New address!

Hey everybody!

For those of you who enjoyed my blog posts on… check out my new blog!

“Have Soldier Will Travel” is tales from my new married and soon-to-be-a-mother life.

Thanks for your support!

~ Erin

Wrecks, Threats and Rumors: No one else knows the story better than you

“No one else knows the story better than you, nobody can tell it better than you, because they weren’t there.”
That is my favorite nugget of wisdom from my faithful trainer at my new job.
My little brothers helped me haul all my junk down to my new apartment… we met a flat tire just outside a town called “Smiley.” We had a joke or two about how none of us was smiling as we tried to change a tire in record time to get to my lease signing on time. You wouldn’t believe it, but I actually had a second flat tire travelling back to visit my family one weekend. The second time, I was alone, and started changing the tire in my Sunday best, when some kind stranger stopped and helped me.
Now that I am here in my apartment, it looks exceedingly larger with my minuscule amount of stuff in it. With the exception of the closet. While it containeth all of my wardrobe, it is still just a normal walk in closet, and clothes, shoes and junk have to be arranged just right ๐Ÿ™‚
So… the piano I was going to get off craigslist fell through, but I got a couch from a co-worker for free which is a far more practical first piece of furniture anyway, followed by a free book shelf. Welcome to real life, Erin.
My marvelous mother sent pots and pans down with me from home–she also stocked my freezer with food, thanks Mom! Last week, I made my first home cooked meal in my apartment.
I’ve met my next door neighbors, a sweet couple (who I can’t remember the names of) who check to be sure I get my packages if they are left out while I am at work. I am missing having roommates… On my way home for a wedding, I was putting on a formal dress and had no one to help me zip it! I ran next door, and the husband had to zip it for me. ::embarrassing:: There is a dude with rainbow-haired friends who lives across from me, then a girl with a tough looking head mounted on her wall and a boy friend who comes and goes.
As most of you know, I work insane hours. For any other human, it could be torturous, but I rather enjoy starting work at 1 p.m. Tuesday through Friday because I get off at 10 p.m.–if there are no major wrecks or something after that hour. I also work eight hours on Saturday, sometimes mornings, sometimes nights… it varies from week to week.
You may have guessed by now, I got the “breaking news” beat, not the sports beat. I know, I know… not as fun to tease me… but it is pretty interesting.
The first day on the job, we covered two car accidents while I was being trained. I also learned how to cover the police blotter and the scanners (who knew those were two different things?).
The police records place closes at 5 p.m. on the nose. I have to summarize their reports from he “press board” on theft, robberies, assaults, burglaries, and damages before 5 p.m. and head over to the Sheriff’s office, where I get the reports of arrests from their press board. These two reports are combined to make “the blotter.”
The scanners are the most annoying thing on the planet. They kind of drone in the background of the newsroom with random information about people who are dehydrated and such, and occasionally, “breaking news” is announced. At those tragic moments, I must drop all other assignments and run out to cover the latest wreck, fire, murder, drug bust… you name it ๐Ÿ˜›
Before I get off work, I call every sheriff’s department in the nine counties in the crossroads area and ask for updates. If they have updates, I cover those before I get off for the evening. One day about that time, we got a tip from a post on the editor’s Facebook page that sent me all over the city chasing down a rumor that a human skull had been unearthed at a construction site. I eventually caught up with the originator of the rumor, and he wouldn’t talk to me. Go figure.
I also cover a tiny (okay, an even tinier) town southwest of here. While I was asking the “question of the day” at a Whataburger, I was informed that they have some kind of “no media of any kind for any reason” rule, preventing me from speaking to willing subjects.They also charged me for barbecue sauce to dip my french fries in, which I think is absurd. See if I ever go back to Whataburger for any reason… humph.
We are all assigned random feature stories. Like the Texas Water Safari. Pretty cool 260-mile canoe race where folks spend up to 5 days travelling in manually powered water vehicles (canoes and kayaks) with only the supplies they started with from San Marcos to Sea Drift (they can only be supplied with water, ice and advice along the way).
