Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Man, The Myth, The Legend Himself

Getting Closer!
I have had another amazing week in DC! I probably say that every time I post but it's the God Honest Truth. We had an awesome C-Span class on Monday and I was able to attend three separate events which were equally awesome. Before I share any related details, please indulge me for a moment as I share my feelings on leaving TWC.

I have somewhat of a bittersweet feeling about going home next Saturday. Sweet because I am coming home to my amazing wife, who I have missed dearly. Bitter because of a nagging question I have. How do I take full advantage of the contacts I have made at the RNC and NRCC when I am finally able to enter the job market, which is still a year away! Here's how it plays out in my head.

I return to Oklahoma, after leaving a positive impression with those who could facilitate a political job in Washington, which is of course my ultimate dream. Yet, when I finally finish school next fall, Good Lord Willing, I no longer have immediate access to these gatekeepers. I will likely not even be able to get a return phone call.

"Trevor who? Take a message, I'm busy." Back to the machine shop and power plants I go, like an old high school quarterback, constantly imagining what could of been. I know this is somewhat dramatic and that I am responsible for my future. I guess I always try and prepare for the worst and strive for the best.

Okay, I'm done now, on to the past weeks events.
As I mentioned previously, some of us attended a round-table discussion held at The Aspen Institute. It was really awesome. While I was there, I was able to meet Mickey Edwards. I am still not positive who Mr. Edwards actually is but he wrote for a couple of papers in Oklahoma and seems like a big deal.

Here is another cool pic from an event I was able to attend at Charlie Palmer Steak. It was the National Journal's Cook Political Preview. That is me and Charlie. The really neat thing is that all these events are free.

I am getting ready to turn in my TWC portfolio and final research paper for the C-SPAN class, the apartment building is super busy and the computer lab looks like a war zone! It is full all hours of the day with people rushing to finish their projects. I am starting to get sad now, so I better finish this post before I get tear stains on it.

Here is another pretty picture.....

Monday, November 28, 2011

Here We Go

Me and my buddy Chuck Todd from NBC News

I hope everyone has had a great Thanksgiving day break, I know I did. My wonderful wife and the rest of her family all came to stay with me over the break. We all ventured into Virginia to see the sites. Here is how it went down.

On Friday we rented a Ford Flex, which was pretty cool, and drove to Mount Vernon, George Washington's estate. I could not believe the amount of people there, it was like going to Disney World. It was a huge complex and was very interesting. We did not tour his home though, as I was not able to convince anyone else to stand in that line.

We then went to the home of our nation's third president and personal hero of mine, Thomas Jefferson. It was awesome!

The week before last I was extremely busy with the Republican National Committee's Campaign Management College. We would start class at 8:00 am and finished up with our homework in the evening at around midnight. The final day I arrived at eight in the morning and did not leave until noon the next day. I do not think anyone slept that night. We had to write a complete Campaign Plan and present it to a panel of judges, which was really neat because they provided us with lots of good feedback.

I started my class up again on Monday at the C-Span building. Our guest was Tiffany Dufu who works at the White House. It will air in two weeks on the C-Span network and I was able to ask a lot of questions. I really enjoyed her.

Our evening session was held at George Washington University in the School of Media and Public Affairs. They hosted a discussion with Chuck Todd, who is the White House correspondent for NBC news. I was able to get in the first question at the event, naturally asking him why the media is scared to cover the Ron Paul campaign. I was not to thrilled with his answer, but until I hear someone tell me that they have all agreed to not cover him because they are afraid of his "On with Liberty" message, I guess I never will be.

On Friday of this week I am going to the Bipartisan Policy Center for a round-table discussion with the president of the Pew Research Center, a columnist from The Washington Post, and the editor of the Atlantic-Journal Constitution. My Professor, Mr. Steve Scully, was able to purchase tickets for four of his students and I was fortunate enough to receive one of them. Plus, a buffet lunch will be served which should be really tasty!

On Monday morning of next week I get to attend a discussion with Charlie Cook, who is a National Journal political analyst and editor and publisher of The Cook Political Report. He plans to discuss the current political environment, his outlook on the 2012 presidential race and the challenges and opportunities he sees for the major candidates moving forward. It should be really cool.

I'll let you know how it goes!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Words of Wisdom: Getting Your Ideal Internship

Fox News asking for my take on Herman Cain's Speech at the National Press Club

Like I had mentioned in an earlier post, I wanted to share my experiences with future TWC interns regarding how TWC Program works. The following is an account detailing how I was able to land my “dream” internship. It’s some very basic tips that I feel can be of use to future interns when they first navigate this amazing opportunity.

When I first filled out my TWC packet, they asked me to list a few organizations I hoped to intern with. From the beginning, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) was always at the top of that list. The NRCC is the “nerve center” of the Republican Party’s campaigning operation for the House of Representatives. Since I know that working on a federal level campaign is one of my short term goals, this is as good an internship as it could get.

My first piece of advice to future interns is to have a general idea of what you want to do professionally, before the process begins. TWC will send your resume packet to sites they think may interest you, but they are extremely busy and cannot read your mind. Reach out and ensure they know where you want to end up exactly, and then follow up with calls and emails until you know your resume was sent to those locations.

I emailed TWC a list of House and Senate members that I would have liked to intern with, plus some other organizations, and then called to check that my packet was sent to them. My experience with the process was nerve racking, but my persistence paid off.

In July, I began doing phone interviews with various offices and organizations. One was with an Arizona Congressman’s office; working in Congress was my second “dream” internship site. I interviewed that morning over the phone. At the end, I was told they had twelve more people to interview and I might hear back. I was then offered the position that afternoon.

I attributed this, and the six other offers I eventually received, to the multiple mock interviews Kimberly Lopez conducted with me in the career services office at Rogers State. TWC offered a class by telephone-conference over the summer as well: How to Conduct Effective Phone Interviews. Take advantage of these resources.

