Audit Right There!: Debriefing of the Small Town Journalist

You’ll notice that this isn’t marked under news but blog. I almost didn’t write this article at all. In fact, today was almost my last day in the career track of journalism.

After this post, I’m switching focuses. I’ll still attend meetings and write about anything that intrigues me, correct the record and all that, but I’m staying away from the city that I grew up in.

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It’s two-faced.

Janus will say that he hates the local political games, hate-bating and pandering and that he wants to change things. As soon as you walk away however, the Port Jervis god will only spit profanities and vitriol on your journey home.

Liars. Or are they? Where exactly is the truth in what people say? There has to be some somewhere.

That’s one thing I may stay in town for though it doesn’t come close to the higher purpose of rending the newsworthy facts that citizens need in order to live, learn and grow.

It may be interesting to know how much of a statement is true or honest when people say marvelous things. I’d rather learn how we can all create a common ground, but that doesn’t seem to be the place people like me. I’ll just keep smiling silently then.

It’s not easy being the one to tell others that more communication is necessary, because if they don’t communicate already, they don’t believe that they need to. Omitting the truth is just as much a lie, no?

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Here’s the story:

I was hot on the trail of a risk assessment — a “pre-audit” — in the city, performed by State Comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli’s office.

The glance at documentation tediously gathered by the city clerk’s office is a determining moment before deciding whether there were next steps for the city to take or even a full state audit to be conducted.

The state risk assessment began Jan. 23.

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Mayor Kelly Decker replied this morning that there was no such necessitation according to what the state had concluded that day.

However, that doesn’t end the journey of auditing.

The city performs its own annual internal audit as well. This is when the firm Bonaddio comes in and does a thorough search through the city’s documentation. This organization has been used for years according to City Clerk Robin Waizenegger.

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“…closer to 4%.”

Kristin Trovei

Even with the consistent auditing the city’s fund balance has fallen in the past decade to more than “unhealthy” lows.

In an article in the Times Herald-Record, responding to the village of Walden’s status, Brian Burry, spokesman for the state comptroller’s office, stated that having a fund balance of ten percent of total municipal expenses was a “healthy” goal.

Waizenegger sallied that fifteen percent, or just under a sixth of the city’s expenses, was a more appropriately called “healthy” fund balance.

That’s the process that the city goes through every year. To be clear, that’s enough for me. If there was to be more done, that would have been fine too.

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This brings us back to my rant at the beginning.

Most people use Facebook these days. According to Pew Research Center, only eleven percent of people in the U.S. don’t use social media. Of the other eighty-nine percent that do, more than half use Facebook, and more than half of that half, use it everyday, multiple times a day, to read, take in news, and catch up with friends and family.

For that reason, I’ve been taking my calls for sources and comments from Twitter to Facebook.

Most recently I called attention to feelings about budgeting, finance, spending and city revenues following this pre-audit.

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“…negative posts…”

It got the usual respondents, those that may have something negative to say. Those that still don’t feel that their representative government is taking the right actions in allaying these worries. Yet, there are also those that are more optimistic.

My question was plain, and any more middle of the rode it would have been flying high up next to the pie-in-the-sky.

The difficulty in remaining, and being seen as impartial, was turned on blast when politics stepped in on the post: a blanket shaming that served to discredit the question and any comments anyone had in the thread.

Even though replies were asked to be made as a “DM” or direct message to me, rather than comments.

The most heartbreaking part was the source of the political reaction. Someone that I had interviewed several times and was starting to feel friendly towards.

Perhaps there’s something to be learned in the old saying, “keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”

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Losing Books is Why I’m Choosing Scribd

I love reading. One of my favorite things to do, is read several books on a subject, all at once, and take notes on their overlap and relativity. My goal with my reading like this, is something I picked up by going to college.

You’d go to class, and be expected to have read 30 pages out of five books, on one or two subjects, per class. That’s what I’m doing now. I’m building my own classes.

