Friday, August 28, 2009

Day 9 - "Here I Go Again"

My sister's all moved into her dorm, except for the fact that she came back after putting everything away. I kind of wish I'd have had that luxury in, wait, I don't. I barely had time to unpack, let alone put away anything.

I've been reading articles lately about how the analysts are saying that the economy is getting better. I have one question about that.

It is?

If the economy is getting better, then why is it that sales of newspapers are down by over 25%? If the economy is getting better, then why aren't the normal, everyday people seeing it? A recent ABC News report said that this year, more college students than ever can't pay their tuition bills. Personally, I recently went searching for scholarships and grants for students in graduate school and found seven. When I started my undergraduate degree, FastWeb had over 300 scholarships for me. Yikes.

For those of us who just graduated, it's insane trying to find any job out there. I'm thankful for even having my web writing job, despite me trying to transition from almost a lifetime of writing for print to writing for the web, content searching, and search engine optimization skills. Then the next day, I get up before the sun, go to work at my first job, come home to write for the second, and tick off the days until graduate school. Job searching is impossible when no one in your field is hiring. I got a tweet from Poynter today about a journalist who had been laid off twice by two different newspapers, and he was wondering if it was time to jump ship and get into the PR business. Lucky him; sometimes, I wish I had a ship to jump.

In other news, my vacation ends tomorrow and my return to the two job chaos starts Monday. It's been a somewhat productive vacation: three blog posts, an article, and another article either tonight or tomorrow sometime. Let's hope I don't burn out too soon.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Day 7 - "Dies irae"

One week later, and I've realized that I am a slacker. I don't care what anyone else says that I balanced 92.5 credits in five semesters, or that I wrote a thesis over 225 pages long, I am going to maintain that I am (somewhat) of a slacker.

Yesterday I was working on grad school applications and holy cow! The one for my first choice school is relatively easy, which surprised me. Just a whole lot of personal information, summarizing my resume, and an essay.

Then we get to application number two, and here are my simplified directions:

1. Sell your soul to an outside company (not website) that hosts the application.
2. Stand on your head and proceed to spin around until you puke, then keep spinning.
3. Enter your Social Security number 18.73 times.
4. Sign off your first born child, your spouse, and paternal grandmother in order to get the appropriate number of references.
5. Want an assistantship? (My reply - yes, please) Well then, throw in your father, second born child, and your favorite cousin to be considered.

This grad school wants to own my soul. Let's hope I get my first choice.

Note on the title: In honor of the first Tuesday (yesterday) or Thursday in six years that I have not had choir rehearsal, I pulled out a little of Verdi's Requiem. I performed the whole thing (all 1.5 hours) my junior year of college - so much fun! Maybe I need to find a hobby.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Day 5 - "Proud Mary Keep On Burnin'"

It's been a couple of days since I last posted, but I've been busy. Two articles published, finishing up my last week of work before vacation, and my boyfriend coming home after 15 months in New Mexico sure have kept me on my toes.

In between everything that's been going on, I got a tweet from Romenesko, a journalism news service about the industry, about a Wall Street Journal article about the viability of the newspaper industry. In the past couple of weeks, stocks in newspaper publishers have significantly increased, but author Martin Peers argues that the cuts newspapers have had to undergo may not lead to long-term sustainability.

It's a scary thought that someday, because the price of newsprint is through the roof and advertising revenue is at the same level it was when my parents were transitioning from elementary school to junior high, I might not walk across the street and get the newspaper out of the box every morning. The newspaper is something that has always been a fixture in my house; there hasn't been a day in my life where the news hasn't intentionally not been in the green or orange plastic box on the other side of the road. It's as much of an essential as my mom's chocolate chip cookies with chopped walnuts in them.

Ever since I found out I could write, I kept telling myself that I was eventually going to write for a big newspaper in a big city and have people notice my name every time I signed for something. I was going to be the next celebrity journalist, and I set out to do that from the time I walked into my middle school for the first day of fifth grade and joined the newspaper staff. I went from reporter to news editor to editor-in-chief, then joined the high school paper and went through the same cycle. I thought I was getting where I needed to go, then went off to college to another newspaper staff and had a ball writing for a great paper with some of the greatest journalists I've met in my short life.

