Four Years, Millions of Memories

I’m finally settling back into the groove of things in Oswego, and it’s starting to hit me that I’m a senior. What?! Yes, a senior! After four long, yet unbelievably fast years, there are only seven months left until graduation. Therefore, this is a blog of reminiscence. And if you know me well, you understand that I often live my life with a camera close by. Here are the most important lessons I learned at college, and the pictures to express them.

1. The friends you make here will give you the memories you’ll never forget.

I’ve come to know so many people, but there are a few that I know will be with me forever. These people take classes with you, go to lunch with you, hit parties with you, and eat absurd amounts of food with you (Subshop, Zonies, Enzo’s, Azteca’s, Rudy’s etc).

From top left, clockwise: Jeff, Dylan, Me, Kyle, Meghan!

2. Get involved in organizations — you’ll learn much more than in just the classroom.

After working at The Oswegonian for three years, I’m confident that I’ve developed the skills I need to enter into the journalism field after graduation.

The 'Gonian before we switched to broadsheet in 2009!

3. Find something you’re passionate about.

I joined Colleges Against Cancer my freshman year, even though it had just launched. This organization has people with so much heart, and I love working in Relay for Life each year to help work toward a day when cancer can be cured.

My 2009 RFL team!

Now I’ve launched Ed2010 at Oswego State, an organization that helps students break into the magazine industry. I want Oswego State students to understand that just because we go to a small school doesn’t mean you can’t make big dreams a reality! So if you’re interested in working in magazines, join our Facebook group here!

4. If you have a good roommate, stick with them.

People often dread figuring out who their roommate is going to be each year. Will they like me? Will I hate them? Are we going to have conflicting schedules? How do we set ground rules? Fortunately, I found a great roomie. Meghan Stewart and I have been living together for three years now and we currently share a house off-campus with another fantastic friend, Kayleigh Kimberly. Which brings me to my sub-point: be nice to your R.A’s! They could end up being one of your closest friends. Kayleigh was my R.A. and we’ve been inseparable ever since.

Meghan, Kayleigh and I

5. Get a job.

Believe me, it’s so much nicer when you have a continuous flow of money coming into your bank account. And you can’t rely on Mom and Dad forever (nor should you), so you might as well start weaning yourself now.  I’ve worked at the campus fitness centers for three years and my co-workers are like a family. Some of them even took me to Canada for my 19th birthday!

My gym family in Canada for my 19th!

6. Don’t force relationships…

Too many people go into college trying to sustain high school relationships. If that’s what’s really meant to be, then good for you. But don’t hang onto something that you shouldn’t! College is about growing and getting to know yourself. I was single for two and a half years and it was one of the best decisions of my life.

7. But if you find someone great, don’t be afraid to commit.

Notice I said number six was one of the best decision of my life. Knowing when to take a chance on love was another great decision. I met Dustin during my sophomore year and we started dating during spring semester (We’ve been together nearly two years now). We were just friends first and he’s become one of my best friends. So my advice is find someone you can talk to, that you love being around, that you can trust. Someone you can laugh with (and at), who listens to your biggest fears and encourages your wildest dreams. That’s when you know it’s worth pursuing.

Dustin and I in N.Y.C. for New Year's Eve

These are the most valuable life lessons that come to me immediately. What are some of the things you’ve learned in college?

Magazines, the Power of Print

During my first day of classes, one of my professors made it blatantly clear that she doesn’t believe journalists have any shot at getting a job upon graduation; that journalists are essentially signing up to be poor for the next 10 years. While this professor was semi-accurate about the pay (if you are pursuing journalism thinking you’re going to be a millionaire, I encourage you to change fields now), she was not right about the fact that journalists can’t get a job after graduation.

Unfortunately, it seems as though she has bought into the fallacy that print is dying because the Internet is overtaking all other forms of media. This notion, however, is inaccurate. It’s simply not how media works. People don’t abandon one form of media for another, but rather make room in their lives for the new media outlet while hanging on to the style they already love. So, in the hopes that professors follow this blog, I’m posting these two videos that show proven facts about media and the rising sales of print magazines.

Magazines, the Power of Print

The 20 Tweetable Truths About Magazines

Magazine Publishers of America are also running their “Magazines, the Power of Print” ad campaigns within the print editions of more than 100 titles. These ads are so powerful and they use multiple magazine titles to prove that magazines are thriving rather than disappearing. Yes, some magazines have folded in recent years (R.I.P. Gourmet), but numerous titles have launched and proven themselves successful (Yay, Food Network Magazine!)

I understand that newspapers have taken a slight turn for the worse, but please don’t keep telling students that print is going to be dead soon. It’s simply not true. And I plan on proving this professor wrong by landing a job in the magazine industry soon after I graduate.

