Monday, June 20, 2005

OXFORD CONFIDENTIAL:

Old Reporter's Notebooks

Every once and a while, its good to take an inventory of the experiences that matter., the marrow of our lives, the things that count.

For the first time in a long while, I'm actually pretty proud of myself. It finally has occurred to me that I've been extremely blessed in this life. I've never been good a tooting my own horn or promoting myself, but going through some old Reporter's notebooks tonight, I realize there probably are very few 20-somethings with my kind of experiences to inventory.

One day, if I have grandkids, I'll have some pretty interesting tales to tell. And just because I'm now a librarian, that doesn't mean the adventure stops, either. Its just beginning.

There's the time, I'll say, when Grandpa met Jimmy Carter in Santa Maria. Or the time, in 2000, when the Old Man interviewed a certain Republican candidate (and eventual winner) during a campaign stop in San Luis Obispo. And how many rugrats can tell their friends that their grandfather once got lectured on the dangers of his pack-a-day habit by fitness guru Jack Lalanne? Or, as teenagers, can brag how Grandpa got loaded with the likes of the Strokes, Black Heart Procession, and members of other critically acclaimed bands at McCarthy's in San Luis Obispo?

These memories...wow. Overwhelming. I once interviewed Colorado Rockies pitcher Shawn Chacon while he was a minor leaguer in Salem, Virginia - and picked up the tab on dinner afterwards. I was 18 I think, he was 19. We couldn't even go out for beers afterwards.

I interviewed current Washington Nationals 3rd Baseman Vinnie Castilla once while he was in Greeley dedicating a little league ballpark for the Colorado Rockies. I struggled with my broken Spanglish, and he struggled not to laugh.

I saw my first "DUI Fatal" when I was 18, just before my 19th birthday. This girl got decapitated by a moon roof in the single-car wreck, hours after her Quinceanera. The only one in the car wearing a seat belt, the only one not intoxicated. I came within an inch of a felony for assaulting an officer when I took a swing at a Colorado State Patrolman who thought it was somehow funny. Don't think I've told that story too many times. Not my proudest moment.

I remember covering the 1997 Super Bowl Riots in Colorado, getting tear-gassed so bad my contact lenses melted, getting a concussion, and pulling my photog(rapher) out after some drunk-ass Northern Colorado student fractured some of the guy's vertabrae trying to steal the camera. Covering that was the ultimate Iron Man endurance for me - more than 36 hours awake, begin filing my story, go to hospital, come back to file my notes half-delirious.

Okay. I have to be honest. I don't miss it, at all. I do, sometimes, miss the excitement. But I don't miss the ulcers I had at developed at 20 years-old, or the colesterol levels near 300 I had by my 21st birthday. Being a journalist for 7 years took 20 years off my life. I'm not kidding.

Most people don't realize the amount of work your average reporter does for the little amount of pay they receive. There's the lack of benefits, the pretty interns convinced that Erin Brockovich would've sucked off a goat - or a producer - to get a high profile story. There's the local news weekend anchors who'd do the same thing - male and female - to get a crappy small-market desk job just to claim some local level of celebrity.

Whenever I start thinking about my journalism background, I get excited about being a librarian, even living in Oxford. Being a librarian is like living a working retirement. I love the fact that I can actually, ethically take stands for things like intellectual freedom and information poverty. I can provide information without worrying about the bias of my inflection or the imperfections of my delivery. Information tends to speak for itself.

Now I get paid to be the middle-man in a user's information search. No holds barred. Unadulterated. And that's cool as shit in meat locker.

JWJ

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

All I can say is WOW! Now I get the whole librarian thing. Reading your blog is one of the highlights of my day here in the Land of Ox :-)

Being a Comm major, I know tons of girls who would do very naughty hings to break into a market. They say they're moral and religious, yet so wrapped up in vanity (in case you haven't noticed, there's a lot of self-absorbed folks at Miami) that they'd do stuff like that I think.

Ms. Monkeythong said...

Yep. It's a good gig.

Kara said...

You're right, it's likely more than most old folks can claim to have experienced and they have twice as much time in as you! You're fam will be lucky to have such an interesting legacy.
I am sorry about your friend. I think I have heard of the Quinceanera tradition. Probably better than being a Debutante. (not sure how to spell it) Cottilion was fun, but the church service part would have been a nice addition.
ROCK ON!

Anonymous said...

You had dinner with Shawn Chacon?!? Dude, you've always SUCKED at sharing these kinds of things. You should feel blessed :-) I'm glad to see you toot your own horn a bit...LOL. No, its not arrogance-its assertiveness.

Hey, still doesn't beat my OutKast story, though....

Beth