Feb. 24th, 2003 08:11 pm

Dreaming

savvyliterate: (Feminine)
I think I read the wrong book today. It was about a journalist who was tired of her beat covering Capitol Hill and manages to finagle herself into going off on assignment to another country to cover a revolution. While out there, she falls in love.

How romantic...::sigh::

I know, I know. It's a romance novel. Things like that don't happen for real. Still, the heroine reminds me a lot of myself. She's prone to daydreaming. A lot. So am I. Maybe I'm just lonely. That's it.

Our new editor, Paul Dunn, is in town. He stopped by last night and came in for a little bit today as well. Robb (the publisher) and I seem to be the only ones geninuely excited about him coming. Dale (managing editor) and Kevin (sports editor) are both more standoffish about it. I just think it's wonderful. Paul has a lot of ideas on changing the look of the paper, etc., and I think it NEEDS changing. I suppose this comes with me being young and out of college and full of ideas.

I got my new driver's license today. I proudly changed the weight on it, even though I've been having problems with it lately. Didn't get the chance to go play racquetball like I wanted. Oh well, I'll try again tomorrow. My picture on the license looks pretty good as well.

I did something yesterday that I hadn't done in two years - go to church. I enjoyed it. I went to an Episcipal Church, which was pretty interesting. I enjoy the rituals. I took communion, and they use real wine. Expensive wine too, I was told afterwards. I'm not much of a wine drinker, so when I drank it, I prayed I wouldn't cough or spit it out. I didn't ;-)

So, I guess I better go back to work and dreaming. This Baby Blues cartoon suits my mood right now:



::lies down with Zoe:: C'mon, child, we'll wait and cry together.
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A story for Friday's Selma Times-Journal. I wrote the article and shot the photos for it.

*****

By Megan Lavey
Times-Journal Desk Editor

They call him the Tin Man.

He is famous for taking bits of metal and wood, considered to be scrap junk to most of the world, and turning it into art.

His work-roughened hands are never still. Even as he discussed his life and art on Thursday at the Striplin Performing Arts Center, he used a pair of clippers to twist and turn pieces of discarded electrical wire into a tyrannosaurus rex.



He is surrounded by dozens of his works, on display through March at the performing arts center.

Charlie Lucas, his real name, was born in 1951. He’s grown up among a family of artisans Ñ quiltmakers, blacksmiths, gunsmiths and basketmakers.

He grew up in a time when he built houses and white men did not allow him to read the blueprints. He was told by a teacher that art was for “white folks” and he needed to learn a trade.

Lucas left school instead.

He worked until he fell from the back of a truck in 1984 and was permanently disabled. Then, he focused on his art.

He’s been creating things ever since he was a child. While many children received shiny new toys wrapped in cardboard boxes and shiny plastic, Lucas, one of 14 children, made his own.

“Each time I wanted a new toy, I’d go out and make one,” he explained.

He made all sorts of toys Ñ wagons, weapons, bicycles and all sorts of things. He made them out of things that people threw away: bits of metal, plastic and boards. Some called it crawling through the garbage. But Lucas thought it was the “coolest thing you could do.”

As he grew, his work grew to encompass much more. The pieces of art told the story of Lucas’ childhood, of his great-granddaddy who taught him how to weave baskets and all sorts of things.

Lucas, as a child, watched as his “Granddaddy” and his friends made jewelry and other crafts in his home. At his granddaddy’s house, every day was like the Fourth of July for the young boy as he drank in the sights of the older men making jewelry, whittling and creating all sorts of country crafts.

“Back then, they didn’t allow me to have pocketknives and stuff,” Lucas recalled. “But, I would watch them strip the wood down and turn it into all kinds of things.”

It was the best education possible for a budding young artist, and Lucas stood in awe of their talents. But, he adds, if you wrote their names on the side of the wall, those older men would have no idea what the scribbling said.

Now, not only is Lucas teaching others how to recycle trash into art, but he is also showing how man can recycle himself through things such as education.

His art has brought Lucas back to the education he walked away from so long ago as a child. He attends classes at the Selma-Dallas Public Library, not to get a GED he says, but to know how to read better. It has opened new worlds for him.

