Sunday, 9 October 2011

The Change; Will you be a part of it?

There are times when I complain about the complacency of the public in a world where the very same public is being exploited openly and carelessly, and then there are times when people, as few as they may be, finally give me a little bit of hope.

On October 5, the official declaration of the occupation of Wall Street was released, and if ever I was proud of American people, it is now. This is a huge moment in history.

Here it is:

"As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power.

We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments.

We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.

They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.

They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one's skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.

They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.

They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.

They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.

They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers' healthcare and pay.

They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.

They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.

They have sold our privacy as a commodity.

They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.

They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.

They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.

They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.

They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.

They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people's lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.

They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.

They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.

They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.

They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.

They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.

They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts. *

To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!"

Never forget that it only takes one spark to start a fire. My weapon is my writing. With my pen and paper, from right here on this blog, my voice is being heard. I am doing my part.

What will you do?

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Justice? What's That...

Twenty-two years ago an undercover Georgia police officer by the name of Mark MacPhail was shot and killed. Two years later,  Troy Davis was convicted of the murder and sentenced to death row.

The conviction came with no evidence linking Davis to the crime, no murder weapon, and more reasonable doubt than evidence, yet he was sentenced to death based on the testimony of nine "eyewitnesses", seven of which have since admitted they cannot truly tie him to the crime and were coerced by officers to convict him.

Since the conviction, his execution has been postponed three times and all appeals have been denied by the Supreme Court. (Death has been dangled in his face three times; something akin to torture really.)

Davis's first execution date was in 2007. We are now in 2011 and the case is just now receiving rightful publicity. Today was his fourth execution date. He was supposed to die by lethal injection today at 7 p.m., and before this morning no one knew. 

Before seeing it on Twitter we did not care.

I am not sure if this is a fact of which, as a journalist, I should be proud or ashamed. It makes me wonder if I would have a voice in getting cases like these the publicity they deserve. Instead of spending years focusing on Casey Anthony and months focusing on her conviction and after-plans, why was the public not informed of the Troy Davis case? 

It seems the U.S alone has been keeping the details of the case under wraps. Twitter stopped "Troy Davis" and "#toomuchdoubt" from trending for fear of it being "offensive," but that did not stop millions of people from voicing their opinions. It did not stop us from reading up on the case and becoming informed. It did not stop us from being enraged with the so-called justice system.

Supporters in the UK, Peru, Hong Kong, France, Germany and Mali  have been actively involved in demonstrating for the cause. Amnesty International has pleaded for his case. Even Pope Benedict XVI and former President Jimmy Carter signed the petition for the cause, which up until September 17 had more than half a million signatures.

It is now after 10 p.m. and Troy Davis will be put to death in approximately half an hour. He has waited anxiously in the death chamber for more than three hours for the supreme court to consider one last appeal, and once again it has been denied. In half an hour a man is going to be put to death, while his family watches, for reasons that have not been proven. They are going to kill a possibly innocent man to prove to the world that killing is wrong.

There is something wrong with that picture.

How can mankind be the judge of whom should die and whom should live if mankind didn't create each other? How can you justly destroy what you did not create? What kind of message is it sending when you ignore the pleas of a death row inmate who wants nothing more than a fair trial?

This case has corruption written all over it. An officer died so someone else needs to. It is a concept I have never been able to understand and I hope I never do. The fact is, revenge does not bring your loved one back. It never has and it never will.

So why does it make people feel better to see someone else pay for the hurt? For twenty-two years the MacPhail family sought revenge. For twenty-two years they have been trying to kill someone in the name of justice. Twenty-two years? At what point do you just accept that your loved one is gone and try to gain peace from his or her memory? At what point do you stop and say to yourself that murder for murder is not an even option?

Will the MacPhail family really sleep that much better tonight?

Today we witnessed history, as we have so many times in the past decade. The case of Troy Davis will never die. His case will live on in time and hopefully, after this, history will never ever repeat itself.


Friday, 22 July 2011

Casey Anthony: Once and For All

Admittedly, I am completely ignorant of the explicit details of this case. Being a journalism student, I should probably be ashamed--but shame does not change the fact.

I was never one to indulge in the excess of the media and their most often insignificant targets. I always found that the things the news glorified, even by demonizing, were never worth the attention. Casey Anthony's case is no different. Sad story? Yes. But worth years of airtime? No way.

