Asking

This also appeared on my Medium page.

Just a warning for anyone reading, this is most likely going to sound jumbled, disoriented, and unconnected. I write very much as I think of it, and very much from an AHDH brain. So just roll with it.

These are my thoughts on Amanda Palmer’s “The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help”

I just finished reading the second of the most important books I feel were published in 2014 (The first is Janet Mock’s “Redefining Realness”, as if you had to ask.) This book was recommended to me by a friend of mine after I posted to Facebook something that really was me trying to vent, but in my makes sense to me way:

Some days I feel like I should somehow network my way into Twitter or Facebook. Especially since both companies are going full-in on the news game. Seriously…LOL
(This is also one of those times where I know I know people who know people but am afraid to ask.)

Asking for help has always been one of those things that I have been very bad at. On the surface, especially if you only know me from Twitter or Facebook, I can seem very outgoing, but I’m very much a scared, shy kid inside. I’m forever the dreamer but who has no idea how to make dreams into reality. And that’s why I was told to read this book by a friend. I’ll get more into this block of text copied and pasted from my Facebook later on. So stay tuned! But after the break…

Artists connect the dots–we don’t need to interpret the lines between them. We just draw them and then present our connections to the world as a gift, to be taken or left. This IS the artistic act, and it’s done every day by many people who don’t even think to call themselves artists.
Then again, some people are crazy enough to think they can make a living at it. (Page 17)

That is a quote from page 17 of the book. A quote that I highlighted while I was writing. I had a note written into the page through the wonderful Kindle note taking system, but while trying to bring it up on my shitty ass laptop, I managed to delete it. Damn. It was going to make a beautiful point to why I shared that quote. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to re-make it.

I’m good at connecting the dots. When it comes to video. Hand me a camera, put me in the Director’s chair, and I’m fucking good at what I do. Seriously, ask around. Don’t believe them? Here’s my YouTube: http://lnkdby.me/12ThhQL. Interestingly, though, until I read this book, I’d never seemed to think of it as an art form. I direct a newscast on OverDrive for Pete’s sake. This was something I did. Something I do. Every. Fucking. Day. Me an artist? But you know what. The more I really thought about it (lmao…accidentally wrote tit there) I guess I too am in this wonderfully crazy mess. It does take a certain artistic skill to frame up a shot, or to know exactly when you need to make a cut, or coax a camera operator into just that absolutely perfect shot. Oh and I’m apparently, also, one of those crazy people who thinks that they can make a living at it. Oh shit. LOL.

Taking the donuts is hard for a lot of people. (Page 179)

Yes. Yes it is. Very hard in fact.

I still am very much like how Amanda was when Neil offered to lend her money. I have several friends who have dangled donuts in front of me. Some people you have never heard of, some, interestingly enough, household names (or at least people with a verified check mark and follower count in the double-digit thousands.) I know they have. I know there are some who want to help me. Very much so. But I have a hard time taking the donuts. (Unless they have sprinkles. Which you should have mentioned in the first place.)

But why is it hard? Ok I’ll admit it: I’m scared.

Scared of being rejected. Scared of “no.” Scared of the own voices in my head which seemingly on a daily basis tell me that I suck. (Seriously, they’re even worse if I make a mistake on-the-air.) And really, scared of the unknown.

Yeah… This was all addressed in the book too. But I never highlighted it so I don’t have a fancy quote to pop in here. So how about this funny one.

The professionals know they’re winging it. The amateurs pretend they’re not. (Page 44)

Oh yeah. You betcha. If only people knew how many times I was winging it when we walked out of a breaking news, OMG what the hell is happening, everything is going to hell show with a sparkling clean show report. Seriously. Winging it. Oops. I probably shouldn’t have shared that secret. LOL.

Our first job in life is to recognize the gifts we’ve already got, take the donuts that show up while we cultivate and use those gifts, and turn around and share those gifts […]
Our second job is to accept where we are in the puzzle at each moment. (Page 306)

I recognize the gifts I have. I wouldn’t be here right now if it weren’t for donuts given to me a while ago. OK. Pull up a chair, it’s story time.

Back in 2011 I was stressed out, ready to crack, and at wit’s end. Trust me, it was not pretty. I was tossed a lifeline, donut if you will, by my mother: “Quit. Move home. And we’ll figure it out.” So I did. I used another donut to land an interview at a trailer house in Los Angeles. It didn’t work out. But then another landed in my lap. My now boss asked me to just come up for an interview (he’d been working on me for like a year at that point.) I did. And this is where I’ve been for the last 3 years. Directing the news in the 15th largest market in the country. Sometimes at horrible hours of the morning. Or sometimes not directing. Sometimes it’s running cameras, or the audio board, or whatever.

