Brandon and I were drinking our coffee yesterday when he looked up and said, thoughtfully, "It's kind of cold this morning."
I did a little happy dance because it WAS kind of cold and I HAD BEEN THINKING THAT TOO and FALL MIGHT ACTUALLY BE HERE FINALLY and CAN YOU EVEN?
Fall is my favorite season and it is one of the things I miss the most about living in the Midwest. We have fall here, but it's not as crisp or as smoky or as colorful, and it doesn't last as long, so when it finally comes on I like to try to soak it up as much as I can.
Which has been kind of hard lately because things are stupid busy. Brandon has been slammed at work for the last two months, and things at the paper have gotten increasingly hectic for me as Election Day gets closer. My full-time job is covering county government, but a few months ago our state reporter left and I've sort of taken over his job while continuing to do my own. That means several things - that I am insanely busy, that I am now covering politics in a battleground state during a presidential election year, and, most of all, THAT I AM HAVING SO MUCH FUN.
But it does make the time hard to hold on to, so for posterity, and my own sanity, here is a quick run-down of my September.
We took Maisy back to Lake Brandt. She remains my very favorite pupster.
We went to the National Folk Festival, where I "worked" for a bit by interviewing an amazing Delta blues musician named Super Chikan. He makes his own guitars out of whatever he finds lying around and travels with an all-female backing band called The Fighting Cocks (one of them is his daughter).
After, Brandon and I wandered around the festival, then met up with friends and went to the Grandmaster Flash show. It was basically a big frat party. It was basically the best.
I learned last month that the News & Record has season tickets to the Panthers, so Brandon and I took advantage and went to two games. One was just for fun and the other was a work day - it took place the Sunday after the riots in Charlotte, so we drove down so I could interview people for a story about the mood in the city and at the game. (It was really amazing, and you can read about it here.)
The seats are ridiculous. Also the stadium serves wine. Basically I could really be into the NFL if Greensboro got a team. And housed them in a stadium that serves wine.
I covered a ton of presidential campaign events for work, including a visit from the Mothers of the Movement, a Trump rally, and Hillary Clinton's first event after she returned to the campaign trail after a bout with pneumonia.
After Clinton finished speaking at that event, one of her North Carolina organizers grabbed me and said, "Come with me. Don't say anything." As you may remember I spend these events living in fear of being tased (at the Trump rally I literally asked a Secret Service agent if I would be tased for walking past him), so this was not the most soothing interaction of my life, but I shut up and followed him right behind a blue curtain into a back room where Clinton was holding a small media availability.
If you are not fluent in Nerdy Reporter, a media availability is basically a small press conference that's open only to a handful of selected journalists. In this case, it was me, a political writer from the Charlotte Observer, and every reporter in Clinton's traveling press corps, including people from the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, CBS, NPR, the Wall Street Journal, etc.
Look, I know I'm supposed to pretend like this was no big deal - "act like you've been there before," or whatever - but it was a HUGE FREAKIN' DEAL for me. Local reporters rarely if ever get invited to this type of thing; the other media outlets in our market had no idea it was even happening. I was, and will forever remain, so excited about it, and not only because I had a front-row spot that I refused to move from even when a CNN camera man told me to give it up for his reporter (um, no).
They didn't call on me to ask a question, which I expected. But I got to be there while Clinton talked about Trump and pneumonia and Syria. And my reporter heart was happy.
I met and interviewed Bellamy Young, the actress who plays Mellie Grant on Scandal, when she stopped in Greensboro during a quick four-day tour of North Carolina to campaign for Clinton. She traveled with her little dog Bean, who hung out very calmly in a duffel bag (Maisy would never).
Real talk: I don't watch Scandal (I'm sorry), but I do watch Jeopardy, and realized in the course of preparing for the interview that I had watched Bellamy rock it one of their celebrity charity games earlier this year. I may have devoted a chunk of my interview time to questions about Alex Trebek. (The signaling device is apparently the key to victory and is also quite tricky to use.) (Bellamy won her game, btw.) (I have no regrets about any of this.) (Also, she was basically the nicest person on the planet, and wouldn't let me or my photographer leave until she hugged both of us.)
I sat down with Martin O'Malley for 20 minutes to talk about Clinton's campaign and various Martin O'Malley things.
O'Malley is the former governor of Maryland, and I have a hyper-awareness of him because he presided over the state when I was a graduate student covering the state legislature in Annapolis. My favorite Martin O'Malley anecdote - which you may have already heard because I tell it ALL THE TIME - is that one time in grad school I was in an elevator with him and I awkwardly introduced myself and then asked if I could call him Marty.
(He said no.)
I reminded him of this when we met last month and he SHOCKINGLY did not remember it. He also (SHOCKINGLY) still doesn't want me to call him Marty. (Yes obviously I asked again, who do you think I am?)
Anyway, my journalism life really came full-circle in that conference room and it was very exciting and happy for me. MY PAL MARTY.
I spent some time outside with my camera trying to capture the little bits of fall I found.
September was kind of awesome? And there's so much good stuff coming in October too. Fall, y'all. I'm telling you.