You Can’t Find Your Dream Job? Good.

Nothing will force you to reconsider your priorities and passions faster than a double shift at the drive-thru window. Graduating in a recession may be the best remedy for my generation.

Plenty of hubbub is flying around the blogosphere about the crummy job market and college graduates’ struggles to find consistent employment. An unstoppable horde of cynical, degree-wielding adults is storming the Internet in order to ricochet sob stories off one another. Almost without failure, they blame the recession, or the president, or each other. They moan endlessly about how they can’t find a career that stimulates them, a vocation that relates to their studies, or whatever.

Good. Their moans are music to my ears – the sound of shattered delusions. Discontent is the precursor to change.

It may come across as a shock to the swarms of bright-eyed, soon to be college graduates out there, but landing a dream job isn’t easy. Hell, finding one you can tolerate is rare enough. Most people are miserable with their jobs and those who tell you they aren’t are lying. Maybe one out of a hundred people goes to work every morning riding on a ray of sunshine with a grin on his face. The truth is, most people who have found true happiness in their work, didn’t come across it easily. They strayed from their plans and sampled a cornucopia of occupations. If you are having a hard time figuring your life out, take it as a good sign.

If you want to be one of the few people who are truly happy with their jobs, it takes more than a bachelor’s degree, a firm handshake, and wishful thinking. You need the courage to explore your interests, the integrity to recognize your mistakes, and the patience to overcome your failures. And there will be failures galore.

College isn’t some guaranteed gateway to success. Like everything else in life, what you get out of college is proportional to what you put into it. Blaming your early-onset, mid-life crises on the nature of society or some elusive economic conundrum will only appease your frustrations for so long. Instead, take stock of the benefits your youth offers and explore your passions while you can. Retirement is not the time to start putting tallies on your bucket list. Plus, your false hip won’t take the stress of skydiving.

If you can’t find a use for your anthropology degree or are tormented by occupying the lowest rung of the corporate ladder, take a moment to reconsider your professional trajectory. Changing career paths only becomes more tedious over time. Before you know it, the job you are doing “just to pay the bills” will become your life’s work.

Like most people, I was led to believe that an education from a four-year university meant four years of hard work followed by a new car, a house, a reasonable retirement plan, and vacationing once every few years somewhere exotic.

I knew that once I was awarded my bachelor’s degree in English literature, endless hallways packed with doors of opportunity would materialize before my eyes and invite me into sweet, comfortable career-hood. My impressive GPA and extracurricular activities would make me the star of all the job fairs, my literary analysis skills the talk of the town.

Much to my surprise, no impeccably dressed individual appeared at graduation to offer me a sign-on bonus, a job of any sort, or even a part-time, unpaid internship. I could have sworn my high school counselors explained that was what was supposed to happen after college. Instead, I walked across a stage, shook some stranger’s hand and went home with a slip of paper bound by ribbon that read, “This is not your actual diploma.”

Since graduation in 2007 I have worked six jobs and two internships in five very different fields. Similar to how I thought I wanted to be an archaeologist in middle school and a professional athlete in high school, my interests have changed dramatically. Thank god.

I have worked as a landscaper, a professional firefighter, a tutor, a high school English teacher, and now a writer. I have earned two college degrees and I am working toward a third. I am proud of my life’s course because, despite its unconventional trajectory, I am now confident about what I love doing and I know how to make a living doing it.

The record underemployment rates glaring in the faces of countless millennials could be our generations’ biggest blessing. If nothing else, suffering a terrible job forces you to develop a purpose in life, even if it is out of spite. And defining your life’s purpose is the first step to being happy.


Originally published by The Good Men Project:


Weekly Photo Challenge: Patterns


Both of these images were taken in Yellowstone National Park. I found the white soil to be remarkable. The patterns were difficult to overlook.


footprints, dirt, white, patterns, weekly photo challenge

after yesterday

It is difficult to begin.

Not being directly affected by the explosions, I found myself today shaken but not fractured, and overcome with a heightened sense of consideration.