I start by researching the different classes in a study that I want to learn. For instance, I’m currently studying the same classes you can find syllabi online for in journalism. This means, I’m replicating assignments from home, and reading all the same books.

This also means that in between jobs, I have at one time, at least a single book on me. Here is where the title of this article comes in. I lost a book the other day.


The ImperfectionistsThe Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved the book. It’s amazing how informative novels can be. Especially on a psychological level.

I didn’t reeeeally finish the book. I lost it… But I got passed all the parts, I think, that I had wanted, and set out, to read.

I aspire to be a journalist. So I definitely add this to that shelf. A great a starter for a young self-taught journo and citizen journalists everywhere.

View all my reviews


The book was an intro to journalism and the newsroom novel. It kicked butt for how much of an easy read it was, it’s subject matter of course, the vocabulary, the characters, the smaller stories, and the way each perspective was linked together. It was a beautiful book while I had it.

Well, somewhere between having a shit day, and reading, I lost my book. I put it down. Someone recognized  for all of its glory. Whatever. The point is this: I cried.

Those tearsmeant a lot to me. I was at the end of the book. The final pages were within sight.

While,it would be tragic to lose all of my books at once, perhaps there’s something good in a Kindle Fire or something. I don’t know yet, because I’ve never tried it. Well, that time has come.

I’m going to dip my toes into e-reading. Especially as someone that’s looking at publishing an e-book or two, I figure, it’s about time that I know what the market is like.

I’m starting simple however. I’m enrolling for Scribd, and starting with Audiobooks. I’m going to finish off the hard copies in my stack of books, and then I’m going to see how many of those journalism class books I can find on there, and hopefully for free.

Stay tuned for updates!
Do you use an e-reader or Scribd? Tell me about your experience!

#MeToo

#MeToo is about to have its own section in the news portion of my website. The occurencesare far too often, and the relevance this has on myself and readers is far too great to more or less relegate it to a US & Global category. Stay tuned to see how that turns out, also there may be personal stories or graphic content: Trigger Warning.

National Get-Over-Seasonal-Depression Day

“Coincidence that National Compliment Day and National Peanut Butter Day are on the same day? I think not. May as well call today National Get-Over-Seasonal-Depression Day.”

From my personal Facebook.

Wednesday, Jan. 24, is National Peanut Butter Day and aside from the history of the day, there’s a pretty neat poll going on at Syracuse.com: Crunchy or Creamy? Which one is your dominant choice?

I personally enjoy chunky.

It’s also National Compliment Day however. Similar to World Compliment Day celebrated March 1, the United State’s holiday was started in 1998. For more about it, here’s the history.

Together the holidays at the end of January could be called National Get-Over-Seasonal-Depression Day.

During the winter months, a lot of people, maybe due to less sunshine and Vitamin D, or perhaps for other causes, feel depression. It’s also called Seasonal Affective Disorder.Counter-intuitively there’s actually less suicides in the winter than in early Spring, probably due to depressive lethargy.

Therefore not only should the date be National Get-Over-Seasonal-Depresion Day, but in fact it should be an educational holiday for getting over the disorder and staying over it, and any other instances of depression and suicidal ideation, as more active whether moves in.

I love peanut butter and I love compliments. It’s a win-win! However, these tactics may not be enough for getting out of a depressive state.

For instance, anecdotally, I was recently experiencing my own bit of depression. Not entirely due to the season, but more-so because of the state of my finances. I’m in debt and barely making it paycheck to paycheck, gig to gig, and I’m only just now getting a handle over how to not only make more money, but save more, spend less, invest better, and knock out debt.

Growing up, and especially as a confused and introspective and introverted transgender child  I attempted suicide a number of times. I’ve been taught several ways to handle that depression and the manic anxiety that it unleashes alongside suicidal ideation. Regardless, I feel like every bout with depression is a new one and learning to handle it is always a new fight, with no experience to work off of.

The best method I’ve found is not only simply feeling the emotions but to take ownership of them.