Anyway, I did a few more interviews, some offered, some never called back, and some I declined.

The AZ Congressional offer was the only one, thus far, I had seriously considered. What if I turned it down and no more offers came along? Where else did they send my resume? What about the NRCC? These questions were all going through my head in early August. My advice in this area is to let TWC know exactly what you want and bug them until your satisfied.

I declined the AZ offer thinking that if I was going to intern in the House, I should do it with a member from Oklahoma. TWC actually guaranteed they would place me with an OK office after I called to express my concerns. An offer did come and I accepted, even though it wasn’t the NRCC, but time was running short and I had gotten my second choice.

The second week of August I was listed as “placed” by TWC. Their effort on my behalf was completed and I was complacent. Then the NRCC call came, asking for a good time to contact me for an interview. I emailed my available times and a message about how passionate I was to intern with them; always include a few lines on what a great intern you would be. The next week came and went, with no call! What to do, I wondered?

Email them again! I reminded them of their interview offer, another set of times for the next week, and another note about how great an asset I would be. Getting no reply I was disappointed, but at least I had gotten my second choice, interning with Congress.

Out of the blue the following week, I got the NRCC call and did an interview; I was completely unprepared and didn’t feel great about my performance. I sent a follow up email that evening, listing what an asset I could be if offered the position. They offered and I accepted!

It all came down to letting TWC know what I wanted and following up with them. The same goes for everyone else who may have a hand in determining where you end up. It has been my experience that most everyone will go out of their way to help you, just don’t be afraid to ask!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Me & My Buddy Herman

I felt the need to post this real quick, more to follow.................

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Changing Directions: Informative and Informational Posts Upcoming

In an effort to provide this blog more direction, usefulness, and frequency, I am going to begin detailing what the entire TWC program entails, start to finish. My inspiration for doing so came Tuesday of this past week, when I became absolutely, 100%, would not change a thing satisfied with every aspect of my experience thus far. I hope my subsequent posts will be a helpful reference for future TWC interns, as each will detail what has worked for me. Bottom line, be proactive. But first, what have I been up to?

I finally started to work on my own professional development, outside of the TWC program. I feel like if someone sat me down on day one and said, “This is what you should be doing,” I would not have wasted the first month and a half being so timid. Anyway, last Friday I went in to an Oklahoma Congressional office and asked to speak with their Chief of Staff. I wanted to impress upon them how motivated I was to be part of a Congressional Campaign next year, but was told they were busy and I left with a business card. A few emails later landed me an informational interview on Monday of this week. We spoke about possible options and I left much better informed and optimistic about my possibilities

I also made some inroads with Headcount. They are an organization which conducts voter registration drives at concert events across the country. I volunteered to help and will be doing so in the near future.

I also will be a volunteer at the 30th annual Turkish-American Business Council event, being held at the Ritz-Carlton in DC. Why not, I thought, it sounded pretty interesting and I should be able to meet some very interesting people.

On Tuesday I was able to move from the finance department over to the political department in the NRCC. This is where I have supposed to of been all along, I can feel the intensity in the room and it’s very refreshing. Right now I am compiling information on all the Republican Candidates for House seats across the country. It is a really interesting project and I love going to work every day. This is the event that put my TWC experience into the “it doesn’t get any better than this” category.

I will provide details on how I think future TWC interns can achieve this as well in the coming days, beginning with TWC internship placement process.

PS: Did anyone else feel embarresed for Rick Perry in the last debate like I did? I don't really like or dislike the guy all that much, but I did find myself feeling sorry for him. I mean, what do you say to him when he comes off the stage after something like that if your a consultant? Maybe......"say the sentence in your head first, then, when you feel confident in the delivery, write it down and read the words." I don't know who's telling him to engage Romney like that but keep up the good prep work!

Oh one last thing, VOTE RON PAUL 2012!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Goodness Gracious!

I have had another amazing week. I was able to get out of the city for a while, receive some amazing training, and I met my personal hero who just happens to be our nation’s next President. Things are going great!

Last Saturday I had a case of the blues. My wife had gone home and I was content to just sit and sulk, but I remembered that I had secured a spot on the bus to Atlantic City for the day. TWC had put the trip together and around 40 or so interns were lucky enough to go. We left at 8:00 am and got home at around 11:00 pm. I had no idea it was a 4-hour drive, but it was a nice change of scenery. I do not enjoy gambling so much but I was able to get a haircut and eat some crab cakes, so I ended up having a good time.

Beginning last Monday, I and another intern from the NRCC started a week long Campaign Manager School that was conducted by The Leadership Institute in Arlington, Virginia. There were around 30 or so political activist from across the country in attendance, which made it a great networking opportunity.

I can definitely say that I was completely ignorant of what a well-run, legitimate political campaign looks like and needs to have to win. We had experts ranging from Congressional Chiefs of Staff, who had previously run high-dollar campaigns, to industry leaders dealing in everything from direct mail to the newest internet ads giving lectures.

We also had a 3-hour class which was titled: Advanced New Media Workshop. It mostly dealt with how to effectively manage a candidates Facebook and Twitter accounts. It is all a little overwhelming right now, but I have another Campaign Manager School in November that is being conducted by the Republican National Committee. It is supposed to be more hands on with many situational exercises. I’ll do my best to hone my skills then.

On Wednesday of last week, I met Congressman Ron Paul who is a candidate for President! He was in town for a lunch which was held at the National Press Club. My Professor Steve Scully knew the lady who was coordinating the event, and was able to get me and 3 other students in, to stand in the back during his speech and the question and answer segment which followed.