“It’s kind of like a kid in the candy store,” Lucas said. “You take the wrappers off the candy and you kind of lick off a few pieces. It’s been a good thing for me.”

Instead of a regular education, Lucas grew up with a street one. He knew many, many things, he says, but just could not write them down.

Said Lucas, “I’m a plumber, I’m a electrician. I can build a car engine and I can even build a house. But, I can’t read the blueprints.”

This type of education was common more than a century ago. Lucas can walk outside and do any type of work with his hands and it makes him feel comfortable. But when he is asked to deal with the paper side of things, he admits that he gets somewhat lost.

But when he talks about his different trades to friends and acquaintances, they reply that even with a fancy college education, they still don’t know how to do all the things that Charlie Lucas can.
Feb. 11th, 2003 11:17 pm

Thank God!

savvyliterate: (Playful)
Thank you, God. Thank you, God. THANK YOU, GOD!

And Radtz and anyone else who was looking out for me tonight.

What happened you ask? Welllll.....

An organization of women who actually have money in Selma called the Selma Charity League puts on what is called the Follies every three years. Pretty much, it's a huge talent show. And, being the Lifestyles editor, I have the honor of covering it. So, I went to their kickoff talent party tonight to take photos to go with the Lifestyles section I'm doing on the Follies.

I get there and see Jean Martin waiting for me, plus some other Selma matrons. Jean introduces me and suddenly, they're trying to sign me up for the follies!!

"But, I can't sing!" I cry.

"You can dance," said Elise Blackwell, who is in charge of a lot of things in the city.

"I can't dance!"

Finally, they have dragged over the Follies chairman to talk me into signing up. I came this close ::holds fingers barely apart:: to playing my clarinet on stage in front of a bunch of strangers.

I sighed. "So, when are the Follies?"

"February 28 and March 1."

My eyes lit up. February 28th is my 23rd birthday. It's also my niece, Katie's, first birthday. We're going to be celebrating our birthdays together the next day. So, with sadness and much regret, I declined to be in the Follies once and for all, with a legtimate family obligation. God is looking out for me, I'm positive. Oh well, I still joined the Charity League. It's free and there's only a couple meetings a year :-)

Quotes of the Day:
"I can't dance! I can barely walk in a straight line without tripping over my feet," - me to Jean Martin on why I can't be in the Follies.

"Everybody's a good team."
"Yeah, we all get along well together when we're not complaining about each other." - Jimmy Huett (pressman) commenting on the teamwork at the newspaper and my reply to that.
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Feb. 9th, 2003 12:32 pm

::sigh::

savvyliterate: (Default)
It figures. One of the only days when I can sleep in and actually get more than five hours of rest and my baka neighbor comes ringing my doorbell.

"I'm so sorry, Megan," Gray goes, while I give him the evil eye. "I was asleep too."

Then why did you wake ME up? Oh well, I suppose I needed to get up. Who wants to lounge around in a nice, warm bed with two purring kittens and a good book anyhow? Not me! No siree! (I don't sound the lease bitter, do I?)

This weekend has been a lot calmer than the previous week. Everyone involved in the debate from Wednesday night seems to have calmed down and work has abated for oh...two milliseconds. I managed to finish my first three projects (getting yelled at for being so late on the final one too) and am now suppose to be working on the next three projects. I will be SO glad when Horizons is finished!!! I have at least four more sections to layout after this, and then I think I'm home free. Actually, no I'm not. As soon as this is done, there'll be the Bridgecrossing Jubilee, Pilgrimage, the Battle of Selma...see why I'm going insane?

I just looked over to see that the cats have turned the space next to my Granny's cradenza into their personal bathroom. As if they can't use the litter box about two feet away? ::sighs again:: Guess this means I should dress and start cleaning.
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Jan. 26th, 2003 10:32 pm

Death

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The doorbell rang at the newspaper office early today and I went to answer it. Outside stood Jean Martin, holding a couple of diskettes with stories on them and looking, for the first time since I've met her, very much her age.

She had just been to the funeral of a childhood friend. They had gone to school together, graduated from the same high school class, grew up and had grown old together in the same town. And now he was gone and she was there to bid him good-bye.

