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I’m a designer?

This semester I took a design class. I had a bit of Photoshop and InDesign knowledge, but I had never touched Illustrator before in my life and was the least qualified person to know what how a “good” design differed from a “bad” one, so I came in very hesitant of my capabilities. But as the semester went on, I discovered that I wasn’t as bad at design as I originally thought I would be, and that designing was ~fun~.

One of my favorite assignments of the semester was to create a feature spread of the San Antonio Express-News piece, “A Life Apart: The Toll of Obesity.” The photographer, Lisa Krantz, spent years following Hector Garcia around and documenting his daily battle with his fluctuating weight. The photos were beautiful and I was so stoked to try to bring this beautiful piece to life.

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It’s definitely not perfect, but I’m really proud of how my amateur design skills pulled through.

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Check out a PDF here: hector-photo-design

Day one of Donald Trump’s impending presidency

Yesterday wasn’t what I thought it would be.

I, like everyone else, was so ready for this particularly grating election to be over and done with. I was tired. My friends were tired. My peers in the journalism school were tired. We wanted to rest. But, against all logic, Donald Trump won the presidency and our rest is far from over. For women, Latinx, blacks, Muslims, the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities…it’s not over.

I couldn’t watch the results come in. By the time I was finished with work and finally got to turn on CNN, it wasn’t looking good. I felt sick. My knee was bouncing, my head was in my hands.

“What if he wins?” I kept asking my boyfriend.

“He’s not going to win,” he kept answering. “Calm down. Calm down.”

I retreated into my boyfriend’s room and turned on Netflix. I kept turning off my phone only to turn it back on and check the results on The New York Times website every couple of minutes until I eventually made myself fall asleep around midnight. When I woke up at 3 a.m., I checked my phone. Trump had won. After that, I couldn’t go back to sleep.

I was in a daze. I drove home, held my cat and watched a documentary about baby animals. Every time I checked social media my heart sank further and further as the reality set in – we have elected a man who thinks it’s acceptable to grab women by the pussy. That bragging about sexual assault is common “locker-room talk” that all men are expected to do. That people with disabilities, like my sister, are something to be openly mocked. That anyone who isn’t white is a rapist and a terrorist. That wants to ban an entire religious group from the country that was founded on religious freedom. That thinks that journalists should be hanged for holding him accountable and wants to shut down some of the most powerful publications in the world.

I don’t think it hit me until I was on campus. As I was walking through the journalism school on my way to class, Hillary Clinton was giving her concession speech. Dozens of students had stopped to watch it playing on one of RJI’s many TV screens. Everyone was silent. Some were crying. I couldn’t watch it. I still can’t watch it. Later in the day, I saw someone quote it on Facebook and that alone made me start crying.

I didn’t cry the first time until my Magazines Across Platforms class. One girl was already sitting in tears when I walked in. As more of us arrived, we all just looked at each other, at a loss for words and in complete disbelief, and collectively started crying. All eight students, the TA and the professor – all women – sat in a circle and cried together. We talked about how personal it is for journalists, but especially for women.

It feels like we have been personally attacked. Half of the country decided to elect a man who has been accused by 12 women of sexual assault. Twelve. Like this article from Bustle says, “I learned that more people want to believe that a group of women would coordinate to lie about a man assaulting or harassing them before they would believe that a man habitually touched women in ways that were inappropriate.” What does that say about the word of women? Yesterday was the day I learned just how much my country values women, and it’s despicable.

One of the women in my class said that she didn’t realize how much having a woman president meant to her until Clinton lost. I feel the same. I was excited about having a woman in office, of course, and I was especially stoked because this year was the first time I was able to vote for President of the United States (I had been two months shy of turning 18 during Obama’s reelection). But when I filled out my ballot on Tuesday, I couldn’t stop smiling when I bubbled in Hillary Rodham Clinton. I started laughing in my booth. Immediately afterward, I first saw the lifestream of Susan B. Anthony’s grave and I burst into tears. That’s when it sunk in for me just how proud I was. I was so proud of women and my country at that point. I was smiling and laughing and crying tears of empowerment. It baffles me how wrong I was about to be proven just a few hours later.

