Introvert’s View on Self-Isolating

At first, I was looking forward to the thought of self-isolating. It was a chance to get a much-needed break from the world. Before, there were days that I did not get home until 8 o’clock in the evening, sometimes even later. I never had a day to relax and take a breather because I was always working on something. Whether it be dance, school, helping my mom out in the candy shop or just hanging out with friends, there was always something. But I’ve learned that too much of something, no matter how much I love doing it, can be a bad thing.

When the first case showed up in Aroostook County, I almost celebrated. It was an excuse to stay home and do, well, nothing. I convinced my mom to buy the new Animal Crossing game, New Horizons, and we have been playing it almost non-stop ever since. We’re on the fourth season of “Ancient Aliens” and toward the end of our second run through of “The Big Bang Theory.” Life was almost perfect. Except for the minor fact that I still have to do discussion posts. But that is something I am going to have to do no matter what.

I started to worry about how long this would last. The candy shop my mom worked so hard on was at a standstill. I had plans to go to Boston in August with a group of friends. I wouldn’t be able to watch my best friends graduate. Nor would we be able to go to their last spring formal together. Soon the days blended together, and I was missing my friends and family. I ended up getting a case of cabin fever from staying home for so long.

“It’s an introvert’s paradise,” my mom said. “I could really get used to working from home. But there are certain aspects of being in the shop that I miss.”

Thankfully, my mom and I figured out a way to start a curbside pickup for the candy shop. We are both able to get out of the house a little more. Which, in the long run, might be beneficial for both of us.

But, until recently, I was not scared. It was all just a lot of worrying. When my dad came by to drop off groceries, it was an eye-opener for me as to how serious this situation was. Since my dad lives in Caribou, Maine, my mom thought he could bring us food because there was not a confirmed case up there yet. Before all this started, we were making plans to visit him for the weekend. We were taking turns traveling to visit since he moved to Caribou for a new position in his work. Until he dropped off the groceries, I had not seen him for weeks. I wasn’t able to even hug him goodbye when he left for fear of getting the virus.

After the initial panic of finding out there was a case in Aroostook County, my grandparents came by for a quick visit. We all kept our distance from one another, except for my grandfather. “I don’t care what they say, you’re my granddaughter,” he said as he pulled off his glove and gave my hand a squeeze. We all eventually realized that it was near impossible for any of us to have gotten the virus due to how little we’ve left our houses. I always say it’s better to be paranoid than dead. So, we all hugged goodbye, and my grandparents went on their way.

Even though my time at home is less than it was at the start, it’s still more than I’m used to. I still enjoy it, but it can be overwhelming. You never know how much you appreciate something until it’s gone. The hardest part about this is not being able to see my friends and family. What I miss the most is spending time with them. While I still talk to them, it’s not the same as seeing them in person. It is best if we all limit our contact with others as much as possible to help stop the spread of the virus. Even though it can be hard, it will be worth it.

Focusing less on the negative side of this situation and more on the positive side is my way of getting through it all. I hope to spend this time focusing on writing. That is something I’ve been trying to get back into but never had an opportunity until now. I imagine that my mom and I will start our third run through of “The Big Bang Theory” soon. And as always, I’ll be working on my town in Animal Crossing. The plans I made can always be changed for a different day and I will still have chances to dance with my best friends. It will just be a while before these things can happen, and that is OK. Like I said, it’s better to be paranoid than dead.

Bethany’s character in the game Animal Crossing New Horizons.

The Need to Support Local Businesses

In any small town, there are local businesses that rely on the community for support. In Houlton, Maine, things are no different. The downtown area of Houlton has a variety of activities that bring the people together for fun times. Many think local businesses are the heart of the town. In the summer, there are farmers’ markets and 4th of July celebrations that go on until midnight. Now there is something bringing many small towns to a standstill.

“Before the governor told all non-essential business to close, I started closing the shop at 2 p.m. because no one was coming due to the local schools and business closures,” Charlene Tabb, the owner of Betty Marie’s Sweet Shop, said. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, local business owners have it rough. Non-essential businesses in Houlton are temporarily closing because of the virus. What used to be a booming community is now like a ghost town.

An empty Betty Marie’s Candy Shop during the closing of non-essential businesses.

“Many of the business owners I’ve spoken with are concerned about how long this mandatory shutdown will last. Business owners have rent and suppliers to pay along with payroll to meet,” Charlene said. Social distancing and lockdown may go on for months. She is not sure what the next steps for her business will be.

“It feels odd driving through downtown and seeing all the dark stores through the window. It almost feels like a ghost town,” Melanie Griffin, a local from the Houlton area, said. “I used to stop by a shop on my way home because that’s where people I knew would go. It was an opportunity to socialize and help out the local economy. Now that I can’t do that anymore, I’ve certainly become lonelier.”

