Thursday, October 29, 2009

Joyless Ride

So newspapers are going down in flames it seems, best exemplified by our speaker in Advanced Newswriting: Multimedia class today who stressed, among other things, to "have a backup plan" because the future is so bleak for journalists today. This coming from a guy named Don Himsel, who has worked as a photo editor and staff member at the Nashua Telegraph for more than 2o years. However, Himsel fails to realize there will always be a ridiculous craving for news and a dire need for writers who can tell a good, newsworthy story. Just look at the latest New York Times series: Held by the Taliban. It took me more than an hour to read the whole thing online but I was so hooked I couldn't stop. It's true the Times and pretty much every other widespread newspaper in the country has cut staffers and slashed circulation numbers, but I just can't be pessimistic with some much reporting out there for the taking. Once newspapers find a way to move from print to online in an effective, efficient manner for business, jobs will be plentiful again. As Ray Liotta said in Blow, "When you're up it's never as good as it seems, and when you're down you feel like you'll never be up again, but life goes on." My future is coming at me; I have no choice but to jump in headfirst.

So that was a long introduction into what I wanted to do, which is try out a few hundred words for my Boston Globe internship application that needs to be on a) a memorable moment in my life, b) my favorite story I've written and why or c) someone who has influenced me greatly. I figure I'll try the first one because it gives me the most room to write how I want, and you readers (if you still exist out there) can comment and let me know in the next couple days what you think. I would appreciate any and all feedback you can give me.

A) A memorable moment in my life.

We had the keys. The cool air whisked past my overgrown hair as I whipped open the passenger door. My cousin Ezra and I, both 15, slumped into the Ford Taurus awkwardly. We were told to lock the car and grab my sister's headphones; we had something else in mind.

Ez pulled the shift in gear. Drive. He released the brake and stepped on the gas. Go.

I sat frightened and excited, watching the trees and suburban homes roll by. We barely touched the speed limit. Chico, California in late November is beautiful. We turned down side streets and let our minds wander. After what seemed like hours, we pulled into an empty parking lot.

Shit. This was a bad idea. I said it to no one. Ezra already knew. My heart started pounding in my throat. A cop drove by. We ducked and covered like schoolchildren.

"Do you have any idea how to get back?" Ezra asked, nerves and puberty present in his voice. Yeah, I think so, I lied. I took the wheel.

I had no idea where I was going. Our directions could have reinvented the compass. Every street had the same strange, unfamiliarity to it. San Ramon Drive. Glenshire Lane. Manor Circle. We knew only one thing: Uncle Peter's house was on Verde Court. A bead of sweat slid down my side as my white knuckles gripped the steering wheel. There's no way they don't know we're gone by now.

Panicked thoughts began racing through my mind. It was nearing mid-afternoon: Thanksgiving dinner would be ready soon. My dad would use that turkey knife to skin me, I was sure of it. My mom would call me Cameron, the full name that emptied my stomach. I needed to find a way back now, or else Ezra and I might have to interrupt Thanksgiving dinner with a call from jail.

Phew. North Avenue. I remembered that one from when we drove in. Verde connected directly to it. And not a moment later, there it was. We were saved.

Oh. No. Our hearts screamed as we saw familiar faces. The entire family was out on the front lawn, awaiting our return. Angry parents. Smirking sisters. Grampie's mouth wide as the open road.

I coasted in and jerked the shift in park. The car doors flew open and we were yanked out of the car before either of us could stammer an apology. Questions flew at us like bullets, each stinging with an embarrassing, overwhelming sensation. Busted.

We were told to rake the leaves in the backyard for the rest of the afternoon. A ball and chain would have been lighter on my conscience, but the punishment was mild. The guilt was a much heavier burden.

I eat Thanksgiving dinner with Ezra and his family every year. In the six years that have passed since that November afternoon joy ride, the story is still as fresh as the day it happened. They love telling it as much as we hate hearing it, but somehow I don't think Thanksgiving would be the same without it.

OK, that's 515 words. It needs to be 400 or less. Help me cut it down, please. I'm going to bed. Goodnight, and a Happy Halloween!

2 comments:

Penny Kittle said...

Hey... hard for me to recommend cuts when I loved every line. However, you're in crunch time, so I suggest you limit the end. It's the story that sings, I think the happens every THanksgiving stuff is less so. End with pulling up to the curb and Grampie's wide open mouth... very funny. Let us imagine what happens next.

And that's all from Michigan... thinking of you on this quick trip to your favorite state. Love ya, Mom

boxcar said...

I gave it a shot. I don't think I changed anything you actually wrote, but I did move a couple things and deleted some. If you want to know why I did certain things just shoot me an IM or something. It's 392 words in this state.



We had the keys. The cool air whisked past my overgrown hair as I whipped open the passenger door. My cousin Ezra and I, both 15, slumped into the Ford Taurus awkwardly. We were told to lock the car and grab my sister's headphones; we had something else in mind.

Ez pulled the shift in gear. Drive. He released the brake and stepped on the gas. Go.

Chico, California in late November is beautiful. We turned down side streets and let our minds wander. I sat frightened and excited, watching the trees and suburban homes roll by. We barely touched the speed limit. After what seemed like hours, we pulled into an empty parking lot. My heart started pounding in my throat. A cop drove by. We ducked and covered like schoolchildren.

"Do you have any idea how to get back?" Ezra asked, nerves and puberty in his voice. Yeah, I think so, I lied, taking the wheel.

I had no idea where I was going. Every street had the same strange, unfamiliarity to it. San Ramon Drive. Glenshire Lane. Manor Circle. We knew only one thing: Uncle Peter's house was on Verde Court. A bead of sweat slid down my side as my white knuckles gripped the steering wheel. There's no way they don't know we're gone by now.

Panicked thoughts began racing through my mind. It was nearing mid-afternoon: Thanksgiving dinner would be ready soon. My dad would use that turkey knife to skin me. My mom would call me Cameron, the full name that emptied my stomach.

Phew. North Avenue. I remembered that one from when we drove in. Verde connected directly to it. And not a moment later, there it was. We were saved.

Oh. No. Our hearts screamed as we saw familiar faces. The entire family was out on the front lawn, awaiting our return. Angry parents. Smirking sisters. Grampie's mouth wide as the open road.

I coasted in and jerked the shift into park. The car doors flew open and we were yanked out of the car before either of us could stammer an apology. Questions flew at us like bullets, each stinging with an embarrassing, overwhelming sensation.

We were told to rake the leaves in the backyard for the rest of the afternoon. The punishment was mild, the guilt a much heavier burden.