchanged. I sent out a follow up email the next day, and there’s a chance I could get a job as a result. This would have been a bit fast for ol’ Montana, but in NYC, this is business as usual.

While I recover from culture shock, it’s nice to know that I have friends and family that are only a text, email, or phone call away. Without that, I could see NYC being really lonely, even with my awesome roommates.

One week in, I’ve started to feel more at home in my apartment. Next week? It’s time to double down on the months-long job hunt. I don’t know exactly what it will look like, but if it’s anything like the rest of this city, it’ll require a lot of planning, and a lot of walking. I’m looking forward to the adventure.

Almost There

I’m two hours away from Brooklyn, and I couldn’t be more excited.

My New York family is meeting me at the airport, and soon I’ll get a tour of our new apartment. I’ll even get to look at the city from our rooftop!

So while I’m off meeting Brooklyn, you should check out Dan’s new blog: Tales from Two Cities.

Tales from Two Cities is a public letter exchange between two of the coolest people I know. Adair is a Montana transplant living in Seattle, and Dan is a Montanan in NYC trying to make a name for himself. Together, they tell stories of growth, humor, and big city oddities. They’re off to a great start, and I’m looking forward to reading their stories over the following months.

Thanks for reading, and be prepared for more content, blogs, and experiments in the coming months. With Dan and I in the same city, there’s no telling what could happen next.

Build Up

Great roller coasters use tension and release to thrill their riders. Like a horror movie, they build up suspense 75% of the time, and use the remaining 25%  to make the rider feel disoriented, scared, and out of control. Despite a near-zero risk of being injured, riders are convinced for a split second that they might not survive.

Many people love the thrill of the fall. Me? Not so much. I have a hard enough time stomaching the smaller bumps and twists leading up to the big fall.

Yet, this year, I’ve set myself up to ride a gamut of emotional roller coasters. From leaving Missoula, to being more emotionally vulnerable with friends, to trying to find my way in New York City, I’ve ensured that every second of downtime will be met with proportional feelings of sadness, confusion, and fear.

I got a sample of those feelings today when I received a rejection letter for a job I really wanted from a company I truly admire. While I’ve received plenty of rejection letters over the last couple months, this one stung more than usual. It’s frustrating to build up so much excitement for a potential situation, just to be let down in such a short amount of time. It’s even worse when it’s the 4th time this month. Yet in the back of my mind, I know these are just small bumps – reminders that I’m moving forward.

So with Oct. 1 drawing near, it’s time for me to make a decision. When the bottom drops out and I find myself in NYC with no job, am I going to cling on desperately for control, or will I put my hands in the air and enjoy the ride? Will I freeze up like I did this Spring, or will I apply all the lessons I’ve learned and loosen up?

I think, this time around, my hands will be waving.

- Clark

Starting Blocks

My last month in Billings has been very, very stable. My needs are met; my heart is full. But with less than two weeks before the big move, it’s time to start collecting the random thoughts and belongings I’ve scattered around the house. The time for daydreaming has come to an end.

It was fun while it lasted.

To be honest, spending the better part of two months in a low-pressure environment just reminded me of how much I need deadlines and challenges to lead a productive life. In absence of expectations, I’m quick to take the path of least resistance – to sit around and eat ice cream. I worried that I would take on old habits when I moved to Billings, and it looks like my worries had some validity. Like Austin said, nothing makes you backslide faster than coming home. I’m not happy with this reality, but I can’t pretend it doesn’t exist.

Luckily, New York offers thousands of new challenges, and approximately none of them will be solved by eating ice cream. I realize that moving away won’t change my core behaviors, but it will offer clear-cut problems (figuring out the subway system), and clear indicators of progress (being able to find my way home).

But before I get ahead of myself, there’s still work to be done at home. My challenge for this week? Cleaning and organizing a room that contains all of my belongings from the last 6 apartments I’ve lived in.

For many, this is a standard step to moving out. For me, it’s putting my feet against the starting blocks of a grand new adventure.

Take Your Time

Tonight’s the kind of night where all I want to do is sit back, drink wine, and listen to some Downtempo. No overthinking, no anxiety, just being in the moment and watching the rain.

So I’m going to do just that, and I invite you to join me. Put on some headphones, kick up your feet, and find a window to gaze out. You have my permission to relax. Heck, you can even go back for a second glass – I won’t judge.

As always, thanks for reading.

– Clark

Visionary

Today I got a new pair of glasses. They’re nothing fancy – my mother didn’t even notice a difference – but my eyes certainly noticed the change in prescription. I’m currently on hour six of my headache, but my drive home was one of the clearest things I’ve experienced in months.

For those of you with perfect vision, let me explain what it’s like to put on new glasses. The moment the lenses go on, the whole world changes. Details on trees, fences, and street signs become visible. Contrast appears out of what used to be monochromatic, and every part of your visual cortex goes into panic mode.

The slew of new details start running through your nerves like confectionary chocolates, and your brain becomes Lucy and Ethel, frantically sorting and stuffing them away in every available place.

It’s exhausting, but after twenty four hours it becomes tolerable. A couple days later, you start looking forward to putting on your glasses in the morning.

Going through the process of getting new glasses made me realize that I’m currently going through a very similar process on a much larger scale. New York City is getting closer, and as it draws near I’ve started to notice thousands of tiny details regarding the move. Some are pleasant, like the realization that I’ll have access to free concerts, incredible museums, and any type of ethnic food I could hope for.

Others are painful and scary, like the realization that I will have to find a new family for Thanksgiving, or that many of my favorite relationships will quickly transform into rushed phone conversations on packed subway trains. I will no longer be able to get in my car, drive ten minutes, and arrive at the trailhead of a beautiful mountain.

Talk about a shock to the system.

Not only is New York getting closer, but my way of viewing it has changed. What started off as a challenging adventure is quickly starting to feel like the fires of refinement. My heart is aching as new details emerge and old parts of myself are left behind. I’m cleaning out every nook and cranny to make way for the onslaught of new information.

In one month, I will put on the New York City lenses for the first time. It will hurt. It will be stressful. But ultimately, it will add color, contrast, and details to my life. I may not like it at first, but I’m sure one day I will look forward to walking out my front door every morning. I just hope that day comes sooner rather than later.