Tales of an Intrepid Girl Reporter

After two years of publication, PS North Shore ceased publication with the May 1991 edition.  There was no formal announcement, but at the time, I sensed they might stop the presses for good.  At the start of the school year, payment had dropped from a nickel a word to three cents a word, and the middle and high school editions were combined into one broadsheet.  In spite of the wide distribution, the “young adult” edition still went out with a back page-long ad listing submission guidelines…and the same six bylines in every issue.  I’d tentatively spoken with a friend and fellow staff reporter about my desire to organize a benefit for the paper.  Because his family knew the publishers, he told me that this wasn’t a great idea. 


In the final issue of the paper, I’d reviewed a pair of releases by duos with local ties – the long-forgotten Just*Us, and Rykodisc recording artists John and Mary (who would later join 10,000 Maniacs).  Based on my memory of a slag at local newscaster Dixie Whatley – who never saw a show she didn’t like – I can say that my snarky streak was still intact.  I’d started branching out beyond the lyrics sheet and describing the music, and not just in terms of comparing these bands to other artists.  My interests had broadened into folk, jazz, and show tunes.  I think I sensed a sea change in music and knew that the more confrontational sounds were Not For Me. 


When I think back to the stuff I’d written about, I had some regrets.  I hadn’t landed a scoop to rival the O Positive interview from the beginning of the year.  WFNX was less than five miles from our house, and Rykodisc had opened its doors on Pickering Wharf.  Given my rejection of the status quo, you’d think I’d be interested in learning about what happens behind the scenes at my favorite radio station, or how a band goes from forming to getting signed.  Why couldn’t I pull my head out of my nethers long enough to chase down either of those stories? 


Reality usually sets in after I contemplate these things.  At the time, my mother had gone back to school and was working odd jobs to keep us afloat.  We would have had to wedge any visits to these places into not only my school schedule but also into any spare time she might have, and I’d probably have very limited time in which to get my scoop.  Further, our disastrous trip to Nightstage in Cambridge made me feel uncomfortable about asking her for a lift.  (I am incredibly proud of my mom’s degree and what she had to go through to get it.  She’s at a fabulous place in her life right now.)  Because the buses around my home were not known for their reliability, even taking public transit would have been a huge challenge.  (Plus, would you want an unaccompanied thirteen-year-old taking a city bus to the “City of Sin”?) 


At the time, the folding of PS disappointed me.  Writing for them had given me something of an income and had allowed me to experiment with writing about music and the arts.  I felt some trepidation towards submitting to Merlyn’s Pen or the newspaper that has become Teen Ink because they openly spoke of getting more submissions than they could publish, and I didn’t know if I could handle that rejection.  (I never mailed my submission package for Sassy magazine’s Reader Produced Issue for this very reason.) 


I tried to pick myself up by recognizing that I could always write for the Ledger, the weekly school newspaper.  In reality, my burning ambition and an impending move back to my mom’s hometown, combined with the hit that my confidence took at the start of adolescence, had prevented me from even searching for another outlet for my interest in writing.  But that’s another story for another time.