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Marine Corps Museum – April 2012

Original Post Date: April 2012

From April 11th through the 13th, I made a trip to Quantico, Virginia. During this visit, I went to the White House, the National Museum of the Marine Corps and I drove by the Washington Monument. The reason I am writing about this experience is because any kind of tour visit takes you back through a history lesson. It was interesting to drive by the Washington Monument to see that it actually had a slight lean. The lean was not actually part of the initial design, but when the Washington, DC area had the earthquake in Fall of 2011, the monument suffered some damages. Something as part of history now had even more history to it as it barely survived an earthquake. The monument also suffered structural damages at it now has a few cracks in its foundation.

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The part of this trip I’d like to discuss is the National Museum of the Marine Corps. When I think of the wars our country has been through only a few of the majors stand out. World War One and World War Two, our Civil War, Vietnam and now the War on Terror in Iraq. What really stuck with me during my tour through the museum, was the number of wars or Marine Corps has been through. Many of these wars are often overlooked. There were about seven different exhibits that the museum offered. Each one taking you back in time to different eras of the Marine Corps.

The very first exhibit that you walk in to is, of course, the making of the marines. They actually have a large bus on display, similar to the one the Marine Recruits would take from the airport to boot camp. Another really cool aspect is they had two booths set up. One was for men and one was for women. You step inside these booths and Drill Instructor voices begin to yell at you. This gives you an idea of what it’s like to go through boot camp.

The next exhibit that I walked through was World War One gallery. This gallery displayed photos, and plaques detailing the dates of this war. Something they displayed through this exhibit in addition to all of the exhibits was old letters sent to and from the soldiers and their loved ones. It was truly unique to read some of the things written during those times. I then walked through the World War Two gallery. It was very similar to the first gallery in the way that it was set-up. The museum also had galleries on the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War. Each gallery displayed facts from the war, correspondence from the war, vehicles and artillery that our Marines used during those eras. The Cold War display was really cool, and I mean literally. You actually walked into the display room and you could feel a temperature drop. I didn’t know this until now, but the original Flag of Iwo Jima is displayed at this museum. I even got in to trouble for trying to take photograph with the flash on. Apparently, the camera flash does something to the preservation of the flag.

Then, the final gallery that I walked through was the September 11th gallery. This portion of the gallery was smaller, but equally as impactful. The museum had a couple artifacts from the rubble on display, with factual plaques about the number of lives lost that day in the planes, the towers as well as the rescuers who died.

This tour through the Marine Corps Museum was an eye-opening experience for me. I was reminded of the lives lost through the many wars that our country has faced. To think that these were the battles that only included the Marine Corps, and that’s the youngest branch of the military. I always had an appreciation for our military service members, but now I feel like I can appreciate our Vets even more.

Dual Perspective Exercise

This fun little exercise allows you to create a story from one character, and then rewrite the story from another character’s point of view.

The Scene: Everything goes wrong at a job interview

POV: Interviewee:

I’ve spent over a year in the unemployment line. Day after day, I received rejection e-mail after rejection e-mail. This is my last chance. There truly are no more jobs left. Unfortunately, i was running a few minute late when I entered the waiting area. The young attractive receptionist smiled when I approached. I couldn’t help notice the quick sweep over she gave me.

“Can I help you?” She asked pleasantly enough.

“I’m here to see Mr. Wilson for a ten o’clock.” I answered.

She was typing something on her computer for several moments before responding without looking back at me.

“I’m sorry, but you’re five minutes lat and Mr. Wilson doesn’t except late. The position is no longer available.” She finished.

“You mean it’s been filled?” I asked for clarification.

“No. I mean it’s no longer available. To you!”She’d lost all pleasantries in her tone, tempting me to reach over the counter and smack her. Who was this lady to talk to me this way. I need this job and she can’t possible know what I’m going through. Keeping my composure, I tried to negotiate with her. Of course she was unwilling to budge.

Finally, two tall men in black suits emerged from an office door behind the receptionist’s desk. I rushed over and shook the hand of the man I believed to be  Mr. Wilson.

“Hi Mr. Wilson. I’m Tara Sanborn. Listen, I know your policy on late and I take fill responsibility for that, but please give me five minutes of your time.” I begged.

Mr. Wilson pulled his hand away and smiled, “Ms. Sanborn? It’s a pleasure meeting you. But uh, that’s…” He pointed to the other man standing beside him. “That’s Mr. Wilson.”

I could feel the heat burning through my cheeks. I’m such an idiot. I searched the room for a quick answer, but there were just three sets of eyes staring back at me in silence.

“Uh, uh… I’m sorry Mr. Wilson.” I turned to him and extended my hand. He didn’t except it. “I, uh…”

“So why should I give you my time?” His voice boomed.

