“You can’t just sit behind a desk all day and think you know what’s going on in the world. You have to go out and see it for yourself”. – Anderson Cooper
My core desire in life is to see as much of the world and experience as many other cultures as I can. The business of daily survival limits my travel, but the desire to wander is constantly there. I do not feel truly content unless there are flight confirmations in my inbox.
Not able to fly off to every war torn region, I rely on the media to bring me the places and stories I can’t see for myself. I am a complete news addict. I read 3 papers daily, including 2 UK-based ones to get a foreign perspective. I watch Anderson Cooper religiously, as well as Keith Olbermann (though primarily for the laughs, not as an informational source). I spend a lot of hours a day ingesting news. And I trust none of it.
If being a photo retoucher has taught me anything, it’s 1) nothing is ever as it seems and 2) to be just as aware of the person taking the photo, as you are of the person in the photo. What was their vision? What was their provenance? The same can be said for the news. Pay attention not just to the words, but also to the agenda of the writer and source.
Anderson is right. You can’t just sit behind a desk and expect to know the truth of the world, but he is also part of the reason why.  The information handed to us by the media is so far spun and dramatized I have no idea what is truth anymore. You have to be a cryptographer to parse the news these days. I spend hours looking for sources and transcripts, trying to find the sliver of truth in what is fed to us daily. It shouldn’t be this hard. We shouldn’t have to seek it, it should be handed to us, unbiased and without agenda.
Until then, I guess I’ll keep watching it all and believing none. It sucks, but it’s the best we can do.
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Neighbors

October 30, 2008

I live in a typical mid-rise NYC apartment building; 6 floors with 8 apartments each. I have approximately 75 total neighbors and I couldn’t pick a single one of them out of a line-up.

I do know some things about the guy who lives in the apartment next to mine. He’s a Giants fan, and often does the “yelling at the TV during sporting events” routine that so many men are fond of. He orders food from the Italian place around the corner every Friday night. He’s handy and often uses power tools. I have never seen his face, yet I know things about him. He is a familiar stranger.

Most Americans have a very narrow world view, but it is just as easy to be ignorant of our domestic community. I have been to 4 other countries and most of the continental US states, yet I don’t know the names of the people with the same address as me. In these politically-charged times, we all want our voices to be heard, but we don’t even talk to those next door. We are learning of the struggles of our “neighbors” from our Presidential candidates. We take for granted that the issues being force-fed to us are the issues of our communities, but really, how do we know?

These days much socialization involves typing. Days of sitting on the stoop and having neighborhood gatherings are often replaced with chats on instant messenger. By no means am I anti-internet or against social media networking. I am constantly awed by the reconnectivity power of Facebook and I am admittedly addicted to Twitter, yet at times I find myself feeling socially unfulfilled. I miss the physical presence of people and the inexplicable connection that comes with just being in the same room as another person. I love my online community but sometimes I wish I had a neighbor to share the Sunday paper with over coffee.

If TV neighbors are any indication maybe I should be careful what I wish for. It is New York. Kramer could be living next door.

Playing Dress Up…Still.

October 29, 2008

Like most people, my answer to “What do I want to be when I grow up?” has seen many evolutions.

As a child you dream of professions you know nothing about. The jobs with the best outfits win. Little girls want to be ballerinas or princesses, little boys firemen or policemen. The limits of these careers are unknown to you, you have no fear of danger or rejection to deter you from dreaming. The practicalities of life are unbeknownst to you.

As you get a little older, you become aware of more possibilities, bus driver, grocery store cashier, teacher. Your world view expands with every journey outside the house. Maybe you dream of wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase like dad (or mom!), or working at the toy store for the obvious perks. It’s fun to dream and change your dreams daily. The reality of “grown up” seems so far away.

My own dreams were to be an art teacher, then a lawyer. I’m sure there were others, but those are the ones I remember. I should have spent more time dreaming, for all too quickly I found myself 17 years old and facing college applications with the dreaded “pick your major” checkbox. I knew nothing of the world. I had seen only a fraction of the potential options and I was supposed to define myself and hundreds of future small talk discussions by the box I checked. I was lost, but I had to choose something, so I settled on theatre lighting design and went off to college.

After 3 years I wondered what the hell I was doing and had major regrets. Too far in to quit and pick something new, but too far from the end to just suck it up and finish, I dropped out. I got a job doing event planning, which used just enough of my degree to make my parents feel like they hadn’t just wasted thousands of dollars on my education.

A few years later, when I moved to NY I took the first (and only) job offered to me, which is how I ended up as a legal assistant to a record label. Practicality (and an obscenely high rent) dictated my career choices now. Dreams of avoiding homelessness and affording food overshadowed the dreams of youth.

After 5 years of practical thinking, I’m ready to dream again. Recently I started my own photography/photo retouching company and l am loving it. I fear I don’t have the skills to do it professionally, but I’m going to try.

If only I had the career fearlessness I had as a child. I’d be one rocking photo retoucher in a tutu I imagine.

As Fall approaches, the weather gets crisp and the stores are stocked with new coats and blazers, just waiting to be purchased.

Throughout the course of my day I find myself behind a number of people. Be it on the subway, the streets of NYC or in line at the grocery store, I seem to be constantly faced with my biggest pet peeve on a near daily basis: People who don’t remove the loose stitching on the back of new coats and blazers (as well as women’s skirts) that holds the vents closed for transport and sale. Like feared mattress tags, these can and should be removed before use by the consumer. I know it’s scary, but please, PLEASE for the good of all people who walk behind you, remove this thread and enjoy the freedom that comes with not having me blog about you behind your back.

New Chapter, New Blog

October 27, 2008

I’m in my last 7 months of my 20s. The thought that nearly 3 decades of my life has passed is astounding to me.

What have I been doing all this time? I suppose those first 5 years were spent hanging around the house, getting the lay of the land and learning the basics of eating and sleeping. The next 13 or so were spent doing the school thing. The 4 after that were spent in college, majoring in something I haven’t used since.

That brings me to the past 8 years. I moved to NYC from Illinois, traveled to Europe, Aruba, Mexico, Los Angeles (4 times) , Chicago (15 times), New Mexico (2 times), Boston, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania.

Did I mention I tend to wander?

This blog is my story as I continue to wander and discover who I am as I cross over onto the next 3 decades of my life.

Thanks for keeping me company on the path.