January, 2011 Archives

First And Worst

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January 11th, 2011

(Yes, you may have seen this one before. But darn-it-all, I like it & it’s apropos for the next few weeks.)  January is a wicked step-mother of a month. Contradictory and contemptuous, January is sun, rain and snow, all in a half-hour’s time. It’s slushy toboggan runs and black ice on I-75. January is your […]

(Yes, you may have seen this one before. But darn-it-all, I like it & it’s apropos for the next few weeks.)

 January is a wicked step-mother of a month. Contradictory and contemptuous, January is sun, rain and snow, all in a half-hour’s time. It’s slushy toboggan runs and black ice on I-75. January is your passive aggressive co-worker who smiles in your face then shoves daggers of ice in your back. It’s not surprising, since the month is named after a two-faced Roman god.

It’s 31 days of endurance that don’t even fit on the standard calendar page. They have to swipe two other days and split them in half diagonally so January can have it’s cake and beat it too.

January is the flu. If May and June are presidential, January is Sarah Palin.

All any of us can hope for is that we’re able to sneak through January without arousing suspicion. It can be meaner than a snake with a skin condition if provoked.

December got it right. It serves up Hannukah, Christmas and New Years so we can have fun and forget the drudgery outside. February is shy, silent and elusive. It wants so badly to get out of the way and not be noticed that it shrinks back to 28 days and even gives us a vernal tease with Spring Training and that silly groundhog thing.

But January, snot-nosed and belligerent, just won’t give up. “Hey, I’m still here,” it cackles, then goes back into its frigid dank hole.

Remember back in the good ol’ days before global warming and Perez or Paris Hilton? Back then, January would beat and rob you, then leave you to die in the snow. Snow? It used to be the one good thing that January could pretend to have invented. Nowadays we barely get enough to cover the pumpkins on foreclosed porches.

Down south somewhere, in Australia or Swaziland, January is probably a celebrated month. Perhaps that’s its last and greatest irony. Some people welcome and revere the month because it’s sunny and seventy and sublime. But if you spend any time in the Midwest, you’ll learn to despise every cold, gray, wet, angry day of it. If not, well, you’re not human … or you’re just visiting from New Zealand.


Advice For A Recovering Journalist

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January 2nd, 2011

I’ve always slightly feared you Brenda Starr, you and your journalistic zeal with your drop-dead good looks. Your story-at-all-costs made me worry I wasn’t living up to newsroom standards and I looked at you with a combination of awe slash uneasiness. It’s a bizarre mixture, for sure, but now that you’re officially retiring I think […]

I’ve always slightly feared you Brenda Starr, you and your journalistic zeal with your drop-dead good looks. Your story-at-all-costs made me worry I wasn’t living up to newsroom standards and I looked at you with a combination of awe slash uneasiness. It’s a bizarre mixture, for sure, but now that you’re officially retiring I think you should know the truth about that little peccadillo.

https://readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcBrendaStarr.jpgHaving worked in a dozen newsrooms during my career, then being dumped by journalism like I was a bad lover, I know a little about what you’re going through. There’s probably a little anger, a little sadness, a lot of nostalgia and tons of worry. The furloughs you took this year eased you into the afterlife surely. But Brenda, there’s nothing to prepare you for the first time a big story hits your former beat and all you can do is sit there in your sweats, sip some coffee and maybe tweet 140 characters. It rips you apart, so be prepared sister.

But life as a recovering journalist isn’t as bad as it may seem. That very story I just mentioned also carries with it a sigh of relief. You don’t have to throw everything on the back burner, brave the elements, contact people who’d rather not be contacted, deal with idiot editors (like we both became in later years!), and tumble home late, exhausted and not knowing how you’ll do it all again the next morning. Add a family to that equation and you feel like you’re letting both sides down, including yourself.

So enjoy that part Brenda. Enjoy it with as much oomph as you enjoyed chasing the story. But do more.

Try teaching. You’d be amazed that somewhere, some administrator will be asleep at the wheel and allow you to come in and teach a course or two. Once you con them into thinking your credentials are valuable, you may find a massive number of students — high-school and college — who are looking at new ways of telling stories. It’ll blow your mind Ms. Starr.

Yes, go ahead and blog/tweet/Facebook and the like. You’ll be telling stories and getting your spin out there no matter if it doesn’t feel the same as it did with ink and dead trees.

But mostly, my hennaed hench-woman, you need to become three dimensional. For 70 years you’ve lived in a two dimensional world and that needs to change immediately. Stop looking at things linearly and begin to see yourself acting and reacting with the rest of society. Come off the printed page, poke your head around and you will discover there are other systems or paradigms you want to be part of. You’ll find they want you too.

Let go of fear, Brenda. Force yourself to smile. Embrace today and right now. You really don’t have a choice in the matter anyway so let the future happen. I have to say, the future is as fun and bumpy as the newsroom was.

Welcome to it.