I’ve lost my pace, and I’ve lost my focus. My life story is nearing a point where I can’t say much more. Clearly it isn’t over. But it is easier to write about things years ago. And I’m not sure what else to write. I’ve been working, and eating, watching Netflix and working out with a friend. Then it is time for bed. Like right now, it is time for bed and I should already be sleeping. Then I think tomorrow. But I think tomorrow again and again. And it is always today. Maybe tomorrow.
I remember the first room,
It was small,
But I made it with my own hands,
and it wasn’t strong,
but it was the best I could do.
Then I made a second room for family,
it was two rooms,
with one door between.
And then there was a porch,
a sidewalk and a door.
An entrance for me to see the world.
A door for the world to come see me.
So then I made a room for friends,
A place to bond with others.
A kitchen to feed myself,
And a bathroom.
I built a lot of rooms for living in,
and rooms to work in,
rooms for playing and rooms for sleep.
A living room, a game room, a den, a closet.
And more rooms for more family,
more rooms for more friends.
And then there was a room for a wife,
and rooms for children.
It didn’t seem long before I needed rooms
There were so many rooms,
I couldn’t clean them all.
So I got some help.
Overtime many rooms were never used.
There was dusty rooms,
at the end of long hallways.
Some rooms I’d like to forget.
But there was a light in each room,
and the lights were always on in the house.
I thought this heart would last forever,
the lights go on shining.
I would go on building,
and the music would go on playing.
Beat beat beat beat.
But one day someone turned off the lights,
and just like that,
It was just another empty shell.
I’d love to accept the job you are offering. I see your newspaper is located in an idyllic small town. You are looking for a editor. But also a reporter. Someone who can be a photographer. And in simple terms, someone to do it all. I am able to fill all these roles. And would be thrilled by the challenge.
You see I love news. But more than this, I love local news. Being a part of a small community means a lot to me. I grew up in a small town. And my heart feels at home in small towns. Where the people and their government are close. Where the paper becomes a voice in the debates. Where we can help people to make better choices. And to better understand their options.
I’ve worked and lived in small towns in Nebraska, California and Colorado. And I know I would love your town. I can send you clips from previous news jobs. They show my strong news skills. I have shown an ability to tell all sides in a fair way. And can talk to many people. I am a strong reporter. A good photographer. And able in many other areas.
But, and this is a big problem. While I dream of writing in a small town. And I dream of living in a small town. What I don’t dream about is being poor. And sadly your wages are poverty level. It is a sad state news is in today. And I know you may want to offer more income. And maybe you can’t. But I can’t imagine leaving a solid job in retail. Just to take up life in a small town, and be poor.
I can be and am poor where I am now. But this job, while not my dream, is secure. How can anyone dream of accepting a job. When they know full well it will barely cover the basics. The rents appear to be around a third of the offered wages. I’m sorry, but I’d love to work for you. But I also would love to be able to afford a decent place to live. To be able to afford more than the basics of life. Nothing rich, but enough to not be strung from pay-check to pay-check.
So, good luck finding your next hire. Because until you offer more money. It isn’t going to be me. I wish it could be different for us both.
I left North Platte in a dark mood. I didn’t have friends to leave. But it was still a lonely move. I drove down first for the interview. And I met my new boss.
In Lubbock I stayed in the hotel. During the visit I met my editor. And the editor-in-chief. They were friendly. And it felt like it was a good move for me. Like it was the right move for me. Before coming back I called about a place to live. And met a nice woman about an apartment. It was a two bedroom in duplex. The unit was old and run down. But it was cheap.
Driving back to Nebraska I went through Colorado. It was out of the way. But my main goal was my storage unit in Wyoming. And I love Colorado. In Wyoming I had to wait for the storage office to open. I’d had the unit so long I’d lost the key. But there was a key in the office. Because past me knew the way future me would keep track of keys.
All my things were stuffed in my car. My poor cat could barely move for hours. It wasn’t a long drive. But much longer than I would have liked to have been trapped without a bathroom. But my poor kitty was good. Getting into Lubbock it was late. I went into the empty apartment and slept on the cold hard floor with my kitty.
But soon I found a place to get a mattress. And the next day I was moved into our new home. It was big, too big for me alone. But for the time being it worked for me. The job started soon after I got to town. My job was going to be working the night shift. The hours were never really the problem.
It had been a while since I did real reporting. And I had some doubts of myself. But within a few days I was running again. A couple of the first stories were a fire and an traffic accident. They were not major stories, but I had the night cop and fire beat. In some ways it was a boring job. I spent hours waiting and listening for something on the radio. And then it would happen and I would have to figure out what and where.
I also had a blog hosted on the newspaper site. I remember early on having a hard period. Depression was deep and dark for me as winter started. I was alone in a town which I didn’t know. And no one got me. It was the same as Nebraska. But I felt even more alone. Because I didn’t have Sage. The relationship with my editor started good. But went wrong at some point. I didn’t have a friend at work.
