Lara Parker: BuzzFeed staff lister extraordinaire

Indian Creek graduate Lara Parker is shown at the Los Angeles office of the popular website BuzzFeed. Parker worked at BuzzFeed as an intern and now has a job as a staff writer for the company. (Courtesy Photo)

Indian Creek graduate Lara Parker is shown at the Los Angeles office of the popular website BuzzFeed. Parker worked at BuzzFeed as an intern and now has a job as a staff writer for the company. (Courtesy Photo)

As a staff writer at BuzzFeed, Lara Parker spends her days figuring out how to make list articles—”listicles”— that will go viral. And she loves it. Just last year, though, she was a recent UIndy grad trying to figure out what she wanted to do with her life.

I was working at a PR agency at the time, and I absolutely hated it. I would spend most of my day wondering if this was what I was supposed to do for the rest of my life, and if so, how I was supposed to get through that, because I just felt like this cannot be what the real world is like.

When she started posting on BuzzFeed, Lara’s content kept getting promoted from the community page to the main homepage. Eventually, she scored an internship in L.A., at the end of which she was hired on as a staff writer. She loves working there because of the variety of things the website publishes.

We’re like the place that everyone can go to for all sorts of things. If you want to read about hard news, you can go to BuzzFeed; if you want to learn about politics, you can go to BuzzFeed; if you want to get recipes, you can go to BuzzFeed; and if you want to look at pictures of cats, you can go to BuzzFeed.

On top of the softer, 90s nostalgia lists that she loves writing, Lara wrote a bold essay about her personal health on BuzzFeed. It’s entitled “Learning To Love Life Without Sex.”

Check out my full article from The Reporter-Times about her, and the BuzzFeed itself.

 

Essay advice from Franz Kafka

When it comes to fiction, Franz Kafka is amazing. He was ahead of his time, and in some respects, is ahead of ours. However, he wasn’t that much of an essayist, according to some personal reflections in Franz Kafka: Diaries, 1910-1923.

In his journalKafka comments on some lines from Goethe, saying:

The difficulties of bringing to an end even a short essay lie not in the fact that we feel the end of the piece demands a fire which the actual content up to that point has not been able to produce out of itself, they arise from the fact that even the shortest essay demands of the author a degree of self-satisfaction and of being lost in himself out of which it is difficult to step into everyday air without great determination and an external incentive, so that, before the essay is rounded to a close and one might quietly slip away, one bolts, driven by unrest, and then the end must be completed from the outside with hands which must not only do the work but hold on as well.

Writing personal, memoir-style essays is not my thing either. It’s not that I haven’t tried it. It’s just that I always think it’s boring, that no one would want to read about my life. I feel like there’s no great, didactic point to be made of my own mundane experiences.

I feel sort of like Joaquin Phoenix on Fresh Air. In the middle of telling Terry Gross about his acting method, he stopped himself and complained:

It’s not interesting. It’s just so stupid. … If I was driving and I heard this, I’d be – I’d change the channel. … I’d be like, why – can you shut up?

 I have the same anxiety. But I’m not a movie star—or anything else important or interesting. So on the rare occasion when I sit down to write something personal or introspective, I choke. But I’m going to think about Kafka from now on and try not to bolt at the end. Instead of leaving it up to outside hands, I’ll do the work and try to keep holding on.

Lugar and Nunn speak at UIndy

Steve Inskeep, host of NPR's Morning Edition, shows a video highlighting the senators' careers and explaining the milieu in which they served.

Steve Inskeep, host of NPR’s Morning Edition, shows a video highlighting the senators’ careers and explaining the milieu in which they served. (James Figy/The Reflector)

In case you missed it, former Senators Richard Lugar and Sam Nunn spoke at the University of Indianapolis on Feb. 25. I had the privilege of talking to them, sitting in on the conversation and photographing the “Diplomacy in a Dangerous World” event. Lugar and Nunn spoke about turning nuclear weapons that were aimed at U.S. cities during the Cold War into fuel for U.S. power plants.

It is a parable of hope, Nunn said, like “beating swords into plowshares.”

Steve Inskeep, host of NPR’s Morning Edition and a Hoosier native, moderated the event. Before introducing the senators to the audience, he mirthfully noted, “These are gentlemen who are deeply respected for their intellectual ability and their commitment to their country, despite having served a long time in the United States Congress.”

You can read my full article here.