Category Archives: Late night

‘Cause my heart’s become a crooked hotel full of rumors

As a journalist, you have to keep your hand close to your chest. I always thought this was more of a cautionary tale taught in school: don’t make your opinions public, don’t have a bias. But who cares about me? Who’s actually paying attention to the things I say to my friends or on social media? Well, someone somewhere will be paying attention and that can really bite you in the ass if you’re not careful.

With race returning to the forefront of the media and all of the stories of suspected police brutality, it’s hard not to want to share an opinion, or a comment or even like a status on Facebook.

I told my cousin recently, “I haven’t made a comment one way or the other about the Michael Brown or Eric Garner or Tamir Rice case because I don’t want people to know where I stand on these issues in case I’m asked to cover something related to the topic. I’m scared to even like news stories.”

I know this may seem asinine, especially since a good journalist can write without showing an ounce of bias and ensuring the story is completely fair, true. But in this day and age of technology always getting the better of the least cautious, I’m too afraid to take any risk. And I guess in a way it paid off because tomorrow I’m covering a protest against the deaths of Brown, Garner and Rice.

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All that I know is I’m breathing

IMG_6008Forgive me for going almost a month without blogging. I hope your holiday was wonderful and the upcoming one is just as joyous. It’s been an increasingly difficult month for me, and I’m trying to just get one foot in front of the other at the moment. Baby steps. But, don’t worry. I’m here, I’m fine and we’re going to get through this month. Of course by “we” I mean “I” and by “through this” I mean “if you choose to read along you’ll come on this journey with me.”

My Juvenile Detention Center story is finished, and I’m emotionally all over the place about this. This project has been my baby for the past month, and it has been the only thing I can focus on for the last week. I can hardly explain how vaguely cathartic, yet frustrating revisions can be. I wrote the first draft of this story in early November after my first session at the JDC. I used bits and pieces of that first draft in my second write up after my second session at the detention center last week, and have since landed on my … I want to say sixth revision. I always feel like I’m going three steps forward and then, like, 14 back. It’s just this endless cycle of “oh, I like this,” “no, wait, this is shit.” “okay, this is much better … oh, no it’s not.” And on and on and on.

After draft number three I sent a copy of the story to my mom. I asked, “What don’t you get in this story?” It turned out to be extremely helpful, but she also didn’t sound captivated by the story, and to be totally, brutally honest — I was crushed. I’m glad that this happened though, because it pushed me to keep writing.

Another revision completed, my editor and I went over copy No. 4 on Sunday and he told me, “the parts of this story where you’re talking to me as Kalhan and you’re confident are captivating, but you get too formal and hesitant and it completely drops the momentum. You have a magnificent voice. You need to use it.”

And with that advice in mind I said, “You’re right. F*ck it.” And I stopped caring about menial formalities and words like “incarcerated females” or “garnered mixed reactions” and I just told the damn story. I still can’t tell if it’s any good (I’m standing too close at the moment), but I get the vibe it is. I sent a few chunks of rewrite to my editor to which he replied, “(now I) love it. That’s Kalhan talking, which is how it should be.”

I hope this does the girls justice. I’m so afraid I’ll have put so much into this story just to have it fall on its face. But, hey, learning or something … right? I guess we’ll see. The story gets its final read on Wednesday before it goes into the system for publishing on Monday.

I just keep reminding myself about those baby steps. Just get your foot back in front of the other, I think to myself. One breath in. One breath out. And the minutes go by. Once this story is in the can I’m going to need another big lead. Bigger than this. Bigger than Belize (not that Belize is done in any regard, it’s just so long term sometimes I lose sight of the next point of contact). Just bigger, more consuming. And I think the answer to that predicament is sitting in the bottom drawer of my nightstand.

I’ll let you know if I’m right. Next week on Seria — uh, I mean, what?

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It’s yours to find

Do you ever feel like your fate sits on the edge of a knife? Lean one way and it’ll fall into chaos. Lean the other and it’ll fall into place. That’s kind of where I’m at right now.

I can’t tell you anything about the story I want to tell you about so desperately, but I think this teeter-totter feeling has a lot to do with it. Like I am sitting on the potential cusp of something really important, and I’m just not sure what’s going to happen. I actually feel this way in many aspects of my life right now.

In addition to this mystery story, I’ve been working really hard on getting application material ready for internship season. I sent off one application to The Boston Globe (*heavy breathing*) and I’m working on applications for The Overseas Press Club, WaPo and The L.A. Times Washington D.C. Bureau. I missed the deadline on a few opportunities like The Miami Herald and the Tampa Bay Times, but if I’m being perfectly honest, I really want to leave Florida. So maybe I subconsciously blew those deadlines so I’d have to find a way out. Also, if you know me, you know I just love to sign myself up for responsibilities that are way over my head and then rise to the occasion.

