An unexpected surprise in Chelsea, New York

Chelsea

During one of my many trips to New York City this past Summer I decided to check out the neighborhood of Chelsea for the first time and absolutely fell in love. It came across as a very laid back place, unlike some other parts of Manhattan where you’re surrounded by briskly passing high-heeled pumps and briefcases.

As I do often on long days of exploring, I eventually started looking for a coffeehouse where I could rest my feet, open my laptop and get some writing done. I try to stay away from big chains when I’m in a new place because I love the feel of small neighborhood coffeehouses.

With that being said I stumbled into Cafe Grumpy’s located on 224 W. 20th Street. It was everything you could ask for in a small coffeehouse with exposed brick and a rustic yet modern feel.

As I was waiting to order my drink I noticed several signs posted stating the “no laptop” policy. When I asked the lady behind the counter why that was she explained that they wanted to promote a “free space” environment.  While I wasn’t entirely sure what that meant I went with it.

I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty disappointed that I couldn’t open up the ole’ MacBook and get some work done but I wanted to respect the policy. With no book or magazine as backup I started a conversation with the man at the table next to me. I admitted to him that I didn’t know what to do with myself and he politely told me that he couldn’t relate to my dilemma as he made it a point to stay away from technology as much as possible. I then noticed his open notebook and, as if to prove his point, he proceeded to show me pages and pages of handwriting. I cannot remember the last time I wrote in an actual notebook (high school, perhaps?)

He proceeded to show me his very outdated flip phone while explaining his aversion to having a smart phone. He didn’t think it was necessary to have abundance of useless information at his fingertips nor did he need to see his emails the second they reached his inbox.

By no means was he cocky in his explanations. He simply needed nothing more than pen and paper to pass the time and I found that refreshing. After the rather pleasant conversation he politely excused himself leaving me, once again, alone with nothing to do. I had hoped to meet another stranger to talk to but when that didn’t happen I wandered back out to resume exploring.

I had a great time walking down the tiny, stoop-filled streets and would recommend that anyone visiting the area check out Chelsea Market for a meal and shopping. And while I enjoyed the unexpected twist of Cafe Grumpy’s,  I  have to admit that at the end of the day I found myself at a Starbucks drinking a latte and surfing the web.

Surviving the job market: a how-to guide

Below is an article I wrote for The Signal, Georgia State University’s newspaper. As a recent college graduate I look forward to taking some on my own advice.

Enjoy!

As we are all beginning to realize, there is a good chance that companies will not be anxiously breaking down our doors with job offers when we graduate. The job market is in the tanks and it is all taking place with us on the brink of graduating college, go figure. We have devoted the last four years (or more) to prepare for the working world, and now that world may not be ready for us. However, all is not lost. There are several alternatives that students can participate in while waiting for this transient, vicious period in the job market to pass.

While these alternatives may not all lead to paychecks, they may be great ways to gain experience and have a little fun while we wait for this unpromising job market to make a comeback. First, lets all take a moment to appreciate our parent’s advice of saving money (you have been saving half of every dollar, right?) because that money will come in handy right about now. Even if not, though, many of these tips still work. Here is how to survive the dismal job market:

Internships

I know we were all hoping to make the big bucks after college, but an internship may not be a bad idea until then. It’s a great way to stay in the game. You gain more experience and can make some great connections. Who knows, you may even get paid (but don’t count on it). Here are some ideas to help you get started:

1.Turner Broadcasting Company has many opportunities for college students and recent graduates alike. It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn about the many facets of the television industry.

2.Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta can be a great place to work and gain experience in writing newsletters, event planning, and even public relations.

3.The Georgia Aquarium offers ideal internships for those interested in the public relations field.  You will gain plenty of experience in writing press releases, and assisting in media interviews. Just don’t get lured in by those cute, little penguins (you cannot sneak them home under your jacket).

Travel

Who says you have to go straight into the workforce anyway? Earn some life experience by traveling the country, or better yet, the world. Believe it or not, it is possible to explore in an affordable way. Whether you are backpacking through Spain or hiking through Germany, you’ll have a blast. A great way to stretch your dollar is by staying in hostels. They are really cheap and occupied by other students doing the exact same thing you are. What employer wouldn’t be impressed that you can order a hamburger in 6 different languages?