“Well, uh. Mr. Wilson. No one is perfect. We can try, but it is impossible to be perfect all of the time. I am far from perfect, but that what makes me unique. Do I make mistakes? Sure, but understanding this and the nature of mankind only gives me a better insight in to the consumers mind.” I stopped and prayed this answer would work.

“Ok! You’ve got your chance back Ms. Sanborn.”

We entered a large office lined with a giant book shelf. The shelves were full top to bottom. It felt more like a lawyers office than a marketing firm. By the end of the interview, I had Mr. Wilson eating out of the palm of my hands. He was stoked about my ideas and concepts.

“Why don’t we go to lunch and sort out the details further?” He asked.

I agreed. We took a dingy elevator down to the bottom level of the parking garage.

“Do you mind driving?” Mr. Wilson asked.

“Sure.” I answered and pointed to my green Toyota Corolla decorated with a “Support the Troops” sticker.

“That’s your car, Ms. Sanborn?” He stopped walking.

I smiled. “That’s me.”

“Hey, you were the one who flipped me off this morning!”

I was speechless, but tried one last ditch effort, “No one’s perfect?”

POV: Interviewer:

“Hi, Mr. Wilson. I’m Tara Sanborn.” The young blonde reached out a hand to, Bob Scarlett, my accountant. Really? Who tries for a marketing career and doesn’t even research the company?

Her eyes are darting around the room. She’s clearly embarrassed and at this point I was amused.

“So why should I give you my time?” I asked.

Let’s see how she gets out of this one. Really? No one is perfect? That’s her big save? Wow, young adults these days. No respect and they refuse to take responsibility. Of course, I have the free time, so I accept her into my office.

I ask her pretty standard questions and her answers are fairly reasonable. I probably would have considered her for the position, too bad she’s already messed up her opportunity by being late. She looks really familiar though. Where have I met her?

She’s enthusiastic and gives a hand gesture, one that flashes back a memory for me. Ah ha, I laughed inside. This is going to be good.

We stepped off the dingy elevator and asked her if she would drive. She pointed at her green Toyota Corolla decorated with a “Support the Troops” sticker. This only confirmed my thoughts.

Unreliable Narrator Exercise

In an effort to sharpen and fine tune my writing, I am taking an Advanced Fiction Writing Course as part of my MFA in Writing. So far this course is great! During our in class sessions, we are each given a writing exercise to complete. Here is one we did called, “The Unreliable Narrator.”

The Exercise from E.L. Doctorow: to write a self-deceiving portrait in which the narrator is not the person she thinks she is-either more or less admirable.

Here is my Example:

Is there really a right or wrong way to fold the laundry? I ask myself when I’m reminded to flip the jeans upside down and begin the fold at the ankles. Am I always screwing up the most menial tasks or is everyone else being picky? Put the dishes in that way, hang the sweaters this way, and don’t put the sweatpants in with the jeans. Got it, I think. I do my best to follow these simple set of rules. Even a six-year-old could pull this off, right? Load one of laundry, done.

Mother always said, “Keep the house clean and always greet your husband with a warm meal.”

I run the vacuum over the rugs, taking care not to break the stitching. I suffer a fit of the sneezes after dusting all the hard surfaces in the house. I forget to open the window when I use Clorox to clean the toilet, and now I feel a headache coming. I dusted, I vacuumed, I swept, I scrubbed and I scrubbed for nearly thirty minutes. I’m tired and I need a break.

Logging in to my work e-mail, I check my phone and see that no one has contacted me. Ding. I turn my attention back to the dusty computer. Note: clean the computer. The first e-mail is from my boss. He wants to know the status on a proposal he assigned me. Crap! How could I forget to send it after I spent the entire morning on it? I see that I’ve already missed the deadline by two hours. I click reply.

Tom, 

Please see the attached document. 
I finished it this morning, my sincerest apologies for the delay. 

Thanks, Sue.

I frown at the sent e-mail. Ok, so I forgot to send an e-mail. Big deal! The other two e-mails are from my sister. We are planning a surprise party for our mother’s 60th birthday. She’s panicking because we forgot to send Great-Aunt Martha an invitation. Well, I forgot to send the invitation since that was my responsibility. I respond by telling her that I will just call Great-Aunt Martha and personally invite her. Problem solved. Another ding to my inbox. It’s my boss.

Sue, 

You might want to actually attach the document. 
You’ve had a week to work on it. Not sure why I’m just now 
getting it. 

Tom.

