Friday, January 21, 2011

Mr. Lane Goes To Washington

That's what my friends have been saying. Personally, I like the title "The Emperor Goes To Washington," but maybe that's a bit esoteric.

So here I am staying at the Meridian at Braddock Station in Alexandria, Virginia. While I can't see the National Mall from my ninth floor enclosed veranda, I can see it when I go over to the other building's sixteenth floor penthouse to talk on the phone.

I try to be seen and not heard when I'm with my three roommates. You know, if I dial someone on the phone for a conversation, I walk around the building and go to that penthouse in the other building where no one usually hangs out and chat away. Although last night, there was a woman in there on her laptop. Since I'm the courteous type, I asked her if I would bother her with my phone call. I almost had to shake her to get her attention, so that right there should have been a sign that I wouldn't.

The phone call and the writing of this blog are a sign that I'm bored. It's the weekend; my internship starts Monday at 9 AM sharp. I think I'll arrive at 8:30 AM, because I have a habitual fear of being late. I think it comes from my childhood where my mother would always arrive late places. But, see, she had a theory that if you left five minutes late, you could make up that time by speeding down the highway and then arrive at your destination five minutes early.

Speaking of time warp, when I left my sister and her husband's house in Toledo to fly out of Detroit to Washington DC, the flight went west to Chicago. Because of the time zone change, it only took three minutes. Ha! Yeah, but I didn't get that. Why did the plane have to fly to Chicago to go to DC? That's cartographically inconsistent. Why couldn't it fly out to DC from Detroit? They don't call it an "international" airport for no reason.

Yeah, speaking of international, my immediate roommate is from South Korea. He's a nice guy; he's obviously in the international affairs program. He's an ambitious fellow because he's here in Washington, not to get credits to graduate, not to "see the world" or whatever. He's here to improve his English so that he can get ahead and get a better job when he goes back to South Korea. Talk about enterprising and gutsy.

The other roommate I have is a postgraduate studying to be a lawyer. He's from Philadelphia and spent time in Boston. The other roommate is from Boston and grew up in New York. So, you hear the accents pretty thick, and they talk about microbreweries and how parochial the people in Maine are. It's like a different America when I'm around these guys. There really are different cultures when you divide the nation by mountains, rivers, and the Mason-Dickson Line.

I mean, I like the guys. Don't get me wrong. I like the other roommate a lot because he uses the word "schmuck" inordinately. That one is in the law enforcement program interning with the US Marshals.

Yes, I did bring a camera with me. I'll take pictures later because I'm a little unsure of carrying out a bunch of stuff with me when I'm in the city. I don't want to look like a tourist; I don't want to look like an easy target. I'm still feeling out the city. The multitudinous, heterogenous population still consternates an ol' country boy like myself. When I feel like I know what I can expect from the masses out here, I'll start to tote around more of my hundreds-of-dollars belongings. You know, this isn't Will Rogers Boulevard with a single mom with a stroller waving at you as you walk by anymore.

So there it is. I'm a little nervous about getting mugged. But the thing is you're not going to get robbed of your time if you spend it reading here. Stay in touch for more in the serial called "Mr. Lane Goes To Washington."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Prelude to the Journey

The stream of humanity flowed past me as I enjoyed my succulent slice of sausage pizza from Geno's, one of the Central Mall's restaurants in its modest food court. Since this is Fort Smith, Arkansas, the stream of humanity trickles rather than flows. Now, a real flowing stream of humanity will be seen when I go to board my first Metro here in a mere two weeks. Thanks to the Washington Center, I will be working on video editing as an intern for Voice of America.

Right now, I'm still a face in the crowd, like the stream of humanity that walks by. Admittedly, my face has become a little more conspicuous because the hometown newspaper printed a story straight from my college's public relations department about my internship through the Washington Center.

Landing this Washington Center internship accelerated my life. Within the past two months, I've taken my last finals ever at Rogers State University. I moved out of my one bedroom house that was my "Fortress of Solitude" for three years. I worked my last shift for my college TV station's master control. I hosted my final radio show in studio (I'll still be broadcasting from Washington DC). I bid adieu to my friends at Rogers State University. These were experiences I was to have in six months since I graduate in May 2011. Instead, all of the finality of May swooped in early on Santa Claus' sleigh.

I also feel this internship with Voice of America is going to accelerate my development by more than just six months. I feel like I've shaved five to ten years off of my ultimate goal of becoming a radio talk show host. I know what you're thinking: how does a video editing internship parlay into experience in radio. And I'll tell you exactly what I told one of my college's deans in the interview process that swung their votes to me as their representative to Washington: today's media is all about convergence. With the advent of the internet, newspaper websites have video content; TV websites have written text. Radio websites have pictures. Magazine websites have podcasts. In this age of convergence, being versatile in any media will help land you a job in any medium that you choose because A) you're harder to downsize and B) you're harder to refuse. That's how toggling over hue settings on dubbed over video packages for Voice of America is going to ultimately help me sit behind a microphone five days a week.

The opportunity before me is exciting, but I must confess it has knocked my goal off of its axis. Before this internship, I thought the region of Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas was open to me and I would have to work my way up. Now, because of this internship, I feel like the whole world is open to me. In American football, on a kickoff return, all it takes is one key block to spring the returner for a touchdown run. The Washington Center has thrown me a key block and it's up to me to spring this opportunity for a big return -- running to my ultimate goal for all to conspicuously see.