Tag Archives: Oswego

What Does A Job Mean to Me?: An Open Cover Letter

To whom it may concern;

My name is Jon Zella and I am applying for a job at your institution/organization. I found this job after hours of scouring the internet choosing a city and a place of employment that allow me to grow professionally and personally. Our missions and morals align, and even if I am not fully qualified, I have acquired the skills necessary to pick up what I need to do to complete tasks at hand.

I have had a lot of experiences over the last few years. Some directly related to you and others that were good experiences that have made me a better person. Despite my age, 23, I have done a lot and plan to do even more. Sure, I am new to the full time job market, but that does not mean I am not capable.

Personally, I need to be busy. All the time. I need to be challenged, to manage my time correctly, to have multiple things going on at once, and to do more than make someone’s schedule and send emails. This is probably why I am not applying for an entry level position with 0 to 1 year(s) of experience that will leave me unfulfilled when I leave the office everyday despite giving me a foot in the door to the career path I am interested in. If I am applying for your job, it is because I think it will challenge me to learn, to grow, and require me to do so in order to succeed and become a professional in that field.

I want to be involved, to work in groups, to work alone, and to combine everything I know to make sure I am doing the best job possible. I want to be put in a position to succeed and to prove myself.

Most importantly, if I am applying for your job, it is because I have a feeling that I will learn to love what your institution/organization has to offer to its constituents. Contrary to what many people believe, there are a lot of jobs out there. I chose your institution/organization because, well, I like it. It looks cool, I like the projects, exhibits, programs, events, and topics that you cover. I like what the job description will have me do on a daily basis and can only hope that “other duties as assigned” means I will be given a chance to work on big projects from time to time.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I hope I hear from you soon to set up an interview because, honestly, meeting me in person will help show you how interested I am in this position.

Warmest regards,

Jon Zella

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What I’m Thankful For

Recently I’ve learned not to complicate things; that I’m a simple person that thrives on the little things. So when I started thinking about what I’m thankful for, I thought of all the things I’ve learned over the last few years about myself and where I currently live, Oswego, NY.

My list may seem cliche and boring, but to me, after learning about all the hardships of those in my community without the same “Zella” luck that I’ve been able to take advantage of, it made me appreciate what I have even more.

With that being said, here’s my list of things I’m grateful for since I started living on my own and learning about what it takes to survive.

1) I can afford to turn my heat on: For many people, this is an unaffordable luxury. It’s not terribly expensive, despite National Grid charging $60 in “delivery fees,” but for some this is a burden that can only be combated with layers of clothes while in the house.

2) My car starts every time I need it to: Another thing that people may take for granted, my car is the most expensive thing I have and something I’m really proud of now that I am paying for it on my own.

3) I have a (two) job(s): They’re not much, but I can pay my bills and frankly, isn’t that all we need?

4) I can afford to eat what I want, when I want: My favorite part of Italy wasn’t the history or the sights, it was about what the Italian people really care about: Food, culture, and conversation. When I visited my family in Milan, we didn’t do anything extravagant; nothing that would get a wow out of a thrill seeker. We went on bike and car rides, swam in a river, went to festivals, and ate and ate and ate. Though this is something a lot of people don’t find to be one of the more important parts of their lives, the fact that I get to surround myself with good people and tasty food makes my life a little better, and I’m glad I can afford to do it.

5) My clothes fit: Everyone complains about clothes and I’ll admit, I do too. But when I really think about it, I have clothes that fit and make me look a bit better when I need to go into public.

6) I have people around me that genuinely care about my existence: Good friends are hard to come by and even harder to keep in your life, especially if you met them in college. However, I’ve been lucky enough to keep a good group of people in my life for quite some time now, even if they live 3 or 6 hours away. When I messaged old high school buddies to help me be a part of Movember, they signed right up with me. When I call a friend in Buffalo and ask what’s going on, we spend over an hour shooting the breeze and planning a visit to each other’s current residence. It’s amazing; something I’ll never take for granted. My family, too, has continued to be a rock for me to stand on in a time of need, even if it’s not of the fiscal nature. I can always call my parents or grandparents for a good laugh and some reassurance.

