This week brought me seven days closer to a breakdown I began to feel is looming three months ago.
It all started Sunday when it dawned on me I’d have to wait eight months to watch the Bills play again. From there it got worse, with a Monday at work that’s become all too typical since I changed jobs: I had nothing significant to write about and no real inkling of one for the near future. Tuesday got a little better with an individual meeting with my new bosses (I’m still not sure exactly how many I have) that reassured me everyone at the paper recognizes what I’ve been up against when it comes to building sources. That tamed my fear of eminent termination, which is a new emotion for me that I do not like. Wednesday got even better because I could not take it off due to the number of stories I had lined up; However, none really had a shot at changing anyone’s life. I did take Thursday off, but the morning was wasted by a fruitless 90-minute drive to Anderson to get an O2 sensor put in my car that never occurred since the garage ordered the wrong part – get to go back sometime next week. Today brought about my Friday frustration as I’d, by then, had enough of the work week and – as per usual – just wanted to go for a bike ride.
I never had any idea it would take so long to settle in at a new paper. No clue there’s such a lull between the time you start and the feeling you get when you know you’ve written a good story. There’s a part of me saying to be patient; Another part saying I’m not as good at this as I once thought and perhaps I should see if the local vocational rehab place is hiring.
Today, for instance, we brainstormed about black history month stories, and I contributed little to nothing. The only significant – and yes, I do hold a high standard in a case like this – black person I’ve met here is a sheriff, and I don’t even know if he’s done anything wonderful besides being elected sheriff, which is an accolade that’s debatable. (I’d have a decent shot at being elected sheriff of the county I’m from.)
But I can rattle off about a dozen prominent black people in the Kinston, N.C., area – maybe more with the aid of my notes – who’d have highly compelling, inspiring and downright motivating stories to share. Although I generally don’t think much of months or days the government (I actually don’t know who does this, so I’ll blame it on the government) has set aside for something, I make an exception for black history month because it’s becoming American history whether the conservative Christians care to admit it or not. I’m dying to write something about it that appropriately honors such courage and inspires optimism.
Maybe next year, after I’ve settled in and know more people. If I make it that long.
These stories could have been rattled off instantaneously by me one year ago. Hell, that’s what I did. I was captivated by them and was nearly sure at least five readers were, too. I can’t say that for any story I’ve written at the Index-Journal. It’s become a chore just to face my day.
I see Kalista after work is done, though. She views me as the most important person in the world and makes me feel like I’ve done something noteworthy with my day by simply helping her put her coat on or holding her hand. “Daddy, I love you,” she’ll often say before wrapping her arms somewhere around me.
I remember during these moments that the 40 or so hours I spend working each week do not define me. She defines me. No matter what I do or what I do not do, what I aspire to be versus what I actually am … she will always love me.
And I have the nerve to get down because I have not changed the world. I have the audacity to become frustrated because I have not shared with the public a glimpse of someone’s life that will inspire them to do good things. I have the selfishness to think I’m failing because I’ve not hindered an evil by exposing its transgressions.
Maybe – just maybe – my priorities are out of line.
Okay. Well, I’m still pissed that dealership didn’t order the right part for my car …