Thursday, August 25, 2011

Chaos, i.e. students arrive!

So last week was my brief chance to (1) get up to speed on how things work at the paper and (2) come up with a plan for the class I teach. This week students arrived, and I suddenly became an expert and a teacher.

Here's the best description I could come up with for how things went this week:

Imagine you work with several teams of people to complete a project/task/product. Now imagine that it's the first day of work for everyone on those teams. And then imagine that this repeats itself every day of the week for a week. Of course add to that the fact that it's only your second week on the job and you can start to imagine the chaos.

Basically, as soon as I had a handle on the Monday teams, it was Tuesday and there was an entirely new crew. It also feels like as soon as I managed one crisis, I was hit with another.

While there is something energizing about working with students, especially the ones who are over-eager, I also had to realize that they are flaky 21-year-olds who are working for you for free. Of course, they have no hesitation in canceling a shift at the last minute.

All week, I've watched my days fly by and even forgotten to stop and eat. I work until the paper is done on Tuesdays, which was 12:30 a.m. this week, and even though I don't think I slept much, I was excited to get up and teach a class and be in the newsroom all day on Wednesday. I consider all of these things to be proof that this is a job I'm passionate about and that there was something missing before.

I'm still figuring out how to factor in life stuff and even a social life (when I find some friends) with all of this but that will come once I get past the craziness of the first few weeks.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A house with character

I am now in my third rental. I've been really lucky with all the places I've lived. Each place has had some character. I never did the apartment complex thing, so my apartments and my current house have all been unique. But I think this house wins as the one with the most character, and I absolutely love it.

The house was built by my landlord's grandfather. He was a bricklayer, so the house is pretty much all brick -- inside and out. Some of the rooms have plaster over the brick, but I'm pretty sure all but a couple of the interior walls are actually brick. My landlord has been insistent on keeping it as it was, so there's wallpaper in the dining room that most people would have taken down years ago. And in "the brick room" there's a wooden built-in desk with shelves that she actually had put back in after it was taken out to replace the flooring.

The house also has "j-school karma" as my landlord said. Her grandmother was in PR and did freelance writing. She also collected Mark Twain newspapers and used them to cover the bathroom closet:

My landlord, who spent a lot of time at the house growing up, also attended journalism school at Mizzou.

Throughout the house, there are little things you wouldn't find in a modern house, including a built-in scale in the bathroom.

While a part of me thinks of all the things I would do to change the house if I owned it, I actually love the character that comes with it. And I understand why my landlord wants to preserve the history of the house. It's a privilege to get to live in it for a little while. More pictures of the house are on Facebook.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Job update

I started work this week, and for now the excitement of being back in an active, loud newsroom that is familiar is outweighing the fears and anxiety over teaching a class. I've been able to jump in and actually feel productive in workflow on the first two days. Actually getting to post stories and play with the layouts isn't a lot, but I can at least point to something I did.

I honestly had no idea what this job would look like on a day-to-day basis, so it's been great to have a better idea of what the next year is going to look like. The exciting news is that I'm working day shifts with the exception of Tuesday nights (which was also my late shift at the old job).

On the dayside shift, I oversee the interactive copy desk for the website of a city newspaper. While I do some of the actual work, a lot of it is overseeing students, answering questions and challenging the students to think about how our content is presented and distributed.

When I work the late shift, I will be spending some time with the print product — coaching copy editors and helping designers — while also making sure the website is ready for the morning.

I also will teach a class on news design. I've been given a ton of resources, but I'm having to dig back to several years ago when I first learned design. It's been a few years since I actually did design work, so I'm actually going to design the front page of the paper one night this week just to remind myself of what's required.

I also get to have an office day to work on class stuff and catch up on things without being constantly interrupted. Also, for the first time in my professional career, I have an office, though I've only spent about 30 minutes total in it for the first two days.

I'm only two days in, and I haven't had to face the classroom yet, but I am so excited to be back in this environment. This week there are a bunch of graduate students in the newsroom getting their feet wet as reporters. The attitude of the newsroom here is different than probably any other newsroom in the country. These students are hungry to write and report and get their clips — not for pay but for a grade. I'm sure the complaining will come as the semester wears on, but it's fun to see people excited about journalism and looking to do more than just slide by. It's definitely a glass half-full place.

There have been so many things so far that really affirmed this job and the reasons God had me wait for it. There are still hard things to come in this transition, but things are off to a really great start.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Things I didn't expect (moving edition)

Well, I've made it to Missouri and actually feel settled in my new house. I'm not sure how regularly I'll be blogging once work starts but I have a few posts about the move in mind.

