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.

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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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In the direction of better things

Wallpapering the newsroom.

Clearly, I’m wallpapering the newsroom.

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.

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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