Friday, September 18, 2015

My Heart Aches for My State

So it is once again one of those times when a lot has happened since the last time we spoke. If you are looking for something interesting to read than this might not be it, right now I just need to get out everything that has happened over my first week of school at Phillips Exeter Academy.

The excitement, confusion, and anxiousness has pretty much been depleted. At this point I am officially back in the grind of school. I find myself staying up later every night and waking up earlier every morning. The workload is pretty insane compared to any other school on planet earth. Maybe I'm just a weenie, but when you have an hour+ of history reading every night, 50 minutes minimum of math, chemistry, English, Spanish, sports, music, and extracurriculars such as the newspaper, arts magazines, social service clubs, and then trying to enjoy life in general- you get the idea it's crazy. And I love it. But I also dislike it. I don't know. It's really hard because there are some facets of school that are just amazing and I think about how lucky I am to be at an amazing institution like Exeter but then there are moments when I see a picture of my best friends from home. I think about the moments we shared, driving around town, going to concerts, living life. And then I see my life here. I don't even have time to make friends because I'm always working. My friends are made by teachers forcing us to work on projects outside of the classroom, just another form of work or a forced friendship, I'm not sure which best describes it.

I see my friends worshipping the Lord together back home. Here I've found a church but it's small and quaint. Finding time with the Lord is a constant struggle. I barely have enough time to finish all of my homework how am I supposed to spend extra time with God? THAT IS A QUESTION THAT SHOULD NEVER BE ASKED, IF YOU ARE ASKING YOURSELF THIS, THEN SOMETHING IS WRONG. Sorry, I had to put that in caps lock because it is very important. But quiet time has been difficult.

It is just so conflicting being here. Some moments I'll say hi to a kid in one of my classes outside class, we realize we have a lot of commonalities, and start conversation. Those moments I cherish as a new student. I must make it clear that nobody has been remotely mean or discriminatory toward me in any way. The culture at Exeter is phenomenal. Introduce yourself with a handshake, always say it was nice to meet you or even possibly exchange information. Moments when I actually feel like a part of Exeter are when I love it. But too often I think about my life in Ohio and how so many aspects were better. Not better but just extremely different. Being able to leave my house without filling out Out of Town requests. Having a car. Having time on the weekends to relax and watch a movie instead of using every waking hour to study and catch up on school work for the week. Soccer. High school and club, man I miss it so so so so so so SOOOO much. Even music. I miss the Columbus Youth Symphonic Band. The only thing that is extremely "better" than where I previously was are the academics. I love class. But is that really worth flipping your life upside down for? Why am I asking these questions? How did they even get in my head? All I wanted for the past two years was to be here but now it is one of the hardest things I've done. No, I never thought it would be easy, but I'm surprised by the things that I miss. I never thought I would miss soccer or music back home because my expectation was that Exeter would be at such a higher level. But it's not. So I spend my days working. Working on everything I get my hands on, trying to put aside the fact that my friends are becoming farther and farther away with every agonizing second. I place myself inside another world. Isolated, using work as a distraction for desire. I'll survive and there is no way that I want to leave Exeter, do not construe this entry as a yearning to go home to Ohio, I'm just stating that, yes, I miss it. A hell of a lot.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Little Talks

Evening and night is an interesting time of day. It's when I get most of my ideas and have my most productive thought processes- if you haven't noticed, most of my posts occur later in the evening. Anyway, this thought made me think about my other thoughts I have during the day, which led to me thinking about how I portray myself to others versus what my thoughts think, and I came to a startling realization. I am a selfish, narcissistic conversationalist.

I spend hours thinking about the lives of others, yet when I start a conversation I am the last one to ask how they're doing. Or maybe it's not even that, it's just that my long winded answers overpower anything the other person has to say. I don't do this on purpose- it just happens. See, gosh dang it, that is exactly the thing a narcissist would say! I don't know, maybe it's my over articulate being but it sucks. I love listening to others but whenever I open my mouth IT NEVER SHUTS THE HECK UP! I mean, there are some circumstances where I am adequately reserved, but as soon as I feel the slightest bit comfortable in a situation, forget it, I loose my mind.

