Monday, August 29, 2005
As I've been doing these 'travelings', I've come to have a deeper appreciation for this boring state called North Carolina, and the South in general. Thinking about it now, I am still not quite sure if being forced to come to Charlotte instead of going to New York as planned was a bad idea. Actually, let me take that back, it was an awful idea and a horrendous plan that fell through on the first day I set foot at the airport.
However, I have to say that I can appreciate living in a 'clean', 'quiet' and 'relatively-safe' place where people don't drive like maniacs, where I can breathe in clean sweet smelling fresh air and drink clean water from the tap. I can appreciate being able to walk down Franklin Street in the middle of the night and not really be concerned that the guy walking towards me could be a mugger. I can wear my nice shoes ('Bisi' aka BCBG, as my friend says, and 'Chi-Chi Chiquito' aka Coach) and not worry about some muddy-oil stain messing them up. I was about to start wondering how women in NYC can wear their Manolos, Pradas and Guccis and not have these concerns, but many of them are loaded, so these shoes are like flip flops to them. Speaking of which, wearing flip-flops in some of these places is asking for trouble and all sorts of diseases. I won't be surprised if someone has contacted HIV just by walking on these streets.
I am sure some of you are like, 'Oh Please, didn't you come from Africa, what are you talking about?' You are right, in fact, I used to walk without shoes on the dirt roads and bush paths in my village. The soles of my feet were probably as hard as animal hide. There were many nights spent breathing in the pungent odor of burning refuse, and carbon-monoxide from public buses on the way to school in Lagos's constant traffic congestion. There were days when my nice shoes failed me before I got to school or to an event. There were days when I tested God and the elements, by wearing my nice shoes and 'white' (especially my white school shirt, tennis shoes or socks) before arriving my destination. One disaster after another would strike with the heels or the soles of my shoes coming off, the straps of my sandals cutting. socks getting dirtied by the red- sand or something staining my well bleached,'Robin-Blued' white shirt. There were even occasions when nails, 6 inches long, went through my 'platform(double) rubber slippers'.
Let me not even talk about living in a cramped apartment with 'mooching' relatives that cannot be chased away, constant disruption of electricity and having to fetch water when the taps go dry.
The above descriptions I would consider a totally different case, because that is pretty much expected and known to be a part of the norm of living in Africa. But there are some, who when told there are places in America that my village, with its half-current electricity, unpaved-pot-holed roads and one post office box that operates on palm-wine tappers bicycle, is better than, would discredit my talk as fabricated and say, "you've come again." They would not believe that there are places you would go to in New York that have a stark resemblance to Ojuelegba, that Atlanta is really the 55th African country or that you can fry an egg on the roads of Houston.
Parallels aside, lets talk about driving in these American cities. The entire Department of Transportation in Philadelphia, Washington DC and New York City ought to be fired and the whole roads and signs redone and re-drawn. Have you ever tried making a left or right turn in Philadelphia, you would probably go 2 miles off before you get to a place where you can make a u-turn or a 'legal' turn to get back to where you are going. Last year, in DC, after trying to find I-85 for 2 hours, I stopped in the middle of the road upon seeing a cop to ask for directions. All this while I had been crying about being lost, how much gas I had wasted and how late I was going to be to work.
Perhaps the problem is I've been spoiled living in the serenity of North Carolina that I am now becoming afraid of venturing outside this comfort zone. All that HYPE of wanting to live in a big, fashion forward, metropolitan city is dying as I am beginning to see the grim reality. I now feel like that small town country girl, you know, the 'villager-goes-to-town', 'amish-in-the-city' type thing. Miami is the only city that I think I actually like, despite the parking situation and all the plastic people. I wonder if Los Angeles or Chicago would give me some glimmer of hope that a BIG city is truly the place for me to be.
Monday, August 22, 2005
Just when I was just settling down to my new wireless internet that I thought I would never have because of my archaic IBM 600x Laptop that still runs on Windows 98, the freaking thing crashed. Now I may lose all my information, all my essays, my pictures, my novel that is in the making...EVERYTHING. And no i didn't back up, because I never really take the computer anywhere and I never imagined it would crash completely, to the point that there is a cartoon telling me to stop. CHEI!!!
