February 28, 2007

Catching Ireland air with these new wings

If any trip were a pilgrimage, it would have to be this one. And I haven't even boarded a plane!

Ireland was an idea. Two friends invited me to visit our Irish pals who attended Seton Hill on their stomping ground. It quickly turned into passport paperwork, interactions with Orbitz, and now, two gargantuan suitcases that do not permit access to my bureau.

I'm leaving on Friday. I'll try to blog if I can, but expect loads of photos and commentary when I return.

The anticipation is delicious.

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February 25, 2007

Accepted--I'm almost absolutely sure.

When one waits for something in their life for a long time, when it actually happens, amazement and sometimes denial of the fact follows.

Since Thursday, I've been questioning it.

On Thursday evening, my sister's boyfriend answered the phone. I received the message two hours after I came home and he happened to remember. I guess I can be happy for that.

I was accepted at New York University for the fall semester in the News and Documentary Program.

However, after he told me, he started to rescind everything that he said because I was getting so excited about it. He likes to joke, but he shouldn't have. Yes, ladies and gents, he is the villan of this story, but I have forgiven him because after a few minutes of denial of my acceptance, he gave me the e-mail and phone number of the woman I was to contact.

I called the number but received a voicemail. On the NYU Web site, it says do not expect a phone call or an e-mail confirming your acceptance, so I was a bit confused.

The next morning, I called the main Office of Admissions and they confirmed my admittance. However, I was still questioning the entire situation because it was over the phone. I called my contact again and did speak with her. As it turns out, the program tells people that they want to recruit early. I was dumbfounded.

Though I still want an acceptance letter in my hand, I have told everyone now. If I wake up and this is all some cruel dream, I will eventually thank God for letting me have it.

I am still waiting to hear from Syracuse, but there's already a waiting list for the floor in my NYC dorm... :-D

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February 19, 2007

Falls=Numerous: Skiing

My feet were invisible, tingling stumps. All I saw were my new feet, about four feet in length and smooth as liquid steel. I didn't do my new feet justice. They were so professional-looking, and I put them to shame time and time again in snow drift after snow drift. I almost fell off the mountain twice.

I went skiing yesterday. I went down three times--the mountain, I mean, not the individual falls, which on the report (but I'll get to that later) I label "numerous".

I drove. Athena and Diana were my beloved companions in my car that smelled of gas. I am leaking gas from somewhere beneath my auto extrodinaire I've named Bertha.

It was a too-good conversation piece as we drove up to Seven Springs. Asphyxiation was setting in, and I think talking about tar bubbles or corn would have had the same effect: laughs.

After we parked Seton Hill style, which means making one's own spot, we were greated by a wonderful mix of mountain air and SUV exhaust.

When we finally got suited up after approximately two hours of waiting (and I'm not complaining, I'm really not), we hopped on the ski lift. I think this segment of the trip was the best. Except for when I had to get off, taking the skiing advice I got on the way up the chair lift.

I fell. Each time I got off the chair lift, I fell. I guess it was my thing. I knew how to take my skis off and put them back on flawlessly by the end of the night.

However, the first time, when the ski lift operator said for me to move out of the way in the most ambiguous language possible, I didn't know what to do or how to get up. Joy. So I took them off, carried my skis like a beautiful baby and almost cried when I stared into the mountain's face.

The first "run", as the pros call it, was a brush with death, and I'm not exaggerating.

We mistakenly took the Children's Stunt Path called Arctic Blast. I caught a glimpse of the sign and didn't see the word "stunt" in the title. Oh my holy ghost.

The little tunnel should have tipped me off. Tunnels shouldn't exist on bunny slopes. What cruel labeling. I thought Arctic Blast was just some happy title for the kiddies to get excited over, but it really was an arctic tundra of ice, stunts and would-be death. Now, looking back, I see that trail as it would be if children actually skied it. Only their legs would stick out of the snow, a line of them on the perimeter of the slope, kicking, kicking and then not moving at all.

But it did go down that path. I tried to steer clear of the tunnel, and then my skis crossed and stuck together. There I was, sprawled for the first time on my back, looking up at the big gray sky, so happy to be breathing. Sonny Bono kept racing through my mind.

With the help of my pals, I stood upright once more. Then I went off the edge of the world. Quite a stunt, eh? After crawling up an incline of about 45 degrees in skis, I wanted to slide down on my arse and just be done with it, but I didn't. With much cajoling from my friends, I got back up again. Again. Again.

I get more and more like Bridget every day.

On my third run, I hit a bunny slope curve too fast and went down. What a surprise. However, this time I turned my knee a la contortionist. Thankfully, I was almost down the hill. I don't care to share the last leg of my journey, except for one thought: "People actually have fun doing this?"

I've gone ice skating. I've fished in cold temperatures. I gone snow tubing. Even when I fall on ice or catch nothing or end up in a snow drift with my tube over my head, I still have a degree of fun in the process.

