Posts Tagged ‘Spotlight Saturday’
Yesterday I sat down for a chat with one of my role models. I don’t use that term lightly. Jeanette Bennett, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief at Utah Valley, BusinessQ, Prosper, and Utah Valley Bride magazines graciously gave me time Friday at her booth at CVX Live, the only YouTube conference in Utah. I came away enlightened, amazed at her energy, and wanting to share her wisdom in a Saturday Spotlight.
“There are not very many people like me,” said Bennett, referring to all the roles she plays. “The Lord has different plans for us; I’ve had to learn to accept that.”
Jeanette’s a wife, mother of five, business owner, editor of magazines, mentor to young women, and half marathoner – from my standpoint, she does it all. Well, almost.
“I’m not a good cook,” she laughed. She mentioned a church activity where women were each asked to bring a loaf of homemade bread.
“I tried. I really did. It looked so bad, I went out and bought bread at the store and sliced it up. That’s when I knew: I can’t pretend anymore.”
Helping in Her Own Way
While she might not be known for homemade meals, Jeanette’s unique media talents bless others. For example, rather than adding to the counter-full piles of meals for her friends, the Wells family, during the week their son Mason was injured in the recent Belgium bombing attacks, she’s helped them manage national media.
“I’ve been trying to keep ‘Good Morning America’ off their door,” said Bennett.
During our time together, I watched as she checked text messages from the Wells family, attentive to those who need her. Insatiable media means an around-the-clock job.
Taking the Leap into the Magazine Business
Jeanette and her husband invested in their first “Utah Valley Magazine” issue in September 2000. Coming from Idaho, they moved their two young children into a Utah Valley apartment, gearing up for “lean years” ahead.
“We thought we had this brilliant idea. What we didn’t know was that two other magazines had started and failed in the area,” said Bennett. “It’s probably good we didn’t know that.”
Nearly 16 years later, Bennett Communications is an award-winning media agency, producing several publications.
It’s a family business, with both parents leading the company, and all five kids have been involved; everything from delivering magazines to proofreading to posing for photo shoots.
“Part of me is a workaholic – kids force me not to be,” said Bennett. “It’s tricky to know how to spend my time,” said Bennett. “Sometimes it’s really hard. I realize I can’t do everything.”
Granted a ‘Wrinkle in Time’
I’ve felt like God’s given me a ‘wrinkle in time’ before – when I’ve looked at the clock and said, ‘that’s the time it was two hours ago.’ He’s really helped me when I’ve needed it.
For example, recently she’d been trying to decide whether to attend a UN parallel event hosted by the Feminist Task Force. She had so much to do, it didn’t make sense to accept the invitation to go, but felt prompted to buy plane tickets the night before. Attending opened doors for Bennett to meet with leaders and influencers who have expanded a vision of good she can do.
“I’ve found as you take steps, the dots start to connect a bit.”
On Being a Gardner and Saying ‘No’
“I’ve planted all these seeds over the years, and it’s like now I have this out-of-control garden,” she laughed. “That includes my kids.”
Beyond heavenly help, I wondered about how she could manage all she does. Is this deadline-driven mom good at saying ‘no’?
“No,” she smiled. “It’d be hard to be married to me and the whirlwind I create. I see life as a game of Tetris; I want to fit it all in.”
For example, she’s constantly asked to sit on boards, speak at events – all while still keeping up with her own publication deadlines. Recently she told her husband she would take six months off if she wasn’t self-employed. She decided to say ‘no’ to any invitations in the coming weeks.
“Then KSL called a couple days later and wanted to interview me on the news. How could I say ‘no’ to that?”
She has learned a principle she tries to remember: “Saying ‘yes’ to something is saying ‘no’ to something else.”
