The job in Colorado was a news job. But it wasn’t real news. And it wasn’t a real job. Okay, it was and wasn’t.
The job was part-time. And the part-time I worked was mostly doing unethical coping of news from other sources. The publisher liked to make jokes about the news. So, the biggest and worst part of my job was doing news clips. He would send a list of links to the editor. Along with the list were funny headlines. The paper paid for AP news, so I was supposed to look for an AP source. But often I couldn’t find one. In which case, I cheated. I would copy most of the story and put in limited attribution. In my mind this is plagiarism. But no one cared what I thought.
And for the most part he was not really funny. When there was a long traffic jam in China. His headline compared it to local traffic. The freeway from Denver was often jammed. But I was also a reporter. And in this role I wrote about the traffic.
The reporter job was freelance. I was paid by the word. I covered mostly the small towns in the valley. This is the same area where Kobe Bryant was put on trial. But I moved to the valley a few years after. The news I did cover was county government. I also did a couple stories about local schools. And a range of people stories. From art to new businesses it was all in the mix.
While covering the county I got a tour of the local jail. It was an interesting experience. I have never been, and hope to never spent a night in jail. It reminded me in some ways like a hospital. Like a hospital, you are monitored. But it is harder to get out. The county commissioners were being given a tour. And I asked if I could join them: they agreed.
The road stories were also fun. And they were fun in way most people might not find fun. It was a lot of reading of reports. I had to catch up on different ideas. After reading and talking to a few experts one person mistook me for a local. It was an infrastructure story. There were a number of ideas on how to solve traffic. One idea was light rail. Then there was the idea of a bus service. The last main idea was more road space. A couple plans mixed ideas from these three. Most people seemed to agree a mix was needed. They agreed more freeway wasn’t a enough of a plan.
When not working I spent a lot of time outside. This is Colorado. I would drive for hours along dirt roads. Then sometimes I would hike for hours. There was a large mountain by my house. One of the first things I did was climb to the top and look around. I miss the mountains still. Nature is so grand and amazing.
But one night I got in trouble. I drove and parked. Then followed a path and a dirt road. I had looked at the map. And I had a plan. But it was taking me longer than I had projected. And it was getting dark. I called 911 and told them I was lost. Stay where you are, but they didn’t know where I was when I called. On the map the road was mislabled. I didn’t know this until later. And my phone was dying. So I kept walking. Through the dark and chilly night. I found a house with an open garage eventually. I walked up and asked for help. I told them the story and they called the Sheriff. Who came out and gave me a ride back to my car. It was a bit embarrassing.
While in Colorado I saw my family in New York. It was the death of my dad’s sister. Yes, I know, but I never really knew her enough to have a relationship. So I refer to his relationship. My dad paid for me to fly out of the Denver Airport (which is halfway to New York anyway). It was a good short trip. And it was a chance to connect with family I hadn’t seen in years. Family which wasn’t really family in my mind.
While in Colorado I lived in the town of Gypsum. This was the low end of the valley. Vail was at the high end. There were a number of towns in between. One of which was Eagle, where Bryant was in court. The town – or area – I worked was Edwards. My roommate was an older woman. She was a nutty person.
Well, she was still using AOL dialup. She watch The Notebook everyday. I’ve never sat down and watched it from start to end. But I have seen the whole movie. I saw it at her house just as I would pass through. Or linger to chat with her.
I found the place through Craig’s List. And I am grateful for her renting to me. She had a cat of her own. And her cat was not friendly to mine. Later she also got a small dog. She was a good person. And looking back I don’t think I was an easy roommate. But she was patient and always friendly. While I was away in New York she took care of Baby Girl for me.
There were a number of problems. The drive to work was almost 30 miles. It was a beautiful drive. But a long drive. Also, the money I was making wasn’t enough. I was working part-time and freelance. But my pay was $10 an hour. And the freelance wasn’t much money. I was barely making it, and barely eating. I knew I had to get out.
But I am glad to have lived in Colorado. I never regret anything in my life. Because all these moments have made me rich. And maybe if this book sells well, I will be cash-rich. I left Colorado when I found a job in Nebraska. I put Baby Girl and all my stuff in the car and headed east. Of course, I still had things in storage I hadn’t been able to retrieve.
After I left Colorado the paper went under. It was a free paper and the money wasn’t coming in for ads. My editor now works for the other town newspaper. He is still a good friend.