7) I’m on my way to a Masters Degree: I was lucky enough to have most of graduate school paid for by my employer, SUNY Oswego, making it easy for me to concentrate on my studies and complete my degree in 4 semesters. With one more semester remaining, I’m happy with what opportunities have turned into over the last 2 years.

8) And of course, my girlfriend: She’s put up with me more than anyone of the last 2 years. Between never being home, reading or writing papers when I am home, and making sure I eat every day, there hasn’t been a person more involved with keeping me on the right track than Leah.

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Being responsible for your emotions: A rant

We’ve all heard the saying, “Control your own happiness,” but what about other emotions? Sadness, regret, and anger are all things we humans experience on a somewhat regular basis. Why should we let other people have such a huge influence on the positive or negative aspects of our lives? I recently figured out a little bit about myself and started understanding why it is I do what I do.

I want to control my ALL of my emotions. If I’m going to be happy, I want to be the reason I’m happy. Whether it’s surrounding myself with family and loved ones, playing hockey or music, or just having a couple beers with some friends around a bar or a fire. I answer to no one when it comes to my happiness.

This goes the same for my occasional err…somewhat constant anger and aggressiveness. I choose to let it out when I want, which is probably healthier than keeping it in. Meh, what do I know, I’m not a doctor, nor is yelling at someone from my car for cutting me off going to change anything. Anyway, I want to be in control of those emotions, too. I’d rather get in trouble for something I did and be mad/embarrassed at myself than let someone else make me feel helpless and have anger towards them for something I can’t control.

I want to make my own messes and I want to clean them up.

I want to make my own mistakes and I want to own up to them.

 

I’ve been called abrasive, aggressive, angry, unorthodox, told that I worry too much and to slow down…yada. yada. yada. You know what? (Cue hardcore lyrics) “I’ll keep my failures. You keep waiting.” (Call It Fire) In other words, keep it to yourself. I’ll be over here learning something from what I just did.

I don’t mind being the guy who tells you what you don’t want to hear. I don’t mind being honest.

I do mind when people don’t do their jobs and I catch the raw end of it. I’d rather let them know and skip a few rings in the “chain of command” to make people aware of the problem than sit there and have no control and be miserable. Too many people sit idly by and let things happen to them. They get stepped on or skipped over all together. I want to learn from mistakes, because that’s what life is all about, right?

Sometimes bureaucracy is helpful, but most times it isn’t. For what my jobs have been and what I hope one day they will be, and that’s helping or educating others, we don’t have time for it. Face problems head on. Take ownership of the problems and mistakes made along the way. Then, move on. Put your pride away and learn something to help the people you’re supposedly in favor of.

The moral of this rant is, control your emotions. Not in the, “keep them in check” kind of way, but in the, “take them by the horns” kind of way. Be happy, be sad, be angry, cry, punch shit, be alone or with others, write a blog post about it, laugh SO loud, scream your face off – be emotional on your own terms.

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Weight

You don’t have to think about something all the time for it to be a burden. It’s also hard to realize how much something weighs on your mind until it goes away or you get closure. Last night I spoke to someone that I haven’t talked to in a long time and you know what, it went pretty well. For someone I never expected to have a real conversation with again, it went as well as it could have.

It wasn’t exactly closure, but dare I say it helped us move into a new chapter in this whole situation.

I won’t go into detail on how it all started, but I will say he absolutely had his reasons not to talk to me. No matter how much I hated the idea of losing a friend, I knew that I needed to just let it happen.

It bothered me for a while that we just weren’t friends anymore and even more so because there was nothing I could do to fix it. But last night we actually spoke and it was more than just “Hey” in passing. I was caught off guard when we talked about music for a second and that, “Yeah, I’ll have one of them get in touch with you this weekend,” as we briefly talked about our old bandmates coming to Oswego for Harborfest and that we should hang out and jam or whatever.

