Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!




Wishing everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year! As the final hours of 2014 tick by, I'd like to share my 2015 Mantra:

"The Courage To Change The Things I Can"

You may recognize that line from the serenity prayer. It is my mantra for the new year. This has nothing to do with resolutions. Seriously. These words to live by come from an asseessment of my life: what can I change right now? As mentioned before, I've set some big goals for 2015: moving, dog, new job, car....I think I'm going to add "become a Mummer" to the list. 

I can move to a bigger apartment with an oven, access to laundry that allows me to adopt the dog I've been wanting. That I CAN do. That I CAN change. So I WILL. 

I challenge you to come up with your own mantra for the New Year. For the past two years I've tried to enter "the New Year as the best version of myself." Tonight, after viewing some fireworks at the River, I'm going home to my warm apartment with some good music or a good movie, some cheap champagne and I'm going to digitaltize my print articles so they can be viewed on my portfolio. I may even spruce up the portfolio a bit. 

I'm going to be productive and I'm going to do journalism until about 11:55pm, when I'll snuggle on my couch watch the ball drop and toast to the New Year ahead. 

Be safe. Make good choices. Find a mantra. Be the best version of yourself, even if it is a drunk version. 

Happy New Year!

Until next....Year.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

2015 Is Going to Be a Year of Change

Everybody does it. They say, "I'm gonna do X, Y, and Z this New Year!" Most of the resolutions involve losing weight, cutting spending, and doing what you love. Some people make bucket lists, some people make resolutions. Almost always, these things go to waste. The New Year has the tendency to feel like a fresh start. Calendars are reset and the next 12 months feel full of possibilities. By week three of January....you're starting to fall off the wagon. Most people give up by February. 

I used to work at a gym in college. It would always be packed as the New Year began. For most of January there would be a wait for elliptical and treadmills. January is the busiest time of the year for gyms. Then the attendance would taper off. The gym resumed normal capacity. 

I joined a gym last year in January. I am proud to say that I attended said gym faithfully for 10 out of the 12 months. August was a bit of a wash because I went to Boston and also went home for my birthday. September was iffy too because I thought I was moving to Delaware for a job and pretty much put my life on hold for that. 

The point is, 2015 is going to be a year of change. A lot of things change each year for a lot of people, but this year, I've got cutthroat determination to make some very important things happen. First of all, I'm upping my gym flow. This is not to lose weight and achieve a certain weight goal by a certain time. This is to get in better shape for my spring 5Ks. I have got to be able to beat my PRs again this coming year. Plus the gym just had some major renovations done and has longer hours. No excuses. 

I have a Ninja. Time to up my green smoothie game too. This is not to lose weight, this is to increase the amount of vegetables I eat. I love vegetables but I eat a lot of easy things out of convenience...healthy things but easy carb-loaded things. Therefore, I'd like to eat more vegetables this new year. 

I'm moving. Dammit. I'm getting out of my apartment. I've lived there for four years and I love that place. I live in such a great area of the city and everything I want is a short walk away...except the laundromat which is a bit of a hike. I'm tired of making the 8 block journey to the "mat." I've also reached a breaking point with my singing neighbors. The girl that lives below me blasts her music at top volume about 10 hours a day. The guy that lives on the first floor sings opera at the top of his lungs at weird hours. Just this past Tuesday he was singing "My Country Tis of Thee" at the top of his lungs, on repeat, at 1am. ON A TUESDAY. I'm over it. My place is cute but I'm tired of the noise. 

That and I'm turning 30 in 2 years. I deserve a bigger place like say...a 2 bedroom with outdoor space and an oven and access or near access to laundry. I've been saying for years I wanted to move to South Philly. I put that on hold when I started applying for jobs all over the country. I'm not giving up on the job, but I am making a decision to settle down. I can't keep putting everything on hold because I MIGHT get a job elsewhere. So I'm serious about the  move.

My new place is going to have to be pet-friendly because adopting a Boxer is next on the list. New year, new place, new dog. I'm ready for a dog. I need a dog. The dog is happening and he is happening soon. 

The job front is the biggest change yet. Journalism jobs have been few and far between. I'm waiting to hear about a possible local opportunity. If that falls through I'm going to enter an administration or event planning field. I'm going to get a job with Master's level pay and save up. In the meantime I'm going to freelance for every media outlet in Philadelphia until I have an article published in every publication. I'm dead serious.

Since it looks like I'm going to be bunking down instead of moving out, I'm going to get involved. I'm going to join young entrepreneur groups to build my network. I have two in mind. I'm going to continue writing for Generocity and attend Access Philly events. I want to meet the millennial movers and shakers of Philly and become a part of their moving and shaking movement. 

2015 is going to be a year of change. Maybe I will lose weight, maybe I won't. Maybe I will tighten my budget, maybe I will not. But I know what I will be....I will be happy. 

Until next time...

Monday, December 15, 2014

2014: A Year in Review



For some this may seem a bit early. But I assure you, I'm bound to be swept away in the good tidings of great joy...aka the Holidays and forget to post this before January 2015. So here we are, 2014: a year in review. What a year it has been. 

It was New Year's Eve 2013, I was sitting in Painting with a Twist by myself with a bottle of wine. I accidentally stole someone else's plastic cups because I thought the gallery provided cups for patrons. They do...just not the ones I stole from other participants. I apologized but it was still embarrassing. 

I went on to paint an exploding champagne bottle on a canvas. My instructor helped me make it look a little less phallic. I met a fabulous couple and shared my snacks with them. We ended up cheering each other on for the duration of the class. This was all because I had to move seats. I was sitting next to an empty seat when a couple walked in. I was the only one not in a group so I relocated to the solo seat on the other side of the table. That's how I got a seat next to the most beautiful couple...Gabby and Tim. 

After painting my masterpiece I went to my bar and showed off my artwork. I had a classy drink and then headed home to watch the ball drop in the comfort of my living room. I spent the first day of 2014 day drinking with my friend, Sarah and partying with the Mummers. It was great. I also joined a gym and went faithfully for 12 months. 

I would go on to paint three more paintings in 2014. Each a little better than the former. I got really close to a coworker who eventually became one of my best friends. We'd do paint nights together and got really into it. 

In March I ran a 5K and finally did it under 40 min. By the beginning of May I squashed my personal record running my 5K in 36 minutes. It was a fantastic feeling. 

In April I completed my comprehensive exams. In mid-May I graduated Temple University's Master's of Journalism program. I earned the Top Scholar Graduate Award and was inducted into a journalism honor society. I also received exceptional high pass on my comprehensive exams. 

Then things started to balance out. Tim, from Gabby and Tim NYE 2013 passed away. Suicide. And although I didn't know him or Gabby really well, I felt profoundly connected to them. I know someone like Tim, who had some lows, and I was worried he too might do something tragic. He didn't, Thank God...but for whatever reason Tim did. I reached out to Gabby occasionally and contributed to her in a suicide prevention walk this past summer. 

People at my work starting quitting left and right. Within three months I lost most of the coworkers I was closest too. My best friend quit too, moving down South right before my birthday. I was at a pretty low point. I had accomplished some really healthy goals, and graduated Jschool, but the wave of accomplishments had finally settled down. My Jschool friends moved away and moved on. My work friends quit and moved on. I felt pretty alone. 

I also couldn't find a journalism job. Despite experience and credentials...I had no luck in finding journalistic employment after graduate school. I felt stuck in a job I no longer wanted to be in without the people that helped me get through each day. 

I took a trip to Boston and got to spend time with my best friend and her family. Her daughter made me laugh so much. It was really great to see them but I realized something important, I loved Philly. Boston was nice but given the choice between the two I'd choose Philly. I began to question what that meant. 

As I said, my best work friend left right before my birthday weekend. So to cope, I drove to Virginia and spent my birthday with my parents for the first time in over 10 years. It ended up being a fantastic choice. 

I eventually did come close to journalistic employment...twice...but the salary that was offered wasn't a living wage. I wasn't expecting to make more than I make now, but I needed more than offered to survive. I now had graduate and undergraduate loans demanding my attention, plus rent, groceries, bills...etc. 

September rolled around and I found myself doing the same old stuff....assisting the kids with back to school stuff, running fall programs, doing all the things I've done for the past 5 years. I had a lot of loathing for...well...everything. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life, I just couldn't find the way to get there. 

