Messed up some code. Anna fixed it in a hot sec. She tweaked Courting, and I can’t say enough great things about Anna and her work. I am having one hell of an allergy attack. Haven’t had a stuffed nose in years. Just thought that I would share that.
Don’t usually blog while angry but getting the call that the lab was backed up and it won’t be ready. I’m so ready. Literally planned my life around dental visits the past two years. Since I’m a real NY’er I live for summer when there’s lot of great free entertainment. However Manhattan as a summer paradise, though a steamy one, has been discovered, and I wasn’t the one to give the secret away. Told people that it stunk. It did once during a garbage strike, and parts of it always are. That would dissuade me, but I keep the higher end home candle market in business, and always bring a traveling candle when I go away.
Today is the 36th Anniversary of Kent State. May 4th is a day that never fails to depress me. The four kids killed, and they were kids, could have been the kids next door. Jeffrey Miller literally almost was. His family lived a few towns from mine. We did know people in common. Did a post for BIO on it last year. Might link to it over the weekend. Hadn’t known before how many people blamed Vietnam war protesters for how poorly the Vets were treated.
I had friends who came home from VietNam in horrible shape. When they would go to the VA they would be put in rooms with shell shocked World War One Vets. The drug addiction rate of returning Vets was enormous. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was just being discovered.
I was beyond shocked last year to find out how many people thought anybody who protested was a war criminal, and treated Vets poorly. I don’t know violent people; I didn’t know any YIPPIES after it became violent. Think violence is never an answer, but protest is sometimes not just a right but a responsibility.
I am in a truly bad mood. My last dental appointments were just changed from May 23 to June 20. Really really wanted this over with. If I’m whining, it’s been two years, of constant dental visits. The psychological implications are enormous to me I hadn’t expected it to be over until late June. When I was told May 23, I was ecstatic. Didn’t realize how much I had been counting on it, until I just found out that it was changed.
Then there’s the article I copied about a columnist who quit her job in Baltimore to go back to Memphis. Her first reason, prices would make me laugh if it didn’t make me cry. I know Baltimore well. It is so cheap compared to New York, that I can’t imagine what Memphis is like. In this world of political correctness I have to state that I’m not dissing either city. Like Baltimore very much, and have never been to Nashville, but it is an important city for music lovers, and it sounds fun.
$200,000 doesn’t buy a room in New York. I do mean that literally; the cheapest studio’s are usually over 300K though I think I saw one in the paper yesterday that sold for 250K, it was a rectangle with minor square footage.
According the article a very nice home comprable to the columnist’s house in Nashville, is 400K in Baltimore. That might buy a semi-luxury studio, with bad light, and some other really horrible features here. Most people I know spend their lives like the people on Seinfeld, and what did they do?
Nothing. I can do nothing very well for less money. My friend Rafe’s coming over. It’s very beautiful out. I will want to go out, and he will want to order in.
I am in the process of proofing my posts and putting them into categories. Yes, I have a category “Dead Gay friends.” They were Gay friends who died. That is a generational statement. I don’t remember how many memorial services I attended at Redding’s Funeral Home on West 14th State. Too many.
Do admit that I have no idea how to make good categories. It’s part of my litany of problems.
Before I found Google’s spell check my posts were a mess. I’m not going to apologize. I can’t spell. It has nothing to do with not trying, not studying enough when I was young–I remember that my parents would quiz me with flashcards for over an hour every Thursday night. It didn’t help.
Fortunately, they didn’t have to quiz me on vocabulary because I always got “100” without studying. Yet some of my teachers thought that I was lazy and wasn’t respectful or other things because I couldn’t spell, had a horrible handwriting and more.
Hate it when teachers call students “lazy” for not being able to spell. To this day some people insist that I’m just not careful enough. That hurts.
CAPD is still not checked for enough. I have perfect hearing but I can’t hear words correctly therefore I misspell them. It’s that damn simple. Sometimes I misunderstand conversations. That can be comical. However I understand 99% of all conversations, and nobody has ever accused me of not being articulate.
I am lucky. It never affected my reading comprehension. If it had I would have gotten more sympathy because my problems would have been more easily comprehended.
