Failed model turns to the mean streets of journalism

Going through some oldish files not-so-recently, I found the first newspaper column I ever wrote. My editor at the time decided I had been writing news stories long enough to give column writing a shot. I asked him what I should write about. He told me to write a column introducing myself as the new full-time general assignment reporter. I had no idea what to write. Sure, I’d read lots of local columns and followed a handful of national pieces by folks like Georgie Anne Geyer and David Broder and that scamp Dave Berry but I had no idea what to write. So, perennial smart ass that I am, I wrote the following—assuming it would be rejected outright and my editor would kill the idea of forcing me to write a weekly (or so) column. It backfired. He enjoyed it and so did some of our readers … and an ego was born. “It’s a bouncing baby fragile need-machine!”

Originally published in Charlevoix Courier, May 20o5

I survived my first week on the Courier staff and I must say things are a bit different from when I was a freelancer.

The dress code for one: I used to work out of my home office so I spent most of my time in pajamas. My new editor frowns on the idea of me showing up to work in a bathrobe.

The other major change is the condition of my new office; clean, organized and replete with every convenience imaginable, while my old office looked like a grenade went off in a flea market that specialized in children’s toys, empty cereal boxes and vintage typewriters.

The biggest advantage I’ve seen so far is that my wife is now unable to tape to-do lists to my computer screen.

Before I go any further, I must be honest, as much as I love my new job, working for the Courier wasn’t my first career choice. Two years ago I left food-service in hope of becoming a fashion model for Tommy Hilfiger in Hollywood—my wife’s ear piercing and incessant laughter told me otherwise.

It took a week of crying myself to sleep before I decided to go after my longtime (and slightly more attainable) goal to write for a living. I wrote news, feature, advertising, sports and websites for every publication that would have me. The more I wrote, the more opportunities showed themselves.

The next thing I knew, I was offered the position as staff writer. Due to the competitiveness of this market, I know how lucky I am to be here. As far as my goals, well, for the most part I’ve achieved them. I have my dream job. I live in the most beautiful town I have ever seen. And, I have a wonderful family with which to share my good fortune.

The only other goals I have now are to report the news and avoid those damnable to-do lists.

And just one more thing, Tinsel Town has nothing on Charlevoix, but if you run into me on the street, please, don’t ask about the modeling career—it’s still a bit of a sore spot.

Spit it out, junior

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