Back to By-Lines.

I'm with the press.

I’m with the press.

It’s been over a year since I’ve written an article. Over a year since my by-line was on anything other than this blog.

A strange feeling for a reporter.

Even stranger to then go cover an event.

I was very blessed to get the opportunity to cover the Boston municipal preliminary elections Tuesday night. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Boston politics, the current mayoral election is very important since current mayor, Thomas Menino, is leaving after 20 years in office. Most locals are a little turned up that he’s leaving. It’s what they’re used to; and it’s what many feel like they have always known. Not to mention, he’s fairly popular.

Anyway, so I got a great opportunity to cover the preliminaries for Boston University News Service.

This is one of the many reasons I chose Boston University.

They have television, radio, print and online all ran by students internally–and then they also have students working with other local publications.

I chose to cover the event from candidate John Connolly’s reception (he ended up being a winner by the way; and yes I picked his location on purpose not on luck). While I was there I met three other BU students covering in various other capacities both for BU and for other local media outlets.

Now, I’ve never covered politics before.

I follow it.

I read the news.

I read the analysis.

But I was always a sports girl.

I was a little nervous that some kind of reflex was going to kick in and my lede was going to say:

“City Councilman John Connolly rallied tonight, coming in second place with X number of votes. His record now stands 1-0 as he advances to the next round of the playoffs.”

I joke.

But in seriousness, I went into the event knowing that I needed to be sensitive to a new game. (Literally, I cannot stop making sports references.)

All I can say is two things:

1) Thank God I had a friend to go with.

2) Thank God I’m taking advantage of learning opportunities.

On the Silver line to Roxbury. It's hard to ride a bus carrying so much stuff. Back row.

On the Silver line to Roxbury. It’s hard to ride a bus carrying so much stuff. Back row.

I was proud of the final article I submitted. And excited to see it make print. But I definitely learned a number of things on the way that I feel worth sharing:

Don’t always take for granted the exact address given to you by the press spokesperson. 

Mikaela and I showed up at the address that was given to us approximately two hours early and no one was there. It wasn’t because we were being over diligent on getting there in time–but a lot of other people went to polling locations and then the reception. Or they went to headquarters and then the reception. There was no one there! There was definitely a moment where we thought to ourselves. “Oh my. We have none of the news right now. We have no news.” Do your research, be diligent about exploring and seeking multiple locations. Our schedule wasn’t really conducive to allowing us to fully do this; but next time if we had a full day to delegate (and this was a full-time job) that’s definitely a consideration.

Be assertive about getting your story.

John Connolly’s reception was in Roxbury, which is a more diverse area of Boston. I’ll put it like this, there were a couple of times my camera was noticed on the street, two men called out “Hey blondie, how you doing?” and one of my interviewees talked about the prevalence of drug deals that happened in the area. If I hadn’t just had a little gumption to go out and get the interviews I needed on the street; I wouldn’t have had a story. Period. Know your surroundings. Be smart. But be brave, too. Sometimes you just have to go do it. For me, Boston is already a slight culture shock. That night in Roxbury (ha, no pun intended) was definitely vastly different than what I’m used to. I was proud for how I handled the reporting though.

Make friends.

This one I knew from sports reporting. The men you sit next to on the press row are the same ones who might offer you a ride to your car later or charge to your phone if you have to have it. The same was true on the camera line Tuesday night. My friend needed a longer cable and what do you know, a nice neighboring cameraman obliged. Lesson learned here though: always get their names. That way you can track them down later to return aforementioned items and offer a thanks. We ran into some hurdles with that later. . . .

Plan, plan, plan.

And have a realistic idea of what you want to accomplish.

Mikaela and I went armed with a video camera, audio recorders and notepads. I was trying to live blog, write a print story, shoot a television package and get audio.

I about lost my mind.

Maybe if I had been impeccably organized with a rundown of shot list, how long each shot should be; interviews and questions–it would have been more manageable. But in the heat of a first time reporting with a camera in tow? It was a lot.

Get a mule.

Less reasonable. Broadcast-J students have a lot of stuff to carry.

At 11:30 p.m. as I’m walking a mile home from the bus stop I’m realizing what a lovely predator target I could have been. Here I am carrying a backpack, a tripod and a big camera bag. Easily 30 pounds of stuff. And that’s a light load. Note to self, plan for cabs.

You can’t get a mule; but I should have planned ahead better about getting home so late and with so much (expensive) equipment slowing me down.

You know at the end of the day, politics weren’t so different than sports.