Granted, I think we got hit extra hard by being in Orlando, but it was still too much of a story for my liking. And in the end, the verdict only helped to push it further along on the popularity scale--so much so that I already see a movie and possibly even a book coming out of it.

Well, here is my ignorant unbiased opinion: media hype is not supposed to get involved in the facts, or lack thereof, of a judicial case. No matter how many news anchors insinuate that she did it, or how many people interviewed were certain, it does not change the fact that there was little evidence to prove it. Even though many people may feel disgusted and outraged at the fact that she did not report her child missing for 31 days, that is not evidence that she committed the crime.

It is not what you know; it is what you can prove in court.

We can wail and scream and cuss about it from here until next year, but at the end of the day only Casey knows what happened to that little girl. And whether she spends the rest of her life in jail or not, the sad truth is that Caylee is still dead. No amount of demonizing her mother or criticising the judicial system will bring the little girl back. So what difference does it make? Our judgments have no significance in the grand scheme of life. People will always do what they want so long as they can get away with it. Just the same this may be an unfair ruling, I am sure there are dozens of people behind bars who don't deserve to be. People get locked up every day for using drugs, many of them spending years in jail for a decision they took which harms no one else but themself. (I mean if they want to snort the white stuff what does it matter to everyone else, or better yet, how does jail fix it?)

Millions of people are dying across the world from preventable and curable diseases. Little children are dying every day from malnutrition and dehydration by living in inhumane conditions. But these are not the things we wear out on the news. They are not as 'dramatic' and entertaining, I suppose.

Never let the truth get in the way of a good story, right?

In the end, the final judge of life, whoever it may be, will deal with Casey Anthony as he/she/it sees fit -- and that is really all we can hope for. In the meantime, we get to watch the monster we created as she uses her newly found fame to gain money from selling her story to writers and movie directors. Welcome to America.

Monday, 27 June 2011

The End Where I Begin

My last week in Australia has lent itself to a lot of analysing and reflection, as it should have I suppose.

I am not quite sure why it would take until my very last few days for me to realise what a feat I have overcome, but I am glad to acknowledge it nonetheless.

Here goes...

Those who go across the world for short programs always come back home feeling like they experienced the best thing life has to offer. They tell everyone how much fun they had, how amazing the place was, and how they would love to go back if the opportunity lent itself. But until now, I have never stopped to analyse these sentiments from a more realistic perspective, to where I ask questions like "what about homesickness? Culture shock? Adjustment issues?" Surely it can't be all peaches and cream.

Well, I've had my turn now. So what do I have to say?

To begin, going abroad alone for lengthy periods is not something that everyone can manage, especially when it involves venturing to a more expensive city. Is it worth recommending, though? Absolutely. You will learn things about yourself you never knew existed and walk away feeling like you can overcome anything. You will learn who cares enough to reach out to you, who to not depend on, and even be surprised by some unexpected people who offer you not only their support, but their respect as well--just for doing what you are doing. You will learn how to survive on your own, how to adapt appropriately to whatever circumstance is laid out before you, and most importantly, how to appreciate the life you left behind.

I came to this country expecting absolutely nothing, and left with much more than I could ever dream. I have grown so much from this experience that words could not even begin to categorise or describe my sentiments. I have grown more from this than I have throughout my three years of college, and if you have been following my blog then you know just how much that is. I am truly proud of myself for diving into the unclear waters and, though apprehensive at first, swimming in it until I reached the shore.

With all of the setbacks and frustrations, the days of feeling more alone than anyone ever should and the days of crying just because it feels right, I would not go back and change anything if ever I could. At my weakest moments I prepare myself for the toughest battles--after which I become stronger than ever before, with a mind incapable of going back to what once defeated me. And no matter how much I hate depending on public transportation, or how much time I wasted waiting around for false promises, or how tired I grew of the food selection, I know already that I will surely miss this place that I have called home for the past six and a half weeks.

I grew to love it in its own sense; the helpful bus drivers, the cafe worker who automatically brought me ice every day at lunch, the cold weather that helped me sleep well at night, the internship placement that provided me with great clips, my genuine co-workers who helped me find my way, and all who have made the trip even just a little bit easier. You will not be forgotten.

But now, it is time for me to go. And hopefully one day I can return--stronger, older, richer, and with someone whom I can share the experience.