And I’ve shared those donuts when I can. Or at least what appear to be for me. A recommendation that helped Jeannie. A letter for Missi. The countless offers to help out, listen to, or just talk to an intern who is about to graduate college and is scared of the looming darkness of the job search.

Or you know just the part where I don’t abandon those who I have chosen to bring into my circle of chosen family. Where I sit with them while they’re in the ER, or in a hospital room, hooked up to machines, having technically died…twice. When I give a ride to a friend who calls me up in a panic, even though I should have been in bed hours ago. Or when I just sit and listen, because a friend is having a shitty day and needs someone to talk to.

But interestingly, I still have a VERY hard time asking for anything in return. Which brings me back to my original statement that sparked the whole “you have to read Amanda’s book.”

I’m going to preface this with the fact I love what I do. I love the people I work with. And I love the community at large. But I swear this state is slowly killing me. Mostly in the 9 months where the temperatures hover somewhere between meat locker and absolute zero. Which is why I wrote my Facebook update last night. After reading about how Facebook is trying to win breaking news (and how twitter is, and I quote Twitter’s media boss Katie Jacobs-Stanton, “not a media company.”) And all while feeling I could do something bigger, better. And less newsy for a change.

And there in lies where my problem is. I have a network. I have donuts being dangled in front of me. But I have the problem of not knowing how to ask for those donuts. Oh and you know the problem of feeling like I don’t actually deserve to have those donuts in the first place. That…non-authentic feeling.

So I guess I’ll do it here, not that I’m sure any of them is actually reading this. Or if they did reading down this far: Let me take the donuts. Please help me get to a warm part of the country, or at least New York City. Just don’t send me to Chicago. I’m not ready for that drama yet.

Oh and one more quote from the book:

If you love people enough, they’ll give you everything. (Page 312)

Yep.

~A

P.S. A completely off-track side note to all of this. I still owe Janet’s book a big post like this. That is if I could figure out how on earth to actually decipher my notes. I kind of made random scribblies on paper since I didn’t want to ruin the book (that she awesomely signed for me later on too!!) I’ll have to get the Kindle version so that I can make all sorts of highlights and scribblies directly in the text.

“Where were you?”

The question everyone has asked today, and has an answer for. For our parents, that question probably relates to the assassination of President Kennedy. For my generation, and the one just before, it squarely relates to one thing: September 11, 2001.

Some details of the morning are a bit hazy but it’s still very clearly burned into my mind. I was a Sophomore at Marquette University, living on the 9th floor of Tower Hall (officially titled Carpenter Tower but no one called it that back then as East Hall was still East Hall and didn’t also have ‘tower’ in its name.) I was woken up by Bob and Brian on Lazer 103, as I was every Tuesday morning, around 7:45ish. I woke up to them declaring there was an emergency in New York City and they didn’t know what was going on or if they were able to continue their show or not. Immediately, I turned on WTMJ to see NBC on the air with live coverage of a burning WTC tower. In the process I woke my roommate up and he was pissed until he saw what was happening on TV. That was about the time the second tower was struck. I remember being glued to the television.

I quickly showered and got ready for class as things were unfolding. I was on my way over to Johnston Hall when I was met by a classmate who said that Ksobiech had cancelled class and that were were to watch the events unfold. I didn’t see the first tower fall because that happened as I was walking to class. But I was there watching when the second one fell. I think I was glued to the television for HOURS that day. Split between my room and Jamie & Andy’s room next door.

Three related things stand out for me from that day:

1. September 11, 2001 was supposed to also be our first night of production for MUTV that year. The first night that Jamie and I would be running the show on our own, without being basically an interm Production Director as the both of us had stepped up to do in the last month of our Freshman year. I remember making a phone call to the Entertainment Director that year offering to rally up a crew if we wanted to press on. We ended up pushing production back a couple of days.

2. We had the *raw* CNN Newsource feed on a monitor in the MUTV offices. The images that were shown on the raw feed cannot be unseen. I will not describe them.

3. The terrible line outside of the Subway because the university shut down EVERYTHING including the dining halls in the wake of the attacks. Like the line was out the door, past Kampus Foods, and to Wells when I got in it.

Being glued to my television, I can only imagine the chaos that was working in news that day.

K.L. Tremaine’s Independent Flight

Full Disclosure: I want to be up front here that the author of this book is essentially family.

