Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Week in Review

I admit it. After the soccer game on Saturday, I kind of blissed out and just shut down everything in me that felt even slightly responsible. It was very nice. It was also slightly stupid.

Soccer at the "new" Stadium

The soccer game started at noon on Saturday at the stadium the next town over. They've recently resurfaced the field, but there's still dusty dirt all around the outside of the track, and the track itself is just asphalt, so it's not quite done yet. I drove to where I usually park for events in the stadium but quickly figured out the gates were locked. I ended up driving around to find street parking in another direction and walking a long way to get into the stadium.

That's my biggest problem with that particular stadium: there is no parking near it. It has no parking lot of its own, and it's situated in a such a way that no matter where you park you have a hike ahead of you... unless the lower gate is open. Which it wasn't.

So I hiked down into the stadium and wandered over to the coach of the visiting team, which happened to be my hometown. I got a roster from her and chatted a little, then I headed over to the other bench and found a fellow who had a roster available for me for the home team. The sunlight was strong, and I decided I needed it at my back to get the best shots, which meant walking back to the other side of the stadium again. Taking sports photos in good light is awesome. Most of the shots turn out as long as the camera focuses fast enough, and mine was doing well.

I had my long lens working hard for the first 20 minutes, then I started to get a bit uncomfortable in the sunlight. It wasn't hot, by any local measure, but it was definitely getting warm while standing in the sun. I moved around a bit to get better shots of particular players, although it's a crap shoot in soccer. The game moves fast enough that I spend a lot of it just focusing on the players with the ball and hoping to get something that isn't blurry. Eventually I wandered over to a shed at the edge of the field which cast a bit of shadow. There were some folks sitting in it, so I stood in the shadows and tried to get a few last shots while chatting with people.

There were some kids, maybe 7 or 8 years old, playing with some of the stuff the construction workers had left in the dirt. I went over and told them that if I was a responsible adult, I'd tell them to stop playing with the stuff, but as a person who had once been a child I would instead urge them to be very careful. They nodded solemnly and moved away from the sticks and markers (which looked like they could have really hurt if somebody threw one) and started daring each other to run around the track. That seemed like a safer occupation for them, so I wandered off.

As the half came to a close, I decided that if I didn't have enough good shots by now I'd never get any, and hiked back to my car. I'd left my last Fierce Melon Gatorade in the car, and I was pleased I'd thought of it because I really needed it. Again, it wasn't really hot, but it was surprisingly tiring standing/walking in the direct sunlight for about an hour. I tend to get caught up in taking photos and forget I'm in the sun until I get uncomfortable or sunburned.

Home Alone

I headed home after the game, feeling sweaty and tired, and was greeted by Inkwell the cat, who apparently had been certain I was going to abandon him like Eric did. I gave Inky scritches and attempted to give him a cuddle, but he prudently fled. And so I rested for the remainder of Saturday, only getting up to get dinner or feed the cat. I also baked the buttercup squash, which was excellent, but too much for one person. I saved some for later in the week.

Without Eric, it was very quiet and I wasn't really sure what to do. I watched the new Doctor Who as soon as I was able, then wrote up my review. Played with the cat. Read comic books and novels. Slept. Basically allowed myself to recharge.

Sunday morning Inkwell woke me with repeated touches of his paw on my face, gradually letting more of his claws out as I lay there and ignored him. At some point he went over to Eric's bedstand and started knocking things over, but it was still before 5 a.m. so I ignored him. He stood on my pillow with his butt to my face and yowled. Finally I got up at 5:30, and he acted like I was the stupidest creature ever. He stayed right under my feet, attempting to guide me downstairs I think. Instead, he nearly tripped me. But I managed to get to his food dish and feed him, at which point I just became another piece of furniture to him again.

Too Blissed

Eric got home around noon, and Inkwell was amazingly happy to see him. Inkwell is never pleased when he's down to half his usual set of slaves. With Eric back, he felt much more secure. It was a moderately quiet evening.

But I was so relaxed I forgot to call one of my coaches. Heck, I completely forgot I needed to call him (technically, he should have called me). So when I got up Monday and looked at my assignments for the day, I just sat there and silently cursed. Monday morning was extremely unpleasant at the office. I was in a horrible mood from the start, and we were all working our butts off on various things.

Ambulance Chasing

Then an ambulance roared past the office. No biggie, that happens. Then a second one. Hmmm. Then a fire truck. I raced out to my car and tried to give chase. Unfortunately, I lost them after the first light. I considered the direction I thought I'd seen them turn, and watching the sky for any sign of smoke, I headed toward the freeway entrance. Nothing. My instincts told me to go past the freeway. There's a route that would allow me to swing around and check all the major intersections of town in a swoop, so I started on that route... but just past the freeway there was a police car blocking off a road.