Sometimes a person needs sympathy though empathy would be better. That said, I’m thinking of closing comments to this because I don’t want overly sympathetic ones. Nor do I want to hear from teachers and other people who work with kids about how damn easy it is to spell, if your parents help you with index cards.
I want to say that these problems and more made me a better person. That would be a lie. Some people still judge me for my faults not my accomplishments. While I can usually laugh them, and did develop a sense of humor as a coping mechanism, sometimes, sometimes…
In my adult life I have achieved much and won’t negate my achievements. However I have never felt secure in my achievements. Sometimes I look at my diplomas and professional license and think that they could be taken away tomorrow or were given to me under false pretenses. That’s one of the many reasons that I have a category “the fraud within me.”
I am going to make this into my time. Why? I am talented. I have great stories, most not told in these pages, and I feel like telling them. Just not in a blog. Frankly I’m tired of giving away things most people would expect to be paid for.
The newspaper article I’m referring to follows
By Gadi Dechter
The Sun newsroom was stunned Monday, April 24, when new metro columnist Wendi C. Thomas abruptly resigned, just a week after starting at the paper, and a day before her debut column was set to publish. But Thomasâ€™ misgivings about moving up from Memphisâ€™ Commercial Appeal (where she will return) had taken root before her arrival in Baltimore.
â€œOn the 900-mile drive from Memphis to Baltimore, every 50 miles I asked my boyfriend if I was making a huge mistake,â€ she says by phone from Memphis. â€œItâ€™s not a reflection on The Sun. I didnâ€™t work there long enough to develop any strong feelings about them. It was more the city, just getting a sense that it wasnâ€™t going to be a good fit.â€
A Memphis native, Thomasâ€™ doubts began soon after her initial visit to Baltimore, to interview for the columnist position vacated in January by Michael Olesker. After returning home, she says, â€œI called [The Sun] and said, â€˜I donâ€™t think this would be a good fit for me. Take my name out of the running.â€™â€
Thomas, 34, was encouraged by Sun editor Tim Franklin and recruiter Sam Davis to maintain her candidacy, and when she was offered the job she felt the opportunity to move up to a major regional paper was too good to pass up. â€œThese columnist jobs donâ€™t come up often. The guy Iâ€™m replacing has been there for 27 years. Do I wait maybe another 27 years? I just couldnâ€™t turn it down,â€ she told the alt-weekly Memphis Flyer in March. At the time, she was also still smarting from the Commercial Appealâ€™s recent decision to move her column from a section front to an inside page.
â€œMy regret,â€ she says now, â€œis that I didnâ€™t follow my first instinct [about Baltimore]. Iâ€™ve wasted a lot of peopleâ€™s time, the Sunâ€™s, and, frankly, my own.â€
Her main gripe with Charm City: expensive housing. â€œFrankly, I was not going to be able to maintain anywhere near close to the standard of living that I had in Memphis,â€ she says. â€œNowhere near.â€ Initially, Thomas expected to be able to buy a home for about $200,000, but after driving around the city and county with two real estate agents, she quickly realized she would have to spend about twice that for something comparable to her â€œvery niceâ€ Memphis house.
â€œThe Sun would have been paying me well,â€ she says, â€œbut not that well.â€
Tim Franklin wonâ€™t disclose Thomasâ€™ salary but says it was â€œabsolutelyâ€ enough for Baltimore. â€œI think that one could live comfortably on what her compensation would have been,â€ Franklin says. â€œAnd, indeed, they do.â€
In addition to house-hunting sticker shock, Thomas says she was battling homesicknessâ€”she would be leaving her mother and boyfriend behindâ€”so a â€œserendipitousâ€ encounter with an E.W. Scripps Co. executive at a Washington journalism event seemed almost fateful. Scripps owns the Commercial Appeal, and the executive informed Thomas that her old job was still available to her.
The terms of her return to the Memphis paper include a pay raise and the return of her column to the metro section front.
Last Sunday, Thomas called Sun recruiter Sam Davis and told him she was seriously thinking about resigning. Davis called Franklin, who says he was â€œsurprised and disappointedâ€ by Thomasâ€™ about-face. The following morning, Thomas met with Franklin to hand in her resignation. â€œShe had quite obviously made up her mind by the time of the meeting,â€ Franklin says.
