5 Wilderness Survival shows to watch on Hulu/Netflix in 2015

What is it about watching people pit themselves against mother nature that pleases something primal inside us? Whatever it is, I like it. This list includes my 5 favorite shows that gave me the same satisfaction as watching Bear Grylls climb a waterfall and skin a rabbit. They all have a combination of wilderness survival and educational moments that make watching feel like you’ve accomplished something. Now, if I’m ever trapped on a mountaintop or the arctic tundra…well, I’d still die. But it’s nice to imagine I’d make it!  I’ve noted if each show can be found on either Hulu or Netflix, though many of these are still available on cable.

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5 Interview Questions Asked that I Didn’t Have Answers For

The Interview. by Autumn-thefox on deviantart

College prepared me for a lot of things like handling extreme, prolonged stress and how to survive six months off $500. Yet my professors, advisors, and fellow frat party enthusiasts did nothing to equip me with the skills I needed to tackle job interviews.

I’ve done a lot of interviews in the few months since graduation. Some went well, some were crap-shoots from the start, but all felt like navigating a minefield. I’ve decided to start accumulating a Q&A sheet of the questions I’ve been asked that were never in those ‘25 Questions to Expect At Your Interview’ articles.

1. If you were an animal, what would you be and why?

I’ll start with this one, as it was part of the most recent interview I had. The position was in sales for a consulting agency. When the interviewer (a nice man who looked like a ex-pro wrestler) asked this, I felt my eyes pop. Excuse me? Is this some ‘get to know your new BF/GF better’ questionair? For an insane second I felt insulted. Here I was trying to find a way to support myself, pay my bills, and finally get my parents to stop looking at me with pity/disappointment and you want to know my childhood play-pretend!?

I also had not prepared for this. “Falcon?” I answered. I did not have a reasoning. The interview moved on.

Interviewer

My advice: If someone asks you this, the job probably isn’t worth the energy to cobble together why you wanting to be a tiger means you’re the right person to sell network subscriptions. You’re better than that.

2. What is your ultimate career goal? Continue reading

Don’t Forget the Positive Moments When Writing (And Living)

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Yesterday, my mom called me brave.

I have this tendency to write about the negative events and aspects in my life, using them as fodder for my creative nonfiction pieces or as explanations behind my personal issues, but rarely do I make a point to express the good things.

Yesterday, I’d called to make an appointment with a temp agency, as my current job search has gone nowhere fast. While I’ve gotten a few leads on jobs and made tons of calls over the past few weeks, none have led anywhere. I was getting frustrated. My friend made a comment that she’d had success with a temp agency coming out of school and I felt a flare of hope. So I called, made the appointment, and then mentioned it to my mother during our later phone conversation.

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Jurassic World, Like Sea World but with deadly creatures…oh wait

Photo by Will Fisher

Photo by Will Fisher

It’s obvious that the recent film Jurassic World, the sequel to the beloved Jurassic Park (1993), was designed to look and feel like modern theme parks. Especially the shot where a “Mosasaurus” leaps out of a concrete pool and chomps down on a tasty bit of great white shark, much to the excited screams of the crowd. That’s a direct parallel to the famous Orca show at real-life Sea World, where killer sea beasts are trained to hop on cue for the entertainment of thousands. My first reaction at Jurassic World’s preview? “Wow! This movie is pretty realistic! Especially with all the people that die!”

My first reaction at Jurassic World’s preview? “Wow! This movie is pretty realistic! Especially with all the people that die!”

I got a few weird looks for that. “No,” I said, “For reals, though.” A few eye rolls later prompted me to try and explain.

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The Internet is not a time-suck, it’s a learning tool (that is also a time-suck)

The Hyperloop: ILLUSTRATION BY HTT/JUMPSTARTFUND/OMEGABYTE

Mine is the generation of the internet. We are hooked up, logged on, and plugged in, the entire world at our fingertips. This, of course, has caused the previous generation (cough-babyboomers-cough) to call us names like “lazy” or “narrow focused,” because I would rather surf Twitter than play stick ball. I’ve had these exact insults thrown at me (the “narrow-minded” thing, not the stick ball thing) and my age group by older classmates and respected colleagues, and it never fails to get my blood boiling. Especially when moments like earlier this week happen.

A bit of background. A few years ago I was interning at Toonari Post, an international online news and media website that runs purely on the work of volunteer writers. During my time there, I wrote an article about The Hyperloop, an innovative idea straight out of the mind of Elon Musk (who, if you don’t know, is the real life Tony Stark). In my article, I explain that the Hyperloop is “..a high-speed transportation system that would get passengers from Los Angeles to New York in 45 minutes.” Musk came up with the idea after hearing about the California High-Speed Rail Line project, a project that would cost over $60 billion dollars, destroy farmland, and generally piss off everyone. I imagine Musk took one look at the project plans, which detailed a slow, eco-destructive, and basically useless train system that wasn’t even the best kind of train system then currently in production, and felt compelled to fix the mistake the way a professor marks up your term paper in red ink. (I.E. “you did not follow directions, please re-read assignment and try again”).

