Getting Gutsy – It’s All About the Journey


The year of 2013 was big for me. I’ve probably said that about many other years, though. The year I started high school, the year I graduated high school and went away to college, the year I discovered television production, the year I graduated college… I keep thinking that those years where all the big stuff happens all at once are behind me. I keep thinking that life will level out and I will find my niche and all will continue smoothly without surprises or upsets. I keep thinking I’ll find that comfort zone.

I believe that I am a person who likes to have things figured out. I like plans, to-do lists, and the predictability of a schedule. But when I think about this past year, nothing I did was in “the Plan.” I’m not even sure what that plan was or where it originated, but I know that I never saw myself here.

After this year, though, I’ve realized that life is not about finding your comfort zone. It’s about getting away from it. Life is about change and struggle and loss and love. It’s about the journey. This past year held many firsts, was full of uncertainty and doubt, and overflowed with changes. I was as far from my comfort zone as I could be, and yet it was one of the best years of my life.  Continue reading

Choosing to Face the Ocean


There were two ways my life could’ve gone. Be comfortable and complacent, taking the easy, known road, however unhappy I may be. Or step out of that comfort zone and dive into completely new waters, struggle through the unknown to discover something I love. I hope you can guess which one I chose. Continue reading

My First Netflix Binge: “Orange is the New Black”


We all know that Netflix is the future of TV. Maybe not Netflix exactly, but TV in the form of on-demand media. Someone might build a new platform or come up with a new payment system or call it MiTV, but the idea is that people can watch a story, from beginning to end, in increments, at their own pace, on a device of their choosing.

This idea is not new and I am certainly not the first person to discuss it or write about it in a blog post.

But this idea became abundantly clear to me last week, when Jim and I sat down and watched four episodes of “Orange is the New Black” in one night. And then two more the next night. And we finished the season by the end of the week. This raises two questions for me. Was the captivating allure of “Orange” so compelling that I couldn’t tear myself away? Or did I watch thirteen episodes of a show in one week just because I could?  Continue reading

Welcome to film camp, everybody.

On the set of "The Curse of Mokato" at the Joey Travolta Film Camp

On the set of “The Curse of Mokato” at the Joey Travolta Film Camp

On July 15th, I started working with the Joey Travolta Film Camp as part of my job at Steeltown. Steeltown’s Youth and Media program had partnered with the director of the camp, Carolyn Hare, and for the past two years, staff and interns have had the opportunity to work at the camp and act as “aides” for the kids.

If you are unfamiliar with the Joey Travolta Film Camp, as I’m sure many of you are, it is a two-week summer camp for kids and young adults on the autism spectrum. Joey Travolta himself (brother of John Travolta) directs the camp and has held similar programs in other cities for the past eight years. This is the third time that Carolyn has brought Joey and his team to the Burgh.

You can read more about the camp in my article on Steeltown’s website.

But I want to tell you the real story. Not that the article on Steeltown’s site isn’t true. I know it is because I wrote it. But this is my story and the kids’ story. This is behind the scenes. This is the heart of the camp. Continue reading

Everything Must Go

Moving_Boxes_right_topIf you have never packed up an entire company and multiple offices worth of files, supplies, and knick-knacks, and moved it all to a new office space across town, in the span of about two to three weeks, then you don’t know what you’re missing. Moving is all at once frustrating, confusing, irritating, time-consuming, tedious, and above all liberating. It is like doing laundry, or cleaning the bathrooms–you don’t want to do it, but it must be done, and when it is, the result is worth the effort.

The nonprofit organization that I work for, Steeltown Entertainment Project, has recently moved to a new office building. This move has come with all of the trials and tribulations a move can come with, and then some. But didn’t someone famous once say, the greater the effort, the greater the reward?

Moving a business or company is not like moving your family to a new house. When your family moves, the stuff is yours. It is stuff that you bought, you own, you live with and you love. You want to take care of it and cautiously move it from its cherished location in home #1 to a new cherished location in home #2. When people move their place of work, the things are not household things, you don’t live with them and you probably didn’t purchase them. You certainly don’t love those dusty old files and office supplies that someone forgot about and now must be organized, packed, and relocated. 

Keep in mind that Steeltown is a relatively small nonprofit that was founded in 2003. It is not very old, nor does it have very many employees, when compared with large businesses or corporations. Three offices can’t possibly hold that much stuff, can it?

But the mantra for our two-week packing spree should have been, “Everything must go” because that about sums it up. We packed up boxes and boxes and boxes of old files to be archived. We taped them up securely because they will rarely be accessed. We packed boxes and boxes of filing supplies and offices supplies. Just when we taped a box shut, we found a whole stash of the same thing hidden somewhere else. We packed up boxes of computer equipment, software, editing equipment, tapes, DVD’s, VHS’s. There were kitchen-y supplies. And more files which were being actively used. Everything had to go.

As a recent hoarding convert, this appalled me. When I was younger I liked to keep everything, until I pulled it out 15 years later and realized it really didn’t have any value, sentimental or otherwise. I’ve become in recent months a firm believer of throwing things out that you no longer use- such as clothes, shoes, receipts, etc., as hard as it may seem at the time. So here I was, packing up things that had not been touched in years simply because they were forgotten about. If no one knew they were there, how could they be missed if they were thrown out? And yet, they were boxed and packed. Never to be seen again. The only thing I was really permitted to throw away was expired food. And some of the food I found had expired as long ago as 2009. No one was going to argue me on that one.

The hardest part about moving offices for me came from being the newest staff member. I didn’t know where things were kept or how they were organized or how they were planned to be organized later. I didn’t know where things came from, why we were keeping it, or why we had it in the first place. I found things that were so seemingly random that I kept a box that I called “Random Things to be Sorted Later.” That box quickly became five.

The packing seemed long and tedious. The boxes seemed endless. All of the packed boxes were going down to the basement of the building to await Moving Day, but it seemed as soon as we’d packed them and stored them there, we needed something that was in there. A business has to keep running, after all, even while it’s packing.

Finally, the offices were empty, the last boxes taped shut. I didn’t have to partake in Moving Day, but the day after, there everything was, all the boxes in their new separate offices, waiting to be unpacked and sorted yet again.

But I’ve always liked unpacking better than packing. I can put things where I want them, organize them how I like, and I know exactly where everything is.

Now, day three in the new office and (almost) everything has a place. And I can finally look up from the boxes and take stock of my upgrade– from sitting on a hard plastic chair, sandwiched between two or three other people in the same room, with my laptop balancing precariously on a bookshelf, to my new comfortable office chair with my own desk, soon to be my own computer, in my own office. Never was a moment so gratifying.

Moving offices means more than just packing stuff up and putting it in a new place. It means the company is expanding. It means better working conditions, where employees are more efficient. It means making a bigger impact, being a bigger presence in the city of Pittsburgh. This is the liberating feeling of progress.

Oh and that famous person’s quote?

“The greater the effort, the greater the glory.”  -Pierre Corneille, French playwright. With all the effort we put in, Steeltown better be headed for glory…

(photo via)