Every now and then you come across young talent and think, “This kid’s really GOT IT.” Say hello to this month’s Saturday Spotlight, a writer of the musical variety. Sammy Brue is a 12-year-old songwriting, Sundance-performing folk singer. He’s been catching the eye of the media (Esquire magazine interviewed him recently) and is the star of a documentary in the making. Sammy’s lyrics hold maturity beyond his seventh-grade years and his tunes carry a unique, down-to-earth realness that sticks, long after hearing him. Big record label, here he comes. (Don’t miss his video below. Dare you to watch without getting the tune in your head!)
Q. Sammy, you’re 12 now. When did you start writing songs?
I got my first guitar when I was 10 and about two weeks later I wrote my first song. My dad taught me like three chords, and all my life I’ve grown up listening to Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash – that’s where I got my folk scene, and I guess I taught myself.
Q. How many songs would you say you’ve written, and do the words or tune come first?
I’ve been writing a lot lately. I think I’ve written like 15-18 songs. I do a lot of short songs, and that’s when I put my songwriting to the test. I usually write the first two verses and then I get stuck until two weeks later. Sometimes I do the tunes first, and sometimes with the words first.
Q. Where do you get your inspiration?
Q. This was your second year performing at Sundance in Park City. How’d it go?
I saw a whole bunch of movie stars and stuff like that. I usually busk on the street. In the main place I play at, HP Lounge, where I’m most popular, and Indie Lounge. Sylvester Stallone’s brother Frank loved me so much he told his manager about me, and his manager is pretty legit.
Q. What’s the best part – writing a song or performing it?
Performing it because I love watching the faces of the people, the look like, “Oh my gosh.” I love being center of attention.
Q. Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself on the road a lot and in school probably. Living a good life, playing music.
Without further ado, here’s a Sammy Brue original, titled, “I Don’t Wanna Die.”
Connect with Sammy Brue
With Halloween around the corner, what’s better than a good ghost story (or ten)? I’ve known author Paul Rimmasch for a couple years here in Ogden, Utah. This Saturday Spotlight features his current project: a series of ghost stories, based on his experience as a local CSI investigator. Turns out, they don’t call late nights the “witching hour” for nothing and “tales of the paranormal” find their way into CSI fieldwork. Spooked yet?
Q. As a CSI investigator, you have the unique role of deciphering fact from fiction. How does that play into your current writing project?
My concept for the book I am writing is to not only spin a spooky yarn, but to place the story in the law enforcement context in which it was experienced. For example, when I paint the picture of the truly horrifying thing an officer saw in the Ogden City Cemetery one night, I will also explain why cops park in such secluded places in the first place. Or, why was it that when I was stuck in an elevator in a haunted hotel, the people I was stuck with were looking at me funny.
At first I was unsure of how this concept would play, but advance readers have been fairly positive, so I guess it is working. I love folklore, whether in written form or told around the campfire. When you think about it, campfire stories were the first form of literature, and even in this digital age, there is nothing quite as magical. This is my attempt to add to this wonderful genre.
Q. Do the ghost stories you’re sharing come from real-life experiences?
One might expect a career in the forensic sciences and an interest in ghost stories to be diametrically opposed. After all, one deals with verifiable evidence and the other delves into a realm where proof has proved to be more elusive.
The reality, however, is that CSI fieldwork and tales of the paranormal fit together like a hand and a glove. In this business, you spend a lot of time hanging around dead people and the places they died. And not just any dead people; we’re talking suicides and homicides. These violent acts, and the strong emotions associated with them, have traditionally been the genesis for many a haunted house. Spend enough time in these places and you feel and experience things that lead you to believe that there are things in this universe that can’t be measured scientifically.
Remember, law enforcement personnel are awake and about when honest people are home in bed. They don’t call the interval between midnight and 4:00 “the witching hours” for nothing, you know. One also finds oneself alone after dark in cemeteries, mausoleums, lonely country roads, and old abandoned buildings. Everyone has seen enough scary movies to know what happens in those places. When something happens to a cop or CSI that they can’t explain, most accept it at face value and don’t try to make it fit into a preconceived intellectual compartment.