1.transitionsabroad.com – This is a great place for traveling, studying, or even working abroad.  It is a great one stop place to answer all of your questions and even figure out which route is best for you.

2. frommers.com – Frommer’s has been helping people plan trips for years. Research different countries and plan a trip from scratch. Everything from where to stay to what to eat will be found here.

3. http://www.bug.co.uk – Here you can find the backpacker’s ultimate guide. It has discussion boards, destination guides, and even hostel reviews. This is a great place to visit if you’re even considering backpacking throughout your travels.

Volunteer

Roll up those sleeves and do some good in your free time. Employers love to see the ways you’ve contributed to your community. You canvolunteer at a soup kitchen or become a big brother or sister. You’ll gain a unique kind of experience. Not to mention, you’ll get that warm and fuzzy feeling that money can’t buy.

1. handsonatlanta.org – Here you can figure out which type of service is right for you. Not too fond of emptying bed pans, but love to work with your hands? No problem. Hands On Atlanta offers you a variety of volunteer opportunities so that you can pick which one is best for you.

2. atlantahabitat.org- Habitat for Humanity is a place where you help build affordable, green homes for families who need them. You don’t need any experience and can make a big difference. You may even learn a few things to take back to your home.

3. pawsatlanta.org – Are you an animal lover? If so, PAWS Atlanta is the place for you. You can spend your days with dogs and cats that desperately need affection and care. You can also be a part of placing abandoned animals in loving homes. Just resist the urge to buy four acres and adopt them all yourself.

Stay Sharp

Remember that whatever you decide to do during this slump, make sure to keep your skills sharp. Document your experiences, improve your knowledge, and more than anything don’t give up. Whether you choose to take the ideas listed above or not, be sure not to lie dormant. Make sure you have something great to offer an employer when you do get that interview.

1. http:/blogger.com – Write about the economy, write a movie review, or write about your Aunt Gloria’s new doily collection. Here is a great place to start your very own blog. It’s super easy and a great place to keep your thoughts in order.

Finally, the iPhone 4

To say that I was excited about the release of the iPhone 4 is an understatement. I still had the very first iPhone and it was time for an upgrade. My phone was literally falling apart. It was battered, bruised and I hadn’t heard it ring in about 6 months because the headphone jack was broke. The only way to know I was getting a call was if it was in my hand or back pocket so that I could feel it vibrate.

When the day came to pre-order I spent hours online trying to get one. Apple’s website,  however, kept giving me an error message. I tried to call but after being on hold for 20 minutes I decided to try my hand at the website once again. Finally, around 6:30 pm I was able to complete my order. The only thing left to do was wait.

Shortly after placing my order I received an email from Apple saying that I’d receive my package a day sooner than expected. This excited my because the iPhone 4 wasn’t being sold in stores until June 24 and I’d be getting mine the day before!

At this time, I was staying in New York City’s Upper East Side and had the phone shipped to my apartment there. It came a day sooner, as promised, and I spent hours happily playing with my newest toy.

The next day I decided to head over to the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue to see how the turnout was and boy was it crazy. News vans were lined up and down the sidewalk and hundreds of people were in line waiting to buy the coveted gadget. I was certainly an envy as people realized that I already had the new phone. Dozens of people asked me how I liked it and I even ended up doing a live interview with Fox Business.

Now that the hype is over I must say that I’m still loving my iPhone 4. It has dropped enough calls to irritate me in the beginning but I just received my free case and it’s slowly become a thing of the past.

I love sending (and receiving) picture and video text which is something I wasn’t able to do on my old phone. Also, being able to record in HD has proven convenient. I had just gotten the Flip video recorder several months before and has since sold it because the iPhone 4 does the same thing.

It’s much faster than any other phone I’ve had and being able to organize my apps into folders has been nice. I haven’t used the Face Time application yet but am looking forward to it.

All in all I’m pleased with my new phone and look forward to the newest creations by Apple.

Who Dat!

Bourbon Street after the Saints first Superbowl win!!!

