I always thought I would forever agree with Joey Ramone’s lyrical philosophy of “It’s not my time in the nine to five world,” but after my recent experience interning at the L.A. Times, I’ve discovered that the supposed “dull routine” isn’t really dull nor routine. What I’m trying to say is; I genuinely enjoyed my time in the working adult world and held on to every last moment of it. Here’s proof: I’m going on vacation to Hawaii this week and I’m already missing my cubicle.
As I’m rereading those beginning sentences, I’m realizing how depressing that might sound, but the truth is; to wake up early every morning, button up a collared shirt, and hop on the 405 is extremely liberating and exhilarating for a 16-year-old.
Week one: an exciting time of introduction
My first day mainly consisted of being assigned a cubicle space and preparing for my first story assignment. At the end of the day, I walked to The Last Bookstore with another one of the interns, Chloe. I feel like I’m already making friends and getting comfortable in L.A. – a good sign.
It’s the end of the week and I’ve done everything from interviewing a woodworking artist to spilling coffee on my white shirt. I still don’t know quite what to expect in the coming weeks, but I have both high hopes and anxieties.
Week two: a slightly less exciting time of adaptation
I’d like to think I’m getting a hang of this, but I don’t know if that’s even remotely near the truth. Sitting with a coworker in a confined, quiet space and editing video footage for hours on end is definitely the best way to get to know someone. Cutting out an interviewee’s “um”s and “uh”s can easily drive someone to that “I’m-so-stressed-out-and-I-can’t-stop-giggling” mood, resulting in receiving dirty looks from adults whom are actually working, but… whatever?
Week three: How did I get lucky to end up here anyways?
I’m sincerely enjoying every minute I spend here and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I leave for work at around 7 AM, get home at around 7 PM, fall dead asleep, then repeat. It feels good to be busy, and being home so little causes my family to miss me and be extra kind to me when they do see me. This is definitely a plus. I realize how lucky I am to be at the Times every day and I can’t stop showing it off to my friends.
Week four: Now I know why adults are exhausted.
This must be what drugs feel like. I’m experiencing a contradictory feeling of exhaustion, overwhelmingness, and surreal euphoria. Sitting in a cubicle and editing interview clips for hours can take a toll on a person’s sanity, but while I do enjoy it, the commute home is what’s making my hair fall out. Sitting in rush hour traffic in Los Angeles (actually the worst in the world) every day has induced mood swings that range from thrilled when the Yeah Yeah Yeahs come on the radio to crying behind the wheel when I’ve been in the car for an hour and half and I just want to be asleep in my bed (keep in mind it’s probably not safe to have tear-filled blurry vision when you’re doing 80 on the 710).
Week five: experiencing life through the camera lens
I think I’m actually finally getting the hang of decent video editing, I barely get anxious before conducting interviews anymore, I’m now friends with all the other interns, I’ve figured out the quickest routes home, and I’ve found where the cheapest gas stations are. I feel on top of the world when I tell my friends and family where I’ve been interning all summer and I feel like I’m on a cloud when I can tell that they are proud of me. For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m in charge of my future and I can see the brightness it holds. On top of all that, the late nights running around L.A. armed with a camera and a tripod have induced sincere feelings of content with my life.
Week six: edge of seventeen and concluding chapters
I turned 17 this week and it was the best birthday I’ve ever had. About ten minutes after I sat down at my desk, I heard a crescendo of multiple voices singing “happy birthday.” It sounded distant and my first thought was, “Oh, it’s somebody else’s birthday too?” Then I turned around to find my boss, Kyle, and two of the other interns, Chloe and Tessa, walking towards me with a white box filled with donuts. Just a few hours later, I received flowers delivered to my desk from my family. I felt so spoiled and like I didn’t deserve any of it at all. Before I knew it, my face ached from smiling so excessively.
On my last day, I felt an overwhelming need to get as much done in one day and tried to absorb my surroundings as much as possible for the last time. As a result of this final day, I now have very fond memories of visiting the vacant top floor of the building and witnessing Kyle’s first time drinking horchata (he said it was okay). As soon as I finished everything I needed to do, I hugged everyone goodbye, walked into the elevator, and started tearing up. I felt like this was the end of the thickest chapter of my life. But then I remembered that I wrote this chapter on my own and there are so many more to be written. I just have to keep writing.