Despite an inner voice imploring me to avoid crowded areas and public transit, I went to work like I would on any other Tuesday. I rode the train through a dark and lifeless Copley Station, still closed after yesterday’s events. The train seemed to slow as we passed, perhaps out of respect. With the platform empty and unlit, the windows became mirrors and we passengers saw only ourselves. For one reason or another it was discomforting and I wasn’t the only one to direct my eyes upward, as if we could see through the top of the train and picture the devastation above as we glided safely underneath it all. The ride felt quieter than ever before, but eerily similar to every other day.

I feigned smiles at the soldiers posted outside my final destination, both thankful and weary of their presence. I walked through the park, past the yellow tape and news vans, past the army tents and lines of police vehicles parked on the grass. I floated about my day noticing small occurrences, which on any other day may have seemed ordinary, even mundane – a man crying in the park, a woman shouting scripture from atop a staircase to an audience of no one. I listened as I shuffled by, disagreeing with her words but empathizing with her conviction.

I have watched the videos and read the stories and flipped through the pictures a thousand times. The crumpled faces of familiar shops and store fronts. The bent metal and broken glass. The litter. The sidewalks I recently frequented, now stained with violence. I wonder if I will ever see them in the same light or walk them again. I rarely use the word surreal to describe my experience, but I have never before been given such an awful occasion.

I want to speak about everything. I feel compelled to compose my thoughts, but I refuse to make assumptions, point blame, or comment on race, creed, or politics. I want to express compassion to those who have lost and are currently suffering, and gratitude to those who continue to give. It is so very easy to feel your faith in humanity slip in these moments. I beg you, please do not let it go. Take pause and notice the sheer number of people who have answered this crisis with kindness. After yesterday, there are heroes on the streets of Boston and their spirit is astounding.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in the Details



There is no better place to get lost in the details than out in the real world. The details of the natural world will never cease to amaze you, if you only stop to observe them. This shot was taken on Catalina Island in the early morning.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Forward

Missoula, Montana

Missoula, Montana

Last summer I was fortunate enough to spend the Forth of July in Montana with my extended family. It was the first time I was able to see so many members of my family in a single place since I was a child. It may have been the last time. Since that family reunion, my life has been moving forward at an accelerated rate. I drove across the country and settled down in Boston where I am pursuing my life long passion of writing. I work and attend graduate school full time. I’ve started a life with my amazing girlfriend and I have began working on my first novel. There are times in life when you move so far forward in such short periods that you effectively redefine yourself. This picture was taken only seven months ago, but it feels like eternity. I was waiting for fireworks to explode over Missoula, Montana with my family by my side. I haven’t stopped moving forward since that day.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Home



For as long as I can remember I have had an obsession with fascinating doors. Front doors are especially wonderful. They are the entrance into a wholly personal world. The world of an individual, a  family, a truly unique story.  The front door to a home is like the cover of a great book; in looking at it, you can’t help but wonder what is inside.  This is not my front door, but sometimes I wish it was. Sometimes I wish this was the beginning of my story, the front cover on my home.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Mind The Gap

I believe that the ebook revolution has the potential of throwing the world into a period of enlightenment. I hope for and foresee increased literacy rates, wide spread and cheap access to information, and the honorable application of knowledge. The world is shrinking and it is because of advancements in communications. Literature is, and always has been, the most sacred form of communication. The fact that a teacher in Minnesota can publish a book that can be printed in Canada, read online by a mother in Hong Kong, and then translated for a student in Buenos Aires in a matter of hours is a phenomenon. It is also a phenomenon that will become increasingly prevalent as technology continues to advance. These are the types of miraculous trends I hope to see more of in the future of book publishing, trends that are only just now beginning to appear on most people’s radar. Self-publishing will explode. Equal access to information will prevail. Education will become less restricted. International borders will blur. Life will be good.

