Here we go again
another round of blues
— the prophet colvin
I know only three absolute truths:
- It’s always darkest before the dawn. OK, I don’t know this to be true at all. I work nights, and it’s always fairly light by noon. But still.
- Aránzazu Isabel María “Arantxa” Sánchez Vicario is a great name for a tennis player, although it would take a long time to sign autographs.
- When you get a message late Sunday night saying there will be a mandatory meeting of an unspecified nature on Tuesday followed by another mandatory meeting on Wednesday, it’s a Bad Sign.
I know, I know. What’s to worry about? Print journalism has never been in better financial shape. This must be a meeting to congratulate us and announce our $1,000 bonuses as part of the tax revision, right?
I’ve been to this meeting twice before. Despite my Southern Baptist upbringing, I’ve become fairly adept at the Layoff Mambo. But what I learned from the first two rounds is that the uncertainty is the hardest part. I’m off today. So I have the entire day to wait and worry and halfheartedly look through the job ads for possible employment as a gerbil wrangler, the only real skill I have in life other than writing tortured puns in headlines.
I entertain the notion that maybe this isn’t what the meeting will be about. It’s the same notion I entertained the last two times. There are no atheists in foxholes, they say. But if the grenade lands next to you, I suppose it doesn’t matter much what your religious beliefs are.
What to do?
Running is the thing they will never be able to take from me. I have a closetful of shoes, an imagination full of adventures, a body that is increasingly slow but still fielding the excitement of a puppy who desperately has to pee.
I go to the Mad Dog, because, dammit it’s the Mad Dog. In hard times, you cling to what you love. It’s a glorious day, warm and sunny. There’s a Pro Disc Golf tournament going on. Pro Disc Golf? This could be a promising career if the gerbil wrangling thing falls through.
It’s an hour of forgetting my worries and dodging frisbees. You turn on the autopilot, turn off the brain. Shawn Colvin sings as we run along.