There were two main problems with the job itself over time. One was the stories were not important. And I know news value is so fluid. But I went to so many stories with so little value. A traffic accident with no injuries. The news editor wanted anything the TV news station covered. One time they had a story about a pedestrian getting hit by a car. I hadn’t been on when it happened. When I did follow-up it turned out the pedestrian wasn’t badly hurt. Though an ambulance was called, it wasn’t needed.
There were a few bad accidents. And a few times I joined other news crews covering events. One night I got to an accident scene before most the police. And before the rest of the media. I got there soon enough to be on the inside of the yellow tape. It was a bad accident: someone died. Just one of a couple accidents on a bad night. Another time I was listening to the radio about a shooting. I went to the area and waited in my car. But then I realized I was sitting across the street from the house. I moved.
But I have never cared about fender-benders. These are stories for the radio and maybe TV news. Because those are the instant mediums. Yes, we could and did post online. But few people stuck in traffic will think to read the newspaper website. Even after they’ve gotten home, the instinct is to turn on the TV. And the next day in the paper, few people even care.
The other problem was no one would talk to me. It was hard to obtain the basic information for a story. On the scene the officers who could give me information avoided me at times. One night I spent a long time waiting for someone to give me information. The person came and left and it was only when I asked much later did they tell me. I felt like I was wasting my time, talents and energy. I wasn’t happy with the job and my bosses weren’t happy with my performance. I was later told I was almost fired.
But I was moved to a different spot in the paper. I lost some pay because of the move. But I kept my job. The best part of this job was it was covering small towns. As a journalist I have always loved the idea of covering small town news. The hard part was the driving. Though the paper covered my mileage. This money came with my paycheck. One week I had to tell my news editor I could only cover one event in person. She wasn’t happy. She pointed out I would get paid for the mileage. But I told her it wouldn’t help my current shortage. But I did some great stories.
One was about a company laying off workers. It was a large employer in a small town. Another was about the Lesser Prairie Chicken. And one about a judge who had died. I still love local news. It is what I miss the most. The small businesses. The firehouses and schools. Another story was about a sign. One school district had put up a huge sign. In the middle of the neighboring district.
At the core of the issue was school choice. Parents could take their kids to any school. But where the kids went, so did funding. The sign was put up by a small district. The district the sign was placed it felt it was an ad. An attempt to pull money from their schools. In Nebraska this was also an issue. One school would send buses to the boundary of the other. Where the kids go, so does the money.
Towards the end I got a roommate. I had hoped it would help me. She was an artist. And she was a good person. But also a bit crazy. One day she broke into the apartment. She was next door when I came and went. I had locked her out by mistake. And didn’t understand I was coming to open the door. But it was a lot of issues. At one point she accused me of working for the police.
At the end I couldn’t think of a good reason to stay. My job sucked. There had been a meeting with my boss not long before. The office environment was loud. It was a space hard to heat and cool. This meant in the summer they would place large fans in the office. It created a noise which drove me insane.
During the winter it was too cold. There was a no hat policy in the office. But, it also applied to scarfs. I’ve never been a person to call in to work. I would rather be at work and making money. Even if I have sick time, which I did at this job. But it got to the point where I would wake up in the morning. I would look at my phone. If it was too cold I would just call in to work: I’m not coming in.
One of the last stories I did was meeting the secretary of agriculture. He was visiting a small farmer and I was invited to go along. I was the only reporter invited. But I couldn’t drive myself. If I went, I would have to ride with staffers of the secretary. I thought I had made this clear. But my editor called me and tried to get me to return to the office. I explained I couldn’t. She wasn’t happy. But I think I was giving up at this time. And I didn’t care.
The office itself was in turmoil. The News Editor which hired me left, with one of the executive editors. Several of the reporters had left thier jobs. The new News Editor was leaving soon before I gave my notice. It was a dramatic change in the office. One like I have never known. The fill-in News Editor was a person with whom I didn’t get along.
And then I went to Roswell. I guess the trip was more than just taking a break from town. More than getting away. I knew my time in Texas was getting short. And I wanted to visit the famous UFO town since it was so close. It was an amazing trip. I met a strange girl who had been living at Walmart. She was young.
One morning I met her at the store. She was with a guy. We walked across to the mall. And then the two of them went to his place. Later I saw her downtown, she came and sat next to me. “Can you get pregnant by swallowing,” she asked me. I was shocked, but yes, she was asking me about oral sex.
Aside from the UFO museum, which was neat. There was a small free zoo in town. I went during my visit, because it was free. And it made me never want to visit a zoo again. I’m sorry to those who enjoys zoos. But I don’t enjoy seeing animals in cages: no matter the size. A cage is a cage. There was also some great natural areas just outside the town. While in Roswell I talked to my friend Michelle.
Come to live with us in Washington, she said. I could live with her for free. I love her deeply as a friend. I love the Northwest. And I was unhappy where I was living and working. It wasn’t a hard choice.
In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer. – Albert Camus
You think you know him,
but you don’t.
For years he has learned to not be the person he is,
and to be to person you know.
Beneath the mask, is another mask
and under the act is just another act.
Like the man who hides a jewel for safe keeping,
but forgets where he stored it away.
He sometimes wonders who he is,
and when became the person everyone knows.