On the fourth floor of the IUPUI Riverwalk Apartments, on a red couch bathed in early evening sunlight, "Hamilton" star Leslie Odom Jr. and I talked Tickle Me Elmo.
Never mind that the couch where we chatted rested on a beige carpet that looked like it’d got the worse end of its last 10 battles with the vacuum cleaner, that the ceiling above us was dotted with water blob stains, or that we were 2,000 miles apart.
He could tell none of that from the other end of the phone I cradled against my ear. For all he knew, I was talking to him from my private studio office at Indianapolis Monthly, equipped with a minibar, hot tub, and private concierge.
Okay, he probably didn’t think that. But he also didn’t know I was interviewing him curled up on a couch in my college dorm room.
That particular piece of furniture, which I’d come to refer to as my “celebrity couch” after also interviewing "Garfield" creator Jim Davis and Bloomington-born violinist Joshua Bell on it over the next few months, was my ticket to covering the Rose Bowl in January for the IUPUI Sports Capital Journalism Program and landing a summer fellowship with the Indianapolis Star.
Okay, not *literally* the couch itself. But the writing I produced on it played a pretty big role in launching my journalistic career.
Over my four years at IUPUI, I had the chance to cover stories about people, events, and organizations that, though not internationally known, were just as big a deal to me as the Odom Jr. interview.
A single mom raising her newborn son in an IUPUI apartment down the street while working toward a master’s degree.
Over my four years at IUPUI, I had the chance to cover stories about people, events, and organizations that, though not internationally known, were just as big a deal to me as the (Leslie) Odom Jr. interview.Sarah Bahr, Class of 2018 and 2020
A young man who overcame depression, death, and poverty to become a first-generation college graduate.
A young woman facing discouragement and discrimination en route to becoming the first hijabi journalist on commercial TV.
I could go on — and did, writing nearly 100 stories for Indianapolis Monthly, The Indianapolis Star, Forbes Travel Guide, Hektoen International, the IUPUI Sports Capital Journalism Program, and the Campus Citizen. I covered the Rose Bowl and Rose Parade in California; reviewed an Indianapolis hotel for Forbes Travel Guide; covered the Indianapolis 500; covered Pacers, Fever, and Fuel games; got to write a feature story for a major magazine; and reviewed a Paramore concert for The Indianapolis Star.
It’s impossible to choose one — or even 10 — favorite memories from the past four years, and I’ve been cycling through the beginnings of dozens of stories I’d love to retell that make me smile.
So, without further ado, here’s my solution. Here are my 10 favorite opening lines to stories I’ve written about IUPUI people, places, or events, or for IUPUI publications, over the past four years (in no particular order):
- "Loghan Pickett’s first memory is from when she was 17."
- "It is a truth universally acknowledged that lobster rolls taste better when consumed at sunset on the Malibu coast."
- "The dirty-blonde, shaggy-haired rocker lounging at the front of the room shot Ringo Starr, Steven Tyler, and Paul McCartney."
- "What’s the first item on a 242-pound man’s to-do list when he’s dropped in the middle of an 8-year-old girl’s princess-packed paradise?"
- "If you stuck your nose into a cupboard-under-the-stairs-sized closet with all the world’s flower shops crowded inside, then inhaled for a solid 60 seconds, you’d have a pretty good idea of what Pasadena’s Tournament of Roses Parade smells like."
- "The gangly 16-year-old redhead staggered down the driveway, his shoulders bowed under the weight of a heaping pile of clothes."
- "The grand piano sits at the center of 40 speakers, in the middle of a forest of oversized suction cups."
- "They traveled to IUPUI under the cover of darkness; their names, their faces, even their gender all mysteries."
- "In one hour, he talked about Pokémon. And Stephen King. And Nazi experimentation during the Holocaust."
- "Last Saturday night, under the soft glow of hazy purple lights in a basement deep below the main stage of Old National Centre, Indianapolis-based sister duo Lily and Madeleine Jurkiewicz rocked my world."
But my favorite of all?
“I’ll be back for two more years.”
I start grad school at IUPUI in the fall. MA in English, here I come.
Story courtesy of:
Class of 2018 and 2020