Even though I was really happy that I found the medallion thing hidden at the Raven (a local bar I frequent) that came with a few prizes, the fact that we were speaking lifted a huge weight off of my shoulders. Like I said, it wasn’t something that I thought about all the time, but it was definitely something that bothered me enough that it was on my mind.

I know it’s not over and we’re not all of a sudden best friends, but as this point, talking is better than pretending that the other person didn’t exist.

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(The “medallion” which won me $13, a t-shirt, and 2 pints of beer)

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Things I miss: Burning Bridge Band

As I sit here at my computer, my kick-drum, which I cannot fit in any normal closet, sits next to me unplayed. I haven’t played drums for a while now and it kills me. I was in a band in Syracuse for a while, The Avondales, and had a lot of fun playing music with new people. It was cool being brought into a band that had been around for a while and was even cooler that the guys accepted me right away as one of their own. Even if I didn’t love the music we were playing immediately  I still had a great time and enjoyed playing gigs in front of people who enjoyed what we were doing. The music grew on me after about 6 months or so. Like most bands, we stopped playing as often as we wanted to due to some internal stuff and because becoming an adult means less time to practice and play out.

Before that, I was in a band called Burning Bridge Street. We came together in the fall of 2010 at SUNY Oswego. Eric, Corey, and I  always talked about starting a band or something, but never really got around to doing it. In the mean time, through a friend of ours, Jay, we met Ian and Myrar (Bryan), which was during our sophomore year. We would hang out and drink in their dorm room on weekends and talk about music and shoot the shit. At the beginning of sophomore year, the three of us, Eric, Corey, and I, started playing random covers in the basement of a residence hall that Eric lived in at the time. For whatever reason the hall director, who originally said it was ok for us to leave our gear in there, decided it wasn’t. I can’t remember the exact conversation that took place, but we were pretty bummed. We brainstormed where we would be able to play, and again I can’t remember exactly, but somehow we got to talking with Ian and Myrar and the next thing I remember is asking their housemates one day, and moving our gear in soon afterwards.

The band really became a “band” when I was on some committee that was having an event at SUNY Oswego and I thought it would be a good opportunity for us to start playing covers and playing together. So I said, “I can get us music,” even though we didn’t have a name yet, which was it’s own process, and one of the most annoying parts of being in a band. We finally decided on Burning Bridge Street, and, if I remember correctly, it was because we were sick of not having a name so someone just chose it. After a few weeks, we learned the event was going to be cancelled. At first it was a bummer, but in reality it was just a good excuse to start writing our own music, which we began to do. By the winter of that year, because Myrar needed a band for his audio production class, we recorded a 5 song EP in the basement of the music building on campus, and is the second most annoying part of being in a band.

We kept writing and throwing parties at Ian and Myrar’s house so we could play in front of our friends. It was a lot of fun. I think this is one of the first of these party-show things and the first and only time I sang (badly) in front of other people on purpose. (Dec. 2010)

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This is me doing my best drummer impression at the same”show.”

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So, we kept writing and would play gigs every now and again throughout the spring of 2011 and eventually, late in the semester, we recorded an 8 song EP. It came out pretty good, it wasn’t the best, but we were proud of it. Because everyone goes home for summer, we ended up not doing much of anything in the summer of 2011, well, besides ripping our EP apart via text message and google docs comments. Here’s a picture of us right beforewhat I think is the last show Myrar played with us. It was a battle of the bands at SUNY Oswego, that we didn’t win.

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In the fall of 2011, the band moved in together: Eric, Corey, Ian, and I.

(Burning Bridge House, August 2011)

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Myrar had graduated the semester before and moved back to Buffalo. We started playing a little bit, but needed to add a new bassist if we wanted to do anything serious, and is the third worst part of being in a band. Really glad we spread these things out.

Anyway, after deliberating for what seemed like forever, we decided on Andrew. He was into more hardcore stuff, but fit in nicely with our amalgamation of musical backgrounds. We taught him songs, wrote new ones, and before we knew it we were playing our first gig with Andrew really early in the fall of 2011.