Q. Tell us about your first published book.
My first book is entitled “The Lost Stones.” Quite a departure from what I am working on now, it is a fictional adventure story with a heavy dose of real-life archaeology mixed in. “The Lost Stones” is in the same spirit as “Raiders of the Lost Ark” or “National Treasure,” but with LDS themes. I thoroughly enjoyed doing the extensive research that went into writing the book and it is very gratifying to get feedback from readers saying they learned something new by spending time with my characters.
Q. What did the publication process look like? Did it take longer than you expected?
Compared to a lot of authors I have met since “The Lost Stones” came out, I think I had it pretty easy for a first timer. The publisher, Cedar Fort, was only the second publisher that I sent my manuscript to. As a first time author, I didn’t really know what to expect, but the time between acceptance and publication did seem to drag on forever. When you get that acceptance letter, you are about as excited as you’ve been in your whole life. You want stuff to start happening. You want to see your book in print… in your hand… yesterday. The trouble is, it takes time to get a book edited and put together. Not to mention the fact that the publishing company has a certain release schedule planned well out in advance. So all in all, you end up waiting. Needless to say, the 11 months between acceptance and release were the longest 11 months of my life.
Q. What led you to writing your first book?
Basically I wasn’t smart enough to know I shouldn’t try. I am by no means a strong writer, but the story for “The Lost Stones” so preoccupied my thoughts I figured the only way to get it out of my head was to write it down. Let me be a lesson to you would-be writers out there. Don’t let anyone (especially yourself) tell you that you can’t do it.
Connect with Paul Rimmasch
The Energizer Bunny has nothing on Seattle freelancer Carol Tice. She seems to be everywhere at once, writing for big name publishers like Forbes, Entrepreneur, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and more. Carol keeps up with Fortune 500 client demands, authors books, and in her spare time(!), serves as Den Mother of the 700+ member writers’ community Freelance Writers Den. I’ve spent many hours reading her words of wisdom at Make a Living Writing and I’m thrilled to introduce her to you.
Q. As a six-figure freelancer (wow!) you’ve definitely made it big time as a freelancer. What do you want to be your legacy as a writer?
A. I want my legacy to be that I was a good mom. I work hard to make time with my kids.
As far as writing, I think I’m creating it now on my blog. Helping other people earn more money is incredibly fulfilling work, and I love that those tips just keep on helping people.
Aside from my own blog, I’m hoping my legacy will be in writing nonfiction books, and maybe fiction ones, too. I love all the how-to, helpful business writing I’ve done over the years, and now I’m focused on doing that at the book level. I love big projects!
My first business book, How They Started, came out last year, and I have another one, The Pocket Small Business Guide to Starting on a Shoestring, coming in July.
I love telling great business stories…hope I get to do more of it.
Q. With so many deadlines, what does a typical day look like for you?
A. I don’t know if there is one, but here’s what I try to make the day like: I get up at 6:30 and get my daughter and son off to school, then try to work out — often walk the hills around my house for about an hour, or hit the NordicTrak. By about 9 I want to be at my desk. Or I’ll do a quick email/Den check and then work out.
Once I’m in, I usually try to dive-bomb through email, blog comments, Freelance Writers Den forum comments, and social media. I keep trying to shift this later in the day, but it’s hard — living on Pacific time, there’s already so much going on by 9 am my time!
From there, it’s time to send out requests for interviews, write queries, or write blog posts or articles. Or if I’m presenting, that’s usually from 12-1 pm — I try to inhale my lunch during the sound check right before we start! Or eat right after. It’s always something quick…leftovers and some raw veggies and fruit to snack on, usually.
I tend to write and report in batches — so one day I might write several posts for Freelance Switch, or research several Entrepreneur feature stories, or write a week’s worth of my blog posts. I find this way more efficient than doing a bit for each client every day.
I always take a break from 5-8 pm to be with my family.
Then I’ll do a few hours at night if there’s more to catch up on, which there usually is! This is when I might work on Den bootcamps or write ebooks or work on other long-term projects.
