Seems like just a few months ago, I was comfortably rat-holed in my souless, financial-sector job, using every spare second to play with, or plot about my aquariums, writing my weekly rants on all things saltwater, or traveling to speaking gigs and conferences. My “second career” as a part-time Fish Geek just wasn’t enough. I had to shake the rusty chains of my dull, but necessary full-time job. It was sucking the life out of me.
I was deep into the typical “caught-in-the-rat-race- of- life” career…Of course, when you’re a reefer, you have one thing that the masses don’t always have: PASSION! Unbridled passion for all things aquatic. It permeates your existence, your every move, like wet hands, and your smelly fish towels. Like many of you, I longed to be playing with fishes full time- and I wanted to get paid to do it, too! Audacious? Well, opportunity came a -knockin’, and I ran out the door into a totally new career: Full time professional Fish Geek! My employer actually PAYS me to think of crazy reefkeeping ideas all day, to solve people’s fish problems, and to spread the insanity that is our beloved hobby.
My personal journey towards career enlightenment made me leave my beloved So Cal and venture all the way across the continent, finally landing at the fabulous House of Fins in Greenwich, Connecticut, where I get to be the Fish Geek that the universe intended me to be. Yeah, what a switch! I cannot believe it myself. So for the better part of the year, I have been helping design custom aquariums, acquire uber rare livestock, and help people discover the joy and sheer craziness that reef keeping is.
It all started with passion.
The last thing I would ever do is pander to the hapless, uninitated and misinformed…Or would I? I mean, I’m in a great postion to share my love with a whole new set of people…people who may not have previously known the joys of the aquatic environment. And you should see the looks on someone’s face when they get their first aquarium, or when you geek- out a kid when you have the guys in the shop throw an extra few Neon Tetras into their bag!
I’ve had high-level creative meetings with all sorts of people who want the same experience- an awesome aquarium! Helping design, build and stock the aquariums of my dreams- er, my client’s dreams! It’s a scary symbiotic relationship, actually: I get geeked out, they share their dream, I share my dream, and we make it their own. They get a cool tank, I get the joy of designing it and overseeing its “birth” and development…all the joys and heartaches. But I do it for a living! it’s not selling out. It’s sharing. And I work with some talented, amazing people. It’s unreal.
If you have a passion for things aquatic, I encourage- no- I URGE- you to act on it. There will always be a place in the aquatic world for passionate people to share their love with others. It is one of the most amazing journeys I’ve ever taken…And what’s even morecool is that I get to experience the fish world from an entirely different perspective, not just my rather biased hobbyist-eye view. Oh, I still have it- but I also have gained a great appreciation for the guys and girls on the other side of the counter! And I’ve developed new opionons, new ideas, and have experienced things that few hobbyists get the opportunity to do.
I’ve seen fishes that only a few people in the world outside of the collector (and probably Jake, ’cause he’s so dialed in) get to see. I remember the first Lennardi Wrasses and the juvenile Genicanthus personatus I handled. I still get goose bumps when I think about what it was like to open the shipping box on that baby!
Yeah- I’ve got a lot more to say..and a lot more to share. So if you’re up for it, I’d like you to spend a little time with me as I once again throw in my two cents (or more) to the reef-keeping nation. Look for more of the usual irreverant commentary…or even some informative, useful stuff for a change! All on the world’s greatest aquatic site, Reef Builders!
Yeh, the rumors of my demise WERE exaggerated. I’m here. I’ve been here…I will be here.