August 31, 2005

Hurricane hits home: MIA grammy

My grandma (the one who blogs) and my pap recently rode out Hurricane Katrina at their Jackson, Mississippi home. It thankfully veered east.

My dad finally spoke with them this evening--their phone service was gone for more than three days; they are living on generator power and a limited water supply.

But they made it.

This is one of the rare occasions when the reporter veneer vanishes, and I'm left staring in awe, just like everyone else, at the destruction and chaos of disaster.

My prayers and love go with the victims in New Orleans, Biloxi and all the areas affected by this malicious storm.

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August 30, 2005

Hunting Hunter

What an interesting character!

Journalist, Hunter S. Thompson, who died of an alleged self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, is a subject of study in my Culture Wars course.

His funeral was in the news this summer (for obvious reasons--his ashes were shot from a Depp-funded cannon). While I did note the oddity of his final wishes, an in-depth look at his life gives his life a little more color than I had previously supposed.

Gonzo journalism, Fear and Loathing, hating Nixon, despising Bush, articles about drug-induced experiences, anti-establishment. It's all there.

I can't wait to start weaving my fictional diary character's life in with Thompson's. Intertwining the two lives should somehow twist the story, I'm thinking.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

My character is a Catholic Hispanic/Caucasian girl who was born on December 7, 1941--yes, the day of Pearl Harbor--completely intentional. Her mother died during childbirth. She has three brothers in their middle-class home in the suburbs of Canterbury Village, Ohio (a fictional town, but there is a Canterbury, Ohio).

The story, based on her life over ten year periods, will document how she changes as a result of the American experience of culture wars.

The final product, Professor Klapak said, will be a novella, of sorts.

Historical fiction is a favorite genre. This is exactly the kind of creative writing I like--laced with a little fiction, a lot of non-fiction impact, and a truth that maybe no one counts on. Forrest Gumpage.

It's living another life for the sake of writing of capturing it--sounds a little like gonzo journalism, eh? But maybe I'll skip Thompson's famous Hell's Angels beating. That sounds a little too in-depth to me.

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August 29, 2005

Shifting the track

So, it's really odd being in the classroom again. The prof. Your classmates. The syllabus.

After cleaning out my desk on Friday at the Trib, eating good-bye cake and opening a sweet farewell card, I knew everything was going to change, but would strangely stay the same.

Sitting in the office today with Neha and looking around was like the past four months didn't even exist except in foggy memories.

But then I shook free and realized it all did happen and I'm getting another set of challenges, and now I'm better prepared.

It is time to be a full-time student again.

It is time to ride to SHU with my sister. (We're trying to save on gas.)

It is time for my annual syllabus freak out and recovery.

It is time to open my planner.

It is time for me to let go. I gave up my column today and my online editorial position on the Setonian. I knew it had to happen; I'd been thinking about both all summer, and I finally realized that to be an asset to the staff, I had to dedicate myself to one thing--news editor--rather than spreading myself so thinly across the board.

I can't think of two more deserving and capable people for these positions: Karissa, columnist and Evan, online editor. I can't wait to see what they can do.

It is time for me to face my fears and survive. I don't know; I'm shifting my life around, and I think I'm going to like it in the long run, but right now everything seems so unsteady.

I guess it's a lot to face in one day, just like it is for all my classmates, but everything's going to be just fine.

I'm just waiting for that normalcy to kick in any time now... :-)

So, while I'm waiting, a toast. To my fellow SHU students: May your year be full--fill it well.

*clinks glass of choice beverage: choco milk*

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August 26, 2005

Something about squirrels

My heart is with Watermark...but I love this pic.


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Second thoughts: Google

Google has stepped up again.

Not only can you pinpoint the entire globe, encase thousands of e-mails, and search your entire computer with a Google-like search, but you can also talk.

I must echo Guardian's point: does Google have plans for world domination?

They could possibly see our homes, read our mail, search our computers, and now, listen to our conversations. Am I the only one who has issues with the potential power of this online/offline conglomerate?

Or, maybe I'm just paranoid after recently reading 1984.

-Google- may be watching you.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:09 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 23, 2005

NYC transforms

I love old and new photography squared up in the same angle; it's a great trick that impact the audience instantaneously, especially when it's a feature story about a bicentennial or years in business or something of that nature.

How interesting to see NYC's transformation over the years, and not in the negative light that September 11 implies.

The Setonian did this last year for our center spread on Sullivan Hall and the rest of SHU getting a makeover in lieu of the new rec center.

Transformations are very interesting to behold. :)

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The window's open again.
I promised I wouldn't open it
Again, but I did.
And there's rain
On the floor
Soaking the carpet.

