Taking that first step to leave the path of social work was not easy. I invested a lot of time and energy learning how people worked. Years of classes, projects, homework, and tests were just going to be shelved and forgotten. Granted, I wasn’t getting anywhere by wishing upon every star in the galaxy for that fabled phone call from a social service agency. Nonetheless, it was still sad and frustrating that I can’t put anything I learned into practice. So, after ignoring the cold reality social work route has reached a dead-end, I finally started research on a new track, welding.

The first steps to learning more about welding were terrifying for I was on my own. I didn’t have KAP (Kelly Autism Program) to hold my hand and no one in my family has ever taken this path before. I was taking a real-world risk were this was going to pay off or I will be worse off than I started. I was walking into this field on a wing and a prayer and the fear of failure was crippling. So much so I decided to tiptoe into this field by only taking the introductory course.

In Fall of 2016, I arrived early to my first day of class, expecting to walk into a classroom I have sat in a hundred times over. A plain and clean room facing a whiteboard with a teacher behind a podium. What I actually walked into was a gigantic industrial grade garage. Everywhere I looked the classroom(?) disorganized mess of large machines, powerful grinders, tanks of gases, and welders that were twice the size of what I used before. Even the air was saturated with the smell of hot iron and metal shavings, informing me that this room has been well used. I couldn’t see one clean place to sit down, I thought to myself “was this really a classroom?” It also occurred to me that it was a mistake to wear blue jean shorts and tennis shoes this morning.

That first day was spent looking over the syllabus, meeting our professor, meeting our professor’s assistant, meeting our new classmates, and raiding the workshop lockers for tools that have been abandoned by former students.

The first few weeks was split between doing bookwork at home and practice welding in the workshop. The bookwork was composed reading chapters, filling out workbook pages, learning terminology, and learning the individual parts of the welder itself. These sessions did not last long though. After reviewing 2 chapters from the book, the session shifted from lecture to an open lab.

The practice portion involved me actually using a welder to complete certain tasks. The first task I had to complete was drawing a straight line on a small plate of metal with the welder. Sounds insultingly simple, right? Maybe to expert metal-smith, but not to a novice like me. I can’t tell you how many hours (and curse words) I spent trying to get this project right. It seemed like anytime I pushed the nozzle of the weld gun to a piece of metal, all that would come out is a lumpy string instead of a straight line. After 15 or so tries, I realized that welding, although is a type of engineering, is not an exact science but a practiced art. There was hand-eye coordination, precision, technique, patience, and lots and lots of practice. When I learned that, the straight line got easier and I FINALLY was able to move the next project.

At times when I weld, I feel like I’m operating a paint brush instead of a fire-spiting gun. When I wasn’t working on my assignments, I was practicing in other ways. Sometimes my parents needed a trailer hitch for their lawnmower. Sometimes there would be some old chairs frames that needed to be repaired. And sometimes I felt like making some art.

Working on little projects like these are fun for me. I am finally becoming a craftsman and making something extraordinary out of ordinary. Now I get to finally walk in the footsteps of other metal artist. Not to mention, very informative for me. When I am tasked to fix or make something, I am learning about different materials, how to adjust my welder, and putting what I learned to practical use.

I’m not entirely certain where this new direction will take me. Will welding  bring me fortune, adventure, or happiness? I don’t know, but I’m the one that made this decision for better or for worse and i know deep in my heart that it is a step in the right direction.

Path of Hot Iron

“That’s something you could do”, my dad commented.

Years ago, my family was having a day out for fun by visiting the KY State Fair. I wasn’t so interested about the livestock divisions of the fair as I was local artist and collectors exhibitions. I am always amazed to see the brain children of Kentucky’s local artist. My favorite kinds of art are the junk artist. I am envious of the artists that could take the contents of a junkyard and transform it into metal art. Cutlery to Jewry. Spare parts to mini motorcycles. Car mufflers to tin men. I wanted to have that kind of sideways thinking and make something out of nothing.


While exploring the various booths and galleries my dad pointed out a series of humanoid figures for sale that were made from silverware.

My Dad saw the display, knew of my passion for building, and prompted a thought, “That’s something you could do.”

Since then his comment became one of those ideas that tickled and nagged and refused to go away.

