Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig.

Los Angeles is home. Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, I am literally, truly, and proudly a Valley Girl. Always will be. 

Kansas City is home. I’ve built a beautiful life here. I’ve made a family. I’ve established a career. It’s where I’ve chosen to plant my roots for the long haul. 

And Drake University is home. It’s where I met my future husband. It’s where I became an adult and started to figure out what and who I was going to be. It’s where I learned, along with the PR and political science, some of life’s best lessons, too. 

It’s no wonder then, that I love any chance to go back home to Drake. Not necessarily Des Moines, Iowa, though I mean no offense! Des Moines is great, really! But it was just a backdrop for those four incredible years. I rarely left the few-block radius of Drake’s campus. There was no need—my whole world was there. 

So, back we went last weekend—Chris, the kids, and me—for the 112th Drake Relays as well as the 100th Anniversary of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, an event that had been postponed for two years! (Thanks, Covid.) With the upcoming year-long renovation of Meredith Hall, home of the J-School, this was our last chance to visit the iconic mid-century mod building and say goodbye. 

I didn’t know I wasn’t ready! Sure, I’ve been back in the building a few times since graduation. But it’s usually locked up and unavailable during Relays—probably to keep it safe from all the alums who want to wander through! Go figure. But this time, as part of a sanctioned event, the building was wide open to us–complete with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres! So, with our kids by our side, Chris and I explored every nook and cranny, and we told stories about the classrooms, the professors, our friends. We got to marvel at all the things we couldn’t have imagined back in 1994, like podcasting studios and a room full of 3-D printers. And we got to say “Back in our day…” a lot. That’s always fun. 

There was a lot of wandering all over campus. We showed the kids the dorms we lived in, the spot where we met, and the place where we ate lunch every day. But exploring Meredith Hall again and reliving so many happy memories in that building was the highlight of the weekend. I even reflected quite a bit on the actual education I received there, the PR skills and training that landed me my first internship and then job; the techniques that I picked up, tweaked, and mastered; the case studies that helped inform my decisions out in the real world. 

And when we stopped on the way out to chat with some current undergrads (lovely women!), I found myself gushing over my time at Drake. Again. Of course. How could I not? I wanted to tell them they made the right choice and to make the most of every second of their precious time here, but I realized I would just be some old lady stating the obvious. They knew it. They’re doing it. They’ve got it. 

Thanks to the Drake SJMC! Not just for inviting us back in for a farewell glance at the old place (and for the swell swag!), but for all you gave me and how you prepared me. Please have us back for Meredith’s grand re-opening. Can’t wait!

So, I’m writing a book.

I guess it’s time to just put it out there. Because I’m doing it. I’m writing a novel. And this time, I’m going to finish it, damn it.

Stephen King’s On Writing. Required reading for anyone who thinks they wanna give it a try.

But here’s the thing I’ve learned over the 17 months: writing a book is super hard! Did you know? I did. Of course I did! People get whole master’s degrees on it for a reason, obviously. This is hard stuff! And yet so many of us try. We can’t help it. Even without the advanced degree.

It starts with this great idea, and these amazing characters that come to life from nowhere. You see it all in your mind’s eye, playing out like a movie, and it’s perfection. But when you sit down to write it, you realize just how much you don’t have. How much of what you do have is crap, unusable backstory and character development. All scene setting, no conflict. Witty banter out’da whazoo, but very little second act to speak of. And then the difference hits you. All you had was an idea. But that’s a long way off from having a book.

And that’s when the real work begins.

Every day I make progress. Some days it’s just getting one sentence right. It doesn’t always seem like enough, but it’s progress. I’ll keep you posted as we go.