I've started noticing this a lot more lately and I think it predominately has to do with the fact that every single human being I come into contact with always asks me about school. "When are you leaving? Where is it, again? New Hampshire, really! That is exciting! Why are you going?" I've heard every one in the book. I guess that is what it feels like when you're going to college, but it is just extra hard because I'm only sixteen and what I'm doing is not "normal." So I end up talking about myself all freaking day. And then I leave the conversation feeling like crap because I talked the whole time and was totally being rude to the people around me. I guess I also really hate awkward silence so I just don't stop talking. I'M TURNING INTO MY PARENTS, GOSH DANG IT.

This is a rant of a blog post, but I think I just want to have a conversation where nobody talks about school and we enjoy the time we have. Whether it's sitting in silence or talking about cat poop, I don't care, just don't talk to me about Phillips Exeter Academy- I'll be there soon enough.

My best moments over the past couple weeks have been with the people that know me best, ignoring the fact that I'm leaving. We just do things like normal. And to those people in my life, thank you, I'm not sure you know how much you mean to me.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

West Is Where the Gold Is

Out of the adventures of my summer, going to Colorado was by far my favorite part. It's not very common for a girl from Ohio to end up in summer camp hundreds of miles away, so let me explain how I got there.

Since I was going into first grade I have been going to a summer camp in Van, TX called Sky Ranch. This fact is not out of the ordinary, I used to live in Dallas and love sleep away camp. As I got older I continued going and even when I moved to Ohio I flew down to Texas to go to camp. This past year, my 10th year at camp, I was finally old enough to work at Sky Ranch as a lifeguard- hence my earlier posts about camp. The camp in Texas is for kids ages 6-16ish (they do it by grade not age, so ages can vary). Once you are an older camper at Sky Ranch they have what they call leadership camp which is for kids who want to go deeper in their relationship with Christ and be pushed further versus some of the other kids who are just learning about Christ for the first time. For kids in 6th-8th grade it's called Morph, for kids 9th-10th grade it's called Quest, and for kids 11th-12th grade it's called Sigma. Morph and Quest are still held at the camp in Texas, although that may change soon and the kids in Quest may also be in Colorado, but for the most part only Sigma gets to go to Colorado and camp is two weeks instead of the typical one week. Sigma is kind of a big deal at Sky Ranch; you have to be invited and it is the center of what Sky Ranch aims to do which is create well prepared and devoted Christians. We all meet at camp in Van and then take busses to Sky Ranch Ute Trail which is in Powderhorn, Colorado. From there the adventure begins.

I must say that even getting to go to Sigma was basically a miracle for me. Like I said, I worked in Texas at Sky Ranch for six weeks, and at the beginning of the summer I was still on a wait list to get into Sigma. There were so many kids that wanted to go and because I didn't preregister early enough, all the spots were full. So going was pretty much out of the question. Camp itself is really expensive, then I have to get a plane ticket, figure out a bunch of logistics, yada yada yada, and I was on the wait list so it just wasn't going to happen. On top of this earlier in the year like in March/April I applied to go to precollege at NYU. It would be a six week program that started right when I got back from lifeguarding. I applied and was accepted! My parents told me that if I got in I could go, and I had gotten in, so let's go! But then the harsh reality set in that during the whole process of applying to precollege I had gotten my acceptance letters to boarding school and with that we also received the financial aid decisions as well. I didn't receive any financial aid to the school that I wanted to go to, so paying another $7,000 for precollege wasn't looking too good. So they nixed that. But four weeks into working in Texas, I got off the waitlist for Sigma. Without questioning it or anything they signed me up. Even though I still went to the Journalism Conference (which was expensive and I wasn't going to go to if I went to precollege) they signed me up for camp, meaning, it all probably cost only a little less than what precollege was going to cost in the first place. Anyway, long story short, it was totally the Lord wanting me to be at Sigma. I know there will be people who read this and think I'm crazy, but I know my Lord and He wanted me to grow in a community of amazing Christians like there are at Sigma. So it all worked out, much better than could ever have been expected.