I’ve experienced sexism. My friends have experienced sexism. I’ve had friends and friends of friends who have been assaulted and raped. And yesterday it was made very apparent that our country is telling survivors, “you do not matter. Your words mean nothing.” I had never felt as low about my gender and my sex than I did yesterday. For the first time in my life, I was truly afraid of what it meant to be a woman. It felt like a handicap. And I feel guilty for feeling this way, because so many more people are going to be affected far greater by this. I am a woman, but I am white. I am middle class. I am heterosexual. I am an American citizen and my parents were born here. So many others are not.

I wish I could say that I feel positive about what’s to come. Yes, millennials overwhelmingly voted blue. Yes, I’ve received both mass and personal messages of unity and people saying that they’re there. But this country is so divided. During class yesterday, my professor asked us, “What can we do to reach rural America? How can we have a dialogue?” And I honestly believe we can’t. I don’t see how, when every time I’ve tried to point people in the direction of accurate information and not fake Facebook media they respond by lashing out in anger with personal attacks.

We have a long way to go, my friends.

Where is that Senioritis I was promised?

Senioritis. A time of laziness, taking easy electives and wearing pajama bottoms to school. Or at least that’s what I was promised.

I’m halfway through the first semester of senior year, and it is the antithesis of being a lazy nearly-done college student (granted, more often than not I’m in class braless and wearing clothes that I may or may not have slept in the night before).

I’ve been surviving senior year as a journalism student by following a very loose schedule:

  • Set seven alarms, but probably still sleep through my 8 a.m. followed by my 9:30 a.m.
  • Shower every couple of days. Not because I have the time or the energy, but because I am no longer in Europe and therefore must meet the American standards of personal hygiene to not be shunned from society.
  • Have a panic attack, convincing myself all my friends hate me and my boyfriend is going to break up with me and my cat doesn’t love me.
  • Spend money I don’t have on food that will only make me fat.
  • Have another panic attack, for reasons I can’t quite identify.
  • Put on the facade of being a functional human being.
  • Feed the cat so he doesn’t starve.
  • Have nightly panic attack around 11 p.m. about my future. Stay up until 1 a.m. frantically working on internship applications until my fingers hurt.

We’re all at that point in the semester where everything is piling on and we all want to die. I’ve been doing this for four years now. I’m used to that mid-semester feeling. But now it’s different. Between the projects, the group meetings, the papers, the pitches and the stories is this huge, grotesque, impending shadow of the unknowable future.

In two months, I begin my final semester of college. And for the first time in my life, I don’t know where I am going to be six months. Just six months. The thought is terrifying for anyone, but particularly those who struggle with crippling anxiety and an uncontrollable need to have every single thing planned out, such as myself. I get panicked if I don’t have a plan for the weekend. Not having a plan for post-graduation is sending me over the edge.

My boyfriend keeps telling me that I’m going to be fine. And I know, deep deep deeeeeep down, that I am in fact going to be fine. And you, fellow college student/senior reading this, are going to be fine, too.

If there’s one thing I learned this past summer while studying abroad, it’s how big and beautiful the world is. There is so much out there. I promise you and I promise myself, we are not going to wind up back in our hometown suburbias working at Pier 1 the rest of our lives (even though I love P1). Everything that is meant to work out will work out. It’s moments like now, when I’m sitting here typing and eating Poptarts at 1 in the morning instead of sleeping, that I need to remind myself this.

That blackboard discussion board that you forgot to post to this week (and, okay, last week too)? It’s only a couple of points. That exam you weren’t prepared for? It doesn’t mean you’re going to fail out of the class. Those internship applications you haven’t gotten around to? There are other places to apply.

Slow down. Take care of yourself first. You’ll be okay.

And no, everyone and your cat doesn’t hate you, so stop staying up all night worrying about it.