The day got progressively better which each passing hour though. At around 10:00 am we got an email from Steve indicating his friend was able to get us all tickets to the lunch. Then, almost 30 minutes after that great news, another email arrived. We were now being allowed to participate in the VIP reception being held prior to the lunch with Rep. Paul.

Throughout this time we all met the Congressman, took multiple pictures with him, spoke with him individually, and I was able to get my pocket Constitution signed. It goes without saying that I was on Cloud 9 for the rest of the day. I even made a side trip to the National Archives, on the way back to my campaign class, to see the original Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Just caught up in the moment I guess.

Next week it’s back to my internship at the NRCC. So far there isn’t anything that really stands out about the week. But if this last one is any guide, I know that could change on a whim!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

An Amazing Third Week!

I have had an awesome time this past week. My days were full of experiences I once thought unimaginable just a short semester ago. My internship is going great, my class at TWC is such a unique and rewarding opportunity, and I have learned that being a political junkie is not so lonely after all!

On Monday, all Washington Center interns (around 320 students) were required to attend a discussion and question and answer segment moderated by Steve Scully with former Senators Lott and Dorgan on the issue of bipartisanship. The event was recorded for CSPAN and aired at 7:55 central time on CSPAN-1. This gave me the chance to make my national television debut, asking the second question during the Q&A segment about 22 minutes into the broadcast. Though I did not realize it, this would be only my first interaction of the day with former elected officials.

That evening during my class, which is also taped for television and airs on CSPAN-3 Fridays at around 4:30 central time, our guest was Gerald Rafshoon. He was the Media Strategist for the '76 Carter for President Campaign and a former White House Communications Director. A surprise came when around ten minutes into the class former President Jimmy Carter called in to discuss the campaign and take questions.

There are only 24 Washington Center students in this particular class and since our professor/ moderator of the program Steve Scully is still learning everyone’s name, he surprised me by saying, "President Carter I think some of our students have questions at this point. Trevor, I believe you have a question, go ahead." I thought of something relevant to campaigns and came out all right. Then again, when it came time for the Q&A segment with Mr. Rafshoon, and because at that point in time I believe he could only remember the name "Trevor", Steve said, "Go ahead Trevor." Though I was caught off guard twice that evening, it was a very enjoyable class and I am grateful for the opportunity.

The next day at work, the Republican National Committee organized a field trip for the interns in the building, around 20 in all. We walked to the Daily Caller, an online publication started by the man with the bowtie, Tucker Carlson. He has worked for CBS, ABC, CNN, and now is a consultant for Fox News. He came in and sat directly across the table from me for almost an hour, discussing his past, giving advice, and answering any questions we asked. He was very down to earth and extremely personable, making it another amazing day.

On Wednesday I was back to my duties with the NRCC. Mainly stuffing envelopes, calling potential NRCC donors, and doing some research on various people the NRCC is interested in. No matter how small the task, I am happy to be part of the team.

That evening they did let me help with a reception for Congressman Mike Scully of Pennsylvania. It was a small gathering and I was able to speak with a lot of interesting people who make their living on the hill. Then on Friday morning I volunteered to help with a breakfast for the Texas State Society held at the Capitol Hill Club, again affording me the opportunity to meet people who openly describe themselves as fellow “political junkies”.

Perhaps the most exciting day for me came late Thursday evening, when my beautiful wife Leslie flew in for her first visit since I left. We have been enjoying each other’s time together and I will hate seeing her leave early next Tuesday morning.

Besides my wife leaving, I look forward to my fourth week in DC. I love every second and know all too well that the time is flying by. I try not to think about that too much and make the most out of every experience. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My Second Week Working on the Hill

Well, I finished up my second week at the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). It was pretty awesome at some points and pretty boring at others. I’ll focus on the awesome. I also would like to speak to my course and some of the upcoming events that I am looking forward to this week.

Beginning on Tuesday of last week all the interns at the Republican National Committee (RNC), of which I am included, had lunch in the Reagan Room of the RNC. The RNC Communications Director came in and we all got to question him for over an hour. It was very interesting as he is the man behind the scenes of every media appearance the RNC makes and the framing of the RNC’s message whenever they issue a statement to the media.

This upcoming Tuesday, all RNC interns and there are only around 15 of us, get to take a tour of the Daily Caller and then chat with its founder, Tucker Carlson. I realize few if any know who these people are that I have and will be referring to, besides the other political junkies out there, so I’ll try and get a picture to spur your memory, think bowtie.

Mainly this past week I have been stuffing envelopes and making a lot of phone calls back to Oklahoma, the NRCC has an event in Tulsa on the 29th of this month. If anyone wants to attend please let me know, it would really make me look good if I could sell a few tickets. I actually did get one person to RSVP with me over the phone. She paid $1,000 for a general reception ticket to the event. When I told my superiors and gave them her credit card info, they acted like I had done something amazing. I felt like this is what the goal of all these calls had been all along and wondered what the big deal was. If I was in charge I would have been disappointed in my interns only getting one RSVP out of 8 pages of phone calls.

On Thursday of this past week the Director of the Finance Department, who is also from Oklahoma, took me to the Oklahoma State Society Congressional Reception that was held in the Capitol building. All of Oklahoma’s Congressmen, along with Governor Mary Fallin where present at the event and I got to meet them all. I also ran into the President of the Bank of Stillwater who was my father's best man in his wedding and graduated from OSU with him, talk about a small world.

Friday I was able to attend a NRCC PAC meeting where the Director of the Political Department gave an overview of all the seats they were targeting in the up-coming 2012 Congressional election. There were around 20 people there and I assume they were big money donors because he kept talking about them being excited to write checks to the NRCC. The meeting began with a speech from Rob Barker, who recently won the special election in New York 9 and Ahmeday, who won the special election in Nevada. The NRCC feels pretty confident in adding seats to the current Republican Majority in the House in 2012.

