I’m back, fools!
After a nearly two-year hiatus, I’ve imported and relaunched the blog I’ve been updating in some form since high school as a core component of my actual website. And it’s about time!
Oh and by the way, before y’all geeks get all condescending on me, yeah, I know the design isn’t the best… like how it’s not very responsive. But cut me some slack; it was the first site I put together 100% from scratch by myself, and I just haven’t changed it that much since then – heck, I’ve barely had time! (Though to be fair, it’s much better than it was!)
But why not plug in some kind of framework like Bootstrap? Pfft – what kind of programmer would be if I gave up that much control over my code? I’d no longer be a developer, I’d be a janitor. No thanks. And come on, it’s not like this is a professional/corporate site, it’s a pet project, and I’d feel more pride if I could point and say “look! I made this all by myself!!” It may not be the best but dang it, it’s mine. WordPress for the blog is of course an exception though – I wanted to merge the blog and my existing site, and I had no interest in trying to come up with a database on my own. But anyway – rest assured I will get around to it improving the site and making it more responsive at some point. Just need to set aside some time.
So why such a long gap? Why relaunch now instead of a long time ago? And what the heck have I been doing all this time? Well, the truth is, I’ve been super busy. Let me do a quick recap of the almost-2-year gap.
After graduating in 2013, I immediately started looking for work, but wasn’t having any luck. While I’m sure that was mainly due to lack of experience, I also feel I owe a good amount of that to simply not being very good at jobhunting, too. Eventually I decided I needed to pick something up to pay the bills, so to keep me busy, I picked up a job at a local RadioShack. Needless to say… that was a mistake. What I had intended to be an easy 2-month side job while I looked for other work turned into a half-year nightmare in which I was paid minimum wage, yet expected by management to give the level of dedication and sacrifice one would give a professional career – all while being expected to meet unrealistic quotas that would never, ever be met. because – guess what – nobody likes RadioShack. I swear, there is nothing I wouldn’t do to gain back the precious time I wasted working for that miserable company. I’m thrilled they’re dying, and I hope they continue to do so.
Luckily by Summer 2014 I managed to grab something a little more appropriate – an I.T. job at a local Community College. As the sole representative for the campus, I was responsible for all things digital on site – which sounds intimidating, but actually was incredibly freeing, as it granted me an unprecedented level of autonomy – and it felt great. Being in a position like this actually really allowed me to grow and mature as an adult, to the extent that I definitely feel like I left there a better person than I came in. Seriously! I had a great time, and fondly remember everyone I worked with.
It was bittersweet, though, since I then couldn’t help but regret not looking for a job like this as soon as I graduated, rather than waste such a good chunk of my time at a dead-end job. There likely would have been so many opportunities available to me if I had simply known where to look. That being said, in some ways I am thankful for that experience, as miserable as it was – for a lot of young folks who are interested in tech but lack the experience or connections to start their careers, retail jobs at places like RadioShack are all they have. It’s important that I don’t take the opportunities and advantages I’ve been blessed with for granted, so at the very least, being able to come into the professional space with that perspective is pretty valuable to me.
Anyway, around the same time I got the I.T. job, I also was asked by my good friend Gregg Ellson to create the music score for a new webseries he was working on. I of course happily obliged – I figured this would be a great opportunity! I had played around with a few musical ideas over the summer, but the bulk of the music writing process started once filming had commenced and I was able to get a better sense of the tone and dynamic we would be working with. It was an exciting process, sometimes stressful – sometimes I would make a last-minute change we would only implement a few minutes before launching an episode! – but all in all extremely rewarding. I learned a lot more about music scoring & production through this process, and I can’t wait for another opportunity to work on a project like this (when I have the time!).
Currently, I’m working at a NYC startup founded by Vassar alums. It’s been stressful for me, though – I’ve been away from large-scale programming like this for so long that I’ve gotten pretty rusty. Plus I’m working on projects I’m a little less familiar with. I’ve been picking up speed though, and in the long run, I’m sure I’ll benefit from having worked on these less-familiar components, and become a much more well-rounded developer.
So, with all that jobhunting, working, and composing since Fall ’13, I haven’t exactly had much time to post, hence the delay. But that’s not the only reason I haven’t updated – once I launched patrickmauro.net, I pretty much knew I wanted to move the blog over to it eventually, so I actually held off on a lot of writing I had started because I wanted to wait until I could do a proper relaunch and make it more significant. Of course, this in turn made the delay even worse due to the added work setting all that up involved – getting a new host, importing the old blog, fixing formatting/styling issues, etc… But I’ve finally gotten all it done, so we can get this party started once again. 🙂
And now’s a great time to do it, I think. I actually appreciate the blog format even more now than I did when I first started posting back in ’07. And of course, like any good Vassar boy, my education has mostly been geared towards longer-form writing – and I’ve grown to really enjoy it over time. Out of the academic context, the format gives me an opportunity to really get into the technical nitty-gritty of stuff I’m passionate about, whether it be music, geeky stuff like games/movies, or even just things I need to vent about in general – you can see some of that come out in my Carmen and Portal posts from earlier. So yeah – I think it’s a great outlet for me, and I’m thrilled to be able to open that channel up once again.
