I’ve kept it trill: true and real

So here I was, back in my apartment in Boston, hungover, overwhelmingly tired, with no cash, my credit card maxed out and maybe $7  to my name in my checking account. What a bizarre situation. I was ogling my last four cans of black beans, a bag of pasta, and a bottle of ketchup in the pantry. I was certain these food items were ceremoniously awaiting me this whole time to celebrate this special day of finding my new personal low. Doing a little math in my head, I figured that supply could get me through to my next paycheck, so I decided to max out the livin’ in poverty thing and spent my last $7 buying a bottle of 2 buck Chuck and one of those large Foster cans. I kept it trill.

This was back in a transitional period of my young adulthood, when nothing seemed to go my way. I’d guess it was around April 2011. The commonalities that were binding me together at the time were unsteady employment, steady unemployment and a broken heart.

Days before arriving in Boston, my home, I was in the midst of a highly unplanned and strangely thrown together last minute trip to Fort Lauderdale, then LA. Yes, epic indeed. Beaches. Babes. Booze. It was my very own cross-country adventure, from the (non) comforts of an airplane. This journey made little sense financially, since I had about $600 to my name. But fuck it, it felt right at the time. My best friends live in Ft. Lauderdale and LA. This was a good reason to escape the heartache and depression of the past few months and enjoy myself.

ft lauderdale

No money no problems. April 2011

I’ve always lived with a habit of spending money that I don’t have, and always entirely too quickly. So I was ready to have fun. You see, I was raised poor. I moved around a lot. I have an inkling that YOLO was firmly tattooed in my head as a baby, albeit subconsciously. So sure enough, by day 7 of my 10 day vacation, I involuntarily put myself on the Brokens Diet – a special meal plan consisting of Crunchwrap Supremes and McChickens. Anything left over was obviously saved for booze and hookers. Minus the hookers. Either way, we had the time of our life.

laudi nude beach

Found Captain America’s favorite hang out spot – he was rockin’ his USA G-String

While I seriously lack the grownup ability called saving money, I must have a sixth sense for limiting a budget. I started my vacation with $600 in my pocket. 9 days later, I’m on a red-eye back to Boston, not sure I have enough dough to afford the train ride from Logan back to my place. That’s $2.50. I was flying in at 6am with no Brokens backup plan. I figure that’s pretty pathetic from most peoples’ perspective. But that’s why most people are boring. I didn’t care because it would have figured itself out, either way, as life always does.

I did make make it back with a whopping $7 to throw around. I feasted on a dinner of pasta and beans in a jazzed up ketchup sauce, paired with a glass of Charles Shaw Cabernet. And a beer for desert. And I was winning.

Why? Because I always put myself out there. I treasure the story over the money. I’ll thirst for new experiences, unafraid of potential embarrassment or failure. I’ll celebrate life in the midst of craziness. It may come from my upbringing, but it’s my journey, personally and professionally. I value uncomfortable situations because they teach me something. I take incredibly outlandish risks that few seem to understand. And I make mistakes, but I also learn. Isn’t walking down a winding road so much more interesting and fulfilling than trudging along a straight and narrow path? Ultimately, I believe in unconventional wisdom rather than conventional wisdom. And it’s worked out, and it’s quite possibly the reason I am where I am today.

Dylan Shotgun

Drink your beer unconventionally – shotgun it! You my boy, Dylon

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Hi my name is Igor and I fight the good fight. You can too.

Now that I’ve announced my return from writing retirement, let’s address the elephant in the room. What the hell am I up to nowadays? Well, one thing in particular absorbs about 150% of my awake time. The beast of burden? The one and only Bootstrap Compost. I live it. I breathe it. It smells like compost. I figure I should to tell you a bit more about it, and how I got here, and some other personal tidbits to fill the gaps.

Boothead

Saving the world one Bootstrap bucket at a time. BIG thank you to all our subscribers!

[puts on corporate hat] Hi my name is Igor Kharitonenkov and I am co-founder and Vice President of Bootstrap Compost (BSC). BSC is a residential and commercial food scrap pickup service founded in Boston in January 2011. Our mission is to collect organic material and redistribute it to area farms for the sake of composting. Every day, we divert hundreds of pounds of food scraps from landfills, and in the process, help create a valuable resource for the local food community by creating a safe, nutrient rich, all natural soil amendment. All told, we serve to empower individuals and families by building a community around composting. To date, serving over 450 subscribers, we’ve diverted nearly 200,000 pounds of compostable material from landfills. As VP, I spearhead business development.