EN staff writer, breaking news reporter, editor-in-chief, Will Write For Food staff writer, news clerk, associate multimedia journalist. Each one scarier than the last. Each one a way way way bigger challenge. I don’t know why I love this strange form of masochism, but I come out on the other side a better writer and a stronger person, so I guess it’s a good kind of struggle.

But here’s the thing: This is what makes me happy.

Having something to look forward to. Having a challenge. Being challenged. That’s where I excel. Again, I think this is why I’m so stoked for this potential story I can’t talk about. (We need a codeword for this story so I can stop calling it “the story I can’t talk about, yet somehow manage to keep talking about” so lets just call it Project NoFla). Both the applications and Project NoFla could fall through, but the work and effort toward that goal is what gets me out of bed in the morning. I really love this. And so, because of that, life in this moment is good.

WARING: OBNOXIOUS BASKETBALL TANGENT: Okay (I know I’m violating AP Style, leave me alone), other things I need to talk to you about: THE MIAMI HEAT ARE BACK. EVERY ONE ELSE CAN SUCK EGGS. CHRIS BOSH SCORED 30 PTS TONIGHT. NUHH UHH CAN’T TELL ME NOTHIN’… I’m really sorry, I know I’m embarrassing myself, but I just get so excited for that Miami Heat basketball. Spoiler alert: You’re going to have to deal with this for the rest of the season. TANGENT OVER.

WARNING:photo 1 FLORIDA WEATHER TANGENT: And speaking of season, today was the first cold day in South Florida. It’s 52 degrees in the Gulf right now, and I’m absolutely freezing. My New York blood has completely run thin, but I am so in love with this part of the year in this state. I want to drive everywhere with my windows down, my heat blasting and a good playlist drowning out the noise of the wind as it rips past my windows on the highway. I know there’s one person who totally gets this. TANGENT OVER.

SUPER IMPORTANT PSA. IF YOU’RE ONLY READING ONE THING HERE, MAKE IT THIS: Oh, yeah. I almost forgot. GO VOTE PLEASE. PLEASE. NO SERIOUSLY. AMERICA. VOTE. Yes, we all know the midterms aren’t as sexy and exciting as the presidential election, but there are some huge items on the ballot that need to be looked at in every state. Please, do your civic duty as a free American citizen; educate yourself and vote.

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Let us shine for what it’s worth

I need a moment to gush about my job.

I hang out with interesting people, listen to their stories and share them — then I get a paycheck. (Okay, so I won’t be a millionaire any time soon, but who cares when you love what you do? Right? Right.)

Also, I just so happen to be in a tremendously lucky position. I work with phenomenal editors, who trust me, which is infinitely invaluable, I assure you. Without that, I wouldn’t have 80-plus stories filed in the last eight months. I wouldn’t have my first pitched and produced story published. I wouldn’t have lasted this long.

Spending the day with a person, getting to know a piece of them and then conveying that is an especially rare and precious gift. It’s so intimate and the pressure is immense, but when you do it right — there’s nothing like it.

My advice: if you can tell stories for a living, do it. If you can tell stories for a short period of time, do it. If you can tell stories forever, yours just might end up more interesting than those you tell.

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Brookyln, Brooklyn take me in

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 3.35.43 PMHello internet. It’s time to start a big girl blog, and so, here we are. This is going to be a quick entry but I hope you’ll take a look around and let me know what you think. I’ve been hard at work on editing my Belize story (longer post explanation on that to come), but every time I feel like I’m starting to perfect it, I find that it’s all wrong and needs a major overhaul. I think this is just one of the pratfalls of being a writer, but it’s rough.

Anyway, it’s almost 3 a.m., and I have classes to sleep through in the morning — SIDENOTE: I’ll warn you now, a theme of this blog for the next six to eight months will be the angst of a 24-year-old college student. It won’t be bad, I promise. I just need to transfer some of this annoyance into cyber space — so I’m going to get to bed in a minute.

I’m going to New York next month (although I really had my heart set on seeing the boyf in Los Angeles) and I am so excited to get a break from Fort Myers. It’s weird. I know in like three to five years, when I’m settled into my apartment on St. Marks and First in the East Village, I’ll be sifting through wrinkled laundry, trying to find something suitable for an interview with some envelope-pusher or big-wig in the city, and I’ll have a momentary flashback to my college days in Florida and deep nostalgia will set in. I’ll actually miss this place.

But right now, all I can think of is getting to that point. I can’t wait.

Thanks for stopping by.

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