The Graduate Life

of The Smalrus (updated 1/2007)

Website Philosophy
This website is meant as an insight into my life. The main page of the site is a journal of my life as it goes on. It’s how I see events unfold around me both on the macro and microsocial scale. It’s how I feel when I’m let down or when I’m exuberant. Rare is the time when I edit what I’ve said on my website and censor myself- editing for me is merely updating the progression. I look at what I say here in two ways: that anyone that is reading my site is either a close friend of mine, or a complete stranger that stumbled in through Google. In the case of the former, anything I say on this site is probably already known to them. In the case of the latter, if a complete stranger cares enough to know about my life, then they’ll probably be at my window tonight, in which case I’m good as dead anyway. If you don’t like what I have to say here there are two options: A) as a window into my POV, it essentially serves as a means for you to correct my problem B) you have a ‘cancel’ button on your browser- use it and don’t read my page anymore. I don’t tell people what they should or shouldn’t write in their diaries. I am giving you an insight into my world- as-is. Take it or leave it.

Starting in January 2007, I am also opening up my website as an idea/feedback/opinion forum for use for my Master’s thesis tentatively titled “Comparative Corporate Social Responsibility: A holistic look at marketing CSR in American and European multinational corporations.” I am looking to add weekly postings and engage my readers in dialogue and debate over different findings I may conclude through my research. This not only will keep me on task, but will give me the ability to make my thesis experience a truly interactive one.

My Life

We’re into the midway point of my first year as a Master of Business Administration student at St. John’s University in New York. After two years as a senior teller at NewAlliance Bank, I left my position to increase my career marketability and repatriate myself into academia. Prior to that, I graduated from McGill University in Montréal, Canada in October 2004, with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a minor concentration in French Language and Literature.

Living in Montréal was definitely quite an experience for me, particularly coming from the somewhat conservative background I grew out of. It wasn’t so much that my hometown was necessarily conservative, but the friends I grew up with weren’t into doing anything out-of-the-norm. Montréal became my Amsterdam, and as such, I adapted to the Québecois lifestyle. I went to Canada with the intentions of leaving my American ethnocentrism behind, and integrating myself into a foreign society. Two years after returning to the States, there’s become a part of me that feels as strongly Canadian as it does American.

As an undergraduate, I started to formulate a dream of being an entertainment lawyer. Unfortunately, the legal aspect of the entertainment industry wasn’t overly seductive and instead, I just left myself as an entertainment enthusiast. In particular, I started to grow a strong affection for music.

To me, music is everything in life. It transcends all borders from race, to religion, to age. It’s a simple premise: play a note and you have music. I first took drum lessons in school in the beginning of grade four. However, the big picture in my mind was to play a drum kit- an idea that I still maintain today. 🙂 I hated playing the drum pad and for years, I believed that the reason I stopped drum lessons was because I didn’t want to practice anymore. I recently found out it was because I skipped music class. We have a piano in my house back home, and I used to turn the radio on and play on the piano along with the radio. It was then when my parents decided to have me take private piano lessons. So in the middle of that year, I switched to piano. I took lessons until the end of my high school career, spanning four different teachers, but I still never practiced enough. In retrospect, I probably could have been a better piano player after 8 years of lessons, but I was always disillusioned by the fact that I never got to play music that I wanted to play. I appreciate the classics a lot, and I’ll listen to classical music, but I also wanted to play popular music and jazz. As I started to learn of a few other friends who could play stuff like Billy Joel or other popular pianists, I was still stuck playing Bach and Mozart. Even in jazz, I never got to play stuff like Miles Davis or Duke Ellington.

At the same time in grade 8, we started to do a little basic guitar in general music class. There were a few guys that were playing stuff like Nirvana and Stone Temple Pilots and all the girls thought they were cool. Even I thought it was cool. So in between the grade 8 and grade 9, I used money I earned from being a Little League Baseball umpire to buy myself a cheap new Montana acoustic guitar. The thing cost me about 100$ and it was my first single major purchase that I earned myself. I remember the first day I had the guitar, my friend Andrew came over to my house, I had bought a book of Hootie and the Blowfish songs, and I just kept trying to read the tab. I must have tried playing that book over and over again, and thus began my love affair with the guitar.

After about two years, I decided it was time to make the investment and buy myself an electric guitar. So I went back to Daddys Junky Music and bought a blue Aria Paul Cat and a Peavey Rage 158 amp. I didn’t know much about electric guitars, but I knew that the 100$ electric I had bought would suffice until I got better. And it did. By the time grade 12 came around, I was already starting to write a few songs, mainly trying to get emotional stuff out in music. I also found that after 4 years of my Montana guitar, I was needing a new acoustic guitar. The sound on my old guitar was too mute for my liking, I couldnt play the higher frets, and it wasn’t electric. So my friend, Sarah, and my parents and I went to Daddy’s Junky and I ended up getting the Yamaha FGX-412C electric acoustic. Regrettably, I got rid of the Montana at the same time.

During that year, I was a theatre technician in the high school. So I went into the studio with the permission of my theatre teacher, Mr. Graner, in hopes to come out with an album, Canned Introspection. I got 3 tracks to 3 songs recorded, but the rest of the album never materialized and to this day, it sits on an ADAT tape in my guitar case, waiting to be worked on.

