Friday, February 5

10 Things

1. Sometimes when you cannot find your way it is the best time to rethink where you are going and if that is the right place to be headed. I, for one, adore the road I am on. Although where it is headed is a complete mystery.

2. "..Home is just another word for you.."

3. I have been knocking things off the bucket list every two weeks, pretty cool.

4. "There are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle." ~Deepak Chopra

5. I had a donut this week. Actually two. First time in 5 years.

6. "No man lives without jostling and being jostled; in all ways he has to elbow himself through the world, giving and receiving offence." ~Thomas Carlyle

7. I have been wanting to write this for two months, finally have enough to write in a 10 minute sitting.

8. I have painted two times in the past two months. I have painted two times in the last 9 years.

9. I drank a soda today. A coke. First time in a year.

10. All and all, it has started out being a fantastic year. Go 2016. I am eating donuts, drinking soda and painting a bunch. Sure, work is insane; but damn good year if I say so myself.

Tuesday, February 2

"Eating, loving, singing and digesting are, in truth, the four acts of the comic opera known as life, and they pass like bubbles of a bottle of champagne. Whoever lets them break without having enjoyed them is a complete fool."  ~Gioacchino Rossini

Sunday, January 24

In My Mind ~ Amanda Palmer

In my mind
In a future five years from now

I'm one hundred and twenty pounds
And I never get hung over
Because I will be the picture of discipline
Never minding what state I'm in
And I will be someone I admire
And it's funny how I imagined
That I would be that person now
But it does not seem to have happened
Maybe I've just forgotten how to see
That I am not exactly the person that I thought I'd be

And in my mind
In the faraway here and now
I've become in control somehow
And I never lose my wallet
Because I will be the picture of of discipline
Never fucking up anything
And I'll be a good defensive driver
And it's funny how I imagined
That I would be that person now
But it does not seem to have happened
Maybe I've just forgotten how to see
That I'll never be the person that I thought I'd be

And in my mind
When I'm old I am beautiful
Planting tulips and vegetables
Which I will mindfully watch over
Not like me now
I'm so busy with everything
That I don't look at anything
But I'm sure I'll look when I am older
And it's funny how I imagined
That I could be that person now
But that's not what I want
But that's what I wanted
And I'd be giving up somehow
How strange to see
That I don't wanna be the person that I want to be

And in my mind
I imagine so many things
Things that aren't really happening
And when they put me in the ground
I'll start pounding the lid
Saying I haven't finished yet
I still have a tattoo to get
That says I'm living in the moment
And it's funny how I imagined
That I could win this, win this fight
But maybe it isn't all that funny
That I've been fighting all my life
But maybe I have to think it's funny
If I wanna live before I die
And maybe it's funniest of all
To think I'll die before I actually see
That I am exactly the person that I want to be

Fuck yes
I am exactly the person that I want to be

Thursday, January 21

'Tis all a chequer board of nights and days,
Where destiny with men for pieces plays;
Hither and thither, and mates, and slays.
~Edward Fitzgerald,
 The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyám, 1859

Monday, January 18

My Journey into AmeriCorps

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'" ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

As we come together to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and challenge each other to be more engaged within our communities, I cannot help but think of when I truly realized the importance of community service.

In 2008, finishing my undergrad experience at SUNY Plattsburgh and with my idealistic plans of joining the Peace Corps just fallen through. I was a man without a plan. I began the task of applying everywhere under the sun. Then, one morning before Graduation, an Advisor's introduced me to AmeriCorps. I had a plan (or at least a thought).

Moving my focus to the AmeriCorps website I researched all of the branches. AmeriCorps NCCC, AmeriCorps State/Local and AmeriCorps VISTA. And applied to every single one. Realizing AmeriCorps VISTA, with its focus on poverty, was right in line with what I was looking for and I focused my scope. Upon applying I was offered three spots - Texas, Idaho and New Hampshire. Thus, opening up Operation Coin Flip (which is how I choose my undergrad) and Concord, New Hampshire won out (which is good cause a 5 hour drive is much better than a 20 or 32 hour drive).

The Job
I was hired by Campus Compact for New Hampshire as a VISTA to help work on College Access programs throughout the state. Service would include: Developing an inventory of current college access, retention and completion programs that are currently being run throughout New Hampshire Working with existing 21st Century after-school programs to help bridge relationships with local colleges Instituting a College Access Partnership program to increase support for low-income students at risk of not enrolling in post-secondary education.

Here I worked between two non profit offices, with 8 full time adults and various other stakeholders. The first month on the job was full of transition and learning. I struggled finding my place in the office.

