Tuesday, September 27, 2011

doubling, tripling back

"Writing, I think, is not apart from living. Writing is a kind of double living. The writer experiences everything twice. Once in reality and once in that mirror which waits always before or behind." ~Catherine Drinker Bowen, Atlantic, December 1957

I had a friend once say she was jealous of my job because at the end of every day, I could see tangible evidence of my work in the form of a news story.

The truth is that there is sometimes little time to celebrate the printed one, because our minds are already on the next story and the next one and the next one.

It's a revolving, looping door and within one day, I go through many loops and double back many times.

It starts with an idea and then the idea is developed into a concept and the concept is nurtured into a story. The story is written, and we double back to the idea. Sometimes the idea is modified. Sometimes the story is modified to comply with the idea. And it's repeated until they align. Sometimes the process is accelerated (daily deadlines), sometimes the process is matured. Sometimes the process is whipping along at such speeds that all you can do is hold on.

This happens every day for every person in the newsroom and for nearly each looping, doubling back, there I am.

It's casting a line, waiting, drawing it back in. Casting, waiting, drawing. Looping and doubling back.

There are bigger loops too that are in my head. Front page today, front page tomorrow, front page Sunday. Inside section centerpiece today, tomorrow, the next day. What's going out front Monday? Tuesday of next week?

I have to cast my line further than the day under my nose, but still come back to today to the smaller loops rotating in my bigger one.

It's a challenge, living in the moment my readers are in, but planning days ahead of them.

Is today Wednesday? No, it's Tuesday, but it's Wednesday's paper I have in my head so I come back to Tuesday, but I can already tell you what's on Thursday's front page. When I get better at this, I'll be able to tell you what's on next Thursday's front page.

The loops and doubling back make time race by in increments of moments, hours, days, weeks.

Is it Sept. 18 already? Yes, because the water conservation package we've been planning for two weeks is running.

It is a kind of double living, this casting the line, waiting, drawing it in.

Then I lay in bed awake at night and think of all the things I haven't had time to think about during the day.

Friday, September 23, 2011

I could marry you. If you knew me.

I’m an optimistic realist, but how does that translate into my celebrity crushes?

My optimism would like to believe that my chances of bumping into Mike Rowe in Starbucks and him asking for my number are pretty good.

Realistically? Not bound to happen.

Same goes for Danny Forester, who my heart instantly sank for while watching “Build it Bigger” and him getting stuck in concrete on top of a dam in the middle of whatever country he was in at the time. I Googled him. I found his number. I called it. I did not leave a message (despite urging from my little brother.)

I have a crush on Joel Stein. I Googled him too: is Joel Stein married? Yes. Yes, he is.

You all know I like football. I really like it when Jason Witten (#82, tight end for the Dallas Cowboys) takes off his helmet. He’s 29! Optimistically, I could love him.

“What do you have to do to meet these guys?” I asked a friend in the Starbucks drive-thru. It’s a favorite place of ours. To talk, to converse through the microphone with the drive-thru employee, to compliment their new “fall line-up.”

My optimism is stretching.

But, really. Who do you have to hang out with to know these people?

We decided on the following:

Charity events. Night clubs, maybe strip joints. Know a friend. Of a friend of a friend. Or, develop a story idea in which these individuals must be interviewed.

Optimistically, it might not be as hard as I’m mentally making it out to be.

Realistically, it’s probably harder.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

he found me and smiled

When my now 14-year-old brother texts me and asks me indirectly if I will go to his football game in the town 30 minutes from my office, I clear my afternoon schedule, press through my final meeting of the day and the myriad of questions that stack up when people see me gathering my things, I make arrangements to edit night stories from home, and I bolt early - the first day in six months I've done so.

I'm a planned 30 minutes late. I have to remember what number jersey he wears (10, the number between Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley - if you don't know them, Google them), then I find him and yell his name in a non-obnoxious sort of way to make sure he sees me. He waved, and I waved back.

His team was up 6 to 0, then the Hornets scored bringing it 8 to 6 after a two-point conversion.

