Coming up next:

Howdy folks, and happy Leap Day! I’m loving the #DayItForward tag surfing the Web today, and it’s great tag for my upcoming blogs, both of which are about women developing their community. In honor of International Women’s Day I’ll be posting about a local women’s group. Following that is a piece about a young artist who, in her words, “recycles t-shirts and recovers lives.”

So stick around for that new new. Keep it real, kids.

-Cat

Journalism About a Journalist, Part 2

Lo and behold it was not taken. Of course not! It’s lousy. And such a shame to be so because I wrote it about a person I admire. One of my top role models. But I think (spoiler alert) Steve Inskeep would understand. It is the first thing I’ve ever written  in call-it-straightism.

How wonderfully absurd that days, countable hours, after I decide to give my dream of journalism another stab (after giving up on it years ago) – wholehearted and head-on this time – I hear on the radio, driving across a Tampa bridge, minutes away from my new home after hours on the road, that my most favorite newsperson will be miles away in just a few days. What?! Call it a coincidence, call it a sign. Whatever it is, it only fueled my reignited fire.

Man, oh man did it live up to the hype. Part of the reason my article is kind of lousy is because I didn’t originally intend to write about his talk. I just came to listen. Then somehow I worked up the nerve to question him about something that’s itched at me for years. Basically, how does he do his job so well[!]? His response was every bit as diligent as the questions he poses in interviews. (See below for a paired down version of the answer.)

I’ve interviewed people since I’ve been here. I’m pecking away at those profiles pieces. I must write faster otherwise I won’t make it. Aware it would take me awhile to get those pieces done, I seized the opportunity after the fact to write a concise bit about Inskeep’s talk with Carson Cooper at USF Sarasota.

By the way, he signed [Great] Aunt Jim’s WHRO (the 757 NPR station) mug. How pleased she would be. Stay tuned for more info on the history of the matriarchal NPR mugs.

Inskeep mug

Following is the article in question.

“Calling It Straight: NPR’s Steve Inskeep Comes to USF Sarasota”

Steve Inskeep comes to Flahrida

Steve Inskeep at the USF Sarasota Selby Auditorium

On January 21, Steve Inskeep, host of NPR’s Morning Edition, sat down with WUSF host Carson Cooper at the University of South Florida in Sarasota. They discussed Inskeep’s newest book “Jacksonland.” 

“Jacksonland,” narrates the face-off between Andrew Jackson and Cherokee chief John Ross over land rights in the American South. Inskeep described it as a narrative of “two men battling over real estate in a democracy.”
 
Inskeep described the tools of democracy Ross and the Cherokees used to engage in acts of civil disobedience which reframed the definition of minority rights to one inclusive of racial minority rights. Members of the the nearly all-white audience murmered when Inskeep described the Founding Fathers’ Constitutional interpretation of minority as one pertaining to the minority of people with money.
 
Asked about his swift interview tactics, Inskeep shared that he often practices interviews beforehand with colleagues. In scenarios when there is no time to “game it out,” he asks himself, “what does this person actually know that they can tell me?”
 
As a journalist, Inskeep noted, “your job is to call it straight.”

 

 

 

PS: I’m the one who asked about the swift interview techniques. Shocked? I knew it.

wordless to say

A silver bullet shoots the eye of the horizon. Periwinkle gray forms float above an endless morning bay. Southeast, the tip of a fat hot pink toenail punctures eternal sky. Subtly it glides into growth, transforming from bold line into bold arc into bold shape. Brilliance rising up reflects down below, illuminating a path headed right for the silver bullet.
Keep it going. Keep it moving. Move it, lady. Just another day on the bay. Nature’s skyscraper is as everyday as the Empire State. Steadfast, unrelenting. Ignored and awed. A symbol of what was, what is, what will be.
Bella sol, embrace us. Make love to the mar. Give birth to the terra. Feed the flora, foster the fauna.
Command the moon to move to the water to move the fish to the rods to the mouths. Command the human to wake up to open eyes to live to work to live. Your hot pink colors human souls. Your light breeds life from dreams.
Move along, silver bullet, my chariot, but don’t move past. Eyes do not avert your gaze. Behold with caution, with care. Let the light in your windows paint a hopeful face, as we move along to find our place.
7:18am
Courtney Campbell Causeway
February 4, 2016
Causeway Sunrise

This was actually taken the morning before, Feb 3 (Davy’s birthday)

Journalism About a Journalist

I attempted a fact-based article about a journalist’s visit to Florida. My favorite journalist. It is the first article I’ve written in this epoch. It’s bland, but it’s a start. And what better a topic than a professional in the craft? Learning to fold the flavor of my commentary into the call-it-as-it-is (not as you want it to be) prose of journalism is an adjustment.

