Dreaming Reality

Memories pool to the back of my temporal lobe, fashioning my temples sharp and my mind weary. The air is swift and biting, unlike the ocean kind: thick with salt and slow humility.  This muscle that now seems foreign to my body tries to break through my ribcage, pushing for another day, as if it is trying to win a high-speed chase. I can feel my tongue on the brink of apologies, for all thoughts that shall never be spoken aloud, mostly to myself. And yet somehow my breath is still calm and shallow: reminding me, I will have another.

There is a shadow lying beside me. His breath rotates between absent and gasping. The dark gaping cavity inside the wall in front of me swiftly reminds me to look but not touch, to whisper but not shout, and to pray my way into the morning hours. The pistol on the bedside table mocks me, safety off, red on. As fist hits spring below, my body trembles. I can almost hear the roar of mortars in his head and see the terror that lies behind his eyelids, by the crinkle of his nose and the snarl of his lip.

Sometimes, I too dream of the sandbox, I’m always running, the heat and exhaustion enveloping me. I think I’m searching for him, well at least a part of him. The half I’ve never met before but heard so much about. I wonder where he is hiding, and I scour the world of his mind, but never find him.

I believe there are times when darkness will blanket you. Wrapping so tightly around you that not even the tiniest spark of light can shine through. These are crucial turning points in your life. This is it. Where you either choose to fall apart and give up, or pick yourself up off of the floor and take a deep breath. There are going to be people that come into your life for a reason. Some will test you, some will push you to your absolute limit, and you will want to break. But you don’t. Because those people, that bring you to your knees, they are the ones who will test your character. They do not, however, determine your character. It is instead, what you do when faced with the challenge of rising above yourself that truly counts.

I think about these things as I drift off to sleep, always writing stories in my head. I need something to drown out the moans and whimpers, since the hum of the television can only do so much. I feel like a papier mache rock, trying to be strong for him, but breaking so easily blow by blow. I wish I could hide the pain as well as I think I do. After several years later in this now foreign land, the white coats finally came to a conclusion. “I’m not going to get better,” he said. “There is nothing physically wrong with my brain, it’s all mental. Do you understand?” he asked almost pleading, “I’m broken. Every time I deploy and come home it’s going to get worse. Every time. And baby. . . I’m not getting out.” Those words echo in my eardrums as I float into dreamland. There’s no getting out.

When the morning light caresses the cracks in between the dark blue curtains, I wake realizing I am not only holding a hand which has given death, but I am also grasping a soul which has had life taken from it. There is no getting out. Not because he won’t leave, but because I won’t. I’m determined to spend the rest of my life helping him search for the rest of his. And if we can’t find it, I’m hoping maybe, just maybe, he will find a new one. As he kisses my forehead and whispers, “good morning,” I gaze at his grey shirt. The letters read, “Army Strong,” but his eyes tell a different story.

Travels

A collection of my favorite place so far…

Albuquerque, NM: breath-taking views, gorgeous mountains, Sandia Resort, no humidity and delicious green chilies.

Sandia Resort & Casino

Little Rock, AR: southern hospitality, delicious meals, reunited with friends, realizing I’m old and cool jazz.

photo

Mary and myself

Advice to My Younger Self

#1 – Don’t laugh when your dad falls in the snow, cement hurts no matter how much white blankets over it. You will fall plenty of times in your life, and he will never smirk.

#2 – Take more naps. They will energize you and keep you up later at night so you can eat popcorn and watch Cheers with mom and dad. You will wish you can cash in on these unused naps later in life, but you can’t.

#3 – Garden more with mom, she will always cherish it.

#4 – When you are at Peter Iredale Beach and you make up that song, write it down. You will forget it later.

#5 – Learn how to play the piano, you know you want to.

#6 – When the man at the music store tells you that your hands and fingers are too small to play the saxophone, tell him they’ll grow and you don’t want to play the clarinet. You will lose your passion for music and your clarinet.

#7 – Don’t ever let a man run your life, instead, find a way to walk together. And if he refuses, sprint.

#8 – Don’t ever stop writing in your journals, you will look back upon them later and laugh. And you will look at them with your daughter and laugh. But you know how much they mean to you.

#9 – Don’t throw away all of your letters, music and poetry. The boy isn’t worth it.