He was standing on the sidelines, but his coach put him in as quarterback on what I think was third down, if I remember right. He had a passing play on fourth down, and two plays later, on second or third down, the ball was snapped:

...he faked a hand-off right, but held onto the ball and ran left...

....and ran 40 yards for the winning touchdown....

I'd set my camera down so I could stand up and cheer for him. Later, I found out he told Mom last night that he hadn't scored a TD yet, but that today would be the day.

And it was.

He strutted off the field in what I imagine was a great moment for him. His teammates were yelling and clobbering him. His chest puffed out a little. His eyes didn't divert as he walked to the cooler and got a drink, but on his way back to the cluster of teammates, his eyes searched the stands and landed on me.

Beneath his helmet, his mouth split open in an incredible grin.

I matched it and simultaneously tears stung my eyes.

Moments later, it started raining, which is a big deal in Texas.

They won! And after the game, after he'd stripped all his pads and gear, he strode off the field, through the gate into the bleachers, and he hugged me. And I hugged his wet, sweaty little self.

I told him I was proud of him, he smiled. I asked him about food, he said they'd stop on their way back to our town to get some, but first he had to watch another game.

He hugged me again. Grinned.

And I left.

on the wild side of danger

I have a friend and together we solicit danger.

When I say danger, I mean fire ants. And ill-advised exposure to sun.

It’s funny, though, how the element of pain is erased by the power of a good memory.

When I think of our 24-hour trip to the coast, I remember Scuttlebutts, and not the second-degree sunburns I sustained on my face. Or the first-degree burns on 40 percent (total guess) of my body.

When I think of last Thursday night, I remember the delicious margarita and our roaming conversation on her back porch.

I don’t remember the fire ants so much, except that it’s really a great story that I’m about to tell you.

After a lengthy conversation about their dogs and one’s propensity to running away and never returning, I opened the front door to leave and the dog who likes to run away and never return, ran between my legs. And down the street.

Out popped one of their other dogs, who I managed to grab by the collar while we watched Molly juke back and forth and then trot away. I think I was probably yelling.

And then in the middle of the whole foray, my friend starts screaming about fire ants. In a matter of seconds, the following ensued:

1) I didn’t believe her
2) Her husband grabbed the dog I was holding and ran after Molly
3) I looked down
4) At the same instant I saw them, I felt fire spreading across my sandaled feet
5) I started screaming
6) I ran in the house
7) My friend didn’t want me in the house, I was bringing them in with me
8) I refused to go back outside
9) My friend accepted my decision
10) We slammed the door
11) We furtively started smashing the small insects
12) I threw my shoes off
13) We kept killing them
14) Our lower extremities were burning and starting to itch
15) I popped a Benadryl
16) My friend kept moaning that the bugs were crawling in under the door
17) She grabbed what she thought was cinnamon and poured it along the door frame. It was cumin.
18) She got the vacuum.
19) I got the actual cinnamon.
20) Her husband returned with Molly and the other dog.
21) He wondered why we had cinnamon out. And cumin.
22) We were still burning and itching.

Swallowing more often then usual to make sure my throat didn’t swell shut, I left in a hurry and popped another Benadryl. I stayed up till midnight to write a story due the next day just in case I had to further medicate myself and sleep off the side effects. I didn’t.

When the burning and itching finally subsided two days later, I was left with great memories.

Excellent margaritas. Rewarding conversation. A lot of dead fire ants.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

random bits of happiness

This note on my pen holder on my desk.

Visiting cemeteries with my little brother.

My weekly water routine with the horses.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

who would do that?!

Who would sit on the back deck?


Who would sit on the back deck with a cup of coffee?


Who would sit on the back deck with a cup of coffee, laptop, and a stack of work?


Who would sit on the back deck in their pajamas, braless with a cup of coffee, laptop and a stack of work?


Who would sit on the back deck in their pajamas, braless with a cup of coffee, laptop and a stack of work, and happy as a clam that their two dogs were on either side?

You guessed it, ME!

And of all things, who would sit on the back deck in their pajamas, braless with a cup of coffee, laptop and a stack of work, and happy as a clam that their two dogs were on either side and photograph them?!

