Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Week in Review

All-Day Meeting

Saturday started with an all-day meeting at a local restaurant. The city council was starting the budget process with a visioning meeting, scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. I got to spend the entire day with them, instead of with the Oz houseguests at home.

The meeting started a little after 9 with six of the seven council members present. The deputy mayor had said she might have a problem making the meeting due to having a shortage of employees at her business, and sure enough, she missed the entire thing. Three members of the city staff were present, including Jackie (who was taking notes), the city manager (who directed the meeting) and the city finance director. Also present was my co-worker Julia, who happens to be a councilwoman-elect and Larry, a local who attends every council meeting. He left at lunchtime.

The meeting was interesting enough most of the time to keep me occupied writing notes. I brought my laptop and used the restaurant's wifi, which was nice. I was able to type everything up as it happened in Evernote, making writing the story later that much easier. I type far faster than I write, so that also helped me catch bits I may have not gotten word-for-word if I'd been trying to keep up with pen and paper.

About noon I ordered lunch when the council did. The city wasn't paying for my meal, which was fine (in fact, I approve!) and so I just got myself a cheeseburger and onion rings. A tad overpriced, but with this particular restaurant you are paying for the atmosphere as well as the food. It was good enough, certainly. And the waitress who was serving the meeting room (who also is one of the co-owners at Cactus Juice) kept me well-plied with water, so I was happy.

The council didn't make many waves with their opinions. The visioning exercises were pretty solid and there was only a single point of contention, when one council member said "diversity" is a codeword for "non-white", which is ridiculous on enough levels that I searched for it in Google and was disgusted at what I found. Frankly, the kind of people who are stupid enough to think diversity is a codeword are the kind of people I don't want living anywhere near me. I was offended by that council member's remark and I'm glad he won't be on the council starting next year.

They came up with a decent vision statement, then after lunch worked up a set of concrete(ish) goals for the next year. The budgeting process will now be based on the vision and the goals. I'm sure I'm in for another budget meeting or two or five before this is all over.

The meeting, joy of joys, ended a full three hours short, at 2 p.m. I was delighted and made my way home to rest and entertain visitors.

Quick Week

That night we played Exploding Kittens and enjoyed ourselves. I spent a bit of time upstairs reading and playing on the computer, making it all the easier for Eric and his friends to talk/watch/enjoy Oz stuff.

Sunday was the same sort of thing... quiet morning with guests. Eric made pancakes, which I enhanced with chocolate chips much to Eric's annoyance (because I did it without him asking, mostly). Eventually the guests left and we cleaned up and Inkwell said, "ok, any MORE surprises?" (aka "Me-roro-rowwwl!"). I didn't get as much rest as I apparently needed, because I was still tired upon waking on Monday morning.

The write up of the council meeting didn't take too long. I also had my special section stories to finish. They mostly needed cleaning up, not actual heavy-duty work, so I got through them, did an interview for one of our filler features, then headed home. I ended up last-minute with a school board meeting in the evening, which spoiled some plans I had made, but I lived.

The school board meeting was strange. It was in the next town over and I've covered the meeting many times before. But when I came in this time, there were two new board members. Now, I knew that both of the people who were sitting unexpectedly on the board were running unopposed for their seats in the November election, but I hadn't realized the people they were replacing had already stepped down and they'd both been appointed to fill out the remainder of the terms. So I was befuddled because I hadn't checked the make-up of the board within the last month.

Still, it was a quick meeting. Grandview has some folks who actually know how to make a meeting move along. There were a couple of pieces I needed to write for it, so I got in early on Tuesday and got those done. Everything else was in the can, but I also learned about another potential story, the city mentioned in a recently published book, so I contacted the publisher to get more information.

We were also informed on Tuesday to be in the office between 12:30 and 1:30 on Thursday for an announcement.

Tuesday was actually a pretty calm day. I finished up my work and headed home just a bit early to cut hours, due to the long meeting on Saturday. I didn't sleep well Tuesday night, possibly due to the dust in the air. Wednesday was another one of those strange days. I had to cover the morning Rotary club, and the editor expects a same-day story from them. I managed, but then we didn't publish the story that day, which is also normal.

I stayed late in the office on Wednesday working on a piece that just didn't come together the way I wanted. Once home I was zombied most of the evening. Eric took care of me, I went to bed early, and actually felt pretty good Thursday morning, and got through deadline easily. Thursday was actually a great day for me.

Changes... Again

Except for the unknown of the announcement at work. Well, the not-quite-unknown. We all had an idea of what was going to be said... another case of things changing in my workplace. As it's not been officially announced outside of my workplace, the only thing I can say is: It wasn't exactly what I expected.

Change is good. Change means growing and learning. But change is also scary, especially when it's a big change. The closing down of the press was a big change and has led to a lot of early mornings that have, frankly, been very difficult. Coming to work at 6:30 a.m. then going to a three-hour meeting that starts at 6:30 p.m. kinda limits your day, even if you are technically only supposed to work 40 hours a week. It's actually amazing how much difference that one and a half hours makes in my life. I'm not adjusted to it yet.

That said, I have absolutely no clue, not even the slightest idea, how this new change will affect my day or my hours. I can make guesses, but they aren't based in any sort of reasonable reality. So the fear remains, and will continue until either the other shoe drops and life becomes intolerable, or things get better. Hard to say which, if either, is more likely.

I do know this. I love to write. I adore writing. Newswriting is, to me, enjoyable work. I find it slightly challenging and wonderfully satisfying. I have a bit of an equation. I balance my joy in writing divided by the irritation of certain things I'm reporting on (such as long and pointless meetings), plus or minus the compensation and workplace environment, against my general feeling of well-being. If the joy side of the equation gets too low, I try to supplement it with other writing, outside writing (including this blog). But if I can't keep that side high enough... for my own sake, I hope I'll have the courage to walk away.

Not Much Else

Friday was another fairly calm day. I've been able to keep up with my work, sometimes with difficulty but always just managing it. On Friday my fellow female reporters and I went to Cactus Juice, which will be closing at the end of next week, for a lunch meeting and discussion of the changes. The place was packed, and we got there early. The co-owner said it's been extremely busy since they announced the closure.

Friday afternoon was moderately calm. Looking at my schedule for next week, I left a bit early. I have three night meetings and next Saturday is a budget retreat for a different city council, so I'm not going to have any trouble getting my 40+ hours in.

Once home I collapsed into bed and slept for about four hours before getting up for dinner. I hit the bed again earlier than usual and slept late today. And today has been nicely calm, although the wildfire smoke has settled over the valley here and we've got the scary red sun and smell of burnt paper in the air that Spokane has been suffering through the last couple of days.

I'm getting ready to watch the Hugo awards live tonight, but otherwise I have no real plans. I could, conceivably, drive up to Spokane in time to see the Hugos live. But the thought of a three-hour drive along smoke-shrouded roads, followed by a long ceremony then a trip back... no. Can't justify it. I'm too tired from the past five weekends.