I managed to get in position to talk to the officer, pulling out my press badge. He waved me past his car, and I headed down the road to what looked like an accident. As I got closer, I realized it was a rollover. Both ambulances and the fire truck were standing by.

I parked my car and walked up the road, leaving plenty of room for any other emergency vehicles (including possibly a tow truck) and got to the scene, wearing my press badge prominently. Yup, a single-car rollover. A little pick-up truck. There was a stretcher near the car, but nobody in it. A man who might have been the driver was surrounded by state troopers and firemen. I talked with a trooper, who told me the guy wasn't injured, then I snapped a few photos, trying to get an angle that showed the vehicle and a few firefighters.

I hate to say it, but it really brightened my day. I guess it was the act of getting out of the office, not what I was getting to. Though I admit there was a little of the "someone else is having a much worse day than me" thing going, as well. I headed back to my car - there really wasn't all that much to report - and headed back to the office without any issues. Then it was back into the unpleasant editorless grind.


I'd rather not talk about how difficult it was to pull the paper together on Monday. Nor the not-quite-arguments that made it even less comfortable. But I was glad when we finally had the thing laid out and checked, even if there was an entirely too good chance we'd missed stuff. I headed out to lunch without a backward glance. I just can't handle the stress anymore. Especially not after such a relaxing weekend that I had thought had gotten me totally rested. Ha.

After lunch wasn't much better. I recognized that part of my problem was my depression leaking through my medication. It happens sometimes, and I never know when it will strike or what form it will take. Most of the time I simply get numb/depressed. On Monday I started to get irrationally angry at everything. I guess it would be akin to having a sore that everyone accidentally bumps or pokes. Only everything about me is sore, so no matter what anyone else does, I feel like I'm being attacked. It's better than being numb... but not a lot better.

I churned through Monday afternoon, wanting nothing more than to find a dark hole to curl up in. When I got home I was snappy with Eric and grumpy enough that Inkwell followed me at a distance and watched me carefully. I don't think I accomplished much Monday night. I was irritated with everything and it was a relief to finally go to bed and try to ignore the world.

Tuesday I was numb. I felt close to tears most of the morning for no reason whatsoever. I did my best to just ignore my emotions and do my job, but it was amazingly difficult and created something of a feedback loop. The more I struggled to hold it together, the harder it became to hold it together because I was struggling. Perhaps I just needed a good cry, but I find it hard to allow myself to cry when there's nothing to cry about.

Dog doo

While on deadline, the postman came to the door, stopped, then opened up the drop box to the side and yelled something to the front desk lady. She walked around to find out what was up, and he told her to not open the door. There was a giant dog turd right in front of the door. She alerted the publisher and he went to clean it up. It was a good thing we were warned, because anyone opening that door would have got it smeared all over the door and thence all over the floor of the building and... well, it would have been a mighty big mess.

After getting deadline done, I looked at pages and struggled through the rest of the morning before heading out. I went again to the home of the guy who I'd been trying to interview for a week. This time he opened the door and talked to me, since one of my co-workers cornered him at church and told him why I was "stalking" him. I took some notes, then headed home for lunch.

Inkwell was delighted to see me. Eric had left early, so he was lonely. After finishing his own lunch, he decided that my lunch looked very interesting and did the "I'm going to crawl all over you until I get your lunch or you throw me out" thing. I managed to eat my lunch and put the plate down on a stool next to my chair. Inkwell climbed over my computer and onto the stool, where he licked the crumbs off my plate. I ignored him until he decided to jump from the stool - knocking it over onto me. *sigh* I chased him out of the room and shut the door to finish my computing. When I opened the door ten minutes later he was waiting outside it. As soon as he saw me he showed me his belly, which I guess is "I'm sorry" or at least as close as he's going to come to it. *sigh*

Despite deep exhaustion and depression, I headed back to work and got a little more done. Because I had a meeting Tuesday night, I left work a little early. Once home, I promptly fell fast asleep and didn't wake up until Eric came home. Luckily, he got home before I had to go to the meeting. Whew. I had a quick dinner and took off for the night meeting the next town south.