Until then ...




Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Fins and Things

If there is any part of this six week trip that has made me feel the experience was worthwhile, it was my past weekend trip to Cairns.

I have always been the type to get more excited about natural beauty than architectural. Though I can certainly appreciate the intricacies of buildings a thousand times my senior, there is something far more magical to me about observing untouched, natural perfection.

What's more, I managed to off three things from my bucket list in just one weekend. Granted it was costly, but undoubtedly worth every last penny.

My unforgettable experience began on Friday. I took the day to observe my new surroundings. My flight into the small city got in far too early, yet not early enough for the tours, so since I'd had nothing planned, I figured I would familiarise myself with the quiet city of Cairns that reminded me so much of home.

The hotel was located on the esplanade, right along the main street. I decided it was as good a time as any to explore the various souvenir shops along the road to shop around for the best deals. (I know I said no more souvenirs but I saved myself for last. And where else would I want a souvenir from if not The Great Barrier Reef!?). I also managed to stop for an expensive lunch. I finally found some fish and chips that was not made with Barramundi--the equivalent of Barracuda--which I swear I did not like before I even found out what it was.

I went to bed early that night in preparation for my day on the sea.

Saturday was the day. How many people do you know who can say they scuba dived for the first time on the Great Barrier Reef? Though it is perhaps plenty more fun to scuba dive there when you are certified, no one forgets their first time; especially in a place like that. The ironic part, though, is that I plan to get certified this summer when I go to Jamaica.

It's a pity the trips weren't reversed.

At any rate, the reef was unlike anything I had ever seen. It was just radiating with life and colour every where I looked. I made the great decision to hire an "HD" underwater camera for the trip, and was able to snap some real killer photos of the reef and the marine life. Having the photos allots me the opportunity to experience it all over again. Unfortunately, I never encountered any sharks, eels or turtles, but I did catch some beautiful fish and it was an amazing experience.

I've snorkelled countless times, in many different places. But this was the real deal. Nothing beats that moment when I'm 10 metres under water and realise--I am breathing.

Nothing perhaps, except skydiving.

Jumping 14,000 feet out of that airplane yesterday gave my life a whole new meaning. And no, it is not because I was seemingly plunging head-first to my death--although I must admit that the friendly staff surely made me feel better about risking my life.

I just could not help but be humbled as I looked around at the world below me. In that very moment, nothing else existed. I was flying high above all of my sorrows. I was inhuman almost. Defeating gravity--defeating every thing. If only for just those few moments, I...was...unstoppable. And as my instructor tapped me on my shoulder and said, "welcome to my life" I had no other reaction but to be silently taken aback as I looked around and wondered what I have been doing with mine why I have managed to miss out on this for 20 years. But now I have photos and a DVD to remember it forever.

I know they say to never look down, but when you are that far up, figuratively and literally, there is no where else to look--and the view is certainly not disappointing. After all, the world can be such a magical, thrilling and welcoming place if you would just get out of the office...and go see it.

Monday, 13 June 2011

A Cold and Rainy Combination

My emotional high this week came from the fact that my story made the front page of the Wentworth Courier--the biggest publication in the Eastern subs.

That's right. I came all the way from America to land a front page spot!

Now, I assume these are common happenings for a journalist, but I also assume that each time it still brings the same sense of fulfilment. There's nothing better than seeing your hard work pay off in the form of something you can be proud to show.

Aside from that, it has been another week of bad weather and mostly staying indoors. It has also been the coldest week thus far; making a nasty cold-rain combination.

On such dreary days it is hard enough to get out of bed much less wait at the bus stop until the bus driver decides he wants to show up. It hasn't been so bad going to and from work, since buses run more frequently during the week. But going to church this morning was a pain. I had to stand in 20+ km winds and rain for half an hour, because the bus before was earlier than scheduled. (Which by the way only ever happens whenever I am on time or a second late--but never while I am early.) I ended up being about 20 minutes late for the 9 am church service and missed the first and second readings and the Gospel.

Have I ever mentioned that I hate public transportation?

It was faith and determination alone that got me out of bed in that weather, so I am glad that at the very least I got there in time for communion.

Thankfully, the church is huge so no one paid much attention to my lateness. In fact, there were people who showed up after I did and simply stood by the entrance. Last time I managed to slip right into the seats closest to the entrance, which is probably where they wanted to go, but this time I had to walk to the middle section because the choir filled those seats. (They apparently only sing on the second Sunday of the month.)

