The Deception of Attention

Scrolling through Instagram the night of MTV’s Video Music Award, it was no surprise that I was bombarded by pictures of Beyonce or videos of Blue Ivy dancing along to what I can only assume was an electrifying performance. Normally, I have no interest in watching award shows, but I wish I had because then perhaps I could understand the Beyonce obsession and worship. When I moved from onto Twitter after countless Instagram posts of America’s favorite diva, I was instantly annoyed to see Bey’s face again. Don’t misinterpret my annoyance for a dislike of whom no one can deny is an incredible performer, but the simple fact of the matter is there are more pressing issues than the stability of her marriage. I couldn’t help to think back to earlier that week when news of James Foley’s beheading was released. There were few Instagram posts or tweets from non-news accounts about the tragedy, but the night of the VMA’s and the morning after, my feed was littered with Bey’s face. Either I need to better choose who I follow or there is something incredibly wrong with what people to pay attention to. I believe both elements are at play and that a grand majority of individuals, especially the youth, prefer to inform themselves on the ins and outs of favored celebrities over issues affecting society. I find this not only disturbing, but frustrating and disappointing. Important events are taking place, there’s the Ebola epidemic, American journalists held hostage, climate change, air strikes in Gaza, the invasion of ISIS, Michael Brown’s death, etc., yet it appears that the mass is more concerned with the latest trend, Beyonce’s personal life and taking selfies. Maybe I’m tightly wound for being annoyed by this trend, but what does it say about this generation of youth when people are dying, families destroyed, and others can’t stop following celebrities long enough to educate themselves on what’s going on in the world? It’s no wonder the news industry is struggling! Trivial, insignificant news is taking precedent over serious news. It’s disheartening to see via social media, the types of things we are paying attention to. The news may not be filled with the most positive and uplifting stories, but its purpose is to inform us of the relevant and worthy happenings of the world, not amuse us with meaningless celebrity updates and fads. Unfortunately, it’s more challenging now than ever for the news industry to maintain the same audience numbers as it once had; it becomes clear why when you observe how much the younger generations of today are concerned with themselves and what’s popular at the time. For once, I would like to see news receive the attention that celebrities do, entertainment should not trump news. Without news we would be oblivious to the positive and atrocious things occurring around us, but perhaps people don’t want to know those things. I’m incredibly grateful that my father instilled in me the importance of acknowledging the news. It gives me the satisfaction of knowing that my Twitter followers will see tweets of news articles and thoughts about them rather than celebrity gossip. I encourage today’s youth to take a few minutes out of their Kim Kardashian daze or Instagram posts and read the news, something worth knowing might be learned.

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A Glimpse of Mexico

This view is only steps away from my father's home in Michoacan, Mexico.

This view is only steps away from my father’s home in Michoacan, Mexico.

     It had been seven years since the last time I went to Mexico. I was a high school freshman and it was in January, the perfect time to go to my little ranch because it was the time of the fiestas. During these festivities people that have left Mexico return to enjoy the company of old friends, comfort of their childish homes, abundance of food and the beauty of the nightly parade followed by mass and lastly, music and dancing in the plaza. Children love it for the fair and endless options of authentic delicious Mexican candy and treats. But this time would be different. I wouldn’t be able to hear the faint sound of the drums and french horns as I endured through mass because I wasn’t allowed to enjoy the fair until I attended mass. Instead I didn’t know what to expect, I was going in July and since it wasn’t January I already knew my mom’s little ranch would be mostly deserted.

     Nonetheless, I was excited. I needed a vacation and was really glad that I would be able to spend time with my mom and family, even if I was going to be disconnected from the world due to no cell phone, but I was really looking forward to it. Once my flight began approaching I started to feel nervous, when I would think of going to my grandma’s house for the first time since 2006, tears would begin to form in my eyes. It was only natural, the last time I had gone to Mexico was the last time my grandma went and we spent two weeks cleaning and painting her lovely home. But now the house I would be visiting would be completely different due to a complete renovation. I hoped it would at least be the same color, but it seems that wasn’t possible.

     I was still excited. When I arrived, we spent a few days at an uncle’s house before going to my grandma’s and were able to do some sight-seeing. It was well past midnight when I was awaken by the sudden bumpiness of the road, we were less than five minutes away! The smooth paved road is replaced by rocks and potholes when trying to get to my mom’s hometown, more like a ranch, La Ladera. Those five minutes went by before I was able to gather all my emotions and the image faded of my grandma crying while holding the bars of the gate to her house, the first time she saw it in a long time all those years ago. Before I got out of the car I could already begin to feel the shortness of breath and heaviness in my step that always happens prior to a full-blown sobbing. I stood in front of the house for a few moments and tried to compose myself because I don’t like crying in front of people, but it was useless. I knew this would happen though. The house is beautiful, but it just wasn’t the same; I felt like a tangible piece of the memory that was so very special to me, was gone with the old house. I felt weird for a day or two, but I knew that the changes were made because she had hopes of fixing the home she left behind when she moved to the US. She may not have walked those same floors or dusted the same rooms, but her spirit and her presence was there, everything was done in her honor and from above, she was thrilled to have her kids back in her home.

     The part of Mexico I went to is very different from some peoples perspective of Mexico, like Cabo or Cancun. La Ladera is a ranch. There are no stores, no paving and sometimes no running water. There is a small town, Jaripo, about 10 minutes away with a cemetery, church, small restaurants and very small grocery stores, sort of like liquor stores, but without so much liquor. Since my grandmas house is at the edge of this small ranch sometimes the house doesn’t get any water so we were forced to either use buckets or go to a neighboring friends house to bathe. Needless to say, it’s quite different, but it’s very peaceful. Instead of being awaken by the sound of cars or neighbors, you’re awaken by the roosters and when you step out you’re not surrounded by homes or cars, you’re amidst nature. At night time you definitely have to use bug repellent since bugs there are ruthless, I had a bump the size of a ping pong ball on my foot after a bug bite. Spending two weeks in my native land was a very relaxing and humbling experience. Being exposed to the way of life there put things in perspective on life in the US for me. It made me realize that some of the things we’re concerned with aren’t that important. The opportunities and resources available to us in America aren’t offered everywhere and my trip helped me appreciate what I have a little more. Sometimes I think we’re too overwhelmed and preoccupied with our lives that we forget to reflect and be thankful for the things we have. A little bit of nature with cell phone/internet alienation is a marvelous way to take a step back to look at your life or to just relax. I believe it’s something we all need from time to time, to stop focusing on your career, bills or your Instagram stats and just take some time to enjoy nature and it’s beauty to help you think clearer or put you at ease.

     For a while I needed a vacation and I was really lucky to spend it with the people I did and the place we were. Aside from humbling, it was special because I knew my grandma was happy and more importantly my mother. The high volume of people there made it difficult to have her attention, but I know me being there meant the world to her and there was no other place I would have rather been. This trip was the perfect vacation and I am so blessed to have been able to experience it.

Pilot

A snap of one of my front page articles.
A snap of one of my front page articles.

     Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved words. Of course I liked to play with my dolls and tea sets as all little girls do, but I enjoyed words, reading and writing has always been something dear to me. I remember during elementary school when school was out for the summer and my mother would work, that our neighbor would babysit my younger brother and I. Sometimes we would sit in front of the television tranced by whatever child’s cartoon was popular at the time, but my favorite time of those summer days was lying beneath my neighbors tree, enjoying the fresh shade and reading. I read all sorts of books: adventures, mysteries, horror, non-fiction, etc. Even as a kid, I was never deterred by the length of a book; if it caught my attention and sparked my curiosity to know what wondrous story hid between those pages, it was worth adding the extra weight to the large stack of books I would frequently check-out from the library.  

     It wasn’t until sixth grade though that I discovered the power of writing. At first, I didn’t particularly enjoy writing. I found the standard five-paragraph style of writing that we all learn in elementary, tedious and boring, but then something occurred in sixth grade that changed my feelings towards writing forever. I don’t recall the exact date, I can only remember that it was in the sixth grade when my older brother was shot due to what I later realized, must have been rivaling gang tension. Fortunately, his close encounter with death was brief and the medics were able to save him. Nonetheless, this event was life-changing for it was then that I found my love and purpose in writing. At the time, I didn’t have a computer so I grabbed a notebook and a pencil, and began to write what had happened to my brother in the form of a news article. I suppose it must’ve been the fact that to this day my father will switch whatever he is watching at 5pm to the evening news, that I wrote the events in that manner, even though at that age I wasn’t in any sort of journalism class. After finishing the story, I taped both pieces of paper together and to a wall in my bedroom. I wanted everyone and anyone who walked into my room to see those papers on my wall, and to read and learn the story of what happened to my brother. I wanted everyone to feel the outrage I felt at the sadness and violence that occurs in this world. Through that article I felt the power of expression. The power of being able to reach people through words not only to just share and entertain, but so that hopefully, they would learn something from those sheets of paper and share it with others. That’s what I love about writing, the ability to share your words and thoughts with others, even if it’s something that you were assigned to do by a teacher, professor, editor, boss, whomever, I wanted what I wrote to be useful and remembered, at least part of it. 

