Wednesday, June 30, 2004

He is a clown.

Seriously, how hard can it be to write a story about a circus coming to town?

MACON, Ga. (AP) � A reporter for The Macon Telegraph has resigned after editors determined that a story he wrote about the circus coming to town was plagiarized from a weekly circus newsletter, the newspaper said. The resignation came three months after a Telegraph reporter was fired for lifting material from other publications.

There's no crime in Calloway County...

...at least that's what the local law enforcement agencies want us to believe.

On that note, here's a funny story from Greg's Aunt Jennifer who recently moved back to Murray from Memphis and is looking for a job. She hopes to do some counseling/social work, but has filled out her paperwork to substitute teach. To substitute teach, she has to get fingerprinted and have a background check. That involves going to the sheriff's department or the police station. Here's what she told me last night:

She went to the sheriff's department first, but they told her the guy who fingerprints people was busy. But she got the feeling he wasn't there or just didn't want to do his job. Regardless of the reason, she realized it would take awhile, so she left for the police station. When she got there, just down the street from the sheriff's department, an officer told her they didn't have any ink. OK, right, because the police never actually arrest anyone. So she went back to the sheriff's department. Persistent. She told them the police said they didn't have any ink and the dispatcher there said she knew the police had ink because the sheriff took it over there recently. Jennifer asked if they'd inform their fellow law enforcement agency of the truth. So the dispatcher called and said just that -- "You have ink. The sheriff gave it to you." Jennifer went back to the police station, where she was fingerprinted, at last. Although while doing so, the officer said, "You know, this isn't the ink we usually use." Who cares, I would have been thinking, act like you have some idea of what's going on.

These are the people who protect us.

Monday, June 28, 2004

the in-laws

I've been having some conflict -- well, not real conflict, but conflict in my head -- with Greg's dad. He's just been acting in this way that makes me think he doesn't care for me to be around. It's deeper and more complicated than that, but that's the brief explanation of something I started thinking on our vacation. Then I read this today, maybe it's some advice I'm suppose to take:

Don't take it personally. Whatever happens, remember that your in-laws' actions more likely stem from deep-seated beliefs and behavior patterns than from something you did or said.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

weekend words

We went to see "The Terminal" Friday night. I liked it, but I don't think it will be one I watch again. It's quirky, though, in a good way. Then I had to go back to work for awhile to finish my story about the kidnapping incident that began in our office parking lot Friday morning. I finally talked to the newspaper carrier whose 2-year-old was kidnapped when an acquaintance drove off in her car. Long story, but my publisher was overly worried The Paducah Sun would have a better story than me. Her exact words: "The Paducah Sun better not have a better story than you." A threat, I suppose, but I'm not sure what the consequence would have been. You see, my editor gave The Paducah Sun reporter the carrier's home phone number, and that made Alice mad. I had the carrier's number, but hadn't been able to get in touch with her yet. Drama. The outcome: The Paducah Sun reporter only talked to the police. I talked to the police, the carrier, the woman who witnessed the kidnap suspect leaving the child on the side of the road and a witness from work who saw the car drive off. Regardless, I'm sure Alice will find something else not to be happy about come Monday.

I went to some yard sales Saturday morning with Greg's mom. I found two pair of jeans for $5 each. Then we had a girly lunch at Dumpin's. I spent the afternoon doing some laundry and catching up on some laziness while I watched five episodes of "The Real World." The San Diego finale is Tuesday and these were some I hadn't seen from the beginning. Then I worked from 4:45 to 9 p.m. covering some political events. I'm a nerd, though, so I didn't mind. Although Jim Bunning, the Hall of Fame pitcher turned U.S. senator with some other stops in between, didn't impress me. I really don't think my vote will keep him from being re-elected to a second term, but I think I'll vote for the Democrat. Bunning seemed to think every journalist is Al Cross from The Courier-Journal. At one point he was standing there sort of by himself and I introduced myself, he seemed less than interested. And that's fine, really, but then I was trying to take some candid pictures of him meeting people, thinking that would be better than just a picture of him speaking, but every time he saw me, he intentionally turned the other way. It's really OK because when I met Dan Mongiardo earlier this year when he was campaigning in Murray, I liked him and thought he had some good ideas on healthcare.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Where have I been?

So my new favorite author is Rick Bragg. I thought he was a reporter for The New York Times, but apparently it is accurate to say he is a former reporter for the paper at which he worked when he won the Pulitzer-Prize for feature writing. Some drama about a dateline and having an intern do the reporting for a story, probably many storiese, led to his resignation about a year ago. Oh well, I still think he's a fabulous writer. And others must think so too because he did write that Jessica Lynch story called "I'm A Soldier Too."