The other day my situation felt completely insurmountable, so I became depressed. I thought to myself, “I can’t hold back these tears, so I’ll give myself ten minutes to embrace them.” When ten minutes had passed, I had needed to get myself ready to go to a meeting, but I was shaking, so I poured myself a shot of liquid courage to wrap it up, and then got myself ready and set out.

I don’t recommend vodka to stop the shaking or to put a cap on the situation, but it was something that I knew would smooth over whatever was coming next. It’s important to take control over every part of your life in these situations. Not only give yourself a strict limit to tears, but also tell yourself, “Okay, that’s it, I’m done.”

Mindfulness. Is. Key.

If you’re not allergic to peanuts, there’s a great treat you can give yourself when you successfully overcome these kinds of situations. Honey Roasted Peanut Butter. YUM!

Positive reinforcement helps build better behaviors. For instance, if what you want to do is meditate to calm down, do that, and then make yourself some sweet tea or something that you like. Try to regulate this too though, because it needs to be a novelty to work.

Novelty moves the world.

It’s why we have holidays like National Compliment Day, and National Peanut Butter Day, or tomorrow’s Opposite Day. It’s the spice of life, and it’s what brands such as Taco Bell, Mountain Dew, and even Geico rely upon in order to sell more.

Treat your depression with novel methods, but always be in control. Mindfulness gives you the power that novelty bolsters but also takes away. Becuase you may not always be able to go to the park for a walk, or eat a spoonful of peanut butter, there’s only one thing, one person, who is always there: you.

And you are beautiful.

Weathered in Port

The title and contents are a nod to the weekly photo challenge from the Daily Post: Weathered.

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For this short photo series, I walked around my centenarian city. There are tons of beautiful architectural subjects here. Old, beautiful architecture. IMG_1489-ANIMATION.gif

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My favorite feature of the city is a favorite feature of mine everywhere I go, tunnel-systems. This one is not so much a system as it is a passage from one side of the tracks to the other. The underpass was built in 1936 and I love it.

It’s one of the many reasons you should visit Port Jervis in October! Halloween is the best time to watch the seasons change. Also, look at the above Welcome sign, doesn’t that say: “perfect creepy”?

Since I put my favorite architectural feature (not to be confused with my favorite natural feature) first, the following will be my runners-up, in reverse order: the editor’s pick last.

A foreword here, I appreciate my home city and everything it has to offer. Are the buildings old and in need of TLC? Sure. Do people suck sometimes? Well, what is life without the occasional a******?

Alors!
The rustic romance of
weathered commercial structures
in the city of Port Jervis.
D’accord:

Woogie's Weathered Wonderful Wunch-spot

Once you see it you can't unsee it....

Front Street Gallery

Great curves!
My Fave

 P. S.

Enjoy posts like these? Good! I’ll be trying my best to do a weekend photo post recurringly.

About Me, #2, On Depression

Please read my cover page, About Me #1.

This is a follow-up piece to Winsome, Losesome, as well as a response to this week’s  Weekly Photo Challenge, Growth.

2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin Edge Lettering

Depression and I have a sordid history together. In my view, it’s the other side of the coin, whose counter-face is grandiosity. This post, I hope is the nail in the coffin for my posts about depression, because all coins have a third side, and here that side is: mindfulness.

Be mindful please that while my struggle with depression over the years has defined my like a chisel defined David, it doesn’t define my life, and I certainly would hate for it to define my blog. I created this to further express and realize the world as I see it. These eyes have been mindful of much, pain, pleasure, and a part of everything, and now I wish to make these eyes useful, putting input to words and words to fingers to keyboard to screen, for mindfulness’s sake.

When It Started, Can’t Say How

No different than my first inklings regarding my gender — another topic I would like to cover; elsewhere, more broadly — depression has been a learning experience. Mindfulness early on in life, I’m sure most children under ten would agree, is not something, even in description, that is recognizable. Or perhaps there is something to say about that in terms of how one is raised, either way, I was not one of those prodigal trans children, nor was I able to identify my depression as a child.

