Monthly Archives: March 2014

Where have you been the last 30 years?


Angela with cousin Jason

My cousins invited me to a “cousin reunion” in North Dakota this summer, which is a bit of a misnomer, since most of us have never met. My parents moved away from the flat, open terrain of the Dakotas when we were very young, so we had little opportunity to get to know the kids of their siblings. One of our cousins passed away recently (much too young), which jarred us into the realization that life is short, and if we wanted to get to know each other at all, the time was now or never.

It’s been about 30 years since we have seen one another, and we’ve never all been together at one time. So this could either be super-cool and interesting, or it could be really… well, boring. Depending on how we approach it, there is obvious potential for stilted conversation and a dearth of common interests. I suspect there is a broad range of personalities, from the most conservative, religious, small-town, never-had-a-drink types to the big-city, well-traveled, “where’s the tequila?” types. The only common link is some DNA and a collection of memories about Pingree, a town of 62 residents. Got that? 62. The town is tiny.

One of the cousins volunteered to make a book with all of our stories, and for me I’m sure this will be something of a cheat sheet, so that I know who is who and how to make basic conversation with them. Her instructions to each of us were pretty straightforward-tell us what you’ve been up to for the last 30 years. As I wrote, I realized it is tricky to consolidate the last 3 decades of your life into a blurb, capturing the pertinent and interesting, and weeding out the superflous or scandalous. This is what I came up with. Enjoy.

Angela graduated high school in ‘84 and insisted on stretching out her college experience for the next decade, interspersing her class time with working. In the end, she never did get a degree, but she did get some cool stories and significant student loan debt. Her work performance fared a little better, and usually came down to small promotions for hanging in the longest and working the hardest. She began managing people at a young age (23), and has worked in various industries from hospitality to retail to loading trucks. Throughout it all, the ultimate lesson is that leading people is universal, whether you are selling books, cars or cosmetics. It is a privilege to serve others, finding ways to make their lives just a little easier.

Personally, Angela clung like a scared kitten to the single life, refusing to let go and get married until she was sure that the time and person was right. The time was 2011, the age was 45, and the person was Kevin Maskey. Angela had known Kevin from work and was always impressed  with his humor, integrity, calm disposition and work ethic.  When she heard he was getting a divorce, she chased him down like a ninja until he finally relented and went out with her. They dated for 3 years before getting engaged, and the wedding was an intimate affair of 25 people at a wine resort. Angela was doubly blessed because in addition to finding someone amazing like Kevin, she was also able to add “step-parent” to her resume. Kevin’s son Forrest is a super-cool and outgoing young man, funny like his dad, and very smart. He will graduate from high school next year.

In addition to working as Public Relations Manager for Jim Hudson Lexus, Angela volunteers for groups like Leadership Augusta and Symphony Orchestra Augusta. Over the past 10 years, volunteering has become a passion for her, and she coordinates a website and social media campaign called “Volunteer Augusta”, encouraging others to get involved in the community. A book club, Toastmasters group, hang-time with family and voracious reading of celebrity gossip usurps the rest of her free time.

Angela’s goals for the rest of her life include enjoying the aforementioned activities as much as possible, as well as finding inner peace, learning to live in the moment, and overcoming her violent fear of public speaking. Anyone with an unusual curiosity to learn more (or just a lot of free time on their hands) is encouraged to check out her blog, which is currently only followed by 12 people, 9 of whom are relatives.


Twitter @ahillesland

Facebook: Angela Maskey

Linked In: Angela Maskey

Angela’s Greatest Hits


Taken the day of the concert, see Superstar post

Have you ever been suprised when an artist who has only been recording music for a short time decides to put out a “greatest hits” collection? When I hear about it, I invariably think, “Really? Isn’t 20 years old a little young for a retrospective?”

Of course, it really doesn’t matter what age they are, or how many hits they have. They must have had some inspiration to assess and re-assemble their short ouevre into a “best of” compilation. I respect that. In fact, despite my short “career” in the blogging world, I have decided to do likewise. I just need you to pretend not to notice that I only have 2 greatest hits in my blog collection.

Today’s peek at my stats page showed me something I had not seen before, which is the blog ranking. One of my 48 posts has been seen the most by a phenomenal margin over the others. Almost all of my posts have 1-168 views. (I know, I know, but I’m only 20 years old in blog-years!) My leading blog, however, has an impressive 1,871 views. That is amazing to me.

