Anything I Want

I’ve sent in my final books to the printers and I feel this amazing sense of relief. A million pounds have been lifted off my shoulders.

I have two finals things to do before I can officially list “master” on all things me (resume, social media, etc) – and that’s hand in my books to our program director and attend graduation.

That’s it! My book received high marks in the original turnaround and my presentation went pretty well, followed by successfully defending some of my choices.

I’m {unofficially} a master!

I defended back on the 15th and here’s some thoughts on that whole thing:

1. Naturally, I wasn’t completely freaked out until the moment the floor was mine. Then the nerves built up out of no where. No matter how many times I reminded myself that “this is my baby that I’ve been working on for over a year, I got this,” I still felt uneasy.

2. Related – I’m not a very gifted public speaker and that’s been identified as something I want to work on in the future. I’m already tapped to talk to some Buffalo youth about my academic/professional journey thus far. I took a public speaking course at Buff State… looks like it’s time to brush up and just keep practicing.

3. I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I can’t contain myself when I’m experiencing some extreme emotions. My panel went ahead and told me that I passed, explained the kind of revisions they want to see from my book, and complimented which aspects of marketing communication I’m particularly strong in. THEN BOOM. I got a wiff of my Dad’s cologne that I spritzed on for good luck (I did the same thing on my last official day of undergrad) and my face got hot and my eyes welled up. I tried so hard to hold it in but no such luck. I’m pretty sure I’m the only person whose ever cried because they were told that they passed. This degree, all the work, all of it was as much for Art and Zenna Nephew as it was for me. I just wish I could’ve waited until my drive home to realize this and just cry to Mark. C’est la vie.

This past weekend, I did some decompressing by cleaning a little bit and basically staring at the TV while marathoning through Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix. My poor husband. He’s not a big fan of sitting around and watching TV and is probably starting to get a little sick of the hospital drama (while commenting the whole time about how bad these doctors are at their jobs – even knowing it’s not real life!). He’s being a trooper and he knows that this transition will be kind of difficult for a career student/busy body like me. For better or for worse!

And now, I get to enjoy the holidays, time with my husband (which will be interesting in itself because in our 4.5 years together – I have always had a million and one things to do. Now? Yeaaa…), and reacquainting myself with myself, basically. And read the books I want. And craft. And decorate.

And do anything else I want.

Whoa.

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A month in and so far so good…

As of today, we’ve been married a month. Here are some of the things that this 23-year old newlywed has learned about life as a married person.

  1. I am no longer allowed to mention not feeling well or mention snacking. Already we’ve been accused of being pregnant. No – not asked if we are, accused that we are. Good grief, saying “I will” at a ceremony doesn’t make us anymore susceptible to conceiving than before we said those words. And I still have grad school. And I’ll say it over and over, I really want to know what life is like when you’re not working three jobs or are in school full-time.
  2. No, I don’t feel any different. I do feel a bit more lost when it comes to the crazy depths of health insurance, combining car insurance, and now I have to think about my beneficiary list at work. I haven’t thought about mortality all like that in quite some time. But other than that, nope – no difference.
  3. It still feels weird to say, “I have to do something for/help my husband…” or some variation of that. I feel like I’m playing make-believe or “house” with my best friend of four years.
  4. In this honeymoon stage, compromise is where to order dinner from and which movie to watch at night. I suspect the whole compromise thing gets harder as time passes… but I’m enjoying what I’ve got for now. Thankfully, I defend my grad thesis in approximately 6-7 weeks, so he can pretty much choose to watch whatever he wants for this period of time.
  5. I still don’t really know much about marriage. We’ve had nothing but good times so far. We bicker like we’ve been married 50 years but we’re still pretty new at this. I won’t claim to know everything about marriage since we’ve only been at it a month, but I have picked a pretty good partner to learn all about it with.

I’m not really a month-by-month anniversary celebrator but I do find this one pretty relevant. And six months. And a year. And then after that, annual things are good for me.

Really, I can’t wait to see how this list changes (or how much I snicker at this one) 10, 15, 20 years down the line.

Cheers!

A Young PR Pros’ Truths About PR

I graduated in 2011 with a degree in Public Communication where I was introduced to the wild world of public relations. I held 10 internships where I learned about public relations, media relations, and media in varying industries.

