This is the thrilling tale of how I became a girl reporter:
I am an American, Chicago-suburban born. When I was a young and impressionable undergraduate at Northwestern University, I decided to be a great novelist. Post-graduation, I discovered that I had no talent for administrative work and did not like working in cubicles. Also, I wasn’t getting much writing done. So I moved to Florida to go to graduate school at Florida Atlantic University, where I taught freshman composition, learned to throw around then-fashionable academic terms like “praxis,” and wrote a novel. While I waited for the world to discover the novel and its greatness, I worked first at a Starbucks and then at a Barnes & Noble, where I met lots of odd and interesting people and started asking them questions about themselves. Then I wrote their stories down in my journal. This, it slowly occurred to me, was actually journalism and far more fun than tracking the police scanner, as reporters did at my college paper. It also occurred to me that it would be helpful to have more formal training if I wanted to make journalism my career. So I spent an informative and exhausting year at the Columbia Journalism School learning how to ask better questions. I have been doing journalism for fun and profit ever since (there’s been far more fun than profit), first at the Riverfront Times in St. Louis and now at the Reader in Chicago. I regret that I have never carried a cane or worn a hat as chic as that one on assignment, though I have sometimes gotten to wear safety goggles and a hard hat.