Siner Says

A blog about journalism, food, shoes and other random thoughts — essentially, a way to casually exercise my writing muscles. If you’re looking for my actual radio work, see my on-air portfolio.

The fleeting beauty of French macarons

Très fragile

I took this picture about two minutes after I bought them in 2012. Très fragile.

Yesterday, I bought a macaron from a stall at the Nashville Farmers’ Market. It was tiny and fancy, dyed pastel peach and filled with orange confit. I held it firmly between my thumb and forefinger as I walked away — too firmly, it turned out, because I ended up crushing the delicate flat top of the cookie under my thumb.

It was no loss. It tasted the same, although maybe slightly less smooth under the roof of my mouth. But it reminded me of a conversation I had with my favorite macaron vendor at a market in France on my last weekend there.Read More »The fleeting beauty of French macarons

On Hemingway

Hemingway's favorite? Photo by Claire via Flickr

Hemingway’s favorite? Photo by Claire via Flickr

Despite the fact that Ernest Hemingway was a depressed alcoholic who cheated on multiple wives, his writing has always thrilled me, ever since the first time I read “The Sun Also Rises” in college. He was originally a newspaper reporter, which you can tell from the extreme simplicity of his writing. But what I loved most was his ability to cut to the core of complex human emotions. He was especially good, perhaps unsurprisingly, at writing about angst.

Last October, I started reading his memoir about living in Paris, “A Moveable Feast,” and it resonated with me so deeply that I began to write a blog post about it. I never finished the blog post, probably because I finished the book first and became kind of disillusioned with him — he is, after all, a depressed alcoholic who cheats on his wife — but still, parts of it were pretty profound to me. Especially this part, where he’s sitting inside a Parisian café on a rainy day, writing a story and staring out the window.Read More »On Hemingway

What’s My Age Again?

I’m about to tell you something really personal. I’m going to put it out on the internet for anyone searching for me to see.

My age.

Celebrating one of the birthdays in my third decade.

Celebrating one of the birthdays in my third decade.

I used to think it was small-minded and coy when women refused to say their age. Perhaps it was because my parents had me in their 40s. I learned early that, for many people, age has very little bearing on life events or personality traits or health. Even now, I can barely guess which decade my coworkers are in.

And why were only women ashamed of their ages? It seemed to me that by not admitting their age, they were perpetuating the myth that women lose value as they get older, while men hold on to their worth. Say your age and be proud, ladies!

But this past year, I realized that there’s an age-shaming culture apart from women being too old — which is women being too young.Read More »What’s My Age Again?

Taking ‘fluffy’ journalism seriously

A radiation therapist takes down a mask from the wall. It will be snapped down over a cancer patient's head. That's serious stuff, right? Photo by Emily Siner

A radiation therapist takes down a mask from the wall. It will be snapped down over a cancer patient’s head to zap their tumor. That’s serious stuff, right? Photo by Emily Siner

A few weeks ago, I had a long drive back to Nashville on a Sunday afternoon and was, of course, listening to public radio. Somewhere between St. Louis and Kentucky, Krista Tippett, the host of On Being, was interviewing Michel Martin, an NPR radio personality and host of the now-defunct Tell Me More.

Ms. Tippett: One of the things you’ve done in your journalism at NPR and certainly on Tell Me More is to say that faith and family are huge topics at the center of your journalism. And I wonder, um, how you respond to the — because, you know, I think in journalism these are considered to be soft, and subjective, and…

Ms. Martin: Girly.

That word struck a deep nerve. Because, I realized, that’s what I thought about those topics, too. And the person who suffered most from that mentality was me.

Read More »Taking ‘fluffy’ journalism seriously

A Long Hiatus + Thoughts From Yesteryear

The gardens at Cheekwood inspire the kind of wisdom that I describe in this blog post.

The gardens at Cheekwood in Nashville inspire the kind of deep thoughts that I describe in this blog post.

I have not published anything here in a long time, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about it frequently. I publish half-written blog posts in my head a lot, although no one else can access those. For those of you wanting to follow my life here in Nashville (hi, Mom!), I promise to write about that more. But for now, I’m going to include one of the half-baked, potential blog posts that I wrote a few weeks ago without publishing, which I am now resurrecting, dusting off and presenting here for your enjoyment.Read More »A Long Hiatus + Thoughts From Yesteryear

Wandering Part II

If I stayed in my house instead of wandering, I wouldn't have found Printers Alley hidden in downtown Nashville. If I already knew about it, I wouldn't have thought it was so cool. But I didn't, so I did. © Emily Siner 2014

If I stayed in my house instead of wandering, I wouldn’t have found Printers Alley hidden in downtown Nashville. If I already knew about it, I wouldn’t have thought it was so cool. But I didn’t, so I did. © Emily Siner 2014

A little over two years ago, just a few months after I decided it would be a good idea to start blogging about my life, I wrote about how I constantly got lost in the twisty medieval streets of Aix-en-Provence. Except I wasn’t really lost, I wrote, because I would always end up where I needed to go eventually. I was just wandering.

I’ve wandered a lot in the two years since then. I left France and went to Washington, then to Los Angeles, then to Washington again, then to Nashville. With each move, I find myself exploring unfamiliar roads, looking for landmarks and struggling to draw a mental map (except now I have an iPhone, which takes some of the paralyzing “where-the-heck-am-I-now” feeling out of most excursions). But I’m realizing that there’s a second component to what I described in Aix. It’s not just the exploring that makes wandering so distinctive; it’s also the fact that I’m doing it alone.Read More »Wandering Part II

9 ways to be the best journalism intern ever

By internship #6 (NPR), I fortunately got the hang of being an intern.

By internship #6 (NPR), I fortunately got the hang of being an intern.

I don’t pretend to be an expert in many areas, but when it comes to being a journalism intern, I feel pretty qualified to give advice. During my tenure in the field, as a college student and young professional, I’ve had a whopping six internships* — the last of which turned into a full-time job, thankfully marking the end of my career as a professional intern. Time for some health insurance!

Although graduating to employee status gave me all sorts of nice feelings, being an intern was not unpleasant. It allowed me to sample different kinds of jobs in different kinds of newsrooms, with low commitment and, often, high reward. But having a successful internship is more than luck — it’s an active process that depends on how much you, the intern, work toward making it successful. You don’t need to be the most talented, most driven, most charismatic journalist to get the most out of your internship (although some amount of talent, drive and personality are helpful).

What it really boils down to is three things.Read More »9 ways to be the best journalism intern ever