But I’m trying to cut the night shift back these days. It’s not easy though since I basically have two full-time jobs, my freelance writing AND then my own blog and work helping other freelancers. I keep trying to find more Den tasks I can pay someone else to do.
Obviously, this is a day in the office, not when I’m out at a conference or interviewing sources.
I always am completely off from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, and usually through to Sunday morning, when I’ll do a quick email/Den/comments check just to make sure there are no emergencies and nothing’s broken.
I strongly recommend everyone take at least one full day off from the computer. Your productivity will explode, I promise.
Q. How do you keep from being distracted by social media?
A. It’s not a big addiction for me. I play Bejeweled with my Facebook friends about once or twice a week for maybe a half-hour. I get on Twitter usually once or twice each weekday, share my stuff, post my blog post to Facebook, engage in a few conversations and I’m done. I might come back once in the afternoon.
Q. Recently you tweeted you were doing “3 days’ work all at once” so you could spend time with your family. With so many deadlines, do you ever really get to take a break?
A. Now that I have a laptop and an online community to serve, it’s harder and harder to be totally off of all work!
But when I’m traveling, I rarely do any of my freelance work — I plan my deadlines around the vacation. I just try to keep email from backing up too far and keep Den Members’ questions answered. My tip: Set your email bouncer to say you’re gone for 1 day before you leave, and an extra day when you get back. Give yourself breathing space.
But to answer your question — my goal is to take 6 weeks off a year. One of the big reasons to be a freelancer vs an employee is more vacation time! The standard 2-3 weeks we get in America is appalling. I haven’t done well on this the last couple years while I was building the blog and launching the Den, but I am getting back to it. I want to take all my kids’ school breaks and long weekends – winter, spring, etc, and then several weeks in summer. That’s my goal…not always easy to get there!
It is hard with the Den to be totally gone. But I enjoy helping the other writers so much, it doesn’t really feel like work to spend 15-20 minutes answering a few questions. I don’t consider that as ruining my vacation! And at this point my kids get what I do — my younger son who’s 11 is actually learning from me now and building his own Apple fan blog, which I think is awesome.
Connect with Carol Tice
See her site: caroltice.com
Check out her blog: makealivingwriting.com
Join her community: The Freelance Writers Den
Like learning from Carol? Me too. Let her know in the comments!
Cheers, all! Here's the first international feature on delighted to write - my new friend Jude Ellery from Dorset, a city on the south coast of England. On the editorial staff for strangebOUnce.com, Jude's both a writing fan and sports devotee. Not only that, he has a sweet name. (Insert moment of silence for the Beatles.) Na na na na na ,na na na, meet Jude...Read More Post a comment (0)
Wordologist Amy Taylor writes and lives with creative zest. Her deep love for connecting with people is reflected in everything she does, including her “Joy of Dirty Dishes” essay below. She recently launched an inspiring interview blog called Good People of Earth, with the tagline: “The world is full of good people. We’re introducing you to them one interview at a time.” As a long-time Amy fan, I’m honored to share this larger-than-life writer with you.
Q. You caught my eye on the Brains on Fire blog, where you’re “busy rocking the mic(rosoft Word)” as a Lead Copywriter. What’s a favorite Brains on Fire project and why?
A. That is such a difficult question! One of my recent (and really fun) projects was writing scripts for Wonderopolis’ “Camp What-a-Wonder” podcasts. Camp What-a-Wonder inspires kids and families to keep wondering and learning together throughout the school-free summer months. This year we decided to create Camp What-a-Wonder podcasts that would guide kids on weekly offline wonder adventures.
I think this project was particularly meaningful as it gave me an opportunity to relive my happy childhood. As a child, my parents read to us constantly, and we always had art projects going on somewhere in the house. All of this allowed my creative side to flourish from a young age. I think technology has really changed the childhood experience for modern kids, and not necessarily in a good way. I love that the podcasts allowed us to leverage technology to inspire children to get active, go outside, explore, daydream, create, and use their imaginations.
