Eat (Donuts), Pray, Love

I was in a 90-minute yoga class at the Y the other day, wishing I'd gone out for donuts instead. I convinced myself to stay only after a bit of inward name calling, but then was about to get down on myself for stumbling through poses I've been practicing on & off for the last nine years.

Instead of continuing with the negativity, I realized that I understood that "focus on the breath" mantra for the first time ever. Despite my restlessness I breathed my way through the entire class.

That day it occurred to me that doing yoga isn't about achieving the wacky upside-down headstand stuff. Rather, it's being able to control your breathing no matter what you're faced with, and knowing your body well enough to be aware of its capabilities and limitations.

You can easily modify yoga poses to suit your learning level and physical restrictions. If only life could be more yoga-like in that way: custom fit to suit needs and weaknesses.

I suspect that's the way life actually is, but I'm not quite enlightened enough to fully grasp that just yet.


First Love

I definitely listened to way too much Casey Kasem as a kid, but as I moved around the U.S. & Germany with my military family, radio was the only constant in my life.

In high school I loved movies like Good Morning Vietnam and Pump Up the Volume. I even liked that scene in (I think it was) Stephen King's mini-series The Stand where the radio folk stayed on-air broadcasting the terror around them until they were finally silenced by Martial Law. Now that's the power of the public's airwaves put to good use.

In school I loved watching Talk Radio and learning the history of broadcasting. But the real world hit me after I landed my first radio internship in 2000, by way of a small radio station that had recently been gobbled up by Clear Channel.

I was a dedicated volunteer but was pushed into the promotions department when what I really wanted to do was production (Commercials, public service announcements, whatever.) After about six months or so, I trekked up to Philadelphia hoping to discover more - but I only found more of the same.

I reasoned that at least the station in Philly was family-owned. (But then again, wasn't Wal-Mart?) The station played everything everyone else played (some times at the same exact time). Gone are the days of originality and creativity in the media.

I realized I hated what radio had become: announcers were button-pushers working for $7 an hour, discouraged (and fired) for sharing their opinions and insight about the community. Playlists were scheduled weeks in advance and pretty performers replaced talented musicians (I'm talking to you Rascal Flatts).

So my senior year I traded in audio for video. (See my first ever documentary on my internships below or at Youtube.)

After graduation I moved to Seattle where I found some awesome video resources...but also listened to NPR for the first time. And found quality and intelligence on the FM dial again at KEXP and KBCS.

God bless internet streaming...I also "discovered" KCRW in Santa Monica and XPN in Philly. And when I moved to Tampa, I found WMNF. My love for radio was absolutely restored.

The saddest part is that for all my effort in college to find the right internship, it's taken me years to see that I totally belonged at WHYY. (I'm talking to you, Terry Gross.)

Ah well. At least I've got character, right?


Upcoming (Animal) Events

A few great events and opportunities going on around Tampa Bay, especially for animal lovers.

On Sunday there's a book discussion on E.B. White's Charlotte's Web.
Where: John F. Germany Public Library @
900 N Ashley Drive

When: Sunday, July 25 @ 3 p.m.
(Parking for much of downtown is free on the weekends/daily after 6 p.m. north of Kennedy!)

If the pig story is a little too weepy for you, August's book discussion is Kurt Vonnegut's collection of short stories, Welcome to the Monkey House.

(It's also on the last Sunday of the month at 3 p.m.) Both library events are free and open to the public.

Another event going on tomorrow is Birdstock, a benefit for the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary. Musicians in the ever-growing line up include Johnny Zoom Cheerleading Squad, Sandy Atkinson, Julie Black, Ronny Elliott, Natty Moss Bond, Wendy and the Soul Shakers, The Charming Devils, Dog Peter Pat, and Rebekah Pulley. (Full schedule provided at the Birdstock link above.) Definitely the place to be if you love local music or want to delve into it.

Where: The Beach Theatre (and surroundings); 300 block of Corey Avenue in St. Pete Beach.
When: 2 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Cost: $10 for a wristband to get into the day's events

Last but not least, I've heard some terrible news regarding the treatment of man's best friend in Florida. This weekend the folks at Dunedin Doggie Rescue have been busy transporting 30 pups down to our area, saved from a pitbull ring in the northern part of the state.

If you are interested in becoming a DDR volunteer or foster parent to a rescued dog (or would like to adopt one or two!) please contact Dunedin Doggie Rescue as soon as possible.

P.S. There's also a one-year-old lab pup in my family that needs a new home. He has a great a family, but two working parents and no yard leave him in need of a different situation.

Email me if you're interested, or need more info on any of this.

Be safe out there!

Photo: Two of my favorite rescue dogs: Jamaica & Lola


A Little More Lonely

I did an audio interview with author Emily White (Lonely: A Memoir) that recently aired in two parts on the WMNF Evening News. Here are the links to Part I and Part II.

I love
non-fiction author interviews so much that I've volunteered to produce an hour or two worth of them to be aired on WMNF during the holidays, when the Evening News takes a few much-needed days off.

If you have any favorite non-fiction books from 2010, please share! And if you're interested in interviewing an author (or two) and have some time to give to WMNF, I'd be happy to assist you with the production process, from scheduling the interview to post-production. (You have to read the book yourself though.)


More Joy of Libraries

I'm enjoying a stay-cation this week and taking lots of photos of my adopted hometown. These are from a tour of the (teeny) library at the Tampa Bay History Center. I visited Jenn the Librarian there yesterday and was very happy to learn that despite Tampa's notorious lack of historic preservation, some fine literary and historical records are actually being saved.