Thursday, June 24, 2004

...sounds like a writer's name.

I wanted to be a writer because of Rochelle Riley. She didn't teach me how to write, but she taught me to find stories in everyone and everywhere. She taught me to create pictures with words and phrases. She taught me communicate my thoughts honestly and openly on paper. When I was a senior in high school I participated in a workshop for high school journalism students at The Courier-Journal. It was her project because she likes to teach kids about writing, and ultimately about life. We produced this newspaper that focused on high school-related issues. In it she wrote about each of us who had been part of the workshop, explaining the purpose and a little about who we were. She gave me the best compliment in that article: She said I reminded her of herself because I worked hard but knew laughing was good for me. (She, of course, worded it better than that, but that was the gist of it.) Then she said something about how she could see me with a desk one day next to hers. She didn't have to say those things. She could have just said I knew how to use commas and apostrophes and run spell check.

Rochelle used to be a columnist for The Courier-Journal, but now she writes for The Detroit Free-Press. I've never been to Detroit, but she takes me there when I read her columns online. She has a book of columns from Louisville and now one from Detroit. And she's working on a novel. I can't wait to read it.

She called me today. A month or two ago she emailed me and asked me for my phone number. Well, I emailed her and hadn't heard back. Apparently she saved my phone number in her cell phone as "K," and was trying to figure out who it belonged to. When I answered my phone, she explained all of this, and then she realized it was me. I was driving in my car, already going the wrong way to where I was suppose to be going, so I was a bit distracted, but it was so good to hear from her. She told me she's going to send me a chapter of her novel. I really hope she does because I'm sure it would inspire me. Inspire is a cheesy word, but, really, that's what she does for me. Even her emails make me want to be a writer. A real writer. And here I am bloggin' about her. I wrote a story about her in college for a feature writing class. The assignment, as best as I can remember it, was to write about a person, maybe just any person, I'm not sure. Anyway, I really wish I could find it. I was actually looking for it recently.

So our conversation was brief. She was working on a column looking for a cell phone number when she stumbled upon "K" and was curious. She told me about her daughter who is now 15 and needed to be reminded of my married name. I told her Taylor. She said, "Kristin Hill Taylor, sounds like a writer's name." I hope she's right.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

creativity and compliments

Journalism isn't a business filled with people -- bosses or sources -- giving compliments. So when they come, they are nice to hear. I wrote a story about an education professor at Murray State who competed in the pentathlon in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Last week he went to St. Louis, where Jackie Joyner-Kersee lit the cauldron with the torch. It just made for a nice local feature in connection with the Olympics. He was a funny guy and fun to talk with. Yesterday he called and thanked me for writing the story and then this morning his wife called and thanked me again, saying how much they enjoyed it. It's nice when people call when they have something nice to say because more often it is the quite the opposite with people either wanting something or complaining. The other thing that made me appreciate the compliments is I actually enjoyed writing the story. Too often I write court and police news that takes no creativity. This story gave me some room to actually write. And it even inspired me to write a column about Athens, where I just visited, and how I saw the city and country as a whole preparing for the Olympics, which are returning to where they began after more than 100 years.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

One day...

When I have kids, I really hope they want to play sports. I lacked some hand-eye coordination and endurance athletes need, so I became a nerd. While that's not all bad, I sure hope our kids have some of both worlds. I went to Greg's Little League game (He coaches a team of 13- to 15-year-old boys.) and thought about how fun it would be to go to baseball, basketball and soccer games if our kids were playing. I guess football would be OK, too, but that might make me more nervous. Anyway, the game didn't start until a little after 9, so I was at the ballpark until 11 p.m. or so, but enjoyed myself. Ballparks also are places for social gatherings in communities like Murray. And that's OK, too. I ran into Beth Brockman last night. She was my high school guidance counselor and moved to Murray the same year I started college here. It's nice to see a familiar face who knew me when...

Michael brought snickerdoodles to work today. I love snickerdoodles. Both saying the word and eating the cookies. They remind me of middle school, where the cafeteria's snickerdoodles probably really were the best thing about those years.

Supposedly, this is what Andy Rooney said on "60 Minutes" a few weeks ago. But I have to wonder. It's good stuff, though, and hopefully he really did say it on TV:

"I like big cars, big boats, big motorcycles, big houses and big campfires. I believe the money I make belongs to me and my family, not some governmental stooge with a bad comb-over who wants to give it away to crack addicts for squirting out babies.

Guns do not make you a killer. I think killing makes you a killer. You can kill someone with a baseball bat or a car, but no one is trying to ban you from driving to the ball game.

