Photographer Appreciation Month

Did you know that October is National Photographer Appreciation Month? So how about someone show me their appreciation by giving me a shoulder massage. They’re swollen and throbbing after a long day at Talladega.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (88) talks to the press about his wreck during the last lap at Talladega Superspeedway Sunday evening. (Sarah Cole/al.com)

Talladega. My first big assignment for al.com. Let’s just say, it was rather interesting. At times, being a girl with a camera has its disadvantages. Loud, drunk, redneck men see it as an opportunity for harassment. As I wandered through the infield of Talladega Superspeedway yesterday afternoon, men would hoot and holler at me from the tops of their campers and decked out “Dega buses,” asking me to join them inside for a beer. “Damn girl, you fine” seems to be the favored pickup line of NASCAR fans.

Nevertheless, it was worth the pain. I got some interesting shots and hung out with my old friends, Bill Wilson and Marty, from The Anniston Star. What would I have done without them yesterday? I watched part of the race from Jr.’s pit box, ventured through the garage, and got the “royal” media treatment. I left at 5 a.m. and made it home around 10 that night. After 15 minutes of Skyping with my long-haired man friend, Jake, I passed smooth out. I feel old.

Work has been a little slow today. No assignments. Just me journeying through the city in search of features, but yesterday took a toll on me, and my draininess (yes, draininess) has me in a weird funk where I just want to head home, eat some left over meatloaf and taters as a watch an episode of Freaks and Geeks, after I tidy my apartment up a bit. My sink is full of dishes and it’s been bugging me since Saturday. I just get so tired of constantly washing everything after cooking and the maintenance people still haven’t come to fix my dishwasher. It’s been four weeks since I put in a work order. Every time I stop by the office, they tell me they haven’t forgotten about me, but apparently they have.

Two more hours in the office. What can I get into? Perhaps another cup of coffee…

Here’s to Pooping Outside

All is quiet in my cozy one-bedroom, all except the soft moan of my ceiling fan and Chubbs crunching on his chicken flavored puppy bone, his claws scratching the plastic tray of his kennel as he shuffles to find a comfy spot. I’m beginning to enjoy this whole living alone thing. It’s only 12:20 in the morning and I’m already curled up in my purple jersey knit sheets, An Object of Beauty resting beside me, waiting to be read.

I worked all morning and then spent the evening cleaning, sewing, and decorating my apartment. It’s beginning to feel more like home. I have a couch, a desk, an entertainment piece, posters, a few paintings, and random odds and ends. My place stays spotless, my sink empty, my rooms uncluttered and smelling clean. I can walk around pantsless and do ab curls while I watch Gossip Girl on Netflix and not have to worry about my roommates walking in on me. Yeah, I really enjoy living alone.

But I will admit, it does get lonely at times. There are moments where I wish I had someone to rent a Redbox movie with, perhaps head downtown for a drink. The usual social things, but those days will come again.

Work was rather uneventful. I wasted 100.7 miles searching for a feature that never came. I listened to my police scanner as I drove around the city. Wreck after wreck after wreck, each one resulting in a mere fender bender. Nothing worthy or reporting. The sunset was beautiful here. After a day of rain, the sky melted into a beautiful lavender and rose before fading to navy. I searched for a spot that captured that moment, riding along the mountains, but never found it. I still have to figure this place out. So, after 9 hours of work, I had nothing to show for it. Perhaps tomorrow will be better.

On a happier note, Chubbs is almost potty trained. He no longer poops or pees inside, except for when I vacuum and he leaves tinkle trails across the living room carpet. He tells me when it’s time to go outside and I now feel comfortable leaving him roaming about my room as I sleep each night. It’s the least I can do since he stays locked up all day while I’m at work.

Tomorrow night, I’m attempting a new recipe. Tilapia (yes, cheap fish is all I can afford) with a spicy pineapple glaze and a side of fresh veggies. I would say rice, but apparently I need to cut back due to high levels of arsenic. Is it sad that I prepare dinner a day in advance?

Fat girl problems.

Home Sweet Home

The walls are bare. The floors are empty. My apartment is uninviting in its dissolution. I dread coming home from work to this nothingness. Something must change, soon.

But did you hear that? I said work. And no. Not for some rundown food joint where the food is mediocre and the tips non-existent. I mean real work. For The Huntsville Times, now known as Alabama Media Group. Yes. You heard correctly. I got the job. I officially moved to the Rocket City Saturday night and started work as a photographer yesterday. It’s definitely a transition, but I think I can handle the challenge.