I’m baaack

Wanna hear a funny joke? “I’m going to start blogging more regularly.”

Ha. It’s not that I chose not to blog during my European summer, but after working 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. three days a week, taking two classes, exploring London and traveling to other countries, I didn’t have much free time and the free time I did have was mostly spent napping.

It’s been almost two months since I returned to Missouri. I’m into the first round of exams of senior year and I’m working as a Digital Editor for Vox Magazine, which I am loving. I’m learning a lot about digital storytelling through social media and other digital tools. I’m only a month into the semester, but I’m already sad when I think about not being a Vox “webbie” next semester.

It’s strange being a senior. Strange, but also wonderful. It’s not that I don’t love school, I love learning, but balancing three or four journalism classes along with other coursework and a part-time job at Pier 1 is a lot. I haven’t been able to dedicate as much effort as I want toward Vox, and I’m just excited that in a few months (hopefully) I’ll be focused completely on journalism without having to do readings on queer theory or the technicalities of troop movements during World War I.

It’s absolutely terrifying being on the cusp of entering the big real adult world, but I still have eight months to figure out my life. Right now, I’m not looking that far into the future. You just have to take it one day at a time.

My Last Night in America

My living room is in disarray. On the floor sits an open suitcase packed with clothes, bags of toiletries and piles of shoes I still need to stuff somewhere. Stacks of books rest on the coffee table. A large cardboard box of discarded clothing rests to the side. My mom will arrive home in about half an hour and is definitely going to have a conniption that I a) am not finished packing and b) trashed the spotless living space.

It is my last night in America. Tomorrow I’m flying out of Kansas City and, after connecting through North Carolina, I’ll be arriving in London Wednesday morning. I’ll spend the summer working an internship and taking classes abroad, and won’t be back home in Missouri until August.

I’m terrified. What if I mess up my internship? What if I can’t do it? What if I don’t like it? What if I hate my classes? What if the other 14 girls (and one boy) who are going on this trip with me don’t like me? I’ve never left the country before, and being so far away from my family, my friends, my boyfriend and my cat for so long is scary.

But it’s also so, so exciting. I’ve dreamed about living in London since I was a little kid, and now it’s actually happening. The London Eye, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace are all going to be within walking distance of the flat I will call home for the next three months. I have the opportunity to not only explore London, but visit other countries as well – Ireland, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain…

I’m going to be keeping a journal of my experiences abroad, and I’m going to try to blog more regularly now that I don’t have a million things going on like I do during the school year. This semester burned me out, and I want nothing more than to enjoy my time in Europe and take the time to write for me again. Feel free to follow along as I (attempt to) blog at least once every couple of weeks about my travels, internship and other adventures or thoughts.

But for now, on my last night in America, I’m keeping this post brief so I can get back to packing and watching Bob’s Burgers.

Dave the Brave

This semester I’m taking a screenwriting class for funzies and to finish my minor in film studies. For our midterm, we had to write a short story about a character and then turn it into a screenplay. After struggling through writer’s block for weeks, the weekend before the short story was due I pumped this out. To my surprise, a lot of my friends and classmates expressed interest when I vaguely told them “yeah, I’m writing a story about an octopus with social anxiety.” So I thought I’d post it here for anyone else who might want to read it. Here’s Dave:

*

In the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, a couple dozen miles off the sunny coast of Virginia Beach, Dave was going to a party.

Wringing his front two tentacles together nervously, Dave’s stomach churned so forcefully that he wondered if the molluscs he ate for lunch were going to come back up. He clasped Jenny’s birthday present, a small sand dollar, tightly to his side as he scurried along the ocean floor.

There was no real reason for Dave to be so uneasy. As an octopus, he was much bigger than all of the others who would be at Jenny’s birthday party. But being bigger, to Dave, just meant that it was easier to make a mess of things. He was quite the clumsy octopus, always breaking things and tripping over his own arms. He hated social events. He always seemed to ruin them.

