Tag: california

Forget Paradise: Traveling in Miami, Los Angeles, San Diego

Design by Joseph Lapin
Design by Joseph Lapin

I grew up in Clinton, Massachusetts — a small town in Worcester County. We were once the crowning achievement of the Industrial Revolution, and the factories from the Bigelow Carpet Factory are still on Main Street, serving as a reminder of a former life. I love Clinton. I still have family there, and I have incredible friends there. That town has helped me become the man I am today, but I couldn’t wait to leave when I was a kid. It’s not that I disliked the people or thought it wasn’t a great town; it’s that I hated the snow; I hated the cold; I hated the small-town nature of my childhood existence. It just wasn’t where I wanted to live long term. I needed to find my home, and there were two places I knew where I wanted to live: Florida and California.

I started to develop this fascination with the idea of paradise. I started to think about the ocean, the sun, and the weather. I thought about Florida and California, and I built these ideas of these states as the key to happiness and success. That once I moved beyond the cold winters my life would be easier, more peaceful, and free.

Design by Joseph Lapin
Design by Joseph Lapin

So I went to college in Florida, and I lived there for four years, and I studied creative writing in Miami for three. Now I live in California — the place where I thought would be the most free state in the country — and I’m about to move to San Diego. What I’m trying to say is that I understand what it’s like to live in a place that most people consider paradise. I know what it’s like to live in a city where tourists line up, year after year, with their cameras to take photographs. I know what it’s like to take for granted the beauty that surrounds me and become accustomed to beautiful weather that you almost feel oblivious to the flowers blooming almost all year round or standing on the beach only to turn around and see snow on the mountaintops. What I’m trying to say is that I’ve spent the last ten years of my life chasing paradise, and I’m no longer looking for it. I’ve found it, and I can’t imagine ever leaving it. It’s obviously a state of mind. It’s a place that I can find in my writing. It’s my family. It’s music. Even though it’s so obvious, it’s important to remind myself that paradise is not a place. That’s what is on my mind this week.

Here are some quotes from writers on paradise:

“It is better to have your head in the clouds, and know where you are … than to breathe the clearer atmosphere below them, and think that you are in paradise.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson.

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” — Jorge Luis Borges.

“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring–it was peace.” — Milan Kundera.

Breast Cancer Run and Trying to Pitch National Magazines

I’m writing this post in anxious anticipation of the Patriots vs. Ravens game.  I need to represent where I’m from.  And earlier this morning, I was representing another cause — breast cancer awareness.

While I’m not entirely sure if running a 5k race at Fashion Island in Irvine, California, can actually make an impact in breast cancer awareness, I did enjoy being a part of thousands of people wearing pink and honoring a cause.  It was amazing, to think, that so many people had been touched by this illness.  Some people were running through the crowd and holding pictures to memorialize their loved.  That was incredible.  Keeping memories alive, seem to me, to be one of the most important rites we can provide to our deceased family.  Right now, I’m thinking of my grandfather, Joseph Lapin, who died of lung cancer.  I never met him.  But I know him.

Today, there was another type of person at the Breast Cancer run who I found stole some of the headlines. There were actually people protesting the race.  They were holding signs, saying, “Wake up.  There is no cure.  Just big business.”  I couldn’t help but wonder, “How do we know that all our donations go to breast cancer research?”  I put that thought out of my mind.  And I just ran through Fashion Island, corporations surrounding me on all sides, and ignored the fact that Chevron sponsored the event.  Too many awkward questions were running through my mind.  So I chose to focus on the incredible people, the memories, the hope for a cure.

To shift gears a bit, I’d like to talk a bit about what’s happening with freelancing.  While I have been receiving some local success, it’s clear that the best financial and career freelance opportunities are with national magazines.  When I started, I couldn’t figure out how to pitch these national magazines.  I sort of thought, “Why the hell would they answer me?”

So, I started to do some research, and I came across Mediabistro — suggested by some writing connections and a random person on twitter.   Well, it’s been huge.  They tell you how to pitch to national magazines right on their site, and they tell you where the best sections in the publications are to start.

Well, to my surprise, I heard back from some of these magazines.  I didn’t even think they would respond.  One magazine passed, and another actually responded with some questions.  I hope something will happen.  Stay tune to find out.