kitchen table dispatch

So I’m just sitting here at my kitchen table. It’s around 8:20 p.m., Central European Time, and I just thought I’d give you a little dispatch as I wait for my pizza to cook. Crazy day it was. About an hour ago, I was sitting at my living room table, where I often do work, and was looking at my girlfriend and Filou, my dog. Both of them were sleeping on the couch. Crazy day. Around 11 a.m., we took Filou to a grassy and hilly area that’s adjacent to the Elbe River. We took her there to play fetch. On what must have been the 20th time she retrieved the ball, I noticed that she left a bloody paw print on the cement path. Upon further inspection, we noticed Filou was bleeding, and bleeding bad. She had gashed her front paw on something, probably a piece of glass.

Once we noticed exactly what was going on, Maya and I jumped into action. I took off my shirt and Maya tied it around Filou’s paw as a tourniquet. I then picked Filou up and carried her, and Maya called the vet. This was an emergency. The vet gave Filou stitches and told Maya and me that Filou shouldn’t play vigorously for at least two weeks.

Crazy, huh? So, yeah, we had a little shock today.

Anyway, yeah, so I’m still sitting here at my kitchen table but I’m starting to smell the pizza. I have to work tomorrow. Teaching English is fun. But making time to do journalism, my first love, can sometimes be challenging, especially if you have a job, a girlfriend, a dog, and a girlfriend that likes to spend a lot of time with you.

Someone I once met put it so well. He was a journalist, Hassan M. Fattah was his name, and he came as a guest speaker to one of my classes when I was in J-school. He came to the class to give us students a motivational speech of sorts, sure, but he also did something else, which made an even more lasting impression on me. To help the students understand the pitfalls that come with being a journalist and what kind of demands we might face, he passed out three objects: a pencil, a Nokia cell phone and a photo of his wife and children. He passed out these objects, he said, to illustrate very specific points.

The pencil. He said that as a journalist you should always have a pencil on you because a) a pen could run out of ink and b) pens don’t always write in the rain. The Nokia cell phone. It’s smart to have a Nokia cell phone because it’s the most popular cell phone in the world (still true) and if your cell phone loses a charge, you have the best odds with a Nokia of finding someone who possesses an adapter you can use. And the picture. “Look at this picture…,” he said. “It’s my family. Believe it or not but you are going to have to consider your family a lot in this business. In fact, your family is probably what you will have to consider most when making your choices. You may not think it now, but at some point you are probably going to have to weigh how much you love your wife and your family and what is best for them against your love for journalism. These two things — the interests of your family and journalism — are probably going to be the two biggest competing interests in your life.”

And you know what? Fattah was right. Now that I’ve moved to Germany to be with my girlfriend and I sorta have had to restart as a freelancer when I’d already had a nice journalism gig back in the U.S., I have a better understanding for this “scale” that Fattah was taking about.

But it’s all good. I’m happy and things are moving along pretty well.

OK, pizza’s ready. Until next time.

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  • Blog Author

    Chad Smith

    I'm a former reporter for the Pocono Record who moved to Hamburg, Germany, to be with my German girlfriend. I still do journalism but now teach English to pay the bills. In this blog I share my thoughts on life in Europe and often dissect the ... Read Full
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