Day 12 – WJI

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Been saving this baking chocolate for the right moment…

Our last day of writing. *insert feelings*

I had a grand morning trying to wrastle through summer plans and travel and arrived at the WORLD office to the most beautiful bowl of almonds and sour patch kids (Sandy <3).

We plunged back into our AP news rewrites.

I’d spent most of the night watching politicians saying the same thing in three different ways without actually saying anything.
Thinking back…I’m not sure it was the best use of my research time. I never got a hold of any of my historians. But I still think this news piece turned out better than the cowboys garble (granted, that’s not saying too much).

Susan Olasky spoke to us at lunch about her life and writing saga. It was my favorite lunch.

Then we plunged into peer + Mr. Pitt’s edits on our AP articles. We have a long ways to go…but I think we’re making progress.

Dr. Olasky gave us the last segment of our worldview sessions complete with helpful diagrams and discussion on the most disturbing Bible stories…

Then the real terror began. While Mrs. Olasky discussed our book reviews, students marched up the stairs and long, dark halls one by one. We each received an eval and intern possibility/future relation to WORLD discussion with either Mr. Pitts or Dr. Olasky. My nerves were such a wreck for those I wanted to get the intern positions. I needed to eat half of a baking chocolate bar when we got back to the hostel to calm myself.

Onize and Kaylen waiting for our very important fries.
Onize and Kaylen waiting for our very important fries.

Instead of sticking around at the office, we went out to eat and strolled to a nearby park where we sat at Mr. Pitt’s feet for our final “news huddle.” He gave us 4 Ps to remember: persevere, be present, put people first, and always prepare. He illustrated them with enough stories from his time reporting in Iraq, I think it will be impossible to forget them.
One of my favorite moments.

Mr. Pitts. Enough said.
Mr. Pitts. Enough said.

I think it will take many moons to process everything from the past two weeks. Don’t expect me to try to hash it out here until I’m on the plane and have at least a little retrospect and sleep.

Tomorrow we start and finish (if we have success) our last project. A video. Hopefully Sarah, my video partner, knows how to use all the buttons.

Drive by Profiling (pt 2) – WJI

We continue our squibby profiles of the populace:

Jonathan  delivers wisdom, literary vibes, and beardedness to our regiment. His calm, settled confidence, and delivery of lady bug sagas are so desperately needed. Expect to find Jonathan’s name emblazoned across a cover at a bookstore near you and/or Amazon in the future. You might want to check under “J. Boss” too so you’re sure you don’t miss it.

Jonathan and Chelsea’s creative/fiction/storyness gave me comfort and reference points. If that makes sense… It doesn’t. Just accept it as truth.

Abby provides motherly auras while speaking in encouraging tones, shepherding us to the car, and driving us to school. She sits serene as a swan in the epicenter of stress. She makes sure we don’t get lost in the parking lot before driving home. Then she cooks us homemade meals (well, once she did and she didn’t give me any).

She’ll be staying here learning more from WORLD and then interning like a boss in DC.

I have adopted her car. We’re calling it Abigail. It has the carnage of my bracelet strewn permanently in the back seat.

Leaning back in his chair, arms crossed, Kirkland practiced his future editor reserve during peer reviews. His hair aspires to great heights, as will his career after an internship where he will be sitting at a computer for 40 hrs a week, styling his hair, and also working…. He needs to buy an editor cap before the fall when he takes over the Wheaton Record. The Record should prosper and writers should suffer as Kirkland drives them to keep up with his work ethic.

He also has a cool watch.

Kaylen’s haircut fills me with everlasting Portland hominess as she readily engages on topics such as sociological philosophy and….drumroll…the finer points of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s theology.

She graduated from Wheaton, packed her bags, and took a pilgrimage to Asheville without home or daily bread. In the last two weeks, she has arranged a place to stay and ride to Washington, DC where she will excel at her internship at Al Jazeera. It’s a good place to start before she brings world peace to the Middle East….

I would gladly spend some more 80 degree evenings marching up North Carolina hills, weighed down with backpacks and sleep-deprived-under eye bags, talking of the dynamics of group identity and unhomed/misfitness of those who’ve been mashed into multiple cultures.

But maybe next time we meet we will be will be in Transylvania…ahem, my bad. That would be Tanzania where Kaylen grew up saving orphans. For realz.

Tomorrow we shall raise the parting glass.