By November I realized I had been losing weight, mainly from my obsession with the gym. I also was well into developing a friendship with a newish co-worker. We hung out during the summer and eventually WE did a paint night together. I wasn't as alone as I thought I was. I may have lost most of my friends but I also gained a new one. We have similar interests and personalities. Plus we both love dogs and the Phillies. By love, I mean obsess over. I just had a great happy hour with her last week. 

I also had the privilege to reconnect with a good friend of my past. We're talking 12-13 years ago...past. He reached out, rather randomly to reconnect with me. I hadn't seen him in over 10 years. We spent the weekend in Philly and realized that no time had really passed....at least between us. Let's just say...2015 may start off quite interestingly. 

It is now December. I started branching out in terms of my writing endeavors. I wanted to build my network so I began freelance writing for Generocity.org. My first piece was published last week and it's been gaining traction across the internet. 

This year has been a ride. It was wonderful, heartbreaking, and a learning experience in a half. I'd like to say this is the year of self-acceptance...because for the first time in a long time...I felt comfortable in my own skin. I was very happy with MYSELF. I was very comfortable with MYSELF. I was not happy with my circumstance...or my job...or my social situation...throughout various times this year, but I was always happy with ME. Confident and comfortable. 

I learned a lot about love. I learned that no matter how much you love someone, you can't will them to love you back in the way you want them to. You really can't will anyone to do anything. I've learned that I deserve good things and metaphorically...sometimes you just need someone to be there to help you clean the vomit out of your hair. That's love. I don't have that kind of person...yet. 

I have never been more sure about my future career as I am now. I can't watch The Newsroom without smiling from ear to ear. I think I'd have a heart attack if I visited the Newsuem. I think about journalism every day. I feel such a sense of pride when a source tells me they loved my story. I've never met a story I didn't like and I've met some interesting ones this year. I love everything about journalism and I really do believe there is the perfect job out there for me. One that supports my dream and supports me financially. I'm not looking to be a millionaire...but I am looking to maintain my beautiful credit score. 

For 2015....I don't have any resolutions. I'd like to continue my gym membership. Work on my few but precious friendships I have. See what happens with Mr. Re-connection and yes...get a journalism job full-time. I hope this year I will move to a bigger apartment, adopt a Boxer dog and name him Bronx, maybe even get that green Kia Soul I want so badly. 2014 was one of my best and most trying years yet. I'm eager to see what adventures 2015 will bring. 

Until next time...

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Journo Obsessed

You know you want to be a journalist when the opening credits to "The Newsroom" give you chills. It is a show about a broadcast news network and the ins and outs of the office but every time I hear that powerful opening and see the montage of past broadcast journalists, I get chills. I don't even want to do broadcast, I want to do print. Basically, I just want to write. 

You know you want to be a journalist when you love watching the news unfold via Live Tweets, and you still question the authenticity of each 140 word informational bite. When you take a huge news event and read about it on a variety of platforms to determine the differences between the event coverage. 

You know you want to be a journalist when a job at the Newsuem sounds like you're dream job. When you find endless ways to formulate stories in your head. When you ask really detailed questions in bizarre settings because you just have to know the answer. When you can almost feel the neurons in your brain zapping the new information back and forth as you make connections. 

You know you want to be a journalist when it becomes part of your identity. When you ask a lot of questions, you shrug "sorry, I'm a journalist." When you pick up on innocuous details you smile and say, "I'm a journalist." When someone asks you what you do/who you are you don't want to respond "social worker" because that is your 50 hour a week job that pays and has health insurance. You want to say journalist because...that is what you believe you are. 

You know you want to be a journalist when you are the person your colleagues call upon for writing assistance be it an email, a story, a news piece, a greeting card...what have you. You're the go to expert on technology AND writing. You marry both perfectly and those around you know it. 

You know you want to be a journalist when editing becomes an involuntary action for you, like breathing. You can spot a typo a mile away without even looking closely. You breathe, you blink your eyes and you edit every piece of text you come across. 

I know I want to be a journalist because I can't stop thinking about it every day. I seriously believe I could be happy telling other people's stories for the rest of my life. 

Until next time...

Thursday, December 4, 2014

And the World Spins Madly On

I'm pretty sure I have used that title for a previous post within the past five years. I'm almost certain.

So, there is a lot going on in the world right now. Racism is at the height of everyone's mind. Protests are breaking out across the country. Ebola is now a story of the past (though it is still an issue). Conspiracy theories of tyranny and government control are running rampant on Facebook and Twitter. All the while, many of us are just thankful that we're not white male cops or black males. Admit it, you're thankful too. Unless you are a white male cop or a black male.

It makes me wonder where all of this is going to go. Will people keep protesting into 2015? Will groups of people band together and try to overthrow the government? I mean, we did it once with the British. I wonder how many friendships have ended because of opposing viewpoints on these issues. I wonder how many people don't feel any type of way about these magnified issues yet participate in protests just to feel a part of something. I wonder why even protest. What is going to be done? I wonder if there will be a shift in American politics. I wonder if we're going to look like District 13 from the Hunger Games.

All I have to say about the issue is #AllLivesMatter and #StopTheHate.

Back to my own little life.

I'm buying scarves, recovering from the financial implosion known as Black Friday (It was an electronics kind of year, ya'll), exploring networking opportunities and ways to write diverse content and showcase my work. I think I'm starting a new freelance venture and I'll post details once it's finalized.

Back in oh, I don't know...2012 maybe? I posted a blog post called "Life Is Not Like the Movies." It basically went on to complain about my life and how I wish someone would swoop in and change my life. Careful what you wish for. I'm not saying someone has swooped in and changed my life. But someone has swooped in out of sheer randomness and makes me question the validity of fate and destiny. Yet this person is on their own path and considering moving very far away shortly after swooping in and interrupting the normally scheduled program of my routine-based life. Part of me wants to give them a reason to stay. Part of me doesn't want to interfere with their hopes and dreams. And that tiny little part of me wonders if this is what I've been waiting for all along and connections like this are once in a lifetime.

Who knows. I'm a mystic, romantic, heads in the clouds kind of person. I always battle between "is this random" and "is this perfect timing." Only...ironically......time will tell.

Until next time...

Friday, November 21, 2014

Open Letter

Dear Whoever,

I curse like a sailor and I have no inclination to stop. I'm pretty good at putting on the censorship around children and most of the elderly...but I have been known to curse in front of nuns and my parents. That being said, it isn't because I am not intelligent or my vocabulary lacks the large and smart appropriate words. It is because cursing, in context, feels good. I feel a release of tension when the words roll off my tongue. I like it. My words are typically in context. I curse in my texts too. I'm sorry if this makes me unladylike. I'm pretty sure my parents are disappointed but have reached the point where they've given up on me in respect to this issue.

I hate wearing heels. I seriously would rather tromp around barefoot in mud than wear heels. I can do a kitten heel (1-2") and a chunky heel (found on most boots) but that is about it. I am usually in flats, sneakers, boots or ballet flats. I'm pretty sure my inability to wear heels has caused my plantar fascitis. I'm losing the arch in my foot because of my love for flatness. I also prefer to be barefoot. I think this may have something to do with the fact that growing up, my mother forbade me from being barefoot in the house. I must always have slippers or shoes on. As I grew up, I relished being barefoot and enjoy it, though I do wear socks around in the winter. Anyway, back to the heels. I don't wear them and if I ever become famous that is going to be my "thing." The celebrity that refuses to wear heels. Designers will custom make heel-less shoes for me to wear on the red carpet.

I talk a lot about the future, specifically my future. I am one of the most determined, ambitious people you will ever meet. I take my life's calling seriously. I can ramble about journalism for hours on end. Please stop me if I ever get boring. I picture myself as a successful and prominent person in the future. This makes me appear to have a big ego and yes, I do. I am driven by achievement and love setting and making goals. I love praise, specifically academic or work praise. I thrive on it. Even though I have my Masters, I am still teaching myself new things. I take on little projects to continue to learn. I Google almost everything. I like to learn things. My career is one of the most important things in the world to me. Please accept that. I'm a girl with a dream and it is going to come true.

I keep a clean home but I am a slob. I survive in clutter and disorganization. I clean my apartment every weekend, so my living space is clean, bug-free and organized but my desk at work is another story. I typically can't eat a meal or drink a drink without wearing part of it. I'm a perpetual food-spiller. When I cook, I cook messy...think spaghetti sauce all over the stove. Hygienically, I am put together but sometimes I don't brush my hair enough. I'm low-maintenance...it took years for me to purchase fancy expensive GOOD makeup. If I wear anything white, bad things happen.