The winning blog in my short 3-year career is “The Former Clinique Consultant”, about how my time with that company impacted my life.  Turns out, someone who had just started a management job with Clinique found my little story, and made all of her consultants read it as a learning opportunity. She wanted them to take my first-person narrative to heart, and remember the customer’s perspective as they put on the lab coat each day. Short of getting a teacher to assign your blog to their class, or getting Oprah to talk about it, I’m not sure I could ask for much more to help get attention for a single article.

The next blog in line, although with much less fanfare, is my sentimental favorite. It is an incredible story of getting to meet my all-time favorite singer, Rick Springfield (who, by the way, is very justified in doing greatest hits collections, considering his multiple decades of creating music). Rick is not the star of the blog, however. That honor goes to my Kevin. It is a touching story of how much Kevin does to make my life extraordinary.

Shortly after I wrote the Superstar blog, a co-worker (who just so happens to be a tough, brawny technician) told me that he wished he hadn’t read it at work, because he had to pretend not to have tears in his eyes when people walked in his office. When you can make an ultramasculine Lexus technician start to cry, you may be onto something. I’ve had a few other people tell me of a similar emotional reaction to the blog. That’s powerful stuff, and means more to me than all the viewers and followers in the world. I’m also hoping it garners me a little forgiveness for putting out such a young Greatest Hits collection.

Leap of Faith-Let’s Grow Augusta


It was bound to happen, sooner or later. When my friends and I decided to start a pro-SPLOST Facebook page, we knew there would be challengers. I didn’t expect it on day 2, but I also didn’t expect to get over 90 “likes” by day 2, either. So I guess we’ve got people’s interest, anyway.

Our strategy for managing the negative posts is simple: Respond if Reasonable or Remove if Ranting. We certainly welcome a healthy dialogue to the pros and cons of the issue, which we knew would be a little controversial, because of that dreaded 3-letter word (T-A-X). More on that later.

I cannot decide if Tom’s postings qualify as Reasonable or Ranting, so for now I will give him the benefit of the doubt. I know it is not likely that I can sway Tom over to my point of view, but I have to try. He posted 5 times in succession, which may be a strategy to get people to read everything, since we all have a short attention span on Facebook and rarely make it past the second sentence. Smart approach, but it feels a little bit like the kid on the playground who keeps poking you in the chest, until you respond or walk away.

Tom brings up valid questions, however, so I will put in some comments for his (and other people’s) consideration. The first and most important thing to address is his last question, which leaves no doubt regarding his point of view. TAXES. Nobody likes them, but SPLOST at least is a tax on everyone, including visitors from out of town. Without SPLOST, there would have to be a spike in property taxes, which is far worse. The Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax which we will be voting for on May 20th is a continuation of a penny tax already in existence. The strategy behind the current SPLOST package is not about a traditional tax that pays for your infrastructure. It is about an investment that encourages future growth of our city, and brings in the ever-attractive “OPM”-Other People’s Money.

Who are the “OP”? Let me give you 3 examples. The first is related to the Miller Theater on Broad Street, who is courting a foundation outside of the city. That foundation has indicated interest in the project if the city and voters also show their support for the endeavor. Foundations, like businesses looking to relocate here, like to see a city that works together to make things happen. Working on behalf of SPLOST shows we want to invest in new projects that will take our community to the next level.

The next is the biggie: the GRU cancer center. Even if you are normally against this kind of tax, or you don’t understand the economic development impact of supporting the arts, or have issues with some of the line items in the package, it is hard to argue that the cancer center will bring in a value of $300 million to the city. That includes grant money and people visiting for treatment. Making sure the cancer center happens should be a unanimous concern for all of us, particularly because the state of Georgia (and the African-American community in particular) is under-served when it comes to cancer treatment and research.

Finally,  “OP” are tourists. By having amazing attributes such as the Augusta Canal, Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, a theater district in a thriving downtown, and a History Museum telling stories about Masters history and James Brown, we can offer tourists a diversified portfolio of entertainment, education and culture. These entities can often sustain on their own, but when they want to expand, they need some support from the community to do so. They provide the kind of interest, charm, beauty and heritage that inspires pride in the residents (current and future) and entice visitors to return.

Tom, I know I didn’t answer all of your questions, but hopefully I did address the one big underlying question hidden in your posts: WHY. With 4,000 new jobs coming in to Augusta as part of the Fort Gordon Cyber Command (bringing predictions as high as 15,000 people moving to Augusta in related industries in the coming years), investing in all facets of our community seems the wise thing to do. Is it a bit of a leap of faith to assume all of the projects in the package will come to positive fruition for the city? Yes, it is. For my part, I believe in the agencies being supported, and what their work means to our future. I hope that you can believe, too. Thanks for the questions.