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The songs we wrote were some of the best songs I’ve been a part of. It was amazing we could ever decide how it would be written, but when we did it was something else. The shows were empty most of the time, but every now and again we would get a good crowd and it was amazing to be a part of. Here’s a picture of my kit with a show poster from November 2011.

(Mayflower, The Surrogates, Burning Bridge Street)

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We wound up playing a bunch of shows at The Raven, some of which were pretty packed out. It still amazes me how many people showed up to watch us play when they could have just came over and watched us practice for free. Here’s one of the shows we played at The Raven. I think this was with Dreams of Gin (Rochester) and some other bands.

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We recorded some songs, the only one that was finished is embedded below, and played out here and there during the spring of 2012. We knew that some of us would be graduating, meaning some of us would be leaving Oswego and others would be sticking around. We wanted to keep playing in this band, but it looked like it would end. It may have been one of the hardest things about finishing my undergraduate degree. The worst part of the whole thing was, we never got to play our one last show. We played in Watertown at the Dungeon in April of 2012 and thought we would get one more shot at playing to say our goodbyes to the band. Unfortunately, we played the show not really knowing it was the end. It was an amazing time and we played really well. I think we surprised a lot of the people and bands there with how we played and wrote our music. Here’s a picture that was taken at some point of us in Watertown behind the stage followed by one of us playing.

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So that was it. We were done. We all still talk, mostly about how much we miss playing and all the regrets we have, but hey, that’s music. This was one of my favorite memories of college and these guys are all amazing musicians that I miss playing with. I hope I get to be in a band again that is half as talented as this. I loved playing these songs and best of all, I still love listening to our hard work. Below is a link that will play what is arguably our best song and probably the band’s favorite song. If anyone reads this stupid blog, comment below and let us know what you think. Even though we don’t play together anymore, this band still means a lot to us.

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My first museum exhibit panel

I didn’t get paid to do it. I didn’t even receive academic credit. I did it because I love the idea of education outside of the classroom. This was a subject I was largely unfamiliar with, but was a lot of fun to put together from the research involved, to the writing, even the editing. Below I am posting the final copy of what he panel will have on it as far as my contributions. I haven’t yet heard when the panel will be created, though from what I understand it will take a while for the graphic designer to get some ideas together. In the mean time, I’m happy and proud of what I did and hope that this helps me in the future.

 

America is Challenged in the 1930’s

In the 1930s, a combination of environmental and man-made problems caused the United States to nearly spiral out of control. As the stock market crash of 1929 produced a financial meltdown, over-farming started to take its toll on the land and, along with population growth and drought, created what is known as the Dust Bowl in the Great Plains.

 By 1918, American troops were engaged in battle in World War I. As one of the few foods the United States could successfully ship to troops across the Atlantic Ocean, the government encouraged farmers to grow wheat under the slogan, “Wheat can win the war.”

 The United States Food Administration created “Wheat-less Wednesdays” to keep shipments flowing to Europe. The price of wheat rose and farmers plowed 11 million acres of virgin grasslands across the mid-west, twice the size of NJ. This time period is often referred to as the Great Plow Up.

 After World War I, Americans continued to move west. As the 1920s wore on, problems arose for farmers in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas, and Southeast Colorado.

 Plowing removed large stretches of the previously undisturbed native grasses and, without grass, the soil became dry and exposed and was picked up by the wind, which created dust storms.

Along with over-farming, four distinct periods of increased drought: 1930–31, 1934, 1936, and 1939–40, made the land unable to recover. 

 By late 1935, an estimated 850 million tons of topsoil had blown away in dust storms. By 1940, close to 2.5 million people left the affected states and headed further west towards places like California. Though from various states, these travelers were collectively known as “Okies” after Oklahoma.

 Dust storms caused health issues for many people. Respiratory and eye infections were common and many wore masks made of gauze and cheesecloth to protect themselves. Windows and doors were sealed in order to keep dust out of homes. The most famous dust storm occurred on April 14th, 1935, known as “Black Sunday.” Shortly after, the term “Dust Bowl” would be used for the first time in a newspaper article.

