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

Welcome to Junior Year, the Missourian, and Eight-Hour GA Shifts

This week has held a lot of firsts for me. My first day of junior year. My first time getting a parking ticket. My first time taking a sunrise yoga class. And today was my first GA shift at the Columbia Missourian, Columbia’s city newspaper.

From the moment you step onto campus as a freshman journalist, the Missourian is this big, scary, impending obstacle that looms over you. You know it’s coming, you’ve heard how hard it is, and all you can do is practice writing at the campus newspaper and hope you can just get through the J4450 semester.

When I walked into the newsroom during orientation, I was, and honestly still am, intimidated.

It didn’t make things better when I realized that my first General Assignment shift would be held during a walkout demonstration by graduate assistants. After prepping for the day to come by reading through articles for hours the day before, waking up before dawn for sunrise yoga, and grabbing my favorite Starbucks combo — a grande white mocha with a chocolate croissant — I set out for GA, armed with my reporter’s notebook and pen.

After some early-morning live-tweeting, my GA shift mainly consisted of calling MIA sources and leaving voice mails from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Two stories fell through simply because nobody would respond to my messages, and a third story is looking like it’ll be dropped by tomorrow.

This wasn’t exactly how I wanted it to go.

But even though the day was full of setbacks, I found myself enjoying the job. I love being in a newsroom. I love making friends with the other reporters, something I’m finding astonishingly quick and effortless to do. I love working with editors and ACES who take the time to help us newbies.

I may not have a byline just yet, but I’m excited for the semester and stories to come. Maybe the Missourian isn’t so scary after all.

A Newbie’s Adventures at True/False

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Yesterday I forsook my classes and spent 12 hours trudging around Downtown Columbia, using the last of my Shakespeare’s and Starbucks gift cards, standing in Q lines for an hour, and, above all, watching documentaries.

This weekend is the True/False Film Festival— a documentary film festival that comes to Columbia every year in late February/early March. I found out about the festival over the summer, but until this weekend I had no idea how huge it really is.

43 documentaries and three series of shorts are screened over four days at nine venues throughout the Downtown area. Films shown at True/False sometimes go on to be nominated for Academy Awards (such as “The Act of Killing,” which is currently nominated for an Oscar and was at True/False last year), which is completely incredible. Having the opportunity to view some of the year’s best documentaries and participate in a Q&A session with the film’s creators and subjects after the showing is an amazing experience. So far, I have seen three films— “Jodorowsky’s Dune,” “Rich Hill,” and “Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart,” and I have plans to see “Private Violence.”

True/False-goers line up for "Rich Hill." Around 300 Q's were given for the screening.
True/False-goers line up for “Rich Hill.” Around 300 Q’s were given for the screening.

Along with the films, True/False takes over Columbia with art and music from all over the world. Last night an indie band from France performed before a film. Thursday, a latino band from Mexico City. There are pieces of artwork in alleyways and outside theaters. Hipsters with beards and dreadlocks and ear gagues litter the sidewalks as they stand in Q lines or walk to panels with their Canon in one hand and a coffee from Lakota in the other.

But above attending True/False as a spectator, yesterday I had the privilege and honor of covering the fest for MOVE.

I wielded that press pass like it had magical powers and it was invigorating. Scrambling to write reviews between screenings while frantically chugging caramel Frappuccinos is my equivalent to skydiving or bungee jumping or other things normal people do for an adrenaline rush. There’s nothing like the feeling of cranking out a review in record time before heading directly to another Q-line.

I love every moment I’ve spent at True/False— laughing with the fierce Q Queens, making friends while waiting in line for an hour and a half, sitting beside filmmakers at screenings, attending panels led by Criticwire’s editor Sam Adams with other entertainment journalists, and spending a ridiculous amount of money on merchandise.

One major highlight of True/False is the March March, a parade that stretches down 9th street.

The True/False March March parade
The True/False March March parade

I’m not sure what I was expecting from the parade, but I sure was not expecting this. There were people dressed up as Teletubbies, Buzz Lightyear, and Mario. Marching Mizzou played their drums and trumpets. A giant brain was rolled down the street. It was like something out of a really, really weird dream.

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I found an old person at March March dressed as Winnie the Pooh and I was so happy.
I found an old person at March March dressed as Winnie the Pooh and I was so happy.

How lucky am I to have True/False within walking distance from my campus? I can’t wait to continue the festivities this weekend, and I’m looking forward to the next three years.

Welcome to Missouri, the “Snow-Me” State

“Most days of the year are unremarkable. They begin and they end with no lasting memory made in between. Most days have no impact on the course of a life.” February 4th was a Tuesday.

Ever since I visited Mizzou during Summer Welcome, I have been eagerly anticipating the day I get to see the the campus covered in a blanket of snow. Jesse Hall, the columns, Memorial Union, everything. Mizzou amazes me with its beauty each and every day, and I could only imagine how gorgeous it would be once snow finally fell.

Today was the day I’ve been looking forward to all these months.

Today I woke up to find CoMo transformed into a winter wonderland. Continuous flurries fell from the sky, accumulating into around five inches of snow. It was cold, of course, but not windy, making the weather bearable. A perfect day to go outside.

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Snow day at the Francis Quadrangle and the iconic columns.

The Hatch 5 family bundled up and braved the snow, trekking across campus and making our way to the Francis Quadrangle, occasionally stopping to pelt each other with poorly made snowballs. It was more beautiful than I ever could have imagined.

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Jesse Hall, our makeshift hill.

Winter has always been my favorite season, for a variety of reasons- the Holiday season/music/cheer, wearing cozy sweaters and sweatshirts, the warmth of fire places, and, above all, snow. I could spend hours sitting on a windowsill watching the snowfall and drinking hot chocolate. It makes everything so much more beautiful and serene.

