Thursday, December 22, 2011

I'm Convinced This Is Why My Last Relationship Didn't Work Out

5 things you should know before dating a journalist

By Tom Chambers • May 10, 2007

So, you’ve been eyeing that smart, attractive journalist you’re lucky enough to know personally. You’re intrigued. Your journalist is smart, funny, confident. Visions of Clark Kent taking off the glasses and ripping off his clothes to reveal a perfectly toned body in blue spandex coming to save you run through your head.

Who can blame you? Journalism is a sexy occupation.

But journalists aren’t like the bimbos you usually pick up at the bar. Nor are they the assholes you ladies continually fall for. No, journalists are different beings (which is why you’re attracted to them in the first place), and you should realize — before jumping in — that this isn’t going to be a run-of-the-mill, boring, lame relationship you’re used to.

Here’s what you need to know:

1We can figure things out. Understand, we’re paid to dig deep, find the secrets and wade through bullshit. We can pick up on subtleties, so what you think you are hiding from us won’t be hidden for long. Sure, we’ll act surprised when you eventually tell us you starred in German porn as a freshman in college — but we already knew.

We don’t take shit from anyone, so don’t lie to us or give a load of bullshit. We spend all day separating fact from fiction, listening to PR cronies and dealing with slimy politicians. If you make us do the same with you, you’re just gonna piss us off. And don’t think we’ll be quiet about it. We’ll respond with the vengeance of an Op-Ed page railing against society’s injustices — and we’ll enjoy doing it.

Just tell us the truth. We can handle it.

2At some point, you will be a topic. Either through a feature story or an opinion column, something you do or say will be a subject. Get over it. Consider it a compliment, even if we’re arguing against you in print.

Think about it: we live our lives writing about life. If you’re a part of our life, we’re going to write about you, your thoughts or a subject springing from one of the two.

Don’t be upset when an argument against your adoration of Hillary Clinton turns up on page A4. We’re not directing the writing at you, personally — your ignorance was just our inspiration (there, doesn’t that make you feel better?).

3Yes, we think we’re smarter than you. In fact, we know it. Does that smack of ego? Absolutely — but that confidence is what makes your heart go pitter-patter.

We have a strong, working knowledge of how the world works. That makes us great in conversation. We can delve into the intricacies of zoning laws, local and national politics, where to find the good restaurants, what’s happening with pop culture, where the good bands are playing and more.

But there are pitfalls.

Guaranteed, when you say “towards,” we will automatically say “toward” — “towards” is not a word. We’re not trying to call you dumb (even though you don’t understand the English language), it’s habit. The same will happen when you say “anxious” when you mean “eager” and when you answer “good” when someone asks how you are doing.

We carry ourselves with a certain arrogant air. Embrace it (that’s what attracted you to us in the first place, after all). Don’t be surprised if we’re not impressed when you say, “I’m a writer, too.” No, you are not. The fact that you sit in a coffee shop wearing black while scribbling in your journal does not make you a writer. Nor does the fact that you “wrote some poems in high school” or that one day you want to pen “the great American novel.”

Look, we’re paid to write. Every day. What’s more, our writing matters. It changes opinions, affects decisions and connects people with the world around them.

We’re not spewing our angst or trying to fabricate an aura of creativity. We write about the real world — with real consequences.

Our words go through three or four cranky editors who make us rewrite before it’s printed a few hundred thousand times and distributed all over town. You don’t do that unless you’re confident, even egotistical.

You may have some great journal entries, poems and rudimentary short stories — good for you. Just don’t assume we’ll accept that as on par with what we do (unless you’re really hot, then hell, you’re a better writer than I).

4You’re not less important than the job — the job is just more important than anything else. One doesn’t become a journalist to sit in an office from 9 to 5 Monday through Friday.

We do take our work home. If news is happening, we’ll drop whatever we’re doing — even if it’s with you — to cover it. We’re always looking for stories, so yes, we’ll stop on the street to write something down, interview a passer-by or gather information for a lead.

On that same note, don’t get upset if you call us on deadline suggesting some afternoon nookie and we say, “I’ve got to put the paper to bed first.” That could mean hours from now, but we’ll have plenty of time to put you in bed later.

5You won’t be disappointed. Journalists are intense, driven, passionate folk. We carry those same attributes into our relationships, making it an extremely fun ride well worth the price of admission. Our lives are never boring and each day is different.

If the pitfalls are scaring you away, consider this:

The fact that we’re inquisitive means we’ll listen to you. Even if it does seem like an interview, we’re paying attention to what you have to say (see rule No. 1).

We’ll write about you or your thoughts because you’re an important part of our life and we care about you (see rule No. 2).

Our brains are a great resource. Ever go on a date with an attractive person and wind up wishing you hadn’t because everything they say is just, well, stupid? That’s not going to happen here (see rule No. 3).

Yes, it may seem that we put the job ahead of you, but we’re driven. You’re not with that loser whose life is going nowhere and who’s completely content being mediocre (see rule No. 4).

There you go, five things you should know before dating a journalist. Feel free to add to the list, point out where I’ve missed something or leave a comment. And yes, ladies, I’m single (see rule No. 5).

Monday, November 7, 2011

More On Wall St.