Citizen Complaint

The meeting... well, it was ok. Nothing overwhelmingly obnoxious happened in the work session, but in the main meeting there was a guy who had read a handful of legal documents and believed he understood the law, so he came to complain at city council about his sewer line being clogged. The line from his home to the main line. The line on his property. Now, when Eric and I lived in Bothell we had some sewer line issues thanks to the trees in our yard. Because the line was on our property, it was our responsibility to fix it. Which we did, each time it happened. This guy, however, was convinced that the city was responsible for cleaning out the sideline to his house due to language in a state law that talks about "adjacent" lines.

From the way the city manager and the mayor spoke with him, it was clear that they'd tried for some time to sort out his issues and explain reality to him, but he still was convinced he was right. The problem was that he was using technical terms he'd read in legal documents without the slightest clue what they meant. I'm not a legal scholar, but even I could tell he was wasting everyone's time. The mayor attempted to explain the situation to him, but then the council members also needed to understand why the guy was complaining (he didn't set out his argument in a way it was understandable in the first place) and so it took a long time to sort out. By the time the mayor, city manager and the guy were done, it had become completely clear that the guy didn't have a clue how government works, much less whose responsibility his sewer line is. There were some things he could have done to present his case better, but since he didn't really have a case in the first place, it was embarrassing for everyone.

I got home just before 9 p.m., totally wiped despite my nap. I was also still depressed and feeling it. I grumped up to bed and probably irritated my husband mightily before falling asleep.

Rotary Morning

Wednesday morning I woke up with a headache. I struggled to get going and out the door, and struggled once I got to work. But I didn't have much time for writing, as I had to attend the morning rotary club meeting in the middle of deadline. It was an ok meeting, as such go. I loved the "happy bucks" part of the meeting, where I heard a couple of neat stories I'm not going to be able to pass along elsewhere. So here they are.

One of the Rotarians said he was giving a buck for "Batman". He and his wife had spotted something flying through the house a few days ago. He didn't get a good look at it, but it flew upstairs and they searched all over and couldn't find it. The next night it "took the same flight path" and he was able to get a good look. It was a bat. The next night after that, they put up a net, got a fishing net and heavy gloves, and managed to catch the poor thing and get it outside. The other Rotarians got a laugh of the idea of their fellow wearing large, heavy gloves and swinging a fishing net around the house after a bat. One of them asked if he'd gotten any video of the shenanigans. No such luck.

Another odd happy buck was from one of the insurance industry Rotarians. He said he'd gotten a call from a hop producer about a car accident and he was extremely happy. Everyone was all "...wha?" and he explained. Normally when he gets a call from a hop producer during the harvest season it's something really bad, like the windstorm that took down an entire field or a fire, or something horrible. He said it was nice to have just a little fender bender.

The presenter for the meeting was enthusiastic, but she rarely walked where I could get a good photo of her. I eventually managed.

When I got back to work I had a little over an hour to write up the city council meeting, the Rotary meeting, the police logs and two volleyball games. Scratch the volleyball games, thank goodness - the editor had written those for me. That left me with four stories and some briefs on the council. I got the first council meeting story done, then got to work on the Rotary story. The editor visited my desk and told me to jazz up the lead paragraph on the council story, which sounded like a technical document. Yeah, I tend to write like that when I'm stressed. I eventually got the Rotary story done and rewrote the council story opening, then got one of the police logs done. The other one... well, the county website isn't at 100% yet, and I wasn't able to get the Sheriff's log in time. And the briefs? Yeah, they were late too.

Super Harvest Blood Moon (this Sunday!)

After deadline and everything that came with it, I looked at the new assignment sitting on my desk. The editor wanted me to confirm reports of a "supermoon" this Sunday. Hey, right up my alley. After a little research, I learned that it's not only a supermoon and a blood moon at the same time, it's also a harvest moon. For people here where I live, it's going to happen right after sunset Sunday night. I hope to go find a nice place with a good view of the eastern horizon to watch from.

Interestingly, when I read the date of the last super-blood moon, I realized that I saw it. My mom made sure, way back in December 1982, that we all saw it - because the next one wouldn't happen until 2015, so many years later. Wow. I remember her saying it was significant, and I remember the moon turning blood-red, but I didn't remember the supermoon thing, probably because the name hadn't caught on back then.

Cat doo

After I wrote the moon article up I headed home for lunch. Inkwell was being a little snotty, but I thought he was ok. Ha. After I went upstairs and ate, I brought my plate down and found a giant cat poop near the front door. I looked at the cat. He looked at me. I growled. He crouched down and his tail started to swish wildly. I cleaned up the mess. He watched me cautiously. I got out the vacuum to finish the job. Inkwell ran away.