It wasn’t long before Dave arrived at the celebration. He was, as usual, perfectly punctual. He could hear Jenny’s cackling dolphin laugh and see her clap her fins together. Only two creatures had arrived before Dave – Carl and Xavier.

Typically, Dave would eat crabs like Carl. But Carl was Dave’s friend, and therefore Dave had promised to not eat Carl or any of his relations. Xavier was an electric eel, and everybody just called him “Slim.”

Dave tentatively approached the group, waved a tentacle in greeting and handed Jenny her present. Jenny thanked Dave and nuzzled him with her nose, making Dave blush and look down at the ocean floor below him. He thought Jenny was the kindest dolphin he had ever met, and he often wondered if she returned his crush.

As guests continued to arrive, Dave retreated to the background. He watched everyone grow more and more excited as they swam in circled around each other. Jenny started doing twists and turns and backflips. Carl clacked his claws together enthusiastically. Slim, a self-proclaimed DJ, spun some sick beats. It was all more than Dave could bear. With a suppressed sob and the squirt of some ink, Dave jetted backwards through the water, away from the party, and hid, camouflaged, among a pile of rocks.

Dave flushed through his camouflage. Hanging his head, he began the slow trudge home. He didn’t always used to be so skittish around other creatures. When he was a hatchling, he loved being in crowds. It was only in recent years that he had begun to grow uneasy and anxious, when he and his family had moved to another part of the ocean.

It began when he started to notice that nobody would really listen to him when he would talk. He would often stop mid-story and nobody would notice. Then he started falling out of the conversations, listening for hours without ever really participating. Now it had progressed to an all-out panic – whenever he got the slightest but uncomfortable or felt out of place, he ran away and camouflaged.

When Dave arrived at his cave home, his parents, Octavia and Oscar, were cleaning old coconut shells. Dave’s father worked building shelters out of discarded coconut shells and large seashells and his mother sold them to sea creatures in need of homes.

“Hi honey,” his mother said. “How did the party go?”

Dave felt tears fill his eyes and he brushed them away with his dorsal arms as he told his parents what had happened yet again.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I just get so nervous around other creatures and feel so worthless,” Dave said. “I’m so embarrassed.”

His parents sighed and patted their son sympathetically on the head.

“Well, son,” his father said. “You just need to learn to have more confidence in yourself.”

“Be brave!” his mother said.

“But how can I be brave?” Dave asked. “I literally don’t have a backbone!”

Dave sighed sullenly and sulked to his corner of the family cave to be alone with his sorrows. His inability to interact like a normal creature always left him feeling a deep sense of shame. He always felt distant from the other creatures he hung out with, and that nobody ever really liked him that much. He was just always kind of…there, in the background of everyone’s life.

Dave acknowledged that he was a rather sensitive mollusc and felt a lot of feelings. But above all, he was tired of feeling this way. He didn’t like being sad and disappointed in himself. He especially didn’t like feeling embarrassed about freaking out, for seemingly no reason, in front of his friends. It had been an ongoing instance for months. He was sure that, by now, his friends expected him to jet out in a panic of ink and camouflage every time they hung out. He felt especially embarrassed when he thought about what Jenny must think of him. He didn’t want her to think he as a joke.

“I can’t keep doing this to me and my friends,” Dave said to himself. “I can change. I can be better. Or, at least, I can try.”

Dave started making a list in his head of things he could do to try to keep his anxiety under control and vowed to better himself, both for himself as well as his friends. Especially Jenny.

Over the next few weeks, Dave was hard at work on his new project. To clear his mind, he started practicing mindfulness, meditation and yoga (which he was quite good at, considering he had no skeleton which allowed him to be very flexible). He took up painting, mostly pictures of objects he found on the ocean floor and a couple creative portraits of Jenny. He helped his parents with their work building shelters. He started volunteering at a shelter for battered sea lions who had narrowly escaped the jaws of Great Whites. He felt within himself an awakening. He took pride in each task of creation. He fell into a daily routine and began feeling more and more confident about himself and his capabilities.