Nonetheless, I've got to take some time to obsess over the beauty of the church. If there is anything in Sydney that reminds me of England, besides the names of course, it is St. Mary's Cathedral. The architecture is so intricate and it is just absolutely gorgeous both inside and out.

Unfortunately, no photos are allowed inside so I will have to rely on memory and language alone to do it justice, meanwhile you get to judge the book by its cover.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Work, Souvenirs and Such

My days have become routine.

I wake up, I go to work, I go back to my apartment and I go to sleep. There really is nothing much more to my weekdays than that.(Other than the occasional supermarket visit or something of the sort, of course. And I am thankful that I get to go out and do interviews on occasion, and at the very least I remain quite updated on the happenings in the Eastern subs.)

Nevertheless, this past week has been very dull. I was all alone in the apartment this weekend as all of my roommates took off on their own adventures. I came home on Thursday evening to see suitcases at the bottom of the steps and the next thing I knew I was alone. I went to sleep that night before Sam got back, and when I woke up the next morning she was not in the room. So what did I do?

I went to work.

When I came back from work there was a note on my bed. Sam had gone surfing. She would not be back until Sunday.

I will admit, I did enjoy the alone time and I actually came to appreciate it. (I did not, however, enjoy the dishes that were left in the sink downstairs.) I spent Saturday in bed--all day. No, not because I am lazy. It was a very rainy and cold day, and what is more soothing than hearing the pitter-patter of the rain drops as you lay comfortably under the sheets and nod off into dream land?

Absolutely nothing. I know.

On Sunday morning I went to the internet cafe and Skyped my family. All at once. Literally. They were all talking at once and trying to hog the camera and conversation and it was just the cutest thing. (Yep. They miss me.) After the call I suddenly felt better about my life. Later that day I went to the movies with my cousin and we watched X-men.

Did I ever mention the movie theatres here are amazing? Yeah. Muvico (Cinemark) has nothing on these high-society movie theatres. They even have a special "Gold Class" club, where you can basically pay more to have something like your own theatre. You get to enter this special section in the theatre which is basically a lounge--bar and all. Granted, since even the regular tickets are expensive ($16 for one)you can certainly expect those Gold Class tickets to be twice that. It is a great place to go on a romantic movie date though, in style. And your date definitely cannot call you cheap for that one.

Mondays are my days off, so I got a chance to blow all of my money buying souvenirs yesterday at Manly. I am not nearly as worried about the money I spent as I am about finding space in my suitcase for all the goodies when it is time to go back. It is no secret that I am one to over-pack. I still have not even gotten anything for myself as I am waiting for the trip to the Great Barrier Reef to treat myself. (Don't act surprised. You know the mermaid would have to wait for the swimming trip to get a t-shirt, or perhaps a bathing suit. Grin.)

Speaking of the GBR, have I told you how excited I am for that? Skydiving, snorkelling, scuba diving and zip-lining all in one weekend!

Oh the thrills.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

My Weakness is Showing

It happened.

No matter how much I pep-talked myself, how occupied my days were, or how deeply I dug down into my inner well of strength, I find myself writing to you today, more homesick and lonely than I think I have ever been.

I admit perhaps my biggest vulnerability is my fear of being alone. (And maybe now you are wondering why would anyone the sheer opposite of a loner want to take a 15 hour trip halfway across the world for a length of time; but I'd like to think there is a method to my madness.) I handle being away quite well in Orlando, I'd say, and in fact I have grown to enjoy my alone time. Nevertheless, I have always had my blackberry to keep me connected no matter where I am or what I am doing.

(And by now I know you are itching to find out what has been keeping me so occupied other than my full-time internship. Just hang in there a little--I need just a few more seconds to wallow in my own self-pity.)

I know I've probably complained a handful of times about blackberries--that's the phone not the fruit--but I have not had many in quite a while I'd say, because I am pretty much satisfied. So my next complaint won't be technical at all, it is more of a communication error.

As if the time difference is not bad enough, I've found that not as many people are interested in my well-being and status (not the facebook kind) as I thought. Granted, I of all people know that expectations do us no good but I just have to reiterate that there really is nothing worse than expecting one thing and getting another. So needless to say, I thought I'd feel a lot less lonely than I do in actuality. I thought getting connected would keep me connected. I thought I'd have something else to do with internet on my phone than sit on Twitter and "tweetwatch."

