Friday, December 25, 2009

Where did it all go? Where to go from here?

"It is not the mountain that we conquer, but ourselves"
-Edmund Hillary (one of the first to climb Mt Everest)

2009 is coming to an end. Only one more week and its gone. Poof. Vanished.

I don't know how most people think, but my biggest fear isn't failure. My biggest fear is mediocrity. I NEVER want to be average.

My parents told me when I was little - "I walk to the beat of my own drum". I didn't understand what they meant at the time, but now I can see how accurate they were.

If someone were to put my life's path on a chart... you wouldn't see a steady line rising at a 45 degree angle. Instead, there would be a LOT of zig zags. I have experienced many highs and many lows in life, but its been a colorful life nonetheless.

What did I do in 2009?

I ran a half marathon in Tampa in March. I ran the Broad St Run in Philly in May (10 miles). I went to Florida twice. I was in my dear friends', Jen and Jeff, wedding. I took my cousin's 18 month old son to the jersey shore for the day just so he could see the ocean for the first time. I spent a weekend with my mom, my sister, my "aunt", and friend on a boat on the Chesepeake Bay one weekend which was delightful.

I started my first semester of grad school. I finished my first semester of grad school. (Ha ha) I did it with excellent grades too!

I wanted to do another road race... just couldnt fit that into my schedule. I wanted to make more money... well, so do the rest of us LOL! I wanted to secure a full-time job in PR, but it is what it is.

There were setbacks too... some I choose not to share... I lost loved ones, expected and very unexpected.. and it makes you wonder about the bigger picture. Still, you push through. What else can you do? You make sure those around you know how much you love and appreciate them and you stay true to yourself.

Up to this point I have achieved every goal I have set for myself. I think i took it for granted.

So, with new career and life goals on my plate, things aren't coming together for me as quickly as I had hoped, or taking longer than I had hoped. it is frustrating and disheartening. My parents say I expect way too much too soon.... I say I can never have enough.

What do I want for 2010? I am starting to train for a marathon on March. I hope all the stars align so I can make it a good race! A few pounds lighter would be awesome, hopefully the increased training will help with that.

I intend to visit Florida a few times to visit my BFF's. I can't stay away from them, the weather and the beach! I will finish my second semester of grad school. I will continue my push into the formal public relations venue...and i will broadcast the traffic reports on the radio.

But sitting here today, thinking about all of this, I am telling myself to try to enjoy life for what it is today... not wish it away for things that may... or may not happen.

Monday, November 16, 2009

sleepy head, busy mind

"How do people go to sleep? I'm afraid I've lost the knack. I might try busting myself smartly over the temple with the night-light. I might repeat to myself, slowly and soothingly, a list of quotations beautiful from minds profound; if I can remember any of the damn things." ~Dorothy Parker, journalist, writer, poet

That's a quote from Dorothy Parker about insomnia. It's a creature that taunts me, which apparently reared its ugly head to a fellow journalist, writer and poet. Trend, I wonder?

Parker is a gem. She was a rouge. She is a well known writer from the early 1920s to the 60s, the kinda lady who just didnt give a crap what guys had to say. She wrote from her heart, with weapons for words from a pen with a penchant for sharp wit. She wrote for the New Yorker, Vogue, Vanity Fair. She was a book reviewer, also a hollywood screenwriter and playwrite.

I feel a kinship to her for two reasons. When ever I read her works, it is like she is reading my mind. Its a scary place ha ha. Second, I find this quote about insomnia and a lightbulb goes on... so to speak.

According to insomnia is the inability to get sufficient sleep, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. My insomnia doesnt mean I stay up all night every night staring at the ceiling... although that has happened in the past... more than once. I went into work for my traffic job on no sleep. I had no choice. I have to be there at 4am and when prescription meds dont work, its rough.

Sometimes insomnia means I lay there, thoughts racing about anything or nothing. I overthink everything anyway, so it's no wonder.

I have been on a 4a-noon shift for more than 5 yrs and thats when the sleep problem worsened ten fold. my body clock is going counter clockwise.

Sometimes I get to sleep only to wake up an hour later wide awake. It is so frustrating. Then at 1pm when I get home from work I barely get my head on the pillow and I am out like a light. I sleep so hard that I forget where I am ha!

I know where I am right now though. I am sitting in bed at midnight. I am home from a night class watching tv, browsing online, writing this blog entry. I am starting to get tired. I hope for a full night of sleep. That means one lunesta. six pillows. One of those over my head. One pillow under my arm. The tv is on quietly. I will most definitely wake up at least once, hopefully just to cognitively roll over.
I dont have to get up at 4am... so that is a blessing.

But... insomnia or not... I turn again to a quote from Dorothy Parker...

"Now I know the things I know, and I do the things I do; and if you do not like me so, to hell, my love, with you!”

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

waiting for someone to die

A journalist is rarely at a loss for words, but there is an absense of adequate adjectives when describing what it is like to cover the story of a criminal who is being put to death.

