Being a features editor is something I’ve trained for since my undergraduate days when I was the Lifestyles editor at my college newspaper in east Tennessee. I moved to Anniston in 2006 to join the inaugural class in the University of Alabama Knight Fellows master’s program at The Star.
A quick disclaimer for the sports fans: Don’t hate me. Yes, I did attend the University of Tennessee and lived in Knoxville. No, I do not hold a degree from there — I received my under-graduate degree from East Tennessee State University, which doesn’t even have a football team. I do not bleed orange. I do bleed red, but that’s just because that’s what color my blood is. I don’t even like football.
After graduating in 2007, The Star hired me to work designing pages. I was then promoted to graphic designer — you can see my name in tiny print at the bottom of the handy maps that often run with news stories — and then entertainment editor for the Escapes section. I continued covering the local music, theater and art scene until last August, when Escapes ceased publication and was combined into the Sunday Life section, and I became deputy features editor.
Now a little bit about me personally. I’m 29 years old, married and have two children under the age of three. I live in Anniston with said family and an old Husky mutt that I’ve owned since my days in Tennessee. I’m a sewist, crafter and all-around DIY-er, as you might know from my weekly column, Make This! I also do quite a bit of cooking and baking, so you’ll likely see my name more often in the Food section.
My name is of Irish origin; Deirdre (pronounced “Dear-druh”) was a beautiful Irish girl, who, according to folklore, bashed her head against a rock until she died after her lover was murdered and she was forced to marry the man that killed him. Great story to be named after, right? Regardless of origin, it is often mispronounced and misspelled. I joke that one of the reasons I went into journalism in the first place was to ensure my name would be spelled correctly in a newspaper, because it hardly ever was while I was growing up.
The real reason I got into journalism was because my teachers all told me I was a decent writer, and once I began learning and practicing the trade, I realized how important news actually is.
We live in a region where I’ve often heard “there’s nothing to do.” But there is. On a nice sunny day, there’s nothing bad about taking a stroll down Noble Street. Pop into Nunnally’s Framing and check out what local artists are up to in the gallery there. Grab a bite to eat at the Peerless or Damn Yankees. If it’s late enough, you can catch some music too. If you have the kids, take them for a trip to Think Toys.
World-famous opera baritone Michael Chioldi performed in Anniston just two days ago. Have you ever been to an opera performance? I haven’t either, but I bet it’s an awesome experience. And I’ll likely check it out when another world-class opera singer, basso profondo KB Solomon, does his one-man musical at JSU Feb. 7.
Kids driving you crazy? Take them to the Natural History Museum. Not only do they have an entire kid-friendly room, but they have dinosaurs, lions, an elephant, a mummy and some really cool-looking rocks, among thousands of other animals and objects.
Knowing that treasures like these exist in our area is important, hence my job as features editor. I’ll let you know about the new things in town, and you, in return, go there. You become an active member of the community. When you support our community events and businesses, things can only grow and get better. Then we won’t have to hear about how there’s nothing to do, but how you’re going to fit it all into just one week.