#10 – You should never make promises you cannot keep.

#11 – You will be very sick when you are 21 and 22. Use this as a time to embrace life and learn to cherish it. You have more time than you think you do, but you might not later on.

#12 – Try  not to start drinking soda again, it’s a bad habit.

#13 – I would strongly suggest you never put a relationship status up on facebook again. It can run your life. And that’s just pathetic.

#14 – Stay in touch with your best friends from college, they really are true ones.

#15 – When you think you should move to OKC, think again. ONE WORD: Tornado! Stupid.

#16 – Don’t be afraid to jump. Off rocks, bridges, hills, and  most importantly bad relationships.

#17 – When things get rough at work and you want to give up, don’t you dare. You will get two promotions within the year because YOU ROCK. And you stuck with it.

#18 – Immerse yourself in the cultures around you. There are so many different people in this world. Being close-minded is the worst.

#19 – Befriend Jordan DePhina in your sorority. She will literally save your life. Don’t forget to thank her.

#20 – Buy. That. Corgi. He’s amazing. And you will love him forever.

The End of the Beginning

I am a graduate. The whole process was surreal, exhilarating and quite humbling as I saw hundreds of other talented journalism majors walking across the stage to receive their own diplomas. And then, just like that, we all dispersed into a mass crowd of loved ones and on into the real world which is so different, hectic, exotic and frightening. We all have taken different paths to get here; some took the roads less traveled, some didn’t dare sway off the reliable I-5 and others unluckily swerved into the ditch along the way, thus preventing them to reach this glorious destination. This destination of unshakable knowledge and brilliant hope. My path was far from ordinary, my story both eloquently sweet and catastrophic at the same time. Yet, I have come to realize, that this is only the end of the beginning. I believe in Gatsby’s green light. In the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. And just as Fitzgerald said, it eluded me then, but that’s no matter, for tomorrow I will run faster, stretch out my arms farther… And one fine morning —-

 

PR – A Great Place For Women

This past Tuesday while sifting through hundreds of papers for my current ghost-writing project, I stumbled across an old PRSA Newsletter from the National Capital Chapter (Vol. XII No. 2 – February 1973.) I found this particularly interesting since my ghost-writing piece has absolutely nothing to do with public relations, yet somehow it underlines my belief that everything is always connected. While reading through the newsletter a certain article grabbed my attention; “PR: A Great Place For Women” by Paula G. Johnson of the Robert R. Mullen & Company. Since I cannot locate it an any archives, I’ve posted the entirety of the article below, however, I wanted to specifically share my favorite part which was the “Guide for Truly Professional PR Women”:

1. When authority comes, wear it gracefully, like a best dress we don’t want to soil or spot. There’s no room in a profession dedicated to building bridges of good will for…officious females.

2. Welcome the tough and unusual job and subject areas. It’s just as important to have and offer the woman’s viewpoint on the impact of Phase III price controls, for instance, as on fragrance and packaging of household cleanser. More PR women are needed in the “esoteric” corners of business, government, and industry.

3. Guard faithfully against taking or positioning business matters personally — difficult because we are generally more subjective than objective. The trick is to balance femininity, qualities like subjectivity, and intuitiveness that distinguish us as women, with a fundamentally businesslike attitude toward every-thing we do on the job. And, for women as well as men in our field, there is absolutely no substitute for hard work, knowing what we’re about, and well-practiced communications skills when it comes to gathering information, selling an idea, or moving a program forward.

I believe this truly shows the difference between PR in 1973 and PR now-a-days, although, I do believe this was and is still good advice. As far as the rest of the article is concerned, Johnson dictates several points about public relations that really hit home for me as to why I’m in this field. I’ve bolded these statements.

Article:

As far as my choice of careers is concerned, I feel like the child at a birthday party who has been cut the biggest piece of cake. Public relations has more advantages than any other field I know, particularly for women.

In the first place, public relations practitioners deal in the most fundamental of human activities: communication. Labor disputes, racial strife, war – the full range of today’s problems stems largely from lack of understanding – or at least agreement – derived through communication of one kind or another that brings enduring solutions.

Within the field of communications, PR probably offers the greatest opportunities to engage in successful and significant problem solving. For one thing, we’re not limited to any one type of communication or communications technique. Our opportunities to be effective are bounded only by the extent of our imagination and ingenuity. 

