Categories
Amazing! Journalism Sailing Travels Writing

A new chapter

I hate making “big” announcements.

It seems egotistical to assume something that is big to me might mean the same to others. Usually, it doesn’t.

The two-weeks are in at my work.

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Some of you have heard me talking about the SEA Semester program —the one educational opportunity I always regretted not doing while in college.

Starting in mid-February, I’ll be in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, which is near the beautiful Martha’s Vineyard area. I’ll be regressing to my college years, taking classes in all sorts of oceanography and maritime studies related subjects.

Then, I’m heading down to the Caribbean, to continue the semester learning about the finer points of sailing and research in the area. I chose this particular track because that whole area is close to my heart, and Panama shares a lot of the cultural and historical markers of the Caribbean region.

Did I mention I get to learn more about sailing?

And while at my work this doesn’t qualify as a journalism-related sabbatical, I plan to continue doing my own personal brand of journalism, writing about my experiences and posting photos.

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For now, I’ll spare you the details on how this is logistically happening. It just is, and this is why:

I do not want to look back later in life and regret the things I should have done when I was young and carefree.

So far this life, I’ve only regretted the things I never did — the opportunities that flew by without me doing anything.

Blaming money can only go so far before it becomes just another excuse for why I’m idle and frustrated with what I haven’t accomplished. I’m not such a fool to think that money is not important. Money allows you to find happiness in whatever it is you value.

And I’m not such a fool as to not be grateful for all have, and the great opportunities that have come my way.

But I’ve often wondered if the excuses I create are a form of denial to never admit I’m afraid.

In my dreams, I change the world. In reality, I have convinced myself it is impossible because that is easier than doing something. In reality, I’m passionate about very little because being passionate is hard, painful and often disappointing.

It is a work-in-progress to realize you do not want the same things others do, or that while you might, you just do not value them the same.

I suppose that I decided, without really meaning to, that my career would have to wait — be second to adventure for a while. I welcome work in design, whether it’s web design or print graphics, and it has not stopped being my interest to be employed in that field.

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My favorite question so far has been, “so what do you GET out of all this?” And the best response was suggested by a friend — whatever I want.

For the moment, I’m weary of defining success by what I GET in my bank account.

I’m ok with some people thinking that quitting the comfort of my steady income, and going to this program with no tangible financial benefits, is stupid.  To those people I say, I hope you find a shred of inspiration in my stupidity, to appreciate what you truly value, what you love on such a personal level that you have no need to convince others of its worth to you.

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While this ain’t the Oscars, I can’t end this post without thanking those who have supported my crazy. M.M who encouraged the crazy if only for the sake of having a dream; the unfailing Don Wittekind, who can’t get rid of me no matter how many years and miles I go from UNC; Tyler for proofreading my essays; my sailing friends Ginger, Mark and Vance among many others.

And the two people who have been putting up with the crazy from day one — my parents. Thank you for always helping me think through my odd dreams and fancies instead of dishing out crushing disapproval. Above all else in my life, I’ve been the luckiest in having you.

I’ll post here as much as possible for those who are interested, and everybody is welcomed to follow me on this new adventure, as I hope you will.

The next chapter could be better or it could be worst. Either way, I’m confident it’ll be worth the read.

Categories
Arizona Journalism

Tales from the inbox

Today I received an email from former co-worker Mark Waters, who happens to be one of the countless journalist laid off in 2009.

Early on Friday morning, a family’s Mesa home burned down. Tragic, of course, but it’s good to know that everyone got out safe thanks to smoke detectors. If anyone is interested in helping, click here to go to their church’s website, which is accepting donations for the family.

This post though, is not about the fire.

It’s about the email from Mark (whose house is in close proximity to the fire) that made me think and, yes, laugh. With his permission, I’m sharing it with you…

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“Did you hear about the house fire in Mesa today? That 2-story house that burned down is, ’scuse me, was right behind our house.

The police woke us up at 5 am and told us to get out. At one point, we had a ladder truck in front of our house shooting water over our house.

And later, Javier Soto from Channel 3 did three live reports from my ladder in our backyard.

I gave him my resume.”

Despite the fact the someone’s house burning down is not funny at all, I could not stop laughing picturing the scene, in which Mark networks with the TV station people and whips out his resume as flames rage in the background.

And who can blame him?

It’s such a casual email, but I found it to be a HUGE reflection of the times, and declining opportunities in the media industry, in which you gotta do what you gotta do, even if, literally, the building is on fire.

Everyone always says “network, network, network”, and any out-of-work journalist would have jumped at the opportunity to network in a situation like this one, where several members of the media have descended into your own house.

But this whole situation isn’t necessarily about journalists in particular, but about every single person out there who, through no fault of their own, find themselves unemployed. I give props to Mark for not letting the towering flames distract him from his goal to network and get back out there into the profession he loves.

“I got them coffee and water in between reports … talked quite a bit about how the economy has impacted broadcast journalism.”

As the economy improves, I have no doubts that there are plenty of employers out there who will see in Mark the kind of hard, dedicated worker who, despite having no immediate benefit, continues to be passionate about getting the stories out to audiences, whether it’s with video, graphics, multimedia, or just providing the ladder.

“I felt like I was part of a news team again.”

And I think that says it all.