"They had the bagpipes there, because of his Scottish ancestory," Jean told me. "My sisters had them too, when they died. I hope my family will do them for me when I go."

My throat clogged and tears filled my eyes. I turned away from her and stared at the slowly-booting Mac. "Don't worry, Miss Jean," I replied. "I'm sure your family will."

I can not imagine what it is like to be Jean right now. She was born here in Selma in 1923, her 80th birthday is this year. She grew up here and graduated from high school in 1941. She's lived through WWII, several smaller wars, and has seen the entire way of life change for the entire planet. She is part of what Tom Brokaw calls "The Greatest Generation." At first, I didn't understand why he called them that. Now, I do.

I can't imagine what is it like to see your friends and family die one by one. I can't imagine driving down the streets of the city where you lived all of your life knowing that you're not going to have much time left here.

Jean just called me again, while I was writing this, to give a comment on a column our sports editor wrote. We chatted for a bit, then I did what I've been trying to remember to do every time I see her so that if this happened to be the last time I ever saw her, at least she would know that I love her very very much.

Because death, like taxes, is the one sure thing in life, I know that within the next few years, I'll be staring into her lifeless face in her coffin. And I'll cry. I know that. And I'll deal with the pain of not having her in my life as a friend and mentor any longer. But, hopefully that day will be years away, and I will enjoy every drop of time I can with Jean and the other people that I love so much.
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You know, I'm glad I got this little keyboard for my Pocket PC. It makes it extremely easy for me to sit down and start typing something if I'm in the mood to do so. This is all Celeste's fault, BTW. I was looking for her keyboard in Montgome/ry and I liked it so much I decided to get my own too. So, expect to see me posting here a lot more. (Yay, huh, Mack?)

With that aside, let me start by pitying the poor man who will eventually become my husband. I don't know who he is, but whoever he is, I feel sorry for him. Why? Because, he'll have to put up with me as a roommate.

I was vividly reminded this morning of exactly why I enjoy being alone.

Normally, Saturdays is when I actually get a little sleep and go into the newspaper around 2 p.m. But today, I had a pretty major interview in the morning. So, I set my alarm for 9 a.m. and went to bed.

I need to backtrack for a moment. We hired a new reporter, Tracie, at the end of December. I knew her from college, she had written for my desk. So, in an act of generousity, I said she could bunk at my place until she found a place. I figured what, it would take two, maybe three days tops. After all, it didn't take me long to find a place. And, it didn't take Alan long. There's lots of places to rent in Selma.

Tracie's been on my couch for THREE WEEKS. Let's say we are not amused.

In a way, Tracie reminds me a lot of myself, and that is scary. But, you have to prod her to do anything. You have to sit and inform her that a story is going on so that she'll go out there and cover it. For example, last week, when the power was out in downtown Selma for nearly two hours, I walked in the newsroom to find Tracie sitting at her desk reading the newspaper.

"Why is the power out, Tracie," I asked.

"I don't know."

"How long has it been out?"

"Ever since I got here."

"Did you call the power company to see why the power is out?"

"No."

I picked up the phone. No dial tone. "Did you know that the phones are out?"

"No."

"Well, I think you should drive over to the power company and find out what's going on."

"Okay."

Tracie walks out and Gary, one of the production people walks in. "You know, she's been sitting at her desk doing nothing for 30 minutes," he told me. Apparently, she got to work and sat and waited to be told what to do while everyone else was trying to cope with the power outage. Out on Broad Street, there were cops directing traffic, banks and other businesses were either closed or doing work by candlelight. An obvious story right? Mou...I hope Tracie develops a little common sense while she's here.

Anyhow, back to this morning. I wake up to hear Tracie in the shower. No problem, I thought. I snuggled deeper into the warm covers and waited.

Five minutes passed. 10. 15.

At 20 minutes I got up and knocked on the bathroom door and asked Tracie when she would be out. She got out a few minutes later.

No problem. I had woken up around 8:50 and it was now 9:15. Cutting it a little close, but still enough time for me to shower and try to fix my hair in the pretty new hairstyle I was given Thursday before coming to work. So, I got in the shower, turned it on, and the showerhead popped off.

