Adventure

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My boyfriend Grant says there’s no middle ground with me. Either it’s one extreme of the other. Maybe he has a point since I consider our non-dinner-and-a-movie dates “adventures.”

Yesterday we went on an adventure.

We started the day off by roaming Barnes and Noble and picking up a few summer reads. On my list were The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers and The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. Grant bought The Best Short Stories of O. Henry and The Complete Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

After a pit stop at the LSU Student Union, we headed to downtown Baton Rouge to visit the Irene W. Pennington Planetarium. We were the only two viewers of the 2 p.m. showing of Digital Universe, which was quite mind boggling. When I think of the size of our world within the known universe, I feel small and insignificant. Anytime I marvel God’s creation is humbling. It was also a surprise when I read in the credits that family friend Bob Courtney had voiced the film!

Then we drove north three miles along the river levee to the towering beauty that is the Louisiana State Capitol. We entered the magnificent entrance hall and turned right toward the House of Representatives. My ZTA sister Missy met us in the peanut gallery above the bustling chamber to fill us in on her job as a page. She told us about the myriad of gifts the legislators receive: flowers, fruit and one day bushels of fresh tomatoes from a local farm. Missy scurried back downstairs before it was found out she was missing, and Grant and I listened to the questioning of the bill on the floor. The representatives spat out data and numbers, bounced from desk to desk, and asked leading questions to throw off the bill author. Grant was on the edge of his seat, his right leg jittering like it does when he’s concentrating. His eyes were wide and his lips pursed.

It was adorable.

“This is what I want to do,” he said.

Thanks for reading,
Danielle

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So you want to write a blog

Hello world,

This is Danielle Kelley, logging into yet another blogging website. Let’s see how WordPress does. I’ve tried writing in multiple outlets, but I can’t seem to maintain the digital trail all my professors have been harping on me for. I study at the Manship School of Mass Communication at only the best college in the country – Louisiana State University.

Geaux Tigers.

I began my days at LSU wanting to be a journalist. I snagged a job at the campus paper, The Daily Reveille (which by the way, just won SPJ’s Best Daily Student Newspaper). I loved the adrenaline rush of deadline. I burned inside when I came up with a great question for a source. The Reveille was great, and my journalism classes were wonderful, but there were just a few thoughts that kept annoyingly buzzing in my brain. I tried to swat the pest-y questions away, but ultimately my brain beat my heart in a senseless battle.

What if I was assigned the crime beat my first few years at a “real” paper?

One of my honest instructors sat the small print news editing class down, and gave us a heart-to-heart. “Your first job will be the crime beat. No one wants the crime beat, so the editor gives it to the newest reporter on the job. You will have your cell phone on loud at night, in case you have to cover a murder in the early morning hours. You will have to interview weeping mothers, sobbing wives. You’ll have to ask them intrusive questions that go against instinct.”

Then he told us about a recent story he had to cover: a man on bath salts attacked his pregnant wife with a knife and cut the fetus out of her. The baby did not survive, and she barely did.

“How do you write that? How did you interview those sources?” I asked him.

He told me he’d built up a defense wall to the emotions. This is why editors give young reporters the crime beat; if you don’t learn to desensitize, you mentally and emotionally won’t be able to write hard news.

That week, my boyfriend’s fraternity brother was killed by a drunk driver. The Pike boys asked me to write his obituary. I interviewed his pledge brothers about Miles’ personality, hobbies and legacy. It was difficult to witness these boys try so hard to act like their idea of men. Some spoke softly and stared at the ground in disbelief. One laughed and smirked as if I couldn’t see the despair in his eyes.

I went to the newsroom and sat down at the computer. Everyone smiled at me halfheartedly as I entered; they saw my puffy eyes. After deleting the fourth draft of a lead, one of the editors moved my direction. He opened his mouth, paused, furrowed his eyebrows and turned around. No one could help me, and no one wanted to. They all knew one day they would have to write their first obituary.

I knew I could never build up my professor’s wall to pain, grief and emotion. I’m not sure if I would even want to not feel anger that a young soul was taken because of drunk driving.

After the obituary ran, I met with my counselor to ask her to switch my concentration from journalism to public relations. I would still write, but without the crime, death and destruction.

Writing is cathartic, but only if you write about your own life.

Thanks for reading,
Danielle