What NYC Doesn’t Have

As much as I love NYC, I still missed my country roots. So, to balance out the overwhelming amount of love you’ve seen me express for the concrete jungle, I’ll show you some country lovin’. These are a few of the things NYC doesn’t have (a.k.a. 10 awesome things I had to live without for three months). Enjoy!

Things New York City Doesn’t Have

What little things do you love about home?

NYC, the Perfect Boyfriend

My best friend recently went through a gruesome breakup. Our idea of consolation doesn’t involve crying and holding each other, but rather laughter, insults and good drinks in hand. While consoling her, she once again wondered why she hadn’t found her dream guy.

Smiling coyly over my glass, I looked at her and said, “I found the perfect boyfriend.” Rolling her eyes, she assumed I was talking about my actual boyfriend, Dustin. Oh, how she was mistaken.

“No silly, it’s NYC,” I said. “Think about it. He has everything you could ever want in a boyfriend.”

1. He’s interesting. There’s always something new to discover.

The Frying Pan = delicious dive bar in the Village.

2. He’s smart. There’s an array of museums, libraries and galleries to explore.

Andy Warhol @ MoMa

3. He’s funny. First, you have the comedy clubs such as Dangerfield’s or the Laugh Lounge. Plus, there are always a few interesting characters roaming around that are sure to provoke a chuckle or two.

4. He’s a perfect 10. Maybe you don’t judge looks on a number scale, but sometimes my friends and I cave to this belittling concept. And NYC, ooohh, he makes me swoon. There are so many beautiful sights; it’d be easy for me to sit and stare all day.

5. He’s cultured. You can meet someone from any culture or race here. Not to mention the glorious fact that you can try nearly any type of food!

6. You can go home and relax with him. After a long, grueling day at work, nothing is quite as good as feeling the stress melt away with a relaxing yoga session.

Strala Yoga with Tara Stiles

7. He’s passionate. People come here from all over the world to make their dreams a reality.

8. He’s fun. There’s always something to do to satisfy any craving.

9. You can’t be mad at him. He can have other girlfriends without upsetting you because those girls just make the ride so much more enjoyable.

I could’ve given you a tenth quality, but my lucky number is nine, so it just feels right to stop here. My advice? Go to New York City and fall in love with the perfect boyfriend, too. I promise to share : )

Getting Flexible with Tara Stiles

I don’t know about everyone else, but I take the term “group exercise class” very seriously. As in, I don’t go unless I have a friend tagging along. Call me crazy but I need to have that moral support when I’m exercising in front of a group of strangers and the instructor can zero in on me at any second. I know from working at a gym that most instructors don’t judge (unless you show up to spinning class in cutoff jeans and hiking sneakers), but you never know about the other participants.

That’s why I dragged my best friend, Liz Shaftic, to a new yoga class when she came to visit here in NYC. After taking a six hour bus ride to arrive at 42nd Street at 12:30a.m. on a Friday night, you’d think I’d let her snag some extra shut-eye the next day, right? Wrong. We were up bright and early to head to Tara Stiles’ Strala Yoga in NoHo.

Due to some unexpected subway construction that seriously derailed our arrival, Liz and I kicked things off to a good start by showing up nearly a half hour late. However, we were still able to grab a yoga mat and jump into downward dog with one of the most prominent yoga instructors in the nation (Not to mention her husband, Michael Taylor, who’s studied and practiced Eastern movement and healing techniques for more than two decades, joined us for class).

Now, before you start thinking I’m a huge yoga guru because I work at FITNESS and really love participating in fitness-related activities, let me explain something: yoga has never been on the top of my priority list. I usually forget to stretch before and after my workouts (I’ve gotten better, though!), so contorting my body into various positions and holding them peacefully is not something I’m usually good at. But being the adventure-seeker that I am, I figured I’d give it a shot.

Although the “Strong” class I took is normally an hour and 15 minutes long, I was only there for 45 minutes and I still got a sweat-inducing, muscle-blasting workout. Tara took us through a variety of poses that didn’t just stretch the muscles. We did core, leg and butt exercises that really strengthen the muscles as well. By the end, my tank top was drenched with sweat and I realized I shouldn’t have bothered to shower before class. Don’t forget I was only there for 45 minutes — I can only imagine what I would have looked like if I was there for the full class.

Tara was also extremely nice and helpful with each class participant. She corrected my form when necessary, as a good instructor should, but she didn’t point it out to the rest of the class. In the middle of a pose, she quietly walked over and adjusted my body. And to make things less embarrassing, she cracked a joke and always had a bright smile. I noticed she was like this with all the participants rather than just with me because she knows I work at FITNESS.

Although all these things are great, I haven’t even gotten to the best part: the price. Yoga classes in NYC are typically $20 per class and can be close to $300 a month if you’re a regular goer. But Strala Yoga offers a unique, affordable opportunity: $10 a class.

