Brittany Levine: Living the life, from blind dates to Rollergirls

I showed up in Southeast D.C. on a Tuesday night searching for the D.C. Armory and a clan of fierce roller chicks last semester. A woman with a pair of skates strapped onto a leather purse hopped off the Metro and I followed her into a big, white building that looked so intimidating against that black sky.

But it wasn’t as intimidating as what I found inside: a large room filled with women wearing roller skates and fishnets dropping to the floor like rock stars ready for a solo. I just kept thinking these women are so badass. I was there to interview the D.C. Rollergirls – to find out what made them tick.

Each year, graduating editors are given 30 final column inches - called 30 pieces - to reflect on their time at The Hatchet. Browse all.

That night reminded me of why I love being a journalist and working on The Hatchet: I get to talk to interesting people and write about them.

One Rollergirl who was skinny as a rail told me she loved playing the sport – which requires you to sprint around a track and push people over – because it gave her a rush. It drove her to do more than she thought she ever could.

I like to think that’s why I am a reporter. I am an overachiever and get this jolt of satisfaction whenever I bite into a good story or write something with legs.

I am in a class called Washington Post Seminar and last Friday Bob Woodward came to speak to us. I interviewed him for a Hatchet story in 2007 about GW alumni who were involved in the Watergate scandal (he took a few graduate classes here). I had interviewed both him and alumnus Chuck Colson, President Nixon’s right-hand man at the time. I asked if he remembered me, and to my surprise, he said yes. And without shame, I asked him to autograph The Hatchet article. Being able to interview people like Woodward and Colson attests to what I was saying before: talking to and writing about interesting people is the best job in the world.

But sometimes, even writing the tamer stories makes me happy. One of my favorites from last year was about President Knapp getting sheep from George Washington’s flock on Mount Vernon. Leah Carliner, an editor from last year, and I wrote that story together. She went to a Mount Vernon Campus event where the two sheep, George and Noel, were welcomed by Knapp’s wife and daughter clad in sweaters they had knitted from sheep’s wool. I drove out to the real Mount Vernon to meet the other sheep and talk to some sheep experts over there. Believe it or not, but I had so much fun learning about sheep memories, how to feed baby sheep and how to shear sheep wool.

I remember Leah and I sitting in the Hatchet office thinking of a lede paragraph for that story. The whole thing just sounded so romantic to me, a boy and girl sheep running off together to another farm, another family and another life. That’s when we came up with the whole escape scene (you can read the story online for more details) and giggled our way through the rest of the article.

But it’s not all fun and games at The Hatchet. People do serious work at the G Street townhouse. Sometimes I’m amazed at how much time editors put into producing the paper twice a week. My section only comes out once a week and I often complain about how much editing I have to do and about lumbering into the office on Sundays for production day. But then I think about all the news editors and the production staff members that are there, sometimes until past 3 a.m., working hard on their computers, making sure the paper gets out. I look up to everyone who has put their heart and soul into this paper. It shows that they care and deeply believe in the product they produce twice a week.

In addition to breaking news and putting out the best product possible, there are other things The Hatchet takes very seriously – like the sex column. Finding the right sex columnist has been hard the last two years. If the person writes too much like “Sex and the City,” people complain the sex columnist is a Carrie Bradshaw wannabe. Then there was the time I really wanted a male columnist, hired one and then he plagiarized. Other people have complained that female sex columnists of the past weren’t having enough sex – or at least weren’t writing enough about it – and wrote too much about eating chips and how a boy’s tennis shoes seal the deal.

Despite all the complaints, I think we struck a good balance this year. Marshal has done a good job writing a sex column that actually teaches us something. And Alexandra deserves a lot of credit for sitting down with Eric and explaining exactly what she meant when she wrote “carnal, voracious lunch date” and talked about someone caressing her thigh in poetic metaphors that not all news editors get.

In addition to editing stories about sex, I’ve also had the pleasure of setting up dozens of lucky GW singles on blind dates. I like to think of myself as the yenta of GW – even if most of the dates aren’t successful. Although I’ve only heard of two couples seriously dating after being on a Hatchet blind date, I would like to say that most daters score above average grades on those dates. Whether those grades are inflated, that’s not my problem.

So, here’s to all those daters who put themselves out there. I’d also like to thank Leah for our 2007 fun and the good times in the pod at WPNI together. And Katie Rooney, my first Hatchet editor who hired me as features editor in 2006, deserves some praise, too. Thanks to Nick and Alex E. for making that award-winning Rollergirls slideshow. A shout out goes to Ryder for helping me put together my first multimedia piece. I’d also like to thank Max, Miranda and all my Life writers this year. I feel like you’ve become a close group and I hope the section stays as tight knit next year.

Also, Laura Treanor deserves a special place in here. When she passed, The Hatchet lost one of its most talented Life writers. She was my contributing editor and a friend and was so helpful to me last semester.

Additionally, I need to thank my parents for not bugging me to be anything else other than a journalist and all my friends who put up with my Hatchet nonsense – ASK, Em, Jenny and K, especially.

I think the Life section has so much potential and I hope that everyone involved in the section keeps up the good work. Also, since I have 30 inches, I have to put a plug in for a Life multimedia package coming out soon: Go to www.gwhatchet.com on April 27 to check it out! -30

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