I got my media pass. I feel so official flashing that thing ๐Ÿ˜›
I work through most of my dinner breaks, and generally a bit overtime… then spend the rest of the week trying to shed the extra hours I picked up accidentally.
An early discovery: everyone in south Texas will invite you to have a cup of coffee while you chat/hang out/whatever else. They would never have dreamed of putting sugar in the divine substance, even in the newsroom, but they do offer creamer (generally apologizing because it is instant). I will either need to learn to drink my coffee black though it curls my eyelashes, or become known as “the sweet reporter” carrying a little supply of sugar with me where’er I go. ๐Ÿ˜›
My trainer is really a lot of fun. She was describing her family’s nosey nature and said they were always “all up in your Kool-aid.” I had never heard that expression before. She also came up with nicknames for my corner of the newsroom. Three of the 10 news reporters are black girls and we all sit in a row. Most recently, people have been confusing us, so my trainer came up with nicknames for each of us.
“We even have a cheat sheet…” she said, referencing the differences in our hairstyles.
My trainer is “Pony-tail” or PT because her hair is permed and she wears it up most of the time, then “Fro” has the most natural hair, and has been here the longest, and I’m “Locks.”
I had my first drug test (I know this will be TMI… [this is your cue to skip this sentence if you are easily disgusted]), I didn’t realize it is so hard to pee on demand! :-/ I had a medical exam to get life insurance. I have TERRIBLE veins that are impossible to stick on the first try. This time it took the nurse three tries, and two of those were with a butterfly needle. She also really wanted to give my number to some guy she knows who she thinks is awesome. We’ll see how that goes.
We have a daytime editor, a nighttime editor and a managing editor that works over both of them. I like the day editor, but my favorite is the night editor (who I shall call “The Grandfather”), and I was assigned to report directly to him. Score! ๐Ÿ™‚
While the super-hands-on-technology-happy managing editor complains (nearly constantly) that I don’t have video coverage of wreck scenes and other action-less stories, the grandfather pulled me aside for a motivational meeting.
“Just in case you aren’t sure, I’m not upset with you and I think you are doing a great job. Also, don’t stress yourself out. Learn from past mistakes, and do a better job next time.”
We chatted for a while about my concerns here and there.
Then he summarized, “Now, repeat back to me the two main points of this meeting,” the grandfather said.
“Umm… Well… first… you aren’t mad at me, and don’t stress out…” I stammer, trying to think of the second point.
“Yes, that’s it!” the grandfather said, “meeting adjourned.”
That’s why I like the grandfather.
I would also say, on my list of top ten worst experiences this month was a death threat via phone. Yes, heading into the July 4th weekend, someone called me on the phone, and threatened to kill me.
We were contacting his wife in relation to e-mail warning she sent to several friends (one of them forwarded it to us) because she had been approached by over aggressive panhandlers. Turns out, she had been on a grand jury in the past, and her name was printed in the paper against her will, and their family is ticked at the paper. Bottom line, no interview.
Someone from the paper supposedly knows the family, and “talked with them and they had changed their mind.” So the day editor, who I shall call “the mother hen” asked me to call them back (since the grandfather was off duty). Which I did.
“Nooooo we haven’t changed our mind. We don’t want to talk to you.” Second dead end. Greeaaaat.
Five minutes later, I get a phone call. A very calm voice said: “This is Mr. [Dude]. I have your phone number. I know your name. I know where you work. I know where you live. If my wife’s name in the paper I will find you, and I will kill you. I am very upset about this. I am not kidding. I will find you, and I will kill you. Do you understand me?”
I was like “Sir, I know you are upset, and I do apologize, I will not pursue this story further.”
He replied “I am VERY upset, and i want you to know, I am serious, and I intend to kill you if my wife ends up in the paper. Can you repeat that back to me so I know we are clear?”
In the calm before the emotional storm, I replied, “Sir, I do not have to listen to you talk to me like that, and I am hanging up now.” Which I did. Then burst into tears ๐Ÿ˜› Then went to talk to the mother hen, who e-mailed the managing editor, who e-mailed the paper owner.
