Nevada Legislature is firing up

Last Friday, my media alliance and I got the chance to tour our newsrooms in Carson City and Legislative buildings! I’m so happy that I’m going to be learning about local politics, since it’s something my brain desperately needs to learn (I know that sounds super dramatic, but it’s true!). It’s such a great and new fresh start to my journalism career, and I think this project will be much better organized. I can already feel the guilt and nasty spirits from last semester slowly (but surely) departing from my body.

For the past week, we’ve been preparing ourselves to become superstar legislative reporters. I believe tomorrow we’re going to figure out mini groups to go to Carson together, so we all have a chance to cover something each week. We just launched our website Monday and some of us have assigned stories already, like me.

I’m hoping to (and still trying to) cover Assembly bill no. 42 by the end of this week. AB42 establishes the Nevada Cyber Institute throughout the Nevada System of Higher Education. The NCI will provide courses that is going to practice techniques of cyber security. If this bill passes, this institute will be offered throughout most universities, community and state colleges in Nevada.

Since it’s uncertain that this bill is going to pass and since the Nevada Legislature is getting ready to start on February 4th, everybody in the State offices are running around like nuts (or, more appropiately, traveling to cities back and fourth and preapring as well). Therefore, it’s very difficult to get a hold of people for interviews, on top of classes which one of them requires me to read a 39 chapter book by Kate Chopin before Monday. However, my data journalism class is my perfect companion for this project since I’ll be learning how to hardcore stalk and access information. My first assignment a few weeks ago was to acess personal information about a local public figure (our professor purchased an Intelius report for each student in the class!).

So I’m feeling a bit down in the dumps right now, possibly feeling a hint of failure because I was unable to speak to my sources before the end of this week. However, I will put a band-aid on this temporary fail, and see what the hell I can do about it tomorrow.

Since I’m back into the swing of things with writing essays and serious objective articles, my mind is trying to resist to use my voice in my writing since it’s, like, FORBIDDEN in most school work…

I’m just sitting here on the thrid floor of the library, taking glances at my phone, hoping  somebody will at least return one of my calls. I’m sitting in between two people who are studying, possibly annoying them with my loud typing skills. So with the weekend coming up, I have so many plans and so many things to complete and cover. Eventually, I get where I want to be with this blog. No way am I giving up!

-Molly

Tour of the Morgue and Free Food: Brings back childhood mems.

Remember back in elementary and high school you would take field trips that were out of town or state? Even going to a local museum was a treat.

One of my most memorable field trips in my primary schooling years is when I went fishing in Tahoe for a day in second grade. I accidentally smacked my fishing pole on my teacher’s cheek; I wanted to ask her something, and I happen to bring the fishing pole with me as I turned around. She blew up a fume about it. After that, I silently sat in a little corner, crying as I was fishing by myself…

Okay, that wasn’t really memorable in a good way.

I also remember going to the San Francisco Aquarium in fourth grade (that was one whole day, from Fallon to there and back!). During that trip, we also went to this beach that we could touch all the sea sponges and shells. That day was the first day I used my under water camera, and during that time, I felt like I was the best photographer in the world.

And for my sixth grade graduation, we went to Six Flag in Vallejo (back when it was Marine World). And since then, I’ve been going back to Vallejo and Six Flags (now Discovery Kingdom) and San Francisco for high school choir trips and sports, summer vacations, and now college football games. As much as I hated getting up at sunrise (like any other kid or young adult would) it usually turned out to be worth it.

Going out of town or even just around town to tour local museums for class trips is a blast, too. But you don’t really expect that to happen during college, unless it’s an individual assignment or for studying abroad. I guess I could say that I got lucky (and oddly, excited) when my Death, Dying and Bereavement professor announced that the class would take a field trip to Mountain View Mortuary.

As you already might (somewhat) know, I worked in a mortuary right after I graduated from high school. So I sort of already know how the process goes when working in a mortuary (you pick up the body, put it on the gurney, take it to the mortuary, put it in the freezer, dress it up, conduct the funeral, and either a burial or cremation is done. It’s that easy!).

I was incredibly excited to participate in this activity anyways because one, I love death science, two, I haven’t been on a field trip for years and three, I’ve always wanted to nose around in one of Reno’s mortuaries.

Now when we, as the class, all met up and sat in the pews of the big room, everybody was prepared with their questions. How long does it take for a body to decompose? Do you have to go to beauty school, too? When do mortuaries usually close?

In a way, I was thinking that this might be no fun after all since I know the basics. Can we get on with the tour?