Today was my very first college snow day, and it was a day that will stay with me for years to come.

My dear, dear roomie.
My dear, dear roomie.

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve had a rough start to the semester. I’ve been feeling sad and alone and more than a little angry, and I’ve been exhausting myself by trying to hide it. This day was exactly what I needed- a day of friends and fun in the snow, sledding down the steps of Jesse Hall (dangerous and terrifying but very fun nonetheless), throwing snowballs, making snow angels, watching the boys slide around playing football, and taking way too many pictures.

It’s crazy how one blissfully perfect day can cancel out two weeks of not-so-great days. Today, the problems that have been plaguing me for the past couple of weeks didn’t exist. Nothing mattered this afternoon. I was there, in the moment, with some of the people I love most. I think this is what Stephen Chbosky was talking about when he wrote The Perks of Being A Wallflower– today, I felt infinite.

And with another snow day called for tomorrow, I can’t wait to do it all over again.

Snow Day group picture
Photo courtesy stephennotsteven.wordpress.com

Today was awesome. Life is awesome. I love my friends. I am so lucky. Hatch 5 forever.

Winter break woes

In the weeks leading up to the end of the semester, I only had one thing on my mind: winter break. Five blissful weeks of no classes, no homework, no studying, no readings, no tests to worry about. Five weeks of doing nothing, binge-watching Breaking Bad and Orange is the New Black on Netflix, hanging out with old high school friends, going to see future Oscar-noms at AMC, and eating at all the places I’ve missed while in CoMo, like Costa Vida and Roxberry and Johnny Ray’s. Five weeks of heaven was right around the corner. And after surviving my first semester of college and making the Dean’s List, it was a much needed break.

And I enjoyed every minute of it…for about a week.

In my time away from school, I have fallen into a daily routine: wake up, eat cereal, watch Netflix all day, hang out with my parents when they get home from work, watch more TV, read for fun, go to bed. Wake up, repeat. Sometimes hang out with friends in the evenings. Sometimes drag someone to see Wolf of Wall Street or Dallas Buyers Club or Anchorman 2 with me.

In reality, my life is one big vortex of suckiness and boredom.

I’m suffering from an intense case of Cabin Fever, and I’m homesick for Hatch. I went from being down the hall from friends 24 hours a day to being home alone all day every day with only my 16 year-old sister with Downs Syndrome for company, and she isn’t much of a conversationalist. Most days I’ll go eight or nine hours without even speaking to another person.

I miss my CoMo friends, I miss having the freedom to do whatever I want whenever I want, I miss being able to do things spontaneously, I miss everything being within walking range. I miss the school I was so ready to take a break from.

I’m going stir crazy. I’m pretty sure I’m getting carpal tunnel from Facebook stalking and playing an ungodly amount of Tetris. I’ve started taking naps out of boredom. My family is driving me crazy. My mom is already crying over me going back to college (which, remember, is still two weeks away) and keeps saying things like “I miss you, baby,” and “Don’t leave me,” and “Summer will be here before we know it.”

It’s not that I hate it at home, because I don’t. I just really love my school and all the friends I have made there. I’ve been so lucky to have met each and every one of them. I think the main reason I’m so ready to return to Columbia is because the meager 12 days between Thanksgiving break and winter break were arguably the best 12 consecutive days of the semester. And after weeks of looking forward to spending five weeks at home, I found myself unwillingly packing my things after my last final. I didn’t want to leave.

Now my friends from home have already begun to return to their colleges, and I’m still here for two more weeks. It doesn’t matter how much I love movies and television, I don’t think I can survive two more weeks of Netflix binging.

Somebody please save me.

Friends, near and far away

I know, I know. I already ranted about my friends in my previous Thanksgiving post. And I know that those of you who don’t know me or my friends couldn’t care less about suffering through another post about them. And I know that I have better things to be doing with my time right now, such as studying for my upcoming tests or reading “Under the Dome” or, well, sleeping.

But I don’t care.

Today is my last day being home in Lee’s Summit before I head over back to CoMo tomorrow morning for the Texas A&M game (go Mizzou). Granted, I will only be at school for twelve days before I’m home again for five weeks, but my usual “feels” ritual is rearing its head. What is the “feels” ritual, you ask? Well, every time I’m home I can’t wait to get back to CoMo (and vice versa, I always want to go home while in Columbia), except for when it comes time to actually leave. Then I don’t want to. Not at all.

The thing is, I love college. I love almost everything about it. I love all the friends I have there, and I miss them dearly. But I have friends here, and most of whom, before this week, I hadn’t seen in three months. And do you know what? I miss them.

This evening I went to Ella’s house and, with the exception of Nathan and “E-Patz,” my entire “Avengers” group was back together. Laura, Kristin, Ella, Aaron, Chris, Aubs… None of these kids I’ve known for more than two years, but these past two years have been two of the best- filled with endless memories of stargazing, Worlds of Fun, bonfires, movie nights, getting Burger King and sitting in our own special booth, etc.

After spending four hours with the old gang, I am reminded of how I love them. Yes, I have a ton of college friends, but it’s different. These kids from school I’ve only known since August. The hometown “Avengers” have been around for years. We know all the deep, dark, dirty secrets each of us have. We know each other, and being away at separate colleges hasn’t changed that- even with most of the group, being a year older, have already been gone for extended periods of time for the past year.

So, what I’m trying to say is, I’m just really grateful to have such a great group. A group who I know isn’t going anywhere, at least not anytime soon.

And I promise, I will eventually post about a topic other than “my friends are so awesome and I don’t deserve them.”

Eventually.

P.S. Yes, the title of this post is a reference to Winnie the Pooh. Specifically, Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving.