Don’t Look Away, Part Two: Stay Humble

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I think about this a lot. How some of us have so much and others have so little. By “have” I mean material possessions, health and health care, jobs, a roof over their head and food to keep them full.

I recently watch an amazing New York Times video profiling a ambulance worker fighting Ebola in Monrovia. The images in that video are raw, scary and 100% a reality that I can’t imagine living in. Families who live in stone huts. Villages with no running water. Women burying their relatives stricken with Ebola.

Something as simple as a hearty meal in my house or my warm bed after a long day make me very grateful and spark one thought, always: I do not take this for granted. I never have and I hope I never will.

Stay humble, folks.

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8 Tips for Journalism Majors

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1. A journalism professor once asked me why I didn’t get a specific piece of information and I said “They didn’t tell me about it.” She said ” No, you didn’t ask.” I’ll never ever forget this: If you don’t ask, they won’t tell you.

2. Try and say yes to all kinds of story assignments. You never know what you might learn or who you might meet.

3. Keep rewriting your questions. Make them better and more open-ended. You want your subject to talk about things they weren’t planning on talking about. The more questions you ask, the more unique information you have for your story/article.

4. When interviewing someone, some longer pauses in conversations are okay. They’ll feel like they need to fill the silence so they’ll continue to speak. Just listen.

5. Notice everything. What they’re drinking, eating, wearing, their gestures, their speech patterns. No detail is too small.

6. I hate when professors tell me there’s stories all around me but it’s true. I just have to stop being lazy and actually pay attention. Be in the know! Sign up for local newsletters, read local blogs, read flyers on cork boards at the coffee shop, read everything you come across.

7. If you don’t write for the school paper, even once or twice, you’ll have nothing to use for when you’re applying to internships and jobs. So please, get some clips in while you can.

8. Learn all about social media and how to use it to your advantage. Track your online work, see what people are responding to and engage them. Branch out. They won’t come to you, you have to go to them. That applies to everything in journalism and life, too.

 

Memories engraved in song sheets

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I discovered music in the back of the school bus with a girl who was my neighbor, classmate and who later would become one of my best friends. We sat shoulder to shoulder in the row of seats at the back of the bus, sharing a set of ear buds, shuffling through songs. Band of Horses, Andrew Bird, Regina Spektor, Tegan and Sara, Jason Mraz.

My love for music began in high school and since then it has grown and matured and branched off into several interests and obsessions. But discovering new music in high school was the turning point. It was exciting to know that I didn’t have to listen to the radio ready pop sounds of Katy Perry and Britney Spears anymore. All I needed was the Internet and my group of friends – half of whom were musicians, singers and music lovers.

I don’t think I can describe how much I love music but I can try. These are my life songs and the meanings behind their significance to me.

“Wake up naked drinking coffee, making plans to change the world while the world is changing us”

I wince every time my playlist shuffles on Dave Matthews’ “Stay or Leave”. Most times I immediately skip it but other times I sigh and let the track play, knowing that I need to hear it and allow myself to remember. Each note of this song is drenched with nostalgia. It’s a beautiful song that is so heavy with feelings of the years I associate with it. Matthews is singing to a lover but this song is not exclusive to a lost love. “Stay or Leave” is my bittersweet symphony to the joy and pain of meeting and leaving best friends.

“I hope I never figure out who broke your heart. And if I do, if I do. I’d spend all night losing sleep. I’d spend the night and I’d lose my mind”

Their backs against the red brick building, their legs crossed, he starts strumming on his guitar and she starts humming “Living Room” by Tegan and Sara. This song will follow me through life. And five years later, I’ll be at a Tegan and Sara concert and text her that they’re singing this song and I wish she was here. This was the first Tegan and Sara song I heard and I’ve loved the band for nearly eight years now.

“If I don’t say this now I will surely break as I’m leaving the one I want to take”

The Fray knew exactly what they were doing with this heart wrenching song. “Look After You” reminds me of a high school crush. The butterflies were felt, the looks were shared but the feelings were never spoken out loud, at least not to the one that counted. It’s a sad memory of realizing how strong the crush was and how sincerely the lyrics described the feelings inside. As far as I’m concerned, this is his song and I’ll always be sorry we didn’t happen.

“Waking up I see that everything is OK. The first time in my life and now it’s so great. Slowing down I look around and I am so amazed. I think about the little things that make life great”

Every single line from Avril Lavigne’s “Innocence” is the heart and soul of my 16-year-old self. This song is the anthem to the three years I spend in Italy, attending high school with the best group of friends I could ask for and who I’m still friends with today. Those three years of high school were what saved my life. It was one of the best and biggest changes I’ve experienced and I owe so much to it. I wouldn’t be who I am without Italy, those friends, that opportunity. This song (from Avril Lavgine, of all people) is the one sound I hold closest to my heart as a reminder of how good I had it and how lucky I was. It was a state of bliss.

…   …   …   …   …

These are the four most memorable songs of my high school years. These melodies are intertwined with the laughs and tears and quiet thoughts and moments in which I grasped for understanding and found lyrics I could easily make my own. This is music at its finest, doing what it does best and holding my life in its song sheets.

*I would LOVE to read your own posts about your favorite songs and memories. Let me know if this has inspired you and send me a link to your own post.