Equal Opportunity

There's nothing like a quiet morning of shelving books in the 800 section of the library to remind you of the mistakes you've made in life. Books that loudly say "I told you so," because I should have (would have could have) read them in high school or college but had some beer/boy/zzz's to catch that seemed so much more pressing at the time.

I was on my own through much of school and it was so hard for me emotionally and financially that the lifelong learning college is supposed to inspire was lost on me. (Although I do thank Mike the Media Prof for introducing me to what would become lifelong passions: people like Chomsky and McChesney, as well as for nurturing my anti-Disney/Clear Channel attitude).

What college really taught me was how to get by: on not enough sleep or studying or money. I like to say that at least I learned to be resourceful (after all I found a school with no math requirement so I didn't have to face up to my math fear ever again.) But I've become familiar with the harm that my avoidance caused me in the long run.

Thankfully I'm much smarter now than I was back then, and still "resourceful." For example, when people ask me what school I went to, they think I say Wellesley when I really said Wesley (who am I to correct them?). Incidentally, my former roomie, also living in Florida and a Disney employee, recently fessed up to the same sin.

But back to the library. Its volumes are available to everyone equally (though you have to make the effort to find what you want, and there are brilliant librarians to help you out there). As I work these mundane tasks, I feel like I'm getting my education for real this time. And I am so happy to be getting to know such awesome librarians, two words that are synonymous in my book.

photos (starting at top): Me and roomie Linz in our 10X10 domicile. Me and Mike at graduation.


Pledge Time Again

Please support media diversity and locally produced news by pledging to WMNF 88.5.

I got my start in reporting as a volunteer reporter for the WMNF Evening News in 2006 and was lucky enough to use that experience as a springboard to freelancing. I still occasionally do some news and other production for the station.

And when I borrow my mom's car, which only has an AM/FM radio - I love that I can still hear Jimmy LaFave, local artists like the magnificent Rebekah Pulley, and a daily commentary from Jim Hightower.

Become a volunteer or donate today!



Several months ago I was getting settled into a new job at my local library when I came across one of my soon-to-be favorite sights: a cart full of brand new arrivals to be checked in and distributed to the stacks or waiting lists.

On this particular cart sat a book with with a sky-blue cover and one word emblazoning the spine. Lonely. A memoir by Emily White. I was a pretty solitary kid growing up and on into my early adulthood, and this one-word title spoke directly to me.

Within the week not only did I have the book in hand, but I was determined to interview the author and sell the story. Too many people suffered from loneliness, I thought. I'd really like the mainstream press to cover something like this.

But selling stories isn't as easy as it used to be. Lots of places will gladly take a writer's wares for next to nothing (so artists and writer's are subject to socialism, but we can't get socialized medicine to take care of us when we're ill?!). Despite my insatiable need to volunteer in my community, I draw the line at working for free.

Luckily I did manage to get the story sold, to the St. Petersburg Times (my first story for them, if you don't count the
music story I did in February for their free tabloid tbt*).

There's no reward quite like writing what you know.


Celebrating (the Good and the Bad of) the U.S.A.

I spent this morning downtown at the Tampa Bay History Center. It was a great way to spend the 4th, from the map room with its earliest maps of our state, to the Tampa-centric likes of local tennis pro Judy Alvarez (and my former Seminole Heights neighbor) and the late artist Lamar Sparkman, who designed the original Bucs logo.

Since yesterday's post I've been marinating on the topic of community and how the lack of it encourages the worst of human behavior. I certainly don't have any new answers to offer up but I do think that smart, thoughtful people have been addressing ways to solve many of the problems caused by the human condition since the beginning of humanity. (Another great reason to read, kids!) One of my current favorites is author/activist Bill McKibben's most recent book Eaarth. I can't think of the philosopher(s) who've said that in order to fix the world, one must have their own house in order first, but it's a pretty fitting theory for this day.

In a similar vein, there was a great article in today's New York Times by Peter Goodman, a reporter who's traveled the country witnessing the effects of the Great American Recession. He's seen the same terrible things we all have either experienced or heard about happening close to home. Though the story doesn't have a happy ending (the recession goes on after all), I like how it wove together the kind acts of strangers assisting each other in their respective job searches with the desperation of the unemployed who believe so-called illegal immigrants have stolen their jobs. As a former CNA, I'd like to see those formerly high-paid educated folks work along side immigrants in nursing homes (like I did at the beginning of the recession) and see how quickly they change their tune.

Speaking of tunes, here's a long lost Woody Guthrie track called Mean Talking Blues, for those of you who aren't ready to do good just yet.


Mad, Mad World

I took a walk around downtown Tampa Friday afternoon. I didn't run into any friends and I had lunch alone, but I've increasingly felt a deepening connection to this (relatively) small city lately.

I know it has something to do with not just recognizing the faces of my frequent library patrons, from the well-off to the homeless, but also knowing their names and learning a little more about them each time I come to work.

My definition of community is always maintaining a sense of togetherness, not just getting together to enjoy the easy times or to weather the tragedies.

I think it's that sense of continued connection that helps prevent the ugliest human re/actions, and keeps us neighbors/strangers looking after one another.

Still, those terrible things do happen: Wars rage on overseas and within individuals. Is there a way to stop any of the violence without making more violence? Who of us is going to try?