I believe they are called the Boy Scouts for a reason, that is why there are no girls allowed. Girls belong in the Girl Scouts! ARE YOU LISTENING MARTHA BURKE?

I think that if you feel homosexuality is wrong, it is not a phobia, it is an opinion.

I don't think being a minority makes you a victim of anything except numbers. The only things I can think of that are truly discriminatory are things like the United Negro College Fund, Jet Magazine, Black Entertainment Television, and Miss Black America.

Try to have things like the United Caucasian College Fund, Cloud Magazine, White Entertainment Television, or Miss White America; and see what happens. Jesse Jackson will be knocking down your door.

I have the right "NOT" to be tolerant of others because they are different, weird, or tick me off. When 70 percent of the people who get arrested are black, in cities where 70 percent of the population is black, that is not racial profiling, it is the Law of Probability.

I believe that if you are selling me a milk shake, a pack of cigarettes, a newspaper or a hotel room, you must do it in English! As a matter of fact, if you want to be an American citizen, you should have to speak English!

My father and grandfather didn't die in vain so you can leave the countries you were born in to come over and disrespect ours.

I think the police should have every right to shoot your sorry self if�you threaten them after they tell you to stop. If you can't understand the word "freeze" or "stop" in English, see the above lines.

I don't think just because you were not born in this country, you are qualified for any special loan programs, government sponsored bank loans or tax breaks, etc., so you can open a hotel, coffee shop, trinket store, or any other business.

We did not go to the aid of certain foreign countries and risk our lives in wars to defend their freedoms, so that decades later they could come over here and tell us our constitution is a living document; and open to their interpretations.

I believe a self-righteous liberal or conservative with a cause is more dangerous than a Hell's Angel with an attitude.

I think Bill Gates has every right to keep every penny he made and continue to make more. If it ticks you off, go and invent the next operating system that's better, and put your name on the building. Ask your buddy who invented the Internet to help you.

"I think tattoos and piercing are fine if you want them, but please don't pretend they are a political statement.

I am sick of "Political Correctness." I know a lot of black people, and not a single one of them was born in Africa; so how can they be "African-Americans"? Besides, Africa is a continent. I don't go around saying I am a European-American because my great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather was from Europe.

I am proud to be from America and nowhere else. And if you don't like my point of view, tough.

Monday, June 21, 2004

hoping just because i spoke the words that they're true

Once again my trip to Louisville was too short.

Milla is the cutest thing ever, if I've failed to mention that. She's such a happy, happy baby, which I know must be a blessing for Kevin and Laine. She giggles and smiles, especially at Kevin. She thinks her daddy is the funniest thing ever. She's so good with people, pretty much anyone, which makes me think she's going to be a good-natured person in general. It's good to see a controversial situation, at least in some people's eyes, turn into a blessing.

The trip was quick. Up on Saturday afternoon and back on Sunday afternoon. But I did get to eat at Mark's Feed Store. Sometimes I ask myself why I like Louisville so much more now. I remember graduating from high school and living that last real summer at home, hanging out with my high school boyfriend and friends, wishing it was time to go to college. (Although for an 18-year-old, leaving the boyfriend was dramatic.) I came to college and really didn't go home that much -- holidays, mainly. Then the longer I was in college, the more I went home. Then I moved to Louisville and then Lexington, so I went to my parents' house often because it was easy, and closer. Sometime in there, I found a peace at my parents' house I never felt growing up. It's sort of ironic, really. But I just love being there, watching movies with Dad or reading The Courier-Journal when it comes to my parents' driveway. I like that when I'm looking for something (a certain book, as was the case this weekend) I can go to a store fairly quickly a get it. I like that there are things -- Diet Big Red, Mark's Feed Store, good shopping -- that just make Louisville and the area different from Murray and the area. And I think I just like it because I've bonded with my family on a new level since we've all grown up. Kevin and Cassie (and this weekend Laine and Zac) can hang out on a fun level that is so much better than any fight we had growing up. My mom and I talk like friends and my dad trusts me to take care of things for him.

I bought Rick Bragg's other book -- "Ava's Man. It's the sequel to my new favorite, "All Over but the Shoutin'," so I'm looking forward to starting that.

Friday, June 18, 2004

All Over but the Shoutin'

While on my trip, I read my is likely to become my favorite book. "All Over but the Shoutin'" by Rick Bragg, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the New York Times. I loved the book because it took me through his life from rural Alabama to New York and back to the South again, with lots of stops in between. I really felt like I knew him and his family and the people he met along the way. I knew it was going to be a good book when I wasn't through the first chapter and wanted to write down many of the word combinations he had the described the South, being a writer or just life in general. And to think I bought the book at a yard sale, knowing the stories I had read by him before had held my attention and surely his autobiography would too.