I’m also now in the Integrated Marketing Communication program where my understanding of public relations has been strengthened. And one of my hats at work is public relations.

I may be just a new young professional (I’ve only been employed in the industry for 13 months), but here is a list of truths as I know it now. Of course, with age and experience, these are all rightly subject to change.

1. Social media is NOT the end all. It’s kind of a pet peeve of mine to see people rely on social media as a bottom line public relations strategy. Social media is for cultivating relationships and establishing your brand as a personable, knowledgeable, and visible. There’s a strategic message that is relayed via social media, but it’s not baseline PR plan. Remember, there are other ways to be in the minds of your customers/audiences. Be there, too.

2. “No Comment” is a bad comment. Some argue with this idea, but in my opinion, “no comment” is basically shooting yourself in the foot. Amid a crisis, ensure that the designated spokesperson knows how to handle a sticky situation with a well-crafted, but genuine, statement that recognizes the issue at hand and that there are steps being taken to handle said situation. As for other members of your organization who could be grilled for details, make sure they’re coached on how to elegantly let people know that they’re unable to answer any questions per organizational policy. “No comment” is untrustworthy (& from my perspective, kind of lazy). 

3. It’s about who you know. Being proactive is one of the best ways to become a successful PR pro. Get to know other people in the media and other people in the public relations field because those are the people you will rely on for extra coverage down the line. Networking events are in abundance – go to them!

4. Public Relations isn’t about spinning the story. Your job is to highlight what’s new and what’s big. It’s not to create something out of nothing. Be noteworthy and be relevant. According to Seth and Fitzpatrick, the ethical loyalties of a public relations professionals are the duties you have to your self, client, employer, profession, media, and society. Act accordingly.

5. Be prepared to change with the times. Public relations professionals from 1989 (the year I was born) lived in a much different world than I do now as a 23 year old. But it doesn’t really require a lifetimes worth of years to accept change. Even from when I graduated in 2011, things have changed rapidly that PR pros need to be cognizant of. Mobile marketing, the power of social media from a PR and customer service aspect, and digital content are all necessary things to keep in mind. And even then, as I’m honing my content marketing skills and my social media wiles, I know to keep an eye on what’s next. Don’t get left behind. The internet, it turns out, isn’t just a fad.

Of course, I know quite a bit of other things about public relations. I’m constantly keeping up to date (har – #5) on issues and trends in the industry at-large. But these are things I’d stand behind and evangelize to current students of PR and communications.

What about you? What would you tell students or people interested in PR the top things they should know? Do you disagree with what I consider truths? Leave me a comment and discuss!

 

Public Relations & Customer Service – Don’t Get It Twisted

Hey friends, don’t mind me, but this post is yet again a school assignment. Please feel free to stick around and read my thoughts on customer/public relations. I’m considering creating another blog in the future about my professional interests. But I’ve been saying that for years. Anyway – disclaimer done.

The social space on the internet has finally become a staple for a lot of big (and small) brands out there. This is no secret. Companies and organizations are utilizing social media to generate interest for their products/services. But with this easy-to-get-attention machine comes the scariest thing to a company.

Quick and easy access to rate anything and everything.

And when people complain about your brand on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter, or even LinkedIn… don’t you want to be the one to help ease the situation?

Before these incredibly powerful tools became accessible to the masses, customer service was something all together different from public relations. Even today, you have to really think about it to correlate the two. But when the consumer has the power, it’s best to make sure the customer is happy and helped

Ignoring a complaint today is damaging. Ignoring too many complaints becomes a crisis.

In case you didn’t know, if you want your business to succeed… try and avoid crises. 

When it comes to handling customer service in the era of real time customer reviews social media, my favorite brand to use as a benchmark is Wegmans.

Customer service has always (in my opinion) been phenomenal in the stores. Everyone is completely helpful, knowledgeable, and for the most part, quick. Because this foundation has been part of their customer service practice, it’s no surprise that they’ve translated this to the social space.

Wegmans has an astounding social media team that will answer in a flash. If you have a problem with a product, can’t find a product, or need to know specifics about products, there is a team there that will check into all of the above for you.

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I once asked @wegmans how big are their chicken breasts. Within five minutes, I was told they average 5-6 oz. When I was unhappy with a vegetarian noodle bowl I bought, they asked me for my address so that they could send me coupons to use in the prepared foods section. That coupon bought a Wegmans sub.