Sigma is a tight knit group of people, they take about 70 kids and we spend two weeks with each other, ensuring that everyone truly knows everyone. Some of the amazing things we got to do included kayaking in lakes surrounded by mountains, zip lining, climbing a mountain and spending the night on the top, and just getting to be in a really cool and different place. Aside from the fun activities that ensued, the main purpose of this is for us to grow closer in our relationship with Christ. Sigma is the cream of the crop as you could say when it comes to Sky Ranch. Most of us have gone to camp since we were really young and plan on staying involved in Sky Ranch by working there or at least being a strong advocate of its ministry. Being in Sigma our mission verse is 2 Timothy 2:4-6

"No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor's crown without competing by the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive his share of the crops."

From this we learn that we are soldiers, athletes, and famers of Christ. We do not become corrupted by the world and what those around us say, we persevere like soldiers to please only the Lord. We are not unlawful in the way we live life, abiding by the rules put forth around us like athletes. And we are hardworking like farmers, cultivating a crop of fellow Christians, and we will be first in the Kingdom of Heaven. 

In Bible study we studied many more things than just this, but this is Sigma life verse you could say. Our daily Bible study was focused around learning the names of God, which at first could sound remedial to someone who goes to church and has been to a Christian school, but it was actually very interesting. We read a lot of scripture, there was never a moment where there wasn't scripture to confirm what our small group leader was teaching us, which was cool and also convicting because it isn't just some college student telling you these things, it is literally God screaming in your face with His word. Anyway, yeah, it was really great. I met so many amazing people and it was the perfect way to close the summer and leave Sky Ranch one last time before next year. As my usual blogging style goes, here are some pictures from camp. 

Made it to the TOP
At the top with my small group!
Hanging out at the lunch rest spot

5:00 A.M sunrise

Another moment at the top, during the sunrise

Our kayaking spot
A moment at the barn dance with my lifeguard coworker and amazing friend Victoria

Saturday, August 22, 2015


So, once again, it's been awhile.

This summer has been a marathon of eventfulness and every time I thought about writing it seemed more like a chore than something I get to do, which is by no means the mindset I want to have going into this. I feel like my blog is definitely more of a diary and the thought of having to dictionally recount my summer sounds insane because SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED. So to remedy this I'm just going to put a quick hit list out here so that on a later date I may go into more detail about these topics. That might not have made sense but it will eventually. Another side note, yes, I lazily gave up on recounting WJMC. It was a short four days turnaround between coming back from Boston and then going back to Texas- recounting WJMC for the world was not my main concern, I had a double ear infection and a sinus infection and needed to get better before the next summer event.

Emma's Summer Event "Hit List"

1. Working at Sky Ranch as a Lifeguard
2. Finally coming home from Texas- family reunion, adventures with Andrea in Chicago, and lots of soccer conditioning
3. Washington Journalism and Media Conference in Washington D.C. in association with George Mason University
4. Boston, and Seacoast United soccer "tryouts"
5. HOMEEEEEEEEE, for four days
6. Back in Texas (briefly) at Sky Ranch, then going to camp at Sky Ranch Ute Trail for Sigma (Christian leadership camp!) in Colorado
7. HOME FOR GOOD-ish (aka three weeks until school starts)
8. Crap tons of soccer, hours of saxophone, ACT practice, Mad Men, more soccer, occasional basketball, writing, reading, reading, reading... mentally preparing for school

So yeah, as of now there are two more weeks of getting to do whatever the heck I want until I actually leave good ole' Westerville and head out to Exeter. In these next two weeks I may elaborate on some of these summer adventures. No promises. Maybe.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

WJMC Day 2

So I am kind of a fail at life. Blogging while at WJMC became an apparent struggle because of the lack of sleep. Any moment I had time to blog it was late at night and anything I wrote was not going to sound coherent or meaningful. In turn I decided to wait to blog and give a general synopsis of the week. Personally, my experience was documented in my student workbook so I do not feel a pressure to write down my experience so that I, personally, am able to remember what a remarkable week I had, but I will record it for reference and the select few that choose to read this diary of sorts. I understand that WJMC did not want us to write our blogs as if they are diaries, so I will try my best.