Langdon Mills
This all changed dramatically in August after receiving a call from the Director of Saint Anselm College's Meelia Center for Community Service, Dan Forbes regarding a pressing need. An apartment complex, Langdon Mills complex, in Manchester was infested with bedbugs. However, a larger issue became apparent at Langdon Mills, most of the children were refugees and did not speak English. This challenge led to poor grades in school and parents struggling to connect with teachers and administration.

Dan called a meeting of all the Community Service Directors and my office, in order to organize a response to these challenges. At this meeting Dan outlined the challenges within the complex and the wheels started turning in my head about how Campus Compact could respond collectively in a meaningful way. Meanwhile, Dan spoke with the property manager and was given access to a rent-free apartment in order to help with the infestation; as well as to help families with English and class work - creating The Langdon Mills Community Center.

With Dan’s guidance, I joined the Integrative Pest Management (IPM) team with three other members. The IPM team enters family apartments to locate and report bedbugs in the building. This was a long, complex process that kept us working late into the evening. Soon the Langdon Mills project was integrated into my job description and I started going there once a week to better focus on the issue at hand.  

Along with the IPM team, the Community Center offered ESL (English as a Second Language) activities and a tutoring program. 
The student, aged 5 to 14 years old, arrive at the Community Center; had a quick snack and then spend an hour to two hours completing homework or reading with myself or a student at Saint Anselm's. After this, the children had an hour of play time. The structure proved to be successful; the Langdon Mills youth showing improvement in their English and school work at the end of the first year of the Community Center.

Other Important Events
During this time I began my Masters in Public Administration at Marist College. After doing research it seemed public administration opened up enough doors in community service, non profits and politics as I was interested in perusing one of those three as a career. I ended up graduating from the program 2 years later. Attaining this was easily the most difficult accomplishment of my life, attempting to complete a graduate program full time while working full time. However, completing the program is easily one of the top three things I have done in my life.

I finished up my service in February. I stayed an additional two weeks to finish up tasks at Langdon Mills (and applying for jobs). I fell in love with that place. My last day the kids provided me a scarp book which I hold dear to my heart and has followed me to ever subsequent office.

"Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see." ~ Mark Twain
My last night was pretty amazing. A few VISTA's and myself got together for one last dinner and drinks. Many stayed and we talked until 3:00am. I went home...packed my car...shed a tear...and left Concord, NH at 7:00am with nothing close to a plan for my future.

An Epilogue
So, I said good bye, sure. 

But I moved back to New Hampshire three months later. I officially began my political career. Starting with an incredible couple on their campaigns for public office I met while serving in AmeriCorps; you just never know the connections you make and how they will change your life.

From there, we won in November and a began exploring my journey in politics. I worked throughout New Hampshire and New York over the next five years.

Coming full circle, to where I am today - back at SUNY Plattsburgh and working in higher education. I am also an adjunct professor teaching a diversity course on campus. Not realizing at the time, but my AmeriCorps service provided me excellent skills and resources to advance into higher education. Making the full jump into higher education, now going into year two of this new journey. Loving every single second.

You never really know what experience will bring to you. AmeriCorps served as my "first job"; rather, a job away from home where I had to find a way to make it or fail. That experience made me who I am today. I learned the value of community, professionalism, stakeholders, and the importance of service to our friends and neighbors.

As a recent grad considering AmeriCorps or other service oriented programs should be on your to do list. Whether job opportunities arise, new friends formed or family made - everything matters in making you who you are, rather, who you want to be.

Thursday, January 14

"Perhaps we are looking at this from a wrong perspective; this search for the truth, the meaning of life, the reason of God. We all have this mindset that the answers are so complex and so vast that it is almost impossible to comprehend. I think, on the contrary, that the answers are so simple; so simple that it is staring us straight in the face, screaming its lungs out, and yet we fail to notice it. We're looking through a telescope, searching the stars for the answer, when the answer is actually a speck of dirt on the telescope lens." ~Jason Q., from

Saturday, January 2

Things I learned while in Montreal for New Years 2016

  1. "I have never felt more American, than driving on a one way street - the wrong way" ~ Caroline
  2. Doing your homework is key...but, even the  most prepared cannot plan everything
  3. Key : Learn some French before you leave for Canada
  4. Stay Left. STAY LEFT!
  5. "All Set" mean's would you like a bag? in French (unofficial)
  6. Download at least 12 apps - you will use 0
  7. Figure out the Metro before you enter Canada
  8. If you are down by how much cash is in your pocket, go to the Canadian exchange and you will feel like a millionaire
  9. Bring your own alcohol to the party, it doesn't have to  be a party, just carry it
  10. Air BnB is a pretty great experience if you do your homework
  11. Snowplows are for wussy's ; "Wussy = American" ~ Caroline
  12. Netflix on January 1st is the only way to experience Montreal on January 1st
  13. "No I would not like a "free" ($4) CD" - should be in Jake's vocab