It's so easy to let the window open.
To forget it's open--
And let it
Ruin your expensive sound equipment,
And corrode your wooden sill.

Soon, it'll be cold again
And I won't forget it's open.
The window will be locked.
The window won't open for months.
So I'll pretend to enjoy it now, while it's open.
Corroding my sill and ruining my stereo.

I'll leave it open for now--and then it'll close
With a slam of final frustration.
No more rain!
But it'll open up again and maybe sunshine will come.
Not the rain that's taken out the pretty picture I thought
Was there.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 2:00 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 22, 2005

Out and About: In good company

Ever had the feeling you really overdressed for something?


Saturday was beastly hot, and I had work to do. I was Miss Out and About for the evening in Ligonier.

So, in order to fit the role, I got gussied up.

When I arrived, I realized that um, maybe I should have stuck with the jean skirt, flip-flops and flouncy top. The event was picnic fare and lawn chairs, and there I was, melting in one of my best dresses.

However, people knew I was there for -something- so they guessed I must either be a)the entertainment or b)the uninformed media.

Yep, I was b.

In the past, I would have been extremely uncomfortable, but from the experience of this crazy summer, I decided to just go with it. I was there for my job, and I had the opportunity to have a great time. So carpe diem was my slogan.

In fact, when I was asked a couple of times why I was dressed so formally, it actually worked as a great conversation segway.

"Yes, I thought this was going to be some really stuffy get-together, but I'm really happy it's not. The historical society really does a nice job keeping things low-key but still classy, don't you think?"

I even talked with a guy from one of my previous articles about his upcoming projects. I can't believe how great it is to actually begin building a contact base for this area. I -know- people now, and they know me. I don't have to always introduce myself, which is becoming second-nature even in my personal life.

"Hello, great-cousin Beatrice, my name is Amanda Cochran and I'm from the Tribune-Review--I mean, I'm from my mother, Lisa Cochran, um, I mean...never mind. I'm from Mars as far as you're concerned."

I've never been a party mingler before, but for this story I had to go around and get a feel for the entire atmosphere of the evening.

The little column was one of the easiest things I've done this summer. The names, the food, the people attending. Very fun stuff, but definitely not what I want to do for a living, but it was okay for a night.

I even thwarted the weather, jumping into my car just as the first raindrops began to fall.

Though I didn't socialize with any self-proclaimed socialites, I consider myself lucky; I did meet some of the nicest and genuinely caring people in the area.

And by golly, they can make great lemonade.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 4:27 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 19, 2005

Going beyond it

Thanks Watermark for the inspiration.

There are always moments when one feels empty and estranged. Such moments are most desirable, for it means the soul has cast its moorings and is sailing for distant places. This is detachment-- when the old is over and the new has not yet come. If you are afraid the state may be distressing, but there is really nothing to be afraid of. Remember the instruction: What ever you come across--go beyond.

- Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

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Coming to a close

Soon this desk I've made a reporter's will be bare once again.

It will grow dusty and miss the glory days of colored post-its and warm mugs cooling on its plastic top. It will miss the Webster's Dictionary and the open AP handbook. It will miss the ringing of my disfunctional telephone and the notepads strewn across its gray surface.

This desk will miss my feet squinching up my toes when an interview doesn't go just right, and the highlighter marks from an overzealous beginner tracking -everything-.

It'll miss that full feeling of files in its drawers and the snazzed up sensation of a clipped cartoon taped to its side.

It'll miss the keys tapping, the ranting and hushed peals of glee. It'll miss the days when everything seemed to go pear-shaped and then reconfigured, amazingly, into published semi-perfection.

I like to think the desk will be the only one missing someone, but I know it'll really be me, missing everything that this summer internship was, but I'm really not letting go completely. Freelance fun is right around the corner.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:52 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 18, 2005

Fight the ticket

Ladies and gents, I beat my speeding ticket.

What, you didn't know?

Well, yes, I was horribly tempted to tell everyone about it, but I decided against it.

That is, until now.

This past June, I was pulled over and given the infamous yellow slip of insurance death. However, I signed the dotted line and professed my innocence, posting my collateral for appearance at trial.

On Monday, I faced the judge and my accuser--the Commonwealth of Pa. When you hear your name being squared up against the entire state, you get chills.

However, you must square your shoulders, look the judge in the eye and face the issue head-on.

The police officer, who turned out to be the chief of police in South Greensburg, allegedly clocked me at 40 in a 25.

He didn't mark on my ticket that he clocked me; instead, he said "other" was the method of finding my speed. I fought that, especially. He wanted to enter into evidence the clocked sheet; I don't think I should have let him.