With football season less than a week away I thought I’d post the article I wrote as a guest blogger for The Examiner’s Leon Logothetis about the New Orleans Saints Super Bowl win. Enjoy!!!

As a native New Orleanian, I’m used to the glorious chaos that is the French Quarter. The crowds donned in feather boas and sipping daiquiris are a familiar site and one I never get tired of. Everyone who goes to New Orleans for a good time usually ends up at the same place, Bourbon Street. This popular stretch of road is a force to be reckoned with on any day, but this past weekend was unlike any other I’ve ever experienced. Aside from Mardi Gras being in full swing, the entire city was abuzz over Super Bowl weekend.

Until now, the Saints have been only one of five teams that have never made it to the Super Bowl. But now that has changed and hundreds of people took to the streets to celebrate. Black and Gold dominated the atmosphere and random “who dat’s” were shouted to anyone who would listen.

Saints fans are famous for their passion and Sunday was no exception. People packed into the bars and clubs on Bourbon and cheered as if life depended on it. When it was all said and done the Saints had won their first bowl and history and I watched from a balcony as thousands of people flooded Bourbon Street in celebration. It was a once in a lifetime experience and one I will not soon forget. As I walked back to my friend’s apartment I was being hugged, kissed, and high fived by random strangers and enjoying every minute of it.

This is a happy day for the city of New Orleans and a well-deserved victory for our team. As I prepare to pull out a very uncomfortable sofa bed and get some much needed rest I’m reminded of this historic night by car horns honking and people shouting “Go Saints” and I have a feeling it’s going to be like this for awhile.

Missed Opportunity

As a recent college graduate with a degree in communications major I dream of becoming a successful journalist and there are many worthy professionals that I look up to in the field. One of those people is journalist, Lisa Ling. Ever since I was in high school I have admired her ambition and courage. She seems to truly empathize with the situations of those she’s interviewing. Ms. Ling actually inspired me to join my high school news team when I was a sophomore and I have steadily pursued the journalism field ever since. Even though my focus has changed from news reporting to travel journalism Lisa Ling has had a huge impact on my life.

I’ve watched her report from places such as North Korea with grace and dignity and most recently I watched her standing on a street in New York City with who I presume were her mother and sister. I’ve always said that I would never be star struck if I ever met a celebrity yet I completely froze. I think that’s because seeing her directly in front of me was not like seeing a celebrity. I actually think I could have handled if it were Tom Cruise or Paris Hilton because I wouldn’t care about making a good impression. I’m sure they are used to encountering mumbling idiots as they stroll the streets of Manhattan. Lisa Ling however, was different because I’ve respected her for so long. I didn’t want to just mumble incoherently about how I’m “a fan”.

I can honestly say that I was extremely intimidated by her. This makes me disappointed in myself because intimidation has been my vice for many years (as well as something I thought I’ve conquered quite well).

Today, I consider myself an outgoing person and enjoy talking with people from all walks of life. I see each day as an opportunity to meet new people and never back down from a lively conversation. Yet for some reason I turned into a 13 year old, self-conscious girl when I saw Ms. Ling standing in front of me.

I had no reason to think that she would have been rude or dismissive. She didn’t appear busy or in a rush yet I didn’t even try to at least say hello. Not many people have the opportunity to meet one of their role models and I let the opportunity pass me by.  The only excuse I have is that my nerves got the best of me.

As a fellow journalist I should have had the confidence to present myself as one. Since that missed opportunity I’ve repeated over and over in my head how the conversation may have gone. She may have had some helpful advice for a soon-to-be college graduate hoping to pursue a career in the journalism field. If anything, I could have simply shaken her hand and said hello.

I learned something about my self that afternoon because if you had asked me the day before what I would have done in such a situation I would have been certain that I would have walked up with confidence and introduced myself.

I encourage others to learn from my mistake. You may one day have the opportunity to meet a role model that has inspired you in some way and I hope that you jump at the chance to tell them that. If you don’t you’ll regret it.

For me, this has definitely been a learning experience. If I’m ever lucky enough to have such an opportunity again I’ll have more confidence in myself. At least I hope I will because the one thing I’ve learned from this is that saying you’ll do something and actually doing it are two completely different things.