My Latest for Thought Catalog: Microsoft’s New Commercial Tugs At The Heartstrings Of 90s Kids

90s kid TC

Occasionally, I write things unrelated to travel.

Microsoft’s new commercial was pretty inspiring to me actually, despite their pandering to a generation that knows better than to purchase Microsoft products.  I think I was impressed with their overall treatment of the 90s nostalgic theme – they present it in a way that is relevant (ie using known-brand products instead of stupid makeshift things that don’t infringe on copyrights) and also lyrically beautiful.  But the last line is what really gets me:

“You grew up.  So did we.”

Do I think Microsoft’s revitalized their brand and products? I have no idea. And honestly, I probably won’t be finding out anytime soon. But with all due respect, you have to understand that without Microsoft, the internet wouldn’t nearly be what it is today.

“AND I DO. I DO REMEMBER WHEN WE MADE FUN OF THE KIDS WHO HAD APPLE COMPUTERS BECAUSE THEY WERE SO… strange. I remember those kid-friendly, Ecto-Cooler-clutches on the playground, discussing who had the swankiest PC desktop with an Intel Pentium II processor, and how many hours of free AOL service we’d accumulated in the mail (yeah, I was a computer nerd back in the day). I remember turning on the one computer we owned in the house, seeing the little multi-colored Microsoft flag emblem wave across the screen, hearing that distinctive little jingle telling me the system was up and running, and inserting a floppy disk into the tower to play that famous, pixelated version of Oregon Trail”.

Read it here:

Microsoft’s New Commercial Tugs At The Heartstrings Of 90s Kids


How To Get Published: Listen to your F*%$ing Editors!

Jesus Christ I need to work on my Photoshop Skills...

Jesus Christ I need to work on my Photoshop Skills…

I have a lot of friends who call themselves “writers” but who don’t actually ever publish anything. They are talented, but they have a hard time finding work, and are always amazed by how much steady work I get because I’m not even a full-time writer.

“You must have awesome editors,” they tell me. “Editors are so annoying though. I hate working with them. They make me change my entire piece and then it doesn’t feel like it’s my own. I just want someone who is going to publish my stuff the first time I send it to them.”

Ah. There’s the problem.

People, you need to start listening to your f*%$ing editors. And here’s why:

1.  They know what they are doing

Your editors weren’t people just picked out of a hat by some random CEO – they are editors because they have experience. Some might have studied journalism, some might have just worked with the website/publication for a really long time. Regardless, their job is to make your stuff look good. And they probably do know better than you, because they’ve been doing this for a while.

2.  They have to abide by certain guidelines too

Matador Network has a style they like their articles to follow because that’s what makes the site unique. Thus, you can’t just write whatever way you want, if you hope to be published by them. A good editor will take time to steer you in the right direction and help you create a piece worth posting, that fits with the ethos of the company. Otherwise, what’s to stop them from publishing anything from anyone?

3.  They make suggestions because they WANT to publish you

An editor has no problem telling you if the piece you submit is not totally in line with the types of things their website/publications post. That doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer, it just means you have to write the kinds of things they want to read. Lots of times I’ll pitch an idea or send a draft to my editors, and they’ll send feedback that might take the piece to a totally different level. “Write it in the style of…” or “Take this part out and elaborate on this more…” means that they trust you to take your initial concept and make it publishable through their suggestions.

4.  They will want to work with you more if you are willing to work with them

The best thing you can do to advance your writing career is show an editor you are capable of following directions. To them, complacent writers mean less time back and forth discussing edits because you aren’t constantly fighting with them to “get your way.” It means you are a hard worker and are dedicated to the site you are writing for (especially if you hand stuff in on time).

“But what about my ‘voice’? I don’t want to compromise myself for someone else’s benefit.” Okay sure, I get that. Here’s a little secret through: publishing is about trust. Your editors have to trust that you’ll give them things they want to publish. You have to trust that your editors are helping to make your work look amazing. Once that relationship is established, things get easier; most times you’ll start out writing one way but then develop your own voice in the style they are looking for.

If that is still dissatisfying to you, ask yourself: why am I writing for them? You should want to work with websites/publications that you care about, or at least can tolerate enough to get a paycheck. If you are butting heads on a scathing level, move on. There are plenty of publications out there and you’ll find the right one sooner than you think.

How do you deal with editors? Any other tactics you can advise hopeful writers to take into consideration?

Travel Writing Exercise: Relocation

Setting up in our new place – woo!

I just moved to a new apartment! Hooray! It’s awesome and it feels so good to be back HOME and away from areas of potential flooding and closer to my favorite bar that serves pitchers of beer for $5! The past two weekends have been spent moving from one place to the next and it’s been exciting, stressful, exhausting and joyous all at the same time. We are pretty much settled in now, but it got me to thinking about how moving totally sucks and how there are people who move around on the daily.

