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11:09 p.m. - 2016-02-18
Maybe my soul sings for a reason
My state's biggest paper, which never has openings because it is a union shop and pays better than anyone, has an opening. It's for a reporter on the metro desk, which basically means covering city stuff, I assumed ... politics, crime, education, whatever. Still, I couldn't help but start gathering clips. That place is like East Germany behind the iron curtain.

Then I re-read the post ... the specialty is health/science.

The last place I worked, where I was the health/science reporter (and a damned good one) considered health/science part of the "features" department, not metro ...

Anyway, did I apply? Oh fuck yes. I am an experienced health/science reporter and I am a registered nurse, which has got to be a major bonus. I explained in my cover letter that I became a nurse because I felt it was the best way to advance my reporting career (which is true).

Then I called the metro editor and made my pitch. He said the position is still "wide open" even though it was posted Jan. 27, and that he "will definitely be in touch." He said he got my e-mail package and appreciates the heads up, because sometimes things get lost. He was scrolling through it while we chatted, and he said he is from Vermont too. "I love Vermont but it is a very small state," I said. He said, "Can't make a living there." And we both laughed.

I jumped into bed with Andi and woke her up and told her the C--- has a health/science opening and I applied and talked to the metro editor and he's nice. She said, "Your heart is beating like 110 beats per minute. I don't think I've ever seen you this excited about anything."

It wasn't my plan to go back to full-time reporting -- it was my plan to gain experience as a nurse and freelance and someday do humanitarian nursing and write about it, and maybe, maybe, make the world a better place. As I told the metro editor, Rick, "I planned to concentrate on nursing full-time for at least a year. But when I saw your job opening, I couldn't NOT apply."

I told him I am interested in freelance as well, and he seemed receptive.

If I got that job it would be the best thing in the world. I could still work as a nurse per diem on the weekends and gain experience and keep my license. And I would gain so, so much as a journalist. I haven't written for money since I have been in nursing school, and that is a serious lapse in my resume. Doing health/science again would take care of that.

I hate not writing. I remember as a teenager that I decided I was a writer because if that was one thing that was taken away from me -- and I was also an artist and musician -- I would stifle and die.

At the time I thought I wanted to write fiction, but years of writing non-fiction, and a max of 30 inches of it, have taught me to love journalism for the power it has versus the beauty it sometimes lacks. I can write about anything, taxes and politics and book reviews, investigatory pieces and sports, but I think what I love most out of the more than 5,000 articles I've written are the profiles of people.

When I say "profiles," I mean that loosely. Some of my best profiles of people have been of people who were murdered or otherwise died tragically. I write them for the survivors and for me, because I love people and I think lives are beautiful. I've also written a lot of "profiles" of living people, like the 5-year-old with multiple profound birth defects and the guy who loved smacking mosquitoes that landed on his legs for a living (and he got paid for it). Or the woman who spent her whole life walking for peace.

I also love the power of journalism to make things right. You don't have that in nursing -- I know; I got fired over it. Or as an ordinary person. I know; I have been one for a few years. (And I can assure you, the governor no longer returns my phone calls. Or would if I made them, which I don't.)

I have learned a lot about me by not being a reporter. I used to think I was a reporter because I was scared and I needed a byline to feel like a person. I have since learned that that was wrong. I wrote because I loved the world and people. I had (have) a talent and I used that to celebrate life. I know this probably sounds corny, but it is true. That's why I went to crime-ridden housing projects at night to write stories about the lives of murder victims that the cops didn't seem to care about. That's why I was/am a good nurse. It is all the same thing really.

It makes me wonder why I still starve and hate myself. I am not a perfect or close-to-it person but I have always tried to help people and do good things. Sometimes not very well, but I have tried. And sometimes I do it very well because for some reason -- like I speak another language most people don't speak, or I have a sixth sense -- I can tell a really fucking good story. I didn't learn it at school, because I dropped out of college at 19 when I got my first reporting job. I just have a gift I didn't ask for and that burdens and eludes me and catalyzes me. And that never stops whispering.

The job I want was posted the same day I got suspended at work. If I hadn't gotten fired I never would have seen it. Not that I believe in God, but if there is one he might be giving me a kick in the ass.

I probably won't get it, but even so, I will remember how I felt about it. I can't not write. It will kill what someone else gave me to keep alive.



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