Q. On your site, wordology.org, you share a brilliant ideology: “Your message should be as remarkable as your mark on the world.” How did you come to this thought?
A. I think a lot of brands get so caught up in the business of business that they lose touch with their humanity. A business is made up of people—and made by people. Every brand, business, and organization begins as a passion and a dream, whatever that may be. People are exposed to thousands of marketing messages per day. Your customers (and potential customers) don’t want you to assault them with a bunch of marketing mumbo jumbo, they want to hear about the passion and dream that get you out of bed each morning.
Q. As a “wordologist,” where do you want to take your writing in, say, 10 years?
A. After years and years of encouragement (and borderline badgering) from friends and family, I just finished writing my first children’s book—and am embarking on the quest to find a publisher. My dream is to see my story in the hands of children around the world, and nestled between beloved bookshelf classics like “Goodnight Moon,” “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” and “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.”
On a more universal scale, I want to be able to give back. I have been very blessed to have amazing mentors guiding me throughout my career and life. I want to help other young writers however I can. I believe the more connected and supportive we are as a creative community, the more empowered we are to use our gifts to inspire positive change in the world.
Q. Is your passion for animal advocacy behind your @NoMeatballs Twitter identity? Or do you really have story behind meatball loathing? Tell, tell.
A. I always get a kick out of all the speculation about my Twitter handle. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the best choice, but it has turned out to be quite the conversational piece.
While it’s true that I am an incredibly passionate animal advocate, the real backstory is far less exciting. I was about 10 years old, sitting down to dinner the day after Halloween. Like most kids, I had no interest in the spaghetti and meatballs placed before me when I could be chowing down on candy. My mother, however, was unwavering in her demands that I eat real food before Halloween candy. I tried to choke down a meatball in a fit of anger, which only resulted in my body instantly rejecting the effort. The meatball came right back up. I have held it against meatballs ever since.
Q. Share three of your writing heroes – and why they inspire you.
A. James Reeves: I don’t remember how I discovered James Reeves, but I am thankful I did. “The Road to Somewhere” is beyond amazing. As soon as I finished reading it, I got up from my sofa and wrote him a letter.
Anthony Bourdain: Even if snarky charm isn’t your cup of tea, there’s no denying the man has a way with words. His poetic reflection on the human spirit is beautiful and inspiring. We may not all be able to travel the world 333 days out of every year, but Bourdain finds a way to bring the world to us through his writing.
Bukowski, Kerouac, Nin, Hemingway and Cummings: I’m counting this bunch as one entity, as I like to think of them as my spirit-side sensei. They all lived beautifully broken lives, but somehow found a way to channel their experiences, adventures, and heartbreaks into some of the most marvelous literary works in the world.
“The Joy of Dirty Dishes”
I hate it when people leave, but I love the silent hum and hush that fills the house after a happy evening with people you love. I spent my childhood sneaking peeks at my parents’ parties, trying to uncover where that magic comes from. To this day, I still haven’t been able to find the right word for it, but I know what it looks like. Empty wine bottles, spent corks scatted about. Layers of plates stacked on top of one another. Plate, wadded up cocktail napkin, utensil, plate, wadded up cocktail napkin, utensil. Stacks and stacks of dirty dishes in the sink—but for just one night, nobody cares.
It leaves the empty spaces between walls and floors, foundation and ceiling radiating with the energy of life.
It’s hard for me to imagine many other moments in life when I feel more acutely aware of the passing of time than in the hum and hush. These moments leave me feeling deeply blessed, wishing for a bigger dinner table…and more minutes, more years, more dinners, more cheers, more refills and popped corks and cups of coffee (I won’t drink) with dessert.
If I ever write a cookbook, I’m going to call it “The Joy of Dirty Dishes.”
And I will mean it.
