Carly Washebek Journal
I’m done with the second week of this class, and I still haven’t heard back from my soldier. I can’t help but worry and think that I am going to be really far behind if I don’t hear back from her soon. I feel like most of the other students in my class have already gotten together with their soldiers, but I still have no idea about mine. I hope she gets back to me soon because I don’t want to fall behind on this project that already intimidates me. I have 12 more weeks to go. By the end of this semester, I am expected to have written, edited and finalized a 2,000 word article about my veteran as well as a series of podcasts, journal entries and an essay about myself. That is a lot to complete considering I am a full time student. I’m taking three other courses on top of this one. I’m also a reporter for the school newspaper, and I get assigned one or two articles a week for that. Outside of campus life, I am a customer service representative at a call center where I spend anywhere between 15 to 30 hours a week. After writing down all of my obligations for the semester, it makes me want to go crazy.
I got a response from Kat McCard yesterday, and we got together today just to meet and talk about some background information. I was nervous to meet her at first, but she is very laid back, so she made me feel comfortable right away. I went prepared with a list of questions that would help me to start creating a timeline for Kat. I started with the basics like birthday, parent’s names, siblings, hometown, current location, children, etc. I figured I would try to get as much of this information right off the bat so I won’t have to worry about it later. Kat told me she joined the Navy right out of high school. She was a nuclear engineer. I knew her journey in the Navy is going to make for a good story. Plus, Grace said that she hasn’t had a veteran who was in the Navy yet, so I’ll be the first one! I’m looking forward to what the project has in store.
Kat and I met today for our first formal interview. After talking with her for just an hour, I have learned so much! Before today, I knew nothing about boot camp and the instructors or about the naval academy and the base it’s located on. I had no idea what to expect before we talked today, but halfway through the interview I stopped and told her that I could never even begin to imagine all of the information she knows. After attending boot camp in Chicago, Kat flew to Goose Creek, S.C., a city just outside of Charleston, to attend the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command. The majority of the information Kat learned at this academy is completely confidential. At first I didn’t catch on, and I kept asking her questions about what she did. She said she was having a hard time answering the questions because she can’t tell me how a reactor works other than the phrase she was taught, “Hot rock makes steam boat go,” which is all she is really allowed to say when someone would ask her what she learned. Honestly, when she say that she couldn’t tell me what she learned, it threw me off. I couldn’t think of any questions to ask her right away. How am I going to write a story about her experiences when she can’t even begin to tell me what she learned in the academy? I stopped asking questions about what she learned and tried to just stick to the main parts of her life story. I’m going to have to ask about how I should approach this next class because I’m not sure what to do. Next time Kat and I meet, I’m looking forward to learning about her time of deployment while she was out on the USS Eisenhower for three months in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Virginia. I couldn’t even begin to imagine myself going on one of these ships and leaving my family and friends. I couldn’t even imagine myself going to boot camp or a military academy let alone be deployed. Kat and I have only met two times, and I already have so much more respect for what people in the military are doing for our country. It is truly amazing.
Today was suppose to be the second interview with Kat, but her daughter is sick so she couldn’t make it to campus. We will be getting together on Wednesday. I have a lot to ask her. I’m working on making a timeline of her life to better understand her experiences. I realized there is so much more I need to know in order to make a complete document. Last Wednesday, February 27, 2013 Kat and I had a photo shoot with Shawn McAfee. She works with Grace, and she takes all the professional photographs for this project. I wanted to capture the moment, so I took this picture when Kat was getting her individual pictures taken. Neither of us really enjoyed the photo shoot, but Shawn made it be not as bad as it normally would be to get your picture taken. Kat and I both stood awkwardly with our fingertips in our pockets and our feet together until Shawn told us to loosen up. I’m not one to really worry about how I look, but knowing these pictures are going to be in the final project, I was continually adjusting my hair. I just didn’t want it to look weird. After I fixed it for the hundredth time, Shawn told me it looked good in all the pictures she took so far. Shawn suggested to Kat that she should bring in her children to take pictures with when the weather warms up. I hope she does because they are a big part of her life, and it would be beneficial to meet them and include them in the project.
I haven’t been able to meet with Kat for a few weeks now. We have tried to get together, but life happens. Next time I see her though, we are going to have so much to talk about! I can’t wait to get together with her and talk about the rest of her story so I can start writing. I also need to get pictures of her experience to add to my story. We are going to get together on Monday during Spring Break, so we will have a lot of time to catch up! Questions have been brewing in my mind since the last time we met. I’m really excited to hear about her experience on the ship. I know she won’t be able to tell me what she did exactly, but I am going to ask a lot of questions until I have the understanding that I want to get to. I need to be able to write this article about her experience, so I need to know what I’m talking about. There will be missing information because I won’t be able to come right out and say what she did, but I think that is going to add to the value of the story. I don’t know how yet, but I am going to figure it out.
