Who are you? Mary Poletti, Northeast Missouri regional reporter at the Herald-Whig, born the day after Ronald Reagan beat out Walter Mondale for a second term in the White House.
Tell us about yourself. I’ve been at the Herald-Whig since June 2010 and since about two weeks after I received my master’s degree in journalism from Mizzou (old Missouri, fair Missouri, may thy fame forever last). I also have a bachelor’s degree from Westminster College, a favorite among Quincyans when I was there. In between, I’ve written for the Columbia Missourian, the Jefferson City (Mo.) News Tribune and the Madison County (Ill.) Suburban Journals, along with other adventures in communications. I grew up in Belleville, Ill., and after spending most of my adult life to date in central Missouri, I find it really nice to live somewhere where people have actually heard of my hometown.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be … a newspaper reporter. How ’bout that?
What would you rather be doing right now? Sitting in Busch Stadium on a sunny spring afternoon.
Shhhhhh! Don’t tell anyone that … I volunteered as a racetrack chaplain at Gateway in the summer of 2007 as a favor to my best friend from high school, whose dad runs a network of racetrack chaplains. Stevie Dirt would never let me hear the end of it.
What was your proudest moment? Graduating from Mizzou with my master’s degree. When I walked out onto the floor at Mizzou Arena, in full regalia, surrounded by friends, with loud cheers and the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” in the air, and caught sight of my family and my significant other grinning at me from the audience, my little heart was full almost to bursting.
It really stinks when … people don’t take responsibility for their actions.
I always laugh when … my sister and I trade stupid movie quotes via text message. Our personalities are as different as night and day, but we share the same goofy sense of humor.
Invite any three people, living or dead, to dinner. Who are they? The venerable White House reporter Helen Thomas, who’s my personal hero and was an inspiration to stick with newspaper journalism when my interests meandered in college; the humorist and radio host Garrison Keillor, who strikes me as an incredibly interesting and learned but patently down-to-earth guy (besides which I could listen to him talk all day); and my Grandpa Cepicky, a longtime newspaper typesetter and all-around great guy who died several years before I was born and whom I wish with all my heart I could have met.
At the end of a really long day at work, I like to … cook an interesting meal and then share it with someone I love while talking about life.
People who knew me in high school thought I was … an epic dork, which is still true but which I relish much more than I used to.
My most unforgettable brush with greatness was … fairly recent, as a matter of fact. I met Prince Albert II of Monaco (Grace Kelly’s son) during a completely random visit to Hannibal in early August 2010. He had no accent, looked exactly like my Uncle Rich and in general was startlingly normal. How many chances do you get to interview a member of a royal family on a Monday afternoon in Northeast Missouri?
I would drop all my plans tonight if I had the chance to … sit behind home plate at a Cardinals game.
If someone gave me a million dollars, there is STILL no way I would … quit my job. I’m doing exactly what I wanted to do with my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
America should be more concerned about … the financial state of the news media. Not that I think we should be bailed out or anything like that, but people don’t seem all that concerned that in many cases, their local paper could very well close up shop tomorrow or next week.
I’m OK if there’s ever a national shortage of … stationery, perfume and vintage Peanuts anthologies.
What is the most useful piece of advice you have ever received? “Never put your finger near an interview subject,” courtesy of one Don Crim after I was bitten by a hamster (long story). On a more serious note, I was advised once upon a time to cherish every moment with the people I love, and I hope I’ve taken it to heart.
When I’m cruising down the road, I’m likely listening to … classic rock, NPR or random indie rock courtesy of my iPod.
I always get sentimental when … I hear the national anthem.
The older I get, the more I realize … I’m quite happily turning into my mother.
If I had one “do-over,” I would … have let my grandmother pay for piano or guitar lessons for me when I was 9, instead of bellyaching about it until she agreed to drop the subject. I’m still the only member of my immediate family who’s never been able to play a musical instrument.
My favorite item of clothing is … a black V-neck sweater from H&M (a cheapo European clothing store that migrated to the U.S. some years ago). I paid about $15 for it three years ago and wear it at least once a week when the weather’s not dripping hot.
If I’ve learned anything at all … it’s that everything works out precisely as it’s meant to.