[takes off corporate hat] You’ll have to excuse me, but I can’t explain the trajectory, even to myself. I went from an unemployed, grad-school dropout. I was a depressed blogger, a guy whose alarm clock was set to double digits, only so I could get up to write in my pajamas. In many ways, I was a bleeding-heart liberal looking for a solution in a society that seemed apathetic to solutions. And here I am, co-founding a popular, market-proven and growing green startup company, making a real impact in our community. And we’re really doing it. Our clients, the press, fellow entrepreneurs, they love us. The plants love us. It’s really too fucking much to think about. I’ll psychoanalyze later.

MC2012 reception

Bootstrap Compost took part in MassChallenge 2012 as finalists! Pictured at the reception.

Just today, I found myself on a panel at Harvard speaking about social entrepreneurship. I know what you’re thinking, but c’mon I gotta name drop, it’s Harvard. And they gave me a sweet pen for participating. Which means I feel like a made man, Goodfellas style. Anyway, I was asked about the mentality of succeeding as an entrepreneur. My advice? Fake it until you make it. It’s what I said and it got a good laugh. But I’m not selling myself short, this is relevant. I told the story of my friend who cheated on every test in college. He got a degree without putting in half the work. He’s now a successful businessman. I don’t endorse this by any means. I believe in an honest day’s work. But my friend has serious charisma and can sell you fire in hell. As for me, I’m not as naturally gifted. But maybe I was in the right place at the right time. Maybe it was my hard work. I think it was a combination, but mostly, it was good attitude and a hope that just one day, maybe one day, I’d be able to prove that yes, I do in fact have some talents to offer this real world. It was a fight and I had my doubts. I got depressed. But I knew a better day would come. I faked that good day, until I got there. I’m still, in many ways, getting there.

Harvard pen

This pen? Gold. Totally worth sharing my opinions with undergrads at Harvard

To those who know me best, I’ve always been a believer in that cliche JFK quote, “to whom much is given, much is expected.” Living in the United States with a college degree in hand, I’m like in the top 5% of the global population. I pretty much have a golden ticket, no matter what happens, so I’m doing what I set out to do: fight the good fight in the name of mother nature. And I’m making a living doing it.

 

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To be honest…

I suppose it’s appropriate to do this on Easter Sunday. There are elements of rebirth in the air, right? Spring-time, squirrels maniacally chasing other squirrels, I’ve spotted a few pairs of jorts… It’s been a year and half since I’ve posted anything on this blog. I guess I got busy. I guess life is what happens when you’re making other plans. Those other plans included a lot of work. And many long days. And equally long nights. Personal and professional. Epic triumphs that overshadow just as many failures, personally and professionally.

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday. Rebirth.

I do have something to say now, I think. Over time, folks reading the blog have reached out and asked what I’m up to since dropping out of a Phd program. I didn’t make the time to respond and I’m sorry. Maybe I was waiting for the right moment to write again. 18 months passed by and here we are. I realize that I need to get back into this. This blog is who I am and I need to retrace my steps. It’s my foundation, and it’s not just about who I am, it’s the self-reflection and introspection that I’ve been lacking that’s beckoning to be unearthed and brought back. I realized this week, in rather harsh manner, that there are things in my brain that need to escape, otherwise I’m a deluded prisoner in the solitary confinement of my own thoughts. And that’s not a good place to be. Ultimately, I’m a writer, so I’m gonna write.

Hi my name is Igor and this is from an epic New Year's celebration

Hi my name is Igor and I get into weird situations. This is a New Year’s celebration in Miami.

Also, for those more interested in less of my own BS Psychology (I carry a Psychology degree) and more real world advice, I think I have a story to tell now. I say I think because you see, I’m very unsure about all this. I can’t make promises. It feels weird opening myself up again. I’m gonna take it lightly with the writing, one day or week at a time. I want to see how I feel and I won’t force it. I’m pretty busy these days, bla bla, but I’ll make time. I hate it when people say they are busy. There’s always time to make time for someone or something.

But for anyone expecting IGORoamandreport 1.0? Nope, this blog won’t be the same. I’m not who I was two years ago. Maybe none of us are. Expect the topics I write about to be more random. For starters, I’d like to add some comedy. I like funny. I’m not that bleeding-heart liberal preacher I was back then. Also, going against past convention, screw the squeaky clean shit. Yes, I’m open to cursing, so cover your eight year old’s eyes if they’re reading. Don’t worry, they’re probably too busy watching the Kardashians to read anything worthwhile. I won’t be cursing much because I don’t curse much in real life. But I will, a fucking little bit at least. You see, to me it feels like release. I’m over the politically correct bit. This is my voice. And fortunately, I have more freedoms as an individual to be able to publish this and get away with it. I’ll explain all that later.

