When the president comes to town

Being a reporter has afforded me lots of interesting opportunities over the past few years, but none so cool as sitting in a community center gymnasium in my hometown while the president of the United States spoke.

President Obama visited Charleston for a few hours earlier this week to address the state’s opioid epidemic.

I found out about the visit last Wednesday and was sworn to secrecy for 9 whole hours before we published the story. (Longest hours of my life. BTW, your friends won’t like it if you tell them you have a secret but you can’t tell them what it is).

I looked forward to sharing the news all day, and when I finally posted the story, I was disappointed in the comments that people were making. I’m not sure why I was expecting anything different, but some of the comments were just hateful.

President Obama and his politics are divisive topics in West Virginia, but if anything should unite us, it’s the problem of drug abuse, which has killed thousands of West Virginians over the past few years. And regardless of your political leanings, the man was elected to the highest office in the country. He deserves respect.

The day of the event, I and scores of other journalists got to the event a couple hours early to go through security. Part of my job that day was to live tweet the president’s speech. I nearly had a heart attack when my cellphone battery died. Luckily a couple reporters let me borrow their chargers (it happened twice).

(Note to self: bring one with you next time.)

Anyway, if you’re interested in reading about the event, check out our coverage herehere and here.

Here are a few grainy (sorry) pictures from the event.

President Barack Obama speaks to a crowd in Charleston earlier this week.

“Country Roads” played over the speaker as Obama left the building.

This guy was holding a sign welcoming the president to West Virginia. Others weren’t as friendly.

Obama greets guests at the East End Family Resource Center Wednesday.

The little gym at the East End Family Resource Center looks a lot grander all dressed up for the president.

This was the line for the media to go through security and receive or press badges.

Things he says to my cat

Note: I was digging through my drafts this week and came across this beauty that I wrote last fall and didn’t publish. The guy it was written about is no longer a boyfriend (and his sinuses are rejoicing), but he’s still a good friend. (And I told him I was posting this).

IMG_1653

What do you get when pair a self-proclaimed cat lady with a funny guy who claimed he’d never date a girl who owns cats? As it turns out, some pretty hilarious conversations between the boy and the cat. I have one orange cat named Frank (@hello_imfrank on Instagram) who can’t stand to be out of my presence, one gray one named Mouse who’s happy hiding from everyone and one boyfriend who’s allergic to them both.

Don’t let him fool you, he actually likes Mouse. More than once, I’ve heard him call her “Pretty girl.” He feels less than love for Frank, though, and it’s made for some pretty funny interactions. Here are some of my favorites recently:

“Are cats just scared all the time? What’s the deal with cats?”

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Him: “Why’s he vibrating?”

Me: “He’s purring.”

Him: “Oh, I though he was getting a text.”

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Me: (Picks up Frank as guy opens the front door): “You want a cat?”

Him: “I don’t even want you to have a cat. Write that f***ing down.”

Me: “OK, I will.”

———————————————

“F*** you, Frank.”

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“If it were up to me you’d be in a glue factory… Actually I don’t think they make cats into glue… Oh, by all means get on my lap.”

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“You’re meowing at the one person who hates you the most, how stupid is that?”

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(Whispering) “I don’t like you.”

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“Hey Frank, I’ll give you a peanut if you tell me you’re allergic.”

———————————————–

“I wish you were nicer… and a dog.”

The plot

This year I’m learning to garden. A friend and I are sharing a plot in the neighborhood community garden. I’ve never grown anything, besides maybe the occasional flower in my parents’ flowerbed when I was younger, so this will be a new experience. 

By the way, what a neat idea community gardens are. I live in the middle of a city and might never own the property it would take to have my own yard and grow my own tomatoes or carrots there. But for a $30 annual fee I can rent a small plot to grow my own vegetables and I don’t ever have to mow grass. 

So far we’ve only started to weed the plot, but there’s a work day soon and I’m planning to add compost and soil in preparation to start growing. 

There’s something hopeful about a garden. Right now it’s empty, fertile ground, but with some seeds, a little care and time it will soon be bursting with life.  

We put plastic over the plot in an effort to kill the remaining weeds.

Throwback Thursday: Little Bitt’s Life

My mom was going through old things to take to a consignment sale when she came across one of my earliest-known journalistic works: a biography of my hamster. It’s a pretty short work: four pages of notebook paper stapled together. The first is a title page and the other three have short paragraphs of surprisingly legible handwriting.

LB

The title page to “Little Bitt’s Life.”

I don’t know exactly how old I was when I wrote it. The story says I got the hamster for Christmas 1992, so I would have been 8, but I don’t know when the hamster died or when I decided to give an account for his time on earth.  I was home schooled at the time and I’m pretty sure it was not a part of my school work.

I write about getting him and naming him, about my brother also getting a hamster, about going to my grandmother’s house to spend the night, and about my sister finding Little Bitt near death in his cage. “We still don’t know how he deid, but he did,” I wrote before summing it up quite succinctly with “the End.”

lb1

Little Bitt the hamster

I do remember the hamster well. I loved that hamster. I used to put him on my shoulder and walk around the house with him. I remember begging my mom and dad for a hamster. I didn’t think they would get me one, but low and behold, on Christmas Day, here was this tiny baby hamster. I called him Little Bitt because of his size but I think it was also a reference to a popular cartoon of the time.

lb3

This is me (with pinkeye maybe?) holding one of my family’s hamsters, but not Little Bitt. I think this one belonged to my brother.

The story has pretty good spelling and grammar, considering a child wrote it. And it’s not much of a story, but it has a beginning, middle and and end. It’s fun to go through old personal artifacts like this and get a glimpse kid Lori. I like it that she was already writing even then.

**UPDATE: as requested, the following is the full text of Little Bitt’s Life.

   

   

Experiments in blackout poetry

Here’s a new, nerdy hobby my fellow word lovers may enjoy. It’s called blackout poetry, and you basically use a newspaper (after reading it of course) and black out all but a few words that make a poem of sorts. It sounds simpler than it is. The poems aren’t always masterpieces, but it’s fun and I like the idea of writing poetry in AP Style.

I got the idea from writer Austin Kleon, who actually did a whole book of them.

Here are a few of the ones I’ve done so far:

notworried

 

I’m not worried; I think we’re OK.

 

 

new1

New scenes, different creation. We have sought unusual, surprising pieces.

 

bizarresmall

He is bizarre, but the world thinks kindly of it.

 

pantsuitsmall

I want a maroon pantsuit. That would be amazing.

 

way

There’s a way, maybe. All sound good but none pan out.

 

haveto

 

You have to get up, but it’s tough.

 

I’m doing more of these plus haikus and pictures and stuff on tumblr at lorithebraveone.tumblr.com. And you should check out Kleon’s at newspaperblackout.com.

On Lent (the mess I am)

I missed the Ash Wednesday service at church this year, but it’s usually my favorite time of year. I like the entire Lenten season. It’s a reminder of my humanity and the messes we humans make.

I spend much of my time trying to hide my messes, and I am mostly messes.

I am the girl who’s rushing out the door with breakfast still in my hands, brushing crumbs from my face as I walk to work again late again.

I’m the girl crying again after too much wine for reasons I can’t put into words.

I’m the girl whose search for love has at times caused wounds that haven’t quite healed, who has wrecked and been wrecked by relationships.

I’m the girl who first took the apple, turning it over in my hands before taking a bite

I’m the girl the Pharisees and scribes wanted to stone

And instead of trying to hide it, You put ash on my forehead, a sign the world can see.

And You ask me to walk with You a while to the cross

Come on, you say. We’re coming to a hill.