I was a frequent customer to local junk shops that sold a wide assortment of wears that could be identified as “yard sale clutter.” So, finding junk silverware to destroy was the easy part. Next, I had to ask myself, “What kind of creature can one make from forks, spoons, and knives?”  My answer, a sea turtle. All it would require are a shell, a head, and four fins. What other design could be simpler? What came next was a little trickier.

As it so happens that one of my old friends from the Boy Scouts was a mechanic and let me borrow his small wire welder. A tool I have never used before, not even in my engineering high school, but wanted to try it anyway. As a typical male I thought: “How hard could it be?” However, I soon learned why people go to school for these kinds of tools.

As I began my first weld, I ran into problems I didn’t think existed for my simple project. The biggest problem I had was that I had no idea what I was doing. Up till now I thought a welder was just an oversized glue gun and treated the strange device as such. I didn’t know what the little dials on the machine did, I didn’t know I had to attach a big ground clap to whatever I was working on and I certainly didn’t know how hot the metal would be after a little bit of weld solder! My Dad, who was helping me, was even more mystified by this device than I was. The project was one big frustration.

My first attempt wasn’t so successful, but that was to be expected. Disappointing, but expected.


After my first attempt, I decided to give back the welder and try again with JB Weld glue instead. The results were much more satisfactory. I was so impressed by my own ingenuity; I entered my turtle in the 2013 KY State Fair and won 2nd Place!


A great achievement, but welding with glue was not fun for me. So, I decided to shelve my thoughts on metal work for a later date when I can come across better tools and learn how to use them. Flash-forward about three years later, I decided to revisit route. This time, with some proper training.

Outrunning Boredom

The Real World can suck at times. Being stuck in a warehouse 10 hours a day can wear on a person’s morale very quickly. In my spare time, I experiment with different hobbies to cure myself of boredom and remind myself that I’m person, not just a cog in a machine. Even in the time, I didn’t feel like doing anything constructive, I felt compelled to do something. I felt like I always needed to do something to occupy my time.

During college, one of the ways I spent my time off was by raising a small tank of fish. The fish gave me some healthy responsibility and company as I was going through my freshman year. Later when I moved to my second dorm in the second year my mom dared me to try my hand at raising plants in my dorm as well. Although my new dorm room was the size of a broom closet, it had access to a lot of natural sunlight. The plants became another good distraction for me. It was rewarding to see my plants mature and develop right before my eyes.

After college, it took me a long while before I could finally land a job. In the meantime, my Mom dared me into another hobby. While I was away at WKU, my family got invested in running. My mom, dad sisters, and several of our close friends were in on it. So it was only a matter of time before I became absorbed in it as well. After some coaching and proper gear, I came to enjoy the sport as a way to being healthier and a way to connect with others.

The unique thing, I feel, about running is that you run as an individual, yet you are also part of a community event and connect with fellow runners to encourage to do our best. I got this feeling while I was running in a thirteen-mile marathon through the city of Louisville.

Early Saturday morning, I was running and making good progress. Out of the thousands of runners that surrounded me, I had no idea who was in front of me or behind. My head was in its usual trance while I pace, listening my favorite songs on my phone. My head was so far in the clouds that I didn’t notice the road construction around the 5-mile marker.

I tripped on a piece of loose concrete from the construction in the area and I went down, hard. And there I was, on the ground with two scraped knees. Before the first drop of blood could leave my knees, several of the runners behind me stopped dead in their tracks to help me up and ask if I was OK. After I was to my feet and dusted down, I assured everyone that saw my fall that I was OK. The wounds to the knees didn’t make resuming the race easy.

At first I could only limp along, nursing my new handicaps. The thought of quitting right then and there had cross my mind. But something urged me to keep going. Maybe it was my own determination to finish what I have started? Maybe it was the synergy of competition that surrounded me that forced me to go on? Maybe it was both? Whatever the case, it worked and eventually I was able to bring myself back up to steam and finish the race in two hours and fifteen minutes!

When I race, I run for myself and my own reasons. Your goals are your own. Your strength is your own. Your ambition is your own. And the only time you fail is when you decide that it was not good enough. It is a perfect sport in which anyone can participate, nobody can feel alone, and feel awesome that you have accomplished something worthwhile.


Here are some of the metals I have collected over the years while running.