I am a bit of a control freak. Not in a way where I control others, but I like to be in control of my environment. To most people this makes me appear in charge and organized, but it is actually a form of control. I like to schedule. I like to plan. I have contingency plans to my contingency plans. I can be spontaneous and go with the flow but I will get irritated if the plan I planned doesn't look something like what happens. It is weird. I also try to control my future emotions or reaction to potential transitions by imagining the transition is taking place. For example, if I think I might move in a few months, I start adapting to how I'd feel about it now, what I would do, where I would grocery shop, how much things cost. It goes beyond simple planning for the future. I like to figure out how I'm going to feel about something before it actually happens. Its a control thing. You will see evidence of my obsessive need for control when I frequently run down itinerary like "first we'll do this, then this, then go there" several times a day.

I'm insanely stubborn. I hate being wrong but I will eventually admit to being wrong when I am. The control thing is part of my stubbornness. When I get fixated on something, I will stubbornly continue to attempt to achieve it or try it. I'm frequently late to everything but I stubbornly believe that even though I left the house 10 minutes later than I was supposed to, I will still be reasonably on time for a particular function.

I don't mind trying new things, especially food, but I am a creature of habit. You have to literally extract me from my habit zone and take me somewhere new where they serve new things. If you don't, we will continue to eat at the same four restaurants I adore and order the same four dishes I always do. I rarely get tired of ordering the same thing (Every time I take anyone to this one restaurant by my work I always order the same thing. Always). I will try frog legs or eel soup, happily, I am also content with my favorite foods such as wings, pizza, sushi, and Chinese.

When I do not get enough sleep, I actually feel like I am dying. When running on a significant sleep deficit, I will try to rationalize the four hours I got as good hours, and attempt to convince myself I am not as tired as I actually am. The truth is, lack of sleep makes me feel less of a person. I feel sick, my nose runs, my stomach hurts and I am worn down. I will complain about how close to death I feel. Yes, I'm not dying. Yes, I exaggerate often, but take my need for sleep seriously. I'm stubborn about the amount of hours vs. the level of energy I have.

I consider myself a sort of empath, in that I take in other people's feelings and feel them to some degree as well. I can instantly pick up on another's emotions and adapt in a way that makes them comfortable. This makes me non-confrontational. I avoid conflict. This makes me passive aggressive. I will eventually tell you what upset me or why it made me mad but it will be well after the initial incident. I just hate upsetting other people. I hate feeling other people's rejection. I avoid unpleasant feelings within myself and others at all costs. I'm getting better about dialoging concerns, but I still struggle with it.

I need my space. I haven't really ever been in a normal symbiotic relationship with someone. Sure, I've dated, had boyfriends, had relationships that last for months at a time...but none of them were ever quite normal. Plus there are the numerous relationships I've had with people I'm fond of in my head that never came to fruition. Can't forget those. That being said, I've become very accustomed to being independent. I do a lot of things on my own from going to movies to concerts to journaling in the park. I have friends and do stuff with them but not all the time. I've become very used to being by myself so if you ever think I'm becoming a hermit or wondering why I've withdrawn for a short period of time, its because I need to process social interactions. I'm a huge extrovert but that doesn't mean I love being surrounded by people 24/7. In fact, after bursts of social interaction I need a recharge period, alone. My independence has taught me how to be comfortable with just myself as well as how to fix things and take care of myself.

That covers most of it. I sometimes like to post idiosyncrasies. It gives people a better picture of who I am. Thought I'd be a bit more vulnerable in this one. I don't like to hold back.

Sincerely,
Mary Anna

Until next time...

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Way to My Heart


A new Dunkin Donuts opened a block away from my regular Dunkin Donuts. I am such a regular that I am pretty sure one cashier has officially nicknamed me "Skim Milk," for he yells that with a big smile when he sees me walk in. Yes, I take my iced coffee with skim milk and splenda.

Anyway, so this new Dunkin opened up and I have the opportunity to get free and discounted coffee via special coupons. The catch is I have to walk a block further than I normally do. It is worth it. Just today I got a .99 large iced coffee. It was heaven. Since they are new, they still have Pumpkin Spice too. Yep, I'm being basic.

So I cracked a joke about how I was cheating on my regular Dunkin with new Dunkin. Because let's face it, not all Dunkin's are equal. The cashiers were really nice and thought it was funny that I was so obsessed with discounted coffee. Let's face it, Dunkin Donuts iced coffee or iced coffee coupons are the way to my heart. A lot of friends gift me Dunkin Donuts gift cards for my birthday/Christmas because THEY JUST KNOW. I treat each one like gold, stretching out the card for as long as possible until that sad day when my balance reads 0.00.

I swear Dunkin iced coffee has the same effect on me as my phone charger has to my cell.

I'm currently at work, attempting to do work, while listening to Krunkmas music. I'm breaking my rule where I only listen to Christmas music after Thanksgiving because I found this hilarious and awesome playlist that remixes Christmas songs to sound like sick hip hop beats. My favorite is the Jingle Bells remix that mashes in 'Merry Christmas ya filthy animal!" I got my coffee and I got my krunkmas mix. It is a good day.

I need to be more productive though for next week I trek to the Eastern Shore of Virginia for Tgives. Bring on "Home for the Holidays" our traditional T-gives movie and some alcohol to make the holiday even better. Plus I am reconnecting with one of my former best friends from high school so it will be really good to see her.

Guess it is back to chair dancing and work. *Take sips of coffee*  TGIT tonight! Winter finale of mah "stories" aka Grey's Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder.

Until next time...

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Arctic Tundra

I'm sitting at my office desk, my heavy winter coat draped around my shoulders. It is cold today. It is cold around most of America today. It is a little ridiculous.

Anyway I'm sitting at my office desk and all I hear is the howling of the wind outside my window. Like, "Day After Tomorrow" style. I think this might be what it is like to work in the Arctic Tundra where everyday is below zero and the wind whips and nips at the side of your dwelling or place of work daily. It is part creepy and part depressing. Why? Creepy because the wind is quite literally howling. Depressing because I know in about 6 hours I'm going to have to go back into the tundra to get to the gym and eventually to get back home. Ugh. Winter, I hate you.

Everything else is pretty much the same. I had a friend from high school visit me this past weekend. We haven't seen each other in almost 10 years but we picked up where we left off. I got to play tourist/tour guide in my own city, an activity I always enjoyed. You can never see the Liberty Bell too many times. I also finally visited City Tavern, the bar that sits on the foundation where our founding father's used to get drunk and slosh around ideas about Independence. I actually did a sort of replica of a Thomas Jefferson tipsy conversation which proved to be quite hilarious.

I also saw Interstellar this weekend. It was a really good movie. Hard to wrap your mind around different dimensions of time and they theory of relativity BUT still a great movie with an all-star cast. Some of my favorite people star in it. Oh, and I saw it in IMAX so obviously it was...STELLAR.

This week I'm just going to survive work and prepare for the holidays. By prepare I mean get my work done early so when I leave for T-gives I don't come back and drown under a pile of work. I also have an art column to write and some more job hunting/job stalking to do. Should make for a productive week.

The wind continues to howl. I half expect to turn around and see a mass of whiteness outside my window. Nope. Just a lot of sunshine and blowing leaves.

Until next time...

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Autumn is the Season of Change



Oh Autumn, the season of change. Old leaves change color and fall off the tree and die. The trees remain cold and bare until the spring when life begins anew. 

I know, it sounds like a Hallmark card. 

I haven't written much lately because my life has been full of "almosts" as of late. Almost opportunities. Almost chances. At the end of the day I am still a social worker and I still live in my little apartment in Center City (4 year apartmentversary last week btw) and I am still NOT a full-time journalist. 

Fear not, I am not giving up. I'm just reassessing my strategies. I'm trying to formulate a new game plan and find opportunities in lesser known places. Maybe I can figure something out before 2015. Also, there are still many pending applications in the bucket for numerous opportunities.

I'm still writing for Main Course. I just celebrated my 1 year anniversary with the magazine. This past Friday I went to F.A.N. art gallery in Old City for First Friday. I had the privilege of reviewing working from breakout artist, Catherine Mulligan. I say breakout because it was her first solo gallery show. I'm sure she's been painting for years. 