This first piece is dry, which is sad because it’s about a person whose work I find rich and fascinating. But I resisted the temptation to write about the experience as a personal narrative because that is not what I want to learn to do. In order to learn something I just have to do it. Time and practice improve all things. The potential is there, but a crafter’s potential is worthless if she does not practice.

I want to share with you fine folks but I’ve submitted it to a local nonprofit newspaper for funzies and I don’t know if they can print something that’s already on the Web. In the likely event they reject it, I will post it here. If they do accept it, I’ll link (and do a happy dance).

Regardless, I will continue practicing. I’m off to do that now…

#theadventurecontinues

A lot of life has happened in my almost one year hiatus. On Tuesday, January 5, Brenden and I arrived in Florida, marking the start of a new chapter in our book of shenanigans. Since leaving our home in New York I was terrified we’d made a big mistake. My dad’s goodwilled attempt to prepare me for life in the Tampa Bay area, when he advised me that the diversity of Astoria I’d grown accustomed to would surely not be a part of life in Tampa, only stoked my anxiety. Last year Brenden and I decided to leave the city we worked so hard to live and breathe in, the city we loved. We knew there would be no match for the explosive interculturality we loved in NYC, but our shared love of the beach and outdoor life carried us to buy a car, stuff it with as much as we could, and relocate to Tampa.

We have never been under any impression that the two cities are comparable. We both loved the ironic intimacy of city life and we’re pretty liberal. When we passed a Trump bumper sticker on the way into Tampa yesterday, along with all the earmarks of standard suburbia, ranch houses with ample distance between, scattered two story buildings, sprawling office complexes, low hanging billboards, the wave of fear that culture shock carries ripped through the front seat of our stuff-stuffed mini Honda.

But today we went to the beach. We touched white sand with our toes and we dipped our feet into the turquoise-tinted crystal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. We watched the water while we ate seafood on a deck in the sun. (Check out my review of Frenchy’s here.) It’s a new year and I’m still coasting on the loving energy I felt from seeing so many dear ones in such a short time on the way here. In the course of a week I saw parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and dear friends. Many of these people I’ve not seen since before I left VA for NY. These encounters were markers of time. With some time had stood still. Our last visit was seamless to this one. With others it was a meeting of strangers. While living in New York City I learned that time is like a minnow: it’s slippery, incredibly hard to catch, and it has a very short lifecycle. Every moment counts.

My Aunt Jim The Wise once told me that the greatest gift I could give was my time. That’s really stuck with me. I hope this year I will adjust to my new surroundings by spending more time communicating with my far away loved ones and finding ways to make new loved ones. I hope to godabove that I have really learned what I know I learned and that I apply that as I go forward. It’s a game changer. I don’t think I would’ve realized it so soon had it not been for New York.

It’s hard for me to meet new people and put myself out there. It’s hard for a lot of people. As I write going forward I might record my endeavors on this blog. It’s not easy being human, but it’s a lot easier when you have meaningful connections with other humans. If not now, then when?

IMG_2719

 

Beans Don’t Burn In The Kitchen

Dear kids,

Saturday, after 13 months and two different sublets, Uncle B and I moved into a new place. A place with our name on the lease, which is actually kind of an accomplishment in this city. We made it to a neighborhood that is safe, that is vibrant, vital, diverse, affordable, and absolutely lovely. Astoria is an adorable hood situated on the East River side of Queens. We worked HARD to get here. To make it in New York. After 13 months I think it is safe to say that .
Astoria Map

The new hood

Movin on up!

Movin on up!