Charlene hopes to continue with a new normal after the community starts up again. “We have several businesses in the downtown area that are less than a year old. Mine is one of them. I can only hope that all of us can come through this and thrive together,” she said. These local businesses succeed from the support of the community. After the pandemic ends will be a key time for Houlton.

“I am looking forward to a day in town with a chance to perhaps go from shop to shop and go to the movie theater with other people,” Melanie said. “I think people can support them by continuing to shop at the ones that are left. Go to the drive through and the store. Just remember to follow the social distancing guidelines.”

The people will be eager to continue to support the local businesses. This is something that is an important part of the community. There are those who hope that once it calms down, things will return to a new type of normal. Houlton will one day return to its former glory. Until then, Betty Marie’s Sweet Shop, along with other local businesses, will stay closed, waiting to open again.

 

Following the Money

Scene from All the President’s Men.

In the early 1970s, things were different. Computers were just getting started, and what was fashionable seems unusual to us now. The 1970s also witnessed an important event that helped change journalism for the better. The Watergate Scandal was an event that disrupted many lives, but it also helped journalism in the long run. With all the surrounding “fake news” in today’s news, it is hard to tell fact from fiction. We can learn many lessons from Watergate.

Former FBI and CIA agents had broken into offices of the Democratic National Committee. That was something Richard Nixon was involved in and helped to cover up. Nixon resigned during his second term as president. He preferred not to be impeached and charged with the crimes. One lesson to take from this is not to trust everything the government says or does. You never know what it could be hiding.

The risks that Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, the two reporters from the Washington Post who uncovered the Watergate Scandal, took have some wondering how these men were not killed. “Mitchell started the cover-up early; everyone is involved in the cover- up, all the way to the top. The whole U.S. intelligence community is mixed in with the covert activities,” Robert Redford, who played Woodward, said in the film. “The extent of it is incredible. And people’s lives are in danger, maybe including ours.”

Bernstein and Woodward would not have been able to do this feat alone. Woodward received information from a secret informant who went by the name of Deep Throat. He told Woodward to “Follow the money,” which led them to uncover more than just a robbery attempt.

It might have been hard to believe the Watergate Scandal when it came to light. “Not that there’s a lot riding on this. Only the First Amendment and Freedom of the Press and maybe the future of our democracy,” Ben Bradlee, executive editor of the Post, said in the movie “All the President’s Men.” If it were not for the work of Bernstein and Woodward, the Nixon administration might have been able to get away with the crimes.

“All the President’s Men” is a must watch for not only journalists, but for everyone because it shows an important part of U.S history. It gives a behind-the-scenes look at writing for the Washington Post. With the suspense of their search for the evidence they need, Bernstein and Woodward, with the help of Deep Throat, “follow the money.” They uncovered one of the biggest scandals in U.S history.

 

In the Spotlight

A scene from Spotlight.

“If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one,” Mitchell Garabedian, an attorney who represents victims of sexual abuse, said in the movie “Spotlight.” The Catholic Church, one of the biggest religious groups in the world, has its fair share of problems over the years. But it is a terrible thing that pedophilia is one of them. What started out as an investigation of one priest sexually abusing children and the Church’s coverup turned into something much bigger and horrific.

In 2001,  The Boston Globe’s Spotlight team got to work uncovering what ended up being 87 priests, about 6 percent of priests in Boston, accused of pedophilia. “You guys gotta understand. This is big. This is not just Boston. It’s the whole country. It’s the whole world. And it goes right up to the Vatican,” Phil Saviano, head of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said in the movie. The team worked countless hours to make sure that this story had what it needed to be published.

After they printed the main story, the Boston Globe continued to publish articles daily from the reports of the victims coming forward with their account. The number of survivors from these horrible events is in the 1,000s. None of the children came forward for years because of the shame they had felt. “How do you say no to God, right? See, it is important to understand that this is not just physical abuse, it’s spiritual abuse, too,” Saviano said “And when a priest does this to you, he robs you of your faith.”

This is a scandal that shocked the Catholic community to the core. There is no excuse for the Catholic Church covering up the sexual abuse these victims went through. The traumatic experiences of sexual abuse are not something that should be dealt with lightly. The last thing the Catholic Church should have done was cover up the horrible situation. It can be devastating to be betrayed by religion.  That’s something that is a big part of life for many people.

Each person on the team sacrificed time and energy, some even losing their connection to religion. “I stopped going to church with my nana. It was it was too hard. I… you know, I’d be sitting there, and I would start thinking about Joe Crowley or someone else, and I just, I just got so angry,” Sacha Pfeiffer, a reporter from the Spotlight team, said. The sacrifices  that were  made were worth it in order to bring this scandal into the spotlight. To break the silence of the Catholic Church and bring the issue to the public.