It's such an eerie feeling, waiting for someone to die.
While personally I am not opposed to the death penality, I can't imagine what it must be like to watch the clock tick, the minutes evaporate, the seconds disappear until you take your last breath. All of this while a panel of people watch and stare at you in this state of dispair and fear, finality.

A few years ago, I reported on the case of Danny Rolling. He was a convicted serial killer in Florida. He is a man who brutally killed five college students at the University of Florida in August 1990. 15 years had passed and his appeals ran out. The day his death sentence would be carried out had arrived. The prison is in Starke, Florida. It's a town, literally, in the middle of no where. It's the back woods of Florida. It's the kind of town where hanging at Burger King is the hot spot at night. The prison is located right outside town and it is the heart of the economy there.

It was a media circus that day. TV news live trucks, reporters, photographers, gawkers, protesters. We all waited across the street from the prison waiting for updates on Rolling's last day. We got word of his visit with visit with his brother and spiritual advisor. We were informed of his last meal. The hours slipped away. All we - the media - could do at that point, was wait for this man to die.

I found myself looking up at the prison from time to time, its barbed wire fences and walls, trying to image the scene inside. It's something I still can't wrap my head around.

I wasn't one of the journalists who witnessed his death. There were a few among the panel who had been selected, among a pool who had volunteered, to sit and watch Rolling get the lethal injection. It's standard. It's part of the duty of being a journalist, if you can bare it. Your role calls for witnessing history, acting as the public's eyes and ears, making sure the sentence is carried out the way it is intended. I am not sure if I ever would sign up for that duty. I know there is a part of me who could certainly handle the task, however another part of me is ashamed at the macabre curiousity.

I am writing this post tonight, having learned of the death of the DC Sniper. 48-year old John Allen Muhammed convicted of killing 10 people during a three week shooting spree in 2002 with the help of a teenage accomplice. He was put to death last night via lethal injection at a Virginia prison.

Word of his death brings back the day I covered Rolling's last day alive inside that Florida prison.

I never met the man. I never covered the murders he committed. They happened across the state, many years earlier, when I actually was in middle school in Pennsylvania. At that time he wasn't even a blip on my teenage radar.

While Rolling may have justly deserved what he had coming to him on that day in 2005, it left me with a sour taste in my mouth. I had to sit and wait, on an hot and humid summer afternoon in a desolate field, outside blank, cold prison walls. I had to sit and imagine, sit and wait for this man to die.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Going home....

"Parents can only give good advice and put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands." - Anne Frank

It's been a little over a year since I moved from Tampa to Philly. It meant living on my own... to moving in with my parents. I knew I needed a change in my life. It was time for a new career, heading to grad school.... but living with mom and dad for the first time in ten years. The idea was questionable at best.

I have never cared much about what other people thought about me, but I did wonder now that, now that I am in my 30s and back in the same bed that I slept in High School.

Dad flew down to Tampa. My friends and I packed up the moving truck we rented and we drove up to PA in the Fall of 08. I cried the entire drive out of Florida. I knew I was making the right decision for my life, but the pain was palpable. I was leaving such a nice life behind. My close circle of friends remain there. The area is beautiful. So many memories.

While I have had to make a lot of adjustments, emotionally and physical, after coming back, my parents have been wonderful.

I havent lived here in ten years. I got lost in my own town. I struggled to find work in the worst economy in decades. I was constantly cold 6 months out of the year - a spoiled sun brat as a result of 4 years in Florida. I had to get an acct with a tanning salon to keep my sanity. I had no sweaters. I had no closed-toed shoes aside from my sneakers.

Most of my belongings remain in storage. I am a full-grad school students with two part-time jobs, commuting an hour back and forth to school three days a week. I long for a full-time job in the industry I am studying. I want so badly to move closer to the city, on my own, making new friends. Developing a circle of friends is difficult when you are in the burbs and all your "old friends" are married with children now. I am not out painting the town red, so to speak, but maintaining those friendships - different now - we're both in different paths in our lives. I am getting so homesick for Florida lately. I have never felt this way before.

My parents have been encouraging, supportive, generous. They welcomed me back home. We have a kind, close relationship and being here has only made our bonds stronger. For that I am eternally thankful. I don't know how I will ever re-pay them. They insist I have nothing to feel guilty about - that this is what parents do. Besides - mom does my laundry and makes me dinner. Dad, a retired owner of auto-mechanic and transmission rebuilding business, looks after my car. I live here for free. In a world of uncertainty, two-part time jobs and school, this part ain't so bad.

The desire to move out is about independence, not a horrible experience living here. My dad and I had one fight over our cats. Yes, it was that trivial. My mom yelled at me once when I was eating cereal. I was half asleep and apparently answered her in a tone that was received as disrespectful. She went off the wall. My dad and I sat there puzzled. We both know she was in a bad mood, although we didnt know why, and it really wasn't that I did something wrong LOL.
Considering I have been here for 15 months and only encountered two arguements. I think thats a good track record.