Now, while we’re on the subject of long hiatuses, it’s probably high time I gave an update about where I’m at with my music right now. I haven’t shared any new music content since January, and some may be wondering whether or not that was intentional. Unfortunately, yeah, I decided to take a break from music after finishing BFFs, the primary reason being I simply didn’t have the time anymore. I’ve gone over my work situation since Fall ’13, but a lot else happened even since late January – I found myself tied up with a lot of side-projects, and it became more and more difficult to manage as my schedule also began to fill up due to work-related (or more specifically, jobhunting-related) events. As a result, my availability vanished more rapidly than I could anticipate, and I started becoming uncomfortably stressed. So to give my life a little more stability, and to help keep myself focused on my goals, I made the decision to cut out all music until I felt I was better equipped to resume working on it again. This actually meant I had to cancel a few projects I was already working on with some people, and they were understandably pretty bummed about it (as was I, of course!), but it was a decision I really just had to make. But luckily it did pay off, as I was able to land my current job, which I’ve been thrilled about. But even this new job is a much bigger time commitment – the commute alone can take up to 2 hours – so I’m still having some trouble finding time to myself.
Unfortunately, there’s another issue too – the computer I produce from has become extremely unreliable recently, and I don’t feel comfortable working on music again until I’ve got a setup I have a little more confidence in – it’s an old late-00’s MacBook Pro and it just hasn’t performed to my liking ever since Mavericks (THANKS A LOT COOK). I’ve done some tinkering and it’s helped a bit, but honestly, I’m probably just delaying the inevitable. It’s outlived its intended usefulness, and it’s really only a matter of time before more components start to fail. I’ve been trying to move most of my data off of it and onto a new PC I built in the meantime, but I’ll ultimately need another Mac – honestly, I’d switch to PC altogether if it weren’t for the fact that I’m mostly a Logic guy, and I’m really not interested in relearning a whole new system like ProTools. Also, compatible projects date back to, like, 2005, and maintaining that compatability is very important to me. So, I gotta figure out how much I’m willing to spend on a replacement. I feel like it’s better to be safe than sorry, since I’d really like for this new one to last me a long time too – but we’ll see.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t stuff coming – there’s actually a LOT in the pipeline I’m trying to get to once I have a chance. There’s of course the soundtrack to BFFs – I’d like to expand all those tracks and then release an album online, in many ways to test the waters of digital distribution and see what I like, what I don’t like, what I have difficulty with, etc – and effectively pave the way for future releases. Of course, one of the things I still have to figure out is mastering. For all the work I’ve done with audio editing and engineering over the years, I still don’t know the first thing about it. And I’d like to – I do enjoy working with sound and it seems like it’d be up my alley, plus it’d be nice to not have to rely on anyone else during the process of album production – but A) that’s probably a naive sentiment and B) I don’t have that kind of time right now. So either way, I’ll need to find someone, at least for this project in particular. But I can’t even start to think about that until I’ve actually reworked the tracks!
Besides BFFs, there’s a ton of other material I’m trying to get done as well, some dating back as far as 10 years, that I’ve been trying to finish for quite some time. I’ve also got collaborations with other artists I’ve put on hold and would like to get back to work on – some of that requires brushing up on my playing, though. There’s also some new material I’ve been working on I’m pretty excited about – it’s a mix of covers & originals based around a new approach to music I’ve experimenting with. I’ve been trying to take a more grounded and more original approach to writing, arranging & production. We’ll see what happens – hopefully I should have some more updates about that soon.
What’s more, I’ve had a dream project in the pipeline for quite some time I’ve been dying to get done, but don’t think I’m going to have time to work on for a while – a soundtrack to a “hypothetical” game. This would essentially be a test to see if I am capable of writing in that style, and if I’m successful, would give me something to put on my portfolio without having any actual experience – win/win! Game music is something I’ve wanted to work on for years, and with any luck, that could be a good way to break into it. Plus, it’d be fun! 🙂
All in all – it’s great to be back, and this time, I’d like to really improve the quality of my posts. Obviously I’m not going to promise to post more regularly – we all know how THAT goes – but I want to make an effort to deliver more substantial, more thoughtful content. Longer-form and more in-depth, like those Carmen and Portal pieces. I want to try to treat every post like a research paper rather than a brief update. Better substance is gonna be especially important now that the blog is the main page of my personal site!
I’ll admit that one of the risks with going longer-form like this is that you risk losing your audience’s attention pretty quickly. But who knows – maybe I’ll start working in some video content…? 😮