Graphic welcomes summer intern
Most newspaper articles don’t open in the first person, but I’ve been tasked with introducing myself to the Lake Mills Graphic readership, so I’m going to break from convention and steal a minute of your time. My name’s Conrad Bascom. I’m a 25-year-old Waldorf University student, aspiring film director, sometimes-songwriter, and the Graphic’s new intern. If you’ll permit it, I’ll spend the next few paragraphs filling you in on my past quarter century.
I was born to a recently ordained seminarian and a youthful travel writer in an airplane hangar-sized hospital somewhere on the north side of Chicago, on the eve of President Clinton’s inaugural inauguration. My mother was numb from an epidural and the adrenaline. Lake Michigan was living up to its mantle—frigid and unforgiving. That night was one of only two times that my father ever engaged in that timeless American ritual where the new father and his best buds smoke cigars, as the doctors snip the umbilical. I was pink and screaming.
For the next few days, the nurses would coo and call me “Mr. President” as they wheeled me through the maternity ward to those routine baby check-ups. I blame that early nickname for planting the germ of what became an almost terminally-inflated ego. My parents loved me fiercely. My grandparents’ googly-eyed faces swam over the hospital crib. For a little time, all was peaceful in my life.
Then came growing pains; a near-death experience due to feeding difficulties; diapers; baby steps; a deluge of glottal stops and hiccups; crib climbing; Tonka tow trucks; Lincoln logs; bedtime stories; and a little house on the prairie in Keats, Kansas. My mother’s belly began to bulge from the exponential growth of my baby brother—and that was how I came to be relocated for the third time in so many years. My parents, the baby, and I moved into a banana-yellow, single story in Manhattan, Kansas, and my childhood began in earnest.
We’ll gloss over some of these formative years with another litany of reminiscences: I became best friends with the kid next door; a treehouse was erected in the front yard; a zipline was strung from the window to the mulberry tree; we waged war with sprinklers against the wasp colony in the lumber retaining wall; I taped the Jack of Hearts between the spokes of my bike; my brother grew big enough to tag along on our daily excursions; we marauded with slingshots and excavated sunken piggy banks in the strip of trees behind our home; in short, most of my early childhood was idyllic.
Years went by, and my family relocated yet again, this time to postindustrial Newton, Iowa. I grew longer, lankier, and a little longer in the tooth. I fell in with another neighborhood gang and we scavenged for dirty magazines in the abandoned meth-den down the street. I inherited my parents’ passion for story, poetry, and the written word—in sixth grade, I was routinely reprimanded for working on my Tolkien-esque “novel” during class time. I endured a few of those formative traumas that have that way of defining things.
When it came time to enter high school, our family emigrated to the “Big City” of Des Moines. I became a thrall of my new high school’s theater department and began to investigate the burgeoning local music scene, desperate to perform my own songs. There were successes, missteps, misadventures, awkwardness, love, and betrayal. My songs and performances grew louder and more self-assured. In the blink of an eye, the band broke up and I was off to an expensive college in New York City.
I spent a little while as a wayward youth, bouncing back and forth between college in New York City and aimlessness in Des Moines. I was insistent about songwriting, certain that a career performing my own music was written in the stars. After a few half-hearted semesters in the city, I finally decided it was time to fully commit to making music. I left collegiate life and embarked on a few ill-fated tours around the country, leading what I envisioned as a wild peripatetic life. But economic realities soon set in, and so I began to work as a bartender when home in Des Moines. My early 20s disappeared in the blink of an eye and down the bottom of a tumbler.
After nearly four years tending bar, I realized that I lacked the personal fulfillment I desired from life and decided it was time to resume my education. My parents welcomed me into their home in Forest City. I enrolled in the fall semester of 2017 at Waldorf, and hunkered down, ready to knock out a degree. That September, I met a lovely international student from Turkmenistan, while attending one of Heather Yeoman’s yoga sessions by the Waldorf pond, and she and I began dating.
I’ve been grateful for the opportunity to resume my education and for the myriad ways the Waldorf U. community has enriched my life. This summer, I’m excited to assume my duties at the Lake Mills Graphic and try to prove my mettle as a journalist. I hope to provide an essential service to you and the community.