Saturday, September 05, 2015

The Week in Review

Working Early

The weekend was windy outside, but after I got back from the budget meeting I pretty much stayed inside, getting as much done as possible before the new week started. We both knew the odds were good that Eric would be headed back to work as a substitute teacher on Monday, so there was a sense of getting ready for school for both of us.

We actually got through the list of chores without stress... but I admit we forgot to do a couple of things that we'd intended to finish. Life is like that sometimes.

As I was drifting off to sleep Sunday night, the phone rang. Eric answered it, and I heard him say just before I fell completely asleep that he was going to have to get going early the next morning.

Eric was up before me, and I was only halfway through my morning routine when he kissed me and headed out the door. His first assignment of the year was in a district roughly an hour's drive away. He signed up for it because they pay considerably more than the local districts, enough to offset the cost of the commute and then some.

Meanwhile, I had to get into work to write up the budget retreat from Saturday. Inkwell the cat was very agitated to have both his slaves preparing to leave, and once Eric left he was a little possessive of me for awhile. Then he spotted another cat in the back yard and while he was swishing his tail and grumbling at the intruder, I left for work unnoticed.

The budget retreat, once I got going, was not a hard story to write. Figuring out the opening angle was surprisingly hard... it was one of those ones that is obvious in retrospect, but the words refused to come while I was trying to start the story. So I jumped to the middle and wrote some of that, and then the opening wrote itself. Sometimes you have to write a dummy opening, like "It wasn't a dark and stormy night, it was a windy but cloudy day..." and then just let your words wander until you find the right path. Then you go back and delete the garbage. Thank goodness for computers. I'd really be much worse at this on a typewriter.

There wasn't too much on the police logs, either, which was nice. Maybe the wind kept the more idiotic folks inside. Who knows? There was an early morning car accident at an intersection not known for single-car accidents... yeah, it looks like alcohol was probably a factor. At least nobody died.

After deadline I had a couple of assignments to work on, then a conference with the editor on a couple of possible stories. One of them didn't really pan out, but we set up a timeline and working plan for the other.

Confused Cat

At lunch, Inkwell was very uncertain. Eric has been feeding him all summer, and now he had to wait for me to get home. He seemed thrown off by the absence of Eric. I fed him, had a quick lunch, then headed back to work to finish up my assignments for the next day. I had a couple of calls to make, a couple of responses to wait for, but I got done with about an hour to spare in the day. I ended up leaving about 45 minutes early to make up for some of the time I worked over the weekend.

Once at home... oh my. No Eric. It was actually really nice. I haven't had true alone time in quite awhile. So I relaxed until a friend came over at 4 p.m. for a quick visit. Eric got back while she was still visiting, and once she left I read a bit more of my book (Seveneves) before dinner. It was a fairly relaxing evening.

Eric told me a bit about his day in this other town. The drive was long and, since he'd never actually been there before he got lost and was "late". Fortunately, Monday had a late start for the district, so he was actually an hour early. He taught at the junior high school and a couple of kids recognized him, which was a bit of a surprise. "Mr. Gjovaag, what are you doing here?" "Teaching."

The district is desperate for subs, to the extent that they have vanpools from some of the major surrounding areas and pay a LOT more than other districts for those subs. After looking at the place on a map, it's pretty clear it's in the middle of nowhere, even moreso than where I currently live. I would like to go up and visit them, maybe see if they have a newspaper. It's a much smaller town than the small town we currently live in, but that might not be a bad thing.

Monday night I got to sleep while Eric tutored somebody online in his room across the hall. I fell asleep listening to him quietly explaining some math concept. About 3:30 a.m. I heard the cat singing. I'm not sure what he was singing, but he was loud and out of tune and it woke me enough that I had to visit the bathroom. When I got back to bed, Inkwell was quiet.

Day Two of the School Year

Eric was awake before me thanks to his insomnia, but let me grab the first shower. He said he had another job in the faraway town, this one at an elementary school. We ended up leaving about the same time, much to Inkwell's consternation. For some reason the cat was certain we were going to put him in the carrier and take him with us. He seemed almost disappointed when we just left.

Eric admitted that he had a first-world problem: He was going to run out of audio material quickly if he kept going to the faraway town to sub. I suggested he rip some more of the Doctor Who CDs we have and download more podcasts. He agreed that would help.

Tuesday morning was fairly calm at work. I got corrections done on the stories I'd turned in the previous day, wrote up the police logs, checked the pages... after deadline I started on future work. We learned that a new sports reporter has not yet been hired, which means we'll each be covering three or four sports this fall. It was never the most pleasant job... with the new schedule it's going to be worse.