I cried the last 45 minutes I was on the clock… I think i was caught off guard? It wasn’t that he refused to talk to my face… he didn’t even just cuss me out when he heard who was on the phone for the second time in a spur of the moment rage. It wasn’t just a nasty e-mail, or even hate mail. It was a special phone call, to threaten my life, because you are mad about something that happened before I was employed?
And my picture is in the paper… his is not… I am not sure how much of what he said (about knowing where i live and such) is bluffing… but I live alone… I am just really rattled and I called the police after work.
The officer could see I was super shaken and is trying to get the situation investigated as a “terroristic threat” rather than just a Class C Misdemeanor, with my admission that I felt threat of bodily harm or danger. The officer who came to take my statement gave me a little blue “assault victim” booklet. They will be calling each of us separately next week as parts of the investigation.
Those of you who helped with my post college transition will be happy to know, I carried my pepper spray in hand leaving my building to go the the car. The police escorted me home and checked my apartment to be sure the man wasn’t there.
The hardest change for me from school to full time employment is at school, if you hate your story idea you can change topics. At work, if you’re assigned a topic, you better find a story, even if that is a wild goose chase taking you through Facebook or landing you on random porches knocking on doors at 9:30 p.m.
The best change: oh how I love being off! I can’t describe how freeing it is not to be haunted by work while I am basking in the sun, swimming in the pool or visiting my family. Oh! And I love my new fish, Captain Jack Sparrow. He’s pirate red, and very greedy ๐Ÿ˜›
I will close this epistle with the story I covered that nearly got me sued…
A boy drowned on June 4th, was rescued by an 18-year-old who was talked through CPR over the phone. The drowned boy was revived twice, spent 7 days in the ICU, followed by more days in a private observation room and survived. Cool story right?
Turns out, he drowned because he had a seizure… induced by head-spin (a synthetic form of marijuana that can be purchased legally in some places by certain ages).
The head-spin was purchased by the dude’s older (legal aged) girl friend.
I contacted the guy who pulled him out of the pool through facebook, and set up a phone interview. Told him I was from the paper, and gave him all my official contact info, etc.
When we went to set up a photo shoot, we found that the owners house he was swimming at were planning to sue the kid who drowned for trespassing…
The lawyer of the suing party advised me not to run the story, for fear of retaliation. Instead, we ordered a copy of the police report to be sure everything we state about the controversial figures was public information. My editor also made the decision to leave out any reference to head-spin, since it is mostly just supposed to be a human interest fluff piece…
We later learned that the owner of the house where the boy drowned is the girl friend’s aunt, who was going through a divorce.
Turns out… the lawyer who threatened me was the boyfriend of the aunt who owned the house where the boy drowned.
They didn’t want it to get out that the boy’s girl-friend (who also was the nanny for the aunt’s children) had purchased the head-spin that caused a seizure and a drowning, because they were collectively suing for custody of the aunt’s children.
If THAT doesn’t make your head spin… after the article came out, I received a Facebook note from the life-saving 18-year-old who I had interviewed over the phone, asking me not to run his name in the paper because the lawyer advised him against it too, for fear of hurting the family who owned the house. (Fortunately or unfortunately?) I didn’t get that note until after the story ran, so the guy got really ticked and sent me an angry message for running the story anyway.
Look dude. Why didn’t you contact me through my work e-mail, work phone number or cell phone? Not to mention, I just portrayed you as a young life-saving hero. Girls will be fawning over you. Let it go. Don’t be mad at me.
Undank ist der Welt Lohn. Right, Michaela? ๐Ÿ˜‰
And that is the simplest version of my most complicated story yet.
Needless to say, I feel like a tried and true reporter by now.
I went shopping at costco with my mother Sunday afternoon, and the samples lady asked if I was old enough to get samples on my own. I had to show her my driver’s license. I am pretty sure to get samples, you need to be like 15. Samples Lady, I am pretty sure I look at least 16.
And now, having conquered the Independence Day sales at the local thrift stores, I’m off with my family to see the only fireworks show that hasn’t been cancelled in the greater San Antonio area because of the drought. Kerrville, here we come!

