Tell Me a Story in 140 Characters

I spend too much time on social media. There….I said it. It’s out there for the world to see.

Like any other 20-something, I scour the internet for hours, multiple times a day. Twitter, facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Linkedin, tumblr. You name it, I have an account.  But what most people don’t understand about my “mindless” scrolling is that I actually have a purpose. I’m searching for something. No, I’m not looking for pictures of the Kim and Kanye wedding, or the latest couture trends or even the new designs for the iPhone 6. I scroll feeds, “like” and “share” because I like stories.

Granted, 140 characters isn’t the most elaborate story ever, but it’s still a story nonetheless. For me, a tweet is a 140 character snapshot into the life of stranger. An Instagram photo is a portal into friends’ personal experiences. After all, isn’t the point of social media to bring us together, despite our geographical barriers?

After years of interning and spending my career on the bottom rung of the corporate ladder, I’ve come to the realization that I just want to tell stories. Growing up, I always called myself a procrastinator because I couldn’t focus on anything for longer than 20 minutes without going on 10 tangents all in one afternoon. I want to create alternate universes, characters who people love to hate, scenes that require at least one box of tissue. I want to create a bridge back to the imagination we all enjoyed as kids. I want to get lost in my imagination.

Any ideas on what companies are looking to hire an “imagination-specialist” or a Maker-up of Facts? If so, please send a link!

So blame me for being a millennials with way too much access to Wi-Fi. Blame me for being one of those people who day dream at work instead of looking for ways to log-in extra hours. I scour the internet because it’s the most accessible outlet I have to the world outside of which I live and work. In order to tell stories, I need to read them. All of them. So the next time you spend a few minutes (hours) on social media, think about all the stories being told. Think about all of the journeys being embarked on. Think about all the different ways you can tell your story.

Selfish Announcement Alert:

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve made it onto the next round in Atlantic Impact’s blogger challenge. Two lucky bloggers will get the chance to travel to Barbados this August. Please help me raise money to get myself #BarbadosBound! Read my last blog post here for details on how you can contribute.

Crowdrise account: https://www.crowdrise.com/BarbadosBound2014/fundraiser/jnchang

Barbados Bound 2014

Hello, friends!

I have an amazing announcement that I would like to share with all of you! I’ve been selected as a finalist in Atlantic Impact’s 2014 Blogger Challenge! For those of you who have been around me for longer than three minutes, know that I’ve been obsessed with both domestic and international travel. However, my bank account has always had other plans. As in, a Redbox movie and small cup of popcorn counts as a splurge.

Nonetheless, my lack of monetary wealth and desire to travel is nothing new. In the past, Atlantic Impact has selected veteran travelers. I on the other hand, don’t have a passport, have never been to New York City and have only flown on a plane twice in my 25 years of life. I’ve always wanted to travel because I believe that traveling the world is a way to collapse both the physical and mental barriers we place on ourselves. Traveling makes you realize that no person, country or culture is the same. That we are all made better people by exploring the things that we have in common than recognizing the trivial things that set us apart.

In order to stop myself from writing a “Dear Diary” entry for you, a brief (yet detail filled) overview of the challenge and what I need from all of you.

 

#BloggerChallenge

Atlantic Impact will send two bloggers to Barbados (all expenses paid) to accompany a group of at-risk youth who strive to better understand the state of their communities, which includes community exploration and international travel. The youth in Atlantic Impact never believed they would have the chance to travel abroad. The organization provides them with the avenue to think bigger, think better, and explore the world around them.

I have until June 9th to raise as much money as I possibly can on behalf of Atlantic Impact to get me and my bags to Barbados!!!  As a friend, I politely ask all of you to share my story and of course donate $15 to my fundraiser and Atlantic Impact. I know the struggle is real and would graciously accept any dollar amount that you can spare. My fundraiser account can be on Crowdrise. Here is the link: https://www.crowdrise.com/BarbadosBound2014/fundraiser/jnchang

Thank you, friends for reading my spiel and understanding my interest in participating in this blogger challenge. Cheers! *clinks glasses* Here’s to making me #BarbadosBound this August!

