Thursday, October 15, 2009

Stuff Under 20 : What "to" Wear? This!

Check me out as a regular contributer on {Stuff Under 20} every Thursday.

{Stay Tuned}

Your opinion matters most. Set the bar high...

There is nothing worst then when you are disappointed in yourself.

You can make the situation better in your mind if you acknowledge your struggles and losses.

You can also make the situation better if you know how to change it in the future.

Like I said, I have been disappointed in myself. Myself or rather my writing and work for this week. The newspaper is printed three times a week and for each issue I am responsible for writing a story. Completely do able. On top of that I have other tasks but first and foremost I am a reporter. My job is to produce stories. Stories that are good. Stories that are thought provoking. Stories that go above and beyond.

My story for Wednesday's paper was not like that. My story for tomorrow's paper was not like that. I can only hope Sunday's story tells it different.

The truth is the stories weren't horrible. They both ran in the paper. No body told me they were terrible. But just reading them makes me cringe because I know they could be better.

Wednesday's story about the wedding planner and her business was just fluff. Although, interesting I only explored one angle. I didn't ask her questions about the first years of her business or struggles she may have seen in this economic time? Maybe couples in Southwest Kansas are holding back on certain wedding necessities to save money? I didn't ask those questions. I didn't think to.

Tomorrow's story is a numbers story about the births in Seward County (the county Liberal is in). Through research I found out that American's and Kansas' as a whole are reporting less births each year. Basically, couples and women are choosing to not have children. That is not the case in Seward County which has been welcoming more births each year. Interesting right? Not to mention over 52% of the mothers are out-of-wedlock. (I can tell you through looking into other counties and the state of Kansas that is really high. Most counties see 30% out-of-wedlock mothers). Naturally, I contacted the state public health PR person and she emailed me some additional facts, quotes. From there I contacted the only hospital in the county for comments. I called. I emailed. I went into see the PR women for the hospital. She couldn't talk to me. Too busy. I should of been more persistent. But there was a deadline.

The story was written but in my mind I saw holes where there should of been quotes from the hospital.

Which brings me to the story I am to turn in tomorrow for Sunday's paper. It has to be kick-a** and it can be. The Secretary of Transportation for the State of Kansas, Deb Miller, was in town and gave a presentation about plans. This is good and it has to be good for the newspaper.

I leave you now, as I will be transcribing over 50 minutes of tape from earlier today. Reading through government documents and laying out a story to write for tomorrow.

It is going to be kick-a**. Promises all around, I've set the bar high.

{Stay Tuned}

P.S. The Canadian television show, "Being Erica" was on Soap Net last Spring. (Pause for all laughter imagining me curdle up watching Soap Net next to my orange cat on Thursday nights. ) But in one episode someone tells Erica that when it comes down to it, it only really matters what their own opinion is. No body else's.

That stuck with me. I disagreed. I believe it does matter what my parents, family, friends and co-workers opinion's are about me. But thinking about it, what opinion will stick with one the most? Today, I agree it is my own. And while others will always matter and have an influence on my life. I am the only one who's opinion can change my actions. Think about it?

To See Beauty Even in the Common Things of Life

"To see beauty even in the common things of life"

Attempting to do that and be a real. strong. women.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I look at this daily

This ended up on my desk on Friday afternoon from my co-workers. Apparently it is a random trophy that no one can explain in the office. And humoring to all that it has found a home on my desk.

It's Tuesday night and I can attest that the trophy is still there. I am not sure what I should do with it. First of all it is rather dusty. Second of all it says "best in show". Third of all the trophy man has large hands. Look closely and you'll notice the hand is larger then the knee.

I am all up for awards on desks but I haven't even brought out the photo of Tiger Lily or my Ohio snowglobe. I wonder for others that don't work in the news room but pass through think the new girl must be full of herself to place a trophy on her desk week 2.

Hope that brings a laugh to you.

JCPenny I Love Your Style : 10/13

St. John's Bay Cashmere Blend Pea Coat
$89.99 - $99.99

It is cold here in Kansas. I am not joking. 29 degrees last Saturday. My advice, get a coat you love and in a color that's you. Check JCP collection online in a variety of sizes and colors. I like the gold. Think brown gloves, brown bucket hat and dark jeans. Perfect!

a.n.a Long Cardigan
$24.99 - $27.99

I love a good cardigan. They are great for layering and can easily match so many things in our wardrobes. This one is long. Go with long for being more young and trend this season.

