Thursday, August 25, 2016

Good Night, Nightly

I was sad to learn that the powers that be over at Comedy Central cancelled The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. And not only because I enjoyed the show. I will go out on a limb here and shamelessly admit that at some point over the two-year run of the Nightly Show, I developed a huge crush on the host. Smart and funny are always sexy to me, but when you throw in a Social Conscious, well then, I turn to butter. So, yes, I miss Larry. It has been a week, and already I miss gazing nightly into his friendly eyes through my television screen and his thick black glasses.  I miss his laugh - that infectious little chuckle. And, in all seriousness, I miss the message of the show.

I'm not the only one missing out here. America just lost an important voice in our conversation about social justice.

Obviously, Larry and his Nightly panel gave voice to black Americans. But they didn't stop there. Larry and his crew spoke up for Latino/as, for the LGBTQ community, for the poor and for women. There aren't many male voices speaking up for women - and Gawd do I love him for that.
Not that women aren't perfectly capable of speaking up for ourselves. It's just nice to know that we aren't the only ones who realize the struggle. In fact, if more men would recognize the struggle, maybe they would wake up and help do something about it and then, guess what, there is no more struggle. Social justice issues are like that.

Socal issues are not problems that belong only to "them"- whoever they might be. They are issues that impact our entire society - that means me, you, us. Therefore, tackling these social issues is a collective effort. Larry Wilmore and the team at the Nightly Show demonstrated that collective effort and they are missed.

Larry was in my dream last night. I guess that is the only place I will see him for awhile. I'm sure soon, however, I will see him back in my living room, on a show making a statement - or, Larry if you're interested maybe for real in my living room you know, whatever.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Hacks for an Epic College Experience

It is that time of year again. The time of year when college campuses across our nation, come alive with nervous newbies excited, yet terrified about what lies ahead. Are those movies depicting college life real? Are professors scary? Will I make any friends here?

If you are sending someone away to college for the first time this fall, here are few things I recommend they do to make the most of their college experience. These hacks are not only based on my personal experience as a student but on over fifteen years as a college student services professional. A fun job if you can get it!

College can be an epic experience. Unfortunately, only about half of the people who start college will earn a degree. Researchers who look into how and why students stick around have found that the students who get involved on their college campuses in some way are more likely to finish their college degrees. So here are some hacks to getting involved and sticking around long enough to finish college.

Student Activities and Organizations

Most campuses have an office called something like Student Involvement or Student Leadership or maybe Student Activities. These offices host student organizations and plan campus-wide student activities. Check them out.These days this office - along with many others - will have a presence on social media, if you Tweet, friend, tumble or Snap, look for them. Following their social media feeds is a great way to find out what is going on across campus.

Typically, the office will host some type of organizational fair early in the fall semester. Go to this fair. Every existing student clubs and organization will have a table, this is a good way to meet other students in that group. Ask them about the organization; How many members? What do they do? Are there opportunities for leadership positions? What does the group do for fun? Is this group on social media so you can check them out before deciding to join? If the campus doesn’t have a student organization of interests, starting an organization is often as easy as a filling out a form and getting a few other students to sign up.

Campus Recreation Center

The campus rec center is another awesome place. If your student was an athlete in high school, or enjoys a good work-out, becoming a regular at the Rec is a good way to meet others and feel a part of the campus. In addition to work-out classes, and weight rooms, campus "Rec Centers" typically offer a variety of intramural team sports. Many of these teams are often looking for an extra player or a sub. Ask about signing up for a team.

For those students who are not athletic and not out-going, don't despair. There is something for everyone on a college campus. Here are a few other tips for getting involved and becoming part of the campus; Say hi to the people who sit next to you in class or who stand in the lunch line with you. If they look up from their phone long enough to say Hi back, introduce yourself. This strategy works in the dorm too. Get to know the other students on the floor – ask where they’re from, what they’re studying, what they like to do in their spare time. You might find you have many things in common.

