Goals for the rest of my life (or the next six months)

Hey, Internet. I’m official now:

photoIt 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.

A love letter to Tucson

Dear Tucson,

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.

Continue Reading

Why I write

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.

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“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.

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What I learned: A letter to myself

I meant to blog regularly to help myself keep track of the semester. Then August slipped out from under me, and September, October and November. And now here I am, facing another semester as editor in chief.

I ran uncontested again, and the word became official a while ago: I’ll return to the Arizona Daily Wildcat next spring for a second term. I’m really excited, as the page-long .pdf I sent out with my initial recruiting email might attest to, but my perspective has changed a little bit since August.

My friend (and news editor) Kyle sometimes writes notes to Future Kyle on his whiteboard. They’re usually reminders to do his homework, but sometimes Past Kyle offers himself really good advice too. So today, I’m taking a cue from Kyle. Continue Reading

The wind that knocks you over

Sometimes I miss being a Daily Wildcat columnist just for the opportunity it gave me to organize my thoughts out loud. Since Friday, I’ve on and off tried to write about the theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., which, as news broke, reminded me more and more of being in Tucson in January 2011. There’s a lot to say about politics and gun control, or mental health care and treatment, or good and evil. But the best that I could come up with is that being in the world is hard, and sometimes the wind will blow you off your feet. Continue Reading

You guys, I hate titles.

Who has two thumbs and is the fall 2012 editor-in-chief of the Arizona Daily Wildcat? This girl. Betting on me was probably safe, given that I was the only one running for the gig, but here we go anyway.

To say next semester will be interesting would be an understatement, given how much has to change. There’s a lot of worrying about keeping up with budget cuts and catching up with the way journalism has changed in the last few years. (You can download my Daily Wildcat editor-in-chief application as a pdf.)

I expect to meet a lot of resistance. It won’t be because I’m abrasive or too demanding, though maybe I should cut back on threatening to set people’s personal belongings on fire. It’s definitely not that I’m asking for anything too hard to accomplish, assuming we go at it with some patience and flexibility. It’s just really, really new.

And yet it’s not. Nothing I want to do is something entirely different from what people already do. People are already on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. People already know how to report, write, design, shoot, film, etc. I just want people to combine all of their skills, including the things they don’t think are skills (like tweeting or snapping a picture on Instagram), to produce a more well-rounded story for print and online.

Everyone has the potential to be a great storyteller. They just need to be pushed to approach and present the story a little differently.

And OK. Every editor-in-chief of the Wildcat has pitched these big abstract ideas, only to burn out and realize their lofty visions get tangled up in the day-to-day stresses of the paper. I don’t expect to streamline and transform the Wildcat in a semester or two, but here’s hoping that having a tangible game plan will help lay something of a foundation.

In other news, not long now until Dow Jones News Fund training in Texas and then I’m off to Los Angeles for my internship. And I’ve found a place to live, so I won’t even be homeless this summer. You win, week.