Catherine's work is really cool. Her exhibit entitled "Recent Paintings" all contained a unique characteristic: a soft blur. She told me some inspiration for her work came from being left waiting in the car during a rainstorm while her mother ran into a store. A lot of her paintings have that "looking through a rainy windshield" effect. I was fascinated. She also puts a lot of intention into her work...taking characteristically "ugly" subjects such as bargain basement store fronts and redeeming them in a way. 

I'll be working on my column tomorrow and expect it up...oh...in a month? That seems to be the mad delayed timeline for my work to get published. 

That's about it. We're expecting a major cold front to move in so it's about to get frigid. I'm bracing myself for that. Still faithfully going to the gym. Just finished my 3rd journal since 2009. Alls well I suppose. Just ready for that epic change. 

Until next time....



Sunday, November 2, 2014

Seize the Moment

Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted. one moment
Would you capture it or just let it slip? - Eminem



Adulthood makes you do some pretty uncomfortable things. Like interview for important opportunities, negotiate with potential employers, be confrontational and take risks. I find it funny that those carpe diem people run their mouths on taking risks and never looking back. You only got one life to live so go out and shake things up! These mantras are simply idealistic. They aren't words you can really live by. I consider myself a pretty outgoing individual. I think I take risks but when given the opportunity to actually take a huge risk...to define what you want in life and fight like hell to get it...I'd prefer to dream about it. Dreaming is safer. You fly in dreams. You don't fall. You don't make regrettable life decisions. 

I'm not going to dream though. I am going to do. I'm going to shake things up. I've been the girl that moved to a huge city with few connections and survived. I'm the person that said "I Love You" first and...well also survived. I do have a sense of adventure, even if it is only in my head. 

I know exactly what I want to do with my life. Last night I watched Lena Dunham's "Tiny Furniture." The film didn't really have a point but I could see where Dunham gets a lot of her inspiration for "Girls." Anyway, the main character, Aura, graduates from college and moves back in with her mom and little sister (ironically played by her actual mother and actual younger sister). Aura tries to find her way. She's trying to "figure it out." Kind of like Hannah in "Girls." Both characters mooch a bit and keep begging her parents and the world to give her a break to "figure things out."

I thank God every day I never turned out like that. That I am just a walking pent up ball of ambition. That I went to college, found a way off the Eastern Shore (no offense, you're beautiful) for more lucrative opportunities. Do you know that I have been living in my Center City apartment for 4 years now? That is 4 years of pure independence in the City of Brotherly Love. Nothing earth-shattering has happened to me. And all this time, especially within the past three years, I know that I want to be a journalist. I want to be a writer. I want to be a storyteller for the rest of my life. Nothing else quite compares to that level of fulfillment I feel when I cover a story. 

And I'm working like hell to get there. I'm exploring all avenues. I'm taking chances. I've been let down. I've been led on. But I keep fighting because this is what I want. I am good at this. This is my "gift." My "talent." 

I'm a storyteller. 

Until next time....


Monday, October 20, 2014

The Tweet Heard Around the World


Two Thursdays ago I was watching my beloved #TGIT shows by Shonda Rhimes. As you probably already know, Ms. Rhimes owns Thursday nights on ABC. 8pm is Grey's Anatomy. 9pm is Scandal. 10pm is How to Get Away with Murder. 

I've been watching Grey's Anatomy for years. I own all but last season on DVD. I have seen every episode. I dominate Grey's trivia. I got into Scandal about a year ago and binge watched seasons 1 and 2. It is that good. I love HTGAWM because it is set in Philly and let's face it...Viola Davis. 

Well, Chicago Fire on NBC does live tweet chats during their show (Tuesdays 10-11pm est). I've dabbled in a tweet here and there and most of the time they go unheard and unread. So last Thursday when you could tweet the cast of the #TGIT shows, I didn't think much of it. I sent a random comment here or there. But one Tweet caught the attention of the Twittersphere. It started with a little ping from my Ipad which quickly grew to rapid fire pings. People were retweeting and favoring my tweet. 


He was on screen for a total of 15 seconds. Joe the bartender from Grey's Anatomy was a coroner on Scandal. I didn't even @mention it right. I didn't use all the @mention bits and hashtags. As you see...I only hashtaged #Scandal. Until Kerry Washington Verified picked up the tweet and quoted it! Enter more pings and retweets. 

It was a really great feeling. The whole chaos of it all only lasted a good 10 minutes but my tweet was somewhat viral and it made me feel important. It also made me think how I can generate content on the day to day, similar to this tweet but more meaningful to a broader audience. That way I could produce viral content on the regular. 

I proudly showed my screenshot on Facebook and Instagram. I paraded my phone around the office, rubbing my triumph in the face of my fellow Scandal fans. It was a great moment. It was a rush. I'd like to do something like that again. 

But you have to be quick. You have to be pithy. And you have to Tweet something worth reading AND sharing. 

Until next time....

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Kids Make It Worth It

I know that I complain about my job sometimes, because I'd rather be writing articles full-time and finding stories to share...but once in awhile really good things happen that remind me the past five years have been worth it.

My workplace is in the news! A few of our kids participated in a photo project called Pictures of Hope. They were each given a digital camera and were told to photograph things around our Olde Kensington neighborhood. A lot of the kids took photos of murals, their reflections, playground and storefronts. The photos were then used to create greeting cards with "wishes" from the children written on them.

"I want my brother and sister to grow up happy" one child wrote. 

I invite you to read the follow-up article by Maria Panaritis in the Philadelphia Inquirer here:


I know the kids in the photo really well and when I'm tired of shuffling paperwork and attending a plethora of meetings, I remember these smiling faces and what they mean to me. I know I am important to them but they really truly make my time at this job worth it. 

Until next time...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sweet Validation


This isn't unusual. There are many times when a source reaches out to me post article publication and says "damn. that was epic." Sweet validation.

It is that rare acknowledgement that you do, in fact, excel in the world of journalism/writing. That people appreciate the words you string together into sentences, ultimately crafting an interesting story. I love it. It comes naturally to me. I just pop on some music and BA-BAM.....out flows the story. I know I keep saying it, but I want to do this for the rest of my life.

This sweet little brag has nothing to do with the fact I applied for a Staff Writer position with Nerve.com. (If you are reading this, HI GUYS! WELCOME! STAY AWHILE).

I'm serious. It has nothing to do with that. I've been thinking about that journalistic validation for awhile now. I had that validation, well, for a long time but I particularly recall multiple times when I rubbed it in people's faces during graduate school. "I know exactly what I wanna do with mah life. I'm awesome. I'm in grad school studying the craft I looooove."  What a pretentious little brat I was. Rubbing my self-assuredness into the faces of my unsure friends. They laugh it off now, but at the time I'm sure they were pissed at me.

Validation is when you're super excited about the HTML5, CSS3 coding book you ordered from Amazon. When you can't wait to pour over the pages and take extensive notes like you're in school again. Validation is being absolute giddy when a coworker asks you to write a letter of recommendation for her. A letter! Singing their praises! I look forward to the task!

Validation is when you stalk the job boards every day, multiple times a day, and develop a bloodhound-like sense of what is out there, what you're qualified for, what you'd like to do, how much it pays, and when is an appropriate time to apply. For me I am usually overeager and apply within five minutes of the posting going live. It creeps some HR departments out. "Mary Anna...we just posted the job five seconds ago, thank you for your interest. It will take about a month or so to view all applicants. Should your qualifications meet our needs we will contact you for an interview." I actually got that email response once.

Sweet validation. Life's purpose. It feels great.

Until next time...

Monday, October 13, 2014

What a Difference a Change Makes

Last night instead of binge watching Hulu or Netflix and raiding my cabinet for snacks until my tummy starts to hurt I decided to do something different. Actually for the first time in many weekends I did something different.

Lately I've been in a bit of a funk. The journalism job search is the world's greatest cliffhanging teaser. It actually feels like fishing. You get a bite, you're hopeful there is a fish on the other line. Your heart races as you slowly pull the line up. You're trying to play all your cards right. You don't want to take too long and have the fish jump off the line. You don't want to race the line up and scare the fish off. You find a balance and you reel it in.

Only to find out the stupid fish ate your bait and swam away. All that excitement for nothing. THAT is the BEST way to sum up the journalism job search/process.