But it all turned out okay anyway.

The speed was reduced to 30 in a 25, and, according to the Pennsylvania Point System, I should not be receiving any huge spikes in my car insurance. Hallelujah.

I even get money back, which is great, because I'm off to SHU next week for books. And...I have extensive plans for clothes shopping. Retail therapy, how I've missed thee. :-D

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:29 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

August 10, 2005

If it makes you happy, it can't be that bad.

Sunny with a high of 75...

Relient K. A great addition to my small collection of CD's. Thanks, Mr. S.!

I'm a country/rock/dance rap/contemp. gospel/soul/bluegrass/pop gal; I like lots of music, but I'm limited to what is played on the radio, usually, because my car CD player is so intricate that I don't like to run it while I'm trying to drive (the operative word is "try"). :-)

It's nice having great connections that know the music world beyond the pay-for-play world of radio.

Frankly, I'm sick of just listening to anything--most of it is crap anyway. I think it's time I invested.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:28 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

I'll let you into my head for a minute...

The days of summer are winding down, and my apetite for reading has been piqued once again.

is officially finished and I just reached for Crime and Punishment.

But, I'm officially bored. Now all I have to worry about is my financial aid, books, and blah blah blah that accompanies every new year of college. It is all just enough to make me uneasy, but not enough to make me want to do anything about it during this first week in August.

In a small way, I haven't left the paranoia of the school year this summer; it has all been transferred to other things that I usually let go, waiting at the edge of my consciousness until it drives me crazy and I have to address the issue.

What are these issues? They're the things I let slip while encumbered by college fun: professional image, adult responsiblility, insurance of every kind and a general sense of the big future.

But I've been smacked in the face with all of that these past four months, and I liked most of it, but I am missing the fun of being a college kid, too.

It's strange. I just finished an article about people my age, and I was referring to them as "youth". Sheesh! Have I turned 50? I know; it's all part of the job. :)

I really have found my calling, but I'm not ready for the Big Amanda Life yet.

And so--the tweener life goes on. Not yet this, not yet that. No definitions, just occupations.

It'll pay off, though; I'm paying my dues. I hope I'm not just comforting myself with that line, and that it does happen.

Is there actually a medium between enjoying your life for the moment and seeing the big picture? Because I always seem to be looking through the wrong lens at the wrong time. It's something I'm working on.

And with those lines of insecurity, I finish my blog for this evening. Nothing really to write about except the weather and things that will remain unwritten. I shouldn't blog when I'm moody.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:47 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 2, 2005

Amanda vs. The Clockinator

My one-week fight against the clock began yesterday.

At one moment words seem to be brimming over, and the next, my cup is bone-dry. The Trib Newsroom is a tough place.

A police scanner chucks out garbled nonsense all day long, writers talk about their stories and where they are and what they plan on doing, and a television screen scrolls out the stories of the day unabatedly.

And there I sit with two sentences--one of them a pathetic lead and another that seems to resemble a quote, but all is not lost.

I began writing for the daily news yesterday, and I love it. Not only can I feel my feet all day (the AC isn't as gripping), but I am getting an intense newswriting experience with all the distractions of a fully-functioning newsroom.

This summer I was predominantly sequestered from the newsroom chaos with the investigative team in an adjoining office. To tell you the truth, I was frightened, but it's exhilerating!

My stint will last until Friday. I will be working some odd shifts, but that comes with the territory. If I were hired someday in an entry-level position, I would be working here, so this is great experience for what my life would really be like if I were a fledgling reporter.

I was published twice in yesterday's paper. One article didn't get a byline--a police call--but I am still stoked about getting in.

Last week I agonized about getting the articles finished on-time and if I could perform on a daily basis, but I am, and the best part is that my work is published with minimal edits.

Take that clock--I punched you RIGHT IN THE FACE!

Round three starts tomorrow.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:38 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

August 1, 2005

Jubilant July

July--my favorite month. In retrospect, it fared much better than June or any of the previous months.

Why? Well, I'm glad you asked. It seems as if July is the time for startling discoveries. And now I will share:

10. Leftovers serve an important purpose.
9. Car air-conditioning still can't compare to my hand out the window at dusk.
8. July birthdays still rock. And there's one more I got to celebrate this year.
7. Some people cannot sit in the back seat.
6. Attitudes define who you really are--not what you do or the things you have.
5. I can "cry if I want to" at my birthday.
4. Poison Ivy can be conquered...and shots aren't that bad.
3. There is nothing to fear with a grandma around.
2. Tis better to ask than to simper.
1. Reuniting and rediscovering--two of the best verbs out there these days.

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