Wham! Pow! Zing!

As the newest staff writer at Lillie Suburban Newspapers, I thought I’d take a little time to introduce myself.

I’ll start out by trying to explain why I decided to become a journalist. I’d like to say it’s something I had always dreamed about ever since I was a young lad growing up in central Nebraska. But that’s not the truth.

The fact of the matter is that for years I harbored secret ambitions of becoming a superhero.

Yes, I admit that lots of little boys undoubtedly want to crawl up skyscrapers like Spiderman, fly at the speed of sound like Superman or beat the living tar out someone like Wolverine.

But I was different. I thought I might actually join their ranks some day.

My friends and I always used to imagine that we were the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or the X-Men or the Fantastic Four. However, they were all just pretending. For me, it was training.

I had especially high regard for Batman, who is unique in that he doesn’t have a single super power. If anyone could have been my role model, it was him. He was real, or at least possible.

Superman, on the other hand, I resented. It’s way too easy to fight evil and save damsels in distress when you’re practically invincible. Nobody likes a guy who always wins.

You may be starting to think that living in Nebraska must be so boring that there’s nothing else to do but dream up far-fetched adventures. There is an element of truth to that.

When I came to Minnesota to attend school at Macalester College, for example, I was pleasantly surprised that a state could actually have some trees in it. And hills. I had never known there could be more to life than cows and cornfields.

Before leaving Nebraska, I did read other literature (perhaps more critically acclaimed than my comic books), adding Robin Hood, Huckleberry Finn, Bilbo Baggins and their ilk to my list of heroes. As I got older, Mike Royko, Hunter S. Thompson, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein also made the cut.

Still hoping to be a superhero, but finding that I couldn’t major in it, I decided to study linguistics at Macalester. I couldn’t major in journalism there either, but I suppose I still learned something worthwhile.

After my freshman year, I began writing for the college newspaper, and during my junior year I submitted a feature piece to a major Twin Cities daily. Last summer I wrote full-time as an intern at the Kearney Hub back in Nebraska, writing features and covering hard news.

I also took several years of Spanish classes, culminating in a study abroad trip to Cuba in the spring of my junior year. It was an incredible but challenging experience, and I came to love the natural beauty and the vibrant culture of the small Caribbean nation.

This past May I graduated from Macalester, and now, here I am, a staff writer covering Oakdale, North St. Paul and Maplewood.

My first foray into the area was on a bike trip along the Gateway Trail on a beautiful fall afternoon nearly two years ago. As a friend and I passed through North St. Paul, we followed the sound of music to a free outdoor concert right on Seventh Avenue. We rode on to see what is apparently the world’s largest snowman before riding back along the tree-lined trail. I hope to ride it again as soon as I get a chance.

I guess I’m not quite sure where exactly my career plans changed. Sometimes I think that being a journalist is really not that different from being a superhero. You know, fighting corruption and saving humanity and all that. And it’s the best I can do given my woeful lack of super powers.

And when it comes down to it, even Batman, my role model, inherited loads of money from his parents to pay for the Batmobile and his vast array of crime-fighting gadgets. Sadly, my paycheck as a newspaper reporter probably won’t cut it.

So maybe I gave up the superhero dream because I got older. Maybe I just moved on. Or maybe the real reason why I want to be a journalist is that it’s the one way I can be like Superman ... or Clark Kent, anyway.

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