{Stay Tuned} Next week Wal-Mart for a little look at Miley's line, Danskin and more.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

I moved to KS, met a munchkin, was invited to Church, became front page news, got lost twice and LOVED every minute of it

There is nothing like moving and starting a job all in the same week.

May I mention that the move happened to be over 1,000 miles away from everything I've ever known and the job was everything I'd ever wanted but never experienced. Yes, stress was on my side to say the least.

But I pushed through and the week went perfect. As I type, I glance over at the clock to see it has officially marked a week in Liberal.

Let me give you the highlights:

The Job: From my opinion, I am doing well. I did ask a ton of questions this week and had some glitches on the computer. But I am pretty sure I didn't mess anything up. I had a story for each paper and edited quite a lot of pages. Not to mention that I even built my first ever page. (Weird accomplishment if you have no idea what I am talking about.) Although, the first day was a little rough and well, Wednesday when I couldn't figure out how to work the camera. Oh and then there was Friday, when I had to call the office because I had gotten a bit lost while out on assignment. Other then those moments of feeling like an idiot and wondering if my co-workers were thinking "Why did they hire her?", I have to say the week went great. Plus I really like what I am doing and can't wait for more to come.

The Housing Crisis of 2009: For those that don't know I am currently living in a hotel. The newspaper has been nice enough to pay my stay at a hotel for up to 14 days. Although, I never imagined I would take them up on the whole 14 days it has since become that way. I spent much of my downtime this week looking at places, driving around and discussing my options with my parents. It came down to the townhouse that I really liked and a house that was just so-so. But there were problems with each. The townhouse was unavailable till November 1st. Then there was the landlord who quoted my mom on the phone at $525, quoted me in person at $595 and then, when I checked out his website it was listed at $575. I don't play numbers games. I asked him about it and he shut me down saying it was $595. I felt really uneasy signing a lease for it because I felt like I was getting ripped off. Who's to know what he might make me pay for later! My mom credits the fluctuating pricing based on how I was dressed when I met him. Perhaps if I had shown up in jeans and a Kansas City Chief's t-shirt it would have been $525. But my heels, dress pants, sweater set and nice sunglasses said $595. My dad said it was small town and that the landlord must figure he could get away with it. I just felt like it was a no win situation. Plus it was more then I had originally planed on spending.

On Thursday, I put the application in for the house which was available for move in. The house was older but it was nicely kept up inside. Outside, another story. But, I am not trying to be on the cover of Midwest Living. Friday, I called the office to check up on my application. I had figured 24 hours would be a sufficient time to do a credit check and call references. But the women went on to tell me that she should of told me the following: they had leased the house to someone else on Wednesday and it was no longer available. Should of told me? Heck yes, you should of. And the fact that I had to call. What if I had passed on something else for this house?

My head was spinning at work the rest of the day as I got off the phone with the relator for the house. What was I going to do? There was hardly anything available to rent in this town. There aren't too many apartment units. Liberal is mostly composed of neighborhoods with homeowners. I spoke with my parents on Friday evening and it was a tough conversation. They were upset to hear the house hadn't worked out and none of us were happy about the townhouse. But we did make a game plan. A listing to appear in the Sunday paper (thank God I have access to that stuff) was for a 2 bedroom, one bath, washer, dryer apartment for $475 and included water. I called Friday night. My mom called Friday night. Saturday morning he got back to me. 1 p.m. Saturday I saw it. PERFECT! Great sized bedrooms, nice kitchen, built 14 years ago, decent bathroom, large living room, available next Saturday and nice neighborhood. Although, it isn't official yet, this could be my new residence.

Keep your fingers crossed. Funny thing about it. It happens to be in Oklahoma. (Not too weird though because Liberal is 3 miles from the border and well, the apartment is in Turpin, Oklahoma, 13 miles from Liberal.)