Here’s my little butterball. And to answer your question…yes. This is what an angel looks like.

So far, my time here has been weird. For reasons I am not entitled to share. But it also has to do with the fact that I’m living alone, in a city different from any other place I’ve ever lived, working my first “big girl” job for a new company. Fortunately I have Chubbs here to keep me company in my home sweet home.

My nerves have been on edge and my emotions at the very tip of my sleeve. I blame it on anxiety. Yesterday, while I was venturing about town in search of features, a man made me cry. He cut me off as I was pulling out from a gas station, rolled down his window, yelled at me, and then proceeded to throw me the bird. I was appalled. And to make matters worse, my features were absolutely horrid.

Today didn’t get much better. I left my laptop charger at home, my work computer hates me (it refuses to let me log in which caused me to miss deadline today), found a bug in my salad at lunch, and was told that I live in a very shady part of town and should probably move as soon as possible (just don’t tell my mother).

The only good of the day was the free food and drinks at the welcoming party at Amendment 21 downtown. Thank you, AMG.

And here I am, alone, in my apartment, munching on a bag of stale Cheetos, bumming Internet from my work phone and debating on whether or not I should watch Pineapple Express for the 756th time, read a book, or just go to bed.

Tomorrow: finding a couch, setting up real Internet, and buying groceries. I’m ready to settle on in.

Hoping things get better…soon.

4 years and 312.4 miles later

When the job search began, I told myself to get as far away from Alabama as I possibly could. Not that there’s anything wrong with this great state. We have some delicious dishes, beautiful landscapes, good ole southern hospitality, and a rockin’ football team. Roll Tide!

But I’ve lived here my entire life. I’m an adventurer, one who’s not afraid of going out on my own and trying new things. I embrace change, which is why I applied all over the country during my last few weeks in grad school. Portland, Oregon; Lafeyette, Louisiana; Nashville, Tennessee; Charleston, South Carolina. I was selling myself like a hooker. Throwing myself out there to potential buyers and waiting for someone to come along and pick me up, for the right price, of course.

But they were all failed attempts. I received only one callback from a small-town paper in Brownsville, Tennessee. Apparently my price was too high. They couldn’t afford to hire a journalist with a Masters. After weeks of rejection, I decided it was time to let it go and see what my home state had to offer. So far, I earned 4 callbacks and 3 interviews. But never in a million years did I see myself working in Alabama.

Like most graduates, I just knew I’d find some great (or not-so-great) job in some cool town somewhere far away. I had it all planned out. I’ll get a job as an entertainment reporter in some artsy town on the West Coast, meet some cool, artsy people, hang out at cool, artsy places, enjoying a glass of wine and a good book after a long day at work in my loft that overlooks downtown, selling paintings and my photography at a hip, little shop close by. Just living my life the way I intended.

And here I am, residing in Tuscaloosa, once again, and interviewing at places in Birmingham and Huntsville. Sometimes things don’t always go as planned. You just got to take things as they are. Which brings me to today’s excursion.

My dream job is so close, I can taste it. After 2 hours, 156.2 miles, I arrived at The Huntsville Times in Huntsville, (not so) Alabama to meet with Anthony Cook, the new “hub cap” at The Times. For those of you who don’t know, The Huntsville Times, The Birmingham News, and The Mobile Press Register went through a number of changes these past few months. They have cut back on their days of circulation and made quite a few layoffs.

But in addition to those drawbacks, Alabama Media Group, a digitally focused, journalistically driven company, formed to fill in those gaps that will be left behind due to cutbacks. Now the paper is making its attempt to tackle the ever-changing world of journalism. Reporters and photographers are no longer abiding by their editors’ commands. Instead, they can take charge of their own job, selling and branding themselves as a journalist. The office no longer exists. The world is their office. They find their own assignments, edit them as needed, and publish them directly to the web. They are taking charge, attempting to cover their community through their own perspective.

It’s an intriguing concept, one I hope works and one that I am a little hesitant of. Nevertheless, it’s necessary to take a risk or two in order to survive in the digital world.

So, what does that mean for me as a new journalist coming into the field? More opportunities and more freedom. I can finally take everything I’ve learned, add a few of my own ideas, and successfully establish myself.

And the job comes equipped with a new laptop and Motorola Razr which functions as a personal hotspot. That’s pretty sweet, if you ask me.

Personally, it sounds like a great fit for me. I’m all about showcasing my talents and exemplifying initiative. I desire freedom in my workplace. What more could a new-age journalist, like myself, ask for? Now all I have to do is be patient for a little while longer and spend the next few weeks hoping I’m the one they want.