This is very much a story of Growth in regards to my depression. Mitigating its sway over me, to what seems, now, to be its complete disempowerment over me. I was not always able to simply sleep it off, walk it off, and relievingly, seemingly shrug it off.

The Outsiders

Perhaps now it may be the Runaways — another show that I’d love to discuss in another article — that gets at the doubtful struggle, but when I was in elementary school we read and watched the film version of The Outsiders. The 50s greaser gang of kids, in which gang violence, drugs, and staying strong, were all themes. Perhaps, not my first choice for kids, seeing as one of the Outsiders is killed, suicide-by-cop.

There were books like these, and others that I started reading, that helped me start to understand that part of me. That monster that hid beneath my bed, waiting for me to attempt to sleep before making my eyes water, heart pound, and mind race. We would go on like this in bed for many more years to come, and currently, I can say, it’s down to merely a dance between the two of us, more than only a fling such as seasonal depression.

In order to get an idea of what I’ve come out of, grown passed, consider this: walking didn’t help when I was younger, while now it does a great deal. There were numerous sleepless nights, I would stay up all night, write, watch Adult Swim, and inevitably go for a walk, all to keep this monster at bay. This Babadook.

babashook_Kayla Wasil

Mindfulness, in fledgling stages, only made it agony to consider my depression, like there was something wrong with me. Later, I would find that I certainly wasn’t alone, as I had felt, but in fact in great company. To that latter point, RIP Robin Williams.

Enter Gem

It was either early middle school, junior high or immediately preceding, I can’t remember… I hadn’t met anyone like me yet — I still felt terribly alone. There was one person that I was almost ready to talk to about it, to bounce my feelings off of. We were more than close, at the time we would have considered the term “lovers.” We talked every night, we’ll call this person Gem, and Gem and I were very intimate in a way that was new, exciting, and in its complex way, strange.

We had a mildly sexual relationship for tweens, and we took —or at least I took — a great seriousness in our relationship, speaking every night on the phone, going on dates, and talking about every aspect of our lives. Almost every aspect of our lives. It was as if the Babadook also rode an Elephant and both could maintain invisibility while they took up all of the standing room and followed every car ride.

That Babadook was the only character here that Gem and I were able to take shots at. They, Gem, had also been familiar with the Babadook. It would appear that he wasn’t invisible at all, but had scared silence into the both of us. Gem too was visited by the Babadook most nights, even at their Catholic school, he would show up, riding a very different mount for their personal struggle. It was something we had finally begun to discuss, both in person and at length in our nightly phone calls. A length that grew upon my mother, who had a growing phone bill and a tenant that she couldn’t charge.

This length became the wedge that distance couldn’t be. We could manage the distance, but my mother couldn’t manage the length. The Babadook had me all to himself. In a fit of rage, despair, and a bit of confusion tween me stormed out, worried and wondering woman following close behind.

There’s a bridge that connects New York and Pennsylvania over the Delaware River. I marched myself right up to the edge, standing on the railings in the summertime, I had thought of myself in finality. Tightly around my elbow, my mother’s claws sunk in, clinging to me by her nails, gripping tightly to a life that she wouldn’t understand for nearly a decade, and perhaps still not. Tears and fierce discussion about the Babadook ensued while canoe-goers floating down river shouted: “JUMP!” 

I take a photo of the same spot, constantly. A reminder of the life I have, and a time when I was most fragile, and chose life. Every time I cross that bridge, I still hear the voices yelling: “Jump!”

 

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That was only the beginning of suicidal ideation. Later there would be moments of self-harm too, but never more than a small slice. I didn’t like the attention of “crying for help,” I had only wanted to end it and make it snappy.

Second Bout

The following time was in my freshman year of high school. At this point, I had already met someone more like me, and now I had a name for that Elephant: Tranny. Why the name? We’ll discuss that somewhere else in time and space, but Babadook rode that Elephant, and that’s why it’s important to note here.

Here’s where the photo of the week comes in. Since I came to realize for myself where my feelings were guiding me, ever lonely, I felt more out-of-place than ever. Perhaps like a tropical fruit in a snowy tundra.

