Dear stranger on the Internet:
Thanks for Googling me,
One time in college, I did a really, really dumb thing and got in a lot of hot water over it, especially on the Internet. Then I apologized for it. Most of the Internet stayed mad. So you could say I’m pretty familiar with what it’s like to have hundreds of strangers tweeting about what a terrible human being you are.
Recently, my (smart, funny, wonderful) friend Megan wrote a thing ahead of today’s Arizona-Washington State game. Then a guy wrote this response. And then the Internet blew up at my (smart, funny, wonderful) friend in a way that felt excruciatingly familiar to me, but with one key difference:
During my own moment of Internet infamy, I said sorry because I definitely had something to apologize for. And even though I refuse to say all of the criticism was valid (death threats and harassing my family are never valid, Internet), a lot of it was. I’m still trying to figure out why so many people in Pullman, Wash., think Megan has something to be sorry about. As far as I can tell, when she incurred the Internet’s wrath, it was because … she said she’s not a Washington State fan?
Really. A bunch of people got worked up because she made some jokes about their school’s team. Because in the history of sports and its fan bases, that has never ever happened before.
Come on, Internet.
Hey, Internet. I’m official now:
It continues to be pretty crazy to think this is actually the second ID badge I have from this place. It’s still kind of crazy to be in Los Angeles. As one of my favorite people in the world (follow him on Instagram!) put it, today was the first day of my life. So it seems appropriate to set both professional and personal goals to keep in mind during the next few months or so.
1. In the words of Sheryl Sandberg, lean in.
I know a lot of people took issue with Sandberg’s book for a number of legitimate reasons, but when I read it, I recognized parts of myself in it: a habit of second-guessing, of maintaining silence for longer than I need to because I want to be sure of my own ideas, etc., etc. Not that I ever imagine myself being the kind of person who can blurt things out without thinking, but I do know people sometimes mistake this habit as timidity and an unwillingness to participate. It’s always been something I have to consciously work at, in every leadership role I’ve ever held. So here it is in writing: I will stop rehashing my own thoughts over and over. No one said you have to be 100 percent sure 100 percent of the time, and sharing my thought process can sometimes be just as valuable as the thought itself.
2. Walk into a bar by myself.
OK, this one might be a little silly. But seriously. I don’t know if men have this problem and I know some women who don’t, but a lot of the ones I know do not go into bars alone because it’s weird and you never know what sort of sketchy character you may encounter and even if you don’t, people are looking at you for being that weird girl by herself at a bar. Except that it’s not weird and you never know who you might encounter anywhere and no one is actually thinking that about you. So really, not being comfortable walking into a bar alone is even sillier.
3. Learn something new and useful to take to my next job, wherever that may be.
This will be easy enough to accomplish through my Metpro training, of course, so maybe it’s kind of a cheat goal. But whatever. I’ve been an intern enough and known enough interns to know that these sorts of things are what you make of them. If you decide from the get-go you’ll get nothing out of an experience, of course you’ll get nothing. The opposite happens too.
4. Don’t lose touch with old friends.
It’s probably more normal for people to worry about new friends when they move, but I’ve always had much more of a problem staying in touch with old friends. I’m just not good at picking up the phone and calling or writing long emails or however else people stay in touch. So I lost track of childhood friends, friends from high school, people I’ve interned with before. It seems even easier to lose touch when you live in a whole new state, so I’m going to work really hard to not do that.
5. Find something I love to do that isn’t journalism.
I haven’t decided what this will be yet. Maybe this is the year I finally learn how to cook things that require more skills than boiling water or pushing buttons on the microwave. Maybe I’ll find an organization to volunteer with. Maybe, in my quest to accomplish that second goal, I’ll become an expert of beers. Or something. Something that isn’t my job. As much as I love journalism, I’m aware I need other interests. Because you know, I am not a news robot. I’m a real human being, and human beings do things like care about lots of things.
I suppose everyone has these phases, but it’s so funny now to remember that eight years ago, I was desperate to be somewhere else. And now that I’ve left home — the thing my 14-year-old self wanted most — I just want to tell that little girl that there’s no need to rush.
Some of my best friends returned to school last month. Some of them have moved on entirely, across state lines and national borders. And I’ve moved back to Los Angeles, this time for much longer than 10 weeks. I’ve been on a crying streak all summer, but it hit its peak this weekend, to the point that just before we got on the road to L.A. Friday morning, I burst into tears again without even seeing it coming. My mother asked why I was crying and I exclaimed I didn’t know, it had just happened.
But of course I know why I cried then, and why I cried during every goodbye I had to say this summer, and why even now in my cute little sunshiny studio in Koreatown I feel an urge to weep even though I’m not sad. New beginnings are exciting, of course, but they are also a little scary and a little overwhelming and a little lonely. But mixed in with all that excitement and fear and loneliness and exhilaration is so, so much gratitude. And that’s worth a few tears too.
I’ve been musing for a while about a Daily Wildcat story on a student who held a sign that read “you deserve rape” on campus on the same day that the Take Back the Night rally was held to raise sexual assault awareness. As a journalist, I’ve been taught not to say how I feel about a story, especially one in a newspaper that I edit. But it would be a little ridiculous to pretend I don’t have a bias here. Of course I’m biased against a guy who says I deserve to be violated if I wear a short skirt. I would not argue with claims that his speech is hurtful. I do not believe Saxton should deliver a sermon that perpetuates victim blaming and slut shaming.
But I do believe in his right to do so without fear of retaliation through physical harm or legal means. Continue Reading
Over winter break, I vowed to write every day. And then I didn’t. It’s been ages and ages since I’ve blogged. I’m still not blogging here. Instead, I’m cross-posting something I wrote for a group blog by my creative nonfiction class. I’ll write there sometimes, and so will plenty of other cool kids.
“I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race — that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.” — The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
For a long time, my parents were sure I’d go to law school. They couldn’t quite grasp why I wanted to study journalism and become a writer. To them, I might as well be pursuing a degree in poverty and minoring in hungry forever. So it’s funny that part of the reason I write is because of them.
The walls of my cubicle in the Arizona Daily Wildcat newsroom are wallpapered in newspapers from other schools, in notes to myself and giant lists of strategies and goals and things to do. I’m re-evaluating a lot of what the Wildcat has done — both right and wrong — to figure out what the next move should be.
In doing so, I’ve been questioning a lot of what I believe journalism is, what its role should be, how it goes about fulfilling that role and why this column on why a fellow student journalist won’t pursue professional journalism pisses me off so much.
I couldn’t get it out of my head for a while, and I struggled to form a coherent thought about it at first. But I think it bothers me so much because even though the writer begins by saying he has never had formal training in journalism, he seems to hold an old-fashioned view of journalism that I’ve raised issue with in my own j-school training — a view that somehow stifles innovation in journalism even though it demands it at the same time.