Louisiana taught me to listen for stories. I learned to knock on strangers' doors in Mississippi as a college student and alt-weekly journalist. In central Africa, I forded a river and survived an armed robbery to report stories about maternal health issues. I spent 11 years at The Oregonian, where I learned to read budgets and board agendas by covering suburban school board meetings. I deciphered zoning codes and planning documents by covering urban renewal in the inner city. I'm obsessed with structure but drawn to messy stories— teenagers in the throws, narratives with complicated heroes and victims.
I left The Oregonian to study at Columbia University, and now I'm a freelance reporter. Most often, I look to write about people who remind me of those I grew up with in North Louisiana. My parents were teenagers when I came along, and if they had dreams before me, they never talked about them after. My dad sprayed bugs, and my mom cleaned houses. They left me at the library and encouraged me to study the USA Today. On Sundays nights, we cut articles out of the newspaper.
A few years ago, I told a story at Back Fence PDX about both my work and my family. You can watch it below:
Eudora Welty lights my way: “My wish, my continuing passion, would be not to point the finger in judgment but to part a curtain, that invisible shadow that falls between people, the veil of indifference to each other’s presence, each other’s wonder, each other’s human plight.”