As for the rest of it:
  • My first night in town I called Pizza Hut and asked for carry out. Got lost on the way there. Should of done delivery.
  • This weekend marked the 70th year of the movie, The Wizard of Oz. I am in the home of Dorothy and it was OZFEST this weekend. One of the movies munchkins was in town on Friday and I went and took photos for the newspaper.
  • I went to the local furniture store in Liberal looking to purchase a mattress. I found one and am having it delivered somewhere next weekend. The furniture sales people were very nice and got me free delivery. Of course, they did ask me if I had found a church community yet. This is funny to me because if you have scene the movie New in Town, Renee Zellweger's character gets asked the same thing shortly after moving to Minnesota. I said no but will keep that in mind.
  • I did make the front page with not only the byline but on the actual paper. Which lead me to get remarks by four different people in town that they knew who I was. Although the photo is horrible, the story is not. Please check out my links on the right hand side under The Southwest Times for all articles I write and any that might included me.
  • Stories from my week of work included prairie dogs, breast cancer awareness and 212 lbs. pumpkins. Ask me about any of those topics and I am an expert.
  • Had that first glimpse of true small town life. I went to the grocery store on Friday night. I was a bit upset about the housing issue of earlier in the day and had worked till 7 p.m. So I picked up some mac & cheese, a Milky Way candy bar and a 6 pack of Bud Light Lime. Only to approach the check lines to see a very prominent politician in town that I had met only a few hours earlier. Thinking this would look bad in the sense of possible unhealthy eater and boozer, I ducked into the Hallmark Card aisle. I don't think he saw me. And really the mac & cheese just sounded good and heats up in a hotel microwave well, the candy bar was for my chocolate craving and the beer was for a beverage celebration of finishing up a week of work. Kill me?
  • Saturday, I woke up early to cover the 5k Toto Trot. It was 29 degrees with ice all over my car and raining. I scrapped my VW Bug and spilled hot coffee on my right hand. I'm fine but thank you early season cold front. Can't wait to move next weekend.
If your still reading then your a very good friend, a very faithful blog reader, a bored individual with some kind of computer freeze going on, or a potential stalker. Thanks for reading. Thanks for the support. I've revamped the blog a bit for next week and have some new regular features beginning. As always...

{Stay Tuned}

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Kansas' American Character

Want to know more about small town newspapers in the middle of America?

Then please watch the three minute video clip below from Tom Brokaw's "American Character" series that was aired on NBC Nightly News Wednesday night. The clip is about a certain Kansas newspaper. Although not The Southwest Times it does share a lot of similarities to the community I cover.

If you have trouble viewing the video please click {here} and scroll down for the "Small-town sensibility saves the daily newspaper" segment to watch it on NBC's website.

{Stay Tuned}

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Gee, I wonder how Laura is?

Find yourself wondering what Laura is up to these days? It is alright if you said no. But either way this post is filled with updates. So like it or not here are updates from my new career at {The Southwest Times}.

My first article was printed in Wednesday's paper and it was about Black-tailed Prairie Dogs. Interested? Well, if so you can check it out on the newspaper's website {here}.
Not interested in prairie dogs? Then here's something a bit more Laura for you. The newspaper apparently writes a story about their newest employee shortly after each new employee comes on board. So you guessed it. I made the front page. While the article probably includes many things you already know about me, the picture is a bit depressing. I usually can be found smiling or laughing but for this photo, I was told to look serious. (Personally, I always found serious photos of myself to translated as looking severally depressed and unhappy. I am just usually a smily individual and can take wonderful shots with my pearl whites showing.) Anyways click over to read about me {here}.
{Stay Tuned}

Monday, October 5, 2009

"Straight off the boat"

As I was driving back to my hotel room tonight I thought about today and summed it up in the words...I am "straight off the boat" and laughed a bit to myself.

If you've been around me you know I use the term "straight off the boat" here and there to describe people that act like they don't know. What I mean by "they don't know" is that they are new to our land and unfamiliar with our ways.

Well, I am new to this land and definitely unfamiliar in the ways of Liberal.

I went to my first day of work today to find my boss out on a sick day and the business manager to be not in. The typical fill out this paper work, sign an anti-sexual harassment form and be explained Human Resource required info did not happen. I was informed of a County Commissioners meeting I was suppose to cover in the evening and spent the morning reading the over 40 page agenda with proposals and documents. With main point of interest surrounding a black tailed prairie dog. An hour lunch led me to come back to gather more info for another possible story and to read through Kansas laws on open records and open meetings. So that's what I did at work today.

