Interviews lead to useful information: What I learned from one semester of writing for the university newspaper

Boots

As a non-traditional student (meaning not “college age”), I am experiencing college life in a different way than most younger college students.  I don’t live on campus or with my parentsI am a married mom juggling three jobs, so I don’t have time for all the clubs, activities, and lecture series, and the notion of “Greek life” is, well, Greek to me.

Rather than hanging out in the library drinking three-dollar coffee on a laptop (my $99 ChromeBook knock-off has since eaten the dust), I sit in my home office and drink 15-cent coffee from my Keurig (using a reusable filter)—no styrofoam cups or plastic straws or disposable K-cups.  My classes are almost 100% online, as I had to keep my schedule clear so that I could work all the jobs I do.  As I will be working primarily from home in the spring, I will get to experience what it’s like sitting in a classroom next semester.

It’s a feeling I’ve missed.

For me, nothing will ever take the place of face-to-face interaction.  I like to say that one, in-person conversation equals 1000 texts.

When I was pursuing my Associate degrees, all my favorite classes (all of them writing-emphasis) were on campus; through them, I got to know my professors, and they got to know me even more; when you read someone’s creative work, you get a glimpse of their soul.

I look forward to developing my writing even more at UWF, for this university had something that Pensacola State College (PSC) did not, which was my degree program: English with a concentration in Creative Writing.

There are so many opportunities at UWF to write, whether it’s The Argonautica, The Troubadour, or The Voyager.

I’ve learned so much in the short time I’ve been with The Voyager.

From my Socratic Society interview, I learned that even though business majors get hired more, English majors get promoted more.  When you’re a writer (and not a STEM major), you need to hear these things.

From my Center for Entrepreneurship interview, I learned that you can start a business while in school; they will help you.

From my interview with a library intern, I learned that the Careers in Writing course teaches you about all the careers to be had in writing (not just teaching). 

Working for a college newspaper has connected me with people I wouldn’t have gotten to know otherwise, inspired me to attend events I might not have attended, and helped me write about things I never thought I’d be interested in; being a student reporter is also a great way to build your portfolio for future employers.

It was my love for college journalism that brought me to UWF.  A couple of years or so ago, when I was interviewing one of the writing contest winners at my alma mater, she told me she was coming here to pursue her degree in Creative Writingsomething I hadn’t known existed until then.  

Though I was only a reporter for The Voyager one semester, everything I learned was outside the newsroom because, as my adviser said, “The real news doesn’t happen here but out there.”

Humor column: Where are your campus’s cleanest bathrooms?

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When I see lines of people waiting to get into Best Buy on Black Friday, I always wonder if they’re by themselves, and if so, how do they go to the bathroom?  Do they wear adult diapers or do they fast? Do they call for backup?

Bathrooms are awesome. 

Growing up, if my family and I were on the road, we always stopped at McDonald’s to do our business (if not do business) because the bathrooms were usually clean.  (We would probably need a permission slip at Starbucks now, though maybe a tall latte would buy us a few minutes of peeing privileges.)

Whenever I get to wherever I’m going, I always have to go, which is rather annoying.  That’s what happens when you drink a lot of water—just like you try to eat healthy and get e-coli from the lettuce, but no ramifications from the greasy burger. 

Which is why I’m happy that the Writing Lab is now in Building 4. 

Going to the bathroom in Building 1 (if you’re unlucky enough to be at the Math Lab on Sunday) is like going into one of those gas station bathrooms where you have to use a key attached to a jacked-up hubcap.

That said, there are other campus bathrooms that could use a little attention to detail.

If you’re using the tutoring lab in Building 6, you want to be careful and not shut the door too hard in the handicapped stall of the ladies’ room because the sanitary napkin receptacle will fall off and give you a jolt.  You also want to wash your hands very fast, as the water stays on for about two seconds (and that’s not the two-second rule you want to follow). 

There are certain things all bathrooms should have, like lots of TP.  I haven’t sat on a bare toilet seat in a public place since, well, since I was a little girl and Grandma told me not to. You know those passive-aggressive little signs like “If you sprinkle when you tinkle, be a sweetie and wipe the seatie?” Well, if the seat is dry, there might be dried pee you can’t see. 

No thanks.  

I need at least six sheets of separation.

I get really pissed (pardon the pun) when you can’t get the toilet paper out, and it just comes off in squares—the amount Sheryl Crow says you should use to save the environment. 

And then you have those people who like to leave their calling card; I always skip that stall.

Honestly, a stall should have a shelf (or a hook somewhere) for you to hang your purse and any other belongings, so you don’t have to put them on the floor; they should also have doors that you can push, not pull, to get in. 

Building 4 has windowsills in their handicapped stalls (can you tell I love handicapped stalls?) to set your stuff.  Hopefully, a real handicapped person won’t be giving you the stinkeye when you get out.

Building 4 also has hand dryers, but no paper towel dispenser in the handicapped stall.  

At least you can push the door open with your foot.  Pull dirty, push clean. That’s how all main bathroom doors should be. 

The library’s bathrooms are some of the best on campus.  The gym (when it’s actually open) works in a pinch, though when you walk in, the people there can tell you aren’t working out, and you feel like a fattie. 

Sometimes, in Building 14, you come across the Post-Its from the Active Minds group (like “You are awesomesauce!”) stuck to the bathroom mirror like mini pep talks.  This makes the bathroom more interesting.

Powerful flushers, hand-drying choices, faucets that aren’t on a timer, and hooks galore are the hallmarks of a great bathroom anywhere.  