There’s a winner and there’s a loser. There’s a next game and there’s a strategy behind what just happened on the field. There are coaches and MVPs; fans and supporters; there are bandwagoners and there are hecklers. They just have different labels and the game may not all unfold under the stadium lights quite like sports–but there are more similarities than I imagined. Maybe that’s a blog for another day when I’ve covered as many government events as athletic ones.

John Connolly's reception was a great event and election outcome to be covering.

John Connolly’s reception was a great event and election outcome to be covering.

But until then, I’ve at least crossed off one more 25 by 25 to be published in a new publication.

Not to put any pressure on myself, but there are still FIVE 25 by 25s to do before October 7; and that’s only 10 days away. I need to get going:

– Write a book proposal. (Pfft. I can already tell you–this sucker is not going to be checked off.)

– Volunteer time somewhere that really counts. Find a non-profit to dedicate passion. (Does volunteering with BUTV count? I need to check into this . . .)

– Try for other acting experience. (Yeah. About that.)

– Learn how to handle a firearm. Okay, and maybe shoot one too. (Damnit, I’ve had TWO friends attempt to cross this off with me this year and it just . . .hasn’t happened. Something tells me it would be easier if I were still in N.C.)

– See a play on Broadway. (This MIGHT be feasible.)

Wish me luck . . .

Turn it up, Monday morning: Bear’s Den

Week 39: Bear’s Den

Thanks to my friend Elizabeth (who was able to SEE The Lone Bellow up close this past weekend at the Americana Festival), I was pointed in the direction of Bear’s Den. It’s not surprise I love their music at this point. Acoustic flair? Banjo? Folk-rock style? Done, done and done. Check out this latest group who has spent some time opening for Mumford & Sons. Enjoy, and happy Monday!

Maine, Lobster Guts and Ignoring “Budgeting.”

Me doing Maine.

Me doing Maine.

As mentioned earlier in the week, I finally checked off Maine on 2013’s new states. I still find it hilarious that I entered the year wanting to visit one new state. Just one. And instead I’ve checked off:

– Utah

– Washington

– Minnesota

– Massachusetts

– New Hampshire

– Vermont

– Connecticut

– Maine

That’s flippin’ eight states. Blows my mind. No immediate plans to add a ninth state to the list this year. And out of the eight I liked them each in a different way.  After just getting a very small sampling of Maine, my instinct is: more! I want to rent a car and drive up to Bar Harbor so badly.

Boston University has been pretty great about connecting new students with each other and with older program students. Last weekend that meant an hour drive up to Kittery, ME for some clams, lobster and shopping.

I was such a new kid on the bus. No one to sit with.

But that was the plan, right?

Go without a plan and hope to make friends?

Lucky me, it worked out wonderfully. Met a girl, Sarah, from Germany who is in the States to study film. We come from very different backgrounds so there was a lot of bases to cover and discuss on the drive up.

I’m not sure how or why I had such a specific vision of what Maine would be; but it was exactly as expected.

Double chimneys.

Slat wood.

Lots of stone.

Weathervanes.

It was beautiful.

Like this.

Like this.

And like this.

And like this.

The day consisted of trying clams, which if I had to imagine what a booger tasted like I swear . . .

And then more lobster. We were eating in a beautiful open porch restaurant by the river.

Chauncey Creek. Kittery. Maine.

Chauncey Creek. Kittery. Maine.

Seriously, how adorable is Maine?

Seriously, how adorable is Maine?

Clams are weird.

Clams are weird.

Every time I get one of these, I feel like I should name it before I eat it. Is that weird? This is Lionel.

Every time I get one of these, I feel like I should name it before I eat it. Is that weird? This is Lionel.

It was great to actually get some guidance on how to avoid the lobster guts and not get grossed out eating this food that I’m supposed to be fully New-England style embracing.

I finally got over the guts.

What I’ve not gotten over is that I don’t have the same sustainable income as before Boston. The outlets were kind to me. I’ll leave it at that. I am at least being so practical as to only buy very warm or layerable things.

Granted I just did laundry for the first time today and $8 later for three loads of laundry, I’m kind of thinking I might just continue to buy new clothes instead of wash the old 😉

Maine was wonderful for new friends, new food, new state and new sights. Life is so full of NEW right now. And I’m overwhelmed with the feeling of adventure and pursuit. Weekends like Maine are just one more page in the book that is a New England transition. So far,  I think I pass.

News, News, News.

All I do is watch the news. And I love it. But I’m watching the news in a really heightened way these days. Every camera cut, every sentence I’m paying hyper attention to.