*Jae Wasson contributed to this article.

Day 11 – WJI

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Listening to Biden’s speech on Russia/Ukraine requires much “inner peas” and mapscape.

Due to a kerfuffle in the hostel, I woke at 3am and plunged into my book review. The lights in our pods are the best. I want to take it home with me…but my suitcase would burst asunder. I have not yet learned Mindy Belz and Jamie Dean’s advice about light packing.

I did a lot of head cracking on the bull riding gig today and then, suddenly when all had already been lost, all the cowboys called me back. We had good chats, but the article still went off in ruins.

Our faithful and ever-patient Mr. Pitts gave us morning sessions on computer-assisted reporting. I thought this would be painful due to my dislike of computers and numbers, but it was actually super interesting. We practiced our new found skills stalking one another and ascertaining Dr. Olasky’s true DOB.

Just by searching in the right place, I can find all my addresses and family members. This is something I’m not sure I wanted to know.

I focused so intently on unraveling the great concussion disasters inherent to rodeos, I completely forgot to check my lettuce wrap for cheese. I suddenly realized what I had done when I began to shake and feverify. I felt tremendously pathetic and rude for oozing out of our awesome web session with Mickey McClean and trekking to the pharmacy. But not quite as pathetic as I felt when I arrived…without my wallet.

Thankful the pharmacist and Sandy, our most esteemed den-mother, extended grace.

Mr. Pitts charged us not to fall asleep as we dissected the cadavers of our AP stories (cowboys, etc.) from yesterday. My computer died a few times, but I did not. Then we got new assignments that I worked on far, far too late. And so now I’m posting at this late hour.

Getting up early to skype Ukraine. Happy day.

I leave myself with this exhortation:

Read this, Bethany. It will help you/give you courage/fill you with hope.

Drive by Profiling (pt 1)- WJI

So, I’ve been wanting to hopefully not offend everyone here for awhile…

I don’t have any good pictures yet, but meet some of the awesome folks with whom I slave/enjoy Asheville:

Last week, Heather got a tattoo. It’s a still slightly puckered triangle on her arm and, according to Pinterest where Heather discovered the design, symbolizes exploration. Heather grew up in a bi-cultural household and is a child of the universe. She is destined to travel the earth in search of wonders. And she will write about them in her clear way that some of us seriously lack.

Also, she holds a pencil like the pros and so will go far. And she has endured me weeping while I spewed my life story, so we can assume she can do most distasteful things with gracious class.

Faith copes with stress by way of online shopping, meaning she does not freak out or trouble her compatriots’ souls. She owns the most remarkable and colorful coded schedule and works hard, laughs on the phone, and helps the world be a tall, beautiful-haired place.

By way of his great height, Thomas posesses an unfair advantage in the press gaggle. It’s a  fault he makes up for by exuding random expertise and curiosity (did you know pilot Chuck Yeager shot 11 1/2 planes or how many stadiums are in Detroit? I didn’t think so). He also prevents us from getting too serious.

I think all of these aspects will help Thomas go far in the news world and/or China, prison, or what have you.

Margaret is one of the gracious and patient drivers of the masses. She goes to Moody Bible Institute and thus has her own organ music entrance theme in my head.

Her big eyes and languid tones even when stressed give her a determined independence. She’ll edit her school newspaper in the fall and, you know, go to Kenya.

Watch for the revival of the Moody paper and also, in the later days, some features Margaret is likely to produce. 

Besides generating lots of questions in class and being all pro calling politicians and such, Evan contributes to our reasons to laugh (interpret that as you may) and shares his laundry detergent. He also investigates things that go boom in the night (and/or drunken men who open Maragret’s bed curtain, shuffle around endlessly, and throw up in our garbage can).

In bygone days, Evan wanted to be a sports journalist (a noble calling, no doubt), but I think/hope his reporting on the world and politics will soon be coming to a magazine near you.

He is also most likely to receive calls from Thomas’ mom… And so we shall close…

Day 10 – WJI

Staring at an AP article…before I attempt to recreate. Suzy hid this photo in my luggage with: “He will guide you.” It needs to start working.

I took a nice trek down to the office this morning (it had rained again), soothed by the fresh cut grass and birds…and road killed cat. Traumatic.