What have I done to deserve all this rubbish. The dissapointing part is that I cannot afford to buy a new computer, not right this moment, not with all the BS I am dealing with and not especially now when I am making some 'progress' (finally signed an agent to get me a job, can't do it myself, need the extra help. The man had to be a God-send because he has already done more that he can imagine to help me in the one week that I have known him. I am just lucky to be meeting people who believe in my abilities and potentials, however minimal they seem right now. It's removing every atom of doubt that tries to set in when 'issues' creep up. God will bless them all, both good, bad and darn right nasty ).
In fact, a new computer has been on my wish list for the longest time, so seeing as Christmas is coming, someone out there needs to SURPRISE ME for real.
Again I think this is just another test to shake me, but men there have been too damn many and I hope I am getting A's on all of them.
(ps: I have a big secret but I have such a BIG mouth so I don't know how long I can hold it. If you have an idea what it is JUST SHURRUP...don't wanna jinx myself. Anyways Keep my Computer in your prayers...the chick has been through thick and thin with me, she was like my road dawg, from jamming some serious jams, Oliver De'Coque et al, late nights at Davis library to long hours on IM, all through college, can't pull the plug on her anytime soon.....in fact please go and fast on our behalf...WE NEED IT)
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Although this is coming nearly two weeks after his death, it is never too late to pay tribute to a great journalist who made it his mission to educate america about the rest of the world. He was Canadian, but he did not use the excuse of being a foreigner to justify his ignorance about American issues when he first started. Instead, he self taught himself his trade. So many cannot believe he was a high school drop out because he delivered material worthy of 3 PhDs.
My first encounter with PJ was in my late elementary school years in Nigeria. I had asked 'Mother Agnes' (my Jewish-German-American godmother whom I am named after and never really met...another blog) to send me a copy of the New York Times and the local news. She told me the NY Times was too heavy to mail to Africa, so she sent me the front page, the international news page and the comic page, some clippings on news from Africa and Nigeria, some pages of the Charlotte Observer, and a VHS tape of World News with Peter Jennings on ABC. I was mesmerized by him, and because of the way he sounded I always thought he was british and I always thought ABC NEWS, like NTA news was the official American Government news. I really didn't think much about the tape, just that it was interesting, but then once in a while, his documentaries would come up on our local channels and i'll be like ' That's Peter Jennings' and I would watch, after fighting with my brothers who probably wanted to watch a cartoon or soccer. My dad also got excited too about news documentaries, I can hear him saying 'Pita Jaynins, you don't mean it?'
Then when I came to America in 1997, the very first thing I did was ask for that the TV be tuned to ABC news, and there he was, PJ welcoming me to yankee. My uncle was like 'Daz Pita Jaynins,' and I am like 'I know' and he is like 'How'd you hear about him' and ofcourse I tell him about the tape and he say something to the effect of "You don mean it?"....that line has gotta be an Igbo thing.. classic.
Since then, I have bene loyal to watching PJ and ABC news. If Peter Jennings did not report it, I would not take it seriously. He was so believable, genuine and calming. His documentaries were very thorough and educational, especially the ones he did overseas and on the Middle East. And during September 11, I was glued to watching him because he was real and you could tell the difference from other on air folks. On special situations like that, those ABC News Special Reports, I take a break from CNN, because it is a big deal to have PJ on the desk. I also regret the fact that I did not take advantage of certain things and opportunities to get to meet Peter; I could have just emailed him or got my old class mate, who was one of his news writers, to pass a letter or card along. I guess, like no one else, you never think something like this would happen so soon. I was just looking forward to ABC killing NBC and CBS with the ratings, that when I heard about his illness, and eventual death, I was torn and hurt. I'm also heavily saddened that he is not here to report on this current situation in Gaza, he would have made a killer documentary on the topic. I hope ABC news puts his documentaries on sale because I think I will be purchasing those. I don't know if there will be any other like him, so I might as well try to learn from the lesson notes he has left behind if I want to be amongst the best.