Space. The final frontier. These are the voyages… Er wait. This isn’t Star Trek but if you’re a fan of Star Trek, you’re probably going to love this book. It’s a space adventure in the best sense of the genre. You have action, a sassy captain and a great story.

The center of the book is Veronica Gray, a young captain in training, who is being given her first real command. She has a wonderful crew who is surrounding her who add a lot to the story line and the adventures. You also, without giving away spoilers, have an awesome “bad guy” in the form of the drug runner that has an unfortunate run in with our leading lady.

This particular book is a quick read, but it is a good read.  I highly recommend it. And really, can’t wait to see more of what happens to Ms. Gray.

So uh. Go buy it already!

OH! One awesome bonus note with a itsy bitsy spoiler alert on it: Veronica is team #GirlsLikeUs.

My thoughts on Lorde’s “Team”

So all of a sudden I have gotten onto this kick of pop radio. I do kinda blame Rory for it. His organization had a radio ad running on 102.7 KIIS-FM in LA since I wanted to hear it for myself, I’ve been listening to A LOT of KISS-FM.

Through this I’ve once again found out what the songs all the kids are listening to today. While there are some annoyingly catchy pop songs (I’m looking at you Mr. Derulo) there are also some really, really good ones out there. One of those that I’ve had playing in my head, and therefore on my Spotify, has been Lorde’s “Team.” It is a very catchy song as well, but it invokes a lot of emotion in me. Given I’ve been going through a few things that I’ve sort of documented on Twitter, and have been in a weird emotional head space anyway, I find this interesting. I’m not exactly sure how to describe the feelings though.

Also… I’m still not sure if this is a love or breakup or what song. Seriously. It’s confusing to me.

We live in cities you’ll never see on screen
Not very pretty, but we sure know how to run things
Living in ruins of a palace within my dreams
And you know, we’re on each other’s team

To me it seems like the chorus is suggesting sticking together, though, other parts of the song do not.

I’m kind of over getting told to throw my hands up in the air, so there
So all the cups got broke shards beneath our feet but it wasn’t my fault
And everyone’s competing for a love they won’t receive
‘Cause what this palace wants is release

So yeah. I have no clue. I say give the song a listen. Lorde is an AMAZING singer. Her vocal range is super wicked awesome and she seems like she had a ton of talent. Oh and given the fact that this girl is only 17, I really hope that she has a long, and awesome career in music, and doesn’t end up like so many other pop stars, especially a few from when she was still in diapers,
did.

Here’s a link to the song on Spotify.

Imogen Binnie’s Nevada

Warning: This is going to read like a bunch of dis-jointed thoughts. I posted this stream-of-consciousness without doing any editing on it. It’s written just post-reading of the book while so, so many emotions are swimming in my brain.

Do you ever have one of those moments where you finish a book and you are not entirely sure of the emotions that you’re feeling? Because that is how I feel right now. I just finished reading “Nevada” by Imogen Binnie.

One one hand, I feel this complete and total deep connection with her central character Maria. She…is going through a lot of similar stuff to me. Reading everything I seriously just couldn’t help but be like “yeah, sister, me too!” Or well, at least I had in the past. It’s complicated. Because like, I’m totally not her at all but at the same time I feel like I am if that makes sense. Like I didn’t do any of the crazy high school shit…unless you count accidentally running over my brother’s foot as ‘crazy high school shit’…but I have/had a lot of the same issues and realities in relationships as she does. And hell, I never just jumped in a car and headed west (I should have lol!) Closest I have gotten to that was that moment I decided I was moving to the Twin Cities. (Though a part of me still thinks I should have tried for LA.) I do have one, odd, but interesting question, and maybe I’m reading WAY too much into the character, but I really, really wonder if she is an Aspie. It…just fits way too perfectly.

On the other hand I have this sense of well…I don’t entirely know what it is over the relationship that Maria develops seemingly at random with a Wal-Mart clerk. I guess maybe jealousy is the correct term. I wish I had someone stumble into my lap, so to speak, at 20. I think it would have been very interesting. I know where I stood at 20, and where I stand at 32. And it could have been much more, shall we say, interesting. Closest I have had to that were my friends I made on LiveJournal and MySpace in the later part of the last decade. (You know. The one between the 90’s and the 10’s. Le sigh. I can’t believe the 90’s were that long ago.) I’m still friends with a few of them, and I consider at least one of them family.

Ok and on a third hand, or well, I guess I’m branching out to feet here, I feel a profound sense of longing and disappointment. Without giving away any spoilers here, I… Just the way the book ended. I was expecting something more and then all of a sudden it was like “oh…this is the about the author page now. But…But…Moooooooooooooooooooooooooore please!!!”