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The next chapter – job search

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O’Donoghues Pub in Killarney!

Hello, everyone! I’ve just returned from a whirlwind of a month. I graduated on May 14th with my Masters of Arts in Writing from Rowan Univeristy (Right).

Yes! Finally!

Yes! Finally!

The next day I jetted off to the Homeland (Ireland) for a twelve-day vacation with my family (Left). Look, we’re cute and touristy! Our Ireland vacation ended and we landed in JFK. A day later I was driving up into Maine for a weekend wedding at The Kingsley Pines campground, where I slept in a summer camp bunk cabin out in the woods.

Adventure abounded.

What does all this mean? It means I haven’t had a chance to find a job yet. As all fresh college graduates will tell you, there is only one question on everyone’s lips after the sounds of “Pomp and Circumstance” die away. “So have you found work?” The answer, you lovely people, is no. So even though I have barely sat down on my own couch after almost a month of travel, I have already thrown myself into the search for employment. Yet, before I could send out my resume or tactfully plead for paychecks, I faced the need to actually update and develop a Resume/CV/Cover Letter/Work Sample power team that would propel me to the top of the applicants pile. That, my friends, has been the real journey.

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Glassworks Literary Magazine Issue 10 Released!

Glassworks Spring 2015 available online and in print

Glassworks Spring 2015 available online and in print

Glassworks is the literary magazine housed within Rowan University’s Graduate program and they’ve just released their 10th Issue. Yours truly had the honor of working for Glassworks at the end of last year. I signed on and was assigned to the NonFiction Editor staff. It was an amazing opportunity to learn the ins and out of publication, editing, and what it takes to produce a quality literary magazine. Katie Budris, the author of Prague in Synthetics, was and is Editor in Chief. Katie took us through the process in a way that made me feel confident in my skills and gave me insight into how I might do in a professional setting outside the University, which is to say, it’s now become my main career goal.

I loved working on the publication. Taking in submissions, evaluating each piece in a way that kept in mind the aesthetic of the magazine, but without dismissing those well-crafted pieces that, while outside our norm, were worth expanding our borders. Maybe the best part were the opportunities that having a magazine backing gave me and my colleagues, mainly the ability to contact authors, writers, and those in the business and actually get a reply! There’s a big difference between cold-calling (read: emailing) an author for a quote or interview as a lowly writing student versus using the magazine letterhead (email address). I was able to interview author and journalist Jill Smolowe, an interview which has just been published on Glassworks online. Talking with submitters was another fun experience, as Glassworks takes its role as a Univeristy publication seriously, meaning that our editors and staff have no problem taking the time to give feedback on rejected submissions, giving writers an better understanding of why their piece was not deemed ready for publication and what they might do to develop their work. Over the course of my internship, many writers replied with effusive thanks. All of us who send out submissions know those stock replies of We will not be accepting your work at this time, replies that give we writers absolutely nothing to work with. I’ve been hunched over my inbox yelling, “BUT WHY!? Give me DETAILS!” too many times not to take five seconds to type a sentence or two that can help a fellow writer. Not all of them, of course, but those who hold promise, those who made me reread their work because it was close, but just not close enough.

I’m excited that I had the opportunity to be a part of Glassworks and that now I have published evidence of my skill and competence when it comes to literary magazines and the world of publication. It’s a bit of validation that this path I’ve chosen to walk is the right one, that I’m doing what I love and what brings me the most satisfaction in my life, and all in just one moment of seeing my name inside the cover.

Lazy People Should Wake up at 5:00 a.m.

A snowy morning post.

A snowy morning post.

When I didn’t take time to enjoy the quiet of the morning, a dark resentment was inside me. I hated to be awake before nine. I hated my morning commute. I was exhausted even after sleeping a few hours more. Nothing seemed to be bright or cheerful or worth the slogging days of work and work and more work. For those of you who have gone to school and held a job at the same time, you know that the day doesn’t end after your shift does. Once home, you have papers and projects to work on, and then hauling your tired butt to class. For me, those classes are two and a half hours, three nights a week.

During that time I yelled at my boyfriend. I stopped calling friends. My mother complained, “Jessica, you are so negative it’s no fun to talk to you.” All around, I was descending into a frustration-fueled depression that I couldn’t see any way out of. Then the boyfriend got a job that had him out of bed at 5:00 a.m. Bless his soul, but the man couldn’t be quiet if his life depended on it. I, a light sleeper, ended up grumpily staring at the ceiling, a new complaint to add to the infinite list.

