I wrote several entertainment articles for FlipSide after that, including one where I interviewed a member of the band Switchfoot. Another time, I got press passes to a big car show in Bristol, Tenn., for my dad and me.
It was enough to turn me into an addict. I liked the privileges of being "the press." I liked talking to interesting people about interesting things, crafting a story from my notes and seeing the fruit of my labor on newsprint.
Soon, I could not see myself as a computer programmer. Marina further sealed my fate when she gave me a reporter's notebook. It made me feel like a real newspaperman, even if I wasn't yet.
Now I have all kinds of those slim manila notepads. I have six or seven on my desk, another half dozen in it, a couple in my backpack, a couple more in my car and one or two on my kitchen table. I think there might be one on top of my refrigerator.
In August 2009, the fine folks at the Charleston Daily Mail hired me as their education reporter. I talk to interesting people about interesting things every day. It buys my groceries.
I never broke any news as a FlipSider. I never brought any overlooked issue to light, never caused any controversies. But my silly little entertainment articles - written in the precocious language of a teenager who thought he could write, lovingly reworked by solid editors who knew better - were enough to get my feet wet.
Thanks Marina. Thanks Amy.
Zack Harold graduated from Sherman High School in 2005. He is the education reporter for the Charleston Daily Mail.