Somewhere, over the rainbow, a blog is born. A blog for Kansas. A blog for America. A blog by a reporter with a difficult-to-pronounce last name. But most importantly, a blog that is AMERICA'S ONLY PLACE dedicated to the vital intersection of politics and Sunflowers. The Heartland gods nod in wise approval.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Long days in the service

Looooong day today. Messed around on bureaucracy much of the morning, did the networky lunch thing, got thrown onto an intelligence story in the afternoon. And I just got back from Walter Reed after dinner in Silver Spring with a soldier with stories to tell. He's been rehabbing since April, when he lost most of his right leg in Iraq. I've dropped in on a few of his physical therapy sessions, and tonight he, his brother (in for the week from Wichita) and I just sat down and talked for a few hours, tape running. It's quite the story, and it's quite the challenge to gather. He's had experiences I can't truly understand -- yet my job is to somehow convey those experiences in a meaningful way to readers.

I'll start transcribing tomorrow. Follow-ups and calls to friends and family start later this week. Should be able to start writing soon.

So tonight is one of those times when it really strikes home how much of an honor this job can be. Journalism isn't known for favorable hours or great salaries, but like many occupations of that nature, the best compensations are intangible. People open up their lives to you, and in a sense you become part of their lives too. They tell you things, and they trust that you'll do a good enough job with what they tell you to competently share it with thousands of people. That's a big responsibility. But it's also a great privilege, and it's the sort of thing that makes me look at the clock on my computer, realize I was looking at the same clock 15 hours ago, and think, you know, I'd pull the same shift tomorrow for another day like today.

Not that I'm rarin' to actually do that. Well-fed am I (four hours of interviews at a restaurant with free Coca-Cola refills will do that to you) -- well-rested I am not. Roberts has a hearing at 2:30 p.m., but tomorrow morning's pretty flexible. Don't expect another post 'til later in the day.