Well RSU, I’m getting ready for the Dallas game and have to start on my Political Leadership homework which is due tomorrow. Oh, my wife is visiting this week, so if anyone has any ideas of something romantic I can do for her while she is here please let me know. I have no clue when it comes to things like that. Tomorrow we go to a panel discussion featuring former Senator Trent Lott, and then our guest at the CSPAN class is going to be Jimmy Carters campaign manager. A little birdie told me after last week’s class to have a question ready for President Carter himself, so we’ll see.

Monday, September 12, 2011

My First Week

The US Capitol on a Sunny Saturday Afternoon

Well students of Rogers State, I would like to begin this blog with a piece of humble advice. Do not fly in to Dulles International Airport when flying into Washington D.C. I arrived on the 31st of August and because of a cheap ticket from Southwest, I ended up spending $80 dollars on a taxi and one hour in traffic. It wasn’t worth it! Now to my actual post…….

Wow! So far my entire experience at The Washington Center (TWC) has been absolutely amazing! I know I have only been here just short of a week and a half now, but wow! I am interning at the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), I have my own apartment just eight blocks from Capitol Hill, I have been an arm’s length away from Speaker of the John Boehner, and I have taken a cruise on the Potomac River. Please allow me start at the beginning.

On the 1st of September we had an orientation where many different speakers came to address us. One was the President of the Washington Center program, the very top of the totem pole here so to speak. There were 320 students from around the world all seated in the auditorium and he began to pick individuals out, asking them where they were from, what they were majoring in, how they heard of the program, etc. The last student he picked out was yours truly.

I began by telling him I hailed from the thriving metropolis of Nowata, Oklahoma. I then said that I had heard of TWC program after asking one of my professors, Dr. Carolyn Taylor, how to become more active in politics or where to even begin. Upon hearing the name he immediately knew exactly where I went to school. He informed the entire student body that Stratton Taylor, Dr. Taylor’s husband, was an alumnus of TWC and then gave us all a brief history of Stratton’s accomplishments. He then went on to say how Stratton Taylor truly encompassed the three pillars of TWC; civic engagement, leadership, and giving back to the community. It made me very proud to be a student at Rogers State University.

I began my internship the following Tuesday in the financial department of the NRCC. This is basically the fund raising arm of the NRCC. I really lucked out here because the Director of this department is actually from Norman. He was excited that another “Okie” was working in his area and I am excited to be working for him. Something everyone keeps saying again and again is how important networking is and I see this as an important contact to have.

The most exciting thing I was included in this past week was a welcome back reception for Republican members of Congress at The Capitol Hill Club. I was only giving out name tags to lobbyists but the room was so small that I was literally, at different points in the evening, standing right next to Speaker Boehner, Rep. Darrell Issa, Rep. John Sullivan, Rep. Frank Lucas, and many others, I do not believe the smile ever left my face that night.

We also have to take a course in addition to our internship and I believe I lucked out here as well. I enrolled in a course that is being done with C-SPAN. It was open to twenty-five students and will be broadcast on C-SPAN 3 every Friday evening. Every week we will have different guests and we will be able to ask them whatever questions we may have related to Presidential politics. Just tonight I was able to get in a couple of questions with Jonathan Martin from Politico.

The most exciting aspect however is that our Professor for the three hour class, held every Monday, is none other than Steve Scully! If anyone, besides myself, ever watches C-Span one or two on the weekends then you should know who he is. He hosts different programs and has interviewed nearly every political figure you could imagine. He is also a really great teacher and super easy to talk to. Its the picture at the top.

Everything is like a dream come true so far. The way everything is shaping up I hope to be able share still more awesome experiences that Rogers State has made possible for me in the days and weeks to come, so be sure to check out this blog at least once a week to hear all about them.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Shutdown Showdown

I believe it was Socrates who said it is good to live in interesting times. Although Wikipedia says it's a Chinese curse, I can't that seriously because I've seen them run some misinformation on Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones for three years, notably that his oil and natural gas lease business was based in Oklahoma instead of Arkansas.

Regardless of who said it, this past week was a very interesting time in our nation's capital, and if you get to be a Washington Center intern, then certainly you may experience such interesting times.

I intern for Voice of America, which is an arm of the federal government. It's not like the Social Security Administration or some of the other bureaucratic agencies in Washington, but it still would have had some employees furloughed because of the government shutdown. In my case, I didn't know what was going to happen because I was an intern. Although I wasn't being paid, my transit subsidies could be considered payment and for that reason, I might have been furloughed. I didn't want to be; I wanted to keep coming to work. I love working on VOA 60 every day and get disappointed on days that I don't. So, if the government shut down, I was going to keep going to work until the security guards drove me away.

Of course, even if that would have happened, I still would have been figuring a way to better my career. I would have devoted more time to finding material for my radio show and building my portfolio. I wasn't going to sit around and wait to die of Dutch Elm Disease if the government shut down.

Some of the other interns at federal agencies were looking forward to it. You know, they could take their time off and go sight-see or whatever they do. I wouldn't know; I actually wouldn't know. I'm so engrossed in my work here in Washington, D.C. and also with graduating that I am numb to a great many things. I'm so focused on getting out of college that I can't feel anything right now.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying the city isn't an exciting place to see. It is, but I saw it before when I was 12, 13 years old. So, I'm not missing out on anything, and what I did miss out on when I was 12 and 13 can be supplemented in a relatively short amount of time when I break on through to the other side of this capstone project.

Did I tell you about that? Yeah, I did from last week. Well, the good news is this week I was able to round up my final panelist. He's not from a think tank, but he is a well-read professor at George Washington University and I think he matches the credibility of the conservative panelist I chose. So, everything is fine on that front. My capstone project will be completed when conduct the panel discussion at Voice of America's radio studios this Thursday the 14th. I can't wait; I'm very excited.