Honestly, I love this book. It’s just…awesome. You should take the time to sit down and read it. And interestingly, I don’t know what it is lately, maybe it’s the fact I’m finding books I enjoy lately, but this was ANOTHER book I finished in a mere matter of hours, not days/weeks like some books I have read. Ok. Time for dinner.

That time when I helped run a Punk/Ska radio station

So thanks to a tweet in my stream today I managed to take a walk down memory lane.

All the way back to…well not quite the year 2000. It was more like 2003-2004. A much simpler time then. I was in my senior year of college. Probably taking a boat load of clases. Running shop at MUTV 20 hours a week. Oh and Pete and I hosted a 2-hour radio experiment every Tuesday at 11pm. But yet somehow I managed to find time to help Scott Hanson, Don Wadewitz, and friend with this little thing called XROXX.com. Now, the website is sort of up still, but I had some fun diging in it via the Web Archive Project’s “Wayback Machine”

XROXX was way ahead of it’s time. Today, if kids still listened to the radio, and well, if Punk/Ska were still the “in” music, we probably would have had a much better shot at making it. Back then, it was tough for an internet only radio station to exist. You didn’t really have smart phones (heck the iPhone 1 didn’t come out until 2007). People didn’t use their computers for much beyond information. There was no YouTube, no Hulu, and well I don’t even think Netflix was around back then. So to have a radio station which required you to listen only on your computer was a long shot. Sure things like Pandora, Radio Paradise, and WOXY.com proved in the long run that people will listen to internet radio, they were all helped out by the fact that the iPhone became so popular, and well most had an app for that. (For the record: WOXY.com did eventually go under, whereas, Radio Paradise and Pandora are still around.) We didn’t have that in 2004.

As I recall, XROXX didn’t last very long as a streaming station. And eventually, without the stream, the website kind of fell into the nether regions of the forgotton lands of the web. Interestingly, if you go to XROXX.com you’ll get the front page of the site. Which means Don or Scottie or someone is actually still paying to host it and the domain. Weird, right?

Anyway. So the fun things that I found? Well for starters…my bio page. Yikes, right? Also you HAVE to love the fact that I had a TechTV reference on there. Nope. Wasn’t at all a geek right? And I can’t believe some of the answers I gave. A lot of this has greately evolved since then. Like… Pink Floyd, still top billing. Dark Side of the Moon is probably the greatest album ever made. But…times change right now I’d say Against Me! and Beyoncé are 2 and 3. I mean, what did I know back then about music? I was 21! Now I’d of gotten the correct Yoda quote. “Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.” is the actual quote. Oh and uh… I um…actually don’t like Piña Colladas. I’m uh kind of allergic to pineapple.

And funny I should mention Against Me! Not only did we apparently review one of their early albums. But a week or so ago, my brother asked me essentially if I only listened to them because Laura Jane Grance is trans. Well. Um. I hate to burst his bubble, no. I very, very much found them organically. I think I said something along the lines of I heard them on Pandora, but the more I think about it I played them on the radio. I believe XROXX was one of the spots, but I still swear that Pete and I played them on Marquette Radio at some point. Additionally, I own the “Rock Against Bush” CD. It’s somewhere in one of my binders of discs. Now, I wish I hadn’t lost contact with Pete. He would know instantly. True story, I ran into him about 4 years after we’d done our last show and he asked me if I’d seen the success of The Plain White T’s, who were a band that was basically a staple of our show.

Here’s some relevant tweets that I sent out shortly after this:

So there you have it. My walk down memory lane. If you got this far I commend you for reading through my dis-jointed rantiness.

I’ll leave you with this:

“Good Night and Good Luck.” – Edward R. Murrow

Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness

I am finally getting a chance to sit down and write my thoughts about Redefining Realness onto paper, or well, electronic 1’s and 0’s. But you ask, shouldn’t I have done this a month ago? Probably, but believe it or not, even though I work in a communication field, sometimes it’s hard for me to find the right words.

Redefining Realness is by far one of the best and most powerful books that I have read in a very, very long time. I have said time-and-again that this is the sort of book that I wish had existed a long while ago. Janet’s words are very powerful, and very personal, in many ways. She has the ability though to draw the reader into her world. As I read the book, I was overcome with emotion: happiness, sadness, anxiety, and yes even a scosh of jealousy.