Later in the afternoon, I met with a relator that showed me a house for rent. As of right now it is my second choice and I told the relator I would touch base with her on Wednesday with my decision. I am viewing a townhouse tomorrow and am leaning towards it as of right now. (Townhouse has washer/dryer that I can walk to in housing area and no lawn care) Then I attended the County Commissioners meeting and went straight back to my hotel.

Can you say tired?

And that was when I chuckled and thought I have that "straight off the boat" look and feeling.

But the truth is "straight off the boat" is not bad. You have to have that "straight off the boat" experiences in order to become savvy, knowledgeable, trained, skilled and confident. At least that is how I see it. I have never gone into any job I've had before and left on the first day saying "piece of cake". It is challenges and something different each day that makes work teach us something and leads us to learn. I learned a lot today. I got a feeling for my new office environment, my possible stories for the next week and a flash of what my career here in Liberal will be like. I am ready for tomorrow where I will write the story of the black tail prairie dog. But first I need to get some sleep.

{Stay Tuned}

It took more then just clicking...

As one might guess it took more then just clicking my heels to get to Kansas!

It took hard work, hours on hours of driving, Pandora for Blackberry to bring the tunes, AAA trip tick, and fast food across America to get to Kansas. But I now can safely say myself and Tiger Lily are in Liberal, Kansas and ready to get this chapter of our lives going.

Last week, I did all the basics of getting ready for the move. I opened a new bank account, got a new cell phone, got my car checked out (oil changed), figured out travel, got my Nordstrom fix, spent time with family and friends, got my hair cut, called Realtors in Liberal, packed and well, the list could go on. Friday, I packed the car. But I should tell you I drive a VW New Beattle and well, packing that car can be a challenge. But I got all the things I wanted to get in. Clothing, shoes, handbags, cat, cat's stuff, comforter, limited dishes and drink ware, Mac Book, towels, sheets, little TV, DVD player, heater, my iPod stereo, books, a few DVD's, and a few other things. It was a tight squeeze but it all made it.

Friday, I spent the day making the 9 hour drive to Kansas City. I drove through Southern Indiana to Indianpolis, then on to Terra Haute to cross into Illinois. From Illinois, I followed I-70 to St. Louis. Once in St. Louis, at 5 o'clock, I hit traffic. But made it through to continue making the treck through the "Show Me State". Once crossing the border into Kansas, I spent the night at a La Quinta.

Saturday, I woke up to sunshine and in a very nice suburb of Kansas City. A stop at Panera insured good Hazelnut coffee and an egg and cheese sandwich. Thank God I filled up on gas because the once on I-35 to Wichita...there is nothing. Honestly, boring drive. No billboards, 30 miles to the next exit and just me and Tiger Lily thanking God for the invention of downloading Pandora on the Blackberry because there are no stations. (Actually we thank former roommate Courtney J for the text message explaining how awesome it is.) Once in Wichita I knew my way and got on Kansas State Route 54 all the way to Liberal. TL and I made it at 5 pm. Checking into out hotel room and calling it quits for the night.

Sunday, I drove around town and check out possibly living situations. I am currently in a hotel till I find something. The newspaper offered to bored me at a hotel for two weeks. I think I made the right call waiting and didn't line something up from over the phone. One house specifically today did not live up to potential. It desperately needed a new paint job and had yard work that yelled don't go to this house when trick or treating even if the porch light it on.

Today, I start work and well, that means I need to go.

{Stay Tuned}

Above are some pics from this past week. We begin with packing up my room, packing the car, the drive, a few highlights of Liberal and sleepy Tiger Lily. Click on image to get larger view.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Weekend Shout Out

I have to give a "shout" out and an "electronic" high-five to Kirstin!

Kirstin and I worked together for a year at Southern Weddings/Bliss Event Group. And what a year that was! With desks right next to each other, being the same age, traveling together and being roomies for a month in May, it was only natural that we became friends. Kirstin is an incredible person and is so talented with event design. (So ladies getting married call Kirstin for your event planner.) But about two weeks ago she became the newest employee of{Weddings Unveiled Magazine} as the chief blogger for their fantastic blogsite {Completely Unveiled by Weddings Unveiled Magazine}. She brings a lot to this blog site and I can't wait to see it take off. I anticipate amazing weddings covered.
{Stay Tuned}

P.S. Kirstin and I use to joke and look through Weddings Unveiled and be so jealous of their layout, advertisers, weddings and more.