It almost didn't happen because of the government shutdown. If the government would have shut down, I'm not sure what would have happened to my studio time because I'm not sure if I could have gotten into the building. But that wasn't stopping me from carrying out my capstone project; I called around town to see if there were any free radio studios I could use for thirty minutes. I wasn't going to let my capstone project get swept up the political machinery.

But let's do a recap of last week. On Monday, we had programming and Dr. Lawrence Korb, a former administrator in the Reagan administration, spoke to us on foreign policy, notably Libya. I liked the guy's approach. He stood out in front of the podium and engaged us like a Pentecostal preacher. I mean, look at these photos I took. Parts of them are blurry because the guy wouldn't stay still.

Of course, I was sitting next to the same crazino who told me to put my camera away, even though I cleared it with one of the supervisors of the event. Remember that one? Remember the photographic fief from the last discussion panel three weeks ago? Oh, he looked over at my camera phone like your best friend's crazy cocker spaniel when a 1991 Chevy Caprice would drive down the street. He was ready to strike; I can guarantee it. That's why I made sure to snap a few quick pictures and put my camera away.

And, like always, they opened up the microphone to ask questions and some people gave lectures instead. TWC really ought to invest in a vaudeville hook. I don't want to knock on the foreign students because it really takes a lot of moxie to ask a question in front of 100 students in a language not your own. So, I accept their rambling. I don't like it when homegrown students get up there and do the ol' two-for-one. Oh, and another one they did was right when we thought the last of the students had asked a question, another one would jump up to get in line. This happened about three times. Finally, the administrators cut 'em off and we could leave.

What does that make me? A mean guy for telling you about that? No, I think it's what you'll feel too whenever you become a student at The Washington Center. There will be days when you're interesting in the programming and the lectures, but you really don't have the patience for the questions because A) they're the final event before you can leave, B) you're hungry enough to eat a boot, and C) you're tired enough to beat the band.

Anyway, whatever.

So this week was all about the cherry blossoms. Actually, the past two weeks were. This weekend, I had a chance to go out and see some of them across town:

I also got to see people enjoying the temperate weather out on the National Mall. There was some kickball tournament going on.

I don't know about you, but just witnessing scenes like this makes me feel more patriotic and proud of my country than any piece of legislation Congress passes or executive order the President signs. There's just something reassuring and timeless about scenes like that. The day you don't see scenes like that on the National Mall is the day you know America's in trouble.

Good gravy -- I don't mean to sound like a prophet of doom! I don't know. Maybe it's the work; it's getting to me. I'm just so focused on graduating and getting out of school that I've become numb to certain things and I'm starting to revert back to my sarcastic self. But I don't know if it's even my sarcastic self that's seeping through. It's more like a chilled logical persona that has no time for games and frivolity. I just want to bust through this week like a brick wall and come out the other side ready to bust a move. I'm so ready to get this capstone project over with.

Before I forget, I want to warn you about the vast size of the National Mall. It's something that gets lost when you're down there in the National Mall or looking at a map planning your Saturday afternoon with the blue fanny pack and the white sneakers and the Polaroid camera from 1993. You think it's all so close together, but you really don't know until you've walked a good hour and a half to get to these sites. So, let this picture instructional for you:

Look to the houses on the right, just above them. That's the Capitol. Now, look over to your left before you get to the air traffic control tower. That's the Washington Monument. DO YOU SEE HOW FAR IT IS BETWEEN THE TWO SITES? That's an incredible distance, and you really do put a burden on yourself and that chick in the floor above you that you try to impress every day by timing your "coincidental" meetings in the elevator when you two get off work. So, don't be afraid to take a cab or the Metro. You know, there won't be a Needles there to call you a chicken.

All right, before we get out of here, let's close up shop with another one of my dad's famous sayings:

"like a fat girl at a fricassee"

Definition: a natural pairing

Usage: I'm always working on VOA 60 like a fat girl at a fricassee."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

By Inferno's Light

I know; I know. It has been two weeks since my last blog post. And I know what you're thinking. You're thinking I'm not that committed to this thing anymore or that I'm running out of ideas or that I'm not fascinated by my blogging opportunity anymore.

Well, you could take it that way, but you would be totally wrong. I have been so immersed in my duties here in Washington DC that I don't do anything when I get home but sleep. I don't feel like talking to anyone or doing anything. And it's exacerbated on the weekends. I don't feel like doing anything but lying around and catching up on some sleep. My bosses at Voice of America can tell that it's Friday because I come into work beaten and fatigued. It's true. By Friday afternoon, I'm ready to take a big nap.

So the more this semester continues, the more tired I'm going to feel on weekends. See how that works out? That's why I haven't been blogging, not that I haven't had anything to blog about.

Take this for instance that happened on Tuesday, March 22nd. In my "Press, Power, and Politics" class taught by Professor Marjorie Kline, we got to go on a field trip to "The Kalb Report" yet again. This time, Diane Sawyer was there on his show at the National Press Club.

Of course, the auditorium was full by the time we got there with all of the lummoxes and the seat-grabbers-from-behind and the old fogies. Somehow, I got separated from the group, so I went and sat elsewhere. The first place I sat was perpendicular with the stage. As soon as I did that, some woman with her hair in a bun to rival the leaning tower of Pisa sits right in front of me eclipsing my view. Then, some geeky guy crowds next to me on my right. I almost have a breakdown with that and the typical cacophony that fills an auditorium before a presentation that I left the seat and went elsewhere.

I went way in the back; I didn't care. I was already separated from the group and any seat I chose was going to be crap anyway. So, I decided to go sit way in the back where no one would touch me. Well, as soon as I did that, and enjoyed myself for 9 minutes, some guy comes and sits next to me again.