I was wrong, and it is fine. I just need some time to adapt to my new surroundings (and ideally some more money to spend enjoying what I see.) I certainly am excited about how much stronger and more appreciative I will be when this is all over.

As for what I have been doing, I took some time last weekend to go to the Taronga Zoo with Sam. More than anything we really just wanted to see--and ideally, touch--the Roo's and the Koalas. The touching part never happened, unfortunately, but we were pleasantly surprised when we happened upon the cutest little wallaby while walking through some sort of a green house. The little guy was just hanging out on a cliff above us literally within reaching distance, granted I was tall enough of course, & would not move no matter how close we got.

Despite not being able to touch the furry creatures, which we found out we could have done after all, we got some really fantastic photos. The zoo being just across the harbour from the CBD made for a really beautiful backdrop.

I also made time this weekend to visit the Blue Mountains. (Yes, Australia has one too. Sorry Jamaica, the name just was not creative enough. Although I have taken notice that there are more than a handful of similar names. I guess the Brits could not come up with as many names as places they took over.) I took the tour with five other people from the group this past Saturday and it was a beautiful, but cold, day to do so. We got on the steepest railway in the world that took us at a 54 degree angle past orphan rock, through a natural tunnel and down into the rainforest. There wasn't much to see down there besides vegetation and birds, but it was a nice little walk and I certainly learned something new. We also took a glass-bottom cable car across the valley, overlooking the Katoomba Falls and giving us a nice view of the three sisters. After walking the boardwalk through the forest, we took the steepest aerial cable car in the southern hemisphere back up to the top.

It was certainly a fun experience.

And somewhere between all the tourist things, I've found myself really enjoying my internship. Though I am not swamped with work, I get to speak to all sorts of locals and I find out all the good and bad things going on in Sydney. I get included in the editor meetings, I get to tag along on interviews at the Dr. Seuss Museum of Art, I get to interview the cute little 11 year old Bondi boy who is starring in Mary Poppins at the Capitol Theatre, and most importantly--I get to see my work printed in a news magazine with a readership of more than 30,000.

How could I want it better than that?

Sunday, 22 May 2011

And So My Journey Begins

My first week in the expensive city of Sydney has been eventful, to say the least.

It took me about three days to get over my jet lag--I often found myself falling asleep by 6pm and then waking up before the sun did. I didn't mind the waking up early part though because it really gave me a chance to get the most out of my days.

We spent the first few days doing orientations & sightseeing--don't do this, here is the CBD, lemonade is really sprite--the works. Oddly enough, during much of these I found myself relating plenty to Jamaica. Granted, I knew part of the reason so many things are similar to home is because of the British colonisation, but I didn't expect to be driving around in the hills of Sydney and thinking "Wow. This looks just like Norbrook."

Thanks to those comparisons, I got homesick quite quickly. It took me by great surprise as I have always been independent and alone. I'll admit, though, that it is extremely easy to miss Jamaica I am just not exactly sure why. I guess there is just something about the place that leaves me always wanting more.

As the days went on, my roommate Sam and I did our own exploring. The first feat we took on was trying to find a phone service called Crazy Johns, which is apparently the only service in Australia that offers Blackberry internet service. (Everyone here has an iPhone, unfortunately.) It didn't take much time for us to find the store, as Aussies are all really friendly and willing to help, and inside we were greeted with "do you want the one that works, or the one that doesn't?".

Apparently, the prepaid plan works for internet but will just automatically stop working if you dare make a phone call or send a text. (I know you are making a confused face now, which is the same face I made in the store. I have no idea either.) But anyone with sense would go for the one that works, right? Well, the problem there was that it was not a prepaid service; which meant I needed an Aussie resident whose credit they could approve and whose name would be put on the bill.

Aha, the catch.

Luckily, I thought, my cousin was with me. And for $35 with unlimited internet and Vodaphone to Vodaphone (Crazy John's is like a sub-company of Vodaphone) I couldn't want it any better. Unfortunately, though, she was not approved. Why? Because she already has a Vodaphone. So here I am, writing this from my internet-equipped Blackberry, a week and a half in and unable to make a phone call or send a text.

I am going to Crazy John's today.

