The truth about the backwards side of 30

35.

I don’t feel 35. I don’t act 35. But today I am 35, and if my calculations are correct Marty McFly and Doc should arrive just in time for my party tonight. Truthfully, there is no party planned. No friends coming over. That’s the crappy thing about getting older – birthdays go from annual throw downs to a simple get together at the milestone decades. I’ve started to realize I can’t hang like I used to, but neither can my friends. The nights (and wee hours of the morning) in clubs and bars have come to pass, and I look forward to a quiet night in with a glass of wine and the 80s station on the radio.

Continue reading The truth about the backwards side of 30

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Jumping from the sinking ship of journalism

Friday was my first night manning the high school sports desk at a major metropolitan newspaper for the opening day of football season.

And it was also my last.

My computer is closed and my last press badge is left behind.
My computer is closed and my last press badge is left behind.

I’ve been trying to break up with the abusive boyfriend of journalism for about two years now, only to keep getting sucked back into the career that has been my life for the past 15 years. It’s really the only thing I know how to do – and I do it very well. It’s a love-hate relationship of the thrill of turning a huge breaking story on an impossible deadline while dodging the layoff bullet in an ever-changing, low-paying, crappy-hours industry.

I’ve always said every time we run an obituary, we lose a subscriber. It really is a dying industry.

When I walked out of the Shreveport Times newsroom in December 2013, I thought it was finally over. I was relieved – I was about to get my life back. No more watching first responders pull a lifeless body from a mangled vehicle. No more watching a home burn to the ground at 2 a.m. No more half-day city council meetings listing to politicians argue about nothing. No more feigning interest in some do-gooder’s fundraising efforts. Continue reading Jumping from the sinking ship of journalism

Journalism: The boyfriend that jaded me

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Journalism is the boyfriend in a bad relationship. It sucks the life out of you, makes you miserable, broke, exhausted, wreaks havoc on your social life, yet you always come back for more because when it’s good, it’s freakin’ A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! I can honestly say in 14 years of doing this (both for a small community daily and metropolitan daily and web), I’ve never had a day where I didn’t want to go to work.

Don’t get me wrong — there were some days I dreaded what with dealing with editors who fail to communicate with each other or the phone calls coming with a controversial story — but those things are minor compared to the hell of being chained to a desk. I love what I do, but lately, it’s a relationship on the rocks. I still enjoy writing, but the new has worn off, it’s not fresh or exciting — same graduation, different class… same homicide, different body… same city council, different players… same festival, different holiday… you get the idea.

I’ve been back at my hometown paper for about six months. I realize I have no true friends — only people who are nice because they think they need to be in order to get their child, business, event, party, campaign announcement, arrest, birthday, obituary, wedding announcement, blah, blah, blah in the paper.

I sat in our one of three restaurants that serve booze last night, enjoying a Jack Daniels as I worked on a few blog posts. I knew 80 percent of the people who walked in — not a one walked over to my table to speak. I guess no one had a new baby to announce.

I realized tonight just how jaded I’ve become as I sat next to a coach’s wife on the back row of a church pew at graduation. (Yes, in the south it is common practice to hold high school graduations at Baptist churches.)

She said I didn’t look happy to be there. I turned to her and said, “It’s the same old. Three or four will go on to finish college and become successful with careers and families. The rest will go to LSU, party their asses off, flunk out, come back and go to community college, marry their prom dates, get pregnant (if not already), move into a doublewide behind her momma’s and get a coon dog to ride on the back of the four-wheeler.”

She fell out laughing — it’s funny because it’s true. We’ve both seen it too many times.

I know it’s true because I’m that statistic, maybe not quite to that extent, but I did not follow the path of least resistance. It has been the gift of gab and not an educational pedigree that has gotten me this far in my career. But it’s not going to get me any farther, so back to school I go where I’ll be taking bets on who flunks out first from the Class of 2014.

Small town hell among a church on every corner

If you grew up in a small town, chances are at some point in time, you couldn’t wait to leave.

My friends and I all had grandiose plans to get out into the world – a world where the majority of the restaurants did not have drive through, department stores outnumbered dollar stores and wine was available for purchase at the grocery store.

My personal plan was to get a journalism degree and head straight to the offices of Cosmopolitan in New York City.

That did not happen.

Though I did, like many of my friends, finally make my escape from what we considered southern small town hell among a church on every corner.

And slowly but surely, now in our early 30s, we are trickling home. I went to a classmate’s wedding last month and was surprised to see just how many of us had taken up residence in the old hometown – by choice.

Some went out and found their success in big cities, but returned to raise their kids, who will inevitably also want out. Others came back after failed happily ever afters. And some just never sought the opportunity to leave in the first place.

I arrived at the Minden Press-Herald June 1, 2000, scared as hell to start a job for which I felt completely ill-qualified. I lacked any educational pedigree (aka a degree), my resume only boasting a few blue ribbon wins for essay contests and an editor’s title over a nationally recognized high school yearbook.

I quickly learned the ins and outs of reporting for a community newspaper and this “job” made me much of what I am today.

My last day at the Press-Herald was Dec. 31, 2007, while I followed a man who was pursuing his dream.

Campaign 2012I did a few stints at larger papers. I’ve seen more dead bodies than I care to count, interviewed a few presidential candidates, schmoozed with Congressmen and been called out by a mayor in more than one city council meeting.

Two divorces and a half-dozen career change attempts (and a few sessions with a therapist) later, I am home – not to rebuild my life from failure but to capitalize on the lessons I’ve learned since I left six years ago.

The ship of journalism is sinking quickly, and I need that “pedigree” if I want to abandon it before it goes completely under.

The community and its newspaper have welcomed me back with open arms. I am now embracing covering events involving the sashes of beauty queens rather than the yellow tape of crime scenes.