I had a quiet lunch at home with just the cat, then after work had a bit of alone time as well. Very nice.

Wednesday Eric didn't get a job, so we went back to the summer schedule to a large degree. I was putting together a variety of pieces at work, and spent a lot of time chatting with folks on the phone or visiting a place to get some face-to-face time to get a story discussed. Thursday was more of the same... Eric didn't get a job and I had people to catch up to... only there was a twist.

Grand Marshal

I got news of who the Grand Marshal in the annual Sunshine Days parade was going to be, but I didn't know if *she* knew yet. Still, I have to interview her for the paper, so at 10 a.m. on Thursday morning I headed over to Cactus Juice, where they are selling off the remaining pieces of bric-a-brac from the restuarant since it closed. The co-owner and cook, Gladys, was there and I smiled as I entered and asked her if she knew why I was there. She didn't have any idea.

So I blurted it out... and she started to cry from the shock. I immediately decided that an interview wasn't going to be a good idea right then and there. So after she'd recovered a little, I set up a possible appointment on Tuesday and I departed, a little shell-shocked myself.

I went straightaway to the high school, where, if I'd been allowed in I think I would have slapped the gal in charge upside the head for sending me into that situation (the person running the event is a high school teacher). Instead, I got an interview with the new band director, which was fun, and then sent a note to the teacher in charge of Sunshine Days to let her know I'd broken the news to Gladys.

Lots of Volleyball

We also got our sports assignments, and I ended up with three local volleyball teams. One of which has the best, most awesome coach ever, who sends her stats, scores and comments via email in an always timely manner. I told her about the new deadline and she promised to try to get the information to me the night of the game instead of the next morning. The other two... well, I'd covered both schools in the past but had no idea if the same people were the coaches. As it turned out, nope. I was able to contact one of them easily through e-mail, and she promised to send night-of stats and scores... we'll see if she manages to keep to that. The other coach... well, I still haven't managed to make contact with him, much to my consternation. The phone numbers the school gave me were wrong.

Friday was very stressful. I had lots to finish up, and we wanted to get all the work done for Tuesday so we could all enjoy the long weekend. So I stayed late even though I had a night assignment, and stressed through several articles and briefs that really shouldn't have been that hard to write. I found my mind wandering completely over and over again, and had to bring myself sharply back into focus, which wasn't easy. I was also just physically exhausted. I hardly had the energy to sit up. With a storm system moving in, I wondered if I was going to have a reaction... I may have had a small one, but no full-blown pain flare-up.

Friday Night Lights

Friday night was the first football game of the season for the local high school. To add to the excitement, they played the team from the next town over... a much smaller high school that they should be able to easily beat. However, the local football team was on a 22-game losing streak, so the worry was that they couldn't do it despite a new coaching staff. Still, tons of fans showed up from both towns, the marching band was in their new uniforms, the grid kid football teams were out for a halftime scrimmage and the candidates for the dance team were also out and ready for a halftime show. In short, the bleachers were packed.

I followed the band onto the field because I wanted to get a better photo of the new band teacher. I ended up taking her picture while the band played "The Star Spangled Banner" and the fight song. Then I was down on the field looking for good photos of the game itself. I ended up staying two full quarters, watching the halftime show, then sticking around a little longer. I got some photos I hope are good, and a lot that are blurry. I'm going to need to work on it a bit more.

At one point, while I was standing right next to the new coach, one of the home team players pushed a player from the opposing team after a play - definitely unsportsmanlike and looking for a fight. Another home team player pulled the guy away and the coach yelled for the pushy player to come off the field. He did, and was replaced by another player. The coach then slapped the pushy player's helmet and said, "Did that make you feel better?" and bawled him out for losing his cool. "We can't afford the penalties! Keep it together out there!" From that short conversation I felt, suddenly, that there is definite hope for the home team.

I was told by Eric this morning that the home team won, which is a very good thing. I left when the game was 12-6 in favor of the home team. I was too tired to stay much longer and successfully drive home. Once home I think I pretty much fell into bed and didn't wake up until late morning. I have a vague memory of Inkwell licking my forehead to try to wake me up, but I think I managed to sleep fairly soundly through it.

This morning I have a lot to work on, so I'd better get started. Some reviews to write, a newsletter to put out... the usual, I guess. And I need to go through about 500 photos I took last night and find ones I can use in the newspaper. And so to work.