In addition to the phone service search, we also went around trying to find our internship sites, which for me was much more complicated than for Sam. By the time Monday came, I was already used to using public transport and had pretty much a good grip on how to get around in the CBD (downtown) and where everything was. My job, though, happened to be in the complete opposite direction where I hadn't been before. Since my "interview" was not until Wednesday, I decided to use my Tuesday to make some test runs, and I've always been good with directions so I figured it would be a breeze.

It wasn't.

I was walking back-and-forth on Bourke Road for hours, after it took me about three bus rides to get off at what I thought was the right stop. Then, 5pm came around, which meant the sun was saying goodbye to the city, and I found myself by warehouse and construction sites with no newsagency in sight. I immediately felt like this whole thing was a hoax and that the place I was looking for didn't exist.

The next morning, the day of my interview, I decided to take a taxi. I figured there would be no better way to find where to go than to get in one of those. Furthermore, considering the address is basically right on the street I live, I didn't feel like I needed to take the bus that the website told me to take because it unnecessarily went around the world and then left me to walk a long distance. The taxi was a good idea, even though it cost me about $12. (They charge based on how long you're in there, not how far you go.)

Going home wasn't as easy. Determined to find an easier way, I purposely hopped on the next bus I saw and somehow ended up in the ghetto after asking the bus driver how to get to Waterloo. I was not as much afraid as I was out of place. It was night-time and I was prancing through the town in my full white business suit, a huge salmon-coloured purse and heels, with no real idea of where I was going. Eventually, after about a two hour journey that began just down the road from where I live, I made it back to my place. The next day's journey was not so pleasant either. It took me about 45 minutes to walk to work. For those who know me, you know I hate walking, but when in Rome...

That evening my co-worker offered to help me get home. She takes the bus too but since she knew her way around she thought she'd accompany me.

We ended up in the ghetto again; but this time in a darker, more residential area and were walking through it much longer than I had the day before. That time, I definitely had to draw for my mace, but I did feel better knowing I was not alone.

By the third day, I figured it out--and I finally got a chance to actually enjoy the internship.

I am writing for a publication called the Wentworth Courier, which is a news magazine that covers the Eastern suburbs. In my first week I did interviews in person and on the phone, and managed to stitch together four stories that will be published in this week's issue.

Needless to say, I love the placement--and I cannot wait to see my name in the publication on Wednesday.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

How to Update a Blog in 10 Minutes

My grades this semester are a reflection of how much more effort I put into extracurricular activities and my social life than I did my schoolwork.

I am not blaming anyone at all, though, and I leave my junior year behind with my head held high.

Even though everyone knows how seriously I take my schooling, I have to say that though I may not have reached my full potential academically, I surely overcame a hell of a lot this term and am truly proud of myself.

For those of you who know me well, I am sure you know that this semster was more than a handful for me. I was enrolled fulltime, working my first job, pressured into joining a pageant (take a moment to absorb that last bit) . . . And sorting out what I needed to so could go abroad for the summer. All of this meanwhile trying to find internships for my last year and build up my portfolio by writing articles for the city's newspaper.

If it sounds like a mouthful imagine doing it.

The pageant took up almost too much of my time. We had practice every day for close to three months, sometimes going as late as two in the morning. Because of it, my Editing teacher actually looked at me one day and said "You are late to class every single day. What is it? Are you late to every class like this? If I was to write you a recommendation letter that's the first thing I'd have to say."

Needless to say, that made me feel quite shitty awful. But it being a 9 a.m. class on Monday and Wednesday made it slightly hard to be early, what with being up late mostly learning how to dance, walk and speak loudly.

I admit it was a huge commitment, and though many times I found myself wanting to quit, I didn't. I overcame my shyness, even just for a bit, and managed to string together all the bits and pieces of courage I had inside to sing before an audience. (Yes, that's right. For my talent I chose to sing. Believe it.)

Not only was it my first time singing to anyone at all, but it was also my first time on stage alone. My nerves were seconds away from getting the best of me, forcing me to walk right off the stage and throw away all of my hard work. But something put me on that stage. Something helped me keep my calm as I realised halfway through the first verse that my mic was not on. Something kept me going through the dance practices that reinforced why I have never joined a dance team, and in the end, I made it. I made it through the long practices, the choreographed dancing, the poised walking, the loud animated talking . . . and came out a better person.

