7/01/2014

On being cool

It's 1:16 in the morning. I couldn't sleep. I've been in a terrible depressive cycle of late. I got off work and just wanted to go to bed. I'm out of my routine due to overwatching the World Cup. It's summer and I'm jittery and I'm not taking care of myself properly. My next birthday is approaching and I don't know what to do in order to get myself out of a rut I've been in for most of this year. 

Now it's 1:17 in the morning. My happiest moment today was when I finally was able to make a decision to turn the air conditioning on. I tend these days to not be able to make even the simplest choices if it doesn't relate to either of the work I do. When I'm not at work, I tend too just lose all sense of focus.

Across town, my American children are asleep at 1:18 in the morning. When they're here, I am able to make choices. The lethargy might not be fully gone, but I feel like I have a sense of purpose when I am with them. When they are home with me, I feel complete and alert. 

Not so much now that it's 1:20 in the morning and the air conditioning is having a hard time cooling this house down to 80 degrees. I was gone for the weekend so I turned it off, and thought I would just leave it off tonight. But when I tried to go to sleep at around 10:00 pm, I couldn't stand it anymore. 

I should sleep now that it's 1:21 in the morning and I've been out of bed for about 45 minutes. But I have a clarity of mind that is seldom present in these days where work activity is only a phone call away and I end up working on many of my vacations and weekends. This is the nature of a dedicated journalist.

Now that I've been typing for seven minutes about my own life, I begin to feel a little more human. Each paragraph shines a light on my present state and the words that get left in this little box. This space is mine and I shall write what I want here. 

It's 1:25 in the morning and perhaps one of my children is having a bad dream. I know that much of my waking life is spent in terror that I've done something wrong. Perhaps I got a fact wrong. Perhaps I neglected to post a story. Perhaps I said something about my life that I didn't mean to make public.

As I begin my third decade dabbling as a journalist, I must say I never intended to have my name out there. Not directly. When I was trying to be a radio journalist, I definitely wanted my voice out there because that was how I could get work as an audio producer. No one could see me, and no one had my phone number or email address.

This was also before social media, even though I've dabbled in that since the late 1980's when I ran a BBS. I've always had a public profile of sorts, but it was always loosely behind an alias. Yet, over the years I've learned to be a moderator, and to adopt a neutral persona in order to be a better journalist. I want to tell people's stories, and I don't think you can tell people's stories if you tell them what you think first. 

And now I'm a reporter, something I don't think I ever fully intended to still be doing at this point in my life, but I have a fantastic job and I bear witness to so much that goes on in my community. I wish I had the range to do different kinds of stories and express my story-telling in other ways, but I'm so focused on covering my beat that I don't take much time to experiment.

It's 1:34 in the morning and I'm sort of losing the point. It's the first day of July, the World Cup is about to end, and I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to catch the last 30 minutes of the U.S. match versus Belgium. I didn't expect to caught up in the whirlwind of this year's tournament, but I have been and I'm going to be sad when it's over.

This is the third time the tournament has been held while I've lived in Charlottesville. 

I just began to write out something about where I was in 2006 and what my life was like, but even though this is my personal blog, I don't want to post anything about that. Not that I have secrets to hide, but that there are so many things I keep to myself. Whatever I write here is an extension of that neutral persona. 

But there's a reason why it's 1:39 in the morning and I can't sleep and don't really want to sleep. I wanted to put some public comment out there about me being named as one of my community's top 10 coolest people. I got a text from one acquaintance, and several postings of it on Facebook. 

I glanced at it briefly, but the thought of people I've never met before describing me in any way is a little creepy. Or, maybe they have met the other persona I sometimes am when I'm lucky enough to work a perfect night at Court Square. 

I'm not that person at 1:44 in the morning. And haven't been for a long time. I'm feeling my age and I'm less likely to be out. I've spent most of my disposable income on being at bars to watch the World Cup. 

I'm not sure who I am this morning. I certainly don't feel cool. I've been stuck in this rut, you see, and all of my creative energy goes into making sure I don't miss a detail when I'm filing a story on deadline. I'm constantly thinking about who I need to contact and what questions I have to ask. I'm worried about getting scooped and work simply consumes me.

Leaving me at 1:47 am to say it's kind of neat to be recognized for the work, even if I'm too timid to promote it. I'll make jokes about it, and I'll play it down in an attempt to deflect any sense that I think I'm cool. 

I don't even know what that word means. To me, it means a younger Henry Winkler, and I don't think I've even worn a leather jacket. To me, it conjures up visions of those kids in secondary school who had that mythical element I knew I would never possess. 

I just do my job, whatever that job is. 

In less than 12 hours,  I'll be attending a historic meeting between the City Council and the Board of Supervisors. It will begin at the same time Argentina and Switzerland begin squaring off in São Paulo. I'm somewhat sad I won't be able to take the day off, and even more sad that I will not be able to enjoy all of fthe U.S. - Belgium match in a crowd of strangers. 

But, I will focus because the conversations these elected officials will have will inform the next six months of my reporting. Duty calls and I must turn in a story by the end of today. 

At 1:58 in the morning, I have fantasies of being a lot less timid as the World Cup tide recedes for another four years. Maybe I'll summon the same transformative energy that helped me during my divorce. Maybe I'll learn how to store my self-confidence within, as opposed to constantly deflecting it, letting that precious commodity leak away. 

I can't say. 

I can only control what happens in one day. And that means now trying to get some sleep. Maybe I'll actually find a way to stop making excuses and get up and run rather than occupy my dreams as long as I can. 


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