So when I'm not writing for Main Course I find myself curled in my bed until ungodly hours of say 2pm. I'll get out of bed (this is the weekends by the way) and do a task. Maybe I'll clean. Maybe I will buy some produce. Then I'll head back home and maybe nap again. I'll get up, cook or order dinner and watch Netflix until 1am. Sad right?

Well, this weekend was different. Friday I found myself missing a writing assignment. By missing I mean it was the first Friday in weeks where I had nothing to do and nowhere to go. I wish I had a writing project, an article or a paper or an application or an essay. Something. But I did not have one. So I did take a nap and cooked dinner and watched Netflix.

Saturday, though, I slept in a smidge then I went to the gym for an ass busting workout. My gym has free wifi now so you can bring your electronic devices, connect to the internet, and yes...stream Netflix. After an episode of Vampire Diaries I had burned 550 calories and logged in a 45 min workout. Easy peasy. Then I did some weights and abs before heading to Trader Joes for grocery shopping. I made my signature homemade pizza and watched a movie while painting my toenails. A bit of pampering...if you will. Also, I must mention I went to Bath and Body works and splurged on a bunch of delectable products. I went in for one item and I came out with 6. Oops.

While that was a frivolous purchase, it also inspired me to take better care of myself. Who knew.

Finally on Sunday I woke up and attended a Zumba class for the first time in months. I even stayed after the class to do an ab workout with the instructor. BAM. Gym two days in a row. I had to do laundry. Then clean up the apartment for a bit. Low and behold by 7pm I had eaten, showered, cleaned the apartment and had everything ready for Monday.

Instead of binge watching Netflix I did something different. I curled into bed and put on a Jazz station on Pandora and I read "Gone Girl" for an hour or so. It felt good to do something "smart" and just read instead of watching mindless TV. The combination of a healthy and productive weekend with a little "smart" activity mixed in made me feel better.

I'm going to try to make it to the gym on a regular schedule and look for additional writing projects. This feels way better then the dark little hole I've been residing in...with a bitter resentment for everything. Perhaps what I want all along will come "when I least expect it." For once my entire energy is not focused on "getting the journalism job." It is, "what can I do right now that will help me better myself." Looks like I found a few ideas this weekend.

Until next time...

Monday, October 6, 2014

Idiosyncrasies

When given the opportunity to sit against something (such as a wall or window) or have a wall behind me, I will always choose that seat. I like the corner seat at Starbucks, the window seats on planes, trains and public transportation. I like the security that comes with being a little boxed in. I don't spend every waking moment fearful someone will creep up behind me, I just like the added security of knowing nothing is behind me.

I'm anal retentive on things like projects. I care too much what others think of me. I'm highly organized yet can thrive in a disorganized environment. I'm almost always late...for everything. Doctors appointments, work, meetings, social gatherings...you name it. I will make it in a reasonable hour/minute but I assure you, I'm always late. People get on me for walking so fast all the time. I tell them it is because I am always late.

Ever heard one of those really beautiful, multiple arch, highly complex symphonies? Pretty much every action/adventure movie has these types of songs in them.. Think Hans Zimmer. That is how my brain works. My thoughts are dramatic. When I feel emotions I feel them with my whole body. I can close my eye and imagine waves of thoughts crashing around my brain and simultaneously feel like I'm being tossed and turned in the ocean. It's deep.

I'm smart. I can do USA Today Crossword puzzles in less than 15 minutes. I retain useless information like the color of the shirt you were wearing when we first met. I can remember the seating arrangement in a meeting of over 20 people and recall the same arrangement a week or more later. I'm great with names, excellent at faces, horrible with numbers. I am horrible at movie trivia, even worse at song trivia. I can sing along to virtually any song but I probably won't be able to tell you the title or artist.

TLC documentary/reality shows are my guilty pleasure. I'm talking Honey Boo Boo, Strange Sex, Extreme Cheapskates, Hoarders, and My Strange Addiction. I find them both fascinating, educational and at times morbid in a good way.

I smile more at dogs than at children. I can be walking down the street and a child will lock eyes with me and I may smile or just look away. Meh. Children. Yet I can be walking down the street and a beautiful Golden Retriever or Greyhound or happy little Pit Bull can be walking by and I lock eyes with the animal and smile the biggest smile I own. The owners think I'm weird and the dog can't see me smile anyway.

I am horrible at spelling and I honestly have no desire to master it.

Living in the city has made me a germophobe. I will not eat until I've washed or hand sanitized my hands. I refuse to touch my coffee straw with my finger and resorted to a sort of mouth-assisted straw extraction to get the straw from its clean wrapped paper to inside my coffee cup. I swear I can literally feel the filth on my hands when I ride SEPTA.

I give strangers celebrity nicknames in my head when I see a slight resemblance. These include in-the-moment observations where I think "Whoopie Goldberg so nice to see you" or "John Travolta I Love You're Work" or "Make way for Queen Latifah." I do this pretty much every day.

I've said this once and I'll say it again. I prefer the big straw at Dunkin Donuts for my Iced Coffee. The big straw.

I am most productive when listening to music. I can crank out over 2000 words of text in an hour and a half if I have good music to listen to. I also prefer to drive to music, commute to music, walk to music and exercise to music. Sometimes I even like to sleep to music.

I think I've recently developed a dependence on my oscillating fan. It is fall and the weather is cooler yet I find I like the noise of the fan. It makes a great white noise to drown out all the bustle around me. How is this going to work out in winter?

Until next time..


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Everyday I'm Hustlin

I don't think I have busted my rump at work so hard in over two years. I mean seriously. It is like someone literally lit a fire under my desk chair and I can't stop moving, running, making things happen. Mind you, this is all a distraction from real life. I do not enjoy my job any more than I did a week ago. I'm grateful for my job but I still feel unfulfilled because it is not journalism. It is social work. Social work is a nice, helping field. It is also a field that leads to massive burnout which I am well on the road to.

But today my boss called me "the hero of the day," which is huge coming from the upper ranks. I had children happily hold my hand, hug me, be happy to see me. I'm halfway through my epic to-do list. I'm exhausted and barely sane, but I'm getting the work crunch done. I even made time to give a co-worker a pick-me-up card after she had a tough day yesterday and thank the co-workers who have given me more work to do. I've learned that even though it is aggravating to have individuals add to your workload (within reason, the tasks fall under your job description) you can't just flip out on them. You can flip out on yourself, but not them.

You just got to look them in the eye and say "Thanks for catching that. I will get it done as soon as possible."

Until next time..

Thursday, September 25, 2014

As My Body Breaks Down

Enter the cool down period from a very emotional and anxious three weeks. With my anxiety on high alert and my body tense at every moment, what do you think happened?

I got sick of course.

My defenses were weak and the season of illnesses is rapidly approaching. I got a cold. I nicknamed it a death cold. It started with G force level sneezes. Then congestion and runny nose at the same time. Plus a burning sensation inside of my nose. It was just your average nasty cold, but it knocked me on my butt. I called out sick yesterday from work but felt a little better and decided to come in today.

After commuting in the pouring cold rain this morning, my condition has regressed. I feel out if it, like my head is in a giant bubble. My nose hurts from the pressure. Also, I can't hear very well. It must be the sinuses. At least my throat feels a little better. It is difficult to swallow but it doesn't hurt so I'll take extra swallowing effort over pain any day.

Yesterday I spent the day sleeping, binge watching Hulu and Netflix and drinking orange juice and hot liquids. I even had my favorite soup, Wonton soup for lunch. I thought a day of immobilization would do the trick but I was wrong. I should have taken a second day off. I hate doing that so I rarely do it, you know, take two sick days off in a row. I am allowed to do it but I'd prefer not to. My boss said I could go home if I wanted to but I decided to try to stick it out a few more hours and see if I stay the same or whatnot. I'm a trooper I guess, even though I complain about the ordeal the entire time I am sick.

Stupid cold.

Nothing else is really going on. Still reeling from disappointment regarding that missed job opportunity. The company called me yesterday and told me they gave the position to someone else. This wasn't news to me. Good for them, I hope they do a good job.

I work pretty late tomorrow night. Let's all hope I can defeat the cold by tomorrow or else I am in for a long and painful day at work.

Until next time...

Monday, September 22, 2014

Ok, I lied



I lied. A lot has been going on. I just couldn't really write about it until it came to a resolution.