During those times that you have just fifteen minutes between classes, it’s nice to have a place to park and unload where you don’t feel like you’ve just left Wal-Mart at three in the morning.

That’s the rundown for the women’s bathrooms. As for the men’s, I really couldn’t say.  We haven’t become that gender-fluid yet.

Originally published in the November/December 2018 issue of The Corsair, Pensacola State College’s student newspaper; first place winner in the humor category at the FCSPA State Publications.

From Spring To Spring: My work-study experience

It was at the end of the fall semester of 2016 that I applied for a work-study position in the English and Communications Department at my college.

My ENC1102 professor, whose class I had just taken, worked in the office. I thought he was wonderful and we had a good rapport, so I figured he’d put in a good word for me.

As a little something extra, I brought the latest issue of Bella Grace magazine in which my poem had been published.  I wanted to show that I was the real story, the genuine article (puns intended)–that I loved what they loved.

I say, there is something about showing your professor your accomplishment that pertains to their field of expertise that makes you all glowy. It’s sort of like making your parents proud. Maybe the kid inside us never grows up.  Even though I live in my own home, with a husband and child, I still don’t quite feel like a grown-up–I just happen to be mature for my age.

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For four semesters, I worked with four awesome people (and met many more awesome people)–people who were there for me during the most difficult times in my life.  In the transient world of restaurant and retail, I felt my work-study family was my first true “work family.”

*

This spring, I took two math classes so I could stay on one last semester.  (If you are scheduled for less than six credit hours in your major, you are ineligible for the program.) Even though that was totally nuts, leading me to spent eighty-plus hours in the math lab, I completed my greatest accomplishment: I passed both classes with B’s.

For me, that’s just about as good as it gets.

*

Work-studying in my favorite department (History, Language, and Social Sciences would’ve been my second choice) gave me time to think about just what it was I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

It was my Benjamin Braddock moment–without the complication of a Mrs. Robinson (or, in my case, a Mr. Robinson. I am married, after all).

Though I will likely have to commence my professional career as a medical assistant, it was because I went back to school to major in Health Information Technology that I learned that there is a place for me in the professional writing world, beyond journalism, beyond literature.

There are needs to be filled, and I know where to look for them now.

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Poem-a-Day April 2018 Writer’s Digest Challenge #23. Theme: Action

Action Figure

I come with coffee,
which is a bit of a cheat,
like doping.
But it gets me going,
to get it done–
all those things that
make my eyes glaze,
my brain become dazed,
like problems
(not exercises,
as they are so politically-correctly called)
with numbers.
Finals are almost here,
and then I can toss all my notes
into the bonfire
while drinking my java,
spiked with vodka.

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2018-april-pad-challenge-day-23

Poem-a-Day April 2018 Writer’s Digest Challenge #14. Theme: Report

psc bldg 96

Starr Reporter

Starr was a crackerjack ink slinger
for The Scoop at Pence State College,
covering events such as the Modern Mime show,
put on by the ASL Lousy Poets Club
(a small group),
archery intramurals on Valentine’s Day,
(where Professor Kewpid was the target),
& The Great Brown-Bagged Fake n’ Bake Swap
from extra credit-hungry culinary students.

She treated her articles like she treated people–
making what the world deemed unimportant feel important,
for she’d been taught that genuine class
was neither in the threads of her clothes
nor in the strands of her DNA,
but in how she treated others.

2018 April PAD Challenge: Day 14

Poem-a-Day April 2018 Writer’s Digest Challenge #3. Theme: Stop/Don’t Stop

 

Stopping by the Plasma Center on a Tuesday Afternoon

They were known as “The Plasmatics”—
Paisley, Sage, Rosemary, and Tim—
trading blood money for gas money
every Tuesday and Friday,
after Gender Neutrality class.

From Subway left over from various campus events,
to ramen from the campus food bank—
they kept their bodies operating at a good 80%—
enough to know the difference between zim and whazim.

So they sold their cloudy gold by the pints,
earning bonuses and rewards like lab rats,
until the day Tim went numb in the arm
from an inept phlebotomist,
and went to selling his sperm,
thinking himself a modern-day Father Abraham,
leading where the girls could not follow.

Groused, they did,
at the inequality of his ability to make the deposits,
while they were reduced to being the withdrawers.

That is,
until they realized the upside of membership in such a bank:
They never had to worry about being overdrawn.

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2018-april-pad-challenge-day-3

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #432: Spring

trees

The American Spring of Mrs. Jones

Her life was a brimful,
her family,
a handful.
So many things divided her attention,
commanding it,
and she fought the distractions
as if they were dragons,
slaying them with more commitments—
all because she felt that her time
to make the most of herself was
running out.

She’d seen it all coming—
this season of late nights in the library,
studying,
of numerous hours in the tutoring lab,
working,
fighting the mind and memory
that seemed to work against her sometimes.
But she had prepared for it
like a Doomsday prepper,
when something
no one
could have seen coming,
slammed her from behind,
scattering her
like the loose-leaf sheets of her textbooks
that fell out of her broken binders.

She’d been so consumed with being productive—
reading,
writing,
and trying to figure out a curious sort of arithmetic,
trying to tie the ends together that didn’t quite meet,
that she didn’t,
couldn’t,
allow herself to think about anything else.

When that crash happened,
it was as if the universe had made a terrible mistake—
as if what was happening now
wasn’t supposed to happen
until twenty years from now.

And though her life,
as she lived it,
changed little,
her world seemed so sad and strange,
yet she still heard her child’s laugh
in the next room.

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 432