We are, furthermore, in a position to be take seriously, and in most cases, we haven’t had to climb to the corporate or bureaucratic heights to reach this position. In today’s consumerist climate, for instance, where the social value and consequences of business and government action must be constantly taken into account, the advice of public relations counselors is being increasingly sought and heeded. In the consumer area alone, if we involve ourselves, we can make an indelible contribution to resolving crucial social and economic issues.

As someone who demands that every day be different from the one before, I would be the last to slight such advantages as the everchaging pattern of faces, places, situations, and subjects that a typical public relations position can offer. The greatest career satisfaction by far, however, lies in the opportunity for success based on the solid values of objectivity, fact-finding and dissemination, and the integrity that comes of planning and executing programs that meet genuine needs, needs that our own thorough research has shown really do exist.

Public relations is almost unique among career fields in offering its advantages impartially to men and women. While in other professions, women are still knocking at the board room door, we have had longstanding acceptance in executive PR positions. Many of the first counselors, of course, were man-and-wife teams. The women on these teams set a precedent that now, a few decades later, society’s more liberated attitude towards career women has come along and reinforced.

Today, in fact, we have a delightful situation: a demand for women professionals that is beginning to exceed the supply. As PRSA headquarters notes, it is often easier to place women PR or journalism majors right out of college than it is to find jobs for recent men grads. Salary matters I won’t go into. Inequities do exist, but they are being rectified more quickly than in other fields.

It has been said that public relations offers women a chance in their everyday work to exercise qualities they innately possess: ability to respond to “human” as opposed to pragmatic considerations, capacity for detail, rapport with people. . . Basically, I agree, although sensitivity, patience, and diplomacy certainly are traits we share with many perceptive men.

Capable as I believe many women are for success in public relations, there are ways we can improve – and enrich our contribution to the field. Understandably, I think, a certain amount skepticism about working with women does exist among bosses, clients, and staff PR people of both sexes.

The Great Gatsby

Ever since I first picked up this novel my sophomore year in college, I have been hooked. F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of my absolute favorite writers. His stories are fantastical, his diction superb, and his imagery lustrous. This story in itself is one of the major reasons I continued fiction & creative writing. I must say, I cannot be more ecstatic that there is a new film coming out to represent it. The cast couldn’t be more perfect for their roles, and Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby, oh it just blows my mind. I cannot wait until December, as if it wasn’t already one of my favorite months.

I’m very interested to see how else this film gets marketed. I can just see the lavish parties being thrown in its honor. If only we all could live in East Egg.

“And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night. Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning — So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” -The Great Gatsby

Bower’s Bite: PR and Advertising aren’t forms of “Journalism” | My Rebuttal

As a veteran PR Major and Communication Studies Minor in the University of Oregon: School of Journalism and Communication, who has been through “INFOHELL” (twice) and taken all old jschool curriculum pre-reqs as well as upper division: communications, ethics, magazine, web video production (for KVAL News), advertising, and public relations courses, I must say that this article by D.C.’s Journalism Graduate Student Jonathan Bowers: Advertising, public relations need to leave the school of journalism and communication is not only insulting but also incredibly inaccurate.

An old friend of mine once gave me the best advice I’ve ever received in Journalism,

“Do what your heart tells you. Be an honest journalist no holds barred. Be a light in the shining darkness, exposing evil works of darkness in high places. That is the high calling of journalism.” -Thornton Massie Tice II

And I must say, in my darkest times these words always rang true. But not necessarily in the straight-laced news formats that Bowers is voicing as journalism.

You see, journalism isn’t just words or news. Journalism isn’t just photographs and moving pictures. It isn’t simple and to the point or even remotely bland. Journalism is creative. Full of stories that can touch a place of your heart you didn’t even know existed. Journalism is full of rich color and deep moving sorrow.  Full of life and death and all the mess in between. Journalism is not just a way of communication, it is an open dialogue for every language possible. It absolutely is relations, unique and guided direction, and a light in the shining darkness that connects every human-being even when all hope seems to be lost.