I enjoyed the time with my friends. Since they are in school and I'm writing, I don't get to see them very much. They supported me when I fell, and it wasn't figurative.

On that last run, however, they weren't there, but they found me. First-Aid followed. Thank you, Andy, wherever you are. The ice was lovely. As for the insurance form, yes, I am a beginner. Yes, I did learn to ski just today, and no, my falls were not one or two, but rather numerous-- frequent and body-shattering. No, I can't write that in? Okay.

I do not care to look at my legs today, and my arms hurt when I straighten them. I look like a battered wife, a mountain climber and a professional base jumper--not a skier. I think I'll stick to my 80-degree pool with water flowing over my skin, not into it at 30 mph.

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February 14, 2007

Can you tell me a little about...

I pray that they don't pick up when the first ring resounds on my phone line. By the third ring, I am agitated, ready with my first line, the tactic into their hearts and lives. They will welcome me with what I have to say--I hope.

When they answer, I am at the ready, arrayed in full journalist armor. My questions. My sweet, yet formal tone. My purpose.

I recently spoke to a PBS broadcaster for a story I'm writing and she said I was articulate, that I could keep up a conversation.

I find the exact opposite is true, and I'm not fishing for compliments. Truly, when I am talking to a subject, I am monosyllabic. I say "yes" and "right" quite a bit. Though I sometimes open up the questioning with ideas of my own, my primary purpose is to keep the contact speaking. I am a biologist with a butterfly net, a miner in a hole, a detective at a fresh crime scene. The only difference from story to story is the size of the holes in the net, the depth of the mine and the number of clues.

Also, my contacts probably think I am slightly deaf. "Can you say that one more time" and "I'm sorry, I didn't get that" are my most common phrases. Long pauses are also a characteristic of my interviews. I may even join a shorthand class because I am tired of writing like a maniac. Why don't we learn this kind of thing in school?

I often catch myself thinking that I can't do my job, and that I'm not good at it. I think that comes from not going to an office or classroom every day where I can put on a show for others. I'm showing myself, I think. Each time I sit down at my computer, I face audiences that I never see, particularly now in this warm coccoon of a bedroom. It is probably committing a mortal journalist sin to say so, but I try not to think about them most of the time. I don't like to think about people reading stuff I wrote in my pajamas.

I think about what I think. Would I read it? Does it matter? What could I get out of it? Do I care? Though I don't believe in normal human beings, I believe that I am one of them, and my opinion matters. And I am my most critical critic. I despise my bedhead interviews and double negatives, but somehow I click submit.

So what do I do when I find out my article has been published? I pick up a copy at my local quick-mart, scan it for my editors changes and quickly file it away.

I know what they said. I know what I said. It all started with a ring and a connection with someone somewhere. I found the star specimen, the golden vein, the one strand of DNA. They were what was important and, if my phone doesn't ring, I can share in their fame. And if it does--their infamy.

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February 11, 2007

Sounding off

The pastor paused for dramatic emphasis after telling a sad story he'd heard in the news. The world was depraved. We knew it, but he wanted the congregation to let it sink into their groggy Sunday heads.

And then we heard it. The pause was tentative, just long enough for that sound to permeate the entire crowd.


Who did it? We all knew the general vacinity and swiveled our heads accordingly. Maybe it was the elderly lady in the fifth row from the back. Maybe one of the young guys in the back. Maybe we'll never know.

Nevertheless, it was the most memorable part of the sermon--and for that matter--church. You hate to say that, but it was true.

I will admit, I couldn't stop laughing. It felt like heresy. The entire congregation seemed to shake the pews with their witheld laughter. Red faces, tears streaming down faces.

Then, once again, slowly, and with many reprisals of laughter, we turned to the sermon on self-control.

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February 5, 2007

Keeping up with busy nothings

In less than a month, I'll hopefully be ensconced in a tiny flat in Belfast with two of my dearest friends.

I've never been over the ocean.

There's excitement in my little corner of the world. Everything is on the cusp of something. The state of waiting has made me anxious about doing something. I hate to waste time. There's nothing to do but plow ahead.

I'm writing. I realized that my book-in-progress from last summer isn't total crap, as I'd thought it to be. I'm actually seeing the next step in the plot. It came after reading the whole story again. Distance--even the extreme of four months--is a good thing.

I've also been reading up on journalism. I can't say enough about A Writer's Coach by Jack Hart. EVERY journalism student should read this book.

And then there's Bolivia. I was accepted for an internship with WILPF. I'm doing a new media project for them using Flash. I plan to create an interactive map of the country with photos, facts and quotes in the context of water politics in the largely indigeneous country. If I save enough, too, I can attend the conference in July with my internship mentor. Did I mention it's held in Santa Cruz?

And I'm not forgetting the blog research I've been putting off. I'm starting in earnest--tomorrow. Oh, New York...

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