How Storytelling Will Save The World

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I went to go sit down at the bar counter in between band sets to grab another half-priced beer from the advertised Taco Tuesday deal. I dug inside my black vegan leather jacket to stuff my phone in one of the tiny pockets and asked the bartender to add another beverage to my tab. I squeezed juice from the fresh wedge of lime that hung onto the rim of the of my glass into the chilled Corona and gazed around at the group of people loudly chatting away. I was there to get some photos for a couple of the bands that I covered in a few of the articles that I wrote for an online publication. It was late to be out here on a work night, and I was already exhausted from the long day of editing and scheduling content. However, my tune changed after hearing from the person who slid into the bar stool next to mine. Continue reading “How Storytelling Will Save The World”

For The Love Of The Interview

Tips for recording interviews for articles

“Thank you again for agreeing to speak with me this morning,” I said hunching over my phone that was placed on speaker. I was eyeing the time on the free recording app that ran in the background on my laptop. “I really appreciate it.”

“No, thank you,” Susan Surftone, former FBI agent turned famous female surf guitarist responded. Her cool and confident voice had echoed from the speaker of my phone. “I really enjoyed your questions.”

I laughed a little and responded with an awkward, “thank you.” Susan had been interviewed by many publications before about her amazing backstory, and so my goal in this particular interview was to shift the focus and include elements about herself and her past that hadn’t been covered before. I wanted some different quotes and wanted to add more of her views and opinions on some hard pressing issues that were relevant to today’s political climate.

Continue reading “For The Love Of The Interview”

The First Check I Received As An Author

A large white envelope sat at the back of my mailbox. I pulled it out along with some bills and junk mail. I thumbed through the pile of magazines, postcards, and decorative postage making sure that every parcel had been delivered to the correct metal box. However, when I got to the large white envelope with a bright yellow redirect sticker plastered on the front with my name on it, I could have sworn right there and then that the United States Postal Service delivered the envelope to the wrong person.

I looked at the envelope again. It had been addressed to me. It was from Amazon Digital Services and the presentation of the envelope prompted me to assume that there was something important inside. I opened up the envelope and looked at the contents with a face that seemed genuinely surprised. I had received my first check from the eBook that I had published online. Continue reading “The First Check I Received As An Author”

Be Quiet, It’s Christmas

I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. -Elie Wiesel

Photo by Jessica Neuwerth via Flickr
Photo by Jessica Neuwerth via Flickr

“It has gotten to a point where I am genuinely annoyed at everyone else’s annoyance – be it social, political, or otherwise. It’s the week before Christmas, folks. Make some cocoa, sing a song, and get on with life.”

I saw the post on Facebook. An acquaintance had typed a message meant for peace, but rooted in disgust and ignorance. I couldn’t help but think, yes, it’s Christmas, but what are we going back to? Our “annoyance” was for police brutality, the injustice that has occurred in our “justice” system, and the racism and prejudice that has been embedded deeply into our society.

So, I read the comment on the Facebook status below. Continue reading “Be Quiet, It’s Christmas”

“W” is for Waitlisted

The Thing About These Recent Tuition and Fee Hikes For Education

Photo by Richard Lee via Flickr
Photo by Richard Lee via Flickr

The estimated costs of attending college in the University Of California school system for undergraduates during the entire 2013-2014 academic school year was $36,078. With estimated costs for books and supplies at $1,500, living costs at $13,800, personal and transportation costs at $2,200, and health insurance fees at $1,700, the total average estimated cost for education can put you back $55,278 a year. As of today, approved to raise tuition as much as 28% by 2019 for at University of California schools.

For California State University Schools the price tag rings a little differently, but the costs for attending the institutions are continuing to rise as well. During the 1989-1990 academic school year, tuition fees were at $700. Today, according to the California State University website, undergraduate CSU students pay $5,472 and, on average, mandatory campus fees of $1,287 totaling their costs to $6,759.

