01.23.19 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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The beginning of a new year is a lot like me sitting down to write this column every other issue. As the day approaches I am filled with so many thoughts and ideas; and then, when it actually comes time to do it, I spend far too much time staring into the void trying to clear out the clutter.

That is why my first New Year’s resolution of 2019 is to be more organized. More organized with my thoughts, more organized with my ideas and more organized with my desk. The stacks of papers, magazines and toys (yes, I have toys on my desk) are a bit overwhelming.

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01.23.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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To celebrate the 25th year of Watermark and my first column of 2019, I want to share an exclusive with readers. It’s something that you’ve likely never read anywhere else, so feel free to take a moment and mentally prepare because this is big.

Smoking is bad for you.

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12.13.18 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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It occurred to me as I began to write this column that it would be my last in the year it began, 2018. It’s been a year I’ll never forget for a number of reasons, “chief” among them that I celebrated one year on Watermark’s staff Dec. 11.

My first column highlighted how writing full-time had always been my lifelong dream, something I’ve reiterated ad nauseam, but I’m still thankful that I get to do it and that I get to do it here. I’m very grateful for the family I’ve made at Watermark, for our readers and for our advertisers who make all of this possible. The stories of our ever-expanding LGBTQ community matter and have to be told.

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11.15.18 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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There are a few things people tend to figure out about me rather quickly, whether they get to know me well or only casually.

The first is that I’m into politics. Voting is rad, even more so when it’s done in the name of equality and every vote is counted. Second, I have a totally normal love and appreciation for (read: obsession with) Disney, particularly “The Little Mermaid.” I mean, how many wonders can one movie hold?

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11.15.18 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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I was sitting at my desk, drinking my coffee and chatting with some coworkers when my team leader came up to me and said that we had a meeting to attend. I didn’t know what she was talking about but in those days I was terrible at managing my schedule so forgetting about a meeting seemed like something I might do.

I was a second-level supervisor at a call center for the company Express Scripts. For those who aren’t familiar it’s a Prescription Benefits Manager. That’s just fancy talk for insurance for medications. I started working there after I discharged from the Air Force in 2007. Six years in the military, of being told where to go, when to go there and to stay in the closet left me in need of a change in my life.

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10.18.18 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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I was recently confronted by a woman wearing one of the most disturbing masks I’d ever seen, at least up close.

I’ve seen some frightening things in my time. I’ve trudged through Howl-O-Scream, I’ve watched this administration fill Supreme Court vacancies and I’m from Ohio. But this was different.

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10.18.18 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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Ah, Halloween. That time of year when you get to dress up, pretend to be someone else for a night and beg strangers for candy if you’re a kid, or for a drink if you’re an adult.

I must admit, I’m not a huge fan of Halloween. I’m one of those people who most others complain about because while everyone is deciding what nine costumes they are going to wear to each party they are attending, I’m the guy walking up and down the Christmas aisle figuring out what colors and pattern my tree will be this year.

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09.20.18 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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Video games have changed a lot since I was young. They have always been an expensive gift for most kids, so when we (“we” being me and my siblings) were gifted our Nintendo, Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo on the various Christmases throughout the late 80s and 90s, they were always a “family gift.”

This process made me feel bad for my sister, who among her three brothers, was the only girl in the house growing up and was not much of a gamer. But being the only girl in the house, she also got her own room and I had to share one with my two brothers. So sorry sis — you win some, you lose some.

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09.20.18 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Thanks to the wonders of Facebook’s “On This Day,” a feature which allows users to grin or grimace at their social media posts from yesteryear, I recently discovered I’ve been living in Florida for 11 years.

For whatever reason, I still tell folks I’m from Cincinnati, Ohio when they ask. They tend to figure out that I’m from the North when I correctly describe Diet Coke as “pop,” but I suppose I should really start telling my Lyft drivers that I’m from St. Pete. I put too much thought into small talk, which is probably why I’m so bad at it.

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#FreePress: We are not the enemy of the people; we are the people

By : The Watermark Editorial Team
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Beginning Aug. 16, prompted by The Boston Globe, over 400 news outlets nationwide shared their support for the free press and their opposition to Donald Trump’s relentless attacks on it.

“A central pillar of President Trump’s politics is a sustained assault on the free press. Journalists are not classified as fellow Americans, but rather ‘The enemy of the people,’” the outlet wrote. “This relentless assault on the free press has dangerous consequences. We asked editorial boards from around the country – liberal and conservative, large and small – to join us today to address this fundamental threat in their own words.”

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07.26.18 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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As we head into the final summer month of 2018, I have been thinking a lot about the summer season from two years ago. All eyes were turned to Orlando as we were trying to make sense of a senseless act that left 49 people dead at Pulse. It was also a time when one of my college professors, Ken Carpenter, was battling for his life after a cancer diagnoses earlier in the year.

Ken was the journalism professor at Valencia College, and as I enrolled in more and more journalism classes he became a person that I started to see every single day. He became more than just a teacher to me. He became a friend and mentor, and not just to me. I can’t think of a single student who walked through those glass doors at Valencia College’s West Campus, passing by the mannequin wearing a suit made entirely out of newspaper, into the newsroom, who didn’t feel a connection with Ken that surpassed the word teacher.

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07.26.18 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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There are moments in our lives that stick with us—defining who we were, who we are or who we want to be.

Among my list of essentials are a summer with my grandmother, probably my favorite person that I’ve ever known. The two of us would take turns telling one another stories we’d make up on the spot, finishing each other’s dangling plot threads well into the wee hours of the night. She also helped cement my role as a night owl.

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