SLB in NYC

Sheesh. I haven’t written a blog in awhile. But I have a lot to say so it will make up for it. Never fear, 5-10 people who actually read this! There have been many changes I’ve made in the past six months so here they are nice and in a short, condensed list:

First order of business: I just dropped everything and moved my entire life to New York City. The big apple. The concrete jungle. I can’t believe that I’m here and functioning and actually doing things.

Second order of business/the reason I’m here: I was accepted into one of the most prestigious graduate programs in journalism at Columbia University. I still can’t believe that either.

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Photo via Lens Blog – New York Times

I suppose you’re wondering why I wanted to do this. If you had asked me a year ago if I ever would have thought I’d be here, I would have laughed in your face. I had a picture, albeit a fuzzy one, of what I thought my life would be. This wasn’t it. But things happen. Priorities make themselves prominent.

This time last year I was trying to piece everything together. Even six months ago, I was trying to piece everything together. I couldn’t understand why things just weren’t working for me, and why I couldn’t put my all into my work the way I used to. Nothing was inspiring. Everything was dull. I felt myself become trapped in my head with everything I did.

I applied to Columbia as a joke. I was secretly hopeful, but I joked. I hardly even told anyone I applied. I was too afraid of having to then tell them why I didn’t get accepted.

“Well, what will you do if you do get in?” My roommate, Hannah, asked.

“No need to figure that out, because I won’t,” I answered with a laugh.

But I did. And I did have to figure it out. It wasn’t easy, they don’t talk about housing being terrible in NYC for nothing. But even being here is unsettling. Everything is loud and bright and jarring. People shove without looking and don’t say, “excuse me.” You get shouted at in fast food lines if you don’t speak quickly enough. Directions are confusing and things are much farther than they seem.

When I first got here Tuesday, I was a mess. I dropped my over-stuffed luggage in the street and nearly fell over with it. A police officer had to help me hail my first taxi. The driver could tell I was holding back tears, and told me things would get better.

I believe him.

As I walked through Columbia’s campus for the first time Thursday, I felt it hit me like a ton of bricks. I couldn’t catch my breath. Love hit me the same way that it did the first time I saw the Old Well at UNC. All my anxieties and insecurities melted away as I breathed in the skyline.

It will get better.

Once it hit me, a faint sense of belonging came with it. It was all there: the answers, the feelings, everything was back. And even though I’m mostly alone in this giant place (seriously in movies it looks like you can just get to anywhere in NYC in 20 minutes and I’m here telling you that is NOT THE CASE), there are little moments in which I feel at home.

It’s like my Uber driver the other night told me when I confessed I wasn’t from the city and was worried about acclimating, “I’m doing a fine job.”

Things will only get better, and I’ll only continue to grow. Here’s to life in the only place big enough to contain my dreams.

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Things I Won’t Apologize For in 2017

Happy New Year!

I could fill your head with all of that new year, new me stuff… but I won’t. I’ve been the same determined, goofy, hard-headed girl for like five years. And while I’ve changed a little throughout the years, my core is the same. So instead of telling you how I’m planning to change over the next year, I’ll tell you the ways I won’t.

