From reading under the covers to hard-hitting elementary school journalism
Ever since I mastered the alphabet (with the help of Wheel of Fortune), I’ve enjoyed reading and writing. Growing up just outside of Boston, I hated going to bed, but my parents never seemed to mind if I stayed up reading under the covers. So there was incentive to read. I also contributed to my elementary school’s newspaper (a quasi-annual publication) and was thrilled when my exposé on Halley’s Comet ended up on its front page (spoiler: it comes back).
In high school I was on the literary board of the school’s literary magazine and also took extra English classes as electives.
Writing about everything from Geoffrey Chaucer to Greg Brady in college
My interest in writing and reading continued at Wake Forest University. There I majored in English literature, minored in journalism, and worked in a variety of positions at The Old Gold & Black, the student newspaper, including news editor and arts and entertainment editor.
Highlights of my writing there included an investigative piece on Tim Duncan’s off-the-court impact at the university (it was substantial) and an interview with the actor Barry Williams who played one of my childhood heroes, Greg Brady.
While in college, I also worked at a couple of professional newspapers: The Greensboro (NC) News & Record and The Daily Times Chronicle (Reading, MA).
Following the path of the typical liberal arts major: To work at a bank
Despite being excited about having articles on the front pages of both of those newspapers, I misplaced my soul after graduating and went to work at a bank, First Union.
While that job gave me leadership experience and a detailed understanding of personal finance (I managed 16 people and earned many securities licensees), it did not give me satisfaction. Coworkers knew of my English and journalism background, however, so I frequently was asked to help write and edit letters to clients, internal memos, and training material.
From Charlotte, NC, to Washington, DC, and from banking to editing
In 2000 I moved from Charlotte, NC, to the Washington, DC, area. And along with the geographical change, I made a career change: I left banking for editing. In the DC area, I worked in permanent, full-time jobs editing
- information technology and human factors documents for Booz Allen Hamilton
- reports on improving reproductive health and family planning services in developing countries through the private sector for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu
- network compatibility assessments and directives at the Headquarters, Department of the Army
Going solo and expanding from editing to writing
As much as I enjoy editing, reading about the same subject, day in and day out for at least eight consecutive hours, got to be a bit tedious. So in August 2004 I became a full-time freelancer. Although first I took the three-month backpacking trip through Europe that I should’ve gone on right after college. The trip was amazing and led to my becoming a travel writer.
Since then I’ve written for The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Fox News, Air Canada’s enRoute, AOL Travel, Gridskipper, Deadspin, Budget Travel and other travel and lifestyle publications. I’ve also become the editor of Eater Louisville, editor-in-chief of Louisville.com and am BlackBook’s Louisville City Editor. My work appears both in print and online (I’ve maintained this website since 2002, have been online since 1992 when I was dialing up bulletin boards with my Apple IIGs’s 2400-baud modem, and have done a good job figuring out how to use social media to promote my work). In 2012, I became a member of the Society of American Travel Writers.
Reading and writing: It’s not just work
When I’m not reading or writing for work, I’m often reading and writing for pleasure. The last three great books I read are
- Blood Horses: Notes of a Sportswriter’s Son by John Jeremiah Sullivan
- Thy Neighbor’s Wife by Gay Talese
- The Great Shark Hunt by Hunter S. Thompson
In addition to reading, writing, and traveling, I enjoy
- eating great food (especially Spanish)
- drinking good but reasonably priced wines (especially Spanish)
- listening to classic rock n’ roll, notably Bruce Springsteen and The Who
- playing with the latest Apple toy that Steve Jobs bequeaths us
- studying European painting of the Baroque period (Caravaggio and Velazquez)
- watching horse races
- spending time, of course, with my wife and two daughters