Many travellers are nomadic by nature – living out of a suitcase or backpack, never settling in for too long, never feeling enough attachment to one place for fear they will never travel again. Or some travellers fall in love with a particular place and move their permanently. What’s your story? What’s your style? Always on the go, or comfy-cozy just-move-once?

Write about relocation.

Today’s example is a bit brief but you’ll get the idea…

Travel Narrative Monday: Inflatables



She happened to get tickets to the Meatloaf concert.  So I spend fifty euros and go to see him too.

I am intrigued as to what a rock ‘n roll concert in a small, Irish country town entails.  What kind of venue is it?  Will they sell beer to me?  I didn’t even think the Irish liked Meatloaf.

Gina and I walk a bit from our parking spot, a place she’d found on the slant of a hillside, next to the jaws of a highway.  It’s the kind of place you’re not supposed to park, because it’s nature, but we and every other citizen in and around Killarney has run over the green countryside with the tires of our compact-cars.

Like a game of Frogger, we risk our lives crossing the busy street (I feel like George Costanza in that famous Seinfeld episode). Climbing over metal brackets and traipsing down another steep, garbage-strewn hill, we arrive on the concert grounds.  Gina seems to have no concern for the minors she is entrusted with – no, not that she isn’t concerned, just that she does this kind of crazy shit all the time, so why should we have any trouble?

We really don’t, I suppose.  It’s just funny to think about.

The sun sits dormant in the sky, not setting but not bright either.   The concert is held on an what looks like an old football field.  Food and beverage vendors make a semi-circle at the entrance, so you have to leave the stage area to buy anything.  Music merchandise companies are also present, but other sorts of odds and ends can be found as well.  It is sort of like a flea market – you can find anything, from jewelry with pewter skulls hanging from a leather string, or hawk claws clutching purple crystals, to inflatable furniture.

“What do you say, shall we check it out?” Gina asks me, nodding over at the display of faux furnishings.

I shrug, because I am used to her looney antics by now.  “Why not?”  Because she really probably doesn’t need an inflatable couch, but it would be fun to watch her haggle.

We scope out the merch.  There are clear-plastic seating arrangements, and ones with polka dots, pink and yellow chairs and even some inflatable pillows.

Gina sits in a translucent, inflatable love seat.

“Take a seat with me, will yeh,” she pats on the indent next to her.  “Let’s see how this goes.”

So I sit.  Gina rocks back and forth, back and forth, as though the couch were a swing.  She keeps babbling on about whether or not she should go ahead and buy the damn thing, where she would put it, was it a good idea, could we bring it to the concert?  I just say yes, yes to everything.  It is so ridiculous, how can I not?

We rise from the chair and together, walk into the field where the stage is.

I knew she wouldn’t buy it.

#FriFotos: Urban

Vienna architecture


We are in Vienna for 24 hours. It’s a risky venture, based upon our lack of funds, our limited knowledge of Central European geography, and the members of our unique group. Although we are only here for a short time, I fear by the end of the trip, I may want to kill myself. One guy has a penchant for “Yo Mamma” jokes, one girl has extensive travel experience but zero confidence, and the last girl, I’m not sure why she agreed to come with us (we are outside her circle of friends) but as long as she’s here, I feel a bit more comfortable.

It’s little over an hour from Bratislava to Vienna by train. We check into our hostel, a bare-bones place I found online with absolutely no atmosphere, but dorm rooms for eleven euros a night and super sexy front-desk clerks. It’s nearby Mariahilfer Straße, so we take a stroll along the city’s main shopping district in search of something to eat.

“Wow, look at that building!” Betsy exclaims, disrupting my thoughts.

We turn and look at a rather modern building, made of glass window panels, the kind where you can’t see in, but people can see out. The day is sunny and the windows are nearly opaque.

“How cool is that?” Betsy says. “Look at the reflection in the window.”

Vienna is a strange place – strange in that it is so beautiful, I can’t seem to accept it exists, and that I’m here. Habsburg architecture dominates the streets of this urban capital, which, as someone who grew up on the streets of Manhattan, I am definitely not used to. At least I was prepared for Prague – you can’t bring the city up without people sighing in a reminiscing way, then uttering how “magical” it is or how “it is the fairy tale city.”

A curvaceous turret from the eighteenth century is framed by the steel-blue windowpanes. Betsy, an art major, has an eye for discovering unique juxtapositions like that. But I’m the photographer. I take the photo, and send it to everyone else later. Betsy had the idea, sure, but I have the shot.

I always feel guilty, looking at that photo.