Let's hope, for old time's sake, that Peers's prediction is wrong. In my mind, it's 2065, I'm 78 years old, and I'm still pushing my walker down the driveway to pick up a newspaper every morning. Maybe I'll find an article of mine, and that adrenaline rush I get every time I see my words in print and touching the actualization of my words, thoughts, and work between my fingers and seeing the ink rub off on my fingers is still there. That's my wish.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

What Is She Doing?

For some reason, this idea came to me while I was sitting on the couch, wishing I had air conditioning. My friends were heading off to graduate school, returning to college, getting married or raising infants while I was sitting here, recovering from two jobs and staring into oblivion.

Then it hit me: "The Year Spent PC."

Not politically correct, because heaven knows that I'm not always the most correct and I can be slightly too political. Not PC as in personal computers, because heaven also knows that I prefer to work on the family computer instead of the laptop I took a rider out on my student loans to purchase. It's PC as in Post College, this year that I'm spending in limbo between college and graduate school trying to accomplish goals that seem to change just as often as the weather in Northeast Ohio.

Maybe it's time for a rewind. I'm 22 years old, a May 2009 college graduate with a degree in creative writing and journalism with minors in political science and English literature, complete with the obnoxious sticker on my forehead labeling me as an overachiever. I did everything that I was supposed to while I was a student: had an internship, para-professional activities, polished the resume, got good grades and networked. I was a part of twelve campus organizations, put together my portfolio, and had continued the overachiever tradition I had started since 3:05 A.M. on January 21 of the year I was born. I bought the black cap and gown, the cords and regalia, shook the president's hand and put the degree in the shiny frame that was supposed to hang on the wall in an office, but instead is sitting in a $3 plate holder from WalMart on the top shelf of the desk I got as a graduation present (also purchased at WalMart.)

I work as an online journalist by afternoon and at the same job I've had since my junior year of high school by God-awful early morning. It's not the glamorous post college, sorority girl alumna life that the movies and the career services center imagined, but it pays the bills and keeps me busy. And I can still do some of the things I want to do, like read books bought on sale at Border's. I can still enjoy the rain, write the way I want to write, and wear t shirts and jeans to "work" when I want to. It's not that I didn't try to find a job as a certified professional print journalist. Unfortunately, my senior year was witness to the global economy and the newspaper industry slowly biting the dust, and while it kills me every time I hear about another newspaper swaying on the edge of bankruptcy, I realized that my status as "non-student" is only going to last a year. Hopefully.

Sometimes it's great, sometimes it's not, but that's life and that's how it just might play out for now.

Back to the project. The first question I asked myself was why. Why and what am I doing? I have always been a writer at heart; I wrote my first stories in second grade as part of an ongoing class project; we wrote stories during our language arts period and made them into books during art class. I've always had an addiction for putting words on pages and capturing life in ways that no other medium can focus and preserve. In college I discovered creative nonfiction and feature writing were my specialties. I'm beginning to think of this project as a feature article - one very long feature article with no focus, no angle, and no word limit. The deadline? Who knows. It's an ongoing project archiving the life of a post college twenty-something for a year after graduation to see just what happens. After all, the big guys can take six months or longer to write one feature article. They're getting paid for it, too, and I'm just pounding away at the keys to see what becomes of it. Maybe this will someday be my best seller. Only time will tell.

Why am I starting this today, August 20, 2009? Two simple reasons. For one, I only thought of the project on Monday and needed the time to actually sit down and set up a blog years after some of my peers had mastered this art and moved on. For two, today would be the day that, had I not overloaded my class schedule for five semesters in a row because I had the illusion of graduating in four years, I would be moving back into my dorm. My nineteen year old sister moves into hers a week from today at state university fifteen minutes from home as a brand spankin' new transfer student. All of my sorority sisters and Panhellenic friends are moving in today to start retreats, my newspaper colleagues have already been on campus for ten days editing the orientation issue, and those who aren't involved in activities requiring an early move-in are at home continuing to pack in preparation for another school year.

I can't promise what's going to happen for the next year. I know what I'll be trying to do: applying to graduate school in a field nowhere near what my degree is in (master's in higher ed administration, here I come,) writing my heart out for money and anyone who will read it, and enjoying the life that is thrown at me - one day at a time. It's all I can do without the glamorous office, pencil skirt and golden name plate on the door that I never wanted anyway. I don't like pencil skirts anyway. And I need a job with people and movement. I don't like boredom.

In closing, there's one last thing to say - who's with me?