     After writing that article and realizing how much I enjoyed it, I decided to write more frequently. Before the article, as most girls have, I had a Tweety bird diary, but it was mostly filled with summaries of my days, now I wanted to write something deeper. Conveniently, this newfound love for writing occurred around puberty and when I first started to take notice of boys so it helped me keep all of my thoughts and emotions controlled so that I wasn’t your typical crazy pre-teen lashing out at the world because she’s insecure and not in the popular crowd. All those things that most people learn aren’t worth worrying about, my poems and reflections would help me battle them out on my own, in my room and past my bed-time when everyone was asleep. I continued writing poetry during middle school, but stopped shortly after 8th grade promotion, finding inspiration was trying. I continued to write refections and thoughts until junior year in high school when I realized that I wanted a career in journalism, so naturally I joined the school paper. I mostly wrote news and opinion pieces. I recall when I was in fourth grade with my teacher Mr. Franco, that he once told me to never stop asking questions and I always remembered that and never did stop. I guess that may be a reason why I considered a career in journalism, because I wasn’t afraid to ask questions and however many necessary to get the information I wanted. My curiosity to know and desire to give others information through writing, is what I believe always intrigued me about journalism, and the reason why I earned B.A. in Communications and English. My third and fourth year in college I wrote for the school newspaper, The California Aggie. During my first and second year, my writing solely consisted of lengthy English class essays. But junior and senior year I also wrote one story weekly and although at times it was tiring because of the extra hours it added to work I needed to do aside from my job, classes and other extra curricular activities, I thoroughly enjoyed and loved it. The sensitive pieces I wrote are the ones I was almost most relieved to complete and happy to receive feedback from. Those articles were the ones that I stressed over, researched, edited and spent the most time and effort on because I always wanted to provide a fair, complete and unbiased account of events, as all good journalists strive to do.

     I remember during a meeting with my editor that she told me a writer for The Sacramento Bee told her that they thought my anti-semitism piece was well written (my first sensitive piece that I was really nervous about throughout the process of getting it on the stands). It was then when I finally accepted that I had a talent that I could create a career from; that was one of the first moments when I truly believed that I had a chance to make it in journalism. People had always told me that I was a good writer, but I never really believed it, perhaps because I had this misconception that writing was something anyone was capable of doing. I always thought people said that because even if they didn’t like what I wrote, they wouldn’t say that because after all, who wants to be the bearer of bad news and tell someone what they created is no good? No one. But when she said a writer for an actual newspaper enjoyed it, then I thought that if someone who has a profession in writing enjoyed one of my most difficult pieces to write, then I had a chance.  I later acquired more internships involving media, writing and journalism where I interacted with and learned from broadcast reporters; one common piece of advice they each gave me: never stop writing. It had been a long time since I wrote because after graduating last year, I began working two-jobs, one of them full-time so I did not have much spare time, but I am not losing sight of my dream to become a journalist. Whether it is print or broadcast, I know writing is the beginning and it’s a good one for me because I love writing; I mean, I’ve rambled on for quite a while now about my writing trajectory. When we’re children and throughout our lives until it seems we’ve chosen and settled with a career, people are always asking: what do you want to be when you grow up? As a child, my answers varied from singer to veterinary to actress, but after middle school my only answer was, “a reporter”. I want to reach audiences with my words and give them new information. This blog is going to be an avenue through which I continue to write not only for whoever may or may not be reading this, or for my future, but for myself. Writing is the only thing I’ve never completely stopped doing or got bored of. It’s my way of giving some understanding to myself and the reader and lastly, a way of feeding that curiosity I never lost. My words have no limits and boundaries, I will write what I choose, feel and perhaps what some may disagree with, but what’s important is that I’m doing what I love and in a small way reaching for my dream.