I'll let you off the hook on this one...it was me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I'm a girl. And I genuinely like football

I go crazy over football. I can make calls before the ref does, and sometimes when I'm in public I silently fist pump in victory or grab my head in defeat. I record games and then watch them, after sending out a text/Facebook blast to NOT tell me the score, which has definitely happened.

I don my team's shirt and drag my little brother to dinner with me - in front of a TV and we sit there for four hours and watch the game.

We play "name that quarterback" and sometimes I win. When I find out that a major trade or contract has been renewed/denied, I text my brother and we gossip about it. I read the sports page of our paper.

I think it's cool that I like football, that I understand the game.

But it's not cool for every girl.

I'm talking about the girl who's not really a fan of the sport, but pretends to be so that some unsuspecting fool will think he can spend every Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday indulging in his favorite pasttime with her at his side. But it's fake. The cute little Victoria's Secret jersey is fake. The eye paint is fake. The ribbon in the hair is fake. The hoodie is not real. It's bait. And when you bite, she's going to take it away.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

But maybe you're one of the lucky ones. One of the guys who actually gets the genuine football fan girlfriend/wife.

The one who thinks that going kidless to live sporting events is a date, and that her team-emblemed blanket is the best birthday present.

I'm glad I have cool football-freakish girlfriends who fit the latter category. Let's talk some football.

Friday, September 9, 2011

too long for a Facebook status

There's a blog coming soon about emotions, work, stress (you know, all the fun things in life), but for now I will tell you a story.

I needed peanut M&Ms so I went to the breakroom to get some out of the vending machine.

A man was sitting eating dinner. I said hello, as I always do to random people in my breakroom.

I vended my M&Ms and they got stuck.

I gingerly tilted the small vending machine towards me but they wouldn't budge.

A quandry.

"My M&Ms are stuck," I said.

"Do you need help?" he asked, already out of his seat to assist me.

"No, I just didn't want to come across as too violent."

He laughed, backed up with his hands in the air, and I pounded the vending machine forward and back until it released my prize.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

moments of peace

Sometimes managing a newsroom is much like balancing gravity on your fingertips.
It's crushing.

There are two moments, among many, that I especially enjoy.

One, when the sun's streaming through the blinds onto my desk and computer, creating a glare off the thin layer of dust on my monitor, and the room is either empty or mostly silent.

I get my first look at the day's paper, a second and third glance at what the next day's paper is going to look like, I drink my coffee that I've purchased on my route to work, and if it's a normal morning I eat my oatmeal at approximately 9:15. I check my email, log into Facebook, Twitter and start browsing the TV websites.

At the other end of the day, there is a similar image except in reverse. The sun's lingering light casts a shadow over my workspace and I've edited copy for the next day's paper and "nurtured" (as I like to call it) the news budget for the next few days.

The next morning it will start all over again in a rhythm of sameness and yet predictable unpredictability.

And greeting me every morning will be these...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

working and waiting

It is no secret that I am a multitasker. Case in point, I have five windows open in my Internet browser right now. My email, work Twitter, Facebook, Blogspot, and a Google search on the anatomy of a wildfire. I am also remoted into my work desktop and have three windows open there.

But when I needed inspiration yesterday to write the final installment of a travel series for my paper, I headed to the place I was writing about. In tow was my dog, my brother and sister and a picnic lunch. While they frolicked in the lake, I was hammering out my article, but it wasn't quite fast enough for their liking.

My back is sunburned from staying in this position too long.

Monday, September 5, 2011

happy birthday! and stuff

In the last five days, I:

- turned 28
- painfully sent in my old phone in exchange for a new one
- loved exploring my new Kindle
- played copious amounts of Yahtzee with my willing little sister
- watched a lot of college football
- edited stories
- wrote stories on a lake shoreline
- explored a cemetery with my little brother
- played with the horses and my dog in the water hose
- yelled at my little brother
- cooked
- hugged lots of people
- went braless until 7:30 tonight
- monitored wildfires in my coverage area
- saddened to hear of the significant loss suffered by so many as a result of fires
- loved opening the windows today
- loved the reprieve from 108 degree heat
- made plans for homecoming this weekend (it's fun to have younger siblings in school)
- cleaned my car