Jamie Dean talked with us about feature reporting. This was mildly terrifying because it involves structure and recent studies would suggest this is a major difficulty for me. When I think I’ve actually figured it out, I think it’s just because there is a strong, logical thread in the story. I keep coming back to being muddled with the rest.

She also talked about why stories matter and how people learn. There were strong, resonating undertones of all I’ve ever read about fiction writing and also about interpreting our stories in life. But I haven’t heard them connected to journalism. It made everything a hundred times more wonderful/easier/scarier/more beautiful.

One of the differences in magazine writing vs. newspaper writing is you get the chance to ask “What does this even mean?” and “What will happen next?” You have more time (theoretically) to investigate the past and look down the road. Feature stories should be more mature, older stories that have some meat beyond what just occurred. These were all helpful distinctives.

Jamie Dean also told us a lot of exciting stories I think I will remember, even if I lose my five pages of notes…

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CEO Kevin Martin talks with us at lunch. You may also observe Kaylen taking a better photo than me.

Kevin Martin came and talked to us more about the business side of news existence (it wasn’t quite as depressing as it sounds because Mr. Martin seems like a very upbeat, get it down personage). He and his wife had already been giving off strong awesome vibes before we went to their house last night. Today confirmed all suspicions.

Mr. Martin said his main job is, “making sure the editorial people have what they need to do their job well.” That means they even do office cleaning. Also, he tried to fix the infamous chair.

We took Associated Press stories after lunch and dispersed to desperately call any personages who could help contribute. You could say I’m having some issues with my story. I need to find the theme, drama, question, point… Right now it is basically:

  • here is this bull rider who had a concussion
  • he also fractured his head when he was 12
  • who knows how many other injuries he had
  • oh, here’s some other people who had concussions
  • now this guy is going back to bull riding
  • the end.

The only theme/conclusion I see is, “bull riders have something wonky in the upper stories–physically and, all evidence suggests, intellectually.” Cry.

Off to break my head on it. Also the four books I picked to review were all duds, so I have a new one of those too. Need to read and review tonight. Good thing I have garlic stuffed green olives.

They’ve actually been really easy on us the last two days. Can’t wait for tomorrow.

Day 9 – WJI

Learned personages tell us when working for WORLD meant “walking five miles in the snow. Uphill. Both ways.”

It’s Memorial Day. I did not know this until we tried to stop at the bank.

But a day I’ve looked forward to finally arrived. Mindy Belz came and talked about international reporting. While, really all types of reporting because all writing is translation.

Translation. I really appreciated that thought. Sometimes, writing for our local newspaper, I feel more like I’m in a strange land than when I’m traveling.

We had another obituary powwow.

Unfortunately (as providence would have it), my subject died at just the wrong time so my obit won’t be used for anything. He passed at a ripe old age just two days after giving 12.5 million dollars to his state’s university and celebrating on stage. He was in Puerto Rico two months ago. I feel like he lived a full life and went in a good way. Just poorly timed.

Going through everyone’s assignments line by line the second time helped see how much we’ve learned/have to learn. Although it can be as tedious as a king, it is one of my favorite activities. I feel like we can learn so much practical stuff all at once. Plus, it reminds me of Daniel (my eldest bro who gets giddy in an oh-so-manly-and-knightly way over fiddling with individual sentences).

Turns out Thomas knows lots of random, weird facts. Betty White really died XX. And Mr. Pitts zoomed around in humvees with canvas doors!?

Dr. Olasky admitted he tried to take down our self-esteem last week and said he would try to take our esteem down for WORLD this week. So far, I don’t think it’s working (the second part). I’m not sure he can do anything to deter us from dreaming of becoming interns… 😉

We got out early and knew not what to do with ourselves. I went to the store and bought three bottles of medicine. Sipped kombucha (North Carolina apparently only stocks one brand and about five flavors compared to Oregon’s shelves and shelves!) while rephrasing sentences in my head on the trek back.

Then, we had the most amazing dinner and relaxation at the Martin home together and with story-filled, humor-infused WORLD people. So thankful for the Martins’ hospitality and the time to discuss, eat (it’s a big deal when you’re living off protein powder), and enjoy the universe generally.

We’re on the way back and I’m typing this sorry excuse for a blog post on my phone.

This week, I need to get plane tickets for my couple much-anticipated summer weeks in Eastern Europe (this is why I was at the bank without any active personal or security systems…). If you know me and all the backstory, please pray I would make the best decision about dates and travel.