Long story short, in my quest to find a journalism job, I actually found one. A news organization reached out to me within 24 hours of my application being submitted. I had a phone interview. I wrote a "test story" which got published in one of their papers. Then I waited. I waited and waited and waited.

This three week process was filled with hopes and dreams. I could finally get a dog. I could buy a car. I could have an apartment that has outdoor space, an oven and laundry in the unit. Basically, all of the things I want in life I could have with the exception of not living quite where I want. Its no secret that I am in love with Philadelphia and I wish I had a rowhome in South Philly, a journalism job, a boxer dog named Bronx and a green Kia Soul. However, I was willing to sacrifice my surroundings for the sake of having almost all of the things I want in life.

If there is a lesson to be learned from this entire experience it is don't put your eggs in one basket. I've been doing that all my life. I applied to William and Mary and Fordham...nowhere else. I applied to the RMC program...nowhere else. I applied to Temple...nowhere else. I hoped after the RMC program I'd get hired and didn't apply anywhere else. You see the pattern? Putting my eggs in one basket has worked out for me so far.

The company was interested in me. The executive editor said my diverse work experience wasn't a weakness but rather makes me a well rounded journalist. I adjusted to the idea of moving, and moving quickly. I made phone calls. I started to pack just in case. I began to happily emotionally withdraw from my current job.

Then on Friday I got the news. It was the day before my best friend and I were set to scout the area for apartments and potentially buy a car. I got an e-mail. Due to the budget they could not offer me the salary I desired.

But, Mary Anna, its your dream! You want this! Make sacrifices!

You see, I gave them my salary threshold. I went lower than I make now. I tried to make sacrifices. However, it was not enough. I was still asking for too much. I've got experience. I've got a Master's degree. I've proven my worth. But I'm the idiot that fell in love with a struggling field. I'm the idiot that thinks working for a Gannet paper at the age of 16 was a big deal. I'm the idiot that financed my Master's using loans and loans alone. I never did an internship because I didn't have time between working full time and going to school part time.

But it is not enough. Like I said before. I'm under qualified to news organizations that pay a living wage. The places I am qualified for, like this outfit, can only afford a below poverty line entry level salary. Journalism is one of the most challenging fields to break into. I don't need to make six figures. I really just want enough money to stay on top of my loans, afford food and be somewhat comfortable. I know its not a glamorous job but it is exactly what I want to do with my life.

What happens to a dream deferred?

My best friend came over anyway. We had a nice dinner. Later that evening while walking home from the grocery store, my wallet fell out of my jacket pocket. I figured it out the next morning. I panicked and got really anxious. I cancelled the cards and did all the lost wallet stuff. About ten minutes after the last card had been cancelled, there was a knock at my door. Turns out a pizza delivery guy from down the street found my wallet last night and tried multiple times to contact me. He tried Facebook, he tried to come to the apartment. He tried everything until the pizza shop I live above let him in the building so he could knock on my door. He returned my wallet, untouched. There are still very good and honest people in this world.

I gave him a thank you gift and a card. It was stressful but I'm glad my wallet and I are reunited. There were some things in there that were not easily replaceable.

So now it is Monday. I spent the weekend making my apartment look less like I am moving and more like I actually still live there. The packed boxes, mind you these are things I don't need right now anyway, are a painful reminder that the thing I had my heart set on just didn't work out. I applied for a few new jobs, though I think I'm under qualified and I'm back at work.

It is maddening to know exactly what you want to do with your life but be so damn near helpless and unable to achieve that goal. I feel stuck. At times I feel alone since I've mentioned before almost all my friends quit my job. I guess there is "something better out there" but for now I have to muster the strength to get up each morning and carry myself to this job which I am thankful I have but I am burnt out from. I just keep applying and if anything, no matter how promising the opportunity looks never put your life on hold for it. Never reside in "limbo." You have to keep pushing on as if this isn't going to work out because when it does fall apart, at least you've still been living your life.

I feel like I wasted the past three weeks, not with the application/interview process...that was good practice, but with life in general. I spent so many mornings waking up with hope and so many evenings going to bed dejected that I neglected my health, the gym, cleaning, and various projects at work. I just sat around waiting for something that didn't work out. Now I have to rebuild again.

Until next time...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Radio Silence

I apologize for the massive delay in writing..well..anything. Truth be told nothing has been going on. I promise a post soon when something worth writing about happens.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Obligatory Birthday Post


I ate so much more than a cupcake. I ate Arby's and a McDonald's milkshake and funfetti cake with orange icing, bbq chicken, cheese curls, and beer...lots of beer.

I "allegedly" have not spent my birthday at home with my parents in 11 years. I don't know if the math is correct but what I do know is that is has been a long time. The past few birthdays have been great. Four years ago I went to a Mexican restaurant with some coworkers and then we all got mani-pedis. The following year I went with my friend Anne to a Phillies game. Last year I went with my friend David to a Phillies game and did the whole name in lights thing again except this time I was calm enough to take my picture on the jumbotron. The past two years I also went to Ray's Happy Birthday Bar to get my free birthday shot.

Something was different this year. I had no friends. I know that sounds really sad and pathetic but it is actually pretty true. My work best friend just moved to Georgia the weekend of my birthday. A few friends stopped talking to me for whatever reason. David and I hung out LAST weekend for our traditional Crabfest. Most of my work friends have quit and moved away.

Instead of day drinking and spending way to much money online shopping I decided to, two weeks in advance, to rent a car and drive to the the ESVA for my birthday. I had parents so I could at least be thankful for that. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. I was distracted from my sadness with good food, plenty of laughs, a few movies and this 500 piece jigsaw puzzle I quickly got addicted to. At one point it actually felt like my life's mission was to complete that puzzle. I didn't before I left, but I got nearly half of it done. It was cathartic.

Not to mention I got to drive a lot, which I love doing. My parents and I drove out on my birthday evening to watch this breathtaking sunset.



All in all it was a delightful birthday and I was grateful to be surrounded by people.

Now it is back to the grind. Getting up in the morning takes gargantuan effort. I'm adjusting to all the new people that are at work and bracing myself for the next resignation (we had a surprise one today). Prayers and such I can begin a journalism/writing career somewhere soon. I feel my best friend's absence here. There is an emptiness she left behind.

Clear eyes. Full Hearts. Can't Lose. Or something like that. May 27 bring good luck and the change I so desperately need.

Until next time...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Loss and Change

Tomorrow marks one of my best friend's last day at work. She just so happens to work at the same place I do. It is going to be a rough Friday.

My department has seen a 30% turnover in the past few months. We've lost key players who have direct contact with our clients. We've onboarded some new people too. Basically the whole agency feels like it is in a state of flux. It is a weird feeling. Like, I've been on the same island and now we have a ton of different types of trees that were not there before. Same place, different foliage. Now I just have to get used to it.

I've seen some not so great days. Between losing my best friend/support/comfort and watching many friends move away/move on with their lives...I feel stuck. Quicksand stuck. Watching everyone move on while I stay rooted in the same spot. It is tough. I'm doing everything I possibly can to move up or move on as well, but I'm not so lucky.

I've been doing the same thing for five years. I've been running the same programs, completing the same assessments, filling out the same paperwork and attending the same meetings. I feel like I'm just going to be this empty shell next week and beyond. A body, performing functions without emotions. I've been "yesing" everyone and everything to death. "Mary Anna, can you babysit for this meeting?" Yes. "Mary Anna, are you ok with having back to back meetings so we can accommodate a new member to this team every third Monday?" Yes. "Mary Anna, you're going to be doing x, y, z, right?" Yes.Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Whatever.

I'm not sure how much longer I'm going to last. People laugh and tell me that is nonsense. That it can't be THAT bad. That thank the good Lord above I have a job. But I'm serious. I'm just going to snap or be dead inside.

Not going up. Not going down. Just going sideways.

Until next time...


Monday, August 11, 2014

The Downside of Being a Late Bloomer

After I graduated college, I applied to a year-long volunteer program in Philadelphia. I spent abut 11 months, working for free, gaining "real world" experience and establishing myself at my place of work. After the year was up I was hired full-time.

That was five years ago. I have, exactly, 5 years of hands on, front line, social work experience. But we learned something while supporting oneself in Philadelphia. We learned (we as in I) that social work wasn't my passion. I love my kids, my clients and a select group of coworkers, but I could not spend my entire life social working. I'd burn out too quickly.