The movie “Spotlight” shows that all have their secrets, even the Catholic Church. It also shows that there is hope for justice. The ensemble cast, including Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams, made the story engaging and moving for many. “Spotlight” shows a piece of history and is a must watch for everyone. It tells the compelling story of how the journalists worked so hard to bring this scandal to the public and that secrets always have a way of revealing themselves in the end.

 

The White Lady of Millinocket Maine

 

Highway exit sign to Millinocket where the ghost story originated.

 

If you live in Maine, then you might have a good understanding of why author Stephen King based many of his stories in this state. There is fog so thick, you could cut it with a knife and nights seem to last forever in the winter. Maine is home to many ghost stories: one of its more famous ones being Haynesville Road and the paranormal activity that comes with it. But what some may not know is that there is another stretch of road in Maine that has had rumors of a ghost since the 1950s.

On their way back from their honeymoon, a couple were driving down Brownville Road. not too far from Millinocket, Maine. The couple’s car swerved off the road for unknown reasons and crashed. The husband instructed the wife to stay in the car while he went to look for help. When he returned, she was not to be found, and no one could figure out what happened to her. At least, not until she began haunting the road and nearby bridge. To this day, Millinocket locals claim to see her while driving through the Brownville Road.

One local, Kayla Mcinnis, who is attending UMPI, has this to say about the story. “My friends told me. I was at a campground and they dared me to go with them.” Mcinnis also had information as to why the Lady haunts the road. “I think the myth, the lady died and someone stole her wedding ring and she’s there for revenge.” So perhaps there is more to this story than some may know. There are many stories about ghosts seeking revenge. But Mcinnis’ next comment indicated that the White Lady may not be dangerous. “If you bring a necklace and ask her questions, she’ll show up. It worked, but none of it was dangerous.”

Another local from Millinocket, Megan Waceken, has heard stories of the White Lady but does not have any personal experiences. Waceken has some insight on the bridge where the story takes place. “It is a dangerous bridge and there’s always a lot of those bigger trucks, too, on the dirt roads,” Waceken said. “It’s not very…the best road condition there and there’s always accidents on that road with wildlife and people speeding.”

They say the location of the crash can be found on the original Brownville Road. So, if you are willing to take the trip out, beware. When the weather takes a turn and the fog rolls in, you may find the White Lady of Brownville Road walking along or on the bridge. Or if ghost stories are a little more to your liking, perhaps ask around the next time you’re in Millinocket. The locals might have a story or two of their own to share.

 

 

 

The World’s Most Powerful Weapon

What makes a photo worthy of a Pulitzer Prize? There are many things that can qualify. The short film, “A Glimpse of Life–The Pulitzer Photos,” features many photojournalists discussing  the Pulitzer Prize. “It’s not a photography contest. It’s about telling some of the biggest stories of the year,” William Snyder said. Since the 1960s, there are two Pulitzers for photojournalism: Feature Photography and Breaking News Photography.

“Burst of Joy” is a photo from 1974. It pictures a group of five rushing to greet a former POW who has returned to America. The amount of happiness coming from this photo is unreal. One of the three women in the photo has her arms open to hug the POW as he walks toward his family. All in this picture have smiles on their faces. This photo is an important example in photojournalism because of how well it can portray the emotions of that family from that point in time.

In “Babe Ruth’s Farewell” from 1949, we see the back of Babe Ruth, with his baseball jersey, his hat in one hand and bat in the other, resting on the ground like a cane. All eyes are on him as he stands alone by home base. When you look at this photo, there is an air of sadness from the crowd as the famous player prepares for retirement. With photos like these, “It’s a front seat to history” John White said.

John White’s pictures showing life in Chicago is a moving collection. One picture shows a nun praying with a young boy with her hand on the back of his neck. According to White, “Everyone has a story. And we sing their song. If we don’t do it– if the journalist doesn’t do it– who’s going to do it?” With his collection “Life in Chicago,” readers can see the backbone of the city and what makes it Chicago.

In “Ruby Shoots Oswald” we see the moment in time right after Oswald is shot. There is panic and disbelief on people’s faces in the surrounding area. There are even some in the photo who seem to not know what is going on, and they won’t know until they turn around. Robert Jackson, the photographer, said, “If I had planned it, I probably would have missed it.”

The last picture is from 1998, showing a young boy surrounded by others, but you can only see their hands or feet. The boy is looking up with curiosity just to the right of the picture. Children can have a sense of hope, even in the hardest of times. This picture confirms that. Martha Rial’s “Rwandan Refugees” shows the struggles that this community had and its hardships during that time.

The thing that sets theses photos apart from others is how they illustrate the world around us. Photojournalism is more than a profession, it’s a calling. Just with any writer or dancer, there needs to be that passion to continue doing it. Otherwise pictures have no life or character to them. “The most powerful weapon that we have in the world is a still photograph.” Pulitzer winner Eddie Adams said.

Iwo Jima.