I laugh as I click reply again and attach the document. I’m a hard worker. I can’t help if every now and then I make a few mistakes. I glance at the clock. Dan will be home soon. I pop open a few cans of Campbell’s Vegetable Soup and dump them in a large pot on the stove. I add water just as the can describes. I stir as the contents begin to boil.

“Do you like it?” I ask eagerly.

He nods his head before answering, “Did you make it?”

“I did. I know how much you like soup.” After a pause, I continued, “I cleaned the house today. Scrubbed top to bottom.”

So, I lied a little, at least my heart is in the right place. By the look on his face, I could tell he knew I was lying. I decide not to bring more attention to it.

After a quick inspection, I didn’t actually push start on the dishwasher, I only finished one load of the laundry, and I forgot to clean the bathtub. I also, failed to dust the pictures on the wall, and somehow there were hairballs on the floor still. Maybe I did sleep in a little too late. Perhaps I did waste a bit too much time sipping on coffee and watching Lifetime when I woke up; but he’s so picky and there’s no satisfying that man.

GOP Debate

Original Post Date: June 2012

Hundreds of supporters for the Republican Party gathered together on Lindenwood’s Campus. Lindenwood hosted the GOP Senatorial Candidate debate on June 11th. As being a part of the LUTV Staff, I got to not only attend the event, but I also got to cover it as a reporter. The three candidates that were challenged during the debate were Republican Rep. Todd Akin, Sarah Steelman, and John Brunner. The three candidates were asked a series of questions by a carefully selected panelist. Each candidate then had to answer the questions while challenging their opponents. The point behind this debate is to help Missouri Voters decide who is the better candidate to run against the incumbent Claire McCaskill for the Missouri seat in the Senate.

After the debate, I had a chance to attend a press conference held for the media. I stood right alongside Fox 2’s Betsy Bruce during the conference. It was really interesting to see how the professionals composed themselves during the event and to hear the questions they asked.

From what I’ve learned about the three candidates during the debate is they all share very similar political views on all the major issues. Each candidate clearly believed that the federal government needs to do away with many of their agencies including the Department of Education and Welfare. They all believe that each state should be in charge of these departments to make them locally ran agencies.

It was a really unique opportunity to not only attend this event, but to get back-stage and shake hands with the candidates. The other aspect of the event was witnessing all of the work that went into the production of the show. LUTV spent days just setting up the cameras, audio and creating all of the graphics and other elements to pull off a great show. This event opened my eyes to the work that goes behind these debates. I learned a lot about the Republican Parties views on ObamaCare and other major issues our country faces today.

Hearts in Harmony

Original Post Date: March 2012

The month of hearts is coming to a close as Valentine’s Day and other major “Go Red” events for the American Heart Association have come and gone. That’s not stopping one ten-year-old girl from doing everything she can to raise awareness. Ten-year-old Katelyn Jackson has been through more in her short life than many have throughout adulthood. People who know Katelyn say she’s brave and extremely generous. I spent several hours Saturday afternoon at the Saint Louis Galleria, getting to know Katelyn and the song she inspired.

It was a typical Wednesday morning commute to Lindenwood University, when I heard a promo featuring St. Louis Singer/Songwriter Erin Bode and a 10-year-old girl. Cornbread in the morning always provides pure entertainment, but on this particular drive a great song for a great cause caught my attention. Remembering the details, I researched what exactly “Hearts in Harmony” was all about.

Just four months after birth, Katelyn Jackson went in for her first round of surgery to fix a heart defect called, complete AV canal. In other words, Katelyn was born with a large hole in her heart. For more information on this rare heart disease, visit the American Heart Association’s website.  Katelyn Jackson has had six open heart surgeries, because when she was born she had a Complete AV Canal. After hearing a digitally recorded version of Katelyn’s unique heartbeat, Saint Louis singer and songwriter Erin Bode knew she just had to incorporate it in to a song.    Katelyn and Erin teamed up with the Saint Louis Children’s Hospital, Washington University’s Heart Center, and the Saint Louis Galleria to perform the song live for mall shoppers.

Erin performed the song live every three hours and the event offered EKG’s, jump ropes, and hula-hoops. People could listen to their hearts, talk about what foods are heart healthy and enjoy snacks while watching Erin perform.

When talking to Katelyn, she explained what she hopes people will learn from the cause. “I hope that people will take heart disease more seriously, and be cautious about what they eat and what they do…just to give hope to other families, that’s really the basic goal of this.”

Many people stopped what they were doing to hear Katelyn’s story expressed through Erin’s song.  “She’s a wonderful child, very sweet, really giving and generous. That was something that struck us right away. Something we wanted to express to other people,” Erin said.

It was truly an honor to hang out with Katelyn and Erin throughout the event, and from what I’ve been told by both, this is not the last we’ll be seeing the duo perform.