Friday, April 29, 2005

Brush yourself off

The first time I applied to the journalism school they didn't let me in. Seriously. Those mothercukers couldn't handle my shit. Here at this university of tens of thousands these J-skool jerks think they can pick and choose the kids with the brightest futures as reporters and advertisers and PR bitches by looking at their GPA's and their high-school transcripts and their work in some intro level course and some essay they make us write write about a good news column and why we want to be a journalist. You will never get a straight answer out of someone if you ask the why they want to be something. Ever. The thing is, the best reporters aren't the kids with the high GPA because they're out there on the street getting their hands dirty.

I had a good GPA. I'm a bad reporter. But the reason they didn't let me in had to do with my essay. It was concise, well written, lacking in even a single grammatical error and brilliant. But the hoighty-toighteys on the review board got all hot and bothered when I tried to break out of the "so and so is my favorite writer and I want to be a journalist because I want to make a difference yadayadayadashootmenow" bullshit.

So I wrote about some really old columns by Maureen Dowd in The New York Times. I told them how they were smart and funny and passively viscous and how more recently I don't know if her writing strikes the same kind of chords in me but I'll still read them anyway. I told them how cool it was to have a running dialogue with the people of the US. It's like a cozy corner of the newspaper where, no matter what crazy shit went on the day before, you can always find a comfy cozy voice. And I told them that because everyone gets their news on demand from the internet and cable news that in the future, smart newspapers will be filled with more columns with more opinions because people will only read the newspaper if it can offer them more than just the who, what, when, where and how. They want it to make them feel comfy. (Of course this was all before I even dreampt of a blog)

They loved all that. They ate it up. But even though it's the journalist's job to paint a colorful picture with the facts, they just could take a dose of some cold,hard reality. You see, I wanted to give them a quirkier glimpse into my life and my sarcasm and my ridiculous. So I did what a journalist should do and told the whole story. Sure I read Maureen Dowd's column. Sure I enjoyed it. So I read it on the toilet. Doesn't telling them that add to the color of the character?

I sure thought so. They didn't. When the letter came I wasn't angry. It just made me want to get in even more to prove them wrong. It also gave me an excuse to take the next year off and join the pro sports tour. That was another adventure people wanted to deny me. I remember the first morning I walked downstairs in my pajamas and annouced to my mom that I was going to be a professional.... She smiled her condecending smile. She smiled when I called up the only team I knew of and told them I wanted to join. She smiled at my first competition and eventually somewhere in there that smile turned into one of pure disbelief and admiration. Now I can't count the number of Olympian's phone numbers in my phone on one hand. That year was hands down the most amazing year of my life. I am stronger, iwser, more sure of myself and happier than I ever was before.

And when I came back I applied again (minus the toilet joke). Since then I've had a crazy good run, I've got straight A's in every reporting class, and I even managed to work some serious bathroom humor into one of the articles that my professor held up to class for breaking the conventions of the conventional journalism that is keeping us down. And now I'm 95% sure I'll be in LA rocking out at probably the coolest internship any of these kids is going to get this summer.

So last weekend at the scholarship banquet when they awarded one of the largest sums of money to me I would have loved to write "bite me" on my ass and show the whole room, but instead I just stood there grinning, knowing that all they players just got played.

And the point is Tony, that when you want it bad, no one can keep you from getting it. What's one more year to change your life when you're already 111?


Blogger Albert L Berriz said...

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1:35 AM  
Blogger Mo said...

j school hoity toitys are fucking bastards.

12:52 PM  
Blogger eric said...

i couldn't get out of journalism school fast enough.

the thing about being a journalist/writer, at least to me, is that you are either able to do it or not. it takes a certain brain wiring and general disposition.

what a lot of the academians in their bubble worlds fail to realize is that what they are teaching you only goes so far, and a lot of times has little value.


2:14 PM  
Blogger Tayden said...

I pretty sure I have the complete wrong wiring and disposition. I can already feel it. I won't ever be the kind of journalist who works for the local newspaper. That's probably the closest thing to hell I could ever imagine. Really, I just want to write about me.

2:58 PM  
Blogger Your every day girl said...

i wish i were captain america, they'd let you go wherever you wanted then.

8:53 PM  
Blogger eric said...

i think most journalists would prefer to write about themselves.

the only thing is ... it's hard to make money doing that, unless, of course, you're an incredibly interesting person.

but even that requires an ability to share it in a way that also connects with other people. that's not easy. absent that, many find they have to pay the electric bill first.


2:53 PM  

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