Needless to say, I was less than happy after lunch.

I started to try to piece together a really boring story about the drought and what cities are doing to conserve water when the editor asked how far along I was on the piece. I told him the truth, that I'd only talked to a couple of city leaders and so far, so boring. He said to scratch that and instead I needed to attend the parks and rec meeting. There was a possibility the new recreation coordinator would be introduced, based on the agenda, so he wanted me there.

Honestly? I was pretty happy with the switch. People are very interested in the park and rec programs, whereas the drought story is something I could put into a column and have it work almost as well, if not considerably better. So I happily scheduled out the rest of my day so I could make the meeting.

Sadly, there isn't a new coordinator yet. They aren't even interviewing until this coming Wednesday. But I covered the meeting and had a decent little time at it, including making a paper frog for a very young attendee after the meeting had ended. Then I went home to Eric and the stinky cat. It ended up being a moderately calm evening, and the depression was fading, which made everything a bit better.

Changes Coming

Thursday morning I was running late, in part because I lost track of time. Eric was running on a slightly later schedule and I foolishly set my "clock" by what he was doing. Oops. I ended up racing out the door to get to work before I was too late. Once inside, I found two of my co-workers talking with the editor. I joined in, and when the fourth reporter arrived we ended up having an impromptu editorial meeting about the upcoming changes.

It's not a secret any more: the publisher is retiring. We will have a new publisher soon, and we're all a little concerned about the possible changes in the job, combined with excitement for what it might mean. Change is always something we tend to fear going into it. I admitted that my main fear is being asked to do something I haven't yet been trained to do. I'm still, deep down, a technical writer. I need some help with the whole reporting thing at times. I'm learning, constantly, but I refuse to make the claim that I'm anything other than a cub reporter still. The last four years have taught me tons, but I've got a long way to go.

That said, some of the possibilities make me very keen to find out what will happen. I know the new publisher is much more into tech than the current publisher, so I suspect more of my job will go online in ways I can't even imagine. In fact, this weekly journal I've been writing may give me a great deal of insight once things start to change. We'll just have to see.

It was amazingly refreshing to get our concerns and fears out into the open and to talk freely about what might happen and what we hope to happen. There was a cautious (very cautious) optimism once we concluded talking and got to work.

The Fair

Thursday deadline was oddly anti-climatic after the meeting. I got stuff done quickly, although the editor picked everything apart in ways that made me feel utterly incompetent. Then I got started on Friday's stuff, since I was going to spend all day Friday at the Central Washington State Fair taking promo photos and hopefully getting a story or two.

A note on attending the fair as a reporter. The first time it was really exciting, I was thrilled. The second time I was better prepared for the work and a little more cautious about what I planned to do and how long it would take me. The third time it was old hat and I just wanted to get the job done. I like the fair, don't get me wrong, but I don't feel any great need to enjoy myself.

And so, after a fairly calm afternoon on Thursday, including the LTAC meeting, Friday morning was a case of getting everything done so I could go to the fair. I realized driving out there that I was exhausted from the week... I'm clearly having fatigue issues... and I struggled to stay fully awake and alert on the drive. I cranked up the AC to keep myself frozen since that seemed to be the only way to make sure I was completely awake. Once at the fairgrounds I parked after being directed all over the freaking place and then walked to the gates. I should have rested in my car since we still had a few minutes before opening, and I don't handle standing in direct sunlight well.

Once inside I got my photos and looked around for story opportunities, but I was hot and tired almost immediately, and I started to get grumpy. I found a quiet corner of the SunDome (relatively quiet) and sat for about a half hour to cool down and get my strength back, then started to wander again. I didn't find anything that would work for a story, which made me more frustrated. I ran into a couple of Sunnysiders, but for the most part I was just taking the same old photos of the same old things. With the utter fatigue and frustration, I got into a worse and worse mood. Finally I headed home to a frantic cat who apparently thought he'd been abandoned completely. As soon as I fed him, I headed upstairs and collapsed into bed. I didn't wake up until about 8 p.m. when Eric asked me if I wanted dinner. I figure I must have slept at least four hours.

After dinner I read a little before going back to bed. I woke up moderately early this morning when Eric attempted to weigh Inkwell but the Wii wouldn't turn on. Eric is now headed over the mountains for another event while I plan on trying to fight my fatigue with some exercise and chores... and reading. Inkwell, meanwhile, is hiding because he thinks I'm going to put him in the carrier and take him somewhere.

Wish me luck fatigue fighting. It's becoming a real problem again, so I need to figure it out and flatten it soon.