It's the same thing on the Metro. I don't get this. Why do I get guys that sit next to me? For once, I'd like a female about my age to crowd next to me on a Metro or in an auditorium instead of another guy with spiked hair and a trick jacket he lays across the three seats to his right to save a seat for his friends. You ever notice that? You ever notice how men wear their trench coats and women their minks when they go to big events like that? They do it because they can take it off and save a seat and then you look like a schmuck after you barrel over seven people across the row to get there and find that out.

When the guy set down his jacket, I took of my suit coat and put it over my chair. I left the room to take a few deep breaths. Everything was a disaster to this point. I was cut off from the group, so I couldn't make smart aleck remarks. I couldn't see, not only Diane Sawyer, but not even a monitor because it was blocked off by the Marge Simpson brigades in front of me with their cartoonish tall hair. Then, I was going to have to be pestered the whole time with some lame-brain texting the sequel to "War and Peace" on her Blackberry.

Oh, I didn't tell you about that? Yeah, after I came back from catching my breath, I was instead sitting next to some petite brunette with glasses texting the whole time during the hour-long "Kalb Report." And she wasn't some nineteen year-old dingbat with a PR Facebook account that she never updates. No, this was a woman of about thirty years texting furiously on her phone. It sounded like a baseball team with cleats walking down the tunnel to get onto the field. "Click clack. Click clack. Click clack." I couldn't believe how ostentatious she was with her texting.

Now, I tried not to let it bother me because I figured, "Hey, with all of this bad stuff happening, something's got to give. Maybe I'll get my picture taken with Diane Sawyer."

Let's speed up the tape in this VCR of a blog and see what happened:

Nothing. You can't even tell that's her. It looks like the Old Man in the Mountain from Franconia, New Hampshire. But that's what I was dealing with. She was mobbed by the crowd as though she was the Messiah and she could heal the sick, and so you had to be on your game when you wanted to get your picture with her. Just my luck, I had a stranger take my picture. I had some middle-aged woman who probably knew more about souvlaki than photography snapping my picture. After she took this god awful picture, she hands the camera back to me and says it was great. Yeah, sure.

Now, I know I'm being exceptionally cranky about this whole ordeal, but it did turn out great in some regard. The girl featured in this picture is -- well, I don't know if I can reveal her name. We'll call her "Yankee Girl" because she comes from Michigan and sounds like it too. She's in my class, in my program, 20 years old, and claims Diane Sawyer was the reason she got into journalism. So, before the event, I told Yankee Girl that I would take the picture.

And it was no ordinary feat, we both had to swim through the crowd at different points and converge on Diane Sawyer. But it turned out okay:

And what's my reward for it? To still live out the role of Chief O'Brien's duplicate in the Deep Space Nine episode "Whispers."

You want me to talk about that? No, I don't think I will. I forgot I wasn't in a cafe', so maybe I'll save that for my most devoted fans.

I don't know if Facebook videos have the capability of being embedded here, but here's video evidence of The Washington Center students totally owning the Q&A process:

We'll see if that gets embedded or if you can even watch it after you click the link. But it's just more indisputable evidence of how awesome you have to be to make the cut here at The Washington Center.

I did get to have my picture taken with someone of significance at "The Kalb Report," ol' Frank Sesno of CNN, Associated Press, and PBS fame. I wanted my picture taken with him because he hosted a show entitled "The Future of News" that we aired on RSU Public Television, the place where I got my first job in the media as a master control operator.

Good gravy! Look at my tie. I look like a snickerer that belongs on "Red Eye" with my tie all crooked like that.

The next Tuesday, things were better as far as getting pictures with celebrities was concerned.

Let me talk about that for a moment. I only do that for this blog. I do it to show how far you can go with your internship here at The Washington Center. You think I care if I get my picture taken with some of these people? Not really. In fact, I don't like to be part of the crazy mob that surrounds them, only a few cloaks from a Draco moment in Ancient Greece. I mean, let's think about this: how does my life change if I get my picture taken with a celebrity?

A) Do my sick relatives regain their health lost by disease? No.

B) Does the sum of my personal fortune rise as a result? No.

C) Do they ask me if I want to join them in a Hummer limousine ride that night? No.

D) Do I become a celebrity because of this picture? No.

So, I mean, what's the motivation to fight through a crowd for a photo op? I don't know; it's just my stoic way of looking at these things.

But I got to meet Kevin Eubanks, the former band leader on "The Tonight Show." He was doing a show with Larry London on Voice of America's "Border Crossings."

Being a Dallas Cowboys fan, I tried to talk to him about the Philadelphia Eagles since he's a big fan. You would see him on "The Tonight Show" with the guitar laughing at Jay Leno and wearing an Eagles hat or something. Anyway, he didn't even know the Eagles were trying to trade Kevin Kolb. So there you go.

That afternoon, after work, it was a nice day out on the National Mall. I walked around clearing my thoughts so I could prepare my mind for my radio show that evening:

Since it was so nice and I wasn't so tired, I walked to the Supreme Court:

Yeah, with nice weather like this, I'm sure you'll get more pictures of Washington DC from me.

It's difficult to comprehend that I only have one month left. I'm so pulled in sundry directions by my capstone project -- oh, did I tell you about that, Mr. Overachiever? Did I tell you what my capstone project is? Instead of mailing it in and doing a video or something, since I'm in Washington DC and I want to get into radio, I decide to do a radio pilot on health care reform.

I have done everything I can and appealed to as many think tanks in this town to make this possible. Now that I have one panelist from the think tanks, it's really going to be easy to get the other panelist for my show because now I can tell them who they will be debating.

So, I mean, that's ADDED STRESS on top of all of the other Washington Center and Voice of America assignments and projects that are all converging about the same time that I present my capstone. Of course, I'll do well. I'll do such a great job that it will be the academic equivalent of this:

Let's just hope when I remember to pay my jewelry and rent bills.