 By the mid-1930s, the U.S. government was actively involved in trying to reverse and prevent these conditions. In April 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Soil and Conservation Act, giving farmers money to plant native grasses and vegetation to stop erosion.

 People learned to deal with dust storms in different ways. Jokes and story-telling helped take people’s mind away from their harsh surroundings and resilience and ingenuity were necessary survival skills.

 Along with the environmental disaster, an economic disaster was also underway. The 1929 stock market crash caused many Americans to lose their jobs. The price of goods plummeted and some farmers had little choice but to abandon their land.

 As unemployment rose from 3% in 1929 to 25% by 1933, President Roosevelt began creating social programs called the New Deal. Roosevelt’s vision started with the employment of artists. Artists promoted the program’s ideals and gained support. They also played an important role in documenting the effects of the Dust Bowl.

In 1936, funded by the U.S. Resettlement Administration, Pare Lorentz, produced a film on the Dust Bowl entitled, The Plow That Broke the Plains. The film was intended to educate the public on the need to reform farming practices and the delicacy of the land.   

 Meanwhile, still photographers, sponsored by the U.S. Farm Security Administration (FSA), traveled to the heart of the Dust Bowl and beyond, including Oswego County, documenting local citizens, locations and events during the period.

Without jobs, many Americans couldn’t afford to feed their families. Until 1932, local charities, mainly churches, were responsible for provisional food and financial assistance.

With the creation of the Federal Surplus Relief Corporation (FSRC) in October, 1933, the government was able to purchase, store, and process surplus agricultural products to relieve the hardship and suffering caused by unemployment.

To receive surplus food, many individuals and families stood in line at food banks, which were sometimes miles away. In cities like Baltimore, Maryland, people were given a weekly allotment of 80¢ worth of products. Bread, sugar, and milk (when it was available) were distributed while supplies lasted.

In 1936, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was created. The CCC employed youths, between the ages of 18-24, to perform conservation work such as planting trees, digging new irrigation ditches, etc. Still valued today, the drought in the Great Plains gave the United States government a new perspective on conservation.

In the late 1930’s, weather patterns changed and brought rain to drought-affected areas. The U.S. economy finally began to recover in late 1941 as the country entered into World War II. 

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Mixed feelings: When is it time to move on?

I’ve defended Oswego for a long time. Anytime someone said there was nothing to do, I had a list of reasons why it was the place to be. Whenever I left, I wanted to come back. I always said, “This place has a charm, it just takes you in.”

Lately, however, I’ve been feeling like maybe Oswego is just something I’m used to; something I know so well, making it part of who I am. I know to take, or not to take, certain roads at specific times of the day, which place has the best beer selection, where the best spots are to hang out by the lake, and who makes the best wings. Bartenders at my local watering hole, The Raven, even know what my favorite drinks are. It feels like home because I’ve made it my home. 

This city needs a lot of work, and I’m not saying I want to run away tomorrow, but unfortunately I don’t see myself here for years and years to come. I want to stay here a while longer, maybe start my professional career and live cheap for a while, then see where it takes me. I want to be committed to making this city better; to making it somewhere I would want to live for a long time. But right now, 20-something year old Jon needs a little more and you know what – it’s time for me to be selfish. 

I want to start my life here: get on my feet, get a decent job, have some fun, and move on when the time is right. I look forward to the day where I get to learn to love a city the way I learned to love Oswego; to learn which bars have the best beer; to learn about the people, the roads, and the restaurants; to learn why other people love it.

Like I said, I’m not running away tomorrow, and to be perfectly honest I’ll probably be here longer than I think. Who knows what happens in the next year or so. Maybe a job pops up I can’t refuse and I stay a while. I’ll leave that up to chance for now and work hard regardless. 

Right now, Oswego is home and I’m happy to be here. But I’ll always think about the day that I move somewhere else. 

One day I will. 

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