What you should take away from this is… I’m talking about them. And I would recommend anyone go to Wegmans.

Are the prices more than at comparable grocery stores? Well, probably no comparable… because it’s Wegmans. But yes, it is a bit pricer.
However, you get so much in that extra price. And I love Wegmans.

This is the power of word of mouth marketing. This is where their public relations pros are keeping an eye on customer service practices to ensure that the customer (me) is happy. I forgave the flavorless noodle bowl pretty instantly and still go there happily.

And when Buzzfeed published an article about why Wegmans is basically the best, you better believe I retweeted and posted that article to Facebook!

What happens when you turn this around though?

Oh… bad social media practices can cause a crisis. For instance, banks. Banks don’t have the best rap right now… but Bank of America showed just how bad customer service (social media common sense) can backfire.

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This is the kind of post that Bank Of America could have ignored all together and there would have been no ramification to them whatsoever. However, afterwards… this happened:

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After this, it was brought to light that BOA consistently uses generic tweets to answer to any message directed at them. And I mean anything:

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Engage in online customer service the way you would face to face. And if you don’t? Well…

I hope you’ve got a stellar PR team on hand. And even then… it doesn’t always save you.

Public Relations: Ethics and Crisis

Disclaimer to my regular blog readers – This is an assignment for school. You can skip it if you wish, however, I encourage you to read my thoughts on ethical public relations practices. You may disagree, agree, or completely not care about what I feel is ethical. Feel free to chime in if I’m way off base 🙂

At this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW – seriously, I need to get to this someday), BBH, a PR agency out of New York City had the idea that they would outfit 13 homeless people with shirts that say “Hi, I’m Melvin. I’m a 4G Hotspot.” The idea was make sure people attending SXSW had enough places where they could connect, and since the demand would be high for this connectivity, this idea was born. Each of these people, who happen to be homeless, were paid $20 an hour and were allowed to keep the suggested donation of  $2 for 15 minutes the agency said could be paid for via PayPal or cash. 

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Arguments against this case say that the company exploited these people’s precarious situation when they don’t care about their condition outside of the context of this SXSW stunt. Arguments in favor say that they have brought the issue of homelessness to the attendees of SXSW who would talk with them while using the wireless hotspots. One of the 13 people, Melvin, said this, “That’s a good side of it, too — we get to talk to people. Maybe give them a different perception of what homeless is like.”

So I’m posed with this question:

  • Is it an ethical PR tactic in your opinion?
  • Respond to the general idea that “all press is good press.” Do you agree or disagree.

Here’s the deal, I don’t agree with what they did because I agree that they’ve gone ahead and exploited this situation. It makes them look as if they care, but beyond this one single instance, they clearly don’t. I would have agreed with this situation if, in fact, BBH devoted time or money into battling homelessness. I perused their website (though it is a very nice website, neither here nor there right now) and did a quick Google search to see if there had been any charitable efforts following SXSW and no go. Giving these people preference for this kind of job is nice and all… but it’s not helping to battle the root problem.

BBH could have easily gone to an Austin-based not-for-profit who works with people who need a home and have hired through that effort while simultaneously doing actual good. While the people who worked for BBH got a little reprieve, it’s unlikely that there were any long term benefit to. That’s a problem.

The long-term benefit here is in the hands of BBH because I’m talking about them. I’ve visited their site. BBH has been mentioned in more of the articles written about this situation than Melvin, the man wearing the Hot Spot tee.

So no, I do not think this was an ethical PR tactic. Exploitation is never ethical.

Next topic…

All press is good press.

All press is good press… if you know how to handle it when it’s actually negative press.

Crisis communication plans need to be solid, every member of the team needs to be well acquainted with protocol, and for the love of all that is good… please, please, please, never say “no comment.”

All press is good press in the sense that you have the opportunity to start a real conversation. You have an opportunity to right a wrong. Not dealing with the negative correctly is pretty detrimental…

For example? Last September, Paul Frank hosted… a Dream Catchin’ Pow Wow party. Native American cultural appropriation was en masse at this party and it didn’t particularly paint Native culture in a very good light. For instance, they had three signature cocktails that were labeled, “Rain Dance Refresher,” “Dream Catcher,” and “Neon Teepee.”

