Where to find more of my work

It’s that time of year when How it Feels to Be a Jayhawk starts showing up on social media, so I guess that’s as good a time as any to address my neglected little blog.

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Some Tailgate Society contributors tailgating in Ames

For several months, I’ve been working on a side project called The Tailgate Society – bloggers from around the country weigh in on everything from sports to makeup to television. It’s fun because we get to write about any topic we like, and sometimes the gang actually gets together to tailgate.

My Tailgate Society pieces include:

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The Kansas basketball TV deal everyone hates is ruining my life

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Photo by Nick Krug of the Lawrence Journal-World. View his slideshow from the San Diego State game on KUSports.com

I want the University of Kansas to succeed. I do. And I know that a university’s success, and especially a university athletic department’s success, is often measured in dollars.

So I wasn’t mad in 2013 when KU signed its tier 3 television rights deal to show six games a year on some weird Time Warner (or, in Wichita, Cox) channel that I can never hope to access with DirecTV. Of course, I didn’t live in Kansas in 2013, so the agreement to stream these games on ESPN3 worked just fine for me.

It’s only this season — my first full season in the state of Kansas since the deal was signed — that I noticed these games are blacked out on ESPN3 in the state of Kansas. There is no legal way to stream them at our house.

That, combined with the San Diego State game being on CBS Sports and a trip to the pet store that took way longer than I expected, means I’ve seen the Jayhawks play just four nonconference games this season. Woof. Continue reading

The difference a year makes 

A year ago, I lost my job. Gannett was “reorganizing” its newsrooms in Iowa City and Des Moines (among others) and that came with a 15 percent reduction in staff.

I had the, um, “opportunity” to interview for two jobs in the reorganized “newsroom of the future,” but I knew Iowa City wasn’t in my future: the jobs that best fit my skill set were moved to Des Moines. The best-case scenario would have been to sublease the apartment we’d moved into six weeks before and move to Des Moines to work in some really impressive facilities alongside a lot of talented people I still admire.

Instead, I got two weeks to finish up my projects at the Press-Citizen and then three weeks of “transitional pay” to supplement my unemployment insurance.

I was a little salty about it.

OK, I was a lot salty about it.

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Kansas basketball is keeping me sane

I don’t have a lot going on these days. Since losing my job and moving into my in-laws’ house, my days are filled with sitcom reruns and job applications with little to look forward to. (Did you know FX shows “Mad About You” on weekday mornings? Next time you’re home sick from work, hit me up and I’ll tell you where to find the good stuff on TV.) While I’m thankful for a lot of things — namely my husband’s great job and my in-laws’ remarkable generosity — life isn’t awesome right now.

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Me and Meghan in Austin

Some people use unemployment as a chance to get their homes in order or catch up on their reading or tackle a project they’ve neglected. I’ve devoted my newfound free time to Kansas basketball.

In a previous life, I traveled to Austin and New Orleans to see my Jayhawks. I paid way too much to watch KU play in College Station (in basketball and football). I drove to Houston to watch the national championship with other Kansas alumni. I even made it to the 2013 Sweet Sixteen in Dallas, but I never blogged about it because it was the first time I’d ever seen Kansas lose in person and I was just too sad.*

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My life is a weird sitcom

Last time you heard from me, I had just been laid off by the Iowa City Press-Citizen as part of a “Newsroom of the Future” restructure that eliminated about 15 percent of newsroom positions between Iowa City and Des Moines.

Now, I live in my mother-in-law’s basement in a very, very small town.

Andale, population 964, is about 15 miles west of Wichita. I learned the hard way this week that the entire town is a dead zone for pizza delivery.

We share the house with four cats and a springer spaniel, Murphy, who refuses to recognize my authority.IMG_0195.JPG

The whole situation sounds like the premise of a sitcom — some CBS fish-out-of-water show with a laugh track.

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A journalist’s rite of passage: The layoff

I had meant to update this space with little morsels like “Lessons learned at the bar” or maybe something about the Royals being in the World Series. But I felt like I was constantly working, and in my downtime, I was moving to a new apartment or attending a wedding in Kansas or I just didn’t feel like firing up my laptop on my day off. But it looks like I’ll have more time to write in the coming weeks, because I’ve been laid off.

My last day at the Press-Citizen is Oct. 31. After a reorganization of the staffs in Iowa City and Des Moines that required all employees to re-interview for new positions, it turns out there’s just no place for me in Gannett’s “newsroom of the future.”

I feel like a loser and a failure. But I also feel free.

The truth is, Iowa wasn’t working out anyway. My husband, who thrived as a social studies teacher and football coach in Kansas, has spent the last year making pizza at Casey’s. Our cars are falling apart. We struggle to make rent. We have few friends and no family for hundreds of miles. And the only reason we were even living in Iowa was this job. Now we’re free to leave.

So we’ve hatched a plan. George (that’s my husband) couldn’t bear the thought of spending another Thanksgiving at Casey’s, so we aim to vacate the state within four weeks. We’re subleasing our apartment (the one we moved into Oct. 1), packing our things, and setting up camp in my mother-in-law’s basement near Wichita.

From there, we enjoy the holidays with our family for the first time in a while, and we look for new jobs in new places. So uh, hop on over to my LinkedIn.

I think I’m getting good at something

So here’s a confession: I’ve never felt like I was good at my job. I never advanced past concessions at the movie theater. I found working a drive-thru at Diary Queen overwhelming, and the swirls on my cones always fell apart. As a copy editor, I made too many mistakes. As a page designer, I felt like a failure. But lately I’m starting to feel confident in my skills — at least some of them — and that’s a feeling I’ve waited 26 years for. Continue reading