Back to Work: the Good, the Bad, and the Great

If the metro smells like Russia – dank, dusty, like a greasy, wood replica-paneled Soviet escalator, then my office smells like Europe – dark coffee, cinnamon cookies and chocolate with the quiet hum of the printer and click of keyboards.

It’s good to be back.

Vacation was nice, but I can’t say I was sad to leave. I missed our life and work in Moscow. It felt like the whole vacation we were feeding; eating; consuming. We were living with our senses. And, as Annie Dillard says, “the sensory life is one of greed.”

So I’m glad to get back to work. I really love my job. It’s such a privilege – an opportunity I don’t think I would’ve had anywhere else in the world. I love being a journalist, and working in the news room. Like any job, it has its good days and its bad ones:

THE GOOD:

  • I love the days when I get to leave the office for an interviews – hopping into the car with a cameraman, or hiking down the street with a backpack full of sound equipment. The best interviews are the ones with someone smart and interesting (political analysts and a film director have been recent favorites) where you learn something or get a totally new and fascinating perspective on an issue.
  • I love the days when you sit down at your desk with a cup of coffee and get a really interesting, well-shot and on-time set of pictures. I love losing myself in a couple hours of intense creative work, piecing together a video and typing out a good story to accompany it.
  • I love the days when you get instant gratification. After just a few hours of work, your piece is published for millions of people to see. So satisfying!
  • I love the days when I get to think up creative ways to show something and tell another tiny part of Russia’s fascinating story.
  • I love the days when your amazingly intelligent coworkers are there and you’re all not too busy or stressed to talk, and you get to learn something from them.
  • I love the days of random stories, when you get to dip a little into cattle ranching in Kazakhstan, fascinating and fabulously space tourists in Russia and scuba-diving treasure hunts into Lake Baikal.
  • I love the days when you get to enjoy the perks of being a journalist – free buffets before press conferences, backstage tours of the Bolshoi theater, meeting movie stars at red carpet movie premieres, and access to all kinds of interesting events.

THE BAD:

  • The days when you have horrible technical problems with video material, and you spend hours on the phone with some engineer in Armenia, just trying to get your hands on something (anything!) to meet a deadline
  • The days when the internet and electricity stops working in Kyrgyzstan and you’re up til one in the morning waiting for a story to come through as the freelancer in Central Asia drives to another city just to make his delivery.
  • The days when everyone’s tense and there’s too much work to do, and then, on top of everything, you make some huge, time-consuming mistake.
  • The days when the cameramen are cranky, and make you carry the heavy tripod.
  • The days when you worry more about your ego than the work that needs to get done.
  • The days when you’ve been working overtime for two weeks, and you realize that yet again you’re going to miss dinner with economist husband, or meeting up with friends from church
  • The days when you embarrass yourself by knowing so little and being so inexperienced

THE GREAT:

  • The days when you’re thankful, and realize what a gift this all is
  • The days when you mess up, and realize that in the middle of everything, God is doing something so much bigger and better than you can imagine
  • The days when you come home after an exhausting job well done, and economist husband is there to give you a long hug
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