Wake Up

July 15, 2008

I woke up in a cold sweat twenty minutes before the alarm buzzed 7 o clock. I’d been having crazy dreams all summer, probably because I a) get up to pee five time a night, b) created a turning roadblock (also known as body pillow), inhibiting my old lady hips to shift when they get sore, and c) I have no time (or will) to exercise–so my brain is ready for bed–but that’s about it. These dreams left me disoriented when I woke up, but usually faded on my 40 minute drive downtown with 100.9 cranked passed carhorns. But today, I stirred in place, sick to my stomach and unable to dry the glaze that coated my already tired eyes.  

I had written a riveting screenplay to “Batman,” or I suppose “Batman II-underwater adventures,” that involved high speed chases among seaweed and treasure chests. I guess I was anticipating the upcoming movie, or just really wanted to write a mind-blowing play where Batman hides behind velvet curtains and then ends up in a spider web in my childhood back yard.

So far, the dream is pretty standard for my summer nights. After the movie/play acted itself out and I withdrew from Batman’s sidekick’s body, I rushed to show the screenplay to my nameless friend. Let’s just say, he almost shat himself it was so good. I then showed it to my father, and that’s when the nightmare began.

He finished the screenplay and sat it down expressionless, as if to say it was fine enough not to merit a grimace, but not mindblowing, pants-shitting good. He didn’t comment on the logic or writing, but rather looked at me with all the seriousness of an afternoon surgery and said: Why are you wasting your life?

I woke up with similar questions. Why did it matter whether my screenplay was the next “Good Will Hunting” or “Batman: underwater adventures” ?  Why does what I’m doing matter whatsoever to my future? Why the fuck did I decide to be a writing major?  Why did I get into journalism fully knowing it’s competitive, not well-paid, and “dying?” And lastly, how am I ever going to live and work in a safe, comfortable place with a terrible economy, and when crime in Indy right now pretty much equals crime in the Bronx?

These questions left me grumpy over my waffles and irritable at the chatter on 100.9. I pulled into Eyewitness News, the number one news station in Indy, thinking “What’s the point?” “Why am I here?” I knew it was an honor to be able to walk into those doors every morning, but today, I could hear my dad saying: “Why are you wasting your life?”

This isn’t a cry for someone to negate my father’s dream-statement, because I know deep down, that his point is something I should’ve thought of a long time ago. Before it was too late to become an engineer, a doctor, a biologist, a businesswoman, or even a lawyer.

All I know is that I can write. I can edit almost better than I can write. I can research, be resourceful, and ask questions from every angle. I can learn quickly, and to be honest, any job in this field can be learned by doing rather than a class where you sit and listen. I can get people to say things they’ll never say to anyone else, and they trust me enough to present that information correctly and with care. Now, I can edit video (poorly, but hey, still learnin) and do photoshop, but all of those were learned by doing rather than in a college classroom or j-program. To me, the news is a vital part of our society, whether it’s TV, internet, newspaper (wah wah), or radio. I want to make news, make history, through my writing, and soon my speaking if I keep at it. It’s for these reasons that I got into this in the first place, just like anyone else: because I like it, and because I’m good at it.

But in the end, is going for something you like, and you’re good at, totally pointless? What if the thing you like and are good at won’t feed your family? What if it wont even get you a job? What if it will leave you with minimal vacations, long hours, and no social life, leading to no husband or friends? That’s when you have to ask yourself–am I good enough to excel at this enough to make all of those worth it–or am I just wasting my life?


Being an Austin Woman part 1: The Internship

September 28, 2007

The entire reason I am down here is to figure out if I have wasted five years of my life pursuing a dead end career in journalism.  I remember the first time I got published in my high school newspaper and felt the rush of excitement seeing my name, my thoughts, my writing in print for everyone to see. It felt even better when it showed up in TIME magazine. My parents were probably half proud and half overwhelmed with a sense of doom, knowing my peak publishing would hit as a seventeen year old.

But they somehow allowed me to stop my present life, take a semester off of class, and work full time (well…more than full time with MY work ethic…) at a local Austin magazine. The most shocking thing about the office wasn’t its striking difference from the gargantuous USA TODAY building. It wasn’t the fact that the oldest person looked like she could be my sorority sister. And it wasn’t the warm dampness that settles in my face within one hour of sitting there (you gotta love the Austin weather..). The most shocking thing for me was just how much I could make a difference. Since when did the future of a magazine depend on a student intern?