This past year was one of the most challenging of my life. It was full of confusion and anxiety, but I have emerged renewed with the realization that it was also one of the most rewarding years, maybe even the most yet. Being in a very stratified environment of judgey 1%ers has forced me to deal with my personal disdain of bourgieness, which in turn offered a really good lesson about tolerance. Without it you will go insane. Bitterness toward everything around you is a poison that kills only you. Everyone is different, and even if you find their lifestyle disgusting you still have to coexist. To paraphrase a dear friend and wise mentor I’ve made since I moved here, it’s not bothering them – why let it bother you? Some of the soundest advice I’ve ever received. Furthermore, I’ve really had to face my own insecurities about myself. I’m learning to stop measuring myself against others. Everyone has their struggles and strengths, so I’m just trying to focus on my own instead evaluating myself in comparison to others. All of this is a process. I’m not all perky all positive all the time, but I am regaining a renewed confidence, stronger than ever.

Our new coffee spot. $1.25/cup baby

Our new coffee spot. $1.25/cup baby

#nomnom

#nomnom

Instead of going to Dubai, Dubai came to us!

Instead of going to Dubai, Dubai came to us!

With the help of my closest friends who’ve stood the test of time, and most of all with the help of my partner, my best friend, my Brenden. I don’t think I could’ve stuck it out here without him. I’m a pretty independent woman. I was raised to not need a man and I don’t. But I got one – a great one – and our friendship and relationship has taught me more about the power of Love and Faith than all the rest. I hope for the same for each of you one day.
Love always,
Aunt Cat(ie)
Panorama of the work in progress. This is the view from right by the front door.

Panorama of the work in progress. This is the view from right by the front door. Once again my board makes a cameo!

What? Walking. No(t) Where.

Dear kids,

This post is going to be different from the rest, in that I’m not really telling you where I’ve been, but instead filling you in on what I’ve been up to and why I’ve not written enough lately. I will follow it up immediately with another post full of the good stuff, so feel free to skim. I am still aspiring to post more than once a month. So far that’s not really happened, but keep your fingers crossed and hope that I can realize my resolve for weekly posts. Send good vibes my way.

Part of the reason it’s taken me awhile is because there were a couple of weekends when I didn’t really go anywhere specific, other than work, yoga, and the dozens of random walks in between. Walks in New York are their own adventure. I do it so frequently and I’ve become so used to it that even though everything is still new, I’ve come to feel that because I see it every day, you do too and therefore it’s less interesting to you. I constantly have to remind myself that’s not the case.
Uncle Joey summed up walks in NYC perfectly: “you looking back so far you think your head’s gonna fall off.”

Empire State at night

Empire State at night

photo (2)

Standing right in front of the main Grand Central Station entrance (or one of the main ones) on a clear crisp day. The Chrysler Building was a great backdrop for the Station’s statued arch.

It’s like walking through a forest with really tall trees that push the limits of the heavens, but the trees are actually much wider and taller and made of reinforced steel, glass, mortar, bricks, etc. And instead of dirt paths we have concrete sidewalks. And instead of moles and critters burrowing underground, there are people burrowing underground. I walk here every day, and every day I see something new. Maybe the reason I’ve not written is because I see SO many new things that I get overwhelmed about how and where to start.

near where I work

***

I want to share a little with you about what’s up. 1) My new job is awesome. I am challenged creatively on a daily basis, and my coworkers are good, kind, hardworking people. 2) Because a lot of the work I do involves desktop publishing (creating stuff and making it look pretty — usually for marketing), I am now in the process of learning the ins-and-outs of really cool and complex creative computer software that’s a lot of fun to use. This is great because my creative mojo and I have been out of touch for over ten years now, and it’s time to get back in the groove. There was a time when I regularly painted, drew, messed with graphic design, a bit of this, a bit of that… Then I became a teenager and got hooked on the click and chug world of virtual socializing, car rides with friends, and the favored American pastime of farting off. This too will happen to you, but hopefully you will find ways to channel your farting off into creative works of art. Or channel art into creative ways of farting off. Whatever works.

So, kids, here’s what I hope you get out of this note: don’t ever lose touch with your creative mojo, and when you’ve got it, don’t ever feel limited or afraid. The two of you can do anything together. But when creativity is suppressed by anxiety or fear, it’s no longer creativity. And without creativity, all you get is behind.

I love you all so much. It means the world to me that you take the time to read this. I write for you, and I hope we can all be together again soon. (Maybe here in NY?? 😉

-Aunt Cat