  1. How much I care. When I care about something or someone, I’m in. 1000%. And when I care, I want the best for that person. I’ll never apologize for wanting you to be the best you can be, and for encouraging you to follow your dreams. And I won’t apologize to push you to go for what you want.
  2. Being loud. Having a big voice is just who I am at this point. When I talk, I want to command attention and I want to be heard. My voice carries, and I think it’s part of what has made me the confident person I am today.
  3. Having expectations. I expect things from everyone I surround myself with, and the thing I hate most is feeling like all the effort is one-sided. At the same time, I hate to see friendships fizzle out because neither person was big enough to reach out. At the end of the day, I’ll admit that I’m friendship glue. I hate to let perfectly good relationships die, so I’ll often be that person who reaches back out. But it can’t always be up to me.
  4. Being honest. I’ve been called out SO many times before for providing my unsolicited opinions. But it’s because that’s one of my sometimes flaws, sometimes strengths. I don’t hold back my feelings, so if you’re doing something I don’t like, I’ll tell you. If you ask my advice, I’ll give you my unfiltered opinion. But that also means that if I say something, you 100% know that I meant it.
  5. Being ambitious. As much as I expect things from other people, I expect even more from myself. I’m my toughest critic, and with everything I do, every story I finish, I’m always thinking about how I could have made it better, how I could have made it more relatable. I’ll never be sorry for constantly trying to be a better reporter, friend and person.
  6. Having dreams. This sort of goes hand-in-hand with being ambitious. But there are things I want out of my life. I want to tell stories via radio and I want to make people’s lives better. I want to give others a forum in which to be heard. I’m always going to want that, and I’m not going to give up until I’m there.
  7. My sense of humor. Some call it dry, some call it obnoxious, I call it perfect. I’m always going to laugh at the most ridiculous things, I’m [hopefully] always going to be able to find a meme or gif for any situation, and I’m always going to have a sarcastic comment for everything.
  8. Listening. Another hand-in-hand point, but I will always listen when anyone needs me. Maybe we just talked an hour ago, maybe we haven’t spoken in a year. It doesn’t matter. I’m always ready to be that shoulder or ear for anybody who needs to talk or get something off of his or her chest.
  9. My appetite. I don’t really think I need to explain this, but I like pizza and I’m not sorry.
  10. Being myself. I’ve always had the attitude that I am not going to change who I am for anyone or anything. All of these points are parts and pieces of what make me who I am. Those combined with my experiences and thoughts make me unique. And none of those have changed throughout the years, they never will.

So, I guess my final point is to celebrate the things about you that you won’t change in 2017, as well as the things that you hope to. If you want to lose weight, do it, celebrate that. But also celebrate that you’re kind. If you want to be nicer this year, do it and celebrate that. But also celebrate that you’re a go-getter who doesn’t let anything get in the way of what you want in life. My unsolicited piece of advice for you today is to stop apologizing for the things that make you who you are.

The Inevitable Post-Grad Slump

So… I admit. I have been silent for awhile. And I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to talk about this. I’m one to usually struggle in silence, and usually one to only share my worries with my closest friends. But this isn’t only my struggle. I’ve seen so many people talk about this, so I figured I would talk about it too.

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My career pathway always seemed very linear. I went to high school. I graduated. I went to a four-year university. I graduated. And I’d always assumed that after that, I would just basically get a full-time job. But that isn’t what happened. I started my application process early, in January to be exact. I applied anywhere and everywhere to radio jobs. But nothing stuck. I got emails back telling me “sorry blah blah blah you weren’t the candidate we were looking for.” Or I heard nothing. And before I knew it, it was May. Time to graduate, but I still had nothing. I was in panic mode.

Don’t get me wrong, I came close to some things. I had two interviews for one job, and was a semi-finalist for an impressive fellowship with NPR, but of course, nothing came of any of them. I also had a pretty cool week-long internship in Las Vegas this summer, but nothing was permanent. Nothing stuck. I was sinking, and my self-confidence was sinking with me.

I wish I could pinpoint when exactly it was that I started feeling better, but I can’t. I have good, confident days and I still have those when I feel defeated and wilted. But it’s going to be okay. The thing about the post-grad uncertainty boat is – there are quite a few people in it with me. So I may be many things, but lonely isn’t one of them.

What am I doing right now? I’m working three part-time jobs. I’m living in Raleigh. Little by little I’m tacking on more adult bills and expenses. But that’s okay. I like all three of my jobs at the UNC Department of Dramatic Art, WCHL and Curtis Media Group. I’m working in radio at two of them, which is exactly what I want to be doing. And I have the unique ability to expand both my reporting and on-air personality/production/promotion experience. For now, I am okay. But one day I will be better.

And for my friends who also catch themselves wondering if they did the right thing, or my friends who are still looking for a job, I believe in you.