20 minutes later, I finally got a shower in, and I was not amused. I looked at my clock when I got back to my room and groaned. So much for fixing my hair. I threw on clothes and headed for the Times-Journal.

When Tracie got there, I asked her about the shower. "Oh, it was doing that yesterday."

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"Well, you were asleep, then I forgot."

Okay, somethings are worth waking up over. Having the showerhead suddenly die on you is one of them. I gritted my teeth and focused on my interviews.

I admit, I enjoy my privacy. My last year of college, I roomed with my cousin. Good roommate, but a small dorm room will get on your nerves no matter who you room with. Cassie was a good roommate too. We had our own rooms to retreat to. Celeste and I made the best roommates. We just got along together really well and were comfortable.

My poor future husband. I wonder if he'll take offense if I suggest he gets his own room or apartment? Of course, a marriage prerequisite is the willingness to want to live with the guy. That I can handle. I just hope he can cope living with me.
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There are people in life that you meet that you know instantly that they will have a profound effect on you. No matter where you go in life, no matter what you do, you know that the person's influence will be a part of you until the day you die.

I met one of those people today.

Her name is Jean Martin, and for more than 20 years, she was the community editor at the newspaper. I had heard some stories about her, how she would come into the newsroom displeased when her entire column was run, etc. It was enough to make me almost scared of her. Okay, I WAS scared of her. Mrs. Martin holds a lot of influence in Selma. Pretty much, meeting her would make or break my journalism career here. So, when my editor calls me into his office and goes, "Megan, I would like for you to meet Jean Martin. She needs someone to pick up her column since she's still recovering from surgery and you need to meet her." Since her column runs in my section, he does have a point.

So, I call her to get her address. She sounds thrilled over the phone to talk to me. She invites me right over and gives me the address. She lives just two blocks from my apartment complex. After getting lost a couple of times and discovering a gorgeous elementary school a block from the apartment, I arrive on the doorstep of Mrs. Martin's home.

It is a gorgeous home, a true tribute to the historic homes in the area. It's not listed on the historic homes tour that I took last week, but nevertheless, it was beautiful. I knocked on the door and was greeted by a scruffy man with a long unkempt beard. I swallowed and asked if Mrs. Martin was home.

An elderly woman comes walking out of the side room and introduces herself to me. I recognize Mrs. Martin by her photo in the paper, but she looked a little more worn than her picture reveals. She shows me to a formal sitting parlor and we begin to talk.

During the conversation, I reveal things such as my family, my boyfriend, my moral views on things such as living together before marriage, family, etc. Through it all, Mrs. Martin kept up a lively narrative, talking about Selma and giving me insight into the way things worked in this town. She showed me pictures of her grandchildren (all three handsome. If I didn't have Lance...) and talked about her sons with pride. The scruffy man? That was her eldest, who had something happen to him in Vietnam. That explained it. As she was talking about her children, she mentioned his education. "He went to Auburn and then to the University (she refers to Alabama as the University)." She pauses for a moment, shakes her head and says, "What a waste," in a sad voice. My throat clogged. The terrorist attacks on New York City were the closest things I'd ever come to seeing the effects of war. With Mrs. Martin's sadness over her son, I understand now why many people did not want us to be in Vietnam.

I stayed there an hour and went away throughly enchanted. I gave Mrs. Martin my home phone number and urged her to call me if she needed me to run errands or do anything for her. She said when Lance comes to visit me, she would take the two of us out to dinner. After that, I headed back to the paper with her column and started formatting it to put into the Lifestyles section.

It was one of the most awesome things I have ever read. It was a poem describing her childhood summers in Destin, Florida, then how things changed as an adult. Then, this one little boy comes along and reminds her of the simpler ways things were when she was a child. I am not a beach-goer by any means (I like to avoid them when I can), but her vivid descriptions made me want to go the beach. I want to hear the sea oats rustle. I want to play in the surf as it dashes over my toes. I wanted all of these things I have never felt before. That is the mark of a wonderful writer.

