Thirty, flirty, and just about hanging in there

I started this blog in 2012, just before another milestone birthday (my 21st). I’d shadowed an Ithaca College and Park Scholar alum at work on a trip to New York City and one of his colleagues had recommended I start a blog as a good source of writing samples to show potential journalism employers. I immediately jumped at the idea.

I’d already had years of blogging experience on various platforms (xanga, blogspot, livejournal, and tumblr) by that point, but I wanted to have a little spot on the internet to call my own. This was back when a lucky few were able to turn blogging into a full-time living before it all moved to Instagram (I’m not knocking influencers; I just don’t have the fashion sense or budget), but I was never interested in that.

I just wanted a place to write without the constraints of an academic essay or the AP Stylebook (as much as I dearly love both). I had lofty goals: at least one blog post a week (something I still have yet to achieve in any year so far; perhaps 2021 will finally be the year). The journalism didn’t stick, but the blog did.

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50,047 words richer

2020 has been, I don’t need to tell anyone, a weird year. There have been days when moving from the bed to the couch has seemed a herculean feat, days when the effort of pouring a bowl of soup from a can has been similar to the work put in to make a five-course gourmet meal. There have also been days when things have gone swimmingly—exercise, cleaning, work, play, all sorts of productivity in a single 24-hour period, with minimal doomscrolling in between. It was in anticipatory hope of a strong of days like that which made me decide to sign up for NaNoWriMo once more.

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Planes and Pandemics: Moving Internationally During Covid-19

The plan was this: Finish our Southeast Asia adventure on March 25, spend two weeks visiting friends in Seattle and Vancouver, arrive in Philadelphia on April 6, and fly to Ireland on May 8. Obviously, that didn’t happen. But we cut our trip short, headed straight to my parents’ in Philly, and spent three months hanging out, going for walks in the park, and catching up on Netflix, Steve’s 90-day visa-free allowance in the States was up so he headed back to Ireland.

I was meant to stay an extra month, see my sister, and then join him, but rumours began to fly that the EU would implement a ban on travellers from high-risk countries. Although I would qualify for an exemption that should have allowed me entry, I didn’t want to chance it and end up stuck for the foreseeable future, so on the 24th of June I booked my flight from JFK to Dublin for just a few days later, and on the 28th I was off. This is what it was like to fly internationally during the pandemic.

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The big question in Cairns, Queensland

Last night Steve and I landed back in Melbourne after 11 days in Japan for sightseeing around the Rugby World Cup (COYBIG!) and while I have a lot to say about that (I promise, everyone who has asked for recommendations, I have heaps to provide!) I also haven’t even written about our last trip yet. And, well, it was kind of a big deal, so I don’t want to just let it pass by.

Photo 28-08-2019, 10 04 13.jpg

So here’s the story about my trip to Queensland with my now-fiancé:

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500 days of twenties

I’ve got this great app called Countdown Star on my phone that I love. You input an event and it how many days there are until the date (or from the date, if you’re counting up from the day of your birth or whatever past occasion you want to celebrate or remember). 19 days until Steve and I go to Japan. 59 until we go to Tasmania to hike the Overland Track, 11 days since we got engaged (oh yes, did I not mention? …more on that next week), 10,457 days since I was born, and so on. And today it is exactly 500 days until I turn 30. Because I’m me and I love a good list, of course that called for one. A short-term bucket list of sorts, 30 things I want to do between now and 500 days from now, when I leave my twenties and join the world of thirty, flirty, and thriving.

I won’t share the whole list as some things are quite personal, but here are some of the items I plan to check off:

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Journalism: now, then, and next

I’m currently volunteering at the wonderful Melbourne Writers Festival, and one of the  perks is a number of comp tickets that I can use to attend sessions outside of my volunteer shifts, and so on Saturday afternoon Erika and I met up at the State Library Victoria to see two panels. The first, When We Talk About Motherhood, was so incredibly, beautifully, terrifyingly powerful that I am still coalescing my thoughts about it, so instead I’ll talk about the second: Journalism: Heartbreak and Resolve.

Moderated by Crikey’s Bhakthi Puvanenthiran and featuring Erik Jensen from The Saturday Paper, Jack Latimore of NITV News and The Guardian, and freelance journalist Ginger Gorman, the discussion hinged on the mental hardships that journalists both encounter and face themselves, as well as the drive to keep going and the hopeful moments that uplift and empower them as well as their readers.

It was a fascinating look both at the industry today and the people in it, especially of the perspective of those who are working to expand and better it with their work and with their support of and amplification of marginalized voices (as writers and subjects), but it was especially interesting to me as I realised with a hint of amusement that it was exactly ten years ago last week that I began studying for my journalism degree at Ithaca College.

I was further amused when I thought about what these working journalists were saying the journalism world (a world I quickly decided at university that I wasn’t actually interested in being a part of) is like these days, and how far off most of my professors’s predictions had been about where the field was heading. This isn’t to say they got it all wrong, of course. They obviously knew that social media would play a large role in the future of the news (although just how large they couldn’t have predicted; one of the panelists mentioned how Instagram is becoming a popular platform for news media, a platform which didn’t even exist during my freshman year and wouldn’t introduce “Instagram Stories” until well after I graduated). And this isn’t to say they should’ve known better, not when new media has changed so rapidly and intensely over the last decade.

But one thing I distinctly remember about my journalism studies was a feeling of… if not pessimism, than resignation. That social media would make us short-attention-spanned and rapidly-reading, that we’d be cutting down our stories to snippets and soundbites. And sure, that’s happened, just like the ubiquity and accessibility of new media and social media has allowed for members of the worst factions of society to pretend their bigoted conspiracy theories are thoughtful, legitimate journalism but has also provided a space for marginalized voices of all sorts to share stories of and from their communities. And for every snapchat broadcast story and 140-character tweet, there’s a riveting 10,000 word longform article that would’ve never gone into print (at least without major cuts) in a traditional publication.

One thing that the journalists on the panel emphasized was that we as readers want to read. We want news. We want thoughtfulness and integrity and truth and rich, multicultural perspectives. Although I am not and probably never will be a journalist, I love journalism and many of my friends work in the media in some form, and I’m always pleased to have the reminder that what they do is appreciated. To look at the journalists on the panel, some saying that there were times that they wanted to quit but didn’t and others saying their worst moments only gave them more determination, to look at the people I know doing great work in new and old media, to look back a decade to when I was a bright-eyed wannabe newspaperwoman without a trace of anger or cynicism… it makes me excited to see what comes next.