The Editor in Chief of National Geographic, Susan Goldberg, was our first speaker of the day giving insight into the world of National Geographic as well as the way a news company of their type is run. She put an extreme emphasis on the direction they are heading pertaining to social media, repeatedly enforcing that Nat Geo is the leading brand on the social media site Instagram. The specificity of Nat Geo's so called "Explorers" (the people who are hired to write and photograph stories) are unmatched in their field. There are photographers who explicitly photograph urban profiles or underwater mammals or aerial views. I was intrigued to learn how specific these Explorers are and that it is not at all random who is hired for each story. Nat Geo is mainly, if not all, produced (written and photographed) by free lance writers who come in to do a story here and there, allowing for much more specific and detailed articles. She also may or may not have given us the titles and topics for articles of the rest of 2015.

Tuesday afternoon was spent at the National Press Club where we heard from a politics panel of Jennifer Bendery (Huffington Post @jbendery) and Richard Wolf (USA Today @richardjwolf). Getting a closer look into the politics side of journalism was very informative. One of the most interesting things I took away from their panel is how the government and press interact. For example Congress will supply the press with information and conversation all day long where as the White House and Supreme Court will leak no information. Ever. It was also surprising to hear that all the stories we see in the news regarding big political decisions were all pre-written. What I mean by that is the reporters will write every possible verdict knowing that when the real one comes out they can add a few quotes and publish it within 20 seconds of the information being received. I did not know that was how it worked in today's age of technology, but I'm not really sure what else I expected. The point that was stressed the most was to continue to be curious. Always ask questions that you care about too. While, yes, there is a job at hand you are also doing this job because it is what matters to you, so don't be afraid to ask your own questions too. 

The last panel at the National Press Club was given by Sonya Ross (@sonyagal) who is the Race and Ethnicity Editor for the Associated Press. Her speech was extremely moving, giving me confidence in the ability to achieve one's passions and goals without coming from being given every opportunity to automatically succeed. The most moving part of her speech was her story of being with President Bush during the 9/11 attacks. I have heard all the stories, read the books, watched the films, but there is something different about hearing it face to face from a person who was right at the heart of it on the political side, physically WITH the president. It was heart wrenching and amazing. Her main tip of advice seems easy enough to follow: use common sense. She believes that there is an endless amount of information to be found if you navigate the world with common sense. 

The final panel of the day was a sports journalism panel. This was the least intriguing part of the day for me. I do not have an interest in sports journalism and tend to become annoyed by sports journalism as it is a game of facts and speculation. The questions asked were not very engaging although the high was to hear them discuss if college athletes should be paid. All of them said no and when I asked if they believed the NCAA should allow universities to give more scholarships to athletes. They, again, said no claiming that universities do not have any money to give more scholarships. I find this very hard to believe with the millions division I football teams bring in and the fact that tuition is outrageous. If they can't afford to give a few more kids more financial help for working extremely hard physically, then where is the money really going? That is my view anyway. 

So Tuesday was a long, interesting day. At first when I started this recap I thought I was going to summarize the whole thing in one post, but I quickly realized I could not do that. So I guess I'm going to write out a full post for each day. Hopefully this was a little informative!

Monday, July 13, 2015

WJMC Day 1.5

So this week I am at the Washington Journalism and Media Conference in Washington D.C. and because this is obviously about journalism and media I will be blogging about each day I'm here.

