October 19, 2007

Lost and...

I contend that losing something is the worst feeling a human being can experience. The loss of a family member, a best friend, a beloved pet, and in a reporter's case, notes.

Two days ago, I was reporting in my Highbridge neighborhood. I was gathering observations or "color" for a profile story I was writing on an organizer. I wrote good notes. Some of the best interviews I can remember to date were in those notebooks. I even got an idea -- and a phone number -- for an upcoming poverty story.

Then I went back to Manhattan, happy and even singing over my success.

I attended class in the afternoon, and then went back to Highbridge for a meeting that was instrumental in building my story about this organizer who had, in fact, organized the meeting.

However, when I got to the school, I opened up my bag, and both of my notebooks were gone. I was speaking with one of the people I interviewed earlier in the day, and she commiserated with me for a bit. I went into the meeting, positively freaking out, took a few more notes about the evening meeting's setting, and then couldn't do anything but go back to school -- an hour away on the subway -- and search. I thought I left them in the ladies' restrooms in the journalism building, but they weren't there. They weren't in the garbage. They weren't in the lost and found. They weren't under desks. Under chairs. On top of cabinets. In Rolodexes.

Gone. Completely gone.

Now, I haven't laid the foundation for this story very well. Since my arrival in New York, I've lost a purse, two mini-DV tapes for class and a script. I was very low when I realized I'd lost yet another important element of my reporting technological enterprise.

But I shouldn't be so hard on myself, right? I'm currently a print/television journalist. I have notebooks and a recorder. I have a thumb drive, hard-drive, laptop, digital camera, tripod, television camera, cell phone, microphones and iPod on me almost all the time. I'm an electronics department.

Things are bound to get lost in the fray, but I was really aching. My notebooks were my story due Friday. An entire morning of work. Tears were shed. I worried my mum and my whole family. I feel bad about that.

But the next day, there was nothing I could do, after missing the meeting (which I still regret not going to), but go back to Highbridge and start all over. I grabbed a danish and waited for the community center to open, and when the first grates were opened, I noticed a lavender folder and a taupe Steno pad and a red notebook, lying there on the seats.

I'd left them there.

And no one touched them.

They were safe. I was safe.

I called my mum.

My story is written. My notes are safely tucked away in my bookbag.

Found. I can't believe they were there.

This isn't the entire story, though. A lot was happening in my head and heart when this all happened. Should I keep going? Should I just give up and go home? I think I found more than some battered notebooks on that chair.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at October 19, 2007 9:29 AM | TrackBack

Yay for inanimate objects remaining where we placed them! I have a terrible time with things like this constantly. I've always had a horrible memory... and then I usually freak out a little when I need something. Maybe that's the method behind my organizational madness?

I'm excited for you. If your story is half as good as it was last night when I read it, they'll have to find a letter above A for you. :-D

Posted by: Karissa at October 19, 2007 11:16 AM

I am so happy you found your notes, that gave me a little better feeling about you in NY. We have prayer every night for you and I really know that helps in your life.

Posted by: grammy at October 20, 2007 6:56 PM

Amanda darling, I'm so glad you managed to work out the nightmare of the missing notes! I admit, I haven't stayed that up to date on the life that is yours, but I'm glad to see it did indeed work out. I miss you hun!

Posted by: Diana Geleskie at October 20, 2007 7:55 PM

I remember when I was working on my dissertation, there was a power glitch and I lost the file I'd been working on. I save my work frequently, so I probably only lost 20 minutes worth of work, but those were 20 GOOD minutes.

At some later point, I reconstructed those pages, but for years afterwards, I could identify the exact page where the stuff I had written during those 20 good minutes should have been.

Fortunately, I've finally forgotten. But it took a long time to get over that particular loss.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at October 20, 2007 10:11 PM

I started _Lake Wobegon Days_ by Garrison Keillor a while back, and in his introduction, he tells the story of how he lost some notes because, if my memory serves me correctly, they flew out of a train window. He wanted to tell that story, but the story in book form is the one that was written. It's one of the most honest stories I've ever read (though I still endeavor to finish it).

But I suppose, if Keillor was serious in his story about a story, that even when you lose something, you make an effort far above your first in an attempt to recapture what was lost -- and in some cases, find something better, though you'd never admit it to yourself.

Posted by: Amanda at October 21, 2007 9:53 PM
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