Credit: Native Appropriations Blog (Adrienne Keene)

Credit: Native Appropriations Blog (Adrienne Keene)

Here’s the rest of the shit storm that was this Pow Wow themed party:

  • Plastic tomahawks
  • Fake headdresses
  • Glow in the dark war (face) paint
  • Plastic bows and arrows
  • Antlers

What the actual fuck?

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Indian Country was enraged. I was enraged. You are not honoring a group of people by deigning to emulate a fictitious caricature of a very real, and very still alive, group of people. Paul Frank was DEAD WRONG for doing this.

Thankfully, the writer of Native Appropriations and Harvard PhD candidate, Adrienne Keene (Cherokee), had the wherewithal to email Paul Frank’s PR company about this. And the backlash that Paul Frank got was enormous enough that the President of Paul Frank reached out to Adrienne in response. They immediately admitted to wrong-doing, scrapped the 1000+ photo album off their Facebook, and here’s the kicker, offered to allow real Native artists to come in and design outfits and accessories with the fashion company.

Here’s the letter from President Elie Dekel of Paul Frank Industries to Adrienne:

Dear Adrienne K, 

My name is Elie Dekel and I am President of Paul Frank Industries LLC. I am writing to see if you would be willing to speak with me regarding the recent Paul Frank event. While we have not yet received your letter [AK note: I only had emailed it to the PR company], we have seen the copy online and would like to address your concerns directly. This is something we take very seriously, and since the event, we have begun to take numerous steps to address this regrettable and unfortunate situation. I’d like to talk with you so I can update you on what we’re doing as well as hear more from you, so we learn from this mistake. If you would be interested in speaking with me, please let me know how best to reach you and when you might be available.

Sincerely,

Elie Dekel

 

Keene and Paul Frank worked in conjunction with the Native boutique store, Beyond Buckskin, to create a line of clothing that was made by Native fashion designers and artists from around the United States and Canada.

I actually already bought a pair of Candace Halcro (Cree/Metis) sunglasses. Aren’t they just dazzling?!

glass2_case_RSWhat did Paul Frank do here that makes this good press?

  1. The addressed the problem head on.
  2. They took the photo album down from their Facebook.
  3. They requested to speak to learn from their mistake.
  4. They made it up by featuring authentic Native designs that aren’t superficially made.

It’s terrible it had to happen this way, but because Paul Frank did the right thing in response, I now own Paul Frank accessories. And I’d encourage you to get some of these sunglasses as well. Halcro/Paul Frank just came out with beaded rimless sunglasses like the one pictured above and I think I just have to have them.

Now if only Victoria’s Secret had done a little more like this… I’d probably set foot back in their stores.

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show 2012. Granted, they didn't air this outfit when the show televised... but more could have been done.

Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show 2012. Granted, they didn’t air this outfit when the show televised… but more could have been done.

So yeah, sorry I couldn’t give a straightforward answer on the all press is good press debate. But it really does depend on how the press is handled. People will mess up, people will get mad… it’s a matter of dealing with the situation at hand.

Now comment below and tell my professor that I need an A 😉

 

Dog Days of Yore… Growing up and Learning Some

I remember when I was a senior in high school and I was applying for this fantastic opportunity for a full ride through college. It was some sort of program (and I knew quite a few of the students that ultimately got it) that was pretty competitive. It was also one of my first interviews for pretty much anything. My first job as a housekeeper at a church in downtown Buffalo was kind of grandfathered to me because my mother had previously held the position.

The program was set for Canisius College, which I had already committed to go going to, so being invited to interview was a big deal for me and, especially, my mother.

I was coached to the best of everyone’s ability on how to handle interviews. What to wear, how to dress, mannerisms, and why I thought I would be a great candidate for such a prestigious award.

Then came the one question I’ll never forget… and the lamest ass answer in the history of “Describe yourself in three words.”

1. Loyal

2. Kind

3. Fun

After listing off these Lassie-like answers, I followed it up by chuckling and telling the interviewers (there were four), “Boy, I sound like a dog, don’t I?”

Silence.

I didn’t get it. I didn’t even get the 50% scholarship they were offering. And following a series of events (& one full year at Canisius) afterward, I’m actually really glad to have graduated from Buffalo State instead (the communication department just fit me better). I’m sure it’s not wholly based on my canine attributes that I didn’t get the scholarship, but boy was that one stand out facepalm, eye-roll of a moment.