Going from a print journalist where words are the very brick and mortar of storytelling requires a really big transition to being a broadcast journalist where you have so many more assets––and such a different command of attention.

“Just write it like you would tell it, Ashley.”

I keep hearing that over and over.

Somehow I don’t understand why that’s a challenge when I seem to be able to master it here!

I’m having to tell myself it’s context. When I sit down to write a report on something serious like the Obama address or the demonstration at city hall–it seems like it needs to be formal.

I need to practice.

“Hey you guys, did you hear that Obama told Syria to watch themselves? Yeah, he’s going to see if some talks and trades with Vlad can maybe get this done without any fireworks. But it’s not for sure.”

Maybe not like that : ) But I need to loosen up!

Anyway, these are the things I’m thinking about on a busy Monday. I’m getting really paranoid about how life is going to be once this part-time assistantship starts up on top of classes. Oye! I need to get a balancing act down pat to keep it all together.

So, there you have it. Grad school isn’t all lunchables and field trips. (Even though, grad school is also about these things.)

More tomorrow about visiting another new state on a field trip this weekend! 

Turn it up, Monday morning: The Lone Bellow

Week 38: The Lone Bellow

Okay, who wants to accompany me to see The Lone Bellow in Boston on November 20 at The Paradise Rock Club? I absolutely love this indie folk rock from The Lone Bellow who originated in Brooklyn. The group just recently released a self-titled debut album which I’m quickly powering through. I love it so much and it’s amazing how much they kind of feel like The Genuine to me (they are still one of my favorite “Turn it Up” features I’ve ever done) out of Winston-Salem. I guess you could say this band’s music just feels like home.

A Sample Grad-School Friday.

Folks, Grad School is the bomb dot com.

Oh, yeah.

(Granted, I have not full time started two of my three assistantships — so please do not hold me to this same mentality next Friday.)

But for example.

This morning I got up quite early to be on campus at 8 a.m.

I grabbed a Boston Globe, I finished some homework and submitted it.  I went to class and learned how to work a camera.

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Dear God, please do not let me break or lose any of this expensive equipment this year.

You guys, nothing gets more odd looks than 15 grad students who have been sent to film five shots on their campus lawn–each with their own camera mind you. 15 grad students walking around trying to learn how to pan and hold a camera steady, zoom without whiplash and frame a picture well. That meant 15 grad students awkwardly filming students walking between buildings, bikes zooming down Comm Ave and birds who are too fast to keep in shot. We looked like total weirdos and I loved every second.

When that class was over, I had a break for lunch before having to go back to watch a “This American Life” documentary. Not really enough time to grab anything formal. So what do I do?

Made a decision that I had mixed feelings about.

I had a Lunchable.

I was overcome with:

1) Shame. Just shame.

2) Victory. Who’s beasted opening Caprisuns now, ey?

3) Satisfaction. 15 years later and these things are still delicious.

It was a fully ridiculous part of my afternoon.

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Fun fact, BU has a Beach. The BU Beach. That is where I was. It’s just a hill. On a river. It is not a beach in my book.

My day continued by going to watch “This American Life” documentary episode “John Smith” with some classmates for my production class. It was an hour of incredibility. The characters, phenomenal. The editing and storyline were beautiful. I laughed. I wanted to cry. (These people don’t know me well enough to cry quite yet.)

And now, with my weekend in full-out mode I’m off to the Farmer’s Market in Copley Square with the new roommate to take care of this grocery situation. Homegirl cannot keep eating lunchables!

Hope everyone is having a wonderful start to their weekend!!

Man In The Red Bandana

September 11 will always probably be a day that makes me cry.

And part of me doesn’t want there to be a September 11 that passes that makes me less sad; because then it seems like I would have forgotten a little. And there were so many heroes on that day who should never be forgotten.

Welles Crowther was my age on September 11, 2001. He was just 24 years old. ESPN produced an amazing piece on what a hero he truly was. It was a good reminder for me today, as always, on how much we lost and how much we stepped up on that terribly sunny and then smoky and then devastating September day.

Land Legs in Boston.

Sorry for the super lag.

Moving is crazy. Moving almost 15 hours away is even crazier.

You’re getting settled in a new place. You’re getting used to new transportation, different stores, a change in schedule. That just scratches the surface of the transition I’ve been going through. Every time I thought about updating the blog I felt like I had to have a polished picture of Boston so far. And you know what? It’s actually still kind of messy : ) So, hence me taking the pressure off of myself to give you perfect. Instead, I’ll just give an update.

