“It was enough to trust that what I’d done was true. To understand its meaning without yet being able to say precisely what it was, like all those lines from The Dream of a Common Language that had run through my nights and days. To believe that I didn’t need to reach with my bare hands anymore. To know that seeing the fish beneath the surface of the water was enough. That it was everything. It was my life – like all lives, mysterious and irrevocable and sacred. So very close, so very present, so very belonging to me.
How wild it was, to let it be.” –Cheryl Strayed
I finished reading Wild at 35,000 feet above the Rockies; being inside the earth yet still able to gaze down upon it. There is something so calming about flying. Being able to be separate from your life for a few hours, as if your body is still on the ground and your soul is the only thing in the air. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this particular feeling; the feeling of being free.
I believe I first experienced it when I was 21-years old driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles in my little Chrysler 300M. It was the first time I really remember ever truly being alone. As I drove past the grapevine and into the city around midnight I remember being mesmerized by the endless lights. I remember the cool breeze coming from the sun roof. I remember the stars fading as I drew closer and closer to the city. I remember shutting off the radio to just take it all in. I had come so far. I was so sick and so lost and completely beaten down. But I had made it; I was free.
I don’t think I knew at the time what I needed to be freed from. In fact, I don’t think I really knew what I needed to be free from until this very moment.
Free from airplane paper napkins filled with promises unfulfilled, free from the boy with the perfected James Dean lean, free from a friend that had turned into so much more; something so necessary, yet so fleeting, free from blue curtains and yellow rubber boots and a life I never should have wanted. Free from endless days spent in bed, heart monitors and advanced directives. Free from the last year of my life in which through much struggle I have learned not only how to forgive others, but also how to forgive myself. To let myself be free.
Every step I have taken has lead me here; to this moment. To where I am supposed to be, at 35,000 feet in the air, looking down upon a life I have created. A life that is unfinished. A life I cannot wait to continue living. Because I was able to wake up today, and let it be.
I am honored to share that my piece, “I’m Dreaming Reality,” was published yesterday on Thought Catalog.
You can find it here: http://thoughtcatalog.com/kathryn-beck/2015/03/im-dreaming-reality/
It feels so good to be able to share this particular piece with the world, as it was an incredibly dark chapter of my life.
I urge anyone who is going through similar experiences to reach out to someone they trust and share their own story. PTSD is a subject that is taboo in our society and it must be brought to light.
Emergency Help Line: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/where-to-get-help.asp
Donate to Wounded Warrior Project here: http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/donate.aspx
There’s just something about cool jazz on a hot summer night. The way the notes carry on the breeze and sway through the windowsill. You breathe it in, each gentle run and muted hum of the horn.
I still remember the way he looked standing there on the balcony; smoking a cigarette with a perfected James Dean lean against the cold wooden rail. The way his eyes glimmered when he smiled made my knees go weak.
Everything was still in boxes. The mattress was on the floor, and our living room was made up of one measly futon and an old television set. It was our first apartment. I had just graduated from college and was ready to take on the world. I had one weekend of freedom before real life blinded me head-on. This was the last night of innocence. It was the last night of sweet sensations and childish dreams, if only I had known.
He put out his cigarette against the rail, coughed, and then looked up at me with a twisted grin. I always worried about losing him. He could see the desperation in my eyes. But really, I believe it was a hopeless longing. A longing to find the person I wanted him to be. A person I still believe lies deep within his soul.
“Dance with me,” he said, holding out his hand. Before I could even answer, I was pulled through the sliding glass door and into his arms. I still remember the way his heart beat in his chest; a steady rhythm in tempo with my own. His hands held me tightly and with a swing of call and response; wherever he led, I followed.
“The Nearness of You” by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong began to drift onto the balcony. The sun was setting and the moon was rising, but the song beat true. None of those things excited me more than being near him. In that moment he was my world.
We danced there through the raspy chorus and lingering vibrato, and weaved in and out of the city light, hiding underneath the branches of a nearby alder. I never wanted that song to end.
Slowly over the next few months the softer tones became violent. The cool jazz turned hot and summer turned into fall, then fall into winter. We crashed into each other with such great force that the echoes of percussion overpowered the melody itself.
But I will always remember that evening; caught up in a mix between youth and adulthood. Between love and utter loathing. Dancing forever in my mind, between Louis and Ella.
A collection of my favorite places so far…
Albuquerque, NM: breath-taking views, gorgeous mountains, Sandia Resort, no humidity and delicious green chilies.
Little Rock, AR: southern hospitality, delicious meals, reunited with friends, realizing I’m old and cool jazz.
#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.
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 —-
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.
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.
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
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.
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?