And That School Thing

Getting to know the professors can make campus less intimidating. I know, it sounds like a strange thing to do, I’m not suggesting that anyone ask them to go for coffee. But it's not a bad idea for students to introduce themselves to the professor after class. Ask questions about the class – How can I be successful in this class? This can make the classroom more personal. Professors are people too, they like to know that students are interested in doing. And, believe it or not, they were once college freshmen too! Form a study group with other members of the class. This is a social way to study and will help prepare students for exams.

College is a fabulous opportunity. Unfortunately, almost half of those who start college won’t finish. Don’t let that be you or your student. Making just one friend can be the difference between an epic college experience or an epic college fail.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

It's About Damn Time

Today is election day and for the first time in my voting career, I just cast my ballot for a woman for President! In honor of this historic day, here's a little piece I wrote a few months back. 

This summer Hillary Rodham Clinton accepted the Democratic party’s nomination for President of the United States. While anyone with access to a newspaper, television or any other type of media saw this coming months ago, the day this announcement was made caused quite a stirring of emotions among my feminist friends. Rightfully so, this is a huge accomplishment for women. One friend commented on social media that any feminist who cares about politics should "have tears in their eyes at this moment" 

I had to confess that I did not.  

I have nothing against Hillary Clinton. Nothing against feminism. In fact, quite the contrary.  

So why wasn't I moved to tears by this historic moment?  

I think the reason is simple. I had every confidence that this day would happen in my lifetime. I'm a Gen X'er. I was fortunate to be born at a time when women have served as astronauts, policewomen, anchorwomen, and soldiers. I watched in 1984 as Geraldine Ferraro ran as a Vice Presidential candidate on Walter Mondale's ill-fated ticket. My first vote for governor in my home state was a choice between two competent women. In my career, most of my bosses have been women.  

I grew up watching The Bionic Woman, and Murphy Brown. I came of age at a time when I had a variety of female role models who were defined not by husbands, but by their own choices. I was there when we changed the meaning of “run like a girl”. So for me, a woman running for president is a matter of course.  
Having said that, I do agree with the sentiment – and slogan - that it is "about damn time" 

Women have been politically active and interested since Abigail Adams implored her husband to "remember the women" (he didn't, for fear of being laughed out of the First Continental Congress). But two hundred and forty years later, is about damn time. Realizing that I take for granted the achievements of women in politics, I think it is also high time to pay homage to some of the women who paved the way for Hillary Clinton's historic achievement: 
To Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and their cohorts for starting an organized women's movement.  
To Alice Paul and Lucy Burns for braving tremendous resistance to fight for women's right to vote.  
To Shirley Chisolm for running for President back in 1972 and for serving as the first African-American woman elected to congress in 1968.  
To Bella Abzug, for her activism in the peace and anti-nuclear movements of the 1960's which led to her serving in the US House from 1971-1977.  
To Condoleezza Rice, Madeline Albright, Elizabeth Warren and all of the other women out there today fighting the good fight. We have come a long way. And, yes we still have a long way to go before women are truly equal in today's society. A long way before an athletic coach who doesn't feel "ready" to coach an Olympic's men's team gladly accepts an opportunity to coach the women's team (think about that for a minute). We have a long way to go before equal pay is an accepted fact not a political issue.  

We can savor Hillary's achievement for a moment. But then it's time to get back to work breaking through more walls, ceilings, and courts for equality. A wise and accomplished woman once said, "Women's rights are human rights, and human rights are women's rights." Let's continue the fight for those rights.

Monday, August 8, 2016

In The Works

Below are just a few things that I'm currently working on. I write short fiction, mostly about and for women, along with a few young adult fiction works.