One day, Carl scuttled over to Dave’s family cave.

“Have you heard?” Carl asked. “Slim is throwing a party at the reef.”

Dave hesitated. He didn’t know if he was ready. Sure, he had made progress over the last few weeks with his self-esteem, and meditation had allowed him to start gaining control over his nerves. This was his chance to show his friends, as well as prove to himself, that he was brave and could handle social situations without panicking and running away.

The night of the party arrived. Dave scurried across the ocean floor to the coral reef. He had felt confident about the party until a few hours before it was time to leave. Then he had started to grow uneasy. What if he starts feeling like an outsider again? What if he runs away again? What if people make fun of him?

He heard the party before he saw it. Slim always played loud music at his soirees. Taking a deep breath, Dave entered the party. Carl and Jenny were both already there. Dave swam up to them, where the dolphin and crab attacked Dave with hugs in greeting.

As crowds started flooding in, Dave found that he was not growing uncomfortable like usual. He wiggled and jiggled his arms around to the beat of the music late into the night. Slim even let him request some songs to add to the playlist.

“We’re so glad that you’ve stayed here so long,” Jenny said as she twirled around Dave. “You always seem to disappear so early, we miss you!”

Dave couldn’t believe it. He was missed? After all these times of feeling out of place and unwanted, it warmed his three hearts to hear that Jenny wanted him around. Maybe there was no reason for Dave to be so self-conscious in the first place.

Dave wrapped his tentacles around Jenny in an embrace.

“I’m happy I’ve stayed so long, too,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll be disappearing as much anymore.”

People Whose Stuff I Like

So far, my winter break has been an endless vortex of working retail 20+ hours a week, babysitting my sister, bingeing “Friday Night Lights,” and writing scholarship essays so I can (hopefully) study abroad this summer. As a much-needed break I, as a lover of lists, have decided to steal Mara Wilson’s page and make a post about the things I’ve been reading/listening to/interested in lately, so others (that means you) can check them out, too.

How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran — Before college I never gave feminism a thought, and I most certainly didn’t think of myself as a feminist. Things have most certainly changed, and can best be encapsulated with one of Moran’s many, many quotable lines in this book: “So here is the quick way of working out if you’re a feminist. Put your hand in your underpants. a) Do you have a vagina? and b) Do you want to be in charge of it? If you said ‘yes’ to both, the congratulations! You’re a feminist!”

Christopher Poindexter — I’m a hopeless romantic and Poindexter speaks to me like no other poet has. I’m forever in debt to my friend who first sent me one of his poems when I was feeling sad.

This tweet I found while Twitter-stalking Brian Hiatt, my favorite “Rolling Stone” writer.

Muskrat Love — I got a record player for Christmas and I’m absolutely in love with it. As a joke, my mom got me a Captain and Tennille record. But the joke’s on her because I’ve been playing it more than any other album I got, even “Imagine.” Looks like Muskrat Love, y’all.

Speaking of music, some things I’ve been listening to recently — The 1975, Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness, Meg Myers, Milky Chance, the one orgy song from AHS: Hotel.

Positive Strawberry — Having a bad day? Instantly feel better with this Twitter account.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow — I also got a ukulele for Christmas and I am determined to learn how to play this song.

Lady Gaga. — I have always had a deep love for Gaga since I first heard “Poker Face” play on the radio in eighth grade. I think we should all look up to Lady Gaga. She exemplifies what someone’s capable of if they a) be who they want to be and b) do it with bravery. This year she belted at the Academy Awards, slayed as The Countess on “American Horror Story: Hotel,” and made me weep with her song “Til It Happens to You,” a tribute to survivors of sexual assault. She’s a huge role model of mine.

Liz Climo — Her cartoons make my heart happy.

Litographs — Art made out of words! (my birthday is in three weeks, people!)

Artparasites — Art and quotes and essays and musings on life and love and sex and mental health. Read more in this Q&A I found.

Cat shaming — Nothing makes me laugh harder. I will shame Albus one day.