The other day I was speaking with a friend, who also went to the same Cal State School, about registering for classes. She was nervous, as everyone else was, about getting the classes that she needs in order to graduate on time. Continue reading ““W” is for Waitlisted”

L is for the Locals

LA visitor drives in from over the Grapevine and into the thin layer of smog covering the lid of the Central Valley that has been collected from cites all over. The non-local knows only of what he has been told. For the strange new face, Bakersfield is this mystic town filled with locals riding horses on city streets in barren desert. However, he eventually changes his tune after his personal tour guide and former local resident takes him on a journey.

The stranger is taken onto the fertile land, where the majority of the nation’s produce is grown. The visitor realizes how close everything is to the city at the base of the valley. The mountains of Tehachapi, Lake Isabella, Los Angeles, the beaches along the coast, and the family owned farms and dairies, surround the growing city creating new and exciting events and ideas for vacations.  Continue reading “L is for the Locals”

The Thing About Social Activism

Photo by Jason Howie via Flickr
Photo by Jason Howie via Flickr

It took me a week to figure out the videos that were being posted all over Facebook and Vine were for raising awareness for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, “a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.” I remember leaning over to a friend siting next to me to tell her what these Ice Bucket Challenges were all about after finding it out myself to which she responded, “Huh? What is ALS?”

The Ice Bucket Challenge goes like this: People are asked to make a video of themselves dumping a bucket of ice water on their heads, post it a social media site, and then challenge three friends to do the same within 24 hours or donate $100 to ALS.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge went viral in the hopes of raising awareness through social media, and although it has come to be a great way to inform people about ALS, it didn’t exactly start off that way. Continue reading “The Thing About Social Activism”

The Greatest Story Never Told

Photo by waterlilysage via Flickr
Photo by waterlilysage via Flickr

An older man with salt and pepper hair, a collared white shirt and blue slacks sat across from me at the metal table that I was siting at. He reached into the pocket on the jacket that was draped over his chair and pulled out a dark handkerchief. He had begun to perspire under the bright light that was hanging above the table inside of the Springfield interrogation room with the two-way mirror, and he used the handkerchief to dab away the beads of sweat that slowly arose from the pours on his forehead.

“I’m not going to ask you again—who else did you share this information with?”

“And I asked to speak with a lawyer.” Continue reading “The Greatest Story Never Told”

Without Warning

Photo by victoria e via Flickr
Photo by victoria e via Flickr

A small duffle bag, filled to the brim, sat with its top left sloppily slumped over on the queen-sized bed. The bag, still in need of a tight squeeze while the interlocking zippers made their way around the polyester fabric, was to be taken with a passport, extra cash, and plane tickets to somewhere far away, but plans were abruptly canceled when its owner was dragged away in a body bag.

A paragraph placed in the obituary section of the newspaper online described Mark as a man who kept to himself and who suffered from a heart attack just before going on vacation. They were all kind words, however, the story they tell isn’t exactly the truth. Continue reading “Without Warning”

To The Grave

Photo by Aaron van Dorn via Flickr
Photo by Aaron van Dorn via Flickr

It took me a few hours to finally make my way off of the 95 and well into DC where my contact lived. I drove through the city and eventually parked next to his building with the hope that he could help me shake the hired guns that were after me from Springfield. I reached back behind my car’s seat and carefully opened the ripped part of the upholstery to grab the file full of secrets given to me by another contact.

I then got out of the car with the folder and I quickly made my way to the nearest payphone. I wish I that had some sort of sanitizer to disinfect the filthy phone, or my actual cellphone, but the sim card was taken out and the phone was smashed hours ago.

I dialed my contact, and after two rings I hung up.

I waited a moment.

The payphone then began to ring, and on the second chime I picked up the phone.

I spoke my lines as I was told, “Hello, Dr. I’m going to need the full package.” Continue reading “To The Grave”