Which is pretty much the reaction I got out of my mother when I told her about how the interview went.

Potentially long story, short – I noticed how far I’ve come since that day. I just filled out an application that asked me to describe myself in three words. This time?

1. Passionate

2. Critical

3. Ambitious

I’ve come to terms with a lot in the years in between moments, faced some adversities, and more importantly, overcame them. And I took kind of a “it is what it is” stance on number 2. I hmm’d at the word choice. Does it come off like I’m some judgmental biotch? Because I’m not. Gay, straight, bi, polygamist? Great. Atheist, Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Hindu? Great. Full-time Working Mother or Stay At Home Mom? Great. The list could go on.

Anyway.

I expect certain things, and when presented with ideas, suggestions, etc., I like to analyze and make sure the right things are being done to implement. Basically, I know critical has a negative/positive connotation:

Adjective
  1. Expressing adverse or disapproving judgments: “critical of many US programs”.
  2. Expressing or involving an analysis of a creative work or performance: “she never won the critical acclaim she sought”.

But there it is.

I didn’t mean to get all “coming of age” on you… but I really have come a long way. I can’t wait to see how I evolve as the years pass.

A Month and a Day.

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I spent some time reading about other people’s engagement stories, including one of my favorite bloggers engagement story, and I felt compelled to come back and write a little bit about my own engagement. Indeed, at a month and a day until we finally become wife and husband, it’s a good time to look back at it all.

Mark and I had been dating for a year and a month when we got engaged. I was basically a baby at 20 years old (and had just gotten my license the day before!) when I asked him to marry me. Yep – I asked him!

I was raised to ask for what I want, because the answer is always no if you don’t ask. I’ve taken that to heart at everything I do, be it scholarship money, raises, job inquiries, or services. So, if I wanted to spend my life with this guy who proved to be an AMAZING person over those past 13 months, why the hell not just ask him? I’m pretty sure if I waited for him… I’d still be waiting. Not for his lack of wanting commitment (clearly he said yes), but I think he would’ve just waited even though we just celebrated being together for four years in June.

And it just happens to be a Nephew woman kind of thing as my mom asked my dad to marry her back in 1982!

So what would compel a 20 something to ask her boyfriend of 13 months for his hand in marriage?

After being together just 7 months, Mark stepped up his game and proved just the kind of person he is, the kind of heart he has. My mother died unexpectedly in January, and he was with me (he had spent the night at my house) when we found my mom. He took care of my sister to the best of his ability in the first couple of hysteric hours while I dealt with it all. Doctors, hospital administrators, funeral home directors, EMT’s, 911 dispatch, and calling family members and friends, letting them know what had happened. My inconsolable sister was in his care, as much as he could (and after only really knowing her for about 6 months, this was incredible to me).

This man takes care of the people he loves, and he did everything he possibly could for a very long time after that whole ordeal to console me. He never made a cringing face at probably one of the ugliest cries on the planet (of course, one that only I can produce). Bless his soul, he is not a merry person if he’s gotten very little sleep, but he woke up with me multiple times at night if it was one of those nights without complaint.

And in the months following, when grieving is especially difficult, he watched me fumble trying to put my life together again, never once sneering. To be real, I made choices involving the estates that I might regret a little now. I got fall-on-the-floor-and-not-move-again drunk (not proud of this). And he never got nasty with me when I got especially nasty with him and my sisters around the holidays (grief is a funny bitch, let me tell you).

I was sure I wanted to marry him from the months following this whole ordeal. After all, as I was putting my life together again, he was being built into it as well.

Finally, we went for our first vacation together in Ithaca, NY – one of my favorite places in the world. And on the 24th of July, under the stars at this beautiful B&B on Lake Cayuga, I asked, “What would you say if I asked you to marry me?” (So I skirted around actually just coming out with the question – I chalk it up to being a 20-year old baby!)

After that, we planned on getting married after I graduated from undergraduate. Then things got delayed when I announced plans for graduate school. And earlier this year we planned for that October 2014 wedding. After a lot of talk and budgeting, we realized that a big fancy wedding just wasn’t for us. The show that is a wedding spectacular felt like what we thought we had to do, instead of what we wanted to do.