See her amazing websites:
Meet Samantha, called Sam, a freelancer who writes a blog called Scarlett, Called Scout. I knew Sam and her boyfriend-now-husband when she was Samantha Strong, student columnist extraordinaire at BYU. Sam’s mesmerizing way with words draws you in, and I’ve always admired the sheer honesty in her writing. She’s also a talented photographer and has an eye for publication, as you can see on her blog. I see no limits to her career potential. Get to know her in this Q & A and her essay titled “Wedding Demons.”
Q. Scarlett, Called Scout gives me a peek into your soul. How does it feel knowing many others read your personal thoughts, especially those you’ve never met?
A. I have a love-hate relationship with blogging. I love that it encourages me to write regularly, but I hate that I feel obligated to write when I don’t feel inspired. If you look back in my archives, you’ll see that there are times when I’m downright prolific and there are times when I’m silent for weeks. I love the feeling of fulfillment that comes when I know that what I’ve written reflects what I think and feel, and I hate the countless times I’ve felt like my abilities of expression have fallen short. I love the thrill of making myself vulnerable to an audience, because I truly believe it’s the best way to improve my writing, but it is, at times, a terrifying thing. Inevitably, I end up worrying about the things I say and the things I censor.
That only half answers your question. We bloggers are too accustomed to doing whatever we want.
Q. To create your thought-provoking phrases, do you have a quick concept-to-words writing process, or do you belabor over edits and refining?
A. It’s either there or it’s not. I have a file full of blog posts I couldn’t finish, because the words just didn’t come. I do belabor a bit over editing, but only because I want a lot of my writing to have a specific audio quality that can be a little tricky to achieve sometimes. I make my husband read the posts back to me and if they sound different out of his mouth than they did in my mind when I wrote them, I shift the punctuation around until I get it right. I’m definitely a descriptivist when it comes to grammar. I don’t hesitate to break the rules if it gives me the effect I want.
Q. With your deep wit and sassy way, you sometimes share honest specifics about your relationship with your husband. I guess this is more a question for him, but I’m curious: what does Trent think of these confessional-type pieces?
A. Trent has a love-hate relationship with my blog as well. He loves that it makes me happy, but hates that I have to be robustly honest to get there. People tell me constantly that the blog makes him sound completely endearing, but he thinks I make fun of him too much. In blogging, as in all things, we compromise a lot.
Q. After your journalism degree and being Associate Editor at a magazine, you’re now embedded in the freelance scene. What’s the best/worst parts of freelance writing?
A. For a long time, I thought freelancing was a myth, a euphemism for “unemployed.” I was wrong. I’ve been extremely blessed to find so much freelance work with so many fantastic publications. The best part is that it requires that you give your absolute best with every piece you write. There’s no guarantee you’ll get another job with any publication, so the stakes are always high. It’s incredibly motivating. Making my own hours is also fantastic. Most full-time writing gigs are 9-5, but I’ve always been a night owl. Most nights I tuck Trent in bed and then get to work. The worst part is probably that my personal hygiene has suffered. I’ve got a professional wardrobe in my closet going out of style and a blow dryer in my drawer collecting dust.
Q. Think back and tell us: When did you first know you wanted to spend your life writing?
A. I went through a major “Harriet the Spy” phase when I was eight or nine. Trent always jokes that I never left it, that I spend my days at home in Atlanta spying on our neighbors and writing my observations in a composition notebook. He might just be right.
I have wedding demons.
Like my own hell-bent ghosts of Christmas past, they follow me, haunt me, shame me. They keep me company.
The dress — cheapest one I didn’t hate — picked to prove something.
The flowers, rushed.
The cake, expensive and tasteless and who cares about cake?
The tables, sloppy vision, blah and blah.
The photographer, perfect. Just perfect. But it’s hard to forget my misplaced pickiness and bridezilla moments with her — ugly moments hovering in retrospect.
The organization at the reception, messy timing, needless waste.
I could go on. I do go on — in my head in moments of weakness, too frequent moments these past 20 months. I stew and regret and then hate myself for caring — and for still caring — and for seeing no end to the caring in sight. Click here to read the rest on Sam’s beautiful blog.