When I was in college, I used to to read a web comic called "Tales of the Questor". The author, a devout Christian with a great deal of spiritual insight, recently posted an article with his thoughts on the Occupy Wall St. Movement.

I was intrigued by what he said, not only because it is true, but also because critics like me tend to forget this truth.

While I can't find a good excuse for those who are choosing to camp in public parks and local streets, I also can't say that the current economic situation of America is entirely their fault.

Here's what Ralph Hayes, Jr. had to say about the protestors crowding my city streets.....


Let's be fair here.

First, they've done, and are doing, nothing that the generations before them haven't.
No, I'm not referring to rioting or getting stoned or pooping in the street-- though come to think of it, those things qualify too-- I'm referring to spending ruinous amounts of borrowed money, digging themselves into an inescapable hole, and then throwing a tantrum when someone tells them it's time to dig themselves out. Gee, where have I heard THIS mess before?

It wasn't the OWS who ran up a multitrillion dollar national debt and a trillion dollar deficit--- it was us.

It wasn't the OWS who created the subprime mortgage crisis by giving money to people who almost certainly would never pay it back--- it was us.

It wasn't the OWS that created a credit-card culture where the average American household has a standing debt of fifteen THOUSAND dollars--- it was us.

It wasn't the OWS that made a nation where debt consolidation became a growth industry--- it was US.

And it certainly wasn't the OWS that made a national identity out of dodging responsibility for all of the above, and wailing to the government to come save us from our own excess....

Yet we are astonished that the masses in the OWS movement are living out the final stages of what we began?

Second, we told them to go where they ended up.
My entire high school career was spent with parents, teachers, friends and relations, counselors, even TV celebrities, chanting the exact same mantra: "Get a Loan, Go To College, Get a Degree, Succeed!" No alternative to this formula was considered. No deviation was tolerated. My entire generation-- and the one before, and the one after-- were told:

Massive Debt--> College--> Diploma---> ???---> Profit!

Those who didn't dive out of high school and straight into a College or University were slackers and fools. Those who had the Sheepskin of +1 Prosperity would RULE.

Some of us did have some minor twinkling notion in the backs of our murky young minds that with College being so expensive, if you could actually afford to go, why would you need College in the first place? But of course, as every After School Special taught us, anyone who prospered without a higher education-- say, by starting up a business, or entering early into the job market and finding a career path--- would lose everything by the third act and spend the fourth sweeping streets for a living and bewailing the fact that they Hadn't Gotten the Sheepskin.

Worse, we had professionals (teachers, counselors, recruiters, Human Resource managers) swearing up and down to us that "Get a college degree in X, start earning Y thousand a year right out of College!" That was the sermon, year in and year out, book, chapter and verse. The future's so bright, Kid, you'll have to wear shades. We all believed it.

And imagine that. the OWS brats believed it too.

I dropped out of College due to financial issues, and my own poor decision making. Don't ask me if I ever recovered. But I can only imagine what the shock and dismay has been like for the crop of graduates who made it all the way through--- my own generation, and those who are coming out now, diplomas in hand....

After all those years of work and wading through Ivory Tower BS and colleges hiking their tuition till it was cheaper to get a ride on the Space Shuttle than to get in the front door.... find those same fatcats with all the golden promises standing there, choking with laughter: "And you actually believed us??" And telling them to go pay off their college debt boxing french fries or shuffling mail in the mailroom.

Surprise, kids. The generation that rolled naked in the mud at Woodstock--- the generation whose example you're following even now--- is now too busy milking your paycheck for their retirement funds to have the time of day for you.

They've been promised the moon, given the shaft, and left without even the tools and virtues necessary to properly deal with their personal catastrophe save by doing what their parents and grandparents did-- whining and crying to the government to bail them out.

And naturally, they are ripe for the plucking by every destructive collectivist group out there.... just as they were made to be.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Occupy Wall St. movement is sweeping the country. People are gathering in hundreds of major cities all around the country to protest....................something.

The problem with these "protests" is that no one can give a truly cohesive answer as to why my city parks are clogged with hippies and dying veterans. I've spent the last week listening to both sides of the argument. I understand the frustration of the American people. I really do, but I don't think that jumping up and down in the streets is going to fix it.

When I was unemployed, the last thing I thought about doing was grabbing some poster board and hitting the streets. I went to the library, booted up a computer and spent the next eight months slinging coffee while applying for jobs around the country. I told people I was willing to move (and I did......twice). I took four part time jobs when full time was not available, and I learned to use public transportation. I know being unemployed sucks. I know being in debt up to your neck is annoying, but guess what guys? Nobody, especially the federal government, is going to fix all that for you. As Americans, we have a responsibility to make it work; to keep trying and working and falling down and trying again.

The words on the statue of Liberty say it best, I think:

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

The point of being an American is not that everything is handed to you simply because you think you need it. The point, my friends, is that here in America, you have the chance to earn it. You have the opportunity to scrape yourself off the pavement and try again. We have the chance to succeed and we have the chance to fail. That is how we learn responsibility. That is how we learn perseverance and determination.

That is how we become better.

On the lighter side of the issue:

If you have no shame and are amused by the idea of thousands of people coming together for no coherent reason, check out this strip. Also, twitter made my week with their own spin on the situation in the big apple.