Thomas â€œseemed happyâ€ during her short time in Baltimore, says Franklin. â€œI know other members of the staff had made a point to greet her and tried to make her feel at home. . . . I donâ€™t think any of us had any inkling of this.â€
â€œIt really does look like some sort of personal wet-feet [issue],â€ says Sun reporter Michael Hill, whose newsroom desk was near Thomasâ€™. â€œI got to know her a bit, and we had nice talks about Baltimore . . . and she seemed, you know, quite interested and engaged.â€ When he arrived at his desk Monday afternoon, Hill noticed on his desk a pair of Baltimore-history books he had lent Thomas. â€œIt was almost poignant.â€
In addition to being a costly embarrassment for The Sun, Thomasâ€™ departure is a blow to the paperâ€™s diversity committee, which had lobbied for her hiring, according to newsroom sources. She is the Commercial Appealâ€™s first black female columnist, and would have been the Sunâ€™s only black woman columnist, as well.
Thomas says she hopes her quitting doesnâ€™t hurt the cause of minority recruitment at The Sun, but sounds a somewhat cynical note: â€œI think if the paper is fully committed to diversifying its newsroom . . . then I donâ€™t think the departure of one person would affect that,â€ she says. â€œIf theyâ€™re less committed, then sure, they could use this as a way to say, â€˜Well, we tried, we got a black person, and it didnâ€™t work out.â€™â€
Franklin says boosting newsroom diversity is an ongoing priority, but that it was always a secondary consideration to journalistic qualityâ€”and will remain one. â€œWe hired Wendi because we thought she was the best candidate. She also happened to be an African-American woman.â€ He points out that the Sunâ€™s newsroom employs slightly more minority staffers than the national average of 14 percent.
Since news of Thomasâ€™ resignation was reported, Franklin says he has received a dozen unsolicited messages from newspaper columnists around the country expressing interest in the position.
Veteran Sun columnist Dan Rodricks took the occasion of Thomasâ€™ quitting to suggest to Franklin and managing editor Robert Blau that the paper ought to more seriously consider hiring a local journalist with deep knowledge of the city. â€œNo one asked my opinion,â€ says Rodricks. â€œBut I thought, why not just look a little closer to home, someone who knows the local scene? They said, â€˜OK, make some suggestions.â€™ And I plan to.â€ He declined to say whom he had in mind.
Thomasâ€™ twice-weekly column was set to debut Tuesday, April 25. In her first installment, a draft of which was obtained by City Paper, the writer confessed to mixed feelings about trading Memphis for Baltimore:
â€œNearly a month ago, I left Memphis, the city in which I grew up, the city where my parents and boyfriend still live, to take this job. I left behind a city and a state that I know all too well, and a great gig as a columnist there, to opine about a city and a region I barely know at all. I left behind the easy eating of pulled pork barbecue to work for my dinner, hammering out the white goodness in steamed crabs. And sometimes, I wonder if I left my good sense somewhere between the River City and Charm City.â€
The piece ends with the words, â€œLet the conversation begin.â€
In a profile of Thomas in this monthâ€™s Baltimore magazine, Michael Anft (a former City Paper staff writer) notes that in Memphis Thomas was given to lacing her columns with Bible passages.
When asked what scriptural nugget would make an appropriate epigram for this unhappy episode, Thomas turns to another popular fount of wisdom. â€œOK, itâ€™s not quite the Bible,â€ she writes in a follow-up e-mail, â€œbut Dr. Seuss was another wise man whose words bear repeating. One of my favorite sayings of his, one I kept near my desk in Memphis, and one I had posted briefly on my desk in Baltimore is this: Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind donâ€™t matter and those who matter donâ€™t mind.
â€œThis saying encourages me to do (or write) what I think best, regardless of what the reaction might be. Those who matter to meâ€”my family, friends, colleagues throughout the industryâ€”have been incredibly supportive of my decision to be who I am wherever I choose, and I choose Memphis.â€
And how long will she stay in Memphis? â€œI donâ€™t know,â€ Thomas says. â€œI said Iâ€™d stay in Baltimore for the foreseeable future, and that ended up being one week. I will make no more predictions about my stay at newspapers.â€