Thursday, July 26, 2012

All The Difference

A great poet once wrote about two roads that diverged in a yellow wood, and that after much deliberation about which road to take, he decide to follow the one that was less traveled by. As he concluded his poem he ended with one of the most the enigmatically and haunting lines in all of poetry:                                   
                         “I took the one less traveled , 
                              And that has made all the difference.”  
                                          -Robert Frost (The Road Not Taken)

All the difference. Throughout life we are faced with decisions. Decision’s that impact us, and have impacts on those around us; and sometimes choices that we wish we could take back.  

One of my most favorite Star Trek episodes is Parallels from The Next Generation. Without going into too many details, basically Lt. Worf unknowingly passes through a space time fissure in a shuttle craft while returning to the Enterprise after competing in a bat'leth tournament. Through a Twilight-Zonian series of twist he discovers that he is jumping though different parallel universes. As the episode progresses it becomes creeper and creeper and is especially frightening when he discovers a parallel universe where the Borg have overrun, destroyed, and assimilated the known universe. He eventually makes it back home to the correct universe and the episode ends with cake.

In one universe, the cake was a lie.

My point to all this is that not only our choices, but everyone’s choices, have so much impact that it is almost impossible to calculate. The universe is like an atom’s in a nuclear reaction, or popcorn in the microwave: One small decision and hundreds of thousands of possible and actual reactions. It is impossible to trace all the eventualities and possibilities of making a choice because there are literally infinite amounts of possible outcomes. So we just got to do what’s best for us and hope everything turns out ok.

The reason I am so fixated on choices and decisions and paths and yellow woods is because right now I see myself, much like the poet, looking at two roads. In my mind one road says photography and one road says directing. Eventually I will have to choose one to walk down, but for now I am going to keep examining both roads, learning as much as I can from them.

I recently had a photo-session with a wonderful Dubuque family. We had a blast taking pictures even thought it was like 100 degrees outside and humid as all get out. We spent a long time taking pictures, laughing, sweating, and having fun. All in all it was a great success as evidenced by one of the many photos I got from the session:

The Johnson's- Joey Stamp 2012

At the end of it all I received one of the greatest compliments on my work as a photographer that I have ever gotten: “Joey, I am going to need you to sign a release with these because the last time I went to Walgreens to get your pictures printed they refused on account that these were obviously taken by a professional, and they wouldn’t print them without written permission.” That felt good.

I enjoy photography so much that I sometimes forget that I could actually make money doing it, and I have recently discovered that I especially love taking pictures of people. To me, taking pictures of people is not about setting everyone up in a row and snapping a shot (sorry mom and grandmom); It’s about capturing those elusive moments when a person is completely and utterly themselvesOne of my many “schemes” when I get to New York is to market myself to young, new actors and actresses as a head-shot photographer. My hope is that I can make a decent amount of money and from what I can tell, people are willing to pay a lot of it for a good photo. Unless, of course, it looks like this:

Om Nom Nom (Day 75)- Joey Stamp 2010 

Aint nobody gonna pay for that....

Speaking of New York, I have some splendid news! As of yesterday I am officially signed into a 1-year lease in an apartment in Sunnyside, Queens. It is a beautiful neighborhood with a rich history and a diverse culture. All those who care about me will like to know that in addition to all that, it is also a very safe place to live in relative terms of it being in New York. So if your ever in the area, give me a call!

All this is thanks to the wonderful website, which I cannot recommend enough. After searching forever, fruitlessly, on craigslist and other groups and free listings, I found this website. It is specifically designed to set up apartment leases where the tenets are thousands of miles away from the landlords. They do charge a fee, but trust me when I say it is worth it. I had spent weeks and sent out literally hundreds of emails to various people on the internet, and if I got a response, which I usually didn’t, it was some Polinisian jerk trying to scam me out of my money. The day I found this website and signed up for it, I was emailing back and forth with a wonderful lady named Beatrice who helped me get in-contact with the landlord, and a short time later I was signing the lease.

It is going to be a wonderful place to live, and I share it with a, and I quote, “Scholar from India, and a South American.” Both of which are “mature” ladies. The south American lady is also the landlord and she has to be one of the kindest souls in New York. I have only talked with her over the phone once, briefly, and already I want to give her a hug.

So that is all the good news I have to share! Thanks for reading.

Until next time!

"But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.
           -Robert Frost

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Other 7,000

In less than a month I will be walking the streets of New York. Even though I think on this often it is still surreal to me. In less than a month I will be living in a city with 8 million people, trying my hardest to break into theatre. I will be joined by many others in this quest, as likely thousands move to New York and try to enter into the theatre world.

As I ponder this thought I am reminded of the many graduation speeches across the country this year all seemed to have a similar theme: Life is Hard. Some of quotes from these speeches are: "You're Not Special"-David McCullough Jr., "You're a group of incredibly well-educated dumb people"-Aaron Sorkin, and the magnificent article by Lisa Bloom "The Most Honest Commencement Speech You'll Never Hear". Many of these speeches stressed the same ideas, the same truths: That we are not as smart as we should be, colleges are charging way more than they should be, and we're not as unique as we think we are.  While this is rather depressing, I personally find it inspiring. In David McCullough Jr.'s commencement speech he made a very profound point:
" Even if you're "one in a million," on a planet of 6.8 billion, that means there are nearly 7,000 people just like you. And consider for a moment the bigger picture. Your planet, I'll remind you, is not the center of your solar system. Your solar system is not the center of its galaxy. Your galaxy is not the center of the universe."
The reason I find all this hopeful is because now I know the limit, the boundaries of the game. There are at least 7,000 other players I have to compete against, and if I slack for even a moment, I lose. If I get down on myself I must remember the other 7,000. The world won't care if I fail, because there are 6,999 just like me that will fill the void. So I have to keep going, keep pushing for myself, keep following my dream for MY sake, because no one is going to make it happen for me.

So, what does all this mean in terms of New York? Well I am about to step into the greatest adventure of my life very soon (August 8th to be exact) and its going to take a lot of hard work and perseverance. I am going to be hundreds of miles from my family, friends, and everyone that cares about me, with at least 7,000 other people competing against me in a city of 8 million people who could care less about me. It's not going to be easy.

That's whats been on my mind recently as I am getting ready to head out there, maybe it might mean something to you readers, or maybe not. Regardless it feels good to put it out there.

So in other news, in case you didn't catch it I will be flying out of Waterloo on August 8th. As of yet I don't have a job, or a permanent place to live. I have a room I am renting for the first week I am there, which will give me ample amounts of time to find an apartment/room and a grunt job. In terms of Theatre work I have submitted 16 applications to various theatre company's in the New York area , most of which are still in the reviewing process, and I should be hearing back form them soon. So keep your fingers crossed for me!

In closing I am going to leave you with a quote from our great leader, as a beacon of hope in this otherwise depressing blog post :D

"Because as tough as things have been, I am convinced you are tougher. I’ve seen your passion and I’ve seen your service... I’ve seen a generation eager -- impatient even -- to step into the rushing waters of history and change its course." 
President Barack Obama.