And then I got out of bed. Boyfriend had made me a cup of tea in apology. “Here,” he said, “if you’re up, you might as well have breakfast with me.”

It started a trend. Five days a week, we would tumble out of bed and he would make breakfast, and we would enjoy an extra hour in each other’s company. In a world where work and school take up most of our lives, that hour felt precious.

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You call it a holiday. I call it research!

Irish Toast

May your glass be ever full.

May the roof over your head be always strong.

And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.

The haunting strings of “Danny Boy” weave an undercurrent of sound beneath the high shrieks of the little ones, the deep rumbles of the men, the calls of the women, and the clink-clank of glasses set on table tops. Heat from bodies and candles, but mostly from the oven that’s been chugging for two straight days. The scent of turkey, the cloying smoke of crisping skin heady in the throat, layered with the air whipped potatoes, the spice of stuffing, the clean sweetness of cranberries. It’s a golden blur. It’s three tables set end to end to end and not enough chairs or spoons or gravy.

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From one supervisor to another, “What the hell, lady?”

This post is not about writing, but rather the life experiences that can later inform it.

As some of you may remember, I currently have a position as the Graduate Assistant for the Rowan University Writing Center and in that capacity I act very much as a supervisor. I check the emails, manage schedules, and am there for my tutors in case they have any questions or concerns. Every day I approach my position as I want my superiors to approach theirs, by listening to my people, understanding what they need and want, and making sure they feel comfortable talking to me about whatever may be on their mind regarding work. I do my job in the most timely manner possible and I try. It’s really not that hard. I just act like a human being who, though I’m positioned higher in the University ranking, understands that I am no better than any other human being.

Apparently, not everybody has that mindset.


This morning I had a run-in with an instance of grave misconduct by a fellow supervisor (thankfully from a completely separate company and who has nothing to do with the University). I had to squash the desire to…phsyically correct her assumption that her staff (read: underlings) did not deserve consideration and understanding. I also desperately wanted to point out her tendency to email in ALL CAPS was a terrible life choice.

SO! I have decided that Handy Do’s and Dont’s for Effective Supervisors Who Wish to Avoid Being Despised is a necessary thing to create. I have chosen to use the examples from my encounter(s) with a single particular individual who, in my personal opinion, is the epitome of Bad Management.

Handy Do’s and Dont’s for Effective Supervisors Who Wish to Avoid Being Despised

  1. You, the supervisor, must follow the company rules just as closely as your employees. If they have to, you have to.
    1. Examples: Girl, toss the damn garbage can. Wipe down the damn counter. You’re not too good to get some dirt under those nails.
  2. Be punctual. Be early.
    1. Don’t show up an hour and a half late to your mutherloving shift and be surprised by your employee’s acidic greeting. They Pissed. They Hella Pissed. And You’re A Jerkface.
  3. Emails
    1. DO NOT WRITE THEM IN ALL CAPS. It reads as shouting. (*side note: Don’t shout at your employees) It is also rude, unprofessional, and so damn incorrect that I want to reach through my screen and strangle you with your poor life choices.
    2. Emails are impersonal. If you have a personal issue with a person, talk to them in person like a person.
    3. Do not slander employees in an email that is then forwarded to the entire chain-of-command. Don’t use names. Don’t use names while writing in all caps.
    4. You know what? Just don’t send emails. I hear phone calls are all the rage.
  4. Don’t be racist
    1. Example: “He got angry and went black on me.”
      1. Don’t say that.
  5. Spyware is not, in fact, a good thing.
    1. “But the computer, like, needs that.” You mean ANTI-spyware? Yes. It needs that…..please tell me you didn’t download anything.
    2. Don’t blame others for the Spyware you downloaded. “But it wasn’t me!” But you’re the only one with admin access to the computer, it LITERALLY can’t be anyone else.
  6. Don’t call 911 after a non-injury fender-bender.
    1. This has more to do with poor choices when under stress and in emergency situations than direct supervisor behavior. Call your insuranec company. Call a towtruck. Call the non-emergency number. Don’t call 911.
    2. PS: Upon calling 911, the officer/trooper will be angry upon arrival. He/She will have your car towed by the most expensive towing company for funsies. You will deserve it.

Such ends my rant. I am, beyond words, appalled that all of these were issues evident within days of encountering this individual. I fear all those placed in leadership positions due to this (and other) experiences. I hope, pray, will sacrifice a goat, for the dream that those like this individual will not rise to power. Sadly, all I can do is try to be better than that. Doesn’t seem that hard.