Houston, We Have A Problem. Again.

Stop It. Just Stop it. The Astrodome had it’s 15 minutes of fame. As glorious as it was, its 15 minutes are up.

Last November, voters defeated a measure that would have used tax payer money to turn the Astrodome into a surely over-the-top visitor center. I mean, come on. It’s Texas. Everything’s bigger in Texas, right? Nonetheless, nothing has been done about the decaying monument. Except for endless talks abut what should be done, instead of what is being done.

Thus, I bring you back to an old article that I wrote last year about the fate of the Astrodome and what its demolition will mean for Houston.

When Aspirations Beat Reality: How Houston Lost the Eighth Wonder of the World

Astrodome

Since 2008, ten sports facilities have opened across the country in 3 of the principal professional sports leagues in the United States.  5 in Major League Baseball (MLB). 2 in the National Basketball Association (NBA). 3 in the National Football League (NFL). The 49ers, Vikings and Falcons are all slated to break ground and christen a new stadium of their own within the next 4 years if all goes according to plan. With innovation and technology developing at the speed of light it seems that keeping up with the revolving door of sports facilities is harder than ever.

Besides a heavy burden on taxpayers, a new stadium can bring about many lucrative deals for not only the team but the city in which it calls home. Sponsorships, naming rights, Superbowl bids, NCAA tournaments and concerts are just a short list of revenue generating possibilities. But what happens when aspirations beat reality? When the pursuit of bigger and better things can leave a city frozen in time? Houston happens. The Astrodome happens.

The Houston Astrodome officially opened its doors in 1965, hailed as a miraculous embodiment of technology and architectural fortitude- literally the first of its kind. Decades removed from its glory days, the astrodome sits empty and used, collecting dust on its 65,000-plus florescent red and orange seats. It’s been more than a decade since its former tenants played their last games. The Houston Oilers last graced the turf of the Astrodome in 1996 and The Astros hit their last homerun in the dome in 1999.  Since officially closing in 2008, the fate of the Astrodome is still in question. As a lifelong Houstonian, I can attest that the situation is complicated. Sentiment, history and an obsession with sports is very much at the root of this unpleasant problem as much as money, productivity and the best interest of the city is.

Imploding an old stadium to make room for a new one is not a novel idea. In fact, it’s a best used practice. Yankee Stadium, Giants Stadium, Shea Stadium and Texas Stadium were all demolished to make room for its successor in 2008 alone. In all four cases, the stadiums were demolished no more than 2 years after its closing. Houston has no shortage of sports arenas. The opening of BBVA Compass Stadium (Houston Dynamo) and Constellation Field (Sugarland Skeeters) in 2012 brings Houston to a total of five sports centric complexes. Some would say that we Houstonians have a mild obsession on our hands here. So what’s the appeal in keeping the astrodome intact? It could be the $29 million dollar price tag on imploding it, just to turn it into a 1,600-space parking lot. Or, it could be the possibility of lucrative future endeavors that could be lured to Houston if renovated or converted.

In 2012, Houston played host to the NBA All-Star game and is set to host the NCAA Men’s Final Four at NRG Stadium in 2016. A newly constructed hotel, movie production studio or even a space themed park (which have all been proposed) would certainly add to the dwindling, lack-luster tourist appeal of Houston. But let’s be realistic. Converting a behemoth structure like the Astrodome would cost millions. Harris County still owes $30 million on the Astrodome, which will make it hard to persuade taxpayers to approve any kind of legislation that would require them to pay more for renovation or conversion. Taxpayers are already shoveling out roughly $2 million a year on maintenance and upkeep alone.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Astrodome, but if you can get a New Yorker to let go of Yankee Stadium………. you can get the city of Houston to let go of the Astrodome. I’m not saying we have to let it go with no fuss. I propose a farewell tour. Offer tours of what’s still intact and aesthetically pleasing. Sell portions of the turf like MLB does, offer commemorative bricks for fans on the grounds of the new lot or even build a commemorative statue.