One of the three morticians had been working in mortuary science for over 30 years AND he’s an embalmer (I wish I could remember his name!). One was a female, named Emily (?), whose been in the business for two years and then Richard, who just began his career there.  All three of them gave us a tour and were very kind and professional people. I think they’re definitely the perfect example for people who think they want to be involved with the business of death because they tell it like it is.

Emily said that she tends to cry with the families who are planning a funeral for a loved one. It’s comforting that way as well since you’re connecting with the family. She said that the worst death in her opinion are suicides because families are left to a mystery that will never be unsolved of why they killed themselves.

Richard said he thinks the worst death is cancer, since he watched his mother die from it. And the embalmer thinks all deaths are tough.

They gave us a tour of the casket and urn shopping rooms. Everybody was in awe when they touched the comforters and pillows inside the caskets. “Look how comfy they are!”

I was a little tempted to hop into one and test it out, as if I were shopping for a new mattress.

One of my classmates is a veteran, and she jumped when she saw the display room of a casket for a solider.

“Don’t be scared,” Richard reassured her. “It’s very peaceful here.”

“Not that room,” she replied. She immediately walked to the other side of the shop after that. It was too disturbing.

After taking a look at the viewing rooms (which wasn’t anything too special), the embalmer then said to us, “We usually don’t do this for classroom tours but we’re going to show you the prep room since it’s a good day to do it,”

(Good day as in, there are no booking or conducting funerals and no one has died yet).

I was quite impressed when he showed us the prep room. The mortuary I worked in was much smaller and cramped in. It was chilly enough for goosebumps to form onto your skin, like how a mortuary prep room should be.

It was plain looking lab, no bodies present. The freezer was in the room as well and one classmate asked if we could see a body but obviously, for legality and family respect’s sake, we couldn’t (I found this to be an oblivious question…I can just imagine her poking the body and scream after she realizes what it really is).

It’s obvious that people die every day and any time, but I was curious to see what these guys’ busiest hours were. In response to my question, the embalmer said between 5 and 6p.m. are usually the busiest.

Oh, here’s the best part; after the tour, the mortuary gave us free pizza and lemonade. We also got to stick around to ask more questions about the business in death, but I was enjoying the pizza a little too much.

Even though Mountain View Mortuary doesn’t offer any internships, job shadowing or volunteer work (huge bummer), it was still the best field trip I had in a while. You don’t go around often during good times in your life saying that you visited a mortuary for curiosity.

Busiest Job: College student studying journalism, writing and death.

Again, it’s been a while. Keeping up with a blog on top of writing a 10+ page report and reorganizing for the semester gets in the way sometimes.

Also, my class took a field trip to Mountain View Mortuary last Thursday and took a tour of the funeral home. The morticians were very kind and professional. I wish I had questions to ask but I didn’t since I already knew most of the process of working at one. When will I get to those stories? Hopefully quite soon. I am compiling a list of goals I want to complete within the next two months!

However, I completed and (overly) passed my Death and Dying class with a 100.40 percent. Today, I just started the semester and learned quite a few things already: I learned how to fully stalk a source (investigative reporting) and, there’s a little bit of nepotism and bias within the student publications at my university. I gained the experience of working with that was like with one of those publications, and I would like to share that experience with you and tips on how to handle it. Right now, it’s a struggle for me to write it because it was such a frustrating experience that I didn’t end on good terms with. But I’m going to be working on this and hopefully post it next week, without bashing on the people or the publication (because I really don’t believe in doing that, no matter how angry they made me).

Anyway, thanks for sticking with me through the boring parts. I think I figure out some good times when to post now that I have more breaks in my schedule. What’s also going on this week is that I will be starting my writing and reporting on Nevada State Legislature’s 77th session! I have a meeting to attend this Wednesday and a field trip for an orientation on Friday in Carson City. Possibly, a good friend of mine who recently moved might be able to come visit me this weekend.

I’m a big “sorry pants”, so here is another apology of mine for being so late with things. Now that everything is on a definite schedule, I think I’m confident to post more than I used to these last few weeks. In fact, I’ll share my experience about my field trip to the mortuary later today!

-Molly

P.S. Did you hear that February 3rd is going to be a Super Harbowl? I’m very excited, but I don’t know who to cheer for. Colin Kaepernick is just amazing and he was on my university’s football team (I didn’t really become a 49ers fan until Kaepernick took the quarterback position). I like the Baltimore Ravens because my family likes them and I think they’re really good, too. I’ll be honest, I think I’ll be happy with whoever wins. This is gonna be interesting!