Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pipe Dreams.

New York was an absolutely amazing life changing experience. As expected. No one goes to New York and remains the same afterwards. It showed me a lot.. it showed me what it takes to be a real journalist, what it takes to live in New York.. what it takes to be independent.

First, it did kind of start out as a disaster. I woke up super early Saturday, determined that things were going to go smoothly. Well.. they did... until I got on the Chinatown bus. They started taking tickets and as she looked at mine, she said in extremely broken English that something was wrong with mine. As I would find out after I was kicked off of the bus, I somehow booked my ticket for the wrong day. So instead of letting me go ahead and book another ticket, they kicked me off of the bus - indefinitely - and threatened to call the police on me when I demanded an answer in English. Well.. no one could give me one. There were also approximately 30 people screaming at these people in a small room that was supposed to be their bus station. So I figured since I didn't have a translator, I wasn't going to make it to New York.

So here I am, stuck in Chinatown.. alone in D.C. for the first time and I have no idea what I'm supposed to do or how I am going to get out of there.

I hesistated calling my mom because I just knew she was going to tell me "I knew something like this would happen" and basically freak out. I mean I was freaking out so I knew she would. I answered when she called anyway and told her that I was giving up on the Chinatown bus and asked her if she could find me a Greyhound station. I called a cab, had them take me to the station and paid another $65 for a round-trip ticket. AHA! With the exception of my mom telling me where the station was, I did it by myself.

Of course it didn't stop there. I got a ticket for 11:15 and apparently, they overbooked it and maybe 40 people got left behind. They said there wouldn't be another bus until 1:30. I made some friends. It was quite interesting, really. They got another bus for us somehow and we went on our way. Worst bus trip ever. I was so stressed out about being alone and nervous about going to NYC by myself that I definitely couldn't sleep or read for that matter.

I finally got to Port Authority and of course had no idea where to go. Luckily, the friends I made on the bus showed me where to go. In true New York fashion, I hailed a taxi and finally made it to the hotel.

The trip home was much easier.

As ridiculous as it was, I'm actually glad it happened. I would have never known that I could do that all on my own.

Being in New York was awesome. The staff really got along and we did soo much. I almost don't know how to describe it. The classes were pretty cool.. got to meet a lot of big shot reporters like Byron Pitts - who I think is my new role model - and we learned a lot about new media.. which, I'm going to try to teach myself.

We went to dinner with a freelance reporter from New York Times and he told us how he ended up in New York. He moved from Montana, lived in Harlem when he first got there, worked as an intern with no pay at a bunch of places (including Rolling Stone - which he hated) and basically shattered my dreams within a meal. He said it was the hardest thing he's ever done but would never take it back.

I think I had this perception that you go to New York and just automatically make it. Not so much. I guess that was good for me to.

I'm really motivated though. I can't wait for the Current to go online - though, I don't think it will happen while I'm still here. but I'm going to try really hard to help it happen.

I think the trip changed all of us.. our dreams got amplified and all we could talk about was how to make the paper better, more real.

I know I'm not the best reporter or even the next best thing. I'm not even sure reporting is how I want to spend the rest of my life.. but that trip, I think, will stay with me.

We also went and saw Public Enemy for Flava Flav's 50th birthday. I didn't want to go but it was amazing. Ice-T was there. Big stuff.

I also got more confidence there apparently because I just went up to people and started talking to them. Of course my camera was dead when I was doing this - or else they'd be on youtube now. But, Hess and I had a 45 minute conversation with a NYPD about what it was like to be in New York, what 9/11 was like and what it takes to make it.

No one that lives in NY is from there. Everyone goes there with the same dream of making it.. even a NYPD.

Julie and I got a ride on one of those bikes that pull carriages and I'm telling you, the driver - if you will - was the most interesting person I think I've ever met. We asked him if he was there for 9/11 and of course he was. He said that it didn't surprise him, that this country does horrible things to people and in some sense, we deserved it. He said that he thinks that Pearl Harbor was intentional and so was 9/11 and that the government knew about it. He said that all politicans are full of shit - even Obama. He said that journalists did a poor job of covering 9/11, the Bush administration, and Iraq. He was also a Vietnam vet.

I went up to a man handing out flyers - who gave me his card, apparently - and asked him why he was doing it, where he was from, etc. He told me he lived in the Bronx because he couldn't afford Manhattan. He said he was handing out flyers because it was all he could do to make money and in New York, you take what you can get to survive. I am sure he told me a lot more but, like I said, my camera died.

Now I am back home and my life feels empty. When I was there, I felt like I was apart of something.. like everyday there was somewhere to go and there was someone to talk to. Now, I've been sitting at home, eating and staying in front of my computer.. writing about New York City. I can't wait to go back.

Here is my horrible first attempt at video editiing:

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