Connect with Sam
With the Olympics wrapping up (and haven’t they been incredible!), you need to meet Phil Mickey. He knows what it’s like to write for world’s spotlight, as he covered athlete bios for the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. In fact, Phil’s had many once-in-a-lifetime career opportunities, and you’ll get a glimpse of his communication mastermind in the Q & A below, followed by his personal entry from the Olympics titled, “Bawling on the Bus and the Reporter Who Overslept.”
Q. You served as Olympic News Service Editor on the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Games. Dying to know: What was the best part of writing/editing for the global event?
A. The best way to answer this question is to tell a story. After spending a day at the Ice Sheet in Ogden (curling), I bumped into a journalist from AFP (Agence France Presse) who had a login question about our Info2002 system (our news intranet). I ran him through it and I told him I was one of the editors and pretty much built the site and the team that ran it. He told me Info2002 and the ONS team were his lifesavers. He had backbreaking schedules issued by his editors and our system helped him cover multiple events in one day without travelling from venue to venue. He was able to piece everything together for a story based on our core coverage, and did it for multiple events — even simultaneously. That was proof our coverage was a success, which was very gratifying.
On top of that, just being able to cover the Olympics alongside the greatest journalists in the world – and have them rely on you – was a great experience. I’ll never forget it, way too many stories to tell!
Q. What an exciting ride you’ve had in your communication career – Community Relations Director for the Utah Grizzlies, Director of Publications at the Utah Jazz, news writing for the Olympics, leading communication efforts for Lifetime Products, and now Channel and Product Manager at MarketStar. What do you recommend to writers going after their dream job?
A. Always keep it in your mind and within your sites. I honestly believe if you dream out loud, you will consciously and subconsciously drift in that direction. But, be careful what you wish for — dream jobs can turn into nightmares very quickly. Prepare yourself for the reality version of your dream. You can always hold something in a dream state, but when things come true, the reality version is ALWAYS much different, so learn to adapt.
Q. I’ve heard you have strong feelings about the word “irregardless.” Why’s that?
A. Because even though irregardless is a word according to Merriam-Webster, it tells you not to use it! It says to use regardless instead. How cool is that? How many words (including the most depraved swear words) does the dictionary itself tell you not to use? Irregardless is the most rebel word in the world! If you think about the word long enough, it actually blows your mind. It makes sense, but it makes no sense! Because of the “ir” prefix, it should make the root word the opposite of what it is — think irrelevant or irresponsible. Not this word, it means the EXACT same thing as regardless, in fact, it becomes like triple-dog regardless. It makes it EVEN MORE regardless than it is. It’s completely unique, completely confusing, and IRREGARDLESS of what you think about it, it doesn’t care.
Q. You’re quite the wordsmith. Professional or personal – what writing are you most proud of and why?
A. My personal writing that not very many people see. My talent in writing is being able to take a complex idea and make it easy to digest. I have spent hours and hours trying to write my feelings about certain ideas or philosophies, and when I hit the perfect tone with one, I sit back and read it over and over. I’m not ashamed to say that I enjoy my own writing, and my personal observations on politics, faith and self-realization are my favorites. All of that will be a gift to my children. Hopefully through these random musings they will truly know who their father was and what he believed.
Q. I’m often wowed by your cleverly packaged phrases in conversation. How’ve built your extensive vocabulary?
A. You’re sweet…but I wish I could do better. What I do know comes naturally. I wasn’t a great student, but I always wanted to be well-spoken (and written). I am a voracious reader, and have been from the time I learned to read. I think a lot of it comes from reading the news. I may have been the only kid in Junior High who liked to read The New York Times.