Three down! :)

I survived my first three days at work! My first day I had a lot of paperwork. Then I trailed another reporter to two car accidents so I could get a feel for what my job would be like.

She also took me to the police station to read the police reports of their activities. Since it was a long weekend, they had an extra lot of reports. We do the same thing for the Sherrif’s Department. Covering those two reports is called covering the “police blotter.”

Meanwhile, we keep our ears open for news that comes over the police radio (which we call the police scanner). I am also supposed to call all the police stations before signing out for the night to be sure they don’t have major developments (which… if they do… I get to cover before I go home ๐Ÿ˜› ).

So *yesterday* I had a drug test in the morning… dug out my passport (since my Social Security Card was burried deeper in my belongings ๐Ÿ˜› ) to prove my eligability to work in the U.S. I got to put up a few pictures at work, and clean my desk, check my e-mail… all the settling in sorts of things.

We had two meetings yesterday: there is a twice a month meeting for all the reporters to brain-storm and idea swap, then the weekend meeting where we discuss what we are covering this weekend. After the meetings, I went to cover the blotter… information overload!

There was an inch of blotter records to go through, and I didn’t even make it to the sheriff’s department! When I came back after the police station (which closes earlier), I had to call tech to look at my computer soย I could access the software we write the stories in(which they didn’t get to). I had to watch the 6 p.m. news to see if there were any stories I would need to cover after dinner–which there was… a burglary at the high school.

When I was finally ready to sign out for dinner, we got a call about a rubbish fire (which they originally thought was an oil tank combustion) about 25 min. away. So I went down there with a photographer and got the facts on that. On the drive down, a police man called with facts about the burglary case… when I got back from the fire, there had been a car accident to report on.

SO I had to write up and submit:

The police
The fire
The burglary
The car accident

BUT the car accident people didn’t call me back… so i went on to making rounds calling all the police stations to see if they have any major updates/breaking news. Which of course, tonight… they did… Another car accident… greaaaaaat. The dispacher didn’t have specific information, so I have to call the troopers tomorrow.

When I was about ready to sign out for the night (at 11 p.m., an hour after I am supposed to), the fire department called me back with information about the first car accident, so I was able to submit that story. I got 3 bylines! ๐Ÿ˜› (the police blotter doesn’t count, they’ll just say “Advocate staff.”)

They took my media pass picture halfway through the craziness yesterday:P

SO my 1:00-10:00 p.m. work-shift went an hour over, and that was without me taking a dinner break. The rest of the days are simply not allowed to be that crazy.

A co-worker gave me a couch… score!

I got to sleep in this morning though! ๐Ÿ™‚ Turns out I needed it… four car accidents, one electric fire, one assault, police and sheriff blotters, missed dinner *and* I locked my keys in my car… BUT, today, I got everything done by 10 p.m. ๐Ÿ™‚

I do like this high-pace life though. And I am excited to get my first paycheck. Eventuallyย ๐Ÿ˜›

Home or bust?

Today I hauled all my stuff to my new apartment and went down to sign the lease in my big brother’s pick-up truck. Big brother loaded the truck and made sure everything was secure so I wouldn’t be sharing my belongings with every homestead along my 2.5 hr. drive. Two of my little brothers came along with me to carry the stuff from the truck to my second floor apartment (so sweet, aren’t they?).

We were working kind of on a time crunch, I had exactly 20 min. to spare after actual driving time for my lease signing appointment.

As usual, my adventure-full life couldn’t take a break for transitions. Just North of a town named “Smiley” we heard a loud pop. The truck’s front tire decided it couldn’t make it.


I knew I had been taught how to do this tire-changing thing before, but I have to say I was happy my little brothers knew where on the truck the jack was located. And the spare tire.

So after the truck was completely jacked, we removed the old tire. Doing great! Lift the new tire into place… not quite. The truck (filled with all my worldly goods) was not high enough off the ground for the new tire to go on. Plan B–wait, this has to be Plan C… neither plan A or B included a busted tire–So, Plan C: beg, plead, kick the new tire… try to lift the truck? Fail.

New plan: push, kick, shove and otherwise wedge the old tire under the thingy you attach the wheel to (yeah, I’m not a car person), then take the jack out and place it under a part of the car that is closer to the ground. And pray the old tire doesn’t bust further. And that the metal middle of the old car can hold the weight of the entire truck.

We quickly un-jacked the truck enough for the jack to be loose enough to move to our new pressure point, and re-jacked the car. The tire didn’t bust. It did hold the weight of the entire truck. And all my junk. And we got the new tire on!

That took about 30 min. I am officially late to sign my lease, but I called ahead, and they were kind enough to wait…

Now I notice we’re nearly out of gas. Ugh!

We made it all the way to town without further incident. Lease signed, check. Junk carted into the apartment, check. Treat the awesome brothers to shakes at Sonic after our packed lunches, check.

Now it is time to make our way back home for Memorial Day weekend. As I backedout, I realized I was rather close to the little beat-up car next to us, and I slammed my breaks.