“I want to make yoga affordable for everyone so that it can be something that’s easily integrated into everyday life,” Stiles told me after class. “We make the classes enjoyable and affordable, so we always have people coming back for more.”

This really could be the best deal around. So if you’re in NYC, pick up your yoga mat (or rent one there for $2) and head over to Strala Yoga. I promise, you won’t regret it. And look for me while you’re there — I’ll probably be the girl near the back trying to twist in various directions.

Fitness Required at FITNESS?

Ever since I started my internship, I’ve had one question asked of me over and over again.

“Do you have to be in really good shape to work at FITNESS?

I’m actually surprised by how often I’ve heard this, and some of my fellow ASME interns have even said, “Sam, I’m so glad you were placed at FITNESS instead of me. I’m not fit enough to work there!”

Well everyone, I’m here to let you know that it is not a requirement that you be fit to be considered for employment at FITNESS (I’m pretty sure if this were true, the magazine would be in a lot of trouble with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission). You don’t have to be an exercise enthusiast, nutrition expert or health guru.

However, it definitely doesn’t hurt if you are fitness savvy. The people I work with are not only knowledgeable about their field, they enjoy it. Casual conversation is often about the latest yoga DVD  that someone used or the class they’re going to test.

The office itself doesn’t hurt either. I can’t help but feel motivated when en route to the kitchen I pass a rack of bikinis, sports bras and workout clothes. Or on my way to the copy room I pass the shoe closet, which is filled with more sneakers than I’ve ever seen at one time. When I leave for lunch, I pass the fitness closet that is brimming with a wide array of workout equipment — yoga mats, medicine balls, bicycling helmets, etc — you name it; it’s probably in there.

Working at FITNESS has also inspired me to keep up with my own workout regime. I used to spend my summers somewhere close to home. In an old post, I made it clear that Oppenheim does not have a whole ton of civilization (I wasn’t kidding about the more cows than people quota). Well, minimal fitness opportunities go hand-in-hand with minimal civilization. The closest gym to my house is 20 minutes and it’s in serious need of an equipment upgrade. As a result, I didn’t work out as much. I’d sweat it out biking, hiking or running outside, sure, but it’s not the same as grunting out a fantastic strength training session at the gym where you can also escape the heat for a few glorious hours in AC.  (You didn’t think my house has AC, did you? Come on now!) Then top it off with all of mom’s fantastic home-cooked meals that you miss oh, so much while away during college and you’re on the fast road to out-of-shape city.

But being here has helped me stay in the fitness mindset I have while at school. This mindset can also be credited to my job at the Cooper/Glimmerglass Fitness Centers as a Student Manager and Personal Trainer. What always happens there happens at FITNESS, too. When you’re surrounded by people who love health and fitness, you can’t help but get sucked in. I’ve always been passionate about athletics and working out, but my love for it has grown exponentially the last two years. Working at this magazine motivates me to try the latest moves we’re telling our readers about or go to a yoga class that could inspire a story pitch. If I can combine my passions and succeed at my job while staying in shape, aren’t I getting the best of both worlds? I think so.

I’ve found my motivation to stay fit through my job at FITNESS, not because I have to be fit in order to work there. What’s your motivation? I’d love to hear about it here, or at The Pulse, my personal health and fitness blog. Hope to hear from you soon!

Livin’ the Dream

After completing six local journalism internships, I knew this summer was my chance to break out of my comfort zone and really chase my dreams. What it all boils down to is New York City. I’ve always wanted to live here and I’ve always wanted to work in the magazine industry. So after months of scouring for internships, frantically filling out applications and sending off my best work to people who didn’t know me, I waited.

And waited.

Whenever life got me down and I second-guessed my skills and education, I turned to two things. FRIENDS, and “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys. The two completely capture the essence of New York City and the dreams that I want to achieve. “Empire State of Mind” became my theme song, my mantra to keep me motivated and inspired.

Concrete jungle where dreams are made of

There’s nothing you can’t do,  now you’re in New York

These streets will make you feel brand new

These lights will inspire you

Let’s hear it for New York

It didn’t matter that I grew up in wide open spaces, in a town with more cows than people. Or that our best option for a night out was a 30-minute drive to the closest movie theater with some friends and a bag of popcorn. All that mattered was that the glossy pages that came in my mailbox each month meant the world to me, and I needed to immerse myself in that world. New York City wasn’t about the hustle and bustle that people automatically associate with this place. To me, New York City was about livin’ the dream.

FRIENDS captures the homey, loving and endearing side of New York City, and it’s the show that made me fall in love with this place before I realized what journalism really was. It emphasized that New York City, again, wasn’t always about hustle and bustle.