Where the veggies at?

One thing I enjoy about serving is the people. Whether they’re good, bad, awkward, loud, needy, there’s always something that comes from a normal day at work. Today, I dealt with a young man who was agitated with the fact that his big ole beef burger didn’t come with the extra veggies he had asked for.

Now, I am not too proud to accept any faults I may have made. This incident, however, was just a misunderstanding on his part. When entering his order into the computer, I made sure to ask for extra veggies. Extra lettuce. Extra tomato. Extra pickles. Extra onions. Extra avocado. When he got his burger, he had 3 tomatoes compared to the usual 2, 4 leafs of lettuce, a stack of pickles and onions, and an entire avocado. When he paid for his meal, he felt the need to point out the fact that he didn’t have the extra veggies he asked for, even though the order was printed on his ticket. And after the entire table of 5 just started at me, expecting me to send him home with a veggie plate for his troubles (I guess), he waved me off with an “Anyway.” The accent made it even better. I shall not tell where he was from. All I shall say is…

Good day, sir!

Before you take offense, it is important to note that my mother is foreign and also has an accent; therefore, I have a right to pick fun. Keyword: fun. 

On a side note, check out these funny student emails. A friend sent them to me. He’s an english professor and deals with this on a regular basis. We’ll stay updated throughout the semester, just so we can keep up with his students’ progress.

A fresh start

So…what do ya think about the new look? Thanks to my dear friend, Katie Wood, I decided to revamp the blog into a post-grad school blog where I can keep track of my day-to-day adventures and thoughts while I struggle to find a job. Sooner or later, I’ll have a job. My first “big girl” job, to be exact, and I’ll be able to look back on all of the excitement and stress that comes with becoming an adult.

But as I wait for that job to come along, I’ll be waiting tables at The Crimson Tavern, a restaurant and bar located on The Strip in Tuscaloosa, Ala. I just started there today. We weren’t open, but we did have a clean-up day. Since they offered us pay as well as food and drinks, I took my broke little butt on over there and worked until my fingers reeked of Murphy’s Oil. Tomorrow is my first official day. I’m pretty eager to see how things go, considering I’ve been hostessing at some high class restaurant where everyone treats you like a 5-year old at his first day or school. I’m quitting tomorrow.

But let’s forget these menial service jobs for a bit and focus on the fact that I have a real, live interview with The Huntsville Times on Thursday. Yes. That is correct. I will be interviewing for a Photographer/Videographer position in part with Alabama Media Group, a digitally focused division of al.com. Let’s just say I’m extremely pumped.

Well, considering it’s 12:53 a.m., I should probably get my sleepy hiney to bed, after I read a few chapters of my latest Barnes & Noble-sale-rack-find. An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin. (Yes. Actor/Musician/Playwright, Steve Martin). It was only $5.98 and totally worth it.

Oh, by the way. I have this book disorder. It’s become quite a problem, actually, considering I’m broke 89.5 percent of the time. Whenever I enter a Barnes & Noble, I find myself in the clearance section scanning the stacks of marked down reads. I always manage to find something interesting. But, since I am a lowly waitress with approximately $212.59 in my banking account (that’s just an estimate), I am no longer allowed to enter book stores or else I will lose everything I have.

Until tomorrow.

–Sarah

Diet cokes and dirty jokes

Just a quick little blurb for some of the coolest dudes I know…

Anniston.

Oh, the joy you have brought into my life.

I won’t miss much, but I shall miss my fellow photographers. A group of guys who know how to get under each others skin and make each other crack a smile at the same time. Who love to fight and bicker, gossip, and reminisce. Guys who are just as sarcastic as I am. Who call each other names and come to the rescue when needed. Who finish their work-day early by searching for “features” around town. Guys who have a true passion for what they do. Who treat their cameras like a newborn child. Who see things no one else can see. Who know the true meaning of what it is to be a photographer.

Oh, and let us not forget Marty. The custodian who leaves a Diet Coke at my desk almost everyday, and has my back when the boys get feisty.

Cheers!

Oh, and perhaps you should check out some of their work. It’ll make you weak at the knees.

Bill Wilson

Trent Penny

Master Server

It’s raining outside. Last Friday in Anniston, and here I sit in my cluttered cubicle finding ways to pass time, waiting for phones calls from the National Guard and the VA. Four tabs sit at the top of my Safari: WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, and my email. Inbox (78). Still waiting for 79. Still hoping to click the tab to discover a new message from some newspaper I contacted during my job search. Four days left in Anniston. Soon I’ll have no where to go. Nothing to do but accept serving positions at two different restaurants in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. All while applying and waiting, applying and hoping that one day, someone will want me.