Sunday was arrival day. While I am numb to the excitement of meeting new people it was interesting to get to meet the people in my group. We are organized into groups of 25 and each assigned a color to designate our groups. I have the please of being on the Teal Team otherwise known as Teal Team 6. The fellow students in my color group are extremely pleasant and fun to be around. I am genuinely surprised at how quickly we have all gotten to know each other and feel comfortable around one another- and it is only the first day!

So, back to Sunday. In the evening we had our opening dinner with guest speaker Nicole Livas, WAVY 10 news anchor, who talked to us about what it means to be in broadcast journalism and the evolving industry. Today there are smaller staffs than every and staff members are constantly learning how to do more and multitask with the growing media outreach. Her presentation was extremely nice to listen to as well as informative, exceeding my expectations for it only being the first night. After dinner we broke into our color groups to talk about the week and also begin talking about personal branding. We spoke about what it means to create one's own brand and practiced our 15 second "elevator speeches" as well as firm handshakes. It was a long opening night but is to be followed by an even longer week. 

Today was a nice day in our nation's' capital. We spend the morning and early afternoon touring the Newseum, one of my favorite museums in the nation. There was nothing earth shattering from the experience purely because I have been to the museum many times in the past but I am always amazed by the level of detail, amazing architecture, and pure journalistic work that is put into the Newseum. After we went to a lecture/ Q&A with Mike Shear and .... Smith. The session was an in depth look at the relationship between journalists and press representatives of the White House and revealed many unseen problems that are developing in the industry while still being informative about how these relationships can and will continue changing. Later in the evening we went to tour some of D.C.'s most iconic monuments wrapping up the evening and heading back to George Mason. I am excited to continue the week, but right now it is time for me to get some sleep. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

And We're Off... Again

After 6 days of being back home in Ohio I depart again for the Washington Journalism and Media Conference. I admit that I have not been doing as much preparation for this week as I should have been, I mean I read nearly all the books on the reading list, but from a social internet perspective I have been extremely dormant. Give me a break, I have been at a summer camp where there is NO INTERNET!!!!! So I apologize, but sorry not sorry.

Why am I going to this conference? You have heard me over and over state that I want to be a screenwriter and producer, not a journalist. That is true. I do not want to be a journalist. I want to be a screenwriter, but I want to be a screenwriter for a news television show such as the Tonight Show. If you think that isn’t a type of journalism that you better take a closer look. Those writers, particularly the monologue writers, are constantly looking through news stories, finding one that is comedic or serious, then to concisely summarize and put in a digestible comedic monologue.  That is journalism at its finest. Every single day there is a new story and a new monologue. So, no, I do not want to be a traditional journalist but this conference will give me a feel for the industry. I will not be directly in this industry but being so close to it there is necessity in its understanding.

Another reason: this is an academic experience that I am able to do in a week. I was accepted to New York University Pre-College but was unable to attend because of cost and timing; it is a six week program. One of the major appeals for me to attend this conference was simply its timing. That sounds selfish but there were a lot of programs I was invited to and this one seemed to line up timing wise and interest wise the best. I mean, you can tell, my summer is pretty booked. Eight separate trips in only a few months is a lot of traveling. So, yes, I am a basic white girl that is getting to go to this conference. But I have a passion for writing. My life revolves around writing; I don’t have a better way of explaining it- I just love it. I could be locked up in a room, demanded to write for hours on end and still be satisfied. And when you get to the bottom of journalism it comes down to writing. A story isn’t a story unless the public can consume it. If it is not written in an efficient or captivating way then it becomes meaningless, eventually disappearing. The prestige of The New York Times is not there just because of a name. They hire the best because their ability to deliver the news through writing is unmatched by any other group of individuals in the world.

I am excited for this week. I am also extremely tired going into the week but I'm sure I will be able to power through. Oh, and FYI because this is a journalism conference I will be updating my blog every day this week, so be prepared.