These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Friday, August 19, 2005

the buzzards hover

i always feel sorta slimy when i have to talk to relatives of someone just freshly dead from a vehicle crash or a fire (thank goodness this one has yet to occur for me).

a reporter doing this is akin to a buzzard flying over a carass in the m iddle of a two-lane that has been hit by a car. they circle and circle, lower and lower, until they have to come down and take a piece of the carass.

this has happened at car crashes when i have attended as a reporter because i have to. i try to get what i can as soon as possible and get out. the cops usually don't have specific details until later anyway. and it would be uselss to remain as a scene for 2 to 3 hours sometimes because i'm not going to know any more than i did when i first arrived.

so i try to minimize my appearance at such a scene. but, these scenes do attract their spectators, who stand around watching, wide-eyed and mumbling stuff to each other, occasionally pointing at the scene. when dennis and i arrive at a scene, there are people there snapping photographs, presumably to sell themt o insurance companies.

at one such scene, a woman (who'd dennis had seen before at similar things) was snapping away with her young child by her side. that's so pathetic. and what compounded it was that several small children were involved in the car crash. this lady's kid's gonna have some great memories of his childhood.

coments have even been made about us showing up at a car crash or fire. the media circling in for the kill. what these people fail to realize is if i didn't have to be there for my job, i wouldn't stand around watching a grotesque scene like a car crash or house burn down. i'd rather be home. my imagination is strong enough that i dont' need that fix of twisted metal or the smell of burning shingles to give me a high.

brings me to my point, which is probably now very minor. we found out about this man who'd died in a motorcycle crash. we managed to find out the individual's phone number and i had to call. i prepared myself (usually it never helps) and called. i was surprised, though, how well it went and how quickly i managed to get the informatino. i even went to the parents' home and got a photograph of the son, giving my condolences to them.

that time it went Ok. but i still felt like a buzzard. luckily i don't have the hungry eyes some people do.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

reporter's lament

today i got a letter from someone who i dont' know but only met in a meeting i covered last week. the letter was unflattering, saying i got facts incorrectly in the article i subsequently wrote about afterwards.

well, i was sort of bummed when i read it. but then i thought, "no, you dont' have to feel that way. you did what you had to." because i didn't write an article a certain way or to someone's dislike, doesn't mean it was lacking with facts.

i don't think people realize that it's a tough job being a reporter and having to cover a variety of different topics every day. while the job is the same -- writing articles -- the subject matter is always changing. for me, it changes every night. i am a general assignemtn reporter and go wherever i'm told. i have no stable beat and have to constantly adapt to where i am going and what meeting i'm attending, having to know who people are and try to crunch into my brain as much of the details as i can prior to the meeting, usually with very little prep time.

on top of covering different topics daily, in my case, as it is witih many reporters, their soul or heart, or whatever, is beared and exposed for everyone to see, scrutinize and pick over. most times, a person's skills or product is not seen by the general public. well, reporters don't have that luxury. it's all laid out on the page for people to look at.

and most times,reporters don't get a clap on the back for a good job (although a school story i wrote recently did and i was happy for it). it's only when things go wrong or someone differs with the path the article took that the calls and letters come in and the only time reporters hear from events or meetings covered.

we're human and we make mistakes like everyone else. except our errors are very visible. it doesn't happen often that 20,000 people can see a mistake someone did at their job.

but that's when a thick skin helps out and you shrug and move on and only hope the people who don't understand will one day. while these people are invested in the issue, because it's personal, we must be detached and write to the best of our ability.

Monday, August 15, 2005

dad update

dad went to the emergency room friday morning.he complained of pain across his abdomen. that's where he's got the tumors in his liver and where he'd had the pain before.

docs checked him out and took x-rays and blod. everything came out fine. the pain was attributed to either the chemo or spasms in his lver. i spoke with him late friday night and he sounded better.

he goes for his three set of chemo sessions later today and tuesday. so far he's been doing well and has yet to be affected by te chemo. i only hope that it is doing its job on the tumors. sometimes i wish my dad had agreed to a second opinion with another oncologist in san antonio or houston. that upsets me somewhat. it has since i heard he didn't want one. it never hurts to ask another doctor.

my mother sounded distressed today. she said my dad looked pensive, serious and aybe in pain while in church. she approached him and asked. he said he was fine. i think maybe she's wondering about the chemo and its effects, i dunno. i think friday's trip to the emergency room my has scared her and she's afraid of what the doctor will say this week.

it's all faith and hope. it's funny because members of my family may think i'm a heathen for not attending church or that i've strayed from the path of correctness or my moral ways are now corrupt. but i do have faith and hope when it comes to my father. i don't think anyone really knows how much of each i have inside. i think without faith and hope any situation is lost. i was happy to hear from my mother that dad said he's not giving up and will(to use the cliche) fight the cancer.

how i wish things were different right now.