Or, my optimism is completely rooted in my personal philosophies regarding the unhindered access to and honorable application of knowledge, and I’m actually blind to the truth. Perhaps, in reality, the book publishing industry is doomed to crumple under economic pressures and quietly place creativity in a warehouse in a desert somewhere. Maybe independent booksellers and used bookstores will fade entirely into the past. Book publishers will wither and congregate under the single title “Not Amazon,” and Amazon itself will morph into an evil empire complete with drones. Textbooks will be issued through government sanctioned computer mainframes. Advertisements and videos will be embedded into the classics. Digital rights management will put traceable leashes on all literature and books will cease to be possessions. Your ability to read will be dictated by a “Terms of Agreement” contract. Your library will be repossessed if you break the rules and life will suck.

Oh, wait… never mind. We will still have paper books and those are nice. We will be okay.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Unique


2012 Matthew Branch – From The Ashes

While working as a wild land firefighter I came across a bunch of small purple wildflowers high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains while on assignment. The forest around them was devastated. These flowers alone survived the heat of the fire because they were so small and close to the ground. I found them growing in small patches, completely surrounded by ash. In a totally burnt and barren landscape, they were truly unique.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Love

My first attempt at a weekly photo challenge.



Evil versus Evil with a gun

The argument that evil acts reside solely in the person committing the crime and not in the tools they use to commit the crime may be the most ludicrous argument ever presented by pro-gun advocates. A psychopath with a knife is more terrifying than a psychopath by themselves. An evil man with a semi-automatic assault rifle will always be more dangerous than an evil man alone. Society cannot directly regulate that evil man, but we can control his access to dangerous weapons. If pro-gun advocates wholeheartedly believed that evil actions are committed by people alone, regardless of their access to deadly weapons, then they would also need to protect the sanctity of gun-ownership from evil men to keep their arguments in line. They would have to advocate for stringent and painstakingly thorough background checks on gun owners and the residents of their households. They would have to require gun-owners be trained. They would need to insist that all gun-owners have safe and secure storage for their guns. Believers in the tired saying; “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”, would have to support and help enforce laws preventing mentally ill, violent, or otherwise dangerous people access to guns in order to protect their image of responsible gun ownership. But they don’t. They consistently encourage everyone and anyone to own guns simply because they can. Laws cannot regulate the evil contained in any persons heart any better than it can regulate the logic of simpletons, but we can control the mediums though which they deliver that evil unto the world. It is time for our laws to change.

The second amendment grants us the right to keep and bear arms, and I believe in that right.

However, I also believe that your right to bear arms ends the moment those arms are no longer meant to function for either sporting purposes or home defense. There is simply no circumstance of home defense in which 100 bullets in a single magazine is required. Likewise, if you are a responsible recreational hunter and you require thirty or more shots before reloading, you are a lousy hunter and would benefit from investing in a new hobby. There is no logical argument outside of “because I can” that supports any private citizen’s right to buy and own a semi-automatic assault weapon. The day that our right to own or bear these weapons – weapons that can carry dozens of bullets and are designed for the sole purpose of inflicting the maximum amount of carnage – supersedes our nation’s commitment to the safety of our citizens and our children, is a dark and immoral day.

The second amendment, along with the rest of The Bill of Rights, was passed in 1791. In 1791 the typical hand gun carried a single shot. It was more than twenty years later, in 1814 that the first revolvers – guns able to carry multiple shots – were introduced. Still, these guns only held up to six rounds. It was 103 years after the second amendment passed that the first semi-automatic handguns were introduced. These guns still carried less than a dozen bullets in a single magazine. In the 1980′s and the 1990′s most police forces began switching to semi-automatic handguns instead of revolvers. Even our nations most trained and experienced peace officers and security guards don’t regularly carry assault rifles, let alone magazines that hold 100 rounds. Today, we have semi-automatic handguns and assault rifles that can hold dozens of rounds in a single clip and can be concealed in a relatively small space. As has been demonstrated in recent events, these weapons are not difficult to procure despite past acts of violence, mental health issues, or lack of professional training. Politicians in 1791 were no better equipped to pass laws regulating the use of such weapons than we are currently equipped to pass laws on the ownership and use of atom-scrambler cannons and disintegrater-rays. Citing the second-amendment as infallible proof that citizens should be allowed to own and carry semi-automatic assault weapons and high-capacity cartridges is flat out lunacy.