Austin is known for its unusual liberalism, sweet music scene, hippy-esque emphasis on environmentally friendly products, and most importantly, the small business. There aren’t any Friday’s, Wal Marts, Cheesecake Factories, or Paneras within the heart of the city. The most popular hangouts are known by word of mouth only, which makes it difficult for a tourist. Austin Woman Magazine is the epitome of small business: magazine archive shed and all. In theory, everyone helps out everyone else. Everyone takes out the trash, runs Sonic errands (mmm oreo shake..) for each other, emails annoying clients for each other, and picks up the slag. I’ve learned that I get to do ALL of that for everyone. This job has taught me now little responsibility I’ve had at home and how much I need to conquer now. Basically, I do everything the managing editor of a publication would normally do, but with the title of “assistant.” I edit literally any text (ads included) that go into the magazine. I compile all text. I write text. I organize who writes. I hire who writes. In essence, I “manage” all writing and those involved (photographers, PR, writers, interns) along with anything the people in the office need. It is exactly what I’ve wanted to do. And for a while, it has sucked the soul out of me.

 I don’t do 7 am. I sit there zoned out for a good hour sifting through countless viagra ads, begging freelancers, and chain pitches who try to get their bullshit products in the magazine. Frequent facebook and AIM breaks are necessary to take breaks from dealing with the different emails and requests. It is extremely eye opening in many ways. I feel like a little lizard who got his tail pulled off by a curious 7 year-old boy. I was put into a strange environment and put through severe stress that almost wounded my self confidence. Face it: it isn’t easy being the new kid. Even though I’ve never had trouble making friends or finding someone to party with on weekends, the little moments: like driving in the car, running errands, or having lunch, started to get to me. The job, the after job-job, the apartment drama, the social weaving, and the personal maintenance has allowed me to grow that tail back–gradually and sometimes painfully. Oh life lessons. But that is for another segment.

Being an Austin Woman

September 28, 2007

This blog has been long overdue. I guess I was discouraged for a few reasons.

1) My internet comes in and out in my apartment: It’s “sporadic” if you will..

2) I work more than 12 hour days and usually pass out in bed when I get home and/or do MORE work that I didn’t finish at my job

3) I start writing something and wordpress DOESN’T SAVE WHAT I WRITE….maybe for the best.

4) It is becoming impossible to encompass everything I experience on a daily basis

5) I want to make sure I’ve made up my mind about the different aspects of living in Austin, TX. 20 hours from home, hundreds of miles from friends and family, 8 months away from school, and four months away from my comfortable, well-built life at DePauw.

My marketing director, who looks maybe two years older than me, was inspiration for starting my blog again.

“You are never going to figure this place out. Once you get it down, it’ll be time to go home,” she said in her high-pitched cute voice. She would know. She’s lived here through all four years of college and still gets lost.

I think it would be best to separate my blog entries by categories, seeing as I have ALOT of catching up to do. This shall be the “intro” to my life as an “Austin Woman.” I say this not just because that happens to be the name of my magazine, but because here-i am not a kid anymore. I don’t go to class, get my meals homecooked, get my bathrooms cleaned, don’t get things paid for. I am living in the unfortunate state called the young adult’s real world–except I am still at the age and maturity level of maybe a sophomore in college.  All kinds of challenges, mental, physical, common-sense, social, and emotional have come my way in full force. But it wasn’t until I slammed my little white camery into the back of a blue bug that I realized I needed to grow the fuck up.

Bye to ole Gcastle

August 20, 2007

While Javaneh unloads boxes of pictures and colorful sorority parafinalia into her closet-size dorm, I cram myself into the small windowside nook and “help” like a good sister should. I buy Austin City Limits tickets, text about every DePauw person worth seeing for the T-24hrs I’m on campus, and stare at my facebook wall full of jabs at my latest profile picture: The Rolling Stones shot of Zac Efron. An apparently controversial move since he’s a year younger than me and is best known as a 15-year-old in Disney movies. All I can say to those who “poke” fun (cheap facebook pun) is that in the Rolling Stones picture, he definitely doesn’t look 15. And it’s much more entertaining to look at than a snapshot of myself most likely with sunglasses and twisting my mouth sideways. But no need to worry. If i ever want to make friends in Texas who are my age or male, the picture will change immediately.

Campus seemed the same as I last time left it, but as I put myself back into the familiar sorority corridors, the feeling I got from being at school completely changed. I felt like someone’s home-town friend visiting for the first time in search of a spontaneous, crazy DePauw experience- complete with free frat “festivities,” boulder runs, Marvins garlic cheeseburgers, and the inevitable drunken hookup, which would be convenient since you never made sleeping arrangements. What? You’re friends didn’t do that when they visited your school?

Seeing as I wanted NONE of those to occur on my one-day visit, the thrill of staying at DePauw on a Saturday night the week before classes start left me with a headache and sinking desire to nap. As a sophomore, the excitement was still circulating through me because of the promised reuniting with friends, new living arrangements, new duplex parties, and the professions of a memorable year to come. It is true what people say. Your world shrinks when you get older in college. Friends graduate, go abroad, transfer, or take their precious time getting back to school. But my last night was all about last laughs and promises of frequent AIM chats and phone calls when I get tired of trying to create my new life in Austin.