The 2 hour ABC documentary was appropriate, very fitting and almost moved me to tears. Now his name has been removed from the newscast, it just sounds so foreign...World News Tonight... No Peter Jennings? I am still trying to get used to it and it is going to be hard. Some of you must think that I am starnge, why does she like the news and the news people. Let me put it like this, these people are to me what 50 cents, Michael Jackson, Shaq and co are to many out there. When asked what I want to be in future I don't say I want to be like Mike, Jay Z or Beyonce, like you would hear many kids say. Television is a very powerful and influencing medium, it can impact people's lives positively and negatively, so watch what your kids watch. It can shape their future, just like watching Peter Jennings, and other journalists is helping shape mine.
Adieu PJ...guess God had a better contract for you to sign, and oh yeah... don't worry about me, I was taking notes from your lessons so i'll be good.
Monday, August 15, 2005
I was attending the 30th Anniversary convention for the National Association of Black Journalists. This was my first attendance since becoming a member in June. All this while I had been cynical about the real purpose of NABJ, but after talking to a few others in the industry and my co-workers, I learnt about the benefits and opportunities that being a member of this historic organization can provide.
The highlight for me during this week long trip to Atlanta was eventually having a dream of mine come true; visiting the CNN Center, meeting the 'Faces of CNN', the executives and sitting in the control room during a LIVE broadcast of 'Your World Today'.. OMG...I had to pinch myself several times to make sure I was not dreaming. All of this would not have happened with out Femi Oke, who went above and beyond taking the extra mile to 'hook a sista up,' as well as Kyra Phillips.
Another intereseting thing that happened while i was sitting in the control room was seeing Jeff Koinange and Anderson Cooper do a report on the famine in Niger. Ironically, a similar image, with Christiane Amanpour reporting on the famine in Ethiopia and Somalia, 20 years ago was what made me decide that I wanted to not just be a journalist, but a 'foreign correspondent' for CNN. I am just so elated that I got the opportunity to just have a taste of the prize, and now, with a renewed passion, I will be focused on working towards winning that prize...THE JOB CONTRACT.
Below are a few of the people I met at NABJ... Ignore 'susie' my wig, she is about to take a needed vacation, she has really tried...
with Farai Chideya, former CNN reporter who rocked the braids (who said you need straight hair) Check her out on NPR and www.popandpolitics.com
with Tony Harris, CNN Anchor...as funny in person as he is on TV
with Femi Oke, CNN's 'singing' weather Anchor, an absolute doll and a pleasant person to be around. Help keep her ratings up by watching Inside Africa (check www.cnn.com for time), you can also catch her on CNN domestic on weekend mornings
with J.A Adande, sports writer LA Times and commentator on ESPN catch him on The Horn.
with Monique Conrad of BET Nightly News
with Noluthando Crockett-Ntonga, former White House correspondent for NPR (known a Phyllis Crockett then)
with Henry Mauldin, head of CNN's Talent Development and Carlos Watson...remeber him from all that crazy election coverage.
Met a host of others including Zain Verjee, Jim Clancy and some other CNN execs not pictured here, and a whole bunch of others in the industry that truly gave me encouraging feedback on my resume tape. I soooo had the best time...like OMG...words cannot express. I had this huge smile plastered on my face the entire time and when I got back to my friends house I just screamed on top of my voice. I am still recovering and trying to catch up on some rest.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT... I AM THE BIGGEST CNN 'FANADDICT'. I DON'T KNOW ANYONE ELSE WHO IS EXCITED ABOUT CNN AND THE NEWS AS I AM...BUT IT'S HIGH TIME I STARTED GETTING PAID FOR IT.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
But I have great stories to tell from NABJ and great pictures to show.
Also....a tribute to PJ...he was my favorite male journalist... the only one that made it to my original list of role models...If he didn't report it... I wouldn't believe it...
Plus, my first encounter with him all the way in Africa
And damn, I wish I had sent him that email.....
All that and more... coming up...
(Pardon the intermission)
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Monday, August 01, 2005
You guys should also go read Paradise and holla back, I'll write something up on it once I am done.