Jean Martin is an excellent reporter. She is quick, witty, and has a remarkable way with people. She can take something ordinary and turn it, using her words, into a powerful experience. She can put people such as me at ease. I realized then and there that I have so much to learn from her as a journalist, a writer and a woman. I am thankful I am being given the opportunity to know Mrs. Martin. I will not take it forgranted.
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Jul. 24th, 2002 01:46 am

First Day

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"Excuse me, Megan, do you have the time?"

I turned around to see my neighbor, Gray, standing in his doorway, alarm clock in hand. After finally getting my door locked, I dreaded his question. This isn't the first time he's done this - he did it twice yesterday - and it won't be the last. He explained that his alarm clock often gets off and he must check the time. He then double-checked what day it actually is. I think he's very lonely.

This capped off my first full day in Selma. I also started my job today. I have a nice big desk, nice co-workers, and a key so I can get in after 5 p.m. My first article is going to be in the newcomer's guide to the town. I think that's very thrifty of my editor - get the newcomer to work on the newcomer's guide. I'm going to take the walking tour tomorrow and do an article on it, then head out to a flea market on Saturday. There are a lot of antique and flea markets in this area. And, I finally found a copy of Time and U.S. News and World Report, so I feel a little more comfortable now. Still, I'm looking into subscriptions...

I felt my first pangs of homesickness today in Wal Mart of all places. I'm starting to miss Lance and my friends a lot. I've always had that support system, and now they're an hour away. It reminds me of when I went away to college four years ago. I'm having to start all over again. At least they're not that far away. I'm hoping that as I get more used to the work, it'll go away. I also asked Lance tonight if he would consider getting an e-mail address. I know he doesn't care for the Internet, but I think having e-mail will be easier on both of us.
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When I was a teen, one of my favorite shows was the Mary Tyler Moore show. It was one of the things that influenced me to go into journalism. I loved how Mary went from a small town to a strange big city and made her mark on it.

Well, think of me as Mary Richards in reverse.

The last time I posted in this journal, I was on the brink of college graduation. Now, two months out of college, I have accepted a job as a desk editor with the Selma Times-Journal, about an hour from Tuscaloosa and Montgomery. This morning, I packed up all of my things (with lots of help from Cassie and Mack), kissed my boyfriend good-bye, and proceeded to move to my nee homr.

Big city girl, meet small town life.

I promised Cassie that I would actually write in my journal so she and my other friends would know how I'm doing. So, welcome to Selma, Alabama, population 20,000-something and the smallest place I've ever lived. How small is it? The mall closes at 8, there is NO bookstore, and I can't find a copy of Time or Newsweek anywhere. Say hello culture shock.

I live in a decent-sized one bedroom apartment. For the same type of apartment in Tuscaloosa, you'd have to pay an arm an a leg. Here, it's only an arm. I grew acquainted with the city's many traffic lights when I proceeded to get lost trying to find the water company. My landlord told me that I would have to get my own water turned on. After two trips and a lot of haggling, I discovered that the water was already on and I didn't have to pay for it at all! I don't think my landlord likes the job very much. He's rather hard to talk to and we had to wait nearly two hours just for him to get here so I could sign the lease.

Courtyard Apartments lives up to its name. It's a small square of 16-20 apartments surrounding this gorgeous courtyard garden. All but a couple of the apartments face the courtyard. It's small enough to where everyone knows each other by name and they shout out across the courtyard at each other. My neighbors are interesting so far. I have an older lady named Sara below me, a rather strange middle-aged man named Gray across from me, the former manager named Linda lives in the building next to mine. They're proving to be an interesting, gossipy lot. But, that type of neighbor is rarely seen these days beyond college campuses. I didn't know my neighbors very well after my mom and I moved when I was in high school. It's a networking system that has its advantages and disadvantages. It's going to be very neat.

Another thing here is the racial tensions. Blacks hate whites and whites hate blacks, My editor told me that he came to town expecting blacks and whites to be standing across the street throwing rocks at each other. But, while it's not that bad, the tension is still there. My neighbors fear the blacks that live near the complex and currently a black Democratic candidate is contesting a race her white opponent won. "It's a different type of political correctness in this town," says the news editor of the paper. He's right. It's going to be an interesting time here in this small town.
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Meg

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