Now, here I am; writing to you from Sydney as the current Miss CSA one day away from starting my very first internship with a weekly news magazine. I left the pageant with new friends, the semester with new skills and the country with new destinations before me.

To say it all came together in the end would not do enough justice.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Signs of Growing Up?

I have never been so busy in my life.

Taking on this pageant has really been a crazy commitment that leaves me yawning all day and requesting a wake-up team in order to get to class on time.

Balancing school, work, practice and getting things in order for my internship has been my life since my last post.

The days just go by so quickly that I don't know where one begins and the other ends. This is the only time I have had to actually sit down idling in front of my computer for what seems like forever.

But I like it.

I deleted my Facebook long ago and for the first time I actually do not miss it. I have never had the urge to sign in, to inquire on anyone's page or to even type it in my browser.

I like that too.

I know I could simply attribute that last bit to the fact that I have not really used my computer for anything non-school-related--but that in itself is an improvement. I know all too many people who find Facebook and Twitter to be the best distractions when they have homework or studying to be doing. Lucky for me, I am now an exception. (Even though I now have a Twitter I am not over-doing it, and hopefully I never will.)

As for my journalism career, my classes are definitely a challenge but it is one that I am rising to with no inhibitions. My internship opportunity has made me really excited to get my career started and I can't wait to prove to the world, and myself, that I can do it.

My life has been so positive and filled with nothing but laughs and good memories since this semester started. I actually have nothing to complain about.

And it feels really really good.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Prospects, Pageants and Paychecks

I have been in the most amazing mood for about two weeks and I have no real explanation for it.

I'm thinking it may have something to do with the plethora of things I have to look forward to in the ensuing months. (Despite the fact that it includes a pretty hectic workload and quite a demanding schedule.)

To elaborate, I started my first real job today and I actually like it a lot. I really just happened upon it, and almost chose not to go to the open interview, but something told me I should. And even with just ten minutes left I put on my best, plodded through the rain and went inside with a positive attitude. Fortunately, I was hired on the spot and my excitement thereafter was overflowing. (Nothing happens before its time right?)

In fact, I was so excited that when I walked outside to find that I had left my headlights on and killed the car battery I barely had a reaction. I was still partially celebrating but gradually transitioned into fix-it mode.

What happened was that it was a pretty gloomy and rainy day and I had an appointment elsewhere right when the open interviewing began. I carried my friend with me to the appointment and after leaving, with only a few minutes to spare, I let her know that I was going to an interview. In my usual fashion, I literally had only a few minutes to spare and rushed off without remembering I had my lights on to see through the rain.

Nevertheless, my friend stayed in the car; completely unaware that the headlights were on.

Hence, before I got to telling her my amazing news, she blurted out that the car would not start. It was still raining at the time and there were two cars parked beside me, (The one time I did not reverse into the parking spot. Go figure.) so I had to wait until later on that day when the parking lot cleared out a bit to get it up and running.

Thankfully, my cousin was able to come for me and take me home in the meanwhile.

As for school-related activities, I am taking Editing I this semester. So needless to say I will become even more of a freak after I am done with the class.

I am also taking Comm Law which I presume is gonna kick my ass be really demanding. I hope, though, that it will also be interesting because I don't want to die of boredom while failing a class. It's just too much "fail" for me to wrap my mind around.

And how could I ever forget Advanced Reporting. (Yeah. This is pretty much just an advanced version of the class I took last semester that I was fretting about, which by the way I ended up getting an 'A' in.) For this class we get to write for the Orlando Sentinel. (Yay!) It operates more like a newsroom than a class. No tests or book needed. Just reporting reporting and more reporting.

Fun stuff.

The last class I am taking is Info Graphics, which really is not as much about Bar Graphs and Flow charts as it sounds. (Last class I made Spongebob with Adobe Illustrator.) It is only once a week and it keeps me entertained. No book or test for this class either.

Imagine my excitement.

With all of that said, I figured now would be as good a semester as any to be more active on campus and, ultimately to get a job; so I'm going to shock some of you who know me well with this next piece of information...I signed up for a pageant.

I know. I'm too short to be in a pageant. But before you get your panties in a bunch, I just want to say that it is not a professional pageant or anything. It's just for the one organization on campus that I am a part of, CSA, and I figured it would be a good way to overcome my fear of crowds.

Hopefully I don't get cold feet.