Phil’s Entry: 2002 Olympic Update
20 February, 2002 | Bawling on the Bus and the Reporter Who Overslept
What a dreary morning. The rain is just coming down like crazy. This morning I finished reading my book. One thing that has given me a great escape is reading on the buses in between venues. I’ve been reading “Where the Red Fern Grows.” Today was the final two chapters…I don’t know if any of you have read this book, but I recommend you do. I bawled my eyes out on the bus-ride in. A Bulgarian journalist kept looking over at me; I can only imagine what he was thinking. Anyway, my thoughts are of Billy, Old Dan and Little Ann and their adventures, so I’m melancholy today.
At 11 a.m. today there was a press conference for the women’s bobsleigh team. Watching Jill Bakken and Vonetta Flowers win the gold was just awesome. Skeleton proved to be huge for the U.S. today. Jim Shea won the gold. The best moment about his win was afterwards when he took off his helmet and pulled out a picture of his Grandfather Jack Shea. If you’re not familiar with the story, Jack Shea, his son James and his son Jim are the first three-generation Olympians in U.S. history. Jack Shea was the oldest living American medalist before he was killed by a drunk driver in January. He was supposed to light the torch at the Opening Ceremony, but that’s life I guess. Perhaps the memory of his grandpa was what Jim Shea needed to win the gold. What a great moment. Tristan Gale and Leann Parsley won gold and silver as well. Tonight at the Medals Plaza we will see the National Anthem three times! It should be a great night for all!
All around the MMC people just look like zombies. There was a Chinese journalist asleep on the couch right outside our office for a long time. I saw him at 9:30 this morning, and no kidding, he was still there at 4 p.m. This is no joke. He just took his shoes off and away he went. We were betting that he was dead, but he did stir every now and then. So funny!
We also had an outrageous “caper” unfold, all at the expense of the IOC. Here at the MMC there is a large exhibit from the Olympic Museum. It’s basically a bunch of glass cases with a few artifacts in them and a really ornery Swiss girl making sure everything is perfectly stuffy. In addition to all of this, are four three-foot high Snowlets. The Snowlets are the mascots from Nagano, and the museum has four of the original costumes. Anyway, they have been sitting there around this display the entire time, but two days ago, an announcement was made that one of the Snowlets has turned up missing and it should be returned immediately…no questions asked. You thought the Swiss girl was ornery before, now she’s just plain nasty. It’s actually been quite funny because there have been sightings. It has been sighted on the set of Australia Channel 7; it has been sighted at the Dead Goat Saloon in downtown SLC; it has been sighted at the Phenix House (Norway House) in Park City; it has been sighted at the Austrian House, and someone said they saw it at the Salt Lake Ice Center, but I find that one hard to believe.
The IOC has been freaking out about this whole thing, but everyone else thinks it’s pretty funny. I would imagine that some broadcaster “borrowed” the Snowlet and took it on a tour of the Games. Kind of like the people who stole the ceramic gnome from their neighbors and sent it on a tour of America, only to send pictures of the gnome at places like Mt. Rushmore, the St.Louis Arch, Statue of Liberty and the Golden Gate Bridge. The other theory is that it’s the Russian delegation trying to get back at the IOC for all the “foul play” that has been going on with the judges and referees. Our idea was that the IOC gets a nasty note saying “give us the medals we lost or the Snowlet gets it!” It been pretty funny to walk by the museum and see just three Snowlets…all lonesome and missing their buddy. Well, yesterday the Snowlet was returned. It just sort of reappeared in the same spot it was missing from. The girls at the museum were a little bit more cheery, but that’s not saying much. As I walked by this morning, the Snowlets were being packed away for the long trip home to Switzerland. I will miss them.
I was paid the ultimate compliment today though. A reporter from The New York Times called today looking for some press conference highlights from the Skeleton. He said he overslept and didn’t make it to the track. His editor called his cell phone and he lied and said he was on the bus back. He told me he absolutely NEEDED to have me fax the highlights to his hotel so he could have quotes for his story. I did it for him and he called back saying the ONS is probably the best thing ever at any Olympics — and he has covered 13 of them. Another great moment.
It’s off to the Medals Plaza — only a few nights left to enjoy the Olympics.
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