So Mr. Bowers, don’t tell me that some of the most creative forms of communication: public relations and advertising, are not in fact journalism. Because both are encompassed by rich text, elaborate research, superb storytelling, critical thinking, gorgeous photographs, exceptional video, and most of all; the talented creatives that make it all possible.

Saving Trees One Kindle at a Time – My Quest to Help Save the World

Photo by Flickr User: fauxto_digit

Ever since we were little tots, we have been taught to “reduce, reuse, and recycle.” In school we were asked to place all our paper scraps from collages in the blue recycle bin, to absolutely not throw our pop-cans in the trash in the cafeteria, and to bring a reusable water bottle to school everyday. But what really does all of that mean? Were we really saving rain forests and preventing penguins from getting stuck in plastic pop holders? Maybe. Maybe not. 

But what I do know is this: “what we are living with (right now) is the result of human choices. And it can be changed by making better, wiser choices.” -Robert Redford.

So this term of my senior year in college here at the University of Oregon, I am pledging to help save one particular aspect of this “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra. I’m going to help save TREES. Yes, trees. Surprise, surprise there is another Eugene bred hippie on the loose.

I started off on this quest by asking for a Kindle Fire for Christmas in hopes to not only save money on books, but to save well. . . paper, and therefore save trees. And I must admit, this was a very hard concept for me as a journalist, creative-writer, book enthusiast, and flat-out notebook lover. But at some point I have to realize that all the gorgeous first edition hard copies that line my small urban apartment aren’t exactly helping save the environment any, especially the 400-page course books on environmental studies. How, ironic.

So my lovely parents or shall I say, Santa Claus, bought me the Kindle for Christmas. And I began to explore this gift that I had been given. The gift of holding hundreds of books (weighing only 14.6 ounces) at my fingertips. Available to buy I found two of my course books for my Anthropology of Human Sexuality class, and available to borrow from Amazon Prime I discovered a teaching edition of A People’s History of The United States for my Journalism course on Gender and Diversity.

But I still had a problem: where was I going to buy my other three books? And then it hit me: Chegg.

Chegg.com is an online bookstore where you can buy, rent, and sell textbooks: both used and new. With each textbook you buy or rent, Chegg plants a tree. Currently Chegg has planted over 5million trees and counting through its partnership with the American Forest Global ReLeaf Foundation.

“From the San Juan National Forest to Pondicherry, India these new trees, planted worldwide, help regenerate areas damaged by wildfire, strengthen River Bounds, and restore wildlife habitats. Every quarter we fund critical reforestation projects that are improving the environment – so thank you, and we’ll keep planting” -Chegg

So, not only did I save money (around 20 bucks total) on the rest of my books, but I also helped replace the paper I was stealing from them (trees that is.)

I must say my quest to save the world is off to a very good start by day 1 of winter term 2012.

What will you do to help?

Get Up!

Watch this, REALLY.

Surprised? Shocked? Intrigued? Well, I sure was. It is ads like this that make me smile and appreciate the value of creativity, passion, justice, and democracy. It is videos like this that take your breath away and really make you think about what values shape you.

Get Up! : Action for Australia is a non-profit independent grass-roots community advocacy organization that gives everyday Australians the opportunity to get involved and hold politicians accountable on important issues.

The organization runs a blog where video campaigns for specific petitions on current political and environmental issues are posted monthly. Get Up! has aired over 25 television ads on everything from the Iraq war to Tibet, children in detention, internet censorship, climate change, mental health, and giving refugees a fair go.

I find this all incredibly interesting and I think for my next round of blogs I will be exploring how public relations functions in non-profits and how those campaigns are structured to reach success.

Celebrity Brand Endorsement

If there is any brand that does celebrity endorsements right, it is Gap. Gap’s Holiday Commercial & Viral Video Campaigns have been around for the past several years featuring stars such as Sarah Jessica Parker (who plays Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City) and artists such as Trey Songz, Flo Rida and The Dixie Chicks. Its major hit is a holiday “Merry Mix-it” campaign where gap takes these artists and has them cover classic holiday songs while in Gap apparel.

Actors such as Selma Blair and Rainn Wilson also star in the holiday Merry Mix-its which catches the eye of different audiences as well. Including The Office lovers, in which Rainn Wilson stars as Dwight Shrute.

All of these videos are what I would consider successful tactics in what would be a grand public relations campaign.

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