If I would have had it to all over again, I would have carefully planned my semesters and never taken less than 15 hours. I think I would have still had to do my capstone and my internship in my final semester here, but at least I wouldn't be hampered with history and public administration along with it. The way it all shakes out, I'm actually taking 18 hours this semester, AND I'M NOT EVEN ON CAMPUS AT MY HOME UNIVERSITY!

But the thing with me is if you never tell me how hard it's supposed to be, I won't get discouraged. And that's how I've treated it. I just want to get through this. After it's over, then I'll go look at the statistics to see how hard this really was. But I'm telling YOU right now that the best thing you could do is take care of all of your obligations so you can really enjoy this experience and not feel so rushed as I do.

Would I trade this for something else, say, a 12-hour semester of tranquility back at Rogers State University? Not hardly. This is where I have to be. This is where I belong. This is what I have to do to advance my career. "I'll take dat."

Let's conclude things with one of my dad's famous sayings and get out of here:

"more ________ than Carter has pills"

Definition: to have an unparalleled quantity

Usage: If I Dez Bryant doesn't pay off his bills, he'll have more lawsuits than Carter has pills.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


The alarm clock on my phone buzzes. It's 7:45 AM. I don't want to get out of bed. I'd rather lie there and listen to the rest of the world diligently toil in their vain endeavors on this mortal coil as I drift off into a dream about a two-headed wildebeest that speaks Latin out of one head and Greek out of the other.

You ever noticed that? You ever noticed how you have weird dreams after you go back to sleep in the morning? I like those dreams. They're actually quite inspirational.

I'm a senior in college, as you may or may not know. With that being said, I'm looking for a job after I graduate on Saturday, May 7th, 2011. It's led me to make some unfortunate decisions, like deciding to get this mop I call hair under control:


There's a main reason why I keep my hair so long: because I used to have cancer and I didn't have a choice when it came to my hair length. In other words, I was more bald than Michael Chiklis after using Nair for shampoo and I didn't really have any hair options. So, in defiance of my cancer trials, I grew my hair long to show how far away from death's door I had run after pushing the doorbell.

Well, that's kind of hard to explain to folks when you're making a first impression. They say it takes 6 to 90 seconds to make a first impression. So, if in that time a potential boss sees me and thinks I look like a scuzzy reject from 1989, then it's going to be hard for me to find employment, unless I build a time machine and go back to 1989. I mean, nobody EVER will ask you why you look scuzzy or why you have a fish hook through your lip. It doesn't matter that it's sentimental to you because you can lock your fish hook with your boyfriend's fish hook on his lip and then say you both have the perfect catch.

Look. I'm not hear to expostulate about piercings; I'm empathizing with you that I have some odd decoration that I had to amend in order to impress potential employers. It's what we young folk have to do to impress the ol' fogies who have the jobs right now. Maybe when the rest of us long-haired, green-haired, pierced, and painted kids become the ol' fogies, we can set the standards. Right now, we have to adhere to them, or end up living with our parents for the next twenty-five years 'til we get the house.

Now, I look like this:


See, I don't really like this look. I'll be honest with you. It's representative of a time before I had cancer and I was more pure in heart and unsuspecting of my fellow man or unaware of just how chilly this world actually is. But, hey, it's my best look, so I'll take it.

I've got a big week coming up. It's like the third game of NFL pre-season this week. I've got to look like I'm ready to step up and make somebody's team. And make no mistake: I will make somebody's team when I get out of college in May. This opportunity that The Washington Center has afforded me has been valuable and instrumental in helping me achieve some of my career goals. I feel like I've actually skipped a few steps thanks to this accelerated professional environment The Washington Center provides.

Tomorrow is when the grind begins again. With daylight savings time upon us, I am reminded of the opening lines to Damone's song "Out Here All Night":


Summer's coming too fast; winter's been here too long.

We keep wasting our days. Pretty soon they'll be gone.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Once More Unto the Breach

I don't live in the TWC residential housing complex that's on the website. I live in some luxury apartments in Alexandria, Virginia, just right across the river. This is actually how it used to be, I'm told. In the old days -- I feel like I should look more wizened and have a shabby, white beard when I tell you this. Anyway, in the olden days, the students here at The Washington Center used to live in apartments spread across the Beltway as far as north as Bethesda and as far austral as Alexandria. Now that they have the new-fangled residential complex in Washington DC proper, they are working towards giving new students a true taste of what it's like to live in our nation's capital.

What I'm told is that it doesn't matter if you live at the RAF (the place in Washington DC) or here in Alexandria as far as roommates are concerned. You get three other roommates no matter where you live, unless you apply for the special offer of living in a single apartment WITH NO ROOMMATES.

I eschewed that offer because I had been living on my own in my first three years of college and wanted to actually KNOW what it was like to have roommates.

But, having had that offer again...

If I would have that to do all over again, I might have taken the offer. But I didn't because I wanted to know what it was like to live with other people.

A couple of roommates of mine are having strife with each other over the other's living habits. I almost feel like I'm living with my parents again. It's like the domestic dialogue never changes no matter where I go. Roommate 1 gets onto Roommate 2 for not cleaning up his mess in the kitchen and around the couch area. Really, it's like living with my parents again. My dad was more like Roommate 2, which is why he doesn't bother me. I'm used to living around a mess like that, even though I did specify I didn't want to live with someone like that. Oh, well.

Remember: I'm giving it to you STRAIGHT about what's it's like to be in The Washington Center programs. I'll tell you the highs, which I did all this week, but I'll also tell you all about the lows too because it's part of the experience. You want to come into this with pre-conceived notions, or do you want to hear what it might actually be like? Take your pick.