A Diploma + a Sense of Self

So, I guess I graduated. Which means, effective May 8, 2016, I am an adult. Supposedly.

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I’m not going to make you read through a super long post about how amazing college is, but I’ll tell you a little bit. I’ve left college with some pretty valuable treasures. Yeah I may have gotten some knowledge or whatever, and I am apparently a “journalist” now… whatever, whatever. But with this piece of paper that says, “hey, congrats good job u learned things & now u get to peace out 4ever,” I also left Kenan Stadium with a very clear idea of who I am.

I am strong. Much stronger than I look. I had a lot of things going on throughout college. There were some family issues, as you may have read in my very first blog. But through all that, I worked my tail off. I kept my grades up. I pushed myself to become an involved member of the Carolina community. I was also working two jobs for the majority of college. I pushed myself to the limit in college and now I know what I can do.

I am funny. And that’s okay. In high school, being the “funny girl” wasn’t cool, so I found myself censoring myself in public to do my best to fit in. That’s honestly so ridiculous, and I realize that now. Maybe I wasn’t made to fit in. Maybe I was made to make others laugh and be happy. So what?

I am intelligent. Coming to UNC was very intimidating for me, because like so many of us that go here, I was used to being one of the wittiest fish in my very small pond. Not always being the best, quickest and smartest is terrifying. But, that’s life. There’s always going to be someone one step ahead of you with a better GPA, better internship opportunity, better post-grad job, etc. If you spend all your time worrying about that, you won’t appreciate your own accomplishments. Which are still great, by the way.

I am loved. I’m pretty sure everyone always thinks they have the best friends and family in the world, and I am one of those people. Without them to cheer for you every step of the way, it’s hard to be on your own team. It’s so important to have people there to keep you from giving up, or from being too hard on yourself when things don’t go quite as planned.

I feel like I should add again that my four years at the University of North Carolina were the most difficult I have ever experienced. But they were also the most rewarding. So yes, I’m leaving with much more knowledge. I’m leaving, prepared to enter the workforce as a journalist. But I’m also leaving knowing exactly who I am and what I’m capable of. That’s just as valuable.

Friday the 13th: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Movies of The Franchise

Happy Friday the 13th (a day late), everyone! In this blog post, I will rank and analyze for you all the movies of the Friday the 13th franchise. Why? Because Jason is my favorite horror movie character. There’s just something about how he can catch people who are clearly running way faster than he can, and he just sort of hobbles along and gets them eventually. Also his sense of style amiright?

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All jokes aside, I’m pretty much ranking these so you don’t have to by watching them yourself. There are 12 movies, but only about 5 of them are worth watching. As I will tell you why below. Again, have fun watching the movies I recommend to you and Jason 4ever <3.

12. Jason X. This was the one they tried to go and make 9 years after the 9th one. Hence, X. It was just not a good time. It had a way bigger budget than all of the rest of them. And what did they do with it? WHAT DID THEY DO WITH IT? They sent poor Jason Voorhees to space. Why? Because they had already made 9 movies and driven the franchise into the ground, so the only way to go was up, up and away. Basically, it’s really far in the future and people are moving to a new planet because humans are the worst and polluted the earth too much. Jason has been captured by the government and they put him in a research facility for lord knows how long. No one can figure out why they can’t kill him, so they just freeze him instead to buy them some time. Well, that doesn’t work either so he comes out of being frozen and pretty much kills everyone in the research plant. Somehow Jason gets on a spaceship that’s going to the new planet and he kills more people. That’s all there is. Do yourself a favor and don’t waste 2 hours watching this.

11. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. If it weren’t for Jason X, it would easily be the worst movie of the whole series. Once again, they had a pretty sizable budget. And what did they do? Horrible early CGI. They had originally planned this to be the last movie, hence, THE FINAL FRIDAY. But they really tried to make the third movie the last movie, then the fourth movie the last movie, etc. Long story short, the franchise needed to be killed before this movie became a thing. I honestly choose to believe that this movie doesn’t actually exist. In this one, Jason is still at Camp Crystal Lake, kicking ass and taking names. The FBI is trying to get him (for some reason?) and they end up blowing him up into like a million pieces. Then his pieces get sent to a morgue, but OH NO. He **possesses** the coroner! So then he just keeps possessing people like a weird hockey mask spirit, meanwhile some bounty hunter figures out that only someone in Jason’s bloodline can kill him for real, for real. Somehow, one of these family members gets a magical dagger that can kill him. Eventually someone stabs him with it and these huge devil hands pull him down into what we can only assume is hell. Like why?

10. Freddy vs. Jason. Ok so as much as I hate this movie I actually sort of love it for being so ridiculous? I don’t know that I need to give a brief Stephanie summary for this one, but just in case: Jason and Freddy meet up in hell but they decide they aren’t going to like each other. Basically, the whole movie is Freddy and Jason stealing people that the other was trying to kill. It’s good to watch if you want to laugh and how horrible the acting, dialogue, effects and everything else are. For cinematic enjoyment, however, it’s absolutely awful.

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9. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning. This one only stinks because there’s not a whole lot of plot. Like less plot than all the others, really. They had tried to end the movie series after the fourth one, and this was them basically trying to drag it back out without a ton creativity or imagination. The kid who killed Jason in the fourth movie stars again in this one (but it’s no longer Corey Feldman who plays him) and he’s moving to a halfway house after spending the last 5 years in a mental institution (killing Jason took a lot out of him.) The whole movie is this kid, Tommy, trying to figure out if the Jason he’s seeing is real or a hallucination. All the while, people are dying around him. After we discover it’s essentially someone killing in the style of Jason, Tommy kills this person in self defense but it pushes him over the edge. The movie ends with Tommy in a Jason mask at the moment where he’s about to stab the halfway house’s director.

8. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood. Okay tbh I really just hate it when they add magical things into the movie for no reason. Possession, magic powers, etc. And that is why I think this one is just too much. At the beginning of this movie, like almost all of them, we are supposed to assume Jason is dead. BUT NOT FOR LONG. Because there’s this chick, Tina, who accidentally brings him back with her psychic abilities. DAMN IT, TINA. She was only trying to bring back her dead father, though. Whoops. So this weirdo girl starts getting visions of Jason killing her friends. Then he actually does kill her friends. But then she is using her powers so much that eventually her dead dad comes out of the lake and pulls Jason back in. Why was her dead dad in the lake to begin with? Good question.

7. Friday the 13th: Jason Lives. This one is a little better because Jason is actually in this one. Tommy, played by a new actor, attempts to get some closure by cremating Jason’s body. But first he has to dig it up. Awk. But then some lightning kind of comes out of nowhere and it wakes Jason from his slumber and also gives him superpowers. So. Jason wakes up and Tommy is trying to warn everyone but they all blame Tommy’s mental illness and PTSD and don’t believe it. Once the body count starts racking up, the sheriff starts to suspect Tommy is the killer. But Tommy makes a friend and they start doing research in some witchcraft books because of course, and after a lot of fighting and almost drowning, Tommy chains Jason to the bottom of the lake.

6. Friday the 13th: Jason Takes Manhattan. This one is another that’s sort of ridiculous, and it was one of the worst-grossing of the entire series, but I find it great because they couldn’t figure out where to put Jason next, so they put him on a boat. A boat to Manhattan, to be precise. Essentially, somehow Jason wakes up from the bottom of the lake and he gets on this high school students’ ship. He kills most of the people before drowning in a sewer. That’s all.

5. Friday the 13th (2009). This movie was originally intended to be an “origins” film, but it sort of evolved into a re-imagining of the first four movies. It gives some background and some pretty solid plot points, hence its spot at number 5. There’s a sequence at the beginning that explains a little bit about why Jason is the way he is. Then we’re fast-forwarded to the current time, when four kids come to Crystal Lake hoping to camp out and search for some weed. Jason kills three of them but kidnaps one because she reminds him of his mother. 6 weeks later, some more kids come out to camp, and one boy comes looking for his sister (the kidnapped girl.) Almost everyone dies, and the kid does find his sister, but Jason gets her back and the movie ends.

4. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. This was the fourth installment of the series, where they tried really hard to make it the last movie. This is the first time we see Tommy, but it won’t be the last because the poor kid has 2 more movies to be in. It’s classic Jason. There are a ton of kids partying at the lake and he kills almost all of them. That’s all you need to know.

3. Friday the 13th Part II. This was a hard decision to make, but this is the rightful spot for the second movie. Not a lot happens that’s original, but it stays true to the original. Also there’s a man named Crazy Ralph and a dog named Muffin.

2. Friday the 13th Part III. V IMPORTANT MOVIE BECAUSE THIS IS THE FIRST ONE WHERE JASON OFFICIALLY GETS HIS HOCKEY MASK, HOLLA. The disco soundtrack is great, Jason is great, the main girl has hallucinations of Jason’s mother, it’s a good time.

1. Friday the 13th. (1980). Obviously the first one is the best one. It only had a $550,000 budget, but this movie is fantastic. I’m not going to spoil this one for you, even though Kevin Bacon almost does it all by himself, but this movie is such a cult classic. Just watch it and love it forever.

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SB Does TV: Continued

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, it takes a special type of person to do TV news. Of course, it takes a special person to tackle radio as well. So it makes sense that this lil ol’ radio reporter isn’t the most fantastic at TV reporting.

That being said, I’m pretty proud of my final project in my TV news class. It pays to plan and be unafraid to do something that seems a little weird!

Check it out.

Live Shots & Stomach Knots

In a few of my classes recently, professors and supervisors seem to be constantly breathing down our necks about fearlessness.

“Don’t be afraid to stand out. Don’t be afraid to be different. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions.”

And to some, it was the worst. The people in my class would roll their eyes, look around, pretty much do anything to not have to make eye contact with the professor. But me, I stopped short.

Had I ever had trouble standing out?

I couldn’t remember. I had pretty much sealed my personal brand in the j-school. I was the funny girl. I was the class clown with sarcastic outbursts. I was the one who made the bingo board with each square being a weird phrase or term our professor constantly uses. I was hardly uncomfortable, and speaking up in class was my specialty. I had as many insightful and calculated things to say as I had outbursts, so for most professors my willingness to work hard was a trade-off for my large and occasionally intimidating personality.

But like I said before. I was hardly uncomfortable. But when I was, I was. And there aren’t many things that leave me in a state of vulnerability, being afraid and worried about people’s perceptions of me, but there was one thing that did that: live shots. I hated them.

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I hadn’t even done a complete one until last week, but it was the worst. I, Stephanie, the one with constant comments and who definitely isn’t easily embarrassed, was stumbling over her words. I was confusing facts because as soon as I walked in front of the camera, my brain turned into scrambled eggs. I felt like a useless blob. We had a special guest in the j-school, who helped us with the exercise, and she was beckoning at me with her whole body to scoot closer to the tv monitor. I couldn’t. All I could do was grimace back at her, and apologize with my eyes for my feet being planted firmly where they stood. I couldn’t move if I wanted to.

I didn’t even know where to look. All I could see back was myself on the monitor and it wasn’t pretty. I looked back at the guest. “THE LENS.” She pointed. I glared back into the lens. And I got it done. I walked back into the classroom. My class applauded, probably for how painstakingly awful it was.

If I were easily embarrassed, I would have crawled under the table. But instead I looked at my professor. I shrugged, laughing. “You always asked me why I picked radio and not TV. Now you know.”

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It stinks to be embarrassed in front of your class, and being on TV is definitely a vulnerable place for me. (Which is weird because I’m used to being on a stage from my involvement with drama.) But it’s okay. I’m not afraid to stand out. I’m not afraid to be different. I’m not afraid to speak up or ask questions. I’m also not afraid of imperfection, and I’m not afraid of the monstrosity that was my live shot. Just don’t put me in front of a camera and tell me to talk anymore.