Broadly — Where has this been all my life?

The Five Stages of Grief and The Lion King

There are five stages of grief.

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

I remember being in middle school health class when I first learned about these stages, only to reiterate them in 10th grade health class by watching “We Are Marshall” and filling in a stupid work book. Grief is what you go through when someone — a friend, a family member, a pet — dies. Grief is worse when the person dies suddenly and unexpectedly. That’s what I learned in health class and wrote down on my assignment sheets.

As I’ve gone through this tumultuous year, I’ve learned first hand how bullshit Missouri public school health classes are.

Everything exploded when my dog died last August. I had spent the whole summer living back at home, taking a community college class, babysitting my sister, and living in denial that my dog Freckles was deteriorating. A week after I returned to school, I got the call from my mom. It was a Wednesday night and I had just returned home from my multimedia class. My mom was crying so hard she couldn’t finish telling me they had to put Freckles down. I hung up on her and texted my friends, asking them to come over for a game night because I couldn’t be alone.

That was the day my depression was realized. I made self-destructive decisions, I drank too much, I did everything I could to keep my friends close to me because I felt like they were drifting away from me. I saw three different therapists, started medications, stopped drinking, went out of my way to try to make new friends.

I’ve spent the last year and a half grieving. Not the loss of my dog, though I haven’t gotten over that, but I’ve been grieving the person I used to be.

I never thought I’d miss high school. And I don’t. Not really, anyway. I do, however, miss the person I used to be and the life I used to have — a solid group of friends who don’t judge me when I mess up, straight A’s in school, nights I’d spend bingeing “America’s Next Top Model” and “Teen Mom” with my mom. I long for the happiness and ease of these years. And I grieve them.

The five stages of grief. Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance.

If only they had come in that order for me, maybe I would be handling everything better instead of being stuck in the anger phase with denial and bargaining behind me and depression acting as a big umbrella I can’t get out from under. I hate being angry all the time.

I don’t do well with change. I don’t do well with ending friendships and moving on and leaving the past behind me. Sometimes I think I’ve accepted some loses, only to literally hear them through my walls and immediately revert back to stages two or four as I put in my headphones.

Recently, I was watching “The Lion King” with my roommates. I have seen that movie thousands of times since I was a little girl, so many times that I basically have the whole thing memorized. But this time, watching it was different. One scene stood out to me as being incredibly poignant; a scene that I had never really related to that much in previous viewings. It’s the one where Rafiki comes to Simba to help him come to terms with his past.

Rafiki hits Simba with his staff.

Simba: “Ow, geeze, what was that for?”

Rafiki: “It doesn’t matter, it’s in the past.”

Simba: “Yeah, but it still hurts.”

Rafiki: “Oh yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.”

For the past year and a half, and the past six months especially, I’ve been running. Running from my mistakes and blame and the repercussions and people who are mad at me. And I’m tired of running. I’m tired of bending over backwards in the hopes that other people will like me and forgive me. I’m tired of beating myself up. I’m tired of letting other people judge my self-worth. I’m tired of apologizing to other people for being who I am.

Maybe I’m moving closer to acceptance.

Surviving the Missourian

This blog post comes to you from my very last GA shift. I wrote about a sodomist/rapist/kidnapper/robber before 10 a.m. (what a way to start the day) and now I’m waiting for another story to come up while I cram for my final History of American Journalism exam.

It’s pretty unbelievable that the semester is drawing to a close. After today, I will no longer be a reporter at the Columbia Missourian. I’ve done a lot of work I’m really proud of, made great friends, and got to work with experienced editors who helped me identify my weaknesses and work to improve them. This semester seemed never-ending at times, but now that it’s done it has flown by.

I never wanted to come to the Missourian. I resented the publication because I had to pay a ton of money to practically be used as free labor, and it was mandatory. I put my heart and soul into The Maneater as a writer, columnist and editor because I wanted to be there, not because I was forced to. But honestly, working at the Missourian has been an experience I’ve come to value. It wasn’t like I thought it would be.

