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10 Things: From Miami, Fla. to Brownsville, Texas

November 5, 2012

I recently made a decision to relocate my life from Miami to Brownsville, Texas. Basically, I’m crazy and while most people have expressed their excitement for me, they’ve still let me know how insane they think I am. At the least I’m close to the water in my new Texan home.

“From one resort town to another,” was how someone at the mall told me on Saturday.

Anyway, here’s a list of 10 things I learned from the big move.

1. Florida is ginormous. It’s huge. As a Miami native, I’ve only traveled to Sanibel, Orlando and made the customary college excursions to Gainesville and Tallahassee to learn how to play beer pong and gator chomp. But, seriously, it’s easy to get lost in the glitz and glamour of Miami. Drive. Drive as far as you can, because there’s so much to see in the Sunshine State.

2. New Orleans is gritty and beautiful. I really only got to spend about an hour in the French Quarter, but in that short amount of time I decided I wanted to return. Cafe Du Monde was an interesting spot where fashionable hipster meet underprivileged people. Anyway, it’s beautiful. I’m going back.

This is me posing for a picture by some train tracks in front of the water in New Orleans. Photo was taken by http://justthelens.tumblr.com/

3. I’m in love with the idea of living in the south. I’m in love with the idea of southern belles and that southern twang is music to my ears. I blame this on the crappy television I enjoy watching (Hart of Dixie, I’m looking at you).

4. Texas smells bad. Texas, you might be rich cause of oil, but crossing the border from Louisiana into Texas was a very smelly affair. Also, the smoke stacks are not attractive. They remind me of the big oil-spewing monster in FernGully: The Last Rainforest.

5. The last stretch of road to make it to the Rio Grande Valley is by far the worst drive ever. Dear US-77, you suck. And I’ve driven on a lot of roads.

6. I don’t believe in energy drinks. I think they’re bad for you and the idea of being chemically induced to feel hyper is not healthy. That said, Red Bull is fantastic for long drives. Every time I felt myself drifting, I took a sip. Whether it’s the placebo effect, I don’t know. But the disgusting taste woke me up.

7. Road trips are what you make of them. It’s better to go with the flow and enjoy your time on the road. Use it wisely. Use your time to plan and to think about the future. It’s good “me” time. Music gets you by. But, sometimes it’s good to just drive and listen to the sounds of the road.

8. A road trip’s success depends on the company you keep. Seriously, being stuck in a car for long periods of time with an ass-hat is not a good idea. It makes the whole difference. Luckily for me, my cousin and aunt were the best road trip companions ever.

9. I drove through much of the havoc of Superstorm Sandy. All I wanted to do was book a room and watch the coverage. I absolutely hate missing news.

10. Leaving Miami was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. Leaving to college in Boston, Mass. was scary and sad, but I had great friends taking on the same adventure with me. But now, I’m on my own and I’m about to embark on a dream I’ve had for a few years. Let’s hope this journalism thing works out.

Here’s hoping I made the right decision.

In a Dylan-esque mood

September 14, 2012

Am I a real Bob Dylan fan if I only like his hits? You know, songs like, Hurricane, Like a Rolling Stone, Mr. Tambourine Man.

I tried listening to Tempest, his newest release, and didn’t get through much. I’m sure I’ll come around though.Bob Dylan (Bring it All Back Home Sessions)

There’s just something about those old songs that make my heart feel the honesty in his voice.
Anyway. The Dylan of yesterday is my latest choice of music these days.
I took a break from reading serious books (I just read Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried) and read about Chris O’Dell and her adventures as a semi-groupie/tour manager during the 60’s and 70’s.

Makes me wish I was part of that crew. I’m sure it makes everyone wish they were around during that time. You know, except without the drugs. The drugs are scary.

Anyway, I’m thinking of finding myself a copy of Martin Scorsese’s Dylan documentary, No Direction Home. I’ve seen a segment and I’d like to watch the rest and understand more about the greatest songwriter in America.

Until then, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Dylan quotes:

“I accept chaos, I’m not sure whether it accepts me. “

I am sorry you were a victim

August 5, 2012

The ink on the stories is barely dry. The shooter’s name is still fresh on our minds. The victim’s faces are still etched in our thoughts.

Image

A Khanda is a symbol of Sikhism.

We’ve barely fully grieved for the lives lost in Aurora, Co., and now another shooting. But, this time in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

So far, the news is reporting that six people were killed by the shooter, before he was gunned down by a law enforcement officer.

Many people are speculating why this happened at the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin. That comes later.

But, for now, this is me remembering the victims. And thinking about what they were feeling during their last moments of life. I’m sorry you didn’t get to die naturally. I’m sorry your life was cut short by a hateful act.

I am mostly so sorry that I live in a country where people think it’s OK to  walk into schools, theaters and temples to kill. I am so sorry.

“The biggest question is, if this is a hate crime, what did we do wrong,” someone on the scene told WTMJ.

To me the question is what did all of these victims do wrong?