Instead, it was about opportunity. It was about being carefree. It was about enjoying life. I wanted that life.

The witty banter and carefree friendships on this show captured my hometown and the people I wanted to meet while living my dream. Whenever I need to relax with a few laughs, I pop in one of the ten seasons (yes, I have each one) of this show and it works every single time. This show not only made New York City about fulfilling a dream, it became about getting the lifestyle I wanted.

Without these things, I’m not sure what my mantra would have been, what my support system would be like. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not doubting my friends, family and teachers who have helped me along the way. Without them, there’s no way I would be here. But you need to enjoy the small things in life, too. You need something to keep pushing you, to remind you of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. These two things do it for me. I encourage you to find yours.

There’s nothing you can’t do, now you’re in New York.

Let’s show ‘em what I’m made of.

Just Do It

Cloud nine can’t even begin to describe the state of euphoria I am in right now.

After working all day,  my fitness editor, Mary, asked me to attend a press event with her. Clearly, I said yes. Then I found out it was for Nike and we were testing their new products that are launching in July. I couldn’t have been more psyched.

After our car service dropped us off at 555 West 18th Street, we mingled with other editors in attendance and waited for the event to start. For those of you who are not familiar with the media industry, press events are attended by various editors, writers, staffers and bloggers from multiple magazines. The goal is to find out about new products and come back with any new, exciting information that could possibly run in the magazine. Usually, you get gift bags as well so that all of the promoted products can be tested!

When the program began, a lot of the new products were discussed and technologically explained. Nike’s new gear is launching in July, and it ranges from new sneakers to sports bras. Everything discussed today was geared toward women because, well, everyone there was female and worked at some form of a women’s magazine. I’d tell you about the new stuff coming out, but you’ll have to check out my health and fitness blog, The Pulse, for that insider info.

A huge surprise came next.

Michael Johnson, four-time Olympic gold medalist and world record-holder for the 400-meter and 4 X 400 m relay, spoke to us about proper preparation for running. I was slightly star struck. To make it better, he also Skyped (possibly another system used, but I think it was Skype) with Sanya Richards, the defending U.S. and world champion in the 400-meter. She provided tips specifically for females to prepare their mind and body for running. But again, if you want that info, you’re going to have to check out The Pulse.

Finally, we were decked in Nike’s latest gear from head to toe, all the way down to the socks and sports bras. Everyone decided to run two, four or six miles and Nike brought in professionals to pace us throughout our run. I stuck with two because of my blood disorder, but I think next time I’m going to tough out four. Oh, and Michael Johnson ran with us two-milers! (I finished the run before he did, if that counts for anything.) And yes, we got to keep all of our gear, so I now have a ton of new fitness gear!

So this is just a few toes dipped into the ocean of things that magazine journalists are able to experience. I can’t wait to dive in.

Living the Crazy, Good Life

Life in New York City is crazy.

But in such an amazing, satisfying, beautiful way.

I’ve been so extremely busy at work but I love every second of my day. I work almost nonstop from 9 a.m. to around 5:30 p.m., but I love everything I’m doing. The days just fly by and then I have events to go to at night so I can get my networking on.

Tonight I went to a Microsoft preview event at Stage 37 with my ASME mentor, Lorelei, and my ASME coordinator, Nina. Technically, they were set up with me to help me succeed, but they’ve become so much more than that. They’re my friends, my confidantes, and they’ve got my back in this crazy magazine industry we all love to immerse ourselves in. Believe me, there’s nothing like having a few good people behind you to make sure you succeed in the end. And when you’re friends with those who have already broken into the industry, it’s even better.

So back to the Microsoft event. They had some pretty cool new equipment coming out — my favorite involved a system for the XBox 360 called Kinect. It tracks your movements through camera sensors and allows you to move around without any controllers. My favorite game was Dance Central, which was made in collaboration with MTV Games. It reminded me of Dance Dance Revolution, but it’s a lot less complicated and more fun. You can pull off silly dance moves (such as disco moves and chicken leg) and advance the levels through a wide variety of songs. We were able to test out the game right then and there, and it was a lot of fun. Personally, I rocked Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.” This game is definitely going to sell.

But my night wasn’t over.

After we left Stage 37, we headed over to West 30th for Robert Verdi’s fashion event. It was held at this really high-end apartment (I wish I could live there) and we enjoyed casual conversation while learning about his new endorsements. I wish I had some pictures of the apartment for you, but here’s some of the stuff from the goodie bag.

There was a lot of other great stuff in the bag, but Lorelei, Nina and I split the bag.

So that was basically my day, once you add in a lot of work for FITNESS, too. Oh, and did I mention I had lunch with the Deputy Editor at The New Yorker today? Yeah, that also happened.

So yes, I love my life. I’ll have some more stories for you soon!