I just got back to school after spring break. Kat and I tried to get together twice over break. One day it was snowing, and the next day I was sick. This past Saturday morning, I packed up my recording equipment and set my GPS to get to Kat’s apartment in Appleton. I knew I couldn’t come back to class without an interview, or Grace would not have been happy. After I got lost a few times, I finally made it to Kat’s place. Her children were both in their bedrooms, but they would come out from time to time and stand in the hallway until Kat asked them what they needed. After untangling the cords for the recording equipment and setting up a little studio in her apartment, we ended up getting a lot of good information recorded in a little under two hours. Alexis agreed to take a picture, but she said the cat had to be in it, too. I really like this picture, because it sums up my visit with Kat at her apartment. I’ve never went to someone’s house before to interview them, but for this project, it was appropriate. I’m really getting to know Kat well, and that will help me to write a more accurate article to honor her life and her time as a Navy veteran.
Sunday evening creeped up on me too fast. Grace wants a rough draft of our article by Wednesday, so that means I have a LOT to do. I just read both of the articles from the New York Times: Still Bleeding, 10 Years Later and The End of War Stories. Grace wanted us to read them because it relates to what we’re working on, but they’re written in first person instead of third person.
I think I am going to write my article more in a style of the second article. It was easier to read and had more flow. I like how Friedman’s story has a sense of achievement to it because he takes the readers through his journey of how he acted when he came home to now the man he has become after years of returning.
The first article, Still Bleeding, 10 Years Later, was written by Jason Davis. I really like the style of this lead. It really grabbed my attention with the precise details. The article continues packed full of details by using the exact date that events took place. I like this because it shows how impactful this experience was to Davis because he remembers the exact date for everything.
The second article, The End of War Stories, was written by Brandon Friedman. I liked the overall style of this article a lot more than the first one because its not a typical story of events that took place while Friedman was deployed. Instead, it starts with him saying he never tells war stories anymore. “It’s robotic, sterile, almost as if I’m telling someone else’s tale instead of my own.” I really enjoy the choppy writing style Friedman brings to this article. It gives the reading a vibe like this was my life, and now its over. This is what happened, and now its done.
I’m down to four weeks left of the semester. It’s great and horrible at the same time. I have so much to do I’m beginning to wonder if getting it all done on time is even a possibility. I guess I’m going to start getting a lot less sleep and spending a lot more time in the library. I’m working on my third draft that’s due tomorrow. I have a few blanks I needed to get filled in, so I ran over by Kat’s work to get a picture of her at work and ask her a few questions. I feel like I’ve really gotten to know Kat well. Thinking back to when we first met until now, its been quite the journey. I’ve never taken a class where all we did was focus on one project. I’ve been putting most of my time and efforts into this class, but I also have to remember to set aside time for my other classes as well as being a reporter for the school newspaper. I’m really looking forward to the end of the semester. It will be such a HUGE relief to have everything done and handed in. I just hope I will be happy with the final results.
Today Kat and I got together in the studio to do our final recordings for the podcasts I need to complete. It went really smooth. We only had to record each section twice, and one of the times was because we were laughing in between sentences. After today we only have four more scheduled class periods that we will meet and discuss what to do next. Other than that, I have to really stay on track. I wrote down each and every thing I need to do by the end of the semester so I can check off each assignment as I go. This project is really starting to come together. I never thought I would be able to get all of the requirements done in time. I’m not done yet, but I have a final draft that I need to get signed off. I’ve recorded all of my podcasts, and I only need to complete one more journal entry. I’m so close. The end of this semester is going to be so rewarding. I am going to skip and sing the whole walk home.
I’m finally at the last week of the semester. I never thought it would end, but I’m here. I made it. All I need to do now is polish up a few papers and presentations for my other courses, and I’m home free. I learned a lot from Kat this semester. Number one thing I learned from this project is to never procrastinate. I made sure to put in time each week on this project, and it really turned out great. Although it was difficult to get together with Kat, we figured everything out and were able to meet enough times to get the story done. We met today for the last time. I made her take one last picture with me, and even though she hates photos she agreed to take this last one with me. This project taught me a lot about the military and all the behind-the-scenes work that is put in. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. I know I’m a better journalist because I completed this course.