Let me ask you this: YOU DON'T THINK that the other 450 kids in the program they didn't give a blog to have similar situations? It's the way it is. You're in college. You're telling me you never heard of two roommates not getting along or someone having to live with that?

Personally, I don't get involved and I don't pay attention to it because the fact is I'm here for a relatively short amount of time to let that stuff aggravate me. If I were living indefinitely with three other people, I probably would assert my preferences, but I'm only here for another two months. I've got three online classes I'm taking back home -- one of which is CAPSTONE. I'm taking a course here at The Washington Center that's challenging and fascinating. I work 9-5, Monday through Friday for a venerable media institution. I'm not going to be involved in firefights when I already at war against Fate, Competition, and Time to gain victorious my own ambitions and goals.

Tomorrow is going to be another one of those seminars that The Washington Center puts on for our own career development. I mean, I like going to them. It gets me out of my internship early and I get to make small talk with people. You know, it never goes beyond that, but hey, it's still enjoyable nonetheless.

I was going to have more pictures. I bought a new camera too, but I forgot to change the settings on it to where I could take lower resolution pictures. Right now, at the default resolution, the pictures are 1.3 megabytes and the blogging software only allows for a 1 megabyte MAXIMUM. Can you imagine? Well, I have my ways of working around it, but I didn't feel like it tonight.

This weekend has been pretty milquetoast and dejected for some reason. You ever have weekends like that? Maybe it was the rain. There was just no inspiration to do anything. I couldn't get a good grip on my homework. I didn't feel like going out and doing anything. I felt like lying around and playing So there you go. Maybe that's why I was downcast. Hahahaha. I was too lazy to have a real life.

All right, let's close up shop and introduce another one of my dad's phrases:

"bleed like a stuck hog"

Definition: to profusely bleed

Example: At work this week, for some reason, my nose randomly bled like a stuck hog.

Favor the Bold

As I told you, I will be writing three blogs these week because I neglected to update my blog on Sunday night. It's sort of my penance. I'm sure you like it when I sin like this because you get more content.

Don't worry: I'm not going to be a crank in this one. In fact, I'll do what most people do when they get a blog and turn it into the cyberspace equivalent of when your Uncle Morty used to show the slides of his vacation to Barbados at Christmas Eve dinner. You know, "And here's a plate of the flying fish I ate," as the picture features the grilled fish and your uncle's hairy forearm reaching for the salt.

This has been a very busy week. I haven't even found time to do homework out of the three classes that I'm taking back home. I know I'm ahead of the game in my capstone class because I conducted a mock phone interview with the head of career services at Rogers State University and the director said I was the first one to do it. So there you go. At least I'm winning at something. I know I'm probably another week ahead in my online history class too. My goal has been to keep all of my RSU classes ahead of schedule so I can concentrate on my immediate tasks in Washington DC.

Last night, I went to the National Press Foundation's 28th Annual Awards banquet. All of the news outlets had tables there, and it was pretty much what you would expect from a trade show. Everyone made esoteric jokes about each other and you had to laugh or clap to act like you knew what they were talking about or that you wished you knew what they were talking about. Personally, I didn't laugh or clap unless I thought it was worthy of a laugh or a clap. You know, someone made a joke about the Metro, so that was worthy of a laugh. Someone else made a joke about their daughter saying something cute about Andrea Mitchell. I didn't laugh because I don't personally know the daughter or Andrea Mitchell. Andrea Mitchell, when accepting her award that night, paid homage to the late Tim Russert. I clapped. Someone else made a tribute to Jack Steinenbaum. I didn't clap because I didn't know who he was. Are you following me or not?

Here's what the banquet looked like. Again, I had to use technological trickery to shrink the size of the picture so I could share it with you. Look at these pictures while I plug my laptop into the charger:

In case you're wondering, yes, I did get my picture with Andrea Mitchell:

 Mmh. It's as close as I could get. Here's who I went with. On the left is Humberto, Carina, Sarah, and myself. We're all Media and Communications program students:

Oh, wait. Maybe I did get a good picture with Andrea Mitchell:

Thanks, Humberto. You're the boss. I couldn't have had that moment without you. It's now my crowning achievement, as evidenced by my Facebook profile picture.

If I would have had a chance to talk with Mrs. Mitchell a little while longer, which was impossible -- I mean, look at all the people surrounding us. Even though I was first to greet her from down below the rostrum, as soon as she stepped down, a gaggle of girls surrounded her and hugged her and told her how much she inspired them. So, I mean, there was no way I could tell her this, but if I could, I would have told Mrs. Mitchell that one of my prime professors in the communications program at Rogers State University KNOWS AND WORKED WITH Brian Williams. Believe it, because it's real.

The next day, which is today, I got up and had a radio interview with Congressman Dan Boren, Democrat, 2nd Congressional District in Oklahoma. Here's photo documentation of our encounter:

And you know what sucks about this? My parents are going to gripe at me over the way my hair looks, even though Congressman Boren and his staffer and me got along great and really chatted up a storm about Green Country. Yeah, never mind that I made a good impression with them. Instead, tell me they think I'm an infidel because my hair looked crazy. That's it. 

Oh, and here's audio confirmation we did a radio interview for my radio show:

The good news is that things should be simmered down by Friday. Actually, they won't be. Since I've neglected some of my RSU studies, I'll be mapping out a way to reclaim the weekend and spend the majority of it doing homework. Oh, well -- better then when I have energy than in the evenings when I don't.

Finally, let's leave you with one of my dad's sayings. Here's the new one:

"knock 'em to their knees with their elbows draggin'"

Definition: to exhaust oneself or another in a manner in which their knees are on the ground whilst their elbows continue to prop them up on a table or other similar fixture"

Example: "All of these interviews and introductions have knocked me to my knees with my elbows draggin'."