It’s been one hell of a year: I quit my PhD program. I founded IGORoamandreport. I had my car stolen. I made a documentary. I suffered unemployment for three months. I worked on a movie set. I went broke.
Yes, 2010 has been a wacky year filled with dramatic personal highs and unspeakable lows. Leaving graduate school, I was thrilled about breaking the chains of an unhappy future and jumping head-first into unknown waters. At times, however, I’ve felt lost and alone on my journey. At other times I’ve celebrated incredible breakthroughs.
For good or bad, I feel as if 2010 was a year in which adult life decided to beat me over the head with a shovel on more than one occasion. It was a year in which the comfortable routine of 17 years of schooling disappeared to reveal the inner me, a kid in his early twenties, stripped naked and trying to make sense of the greater world around him. It was as exciting as it was frustrating. I dared to dream; I discovered new passions; I rediscovered old ones. Along the way, I listened to myself and learned. And of course, I wrote – a lot. Let’s recap some highlights:
2010 starts off on a high note. An epic 3 week trip to Florida concludes with a stellar New Year’s Eve show – Phish in Miami. I get ready to start up my second semester of graduate school in pharmacology and neuroscience.
I finish a 10-week laboratory rotation, assisting with sleep research. I strongly suspect this to be my last foray into the world of neuroscience and scientific research.
Overwhelming anxiety about my career choice gets the better of me and I fall ill for 10 days. My failing health is the last straw for me and I subsequently withdraw from my PhD program on March 16th.
Shortly thereafter, I found IGORoamandreport to document my journey into the unknown. Not really sure of what’s next for me, I can at least count on this time for great story material. And I can keep myself busy by writing about adventure, sustainability, and environmentalism.
I decide to apply for “The Best Internship on Earth” by submitting a fun-tastic video application to the Sierra Club. It gets a lot of love from friends near and far. I also land a job that will pay me $22/hr! And so starts my stint as a United States Census Enumerator.
I depart for a five day ‘Outdoor Leadership Training’ backpacking trip in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I come back and make my next video, “Five Everyday Tips: Save Money and Go Green!” It’s my first production for envisionGood.tv.
With Census work quickly diminishing, I apply for a multitude of jobs and internships. I’m lucky to get called in for an interview at one of Boston’s biggest park organizations – the Emerald Necklace Conservancy. They like my “Five Tips” video and hire me as project developer for their ‘Stories’ documentary film. What a breakthrough! For the next three months I will be the creative force behind a series of videos based on park visitor stories. I’ll be filming the parks, interviewing participants, and editing and producing all the footage. The videos will eventually appear at the Conservancy’s Visitor Center.
My story about sustainable neighborhoods, based on my experience in Jamaica Plain (MA), is published in the Jamaica Plain Gazette.
Then, my car is stolen. It is recovered the following day across town, having been stripped of all its’ parts. I find out my insurance plan doesn’t cover theft. On top of that, I get billed for $200 worth of impound fees.
I take a break from the hustle and bustle of the Stories Project to spend July 4th with friends coming in from out of town. The rest of the month I spend nearly every day collecting footage and seeking out potential interviewees.
I release the first two ‘Stories’ videos as a preview, including one of my favorites, “Nora Lutz and the Pond Jam.”
The ‘Stories Project,’ now titled “Stories from the Emerald Necklace,” is finished. Six stories, all with a different character and theme, are produced – from musicians and activists to an athlete and filmmaker. I also make a full 23-minute documentary for the premiere, weaving the stories together into one piece.
With my car having been stolen and a wave of crime sweeping the area, Katie and I decide to move. We freshen up the new place by painting all the walls with hand picked colors. This turns out to be a lot more work then expected, lasting over three weeks, but I can now say our apartment looks great!
My first month of unemployment begins, and not the kind where the government pays you money, but unfortunately the kind where I can’t find a job.
I am pleasantly surprised to see my work on IGORoamandreport making a web presence and popping up at the top of search engines. Try it for yourself: search “leaving a PhD” or “best cheap backpacking gear.” I dub myself the #1 PhD dropout on Google.
Unemployment continues into it’s second month however and I’m inching closer to reaching my credit limit.
November was unbearably bipolar.
“Stories from the Emerald Necklace” finally premieres at the Conservancy’s annual meeting. Over 175 people attend as I get to present my work. People love it! Then I catch a lucky break and land a two week gig working as a Production Assistant on a feature film being shot in Boston. Also, I win first place and a year’s worth of Spanish lessons in an online travel writing competition for one of my pieces, “My Surreal Peruvian Adventure: Conquering Hypothermia and 40 Miles of Strike Blockades.”
At the same time I’m slowly sinking into a state of depression as I’m still not hearing back from any employers, let alone finding a job. In the past three months I’ve applied to over 50 different places – from museums to offices to media companies, even temp agencies – with zero luck. I don’t have any money to speak of and I spend the majority of my day at home by myself. After such a productive summer, I find myself feeling bitter, alone, and hopeless. This turn of events has a powerful effect on diminishing my confidence and creativity.
Hallelujah! An acquaintance of mine comes through with a job for me. I start working at an office for 30+ hours a week, slowly working on paying off my credit card. It’s not exactly glamorous, and it’s not a step forward in my career, but damn, it’s a day job, and I’m happy to have it. Besides, I like it there.
With a steady job, I finally regain my creativity and drive, something I lost in early November. I become a collaborator for STRAY, an outdoor adventure magazine. My first piece is published and makes the homepage spread, an online ski guide for New England.
Just for fun, I produce my first video since “Stories from the Emerald Necklace,” with beautiful footage of nearby Jamaica Pond. I’m pleased to have watched IGORoamandreport grow over the past few months and December was the first month with over 1000 visits to the site!
After the initial rush of leaving my PhD program; after a breakthrough summer producing a documentary; after a bruising few months when life beat me up one too many times, I am ecstatic that 2010 has ended on a high note. I am employed and working back my debt; I am inspired again creatively; and looking back on this year, at least I can say I haven’t been lazy. I am very proud of the content that now features on IGORoamandreport, and with your help and your support, I see a bright outlook for this website and my career. Thank you to all of you who gave me love, support, and encouragement. Thank you for reading. Keep coming back and spread the word!
What’s in stock for 2011?
Can’t say. You’ll just have to come back and see!
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