I think that one of the best parts of Redefining Realness is the fact that it leaves the reader with a sense of “OMG I need to know what happens next!” Truthfully, even though I know the outcome of some of the events she wrote about, such as her relationship, there was still this moment of “oh no how will he react?” when Janet finally opens up to Aaron. That is the kind of emotion that I am talking about that is present throughout.

Now, my off-topic…ish aside: Pop culture. Pop culture is one of the things that is talked about with-in Redefining Realness. I want to share one of my reactions when reading that involves pop culture. Specifically, television. There was at one point where Janet mentions watching a lot of shows on Nick as a kid. I had one of those “OMG” style moments for a second where I realized that these were the same things I was watching at the time. It also, too, helps in a way to illustrate just how pop culture binds us together.

Overall I can’t stop telling people that they need to read Redefining Realness. I’ve even gotten some friends, and an aunt on the super Catholic conservative side of the family on board with reading. This is how highly I recommend the book. I think that everyone should read it. So seriously, why have you not stopped reading this and picked up your copy? Oh and as a total aside: Redefining Realness is the first physical book that I have purchased since probably Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released in 2007. I usually read books via Kindle or iPad these days. So, with that said, pop on down to your local bookstore, if you still have one, or at least click on over and get your copy. (Or your local library may be an option too if you can’t afford to buy a book. Remember them? Libraries are kinda awesome still ya know.)

Oh and before I forget. If you have the opportunity to see her in person at an event… GO! There is a great story to go with this picture, but that is for another time.

Getting my picture taken with Janet at her event in St. Paul
Getting my picture taken with Janet at her event in St. Paul

Dreams

Originally posted to my Tumblr

The CBS Evening News just profiled their retiring Director, Eric Shapiro. It’s sad to see someone with 51 years of experience, retiring, but with everything he has directed, with everyone he has worked with, he deserves the chance to sit on the sidelines for once.

It’s my dream to someday work in a control room at the network. To get to direct the elections of Presidents, of Popes, and as they said those “once in a lifetime” events.  I’m just an unknown in Minneapolis, right now, but some day, right?

Godspeed Eric Shapiro. You’re one of the old school, rock solid, Directors. Good luck in whatever you do next, and may I follow in your (admittedly very hard to fill) shoes some day.

Random Reflecty Post

There’s a scene in House of Cards where Frank (the main character) is back at his alma matter 30 years after he’d graduated. He’s talking to an old friend of his in a library that is about to be torn down. (And well replaced with a library named after him.)

He said something along the lines of “this place mattered to us.” Despite the rest of the conversation, most of which I have missed at this point because I had a head thought I needed to get out, that line triggered some feels in me.

Mostly… It made me think back to days 10 years ago. Where Justin, Pete, Matt S., Melissa, CG Steve and a few others who I’m forgetting right now spent a million hours it seemed in Johnston Hall working on something, playing the game of “what door will this key open”, etc. Usually off-hours. (With permission to be there, of course!)

I don’t know if we realized it at the time. But I kind of feel like Johnston Hall was kinda……well like that library in House of Cards. It was our place.

…and I really miss it.

It’s funny. I was back there a couple of months or so ago. Even though it’s changed so dramatically since we all left that building, it still is that special place. And still kinda like feels “home” in a way.

True Trans Soul Rebel

Full disclosure: I have never been very good at writing music reviews. In fact, the one time I tried writing one for a website, it got sent back to me by the editor laughing. However, I am good at pretending I know what I’m doing, so here it goes. My thoughts on Against Me!’s new album, “True Trans Soul Rebel.”

So much good music has come out in the last year. 2013 was the year that brought us the awesomeness of Daft Punk’s single “Get Lucky”, Katy Perry’s PRISIM with the AMAZING “Roar”, and of course, Beyonce’s super secret self-titled album that is, in my mind, the best thing that came out of 2013 musically.

2014 has been quiet so far in the “OMG I MUST HAVE” music department. That is…until now. For this week, Against Me!’s “True Trans Soul Rebel” was released. We have had acoustic versions of a few singles since the band released a 2 song EP last summer. To say this is one of the most anticipated releases from the band, though is a great understatement.

The album is a very personal look into transition, and the emotions that come with it. Laura Jane Grace has done a brilliant job putting just the right kid of emotion into the album. I gave the album a listen to today. I’m still trying to process all of the feelings that have come out of it. There were some tracks on the back-half of the album, specifically “Dead Friend” and “Two Coffins”, which definately got to me. I was a bit teary eyed listening to them. Most of the album speaks too closely to me in some regards.

Overall, I would *VERY* highly recommend the ablum. Like. Go buy it now. Or click below to listen to it on Spotify.