Monday, January 4, 2010

I Am Journalist

In order to be a journalist, you can't get offended. Even when an older man asks you if you were raped in Jamaica. It seems funny now that I write it out, but it definitely gave me the chills when the words escaped his chapped lips. It made me tighten the muscles in my thighs, and it took a lot for me to say: "No, thank goodness. But there is always that possibility. In fact there was this female journalist once...". And that was the end of that. Some people just can't censor themselves, or maybe he was genuinely curious.

I'm at that used book cafe again because there are still no he-roommates in sight. There was a man sitting at a table beside me. He had on a dark blue baseball cap, a worn leather jacket and he was writing on a notepad, carefully checking a book called "Many Words". His name is Gary*, but his friends call him Swoop. He was a member of the hippie-era, but he informed me that was not what he called himself.

"The straight people called us hippies, but we referred to ourselves as 'Freaks'."

It sounded good to me. He is a man of many stories. I haven't had that much information about communes since I watched the documentary 'Commune'. He lived in Morningstar outside Santa Fe and told me about girls in long dresses collecting watercress by the river. I can't say too much because he is writing a book and is very adamant about not having his work on the internet.

He is a born-again Christian which was odd to me because he was prying for information on whether or not I had a boyfriend.

"How long have you been here in Gainesville?", he said.

"My boyfriend and I came down here in the beginning of December."

"You still have a boyfriend?"

"Yes. Yes in indeed I do."

Sometimes it seems that no matter what guy (or girl, sometimes) I give any sort of attention to, they somehow assume that I am single and very interested in them. No matter how old they are. Not every guy, but a lot of them. It gets exhausting, but I never get offended.

During our conversation, I realized how much I love hearing peoples stories. I thrive on them. I guess that is why I love reading peoples blogs. Especially when they talk about the good ol' days, days that will never be recorded. Unless I record them!

I remember when I was little, I used to listen to a man in a wheelchair for an hour, sometimes two. He went to the Unitarian Universalist church and he was a very old man. He had patches of white hair, and liver spots all over his face. His frail hands shook slightly whenever he opened his mouth. Sometimes white spit would froth at the corners of his lips. I wanted to gag, being 10-years-old and all, but I listened, all the while keeping eye contact, even if his eyes wandered. He told me amazing stories about the war, I was never sure what war, but it must have been WWII. Sometimes he would repeat the same story over again, but it didn't bother me. I was transported back into a time of fighter jets, uncertainty, and uncleanliness. There were no mother's trying to get me to go to bed, and no brother's bothering me. I was a soldier.

I guess that is why I love hearing stories. I become the person that is telling it. Sometimes I want to cry because I feel so honored that they trust me with their past lives. I was certain at that moment when Daryl was telling me about living in a pup tent in the Rockies, or hitchhiking from Berkley to LA, that I wanted with all my heart to be a journalist. I dropped my European Union course and let out a little sigh of relief. My future job will somehow involve people and my pen, and that is that. No diplomatic, or political bullshit. Just people, and me.

Oh, and some white gloves.

*not real name


  1. Love the white gloves!
    Watch out for old freaks. Especially born-again ones. We were talking the other day about that bumper sticker- Born Right The First Time. We decided we liked that a lot. Then we started riffing on it. Lon came up with Bored Again Christian. We liked that too.
    Honey. I'm so glad you're writing and I'm so glad that's what you plan to do. Yay!

  2. I love your writing (and that photo of you above)!

  3. Ms. Moon-Those are some great bumper sticker names. Yeah, he was definitely trying to get me to 'see the light' and 'seek the truth', but I told him I've seen the truth, and it does not have a lot to do with heaven and bibles.

    Heather- Thank you. :)

  4. I totally agree with the thing about being nice to folks and them usually thinking you are interested in them. It makes me weary to talk to old men especially, but that's kind of sad since I know I'm just stereotyping them, and like you said, they might have some good stories to tell.

    I'm getting everything organized and ready to start up school again today, and just thinking of you. Hope the biking goes well and you don't freeze at all.