It’s officially been a week and a half and it’s definitely not enough time to feel settled or for this to feel remotely like “home,” but it’s long enough to be getting my land legs back underneath me.

Moving weekend was a BONDING experience. Bonding in the sense that my butt was seriously bonded to that freaking moving truck. TMI? The family and I loaded up the Budget truck and after a wonderful dinner with family Friday night, we slept in a little Saturday; had a nice family breakfast; shared some long hugs and climbed up for a long drive.

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Mi + Familia.

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This is my “excited to get on the road” face. Super actress.

12 hours, four different radio-broadcast football games, miles of classic country, fields and fields and five state lines later we took a break in Scranton, Penn.

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Somewhere in Virginia.

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More Virginia. We were in Virginia FOREVER.

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And I have no clue where this was.

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More Virginia. Like seriously, we were in VA forever.

It took us a whopping 19 hours to actually get to Boston because a) moving trucks are a little slower than the average speedster and b) there was a lot of torrential rain we had to drive through. I consider myself a professional driver of all sorts now that I completed this huge road test. The first thing that Dad and I did when we got here was to hop the train down to the Wharf to check out Faneuil Hall and get some lobster (duh).

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Me + Dad. So glad he made the trip with me.

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So, I guess I live here now?

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First lobster. And can I say, the middle is gross. Just saying. A New England bit that I need to work on.

That night we checked out the empty apartment for the first time and I was so happy to see that it was a lot bigger than I had prepared myself for. I think him and I slept like rocks that night and got up BRIGHT and early for me to take him to the airport at 5 a.m. Driving a moving truck test three? Drive a moving truck in pouring rain in Boston to the airport and back. I got lost in Charlestown somehow, missed exit and whatnot. I tried to get out of there fairly quickly.

Moving day was CRAZY. Moved all my stuff in by noon and then hurried to orientation. I think that’s the day that it was really hitting me “Goodness, I’m a student again.”

I don’t know why I didn’t plan differently than I did; but the way the week went I moved in – had orientation – went to bed – had a full first day of class. It was nuts. That night when I got home I went to bed at 7 p.m. and didn’t wake up the next day until 7:30 a.m. I was EXHAUSTED.

No car; so I’m adjusting to using public transportation which I actually really adore.

New roommates; so it’s not just me anymore : ).  So far, that has been good too. Luckily I was able to gradually transition back to roommates after living with my old college roommate/best friend for a month in-between my Winston apartment and the new Boston adventure.

After a full week of classes I’m left with a few key thoughts that I’ll share and then I promise I’ll be more organized here on out:

1) Boston is beautiful. I love history. I love architecture. I love all of the greenery and parks mixed with city. I love it. I was able to just wander around a lot this weekend and I was constantly adoring the sights and feeling grateful to spend some time here.

2) Boston University faculty are amazing. I had a great team of professors at Appalachian State and it’s thanks to them that I am prepared for this level of study. There is a stark difference in the faculty (predominantly full-time professors) that I had at Appalachian and now the faculty that I have in Boston. My professors are almost all still involved in the industry; many are publishing books; others are producing for Nightline or serving as commentators on MSNBC. Seriously, it’s an incredible mix to be able to learn from and I just know that I’ve put myself in a great place for this new career change.

3) It’s really fun to get outside your comfort zone. I’m being open to life right now. I’m in this huge life change where I took a leap and a risk. It’s incredibly exciting and invigorating. I’m trying to take it outside of school and Boston though and just be open to new friends, trying new food, going new places, being open to dating like a 24-year-old typically would and just having a good time.

4) Oh my, how did I do a college schedule!? What will balance that freewill to a good time? My INSANE schedule. I was amazingly blessed to receive two teacher assistantships and a graduate assistantship. Which is a lot. On top of 18 hours of classes. Well, that’s a hella lot. I’m hoping I don’t have to step away from any of them but right now I’m easing my way into a schedule to see what’s feasible. My first and foremost priority will be school. Period. Monday through Friday are going to be nutso; but you know–if you realize it’s short-term you just have to enjoy it for what it is.

5) You can’t really carry that many groceries in .7 mile. So, in my transportation adjustments––sure, I’m getting used to not driving to school and work. But there are also things like the grocery store? It’s nuts. I went yesterday and was SO PROUD to carry home: apples, bananas, oranges, pork chops, carrots and 2 things of frozen vegetables. Haha, I joke that I’m going to turn into a French woman who just buys what she eats each day.

More updates more regularly I promise. And back on schedule with Turn It Up next Monday! ❤