Maybe this sums it up nicely?

I like to operate on instinct. This photo felt right in so many ways.

I won’t be self-editing like I used to either. A lot of this stuff coming out will be first draft. Maybe the quality will suffer, but the content will be rawer than before, which I see as a good thing. I might do some SEO, I haven’t decided yet. So what will I do, you might be asking?

  1. The journey is the journey. There’s something to say there. I went from a vicious combination of blogging, unemployment and depression to co-founding and running an exciting startup company in my field of interest. For me, it’s already been a somewhat long and winding road. You’ll get a ticket to ride.
  2. I will be more personal. I want to unearth a deeper psychology. I get happy about stuff. I get bitter about stuff. Maybe I get happy or bitter about the wrong stuff. I want to explore it. These days I have a bit of public figure status and maybe I need to be more careful. Whatever. Fuck it. I’m living a fast life and I want to talk about it. I talk about it because I don’t want to crash.
  3. I will share career advice. Okay, the truth is that I’m really trying hard these days to stay humble. So let me preface this by saying, what the hell do I know? I have, however, at my young age, been published in magazines, been featured in the papers, I’ve spoken at conferences at the world’s leading universities. It’s all good. I’m not trying to brag. I’ll just share what I’ve learned and if you want to listen that’s cool too.
  4. Environmental stuff. The answer is yes, I’m still concerned about the health of our planet. Look, it’s what I do for a living. I’ll write about it.
  5. I should probably update my About page too. We’ll get to that. Patience is bitter but its fruit is sweet.

I can’t think of anything else right now. The above list is not a guarantee. These aren’t promises. This is just a rough sketch of what’s to come. Or maybe not to come. I hope this is the beginning of something. In many ways, personally and professionally, I was once a baby, and maybe I’m becoming an adult now. I’m hoping these are my first steps. We’ll see where I can go.

igor

This is me on the right. A youngin’ growing up in Munich, Germany. Go FC Bayern!

 

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On Assignment: Off to Backpack Gaspesie in Canada

Taking off in a few minutes to depart on an epic adventure in the North country.  The Gaspe Peninsula to be exact, in the far reaches of Quebec.  First time in Canada for me.  My friend and I are backpacking for three days at Parc National de Gaspesie, a park with diverse ecosystems, wildlife galore (including the only caribou herd south of the St. Lawrence River and over 150 species of birds!), and the towering peaks of the International Appalachian Trail.  We’re on assignment for Backpacker Magazine; our experience will be captured in our writing and photos.   We’ll also be shooting a video – a pilot episode of an adventure series – stay tuned!  Gotta run!  And thank you Backpacker and Columbia Sportswearfor all your support!

Parc National de Gaspesie

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FutureM and My Portfolio

Did we recently meet at the FutureM Conference in Boston?  If so, and in any case, I’d like to direct you to my portfolio that includes all my media and video work:

igorkharitonenkov.com

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Spontaneous Poetry: Onward to Maine

nonsense from the conscience
thirty miles per hour
ultimate distractions
flexing my mind for power

conversing for hours
generation Atari
won’t forgive or say sorry
not mean, just not worried
slow living, no hurry

one focus – living for today
in time, patience is repaid
giving it your best, always
cop a trophy when it comes your way

-IK

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Backpacking the Presidential Traverse: A Video From Weekend Warrior Productions

On July 9th, I was one of four journeymen from the lowlands of Boston that packed together their most prized possessions and set off for the mountains of New Hampshire.  Facing the grim reality that this could be the last time we see our loved ones, we tried to focus on the journey ahead:  conquering the Beast of the East, Mt. Washington.  Over the next two days, hauling 40 pounds each as we ascended the Presidential Traverse, we men suffered through wind gusts of over 50 mph, bloody blisters, and broken backs.  But our pack refused to give up as we battled through the 25 miles of treacherous, rocky terrain.  On the morning of summit, the sun came out, and Mt. Washington revealed itself in all its glory.  2000 feet below, in its shadows, we heard the battle cry.  The epic moment was now on.  This is our story.

Big ups to CatEyez for editing this video.

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