Does it suffice to say I have a lot of good to look forward to? I certainly think so.

It may sound like a mouthful but I'm not complaining. I"ll just sit back and ride this wave until it crashes into the shore and flatlines.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

I've Always Loved This

This one is for you Roch.

"The less you associate with some people, the more your life will improve. Any time you tolerate mediocrity in others, it will increase your mediocrity. An important attribute in successful people is their impatience with negative thinking and negative acting people.

As you grow, your associates will change. Some of your friends will not want you to go on. They will want you to stay where they are. Friends that don't help you climb will want you to crawl. Your friends will stretch your vision or choke your dreams. Those that don't increase you will eventually decrease you.

Consider this.

Never receive counsel from unproductive people. Never discuss your problems with someone incapable of contributing to the solution, because those who never succeed themselves are always the first to tell you how. Not everyone has a right to speak into your life. You are certain to get the worst of the bargain when you exchange ideas with the wrong person. Don't follow anyone who is not going anywhere.

With some people you spend an evening, with others you invest it. Be careful where you go to enquire for directions along the road of life. Wise is the person who fortifies his life with the right friendships. If you run with wolves, you will howl; but if you associate with eagles, you will learn how to soar to great heights. " A mirror reflects a mans face, but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses." The simple but true fact of life is that you become like those with whom you closely associate - for the good and the bad.

Be not mistaken, that is applicable to family as well. Yes, do love, appreciate, and be thankful for your family, for they will always be your family no matter what. Just know that they are human first and though they are family to you, they may be a friend to someone else and will fit somewhere in the criteria above.

In prosperity our friends know us, in adversity we know our friends. Never make someone a priority when you are only an option for them. If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop a habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude."
- Colin Powell

Saturday, 15 January 2011

It's About Time

My trip to Jamaica was nothing short of interesting--as usual.

Only in Jamaica can you go to KFC and be told there is no chicken. Seriously. Kentucky Fried Chicken with no chicken. (It really is as ridiculous as it sounds.)

Anyone who moved up here from Ja can tell you that one of the first things they want to eat when they go back is KFC. But nothing is more frustrating than coming off the airplane and heading straight there with the taste of the barbecue chicken already in your mouth only to be told there is none--which happens way too often.

What took the cake on this trip, though, was that every time we went something else was missing. There was no mashed potato, no corn, no breast pieces, no popcorn chicken, no wings... Still, it was beyond the point of frustration. Instead, we just laughed it off. (Even after we sat in the drive-thru for half an hour at a time and oftentimes left with nothing.)

Aside from the food situation, which was a large part of the trip of course, I decided beforehand that I needed to make a trip to Kingston. I felt like if I was going to talk about the place, I'd better at least have some experience under my belt. Granted, I have been to Kingston before but it was never anything to write down.

This time I made sure I stayed over night and went out and tried to get the full experience. (I was there from Sunday night to Thursday.) My conclusion is that the only thing better about Kingston is the night life--and that is only because it is something new and exciting. After a while if I lived there I'm not sure it would be as exciting.

On Monday night I went to Fiction. All was good until an incident made the night end on a semi-bad note. I admit that it is a good club and I did enjoy myself. I almost felt like I was in Miami, which for Jamaica is a really good thing. On Tuesday night I played Kalooki with some friends. (Haven't heard about that game in a while have you?) On Wednesday night I slept, and Thursday I left.

As for the daytime, there really is nothing to do. (Unless you're one of those super rich people who can just hop in your helicopter and fly up to Hollywell just're rich; and you can do that.) For the normal people there's nothing to do but go to work I guess. No beach. No beach. And did I mention no beach?

I was having withdrawal--which is part of the reason I left ahead of time. (I was supposed to stay for a whole week, so that I spent New Year's Eve night there and partied with the Kingstonians.) No matter how cold the water was every time I went, I still went. I still swam and I still enjoyed myself.

I did manage to get to a beach the day before I left, though. More specifically it was a beach party on a little strip of sand they call Maiden Cay. The party was packed and there were boats everywhere. There was alcohol, beach, bikinis, and music. And it was all f r e e. (I can't forget the lady who walked around all day selling peppered shrimps. Delicious!) Needless to say, the party was awesome.

If there was anything about that trip that made me remotely interested in going back to town, it was the beach party. No surprise there.

I might just have to be regular.