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So to write about an early morning workout group I joined them, sucking wind in the pre-dawn twilight.

March 18, 2002|BY KEVIN CLAPP

I am a doctor.

I am an actor.

I am a member of a local Mom's club.

I conduct symphonies.

I've had an MRI.

And a CT scan.

I walk and walk and walk some more to make a healthier me.

I am a chef, not only in Hagerstown, but in Waynesboro, Pa., and Martinsburg, W.Va., too.

(I feel like I'm writing a Nike commercial.)

I renovate historic homes.

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I am a caterer on the set of a major motion picture.

I wonder how many consecutive sentences I can begin with 'I.'

In seventh grade, my Skills for Adolescence teacher asked her class to say what they wanted to be when they grew up; I said I wanted to write for a magazine.

When I say I lacked the coordination to play an instrument well, or the skill to play sports at a high level, it is not to elicit sympathy.

What I could do, or at least seemed to pick up easily, was write. With big, round glasses and an unfortunate wardrobe, classmates said I certainly looked the part.

Writing wasn't glamorous, but when art projects went horribly awry, at least I could take comfort in knowing I could describe the agony.

(Picture blobs of misshapen red and blue clay crying for mercy, the lumpy figure with two heads and three arms begging to be thrown back with the clay scraps rather than being frozen for eternity in a kiln.)

Journalism allows me to live vicariously through the subjects I write about. It is a thrill among thrills.

During Little League games, I was safely tucked away from most action in right field, but when an Anne Arundel County girl served as a Bat Girl for the Baltimore Orioles a couple of years ago, I could roam foul territory while Cal Ripken Jr. took batting practice.

And everyone in the audience for my sixth-grade class' production of "A Christmas Carol" - parents excepted - would probably agree I had no future in Hollywood. But it didn't keep me from interviewing Mercersburg (Pa.) Academy grad Benicio Del Toro last year in advance of his Best Supporting Actor Oscar win for his role in "Traffic."

I like to think of my job as a full-contact sport. Do it correctly, and I'm bound to get a little dirty.

To tell the story, sometimes you've got to live the story. Experience what the subject experiences.

It's not always possible, and from time to time a story is better told without that connection.

Occasionally, though, you've got to sweat a little for your art to do it justice.

So to write about an early morning workout group I joined them, sucking wind in the pre-dawn twilight.

I study headaches.

I grow Christmas trees.

I design jewelry.

I paint furniture.

I cannot "Be like Mike," unless you mean Mike who drives an ice cream truck. That, I can do with a fudgecicle in one hand, and a strawberry shortcake in the other.

I am preparing for retirement.

I am the spouse of a woman with breast cancer.

I research stem cells today; tomorrow, who knows?

I am a storyteller, and in telling the tales there are almost always great journeys to take.

Kevin Clapp is a writer for Lifestyle. He can be reached at kevinc@herald-mail.com.

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