Greeeeaaaat… The driver thinks I hit him, and picks one of his many scratches to attribute to my car. Though we never heard or felt collision, and though none of his paint transferred to my car, he mentions that he is considering shattering my (until now) perfect driving record by calling the police, and my insurance company.

Of course, I pull the “very sorry, pathetic, poor, recent college grad, helpless girl” card, and he asked for 15 dollars.

::rolls eyes:: 15 dollars will not cover the paint it would take to fixย his car. It is just his way of saying he knows he doesn’t have a case, but he wants to get *something.* So, I got five dollars cash from my little brother, and paid for his lunch on my card, and we called it even. Out loud. But inside, if I ever see that guy again, it will not be pretty.

As we drove away we noticed he didn’t have any license plates. Go figure! He had absolutely no intention of calling the police.

For the rest of the drive home my brothers and I consoled ourselves with plots of vengefully getting him deported.

But Krispyย Kreme had their “free donut” hour when we got back to our hometown, which put us in a mood to be more forgiving.

Quite the day, huh? ๐Ÿ˜›

Just the Lemonade ;)

A friend of mine has started recording her beautiful music, and you should all check it out!

Her theme is based on the saying “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Well… as it turns out, God always gives us lemonade, and sometimes all we see is lemons!

Anyway, my friend is currently running a contest going on for free music on her blog:

Cha-Ching! Do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars

Application Fees…
Rent Deposit…
Electricity Start Up Fees…
Electricity Deposit…
Gas to move…
Water Bill…
“Oh, and lets charge her double for every deposit since it is her first time…”

All of these are the pre-I start my first job fees.

Did I mention I am just starting my first job? I just graduated from COLLEGE, which wasn’t free. In fact, it costed money. Which doesn’t grow on trees.

But my apartment will be beautiful! Lacking furniture of any kind. Fully decorated with an assortment of my college belongings. Craigslist here I come!!!

In other news, it is exciting first starting out. Except I wouldn’t know, I haven’t *actually* started out. Just paid the bulk of the known start up fees for starting out.

Now I know why people are poor. I used to think I knew, but now it’s official. It costs money to *think* about breathing!

Getting my feet wet

I left school heading for the Outter banks in North Carolina. We’re going to have a blast!

I rode in a car with three guys. The trip down was *mostly* uneventful. With the exception of me spilling a frappe on my lap and having to stop to change clothes or discussing the differences between boxers, briefs and boxer briefs.

One of my first ecstatic post-college realizations is that I didn’t have to be in dress code–or scrounge around for a thousand quarters to throw my clothes in the washer. Imagine that!

There is officially nothing like life after school.

Everyone is finally here. There are about 15 people here ๐Ÿ™‚

Today, I have sunned, dashed in the icey cold ocean several times, swam in our private pool and sat in our private hot tub. It was also fun to sit on one of the balconies and write in my journal while watching the ocean.

Getting down to the wire

Today marks the official 3 days ’till graduation day. No more homework, no more tests, family is in town… and my stuff is nearly all packed!

Our senior party at the Kauffman’s house helped me realize once again how much I am going to miss the people at our school, and doing crazy college stuff together.

Each of us received an award to show where we were “most likely to be” in the next several years. Mine was, “Most likely to have networked with the entire United States by the time she’s 30.” I do hope to continue to network with all my friends from school, and all my friends from before school. Not to mention making new friends afterwards.

I am really excited to see where life leads after college, and I will continue to keep you all posted ๐Ÿ™‚


37 days and counting…

So… I am counting down to my college graduation. Which is not news to anyone.

What isย news, is the sweet count down package sent to me by one of my Bible Club families (from when I taught back-yard Bible clubs in 2002).

Today I received a package wrapped in floral wrapping paper, containing 55 count down mini-packages individually and uniquely wrapped and labelled by day.

Day 37 brought me a wrist full of girly silly bands ranging from hot-pink lips and red high heels to pink sunglasses to purple crowns, yellow lip-stick and blue presents.

I would like to thank them for broadening my vision from merely focusing on what the future way out there could hold, to treasuring what tomorrow could bring ๐Ÿ™‚

With my new-found focus I will again attempt to live each day as if it were my last…

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 7: A song that reminds you of a certain event

With graduation on the brain, I think Pomp and Circumstance… the graduation marchย reminds me the most of an event… both high school graduation in the past… and College graduation in 37 days!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

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