Sometimes I wonder if I wasted my time attending grad school. Perhaps I’m being a bit pessimistic here, but why did I put myself in debt only to continue waiting tables for the next week, month, year? I have received two callbacks, both promising, and both resulting in nothing. I dreamed about the moment for the past four years, the time when my schooling career comes to an end and I finally step foot into the real world, a place full of uncertainty and confusion, kissing ass, false hope, struggle, and disappointment. I don’t sound depressing at all. But it’s the truth. I spent the past year stressing and crying and working my butt to the bone just so I’ll have my Masters and perhaps a better chance of obtaining a job, only to become a server. Just so I can continue accepting $2 tips, scrubbing dried ketchup from tabletops, filling glasses of half-sweet/half-unsweet tea, and going home smelling like old grease.

What will become of me? It’s a scary thought, a intimidating point where I venture off to reality and hope that it doesn’t swallow me whole. All I want is the opportunity to tackle it head on.

Felicita!

I’ve spent the past eight years pleasing others. I would have said 23 (which is my age), but honestly, those first 15 are a blur. And besides. I was a kid, and a happy one at that, so no need to dampen that nostalgia. But once I hit 16, things changed.

I recently stumbled upon my very first blog on LiveJournal. My thoughts went from pure happiness and innocence to straight terror in less than a week. Perhaps it was a combination of teen angst and the things I never thought I’d ever have to deal with shattering that last bit of Blake-esque-innocence, forcing me to face reality, grow up and figure my life out.

I’m an old soul, yet young at heart.

I attended West Alabama to make my parents happy and graduated in three years because I truly despised that place. I got out as fast as I could, moved on to earn my masters and finally accepted the fact that I have no idea what I’m doing. So, I decided it’s time I do something for myself.

I have dreamed of venturing across Europe for as long as I can remember. I’m young, I’ve accomplished quite a few things, made my parents proud, been through some rough stuff. I have no plans, so, in six months, I’ll be jetting 10 hours overseas to spend a year where I belong. I was a little skeptical about confronting my parents with this idea, but I’ve proved myself and what they want most is for me to be happy, so they’re permitting this little adventure of mine.

Now it’s time to start planning as I anxiously wait for October to arrive. Where should I go? Where should I stay? What should I pack? Where will I work? Thanks to my lovely friend, Katie, I now have a better idea of the steps I should take to get there. Of course, with me being a lowly graduate student who still has to pay off her loans, this entire trip will be constructed on a budget. Work Away, hostels, couch surfing. My belongings simple: backpack, notebook, pocket translator and camera. The real deal. Something I’ve never done before. No plans, no worries.

I am pumped.

So, in honor of this exciting news, I decided to start compiling a European list that I will (hopefully) live by while there…which will be compiled randomly throughout each day, just as a stumble upon things. And I’m open to suggestions, of course :)

Ciao!

If I only had a brain

I’ve had these terrible symptoms lately. Exhaustion, procrastination, beer-thirty, the inability to focus. I’ve never experienced anything like this before, so I started to worry about my health. I thought it was best to get myself checked out, but, since I’m a lowly graduate student who can’t even afford a quarter-tank of gas, I had to WebMD myself instead. They’re usually pretty accurate. One time I diagnosed myself with severe strep, walked into the doctor’s office, told him what was up and got tested. Turns out my diagnosis was 100 percent correct. I had my tonsils taken out three weeks later. Strep throat carrier. That’s how I roll. 

I decided symptom checker would be my best bet. I was a little confused as to which body part to choose. Head/brain illness sounded like the best bet. I marked off my symptoms and patiently waited for the results. According to the doctor, I have gradspringositis, a disease similar to “spring fever,” just more serious. If not treated properly with plenty of rest, no work and vacationing, the illness could lead to psychosis, severe anxiety or even brain-death.

Looks like someone has some relaxing to do. School work, schmool work. Barely two weeks of schooling left and one summer of interning. August 2012 can’t get here soon enough!

Now for some “happys.” I’ve caught the meme bug, thanks to Katie. These don’t really relate to my disorder. Just some ones I found funny. A few about school and graduation, others about…nothing in particular. Enjoy.

Why must he keep posing for pictures?

I have a feeling this will be me in about five months.

Well, I don't really have a plan for the zombie apocalypse, or any plans for that matter.

Haha! Funny :)

Wooooaaah!

Um, a whole chocolate cake, actually.