Thursday, March 15, 2007

'it' is love

When I left the gym I was warm and achey. It wasn't nearly the workout I'd been doing regularly a year or so ago - but it was a good start. I'd taken up the rowing machine. I like the rowing machine because I can pretend I'm on a boat...or going to an Ivy League school where it seems like they just own their own rivers for row teams to practice on. I pretend that and row my little heart out...

I am really enjoying having no school this week. So much so - it will be hard to register for Fall in a couple of weeks. The upside is a few more Journalism classes being offered in the Fall.

Which is handy. Because I'm in love with my career right now.

It's been slow going. Real slow. The reality to writing is - you can't get a full time gig at a paper without practice. Clips. Proof that you write and you get published. Meanwhile you need a full time job. So you have to do both. And in my case - both and school. So I've been writing a few stories here and there each semester...trying to balance it with my job. Then class is out for the summer and I hit my papers as hard as I can, take as many stories as I can and write up as much as I can.

They're not the kinds of stories I'd love to be writing. Profiles on local businesses, stories about local people of interest, quaint little local happenings... Every once in a while I get a really good one. One that interests me. Sometimes its a random business. Machine shops turn me on. They're like the engineers that work in them. Smart, crafty and not afraid to get dirty and work hard. The Waterfront Film Festival was my highlight last year - because it combined my first love: movies with a free, first official press pass.'s slow going. I'd rather be writing on more in-depth social issues. Class in America. Race in America. Religion in America. I'd rather be in another country. In Peru writing about the culture. In Israel, writing about the erie calm that seems to be taking place there now. I'd rather be in Arizona - on the border with the minute men and moving through the night with the illegals.

And yet...I'm still totally in love with my career. I just picked up a third newspaper to freelance for during the summer. I researched my editor and found that he is no small town newspaper guy. He was a hard-nosed, star investigative reporter. He knows what he's doing. And last year, he sat me down and said, "You have it."

I didn't know what that meant then. I thought it was a cheesy line that he was giving me. But he's not the butter-up type. He meant it.

And I think to myself...there are people who probably aren't in love with what they've turned into a career. No matter how good they are at it. Really, truly, totally in love with it. And I am lucky that way.

Today, when I heard of a white supremacy pamphlet found on the doorstep of an African American family in a nearby neighborhood - the first thought I had was to pitch the story to an editor. Small town racism. Remind people it's still there. It still goes on even as so many states are starting to issue official apologies for slavery and the federal government is reopening Civil Rights era hate crimes. I could dig deeper. Find out just how prevalent it is around here...

Shit...came my second thought. People may want to kick my ass for something like that. Taunting the KKK. Finally touching something I'd only read about in a history class in high school. That's what Journalism is. Everything you read about - we get to touch it. See it. Know it. It would be worth it, I finally decided. To get my ass kicked for a story.

That's when I felt it. The 'it' my editor said I had. I don't know what 'it' is, but it is apparently necessary.

That's when I knew.

That's when I knew 'it' was love.

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