Here are some:
...dreaming backwards can carry a man through some dark rooms where the walls seem lined with razor blades.

...to tell a story right you have to lean the words against each other so they they don't all fall down...

The opportunity hung perfectly still in the air in front of my face and fists, and I held my temper and let it float on by.

I read it to the end, and found a dozen things I wished I had written differently, like I always do. But there is no way to make that gigantic press run backwards once they turn the key, once the siren sounds, once it begins to tumble over and over and over again. Like time. Sometimes the warm newspaper in your hads reads clumsy and sometimes it doesn't even read right, but there it is. There you are. And it is much, much too late for the rewrite man.

I didn't get into this business to change the world; I just wanted to tell stories. But now and then, you can make people care, make people notice that something ain't quite right, and nudge them gently, with the words, to get off their ass and fix it.

I made some friends for life, the way I usually make them. Any jackass can be pleasant company, but if people help you when you're at your worst, that's a friend. ... They, especially, taught me that you can't go through life not liking people because they didn't have to work as hard or come as far as you did.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

If along the way you are growing weary, you can rest with me until a brighter day

I can't decide how I want to start this blog...

I thought about beginning with how I used a Turkish toilet -- actually that's a fancy name for a hole in the ground -- in a small town in Greece or how I had to pay 50 cents to use the bathroom -- more often called a water closet -- in Turkey. They liked my American quarters and I was happy the toilet was more than a hole in the ground.

But that doesn't seem to be the best way to start talking about my trip because it wasn't the best part, just the most random part.

I could talk about how the Greek islands we visited were picture perfect, really. White houses and stores with blue shutters that were built into the sides of mountains. The contrast of the blue water and white buildings was beautiful. And I can only hope one of my 140 pictures captures that.

But words can't really paint that picture accurately.

I could just list chronologically where we visited:
Delphi, where Greek mythology is deeply rooted; Thessalonica, Greece's second largest city; Mykonos, a lovely Greek island filled with quaint shops and a beautiful port; Ephesus, the amazing ancient city that is prominent in Paul's teaching in the New Testament; Patmos, a Greek island to which John was exiled and where he wrote Revelation; Rhodes, an island that has more shops that anyone can imagine; Crete, where Europe's oldest civilization called home; Santorini, a picture-perfect island built into an old volcano site; Corinth, the other prominent city from the New Testament; Athens, a fabulous old city sprinkled with modern buildings among its historical roots that is quickly preparing for the Olympics; and Rome, which was probably my favorite place because of my appreciate for the history of the Catholic church. In these places I was a little obsessed with churches, especially their steeples, and windows on old buildings with neat shutters and flowers in window boxes.

But doesn't that listing seem a bit mundane?

I could share the emotional side of it all, especially how it was a good chance to clear my head after months of busyness and unnecessary worry in my everyday Murray life. It was good for Greg and me to get away, even among a 40-person tour group including his family, and just enjoy each other's company in this fabulous atmosphere. I was introverted and reflective, not really focused on getting to know the other people we were traveling with like Greg's dad seemed so concerned about doing. I know as well as anyone strangers have stories to tell from which anyone can learn, but sometimes I think it pays to take a break from the world and breath a sigh of relief and rest. That's what the trip was for me. Emotional rest. Physically, it was a tiring trip because we were on the go so much. We saw a lot, traveled much and I'm sure I'll keep learning from this trip for days to come.

But maybe I'm too emotional and should just keep in mind that stressed spelled backward makes desserts.

Wednesday, June 2, 2004

travel thoughts

I have this method of packing that involves making piles. So right now there are multiple piles -- organized piles -- in my house. Tonight I suppose I better put everything in the suitcase or backpack. It keeps me from forgetting things, though, I think, because I just put stuff there as I think about it, and I also don't feel like I waste much time packing. Honestly, over the weekend I was worried about this trip. One, I know the change in my routine and the eight-hour time difference is going to affect my diabetes. Everything is going so well with it right now that I hate to disrupt it. Reminder: This is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, really, and I need to suck the diabetes worry up and be tough. Also, it's no secret Angela and I aren't exactly friends. I tolerate her for awhile, then her personality and mouth rub me the wrong way. Again, suck it up, Kristin, she's not going anywhere, so learn to like her. Greg told me my goal on this trip whenever I get frustrated with her should be to think of something positive about her. We'll see how that works. I think all of that is behind me now, and I'm ready to travel. We leave early, early tomorrow morning and we'll be back late, late June 15.