And here we are, four years together, a three-year engagement as of tomorrow, and finally getting married next month (on the 24th! I’m a sucker for patterns).

Before meeting Mark, I thought I’d be that single, career-focused woman (no negative connotation but my career was always a priority) who didn’t get married until her 30’s. I’d be the anomaly that didn’t have kids (if at all) until late 40’s. And now, I’ll be married two months shy of my 24th birthday and I can’t wait to have kids.

Here’s to having a more unpredictable life that I ever imagined having in my short few years on this earth. And to many more, hopefully the unpredictable surprises to come will be more positive than anything. I’ve had enough of the sad surprises that my heart can handle for quite a few years.

Holy shit. I’m getting married.

A week in review: a Friday muse.

{Image via Google}

{Image via Google}

 

This was a pretty eventful week in a lot of different aspects. The political events that unfolded this week were among my favorites to keep an eye on.

SCOTUS overturns the Indian Child Welfare Act and awards custody of a young girl to her adoptive parents, overriding the rights of her Cherokee father. I heard about this quite a few months ago and I sadly lost track of the proceedings. I’m also slightly hazy on the whole story (for shame on me) but I am aware that this ruling has set a precedence for future cases of young Indian children and their parents. When I get the fuller picture on it, I’d love to explore the topic even more. Unfortunately, even with my resources like Twitter and Google, I was unable to come up with a clearer understanding of what the said precedence even is. So even though I don’t have a well-informed opinion yet, I know that I’m interested.

SCOTUS rules DOMA unconstitutional and overturns Prop 8. The thirteen states that have legalized gay marriage will continue to recognize those unions as full legal and binding. These couples will maintain the same rights that Mark and I will come August. They will enjoy the same financial and legal benefits of marriage that we will. And you know what? I don’t view our impending marriage as lessened by this ruling. There is still a lot of fighting to be done for true equal rights for those in the LBGTQ community, but this is an incredible step forward for them. Love is love, people.

WENDY FREAKING DAVIS. A thirteen-hour filibuster in defense of a woman’s right to choose, only to be ended by the petulant naysaying of Texas Republicans… just wow. I don’t think I ever understood just how BIG Texas was until this came to light earlier this week. But to close all but five abortion services in the State of Texas really is the same as banning the practice altogether for some most women. Wendy Davis spoke from experience, spoke from the heart, and really stuck the proverbial middle finger up to the Republicans who tried to squander the rights of women.

An article that I read on the topic said it best. This is why people like myself, an advocate for minority and women’s rights were so thrilled with Davis this week.

Women, people of color, gay people — anyone who’s underrepresented in national politics — are so desperate to see ourselves reflected and our interests voiced in real-time. Not by a small throng of protesters outside on the capitol steps or by an encampment in lower Manhattan, but in the center of the action, by a credible and even-voiced and authoritative representative, someone who actually has the power to change things. This isn’t to say that straight white men never speak up for our interests. But there is a level of comfort in knowing that the person speaking has lived your experience. And shared experience is also a galvanizing force.

When it comes to these issues, I am so glad that I live in New York State where my autonomy as a woman is mine, and mine alone. From the state’s perspective, to my future husband’s, to my own perspective… everything involving my body is my own. I feel for the women who felt undermined by male legislators at the Texas capitol, and other states who take the same stance for that matter. I know women from these states. How dare anyone play with their rights like these people tried to do? Also, for damn shame on Rick Perry in the aftermath and the legislator who called the crowd of mostly women showing support at the Capitol during Davis’ filibuster “an unruly mob.” Guess some of these legislators need a re-up on what a democracy is. For the people, by the people. That was not an “Occupy Wall Street” tactic but true democracy at work.

President Obama visited Africa this week. I can only imagine why (sarcasm) his foreign diplomacy outreach with African has been far and few in between since taking office (Hint: That’s how racism works). But this week, President Obama went on a much anticipated three-country tour to Africa, first to Tanzania, then to Senegal, and capping it off in South Africa. This is his first visit to Africa since his reelection. And just yesterday, he visited Gopee Island, or the “Door of No Return.” In one of the most poignant images I’ve seen this week, President Obama stands in the doorway where Africans were handed over to slave traders, never to return to their homes. And the article that I read said this about the picture:

 Unlike those slaves, he will turn around and leave the House of Slaves the same way he came in. He’ll get on Air Force One and fly back to the White House, the most powerful man in the world.