I am very busy and they give me privacy. The only thing they ask is, that they know if I am coming home at night, to give them some peace of mind. I haven't really dated, so having a guy come over hasn't been an issue ha ha...

I feel like my life is in limbo. "Everyone" tells me to have "patience" - what I want will come in time. But let's be real - thats an easy thing to say to someone when you are living on your own, have a full-time job in your industry, have a tight circle of friends, and possibly a solid relationship with a significant other.

So I keep pushing forward, I keep waiting, I keep working and going to school. I will be honest, I want to go back to Florida. Maybe my path will lead me back after grad school next year.

In the mean time, being "home" again is like living in a comfort bubble. It will always be there. I know I am always welcome at home.

Friday, October 30, 2009

She puts coffee in her coffee

If anyone took away my coffee I would be homicidal. Guartunteed. Don't test me. This is serious business, folks. I need my fix. It ain't just a morning thing, either. It's all day every day.

It starts before the sun comes up. The aroma of the fresh coffee beans out of the mini-grinder, it wafts across the house, as the coffee pot fills up with the deliciousness. It sounds like a commericial but its music to my ears, nose and taste buds. I am snagged, hook, line and sinker.

I must go through at least two travel mugs during my early morning shifts. Then other cups through the day. When I head to job #2, I cruise through Starbucks for the grande size. Their brew is S-T-R-O-N-G. Good stuff! Talk about a pick-me-up!

There are days at Starbucks when I want a latte (fat free, sugar free vanilla), or an iced coffee (cream and two splenda). There are even times when I lust for a lite frap. When all is said and done I just love coffee. It's plain and simple. The taste, the smell, the flavors, the options, the convenience, the energy.

I can't be the only person who feels this way. Coffee places are popping up everywhere. It's like cancer. We're turning into zombies, zooming around with a glazed look on our faces clutching the brown steaming crack in our palms.

My former co-workers in Tampa would laugh at me. We'd be driving from one random story to another, when I would announce something like "hey, make a left at this light, go one block and there's a Panera on the right". That was my indication it was time to get Hackett another cup of coffee. I had "coffee radar". I knew every place that sold coffee-to-go within a 4 county radius,
My coffee dealers are EVERYWHERE.

We lead such busy lives and we need a big kick in the ass to get through the day. Well, at least I do :)

I stop at Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts when I am at school - yes, they are both on campus. It's turned into an addiction and an obession. Do they have C.A. meetings?

I don't want to say, "I can quit any time I want", because I don't think I could. I LOVE coffee.

"You put coffee in your coffee",
-David, "Dream for an Insomniac"

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Phillies Fan Speaks Out

"They can because they think they can"

I admit it. I don't really follow professional sports. I don't really pay attention to teams unless 1) I am at a game (which are fun) 2) at someone's house for a get-together. And 3) they make the play-offs. I am not ashamed to say it. You call me what you want lol. I wasn't raised in a house of die-hard fans. My mom and dad watch football at home on a Sunday. That's about it.
I have been to games, but I never caught fan-fever. That's until the Phillies went to the World Series last year.

For the first time in my life I started to understand what the fuss is all about. I watched each game in the playoffs. I watched every game in the World Series. Yeah I am 32, but I got a crush on Chase Utley and maybe even Cole Hamels, but I know, take a number ha ha.... what can I say, i got thing for men in uniform... and well I'll save that subject for another day :)

I watched the Eagles towards the end of last year's season and I started watching the Phillies again this year when they took on the Dodgers. I don't own any sports shirts or hats. I don't rush out into the streets and cheer when they win. I didn't even get to the parade last year (although that had more to do with the Septa crisis).

My point - you don't have to be "die-hard" to be a fan. I am from Philadelphia. These teams represent our city. Philly is a love or hate place. You either love it or you hate, no in-between emotions. Philly has been starving for a win for decades. Fans were disappointed every single year with every single sports team. For once, they got their wish. The Phillies are the world champs.

Now its time to do it again. It's sure to be a big battle - maybe even more so than last year. They are defending their title AND they're taking on the Yankee (and its dynasty).

I am a fan no matter what you "die hards" say about people "like me".

I want our guys to kick New York's a$$. I want us to show New York, and the rest of the world, we may be the smaller city, but we have guts, glory, talent and heart.

No matter what happens at the World Series, though, WE already know the guts, glory, talent and heart are the epitome of Philadelphia.

Monday, October 26, 2009

where to begin.....

"For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."
- Steve Jobs [Commencement Address to Stanford students]

After a decade as a TV News Reporter, I decided it is time to change careers. I am back to school, a grad student at Temple University in Philadelphia. My life has been quite a journey. This blog explores my journey up to this point and perhaps where it will lead from here.