Snowvacado

There was a girl, who looked very similar to me, and being an intelligent and creative girl, inspired me. Being a nasty thing, intrigued me. As a friend, a sister, maybe even more, fulfilled in me for that first sisterhood.

Until I transgressed her, S (we’ll call her here) was more than a confidant and good friend that I’ve known since the third grade. She was my mirror in more ways than how she kept me in check. After I knew who the Elephant was, there was no one else that I wanted to be.

Jay was the person I was seeing at the time. A friend of S, we were all close in a way that may have been uncomfortable. We truly enjoy each other’s company though, Jay and I, and we liked to push boundaries together. That’s when we made a mistake that cost our relationship, our dignities, and possibly both of our friendships with S as they once were.

S called me that evening. We were no longer going to be friends because what I had done. It had hurt her more than I would have ever anticipated. So with compunction and shame, I lost myself. Hours later I would be in my room, blasting everything from Coheed & Cambria, Hawthorne Heights, Evanescence, and System of a Down, I take a Cookies & Cream Hershey’s bar and with every piece I broke off, with every tear that fell, I took a handful of medication. When the bar had finished and the bottle had not I killed what remained. I remember laying down and making a last request, final words that I expected only God and myself to hear, in addition to the Babadook and Elephant, both looking on in surprising horror, and I went to sleep.

To my dismay, I awoke in terrific pain. My insides were wrenching. I could feel what must have been my liver failing. It wasn’t the death I expected and certainly wasn’t the one that my mother would accept. When she saw me writhing in pain, on the floor near a toilet where I was upheaving blood, water, and what little was in addition to the chocolate bar, she took me to the hospital.

Screaming in pain and placed on a gurney, most of the initial memories are blocked by my own agonized cries. The hospital brought the truth out in the end, while not all of it. I had attempted suicide and was almost successful by murdering my liver, causing many other issues in my body. The Babadook and I, with a mysterious and concerning family history, had to be placed in a facility where I would stay for at least a week for diagnosis and the start of treatment which within the year would be terminated.

Rye  Treatment Center was the institution where I found that my pain could really turn into something real. Pushing it out in studies. In art. In writing. In chess and beating people in games. Being an introspective depressed and hormonal teen, I found that there were insights there that could be rendered outwards, and appreciated by others once in a while. Also, support from the most surprising of places — I still have that letter from my English teacher, Ms. May, somewhere. Self-harm ended and suicidal ideation while ever-present was controlled, and the Babadook was weakened only slightly, I carried on strong for a few years, losing control over my emotions in self-defense and lashing out at friends, family, and loved ones every so often, tormented by this fear, but living and subsisting.

“’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”  — Alfred Lord Tennyson

Over the years, many nights went the same: Write it out. Draw it out. Escape into a show. A film. Go for a walk. A bike ride. A swim.

I was funneling all of the Babadook into other things, for the most part, successfully. As the sun falls behind me this will also have to be my daily post for today’s “Funnel.” However, maybe at the time, it was less like a funnel, and more like a pipe dream.

Letting someone in is always the hardest. Even though asking for help induces its own seemingly insurmountable anxiety, love too has this quality and is far more insidious. Once someone’s in, inside your heart, they have a lot of pull, right at your heartstrings.

When my greatest relationship began to fall apart, from the inside, due to my own doing, it hurt almost as much as liver failure. I became outwardly suicidal again, and self-harm came back with a vengeance. The Babadook in his own way was looking out for me, for my fear of being alone again, but in the end, the actions that took place only pushed our partnership’s culmination closer.

I found myself spending another week in an institution. This time I was in Poughkeepsie. There I made no real headway in overcoming the Babadook, but instead, I found a resolution to never be placed in such a place again, and to never put myself there.