I’m dying to stand in its center and marvel at what once was. 100% positive that every banner, every seat and every blade of astroturf holds a meaningful memory to many. Standing in the center would be like standing in a time machine. Houston literally frozen in time. However, all nostalgia aside, the bottom line is a decision needs to be made NOW. Putting it off is only shoving us deeper between a rock and a hard place. It’s like ripping off a Band-Aid. Just do it already.

Writing Prompt #001

Happy Easter weekend everyone! 

These days, putting words together to make coherent sentences has become rather difficult. So, in effort to make writing less excruciating, I’ve decided to start doing writing prompts at least once a month. Below is my first one. I know it’s a bit rough, feel free to offer suggestions on how to make my writing both better and easier. ENJOY!

 

Staring up at the moon always made me feel small. These days not much has changed. Only now, my frustration and anger has turned to rage and every full moon it pours out of body like clockwork.

I don’t remember the city street lights being so bright. I have to shut my eyes for a few seconds. I feel myself bump into a cloud of cheap beer and cigarettes. I open my eyes to find a twenty-something frat boy staggering away from me as he apologizes profusely. I can barely hear him over the excruciating sound of music coming from across the street. I initially despite it, yet it managed to bring me a few moments moment’s peace from the normal pulsating sound of my heart pumping blood to my body.

I strain to focus my eyes on the neon pink sign across the street in front of me. The Coven, it reads. Werewolves have always feared anything that had the slightest to do with witchcraft. No one wants to be cursed twice in one lifetime, right? Today, I felt lucky. Besides, what are the chances of an actual witch being inside?

As the front door opens, I get everything. The sound of the wind blowing past the flyers on the wall, the smell of the trash coming through the back door, the sound of the manager’s keys rubbing against his pressed blue slacks. It stops me dead in my tracks. I stand at the doorway with my eyes closed and my hands over my ears with my mouth open, gasping for air. It’s never been this bad. After I come down from a transformation, everything generally hurts. Usually I can shake it off by nightfall. But today, today was different.

I manage to gather myself before anyone notices the werewolf crawling into the fetal position at the doorway. I find the nearest seat at the end of the bar next to a middle-aged man in a three-piece suit. I’m sure he has a wife and kids to go home to. Yet, here he sits in this bar.

I place both hands firmly around my drink and close my eyes, hoping for one small moment of peace before losing myself at the bottom of a glass. Upon opening my eyes, I inadvertently make eye contact with a blonde two seats down from me. She politely smiles, I return the gesture.

I immediately look down after the close encounter only to notice the reddish-brown blotches underneath my fingernails. Now that I could see it, the smell of blood began to fill my nasal cavity and I can feel my eyes begin to transform into its wolfish-yellow hue.

I make a mad dash for the bathroom, tripping over my shoe laces and bumping into an overweight bus boy and a poorly placed juke box. I haven’t adapted to much of anything about living my life as a werewolf. The one thing I managed to get into a routine of was washing the blood off of me and my clothing after a transformation. Today should have been no different. The more I stare at the blotches the more I remember about how they got there. Flashbacks play in my head like a movie. Only there is no clear ending or resolution. Just faces, no names.

I look up to stare at my reflection in the mirror. The blood under my nails wasn’t the only thing I missed. There are pieces of dirt and grass embedded in my hair. My favorite leather jacket is ripped at the left-shoulder. I have a small gash above my right eye. Despite my injuries, I smile and let out a small giggle at my reflection.

No, today was definitely different. Today, I looked like a werewolf.

10 Ways to Get on Late Night Television

NBC’s new late night lineup is keeping people up past midnight all over the country these days. Both the Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Seth Meyers have received a warm welcome to late night television from fans and critics alike. It’s no secret that Jimmy and Seth brought a new, younger, refreshing tone to the time slot than their predecessors. With the announcement of David Letterman’s retirement in 2015, late night television will once again be in a transition period with new host, Stephen Colbert.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent countless hours wondering what you could possibly do to land yourself a spot in the new landscape of late night television. So of course, what do I do when I can’t fall sleep? Brainstorm ways to get on late night television. Here are the first 10 items on the list. Yes, I have more…lots more.

P.S. Feel free to help me brainstorm new ways in the comments section. I’ll need all the help I can get.