I think about four years ago I wrote a post about how choosing what you do right after college could forever impact the rest of your life. You reach a point where you can no longer experiment with a certain field, you have to take ownership of it and be prepared to potentially advance in that world.

Ok. So. I graduated college, spent a year volunteering as a social worker. This worked out because I was able to get a full time job and support myself while living in the thriving metropolis known as Philadelphia. I realized that it was, is and always will be journalism. I applied to Temple, got accepted into their Masters of Journalism program and then graduated top of my class three years later.

All is well except for one little thing. I have inadvertently groomed myself to be a social worker. I have 3-5 years experience in my field. I can get any kind of upper level social worker job I want (within reason).

Yes, I have an MJ. Yes, my reporting experience dates back to the early 2000s. Yes, I am an art columnist that publishes new articles each month. Yes, I have radio experience.

But guess who never did an internship?

If I did an internship I would be hired by now because that little internship would count as the "12 months of daily or weekly newsroom experience." I'm being rejected company after company because I don't have that "12 months of daily or weekly newsroom experience."

I'm sorry I could not work full-time, go to school part-time and somehow fit an internship in there too. Therefore, for all you baby journos out there, DO AN INTERNSHIP! DO SEVERAL! That will be the key that opens this seemingly unlockable door.

Now it is too late. Internships are only open for current students. Fellowships are geared to build diversity in the newsroom or help established journalists fund new and exciting projects.

I regret not finding time to do an internship. I thought self-sufficiency was more important. Perhaps I should have rented a small studio apartment and taken on part-time work just to do an un-paid internship. Then I wouldn't be turned down or even ignored by even the smallest of backwoods papers.

If someone gave me the chance I would prove to them I was worth it. I know I have what it takes to be a successful journalist in the media world. I know how to cultivate sources and figure out the ins and outs of my environment. I know how to write well. I know how to report. I know AP style. I get the chain of command. I am willing to work nights, weekends, sweep the newsroom at night, pull weeds out front, take the crappy beats, fetch coffee for the editors and do mindless gruntwork if someone would give me the damn time of day.

I swear I am the clearance puppy of life. That little runt of the litter you don't really want but is affordable. Yet that puppy turns out to be the best decision you ever made. That is me.

Until next time..

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Butterfly

Yesterday was a difficult day. My whole psyche just wasn't having it. Everything hurt physically. My head felt as if were about to explode. I was under-motivated. Every day is a precious gift and I wanted nothing to do with it.

The ink has dried on my Masters Degree and I've reluctantly applied for jobs all over the country. With every "send" I hope "this could be it." I start researching apartment prices in Wyoming, see if the condo in South Carolina accepts dogs. I calculate preliminary moving costs. I make a mental checklist of everything I would need to do from getting a car to changing my address on everything.

Then I go to work and do the same exact work I've been doing for the past 5 years. Thank you paycheck. Thank you health insurance. Thank you cluster of co-workers that have become like family. However, I'm wasting my potential. I'm worried with each passing day my journalistic skills are going to fade as I carry out daily social worker activities with this horribly jaded mindset.

Friendships, meaningful people in my life, have left abruptly. Not through death, but just through their own personal changes. Friendships are disintegrating and I'm always wondering why the comings and goings of friendships and interpersonal relationships lack solid closure. Why can't we be like "I'm sorry this friendship is over due to x, y z. Have a nice life?" Why do we just stop talking to people?

I made a web of my life goals. They include getting a Kia Soul, a Boxer dog, a larger apartment with more closet space and an oven, and some form of media job. The key to many of my goals is actually an increased salary. A little more money could help me get the dog and the car and the larger apartment. Not saying money will solve all of my problems, in fact...I think a dog would solve all of my problems. I'd have a dog now if a) I could afford one b) I had an apartment that allowed dogs and c) I had enough space for a dog to live with me in comfort.

Yesterday I sat out at Rittenhouse Square in the early evening in an attempt to enjoy the unseasonably cool weather we're having. I touched up my toenail polish and listened to music. During my time at the park, something kept happening. A butterfly kept landing on my blanket. Turns out I had parked myself right outside a butterfly bush so there were butterflies fluttering about. Yet this one little guy kept visiting me.

At first, I'm not going to lie, I thought maybe he was a deceased family member paying a visit. I'm not big on reincarnation but you never know. Then I thought he might be trying to tell me something. Then I figured my blanket was bright so he was naturally attracted to it. I wanted him to land on my arm but he cautiously refused. He did however land on my knee for a bit and sat there slowing flapping his wings while staring at me.

While searching on Pinterest for quotes about change...something my life inevitably needs...I found a little poster that read: "We delight in the beauty of the butterfly. But rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty." - Maya Angelou.

I got thinking about my new friend.


He...or she...I honestly don't know if butterflies have genders. We'll call it a he. He built a cocoon all by himself. He spun it until he could encase himself in it. He stayed inside, all by himself as the world changed around him. Then he struggled to break free of the bonds he built around himself. He overcame his self-brought challenges and flew out of that cocoon and became this beautiful little butterfly. In fact, his left wing looks like it has a hole in it. So either he was flawed from the start or survived some sort of attack.

Beauty is born out of struggle. People may look at me and think "girl you got a job and a roof over your head. You don't have to worry what you're going to eat next and you have a few good friends. What the hell are you struggling with?"

I struggle with myself. With my expectations. With disappointment. With the revolving door of people in my life. With knowing exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life and struggling to get there.

Butterflies do it every day. Maybe that is why he kept landing on my blanket. To remind me of this.

Until next time...

Monday, July 28, 2014

Nothing New

I haven't written in awhile because there is nothing new going on. Everything is the same.

Until next time...

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What Now? And Other Self Discoveries.



If you want to learn more about yourself as a person, book a short trip to a city you've never been to before and build up a ferocious optimistic momentum fueled by hopes and dreams. Analyze results.

I have never been to Boston and I decided shortly after graduating Temple University that I wanted to try and shoot for a job at a BIG newspaper. You see, the Philadelphia Inquirer is on such unstable ground that it is near impossible to get my foot in the elite door of the uncertain newspaper. So I "dream big" and do some digging. I decide that I want to write for the Boston Globe. It is a huge New England paper with a huge staff that is successful both online and in print and is thriving. It is one of the top 10 news organizations in the country.

But wait, we should go to Boston and scope out the area before we try to secure a huge career change there, right?

Sort of.

I booked a trip to Boston for July (this past weekend) and I found tickets to a free tour of the Boston Globe. I was content with that, until a week before I was set to fly up to Boston and a bunch of openings at the Globe presented themselves to me. One was for a paid internship and the other was for a breaking news writer position. Such fate! Such serendipity for these opportunities to make themselves known shortly before my departure! It almost appeared to be meant to be.

So I applied for both. I included in my cover letter that I was going up to Boston and would be touring the Globe on Friday. I started following the main reporters and editors on Twitter. I learned the history of the Globe. I studied the writing styles. I prepared myself for the far-fetched possibility of a cold interview the day of my tour. I was excited at the life changing possibility. I didn't want to leave Philly, but Philly didn't want me as a journalist. I got to live my passion. Everything I heard about Boston was positive.

As the plane landed at Logan International, I couldn't shake my shit eating grin. That is when the adventure began. I quickly found myself insanely comfortable in this foreign city. Like, I could navigate the transit with ease. Find my way to my hostel without getting lost. I felt safe and secure and as if I may have been there before (I hadn't).

Boston is nice. It (at least the areas I was exposed to) is VERY clean, VERY expensive and VERY fancy. Now I went many places: Back Bay, Harbor, North End, Downtown, South Boston, Cambridge (not Boston but ya know). I felt that many places you needed to put your napkin on your lap while eating at McDonalds. The history bits are very interesting and the food is decent. I'm a big fan of the clam chowder. Oh, and the beer is pure and fresh everywhere, especially Sam Adams (which apparently you have to order it "Boston Lager."

The highlights of my trip were 1) my time spent with a college best friend, her husband and her amazingly cute little daughter who can now affectionately call me "Auntie." 2) Boston Common, its like Rittenhouse Square on steroids and I enjoyed simply rolling around the grass with said daughter and enjoying the breeze. 3) The Tam (this little Irish Pub/cash only dive bar around the corner from my hostel that reminded me of Philly, hence why I liked it so much) and 4) The North End (Little Italy was pretty cute)

The hostel was nice and I made a new friend. However sleeping on the top bunk in a room with 7 strangers is kind of difficult. Earplugs are your friend and you must be aware that most everyone will go to bed sooner than you. (9:30pm on a Sunday night and the lights were out/everyone was in bed. I was the a**hole that wanted to stay up and pack my stuff and go out to my bar before turning in).

