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.


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..

What if I'm not a Writer?

I've mentioned this before. My first book I ever wrote was a few chapters long. Each page was a new chapter. I was in second or third ...