I think this is true for any move, but as much as I planned and tried to be prepared and organized, the actual move didn't match any of the scenarios I was expecting. In fact, there were a lot of things I didn't expect -- both good and bad. Here's my list because I think it's a good summary of the move, and in the end the good things definitely outweighed the bad.

Things I didn't expect:
  • To move out of my apartment in the middle of the night. The movers showed up at 10 p.m. and finished at 12:30 a.m. after waking up my neighbors. But the movers did show up after I spent a lot of time worrying that they wouldn't show at all.
  • To get to Missouri at 2:30 a.m. after a 15-hour drive because we had to beat the movers.
  • For the 15-hour drive to fly by as I chatted with my mom and enjoyed the scenery.
  • For all of my stuff to weigh 5,000 pounds, considering all estimates were between 3,000 pounds and 4,000 pounds.
  • To not have a bank branch within a two-hour drive. Lots of drama about this, which will ultimately require me to drive to Kansas to get money back on a cashier's check.
  • For it to be so easy to get a money order from the post office and to find a post office that stays open until 7 p.m.
  • For my movers to actually show up with my stuff on the first day of the delivery window. I had visions of waiting several days to get my stuff, but it was all moved in 14 hours after I arrived.
  • For it to be 75 degrees in August when the movers unloaded my stuff.
  • To get so lucky for the second time of renting a place sight unseen. My house is perfect!
  • To have to get a new social security card and for it to take less than 15 minutes to do it.
  • To meet a potential friend on my first night in town.
  • To have to break into my own house on my second night. Lesson learned and now all windows are either locked or nailed shut so no one else can break in.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Things I'll miss

Most of all I'm going to miss my friends and the community I had here. But here's some other things I'll miss from my life here:
  • Walking to work (and to pretty much anything else I need)
  • The Downtown Mall
  • Restaurants, particularly my lunch favorites: Eppie's, The Country Store (best salad bar)
  • My apartment and neighborhood
  • My church (I think I'll still be downloading sermons.)
  • The mountains
  • Convenience to my best friend from high school and my sister
  • My co-op and the farmer's market
  • The never-ending list of things to do and events in town
  • Court Square (Just love this little part of downtown I walked through everyday.)
  • Fall (yes, there will be a fall in Missouri but not nearly as beautiful as it is here)
  • Monticello trail (and walking it with friends)
There's probably much more I'll add to this list once I've actually moved.

Since graduating from high school, I've lived in six cities for varying lengths of time, and I have to say that this one wins as my favorite so far. Before I moved here, I knew nothing about the city and actually thought I wanted something bigger, but I quickly discovered this city was exactly what I wanted, and it makes me think college towns are the best places to live. I definitely hope that somehow I end up back here, but it's fun to experience new cities and, hopefully, re-experience a city I've already lived in.

OK, back to the boxes!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Heart friends

The day I got the call about the job in Missouri, Jon Acuff wrote this Serious Wednesday post. I urge to read the whole post, but the gist of it is that he wrote about the importance of relationships and described what he called heart friends. One excerpt:

"Friendships are ineffective. The ROI on relationship is pretty horrible. They can take years to develop. They might lead nowhere. They will definitely hurt you at some point. And you couldn’t quantify them if you tried. But Christ sought them out. Christ knew what it meant to be known."

It was interesting to read this on the day that I got the news about the job. While I am excited about what's in store for me in Missouri, I am really sad to leave this place where I have found such great friendships.

When I left Georgia two years ago, I was running. I didn't admit it at the time, but I was running and never looked back. I did know some great people there, but I wasn't invested and I didn't have anything keeping me there. Thankfully, God gave me a direction in that running and blessed me with two years in this place.

I have friends here that really know me, friends that I've invested in and who have invested in me, friends I've opened up to and lived life with. And when I shared my news with them, they were happy for me. Yes, we are all sad, but they still wanted what was right for me and are cheering for my success in this new adventure.

I know our friendships don't end when I drive out of town and that we will stay connected, but this is the hard part of this transient life I lead. I used to think that loneliness was part of the package as a twenty-something, single woman and that finding friends in that same place in life when you aren't in college was impossible. But these friends have proved me wrong. And it gives me hope that if I'm willing to dig in and be open, God has some more friends He wants me to meet in Missouri. But it still scares me.

This is also a hard time to walk away from the relationships I have here. I have a friend going through something really tough right now, and it's going to be hard not to be here. But it does put things in perspective. There are bigger things than a new city and a new job, and there are friendships that transcend all of it.

This time I'm not running, and I will look back. I'll even be back — at the very least — to visit. This is not a week of good-bye but of "see you later."