In July of 2001, I decided that my Aria Paul was starting to grow old on me. It was a good starter electric, but I saw a few Les Pauls, and I wanted one of them. So after a while, I had saved some more money and bought myself a black Epiphone Les Paul Standard. It plays like butter and it has an excellent clean sound. My first open mic experience was at the Equator Coffee Bar in August 2001 and again at Peaberry’s Cafe in the beginning of January 2002. In August 2002, my parents gave me a Yamaha PSR-292 MIDI keyboard for my birthday. It’s allowed me to be able to go back to my piano playing roots and develop a little more sophisticated music. Other music gear I use is the Crybaby Wah pedal, the Zoom 505 Series II multieffect processor, and the Line6 DL4 Delay Modeler. Most recently, I acquired an Ovation Celebrity CK047-KOA, round-backed electric acoustic guitar I have since used it to play several open mics at the Main Pub in Manchester, CT. My strings of choice are D’addario.

My love for music aside, I’ve been following a band from my hometown, Rane, around since the summer of ’97. The drummer was a senior in my high school when I was a freshmen. He also had the same english teacher as me, Mr. Foley. I also knew the sister of the lead guitarist. The first time I saw them, I was floored. It was an all ages, acoustic show at the Starbucks in Manchester. I came home from that show, and I haven’t turned back since. Neither have they. That first show I went to was about 20 or 30 people, tops. But over the last 5 years, I’ve watched them fill places like the Webster Theatre in Hartford, the Iron Horse in Northhampton, and the House of Blues, in Cambridge, MA. For more info on them, check out my rane page.

And now the bland details of my life…

I was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1982 and moved a few times before we hit upon South Windsor, Connecticut. After moving to an international city for university, I looked back on my years in South Windsor and wondered how I was shaped. I’ve always found that I have been a city person- one who needs the diversity and the dynamicism of the urban lifestyle. While it’s true that Montréal may not be like most North American cities, the experience afforded me the chance to evolve as an individual. Unlike the old days where entertainment could easily be found in watching a cheesy movie, I found that something as simple as going to a coffeeshop, hanging out at a bar, or shooting pool is just as relaxing as well as socially gratifying. Not to mention, my pool game had drastically improved as a result.

I’ve always thought of myself as somewhat liberal. Even among my conservative friends back home, I think I’ve tended to have more left wing view points. Maybe part of that is my background. My parents were never really talking politics around me and even on the times when my dad and I would talk, it always seemed as though he knew everything and I knew nothing. As far as I know, they’re not registered with any particular party, but as it became time for me to register to vote, I realized how much I agree with the democratic party. Being up here in Canada suits me well and I’ve found that rather than being a Conservative liberal like i might have been back home, I’m becoming more of a true liberal. And my political science classes and Canadian politics have definitely helped me become more interested in liberal viewpoints. Perhaps the Canadian health care system doesn’t work efficiently, but a high level of federalism seems to.

Following my obsession with all things Canada (including a month-long French immersion stint in Chicoutimi, Québec), I was forced to return back to America and live with my parents. After remaining unstimulated, I decided to apply to graduate school. A round of law school applications turned out in rejection, but various MBA programs around the country had accepted me and I am currently majoring in International Business and minoring in Marketing at St. John’s University. My love for coffee has interested me in a career at Starbucks, however I do not rule out the possibility of working for various companies in different industries. In order to reconcile my values with those of “Corporate America” however, I have decided to educate myself thoroughly on Corporate Social Responsibility, in hopes to engage whatever companies I choose to work for in strengthening business’ committment to people as the bottomline.

Moving to New York has been an interesting experience outside of the classroom, and I find something new to learn each day. It truly has been the urban environment that continues to create and mold my outlook on life. In addition, I have been seeing a wonderful girl for over two years now. She graduated from UConn in May 2006 and is now a Master of Social Work student at Fordham University.

More miscellaneous facts about me:

Favourite sport: Hockey
Favourite teams: Montreal Canadiens, Arsenal, Olympique Lyon
Favourite TV Shows: 24, The Apprentice, Seinfeld, The Cosby Show, NUMB3RS, Simpsons, Everybody Loves Raymond, Keeping up Appearances, Montreal Canadiens hockey
Favourite beer: Harp, Bass
Favourite bands: rane, Beatles, Coldplay, Radiohead, U2, Sigur Rós, St. Germain
Favourite albums: anything rane, Moses Mayes, Tourist, OK Computer, Silent Alarm, A Ghost is Born
Favourite books: anything by Chuck Pahlaniuk (author of Fight Club), Brave New World, The Fuck-Up
Favourite movies: Fight Club, Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amelie Poulain, The Matrix, Gladiator, Pi, Requiem for a Dream, A Clockwork Orange, V for Vendetta
Favourite rane song: niagara, magnetic north
Favourite colour: black (or paisley)
Favourite food: pepe’s pizza (new haven, ct)/poutine
Favourite city: vancouver
Favourite car: mercedes-benz cls 500
Favourite ice cream flavour: cookies and cream/reeses peanut butter chunk/chocolate chip cookie dough/mint chocolate chip
Favourite pie: lemon meringue/key lime, apple, pumpkin

Places I’ve visited: Ottawa, Quebec City, Florida, Chicago, New York, Boston, Baltimore, Indianapolis, San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, Tucson, Victoria, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Philadelphia, Barbados, France, and Israel. Travelling really helps a person gain insight as to what goes on in the outside community; to see what we don’t get to see on a day to day basis. Even if I’ve only visited these places for a week to ten days, the trip always has some effect on you.

Anyways…that’s my life. Definitely not the most exciting. I’m basically like every other Joe out there with his own website. But hey, if you’re looking at it and you dont have your own, then it must mean something. I suppose there could always be more to be added at a later date as my life goes on…

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