Here are some things that surprised me:

  1. Your fellow reporters become your support system

I would say I’m a competitive person. Ever since I was little I wanted to be the best at everything. As I began working at the Missourian, I thought my fellow reporters would be competing against each other, that those lagging behind would be envious of those who were doing well and that those leading the pack would be full of themselves.

Turns out, I’m also a very cynical person.

The community of the newsroom was one similar to what I had experienced at The Maneater — everyone supported each other, helped each other out with stories and contacting sources, vented to each other about journo struggles, invited groups to the Heidelberg to destress after covering emotionally challenging stories. Instead of pitting people against each other, the Missourian brought us together.

2. The editors are sometimes scary, but they’re also really cool

Ever since my freshman year I had heard horror stories about some of the editors that turned out to not be true at all. Yes, sometimes they’re harsh and intimidating, especially when it comes to editing, but they’re also pretty great humans. Sometimes they’ll do yoga with you in the newsroom after a long, hard news day. Sometimes they’ll open budget with a bad joke or two or six. On Halloween, they might have witch cackling contests.

3. Big breaking news stories are exciting

Mizzou made national news this semester with the hunger strike and #ConcernedStudent1950 that ultimately led to the UM System President and MU Chancellor resigning in the same day. For baby student journalists, covering this was just about as exciting/stressful/scary/daunting/fun as it could get.

The newsroom was bustling, free food from alumni cluttered desks, phones were ringing, journalists from the New York Times and CNN and ESPN and the LA Times were flocking to campus. People were working on several stories, contributing and collaborating with one another to sort out the chaos. It was the time of my life.

4. Alumni send food

Getting three free meals a day from proud alumni = the happiest of days.

5. You will definitely cry

Please, please, please, don’t forget to take care of yourself and put your health first. This is very important.

You’ll be tired and stressed and there is a 100 percent chance that you will cry when your editor tells you your story is all over the place or a source doesn’t get back to you and you miss your deadline, but remember: the Missourian experience is what you make of it.

Don’t take the critiques you receive personally. If a story doesn’t work out, it does not mean that you are a terrible journalist. All of us are still learning. If you go in positive, open to learning and looking to grow as a journalist, you’ll do wonderfully. And to those who will be entering the newsroom next semester and next fall, you will be okay.

Don’t dream it, be it

“Journalism is dying/journalism is hard/you’re not going to make any money/why do you do it?”

Like every journalism student, I frequently get these remarks from my friends and I often wonder exactly why I’m pursuing journalism. I’ve always loved writing, but am I sure about reporting? Journalism is a demanding field. As I mentioned before, I am terrified of burnout that I can already feel lurking around me. I’m tired. Sometimes, particularly in the moments I’m working on multiple stories and have five interviews in a week and a draft due tomorrow and an hour long interview to transcribe etc etc etc, I question if this is what I should be doing.

Then you find a story that reminds you why you chose to go to the first and best journalism school in the world.

Getting to know Mark Chambers, who has been religiously emceeing “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” for 36 years, was the most fun I’ve had while reporting in a long time and I’m so happy with how it turned out. Mark was so nice and so hilarious and it was a joy to get to work with him.

When I arrived at the “Rocky Horror” showing Thursday, Mark was in the front lobby and pulled me past the line into the theater and said, “Ma’am, I just have to say, I’ve been interviewed a lot, but this is just a whole other side of Rocky that people don’t get to see.” He told me that the interviews I did with him were the best he has ever had, thanked me for telling his story, and gave me a hug.

This. This is why I want to be a journalist. I love getting to know nice people and talking to them about the things they’re passionate about. I love telling people’s stories that otherwise wouldn’t be told.

After the story and Beatriz’s video were published yesterday morning, Mark sent me a text message thanking me again, saying that the story and video would be “treasures” to him for the rest of his days, and that he was almost in tears by the end of it.

Making Mark happy made me feel so good, and reinforced that journalism, particularly narrative features, is what I’m meant to do.

Read the story here