Bent, Not Broken

A screenplay that follows three women as they navigate the end of relationships. Clara Diaz begins her post-college "adult" life with enthusiasm, and why not? She has everything, a great first job, a boyfriend away at law school. Her life is full of promise. Until her roommate moves out to live with a guy she barely knows, and her boyfriend doesn't seem to have any time for her. Is it really law school he is preoccupied with? Lisa Simmons realizes her long distance relationship has run its course and puts it to bed. So now what? She has been at her current job over five years, the longest she has stayed in one place in her adult life. Is it time to move on? Does the end of a relationship always have to mean reinventing your life? Sloan Heidelberg has recently reconnected with a former crush and things are going well. Until they aren't. He isn't returning her calls or texts. He seems to have disappeared. But why? 

My Secret Life
Reality TV star Dakota Whitt's real life is nothing like what the viewers see on TV each week. The show, the lifestyle, even the family, is all a sham. In fact, not even her name is real. It has all been cobbled together by her hot mess of a mother and an opportunist TV producer. But Dakota has only one year left before she can leave the family and go off to college. So, while she wishes her life were different, she's stuck for now. Letting the secret out would do more harm than good, especially for her younger sister and brother who deserve a chance at a better life. So for now, she will go along with the charade. But how long can this cast of misfit characters keep the secret?

Jo Martin  struggles to cope with the loss of her best friend and partner. A struggle that led to the loss of her beloved job with the FBI - at least temporarily. She takes a temporary position teaching Criminal Profiling at a small, quiet campus. The perfect place to get away from it all for a while. Or so she thought. Antioch State College might be a little too close to home for Jo. Triggering past traumas that Jo thought she had long since buried. Through her therapist, friends, family and interesting new people, Jo learns not only to cope but to survive.

Joselyn Streeter was the sweetheart of Major League Baseball coverage for a popular all-sports network. At least until she got into a social media spat with baseball star Clay Pierson. Now she finds herself unemployed and either a hero or a heel depending on who you ask. She uses her vast array of contacts to claw her way back out of this mess and resurrect her once promising career. The most frustrating thing for Joselyn is that being a sports reporter wasn't even what she wanted. The coveted job with the sports network just landed in her lap - how could she turn them down? But now faced with starting over again, Joselyn  realizes the power of getting back to basics. Maybe she can have the career she always dreamed of after all.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Not a Bad Movie

‘Bad Moms’ is billed by its marketing team as a “hilarious new comedy”. Not one to easily fall prey to marketing hyperbole, I was skeptical, but anxious to see this light summer movie nonetheless. I expected it to be a nice break from the delta summer heat and thought it might be good for a few chuckles. I was delightfully surprised.

‘Bad Moms’ is a good movie with heart. It gives audiences more than cheap laughs and a contrite message about motherhood. Sprinkled in amidst the drinking, and lewd “un-mom” like behavior this movie packed some powerful messages. Messages about more than motherhood. This movie is a cinematic statement on what it means to “succeed” in our society. What it means to be a good mom, a good student, a good employee, a good person. It makes us take a second look at the ideal suburban, soccer mom with over-scheduled kids. It makes us think about our schools and what it is we want our kids to get out of them. Is it enough that they be able to ace a standardized test? It makes us think about the high pressure to perform, to be better than others. And ultimately the impossibility of perfection.

There were cheap laughs, but also some good ones, (“The history channel was right, you’re generation is the greatest generation”).  There were also solid performances from its stars, Miley Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn. But when you take in this summer treat, watch for Jada Pinkett Smith who always delivers, and savor the exploits of the nemesis to Kunis’ character, Christina Applegate, who is a solid comedic actress.  

In my estimation, ‘Bad Moms’ demonstrates of few of the absurdities of our current generation gaps. Such as, millennials telling their bosses about their night before exploits, or skateboarding around the office. Along with their fondness for trying to look interesting when they are not really interesting at all. But then we really can’t judge others by their looks, as the characters in this movie discovered. The person who appears perfect, who seems to have every aspect of their life in order, may be trying desperately hard to hold the very fragile pieces of their life together. Perhaps the biggest message of all from ‘Bad Moms’, is simply not to judge others period.