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  EN LA VIDA

Carlito's World
by Carlos Correa
2003-06-01

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Now that I'm new to the Ottumwa area in Iowa, I hadn't realized how much I would miss all of the things that I left back home in Chicago.

My old jobs, my co-workers, all of my friends and of course my family who I miss the most. This new beginning is just that, a fresh new start to what may be a very long-lasting successful broadcasting career.

My new life alone in this strange small city is making me into a stronger man and a true independent person. It's hard not having anyone in my new home cooking, cleaning or even talking. There is no noise here, nor the smell of Abuelita's Colombian cooking. Instead it's just me, my television scanning various news stations, and my music, which keeps me relaxed at times.

I'm hoping that after a year in this town I'm able to move beyond this point and into new obstacles in foreign lands. I think by this time next year I would have completed my goal of gaining the experience I need to move forward into my career. It will also be a time where I have sat down and actually realized who I am and what I am capable of. If I fail, however, all I can say is that I tried and I eventually reached my goal of being a television reporter—and ultimately that is what counts.

I spent the first two days in Ottumwa seeking the town out for its people and places to go. Along with my mother by my side we found all sorts of different people in this rather small city of 25,000. We encountered not only whites, but I saw Blacks and Latinos, even a few Asians and Indians, which was a surprise to me, who assumed otherwise. I became rather relieved that my community was friendly, helpful and most importantly diverse.

I spent the last couple of hours in Chicago with my family, who helped me load my U-Haul truck and attached my car to it for the five-hour drive. I remember embracing both my mother and father as I received motivational messages for my new journey. My god son, Cesar, who didn't realize I'd be gone for more than two weeks, said he would have bought me a book in order to remember him by. I laughed as he told me not to forget who he was, and made me realize that I would never forget where I came from.

The young staff of reporters and anchors that I now work with are in the same boat I'm in. Except they have one year more of on-air experience than I do. But we all came to Ottumwa seeking the same thing, a foundation to move to the next step. My new co-workers took me out for the first time in this downtown bar/club that is regularly attended by college students. My favorite music was played on every other song between country and old school songs and the people were not like those I found in Chicago.

My mother described my new home and town as a vacation spot for her and the family to get away and keep their minds off of things. I welcome them and my friends as they would not only be getting away, but also keep me company with the hopes of making this time go fast for me.

In Ottumwa I have to get used to not seeing a Walgreens or a Starbucks on every city block. I also have to get used to not seeing a lot of different convenient stores wherever I go. My temporary reality is that there are no more mailboxes on every corner, instead a post office five minutes away.

Luckily for me, a person who loves going to the movies, I can walk to the theatre that is located right by the job. I also have the necessary stores I need, just a drive away from my home, which is good as I begin my new life.

I have already received some phone calls from my close friends who keep inspiring and pushing me to reach for the top. Their words and their existence in my life are indescribable. I think that if they did not call or e-mail me from Chicago I would not be able to make it without them.

What I know I can live without is these Midwest tornados that recently have developed. I thought the weather in Chicago was bad— this is even worse. Give me a big snow storm any day. One of the biggest tasks ahead of me is not even the weather, but the news itself. Finding and getting the news is going to be tough out here in Ottumwa, but hopefully I get to be part of making that difference I used to write about.

I do have to tell you, my loyal readers, that those hours after I first arrived in Ottumwa I knew this wasn't for me. I was scared and felt alone and though right now I am not comfortable in my new surroundings, I know that my passion for television news is the thing that will keep me motivated and going.

I just hope what they say is true, that 'this year will fly by fast.'


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