As I type, the melodramatic boom of lightening strikes as my friend Naomi drives home at 1 am. Although the weather set the mood for a night of nostalgia and weeping, my good-byes felt more like “I’ll call you later”s. It might hit me that I wont see my twin sister, or any of my good friends, for months on end. But for now I focus on the incoming drunk dials from a party I would be planted at as we speak if I was on campus.  Instead I watch High School Musical 2 with the neighbor kids and figure out how many hundreds of dollars of gas I will spend tomorrow.

A part of me wants to stay awake four more hours until I have to start the 15 hour drive because I know the minute I wake up will be the start of something new. Something more exhilarating, lonely, “real world,” and life changing. Seeing as this process will take a few days to begin, I will be computerless for a while and unable to check on the facebook oggles of Zac Efron or complain about the loss of feeling in my legs. Till then, bring on the new year.

Hello world! Write out Loud!

August 17, 2007

So, I finally did it. “Goleladan,” (since “Ladan” apparently is a more common name than I thought…) has made her way into blogging. “Gole” means flower in Farsi, and Ladan is a small, orange flower known as a nastranium in the US. So after a struggle for a name and title,  it only took me all summer to gather up the courage to do it. Ironically, as a writer, I am very self conscious about having others read what I have to say. But after spending two months in D.C. and seeing the joy, and necessity, of “writing out loud and proud,” I figured it would be best to start the day before the next chapter of my life…

With my life packed in boxes for the fifth time in one year, I have learned to weed out the extraneous gadgets that my mom would most likely “pitch” the minute I left the house. I’ve decreased the amount of things considered valuable and worth hauling around big cities such as London, Vienna, Boston, Washington D.C., soon-to-be Austin, and my alma mater, Greencastle, IN. Once the packing rituals begin for me and my two other siblings, we know if those torn up pair of lucky shoes ever want to survie the move, they must be hidden from my mom’s radar. In D.C., I managed to “destroy,” as kindly put by my sister, four pairs of shoes purchased in June. But these shoes hold memories of nightly trecks through Georgetown, weekly touring, dancing, the 1.5 hr commute to work at USA Weekend, and many more moments from my incredible summer.  However, once I was put back to reality in Carmel, IN, the cracked heels were tossed aside, and a new, less inspiring pair was bought for my next move two weeks later…

Like the shoes, my summer attachments were “pitched” and I had to move forward. I didn’t even have time to mourn the end of the summer and the fact that I would never run into the people I spent almost sixty consecutive days with. The facebook pictures and lengthly message chains would suffice for a few months while I start the process all over again. You know what process I’m talking about…

We all have to do this at least once a year, and even more if you travel for a semester or summer. The awkward “I want friends…any friends at this point since I dont know a soul…” phase. My hallway at American University was particularly troubling for my sister and I at first because all the students seemed almost afraid of being “that kid.” The brave yet sweaty individual who had the ego (or desperation) to approach a group of kids and start the ice breakers. I didn’t face this at DePauw as a freshman because I came to the school knowing many kids by high schools and having organized groups where the leaders forced these encounters upon us. Even though we acted too cool, they probably saved ourselves a few lonely nights in the dorms. Upon my first few days in DC, I assumed the overt friendliness must be a Midwestern thing…

I noticed the shy glances, the deep breaths and opening mouths that indecisively turned to their trusty cell phones and away from a new face.  The awkwardness was almost comical. On the bus, a girl who looked about my age and like someone I could have a few things in common with just stared in search for words. At this point I had had enough of the trembling standoffs and took the blow for her as “that kid.” She gasped in excitement as we bonded over our common fear of living in a big city and learning the ropes at a big company. Strange how something so simple could take this much nerve.

I left this summer meeting a number of great people and leaving with over 20 great friends I will be checking up on from time to time. And all of those friendships started by being “that kid.” The beginning was rough, but if you remember that EVERYONE ELSE is going through exactly what you are, then it pays to be awkward. We all have goals, exciting youthful futures, and the same desire to party and live up the thousands of dollars we’re spending at school, internships, study abroad, and summer programs. It’s alot less stressful with an accomplice (aka my twin sister), but this time I will have to learn to fend for myself. Each city and each internship will be different, but the process of starting from square one will reoccur and mold me a different way. Already the thought of something new is exhilirating because I’ve always wanted to cook, work for actual money (haha…that’s a laugh), work out every day, and find my writing voice. With Austin in front of me, DC behind me, and DePauw in the background of all of this, I know I cannot-and will not- throw away what I’ve learned like my new yet retired wedge cut heels….