Uncategorized #1 – Life Buckets

January 5, 2020 in Uncategorized

Welcome. Thanks so so much for signing up for this newsletter. It’s a bit of an experiment, but something I’ve been thinking of doing for a long while now. As of this writing there are about 30 of you signed up. I’m sure I know most of you personally at this point, but in case I don’t or in case you don’t know me very well, I figured I’d start with a little bit about me. This newsletter is going to be a little random at times, hence the title—this is just how my brain works, best I can tell.

OK – me. I’m 43 (for a few more months) and I live in Brooklyn, New York, but I’m not from Brooklyn. I was born in upstate New York, and I grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland which is just north of Washington DC. I’ve lived in Brooklyn for the past 10 years now. I’ve got an apartment right next to Prospect Park, a wife named Amanda, a new son named Noah, and a dog named Molly.

You know, it’s kind of funny, but with just that little paragraph you already know quite a bit about me. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we express ourselves, and tell our own stories. These days we do this relentlessly online, showing off our best selves via Instagram or Facebook or whatever. We present this continuous update of the best moments—the perfect lattes, and happy faces. It’s never the whole truth. The full version would probably be pretty boring, or at least tedious for our audiences!

A few months ago I was thinking about how I organize my life. Not my current life, but everything that has already happened. What would it look like to build an archive of my life? How would I even do that? I started by thinking about how archivists do this kind of work, a basic hierarchy of files, essentially. Look, I don’t know a whole lot about what archivists do, but I know that they are really good at arranging vast amounts of information into easy to navigate folders and files. So that’s what I started doing.

Here’s my current list of “Life Buckets.” I’m not entirely sure what goes in each one yet, but it’s a start, and maybe a way for you to get to know me a little more. They’re kind of organized into chapters of life, mixed with general locations or where I lived at the time. Heh — it’s just a thought exercise!

  1. Early Childhood in Rochester, New York 1976-1980
  2. Childhood in Silver Spring, Maryland 1980-1989
  3. High School – Springbrook High School, Silver Spring, Maryland 1989-1994
  4. College – Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York 1994-1998
  5. Post College – Rochester, New York & Lab for Laser Energetics 1998-2002
  6. Photojournalist, Israel 2002-2004
  7. Photojournalist, Washington DC 2004-2006
  8. Beach bum, Dominica 2006-2007
  9. Grad School – Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, Maryland 2008-2010
  10. Brooklyn & New York – Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum 2010-2017
  11. Brooklyn & NewInc & Micah Walter Studio 2017-Present

Obviously there’s a lot more to me than this simple list. But it’s a nice way to think about each chapter for now. Inside each folder I have sub folders for things like Projects, Correspondence, Photos, and other things. It can sort of be whatever makes sense for each bucket. Maybe one day I’ll actually fill them with real files, but for now it’s simply a tool for telling myself these stories. What’s fun to notice right away is how there’s some obvious missing pieces between each bucket. Like, how did I go from being a computer scientists at a nuclear research facility to a photojournalist in Israel? And what’s this year of being a beach bum all about? There’s stories between each phase and stories within. Every one of us has these. Nobody just has one singular chapter of life.

OK – so now you know quite a lot about me—at least the major chapters. Eventually I’ll try to fill in some of the blanks, and tell a few stories along the way. For now, let’s talk about Chapter 11 and bring you up to date. Maybe I should not call the period of time where I ran a small business “Chapter 11.” Yikes!

These days I am living in Brooklyn and running a small studio out of the NewInc offices in Manhattan. NewInc is an arts and technology incubator and a program of the New Museum which is right next door. This is my third year at NewInc, and I am now an “anchor tenant” which I think is just code for old.

My studio is called Micah Walter Studio. I always tell people the name came to me in a dream—but that’s a lie. It’s what the studio is called until it needs to be called something else. For now, the studio is myself and one full-time employee. We work with a small stable of freelancers, contractors, vendors, and partners to help cultural organizations like museums to develop technology based projects. Basically, we are like a digital department on demand.

Apart from work, I try to spend most of my free time with my little family. I am still passionate about photography and photojournalism, and I read and enjoy listening to and playing music. I love camping but I haven’t camped in a really long time. I love to travel, though most of my travel these days is work related, but I still enjoy going to new places and walking through back alleys. Each week you’ll learn more. Each week will be something new. Right now I’m gonna stop because this is beginning to feel like the script for a VHS based dating service. Do you remember when people used VHS based dating services? I don’t!!

Playlist

Another thing I thought of doing here is sharing a playlist each week. It’s by no means a comprehensive list of everything I’ve been listening to, and I am not some kind of music critic with lots to say about these songs, but I miss the days of sharing mix tapes and I think it’s just kinda a nice things. These playlists are just going to be here, as is, without explanation for now. And apologies ahead of time if you don’t use Apple Music, but it’s what I use, so there.

Lately I’ve been listening to a pretty random assortment of artists. Billie Eilish? Like most people my age, I’ve only just heard of her this month. Smashing Pumpkins came back up on my radar kind of by accident last week—I’ll need to add these to Chapter 3 for sure. Please feel free to send me your current playlist!

Epilogue

Thanks so much for signing up. I know email is thought of as a sort of antiquated way to connect with people, but it still works really well! I still get lengthy emails from old friends and relatives, and somehow they feel so personal. So, every Sunday I’m going to do my very best to send you something personal. If you want to reply, just reply! I’d love to hear from you, and if you want to forward this to someone else, please do so!

I hope you have a great week!

-micah


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