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 (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 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


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 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..

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 ...