Oh, and my Globe Tour was up there but my expectations were so high that I was sort of bummed when my tour ended and I was ushered out the building. I hadn't talked to anyone other than my tour guides and the major editor before I was standing in the parking lot with broken dreams. This sounds melodramatic but its kind of true: not because I didn't get a cold interview but actually because I realized what a big deal the Globe is and the caliber of experience of those who work there. I simply don't have the front line journalism chops right now needed to succeed in such a regal institution. I mean, hey..they've won 24 Pulitzers. After my tour I wrote a letter to the hiring editor and enclosed the article I talk about in my cover letter. I said I was making one last attempt at an impression and that I'd apply for future opportunities should this one not pan out. I haven't been this aggressive about anything in my entire life.

As my Boston trip came to a close I realized that deep within my heart, I absolutely loved Philadelphia. Boston was nice and I am so glad I got to experience it but in the end Philadelphia is home and I am very happy here. Which puts me in an interesting position. Out of NYC, DC, Boston and Philly, I will always choose Philly. We've got culture, diversity a sense of community. We have parks and festivals and concerts and beer gardens. We have fancy pubs and dive bars, cheesesteaks and water ice, history and modern art, and all of it is accessible/pretty affordable.

While meeting various travelers and new friends, my work comes up in conversations. "Wow, you must feel so fulfilled!" "You've got a big heart" and "You deserve a medal" in other words "You must sleep well at night."

I don't. Yes the work I do is great and I help people every day. But I don't sleep well at night because I know I am not fulfilling my life's passion. I know I'm not living up to my potential. I know that my journalistic/writing talent is sitting there untapped as I continue the stressful yet comfortable work that I've been doing for the past 5 years.

Yes, "it" will come, "it" being my opportunity. Be patient. Just be. Just live. I know, I hear this everyday from everyone. But the reality is, what now? I have learned that I am undeniably in love with the City of Brotherly Love. The same city that despite my love has no room for a young, dedicated and talented journalist. And I'm not gunning for a senior editor position. I just want to be a little reporter and work my way though the corporate ladder like everyone else. But I just can't seem to get my feet on that first rung.

Boston is nice and it is a city for people who like nice things. I spill food on my shirt and throw my hair in a top knot. I don't own a designer handbag and my most precious material possession is my Ray-bans. I like a good meal but I prefer to be able to afford it. I'm low-maintenance and find comfort in the trash-laden streets of Philadelphia. Who knew?

What is next? I don't know. I will give the Globe another week and if nothing comes up (it won't) I will start seriously looking for a new apartment in South Philly where I want to live and eventually raise a family anyway. Perhaps I'm going to have to pursue an aggressive freelance hustle to "make it." I don't know. All I know is that I need a new game plan. Back to the drawing board.

Until next time...

Monday, June 30, 2014

Greetings from the Fishbowl

I write to you from a fishbowl, or rather, through my new glasses. I love them. The frames are lager than I'm used to but they look fantastic. There is one tiny problem: they are causing distorted vision. Like... the walls are warped and I can't walk up or down steps straight distortion. The Internets say to let it ride and my brain will adjust accordingly. I say, take them back to the glasses place and double check the prescription to make sure we're not an axis off or something. I just hope this doesn't cost me more money. My boss complimented my glasses today and I was all, "If I stumble around like I am drunk today, I assure you I am not drunk. Its my new glasses."

In other news I went on a healthy adventure yesterday. I took the RiverLine train to Bordentown, NJ and biked the Delaware and Raritan Canal trail. It was a little hot but a beautiful sunny day for a ridiculously long bike ride. I biked a little over 8 miles yesterday. The ride to the marina was easy but the ride back was a bit treacherous. I was tired. I made it to and from without incident.

I did manage to get hit on by an older guy at the Marina who was a few seconds away from driving back to his house to get his motorcycle and bringing it back to offer me a ride. Fortunately, I had my own bike. haha and under NO CIRCUMSTANCES could I leave it unattended. Also, I'm very familiar with "stranger danger" so there is that.

I feel pretty healthy today, minus the lack of coordination and overall feeling of being drunk. Got a 3.5 day work week ahead, some fun 4th of July week festivities up my sleeve and a trip to Boston next week. All good things.

Now if only I could find a journalism job.

Until next time...

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Little Stroke of Luck

I'm alive. Everything and nothing have been happening at the exact same time.

This past weekend I went to Jersey to hang with my best friend. We had a terrific beach day and then went to our favorite All You Can Eat seafood/sushi place in New Brunswick. On Sunday we traveled to the Columbus Farmers Market which is always fun. They have tons of stuff both old and new to browse and well..buy of course.

Yesterday I started back up at the gym again. After gorge-fest 2014 (aka my weekend) I knew it was time to cut the sugar/fats and get my fat ass back to the gym. I just set up a circuit training schedule so I'll mix and match cardio with the circuit training. This should yield results along with the portion control and influx of vegetables/lean means I've been consuming. It is summer and the world is half naked. I can't be jiggling around in my shorts/skirt. No one wants to see that.

Another awesome thing happened yesterday. The Fourth of July is my favorite holiday. Every year I head down to the WaWa Welcome America Festival on the Parkway and watch the Philly 4th of July Jam. I've never been able to win/obtain tickets to the seating area by the stage. EVER I enter the contests and stalk to promotions to no avail. This year, I tried the Instagram contest and failed. BUT they also have trivia contests on Twitter and Facebook. I memorized the event schedule in case they asked a question about it and low and behold they did!

Yesterday they asked what was the first movie that would be shown and where in the Philly at the Movies series. I knew it was Frozen at Franklin Square. I tweeted that as quickly as I could and I WON!!! I got seats by the stage area for the concerts! I was so excited yesterday I was literally shaking. This was finally my year! I'd have to say that overall 2014 has been pretty good to me.

Until next time...

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Today is Brought To You By The Word "Slump"



I did everything right. Almost. I unfortunately missed yoga yesterday because a client scheduled with me at the last second, thus forcing me to cancel my enrollment in Weds night's yoga class. Such is life. But after that, I did everything right. I went home, I got my things in order for early morning spin class for this morning, I cooked a nice healthy dinner of chicken, carrots and quinoa. I watched a show, ate my dinner, and got ready for bed. I was asleep by 10pm. Bam.

Slept through the night, had cinematic dreams. Like, my dreams were a movie. I didn't recognize the characters or understand why they were happening, but I basically watched some random movie in my sleep. At one point an elderly woman's kitchen caught fire.

I woke up at 6am. I went to get out of bed. I heard the rain pounding on my ceiling. Crap, torrential downpour this morning. My gym bag has a leather base and I have to walk from the gym to work which is about a 20 minute walk. I was going to get soaked even with an umbrella and my bag ruined. I tried to cancel my enrollment but it was too late. You have one hour before the class to cancel online, otherwise you have to cancel in person a half hour before the class begins.

I'm going to be charged $5 and I may have blocked someone from taking the class. I feel bad about that.

I rolled over, thinking, it is just $5. Fell back asleep and within 10 minutes jumped the sleep cycle and had more cinematic dreams. I was back in REM at 6:30am. Not good when your alarm goes off at 7:40am. Which it did, which I had a horrible time getting up because I felt like a human brick, cemented to my bed. I eventually got up and got dressed with much apathy towards my makeup and trudged out the door into the rainy, gloomy Thursday.

I ordered iced coffee with expresso, hoping that would wake me up a bit. It didn't. I almost missed my EL stop. I was sitting there daydreaming when I realized I had to get off the EL or I'd be heading north towards the end of the line. I'm 100% unfocused, kind of dissociating as if I am in a dream. I don't feel awake, I don't feel present and I've got a gauntlet of meetings and even baby sitting later this evening at work. Of course I am dreading all of it. If I could focus on one task it wouldn't be so bad. Crap.

I did everything right until I decided not to get soaked for spin class. Had I got up and just planned an alternative bag, I would have exercised. I would have avoided losing $5. I would probably feel more awake. I would feel myself. I would not feel like a zombie. I would be happy.

But I didn't and now I'm paying for it.

Until next time...