Through all of my struggles, I’ve grown. I’ve learned more about myself, my triggers, my unhealthy responses, my desires, and other fun facts. Now the Babadook is a friend, in my basement, whom I feed, and hear when I need to take care of myself most or when something else is arousing him. He’s still riding that Elephant, but now I’m more mindful of his arrival. It only took three battles… 

So you know, if you’re a high school student barely surviving right now, keep moving forward. I don’t want to say that “It Gets Better,” but it does, you just have to try to see how. Never stop looking. 


The next part of this short series will cover more about depression’s opposite: grandiose ideation. There I will discuss my dreams because they are quite grand. I believe any grand plan worth carrying to conclusion cannot be accomplished alone, so there I hope to make it possible to get involved in the grandiosity.

Winsome, Losesome

This is super candid, so per the content’s candor, for myself, the comments on this post will be turned off. If there are any questions that arise from this, readers can always send me a message and even link this post to the text if they feel they must. This was in part inspired by the Daily Post’s prompt of the day for Jan. 6: Winsome.

This Is Me:

I’m pretty winsome, right? Wait, if you didn’t look it up earlier, but want to now, this is the definition of winsome: “attractive or appealing in appearance or character.” So, I ask you again — obvi for my ego — am I winsome?

I hope so! I didn’t always look this darn cute. In fact, although it’s not #ThrowbackThursday or #TransformationTuesday, I’m going to share with my readers a photo that I certainly wouldn’t put up as my profile pic now. Well, here’s the damned thing:

me_2012

Also, so you know, because it’s Saturday, every time I curse in this post I also do that Catholic cross-thingy, just because. One Saturday afternoon I started doing it, just to keep track of how often I cuss, and it kind of stuck. I do weird things like that because they’re fun, but I feel like there could be some seriousness about it too.

I’m not religious, although I probably should be, seeing as I’ve been told I’m “going to hell” more often than “what pronouns do you prefer?” For different reasons, I’m not interested in caring how people feel about my gender identity. Yet for some reason, I care about how trans people are treated in general; like it’s one thing if you’re attacking me, but if you’re coming for a slew of people, whether it’s because their darker complexion, their sexuality, or their gender, that’s what really sets me off.

That’s why I love M.I.A, as much as I do — fun fact, one of the few artists I have actually felt speaking to me. She grew up as a refugee in Britain and struggled to become the artist she is today, but instead of really just sitting high on her laurels, she’s pushed boundaries and made enemies of powerful people to make a point: we’re all refugees in a way. She, of course, speaks mostly about those in real, forced diaspora, and not really about those that only feel as if outside of their homelands.

The digression was necessary because there’s always that song, or that artist, or that person or group, or activity, that keeps us going.

To many, it may be a mystery what could keep even one such as myself going. There have been times when even a funny, decently intelligent, and normatively attractive person, as I believe I am, have had trouble keeping optimistic about sharing this beautiful life with anyone. There have been times when I have been metaphorically ousted from my home. Such as those early moments when I came to realize what my feelings meant, at least to me. When those same feelings, of being someone different than who I was raised to be, made me doubt reality, made me fear my surroundings, made me question things much more deeply. And when I finally came out and became whom I saw myself to be, losing those that made life feel like home. Losing partners, friends, and even not getting calls returned by family members, can probably feel like seeing one’s home pushed away from them in warfare.

As another aside, I want to point out that people aren’t inherently good. Nor are they inherently bad. Life is a bitch but I hear that having refugees as neighbors is great.

I’m not always a great neighbor. I don’t really care about anyone. Not because I don’t want to, I really do, but I’ve been hurt a lot. I can’t help it. I can’t help but put myself out there. Like that saying: don’t let anyone dim your light” or whatever. My light shines pretty brightly, for some reason. That’s okay with me, and I like the way that I am. Others do too, and I like that even more! Yet, that appreciation, if turned upside down, hurts more than anyone that could simply say: “you suck!” I’d prefer that. Enemies. No problem. Frenemies. Crap. 

I hope that my readers become my friends. I’m also not afraid of frenemies. Only, be warned: I’ve definitely gone Super Saiyan.

super_saiyan_bri