In an interview with CNN, Surinder Singh, a spokesman for the Guru Nanak Mission Society of Atlanta, had this to say: “This is a crime against humanity.”

Healthcare ruling and the media frenzy

June 28, 2012

I’m watching news media report the Supreme Court decision on healthcare.

I also watched CNN botch their initial reporting by saying that the Supreme Court had struck down the individual mandate.

I’m not sure how long they had that on television, but I’m sure it was long enough to make some viewers confused.

I immediately logged onto Twitter to see what everyone else was saying.

That’s where I found the correct answer.

I’m quite shocked because Twitter usually gets it wrong.

In CNN’s defense, I haven’t been able to check out what the other cable channels are saying because the television in the newsroom is on their channel.

However, I do remember most of my journalism professors at Emerson College were very concerned about the need for news organizations to be the first to announce news.

Now I see their concerns are legitimate. When CNN reports something incorrectly that’s huge.

With a decision as big as this one, I think the public can understand if reporters take their time trying to verify information.

I hope this serves as a reminder that we, as media, need to be certain of what we are saying.

Otherwise our credibility comes into question. And that’s not cool.

Also, I think The New York Times has got the right idea.

Their last update was, “The Supreme Court has ruled on President Obama’s health-care overhaul, and Times reporters and editors are analyzing the decision. Once we are comfortable with its basic meaning, you can expect a torrent of coverage.”

Photography 101

May 4, 2012

I decided to give myself a present last week.
I’ve wanted a DSLR for a long time.
The first time I was introduced to professional photography was my freshmen year of high school.
The first class I walked into at Braddock Senior High was photography.
This was before everything was digitized. I used a regular point and shoot and had the awful job of unrolling the film in those lightproof bags and developing it in a canister.
The smell of developing chemicals–developer, stop bath and the fixer– greeted me every morning that first year.
I loved my time spent in the dark room, but had to give it up because I am prone to allergies and was reacting badly to all of the chemicals.

Still, photography is something I’ve always enjoyed. Even before I learned how to develop film, I was that loser at parties with a cheap little point-and-shoot camera making sure I captured every memory possible.

This is why I’ve gifted myself a beautiful Nikon D3100.

I promised I would post a gallery once a week in order to make sure the camera doesn’t go to waste.

I’ve been pretty busy this week, so all I’ve had the chance to do is mess around with depth of field.

Anyway, I know people get a lot of flack because others make fun of someone having an expensive camera and thinking they’re a photographer. I assure that’s not the case here. I know I suck, but I learn by doing. Hopefully, I’ll be able to take some great pictures with time. And if not, at the very least I’ll be able to capture some wicked memories in the future.

On Writing

April 24, 2012

Remington Typewriter

I came across this great list of advice by successful writers on one of the many social media sites I use. I can’t remember which one exactly. But, I think it’s great enough to pass on.

Click here for a list of 105 quotes on writing and life. 

There are a few that are near and dear to my heart.

Mark Twain: Substitute “damn” every time you want to use the word “very.” Twain’s thought was that your editor would delete the “damn,” and leave the writing as it should be. The short version: eliminate using the word “very.”

I remember using the word “very” a lot in journalism school and my professors always crossed it out.

EB White: Just write. The author of Charlotte’s Web, one of the most beloved of children’s books, said that “I admire anybody who has the guts to write anything at all.”

This is absolutely true. It takes guts to receive criticism and build upon it.

Ray Bradbury: Learn to take criticism well and discount empty praise, or as Bradbury put it, “to accept rejection and reject acceptance.”

Read above.

Scott Fitzgerald: “Cut out all those exclamation marks. An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke.”

I was looking back at some of my old clips from The Metropolis at Miami-Dade College. To be fair, it was the first time I ever wrote for a newspaper. But, it was full of exclamation marks. I was horrified. Whatever. Learning is a process.

Richard Bach: Never stop trying. “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”

This is true. I’m including this one because I’m sure many writers and artists out there are discouraged by a lack of a real job. But, failure and perseverance will get us there eventually.  

Anyway, I encourage you to click on that link. It’s a long list, but every single one of them is worth reading.

On Days Off

April 16, 2012

Have you ever had a really fulfilling weekend with new experiences that prepares you for a loathsome week of brain-numbing moments? I just did.

I found a cool new spot called The Stage and a pretty awesome local band called Suenalo. I mean, they play the Conch. That’s pretty cool.

Suenalo at The Stage.

I finally had the chance to go to an Art Walk. Wynwood is such a cool part of town. One of my favorite galleries was by Artist Peter Tunney.

A piece by Artist Peter Tunney.

To top it all off, I spent a beautiful sunny day, the kind only Miami knows, on the beach relaxing with girlfriends.

Attack of the Birds at Crandon Park.

Ended my Sunday by watching parts of The Shins and Bon Iver’s performance on Coachella’s youtube page. Maybe next year I’ll make it there. But for now, I’ll leave you with a song that’s been on repeat for the past half-hour.

Also, obviously, I started using Instagram. It’s pretty cool.

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