Image via Time

Image via Time

There have been a lot of mind-boggling moments as well as uplifting and hopeful ones this week. I’ve been glued to the evening news and to NPR, the AP wire, and Politico this week on everything from Snowden (interesting that US allies are refusing to extradite…), Syria, Obama’s trip, Mandela’s health, the Texas legislature, SCOTUS rulings, and the George Zimmerman trial. I’ve also been watching all kinds of documentaries, like last night we watched the documentary about Dr. Jack Kevorkian. I’ve also been catching up on happenings in the Middle East the last few years via documentaries.

And all of this information has been on super overload because this is the first week in a very long time where I’ve had no school work to consider having done before the weekend.

I cannot imagine what the first few weeks of my life will be post-graduation. I will probably geek out much more than I ever thought possible (which is frightening considering this peak into it based on this last week).

 

Oh yeah, and we got our marriage license. Also, Arrested Development Season 4 is much funnier the second time around. GO FIGURE.

That’s my water cooler talk for this week. Any of this catch your eyes and ears this week as well? What did you find interesting?

I will leave you with one of the most bad ass quotes of the week, brought to you by Texas Senator Leticia Van De Putte:

“At what point must a female senator raise her hand or voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room?”

A Friday Eve Brain Dump

Go away from your blog for a couple of weeks and there’s a new WordPress platform waiting for me. Well then… so that’s new.

Since my last update about life and nothing in particular, a few things have happened that I’m excited about.

My book is coming along! The design template and bones of the aesthetic part of my master’s IMC book is more-or-less in place. I’m still working on content as much as I can but am currently stonewalled until I get some quantitative research done. Working on doing some more qualitative (second-hand) research in the meantime, and this is expected to ramp up after my final classes for the summer wrap up this weekend. Granted the point of no return was back in January, I can’t believe how close I am to getting my master’s degree! I can feel my parent’s smiles. This is just as much for their memory as it is for me. I even decided that for this one, I am definitely walking the stage next May. I owe that much to myself (and I’m in a much better place now than I was when I graduated undergrad).

Buffalo News Sports writer Tim Graham called me. It wasn’t some flimsy call for the hell of it, hey what’s up old pal? Nah, he called me to talk about the Washington NFL team name, aptly referred to as the R-Word in Indian Country. I have been pretty diligent in keeping up with this topic as it continues to be an issue. A mutual friend (mentor?) referred Graham to me because he recognizes my passion for this topic as it’s obvious if we’re friends on any form of social media. Even if we’re not friends on social media, I’ve written about the topic here and hereI was really happy to see the discussion brought to a local level. I wasn’t even phased by the negative commentary regularly received on any Buffalo News article. Because the point was that people were talking about it. And for all of the negative that came with it, I was incredibly relieved to see just how many applauded Tim for vowing to refer to Washington as just that.  He doesn’t promise it because in his business, the team name just rambles off the tip of the tongue without thought. To his credit, he quickly understood that in itself is a problem. And in a coy, flushed, and humble brag way, it was really cool seeing his article featured in National papers… an article in which my name, subsequently, also went National. No one noticed, no more new people know who I am, and to say I received any sort of fame would be stretching the truth further than I could attempt. BUT, I helped to get the conversation started. I did that. Humble brag over.

The Nephew/James Wedding Saga changes… again. We’ve pulled the plug on an October 2014 wedding. After a lot of discussion, and a fight I’d rather pretend never happened, we came to some agreements on what a wedding should be. I have never pictured myself as a fairy tale princess bride. The thought of being at the center of attention in a room of 100+ people made me want to vom ever so slightly. More than that, the idea of paying for a wedding like this made me really anxious, nauseated, and just downright shitty. We are not rich people, we don’t have wealthy families, and to put the onus on ourselves to put on this event just didn’t make sense in the end. So finally, we’re gathering the details on a new wedding plan. Something that will fit both the budget and our styles – relaxed, laid-back, and stress-free less stressful. Nothing yet is super set in stone, but we have a pretty good idea of where we’re headed. Stay tuned!

Oh yeah… and we bought wedding bands! I told him that after almost a three-year engagement, I feel like I really became dedicated when I purchased my wedding band. While I was kidding of course, it felt more extremely real because it’s an item that symbolizes the wedding day. The old venue at Seneca Allegany was the location. The photographers were set to capture the moments. But the rings are actual things exchanged on the day of. Tangible, life-long mementos of the day. It’s beautiful, it’s simple, and where bling-y brides would scoff at my choice, I’m super excited about the extra sparkle on my hand. Remember when I said the theme of our wedding had to be simple? I meant it. Also, we bought his ring the other day and it is so unique. Think my pearl engagement ring is unique in the bridal jewelry world? His wedding band is amazing… and totally him. Can’t wait to share!

 

Some of my favorite things: Brain dumps & quotes

Since it’s Friday, I figure I’ll write a more light-hearted post about what I’ve come across as of late. Because, why so serious (all the time)?

So first, here is my brain dump for all to marvel or roll your eyes at:

1. I’ve been gymming (not a real word) and watching what I eat pretty meticulously for a short while now. Yesterday, I felt great and clothes fit perfectly. This morning, I put my favorite jeans on and they were not fitting so well. Cue crying fit because how can this be so? I’m chalking this one up to the weather because some water & breakfast later, my jeans are fitting fine at work. The human body is so cray. (Yes, yes I know the word I’m looking for is bloated but I rarely get that way unless I’ve just feasted. Waking up that way was abnormal.)

2. I’ve had a major case of baby brain this last month, give or take. I’m so thankful I have friends who have had kids, who are willing to tell me all of the gross things that come with being pregnant, laboring, and giving birth. On top of that, all the things that go into actually rearing children. Since I’ve never been around babies all like that, this shit makes my head spin. Stories about things being the size of quarters that might not normally happen in a non-pregnant world. And a very clever anecdote from a mommy blogger (who holds nothing back – this I can appreciate) who brought the term “vasshole” into my life. Erm, set the alarm for birth control.

3. I’m stuck in this “I-have-no-effing-clue-what-I’m-doing” mode when it comes to my IMC book. Time to dive in. Right now, I’m sure I look like “say what?” Envision quizzical dog look. That’s me.

And now that I’ve spewed the randomness on you, here is a little more thought in the rest of this post. My favorite inspirational/motivational quotes, arranged by what it’s inspiring/motivating me to do. I cannot simply have one.

  • “In three words, I can sum up everything I know about life: It goes on.” – Robert Frost. Dear Bobby Frost got it right. I try to live my life the way I want to. I try to remember that I only have this one life to make it right (unless the Buddhists are right). If things look bleak, I try to find the positive in the situation at hand. Why? Because no matter how earth shattering things might seem, not matter what I think or feel about it; life absolutely goes on. It goes on with me in it or not in it. 
  • “A Nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground.”Cheyenne Proverb. This is just one of those things that keep me motivated when I think of the work and the difference I’d love to contribute in Indian Country. This is what makes me very proud to be a Seneca woman and in the situation I am in. This is why I fight to make people understand that we aren’t a costume to be worn, your children cannot be “Indian” just because they play in an appropriated model of a traditional tipi, and we are real and around. Just like many others like me, my heart is not on the ground; we are still here.
  • It will all be worth it in the end…” This is probably the number one thing that got me through undergrad and what continues to propel me through graduate school. This is what my mom said to me when she forced me into Youth Leadership Erie County in high school (which I turned out to love), badgered me into applying and going to Cornell for their HS Summer Studies program (which I really turned out to love), and taking on all kinds of extra curricular activities. And now here we are, six months from getting my master’s degree, the highest level degree attained in my immediate family. The degree my father so badly wanted to get he was willing to do it at 40-something years old. So far all these things have been worth it…
  • The answer is always no unless you ask…” This is what my parents always said to me growing up. If I want something, I have to just go ahead and ask for it/work for it. I shouldn’t sit back and wait for things to come to me/happen to me. These have been amazing words to live by.

 

And I’m sure there are so many more that I live by daily. In fact, I was trying to think of a single one I go by when I’m working out but the workout seems too tough. But I want to keep going. Mostly, it’s a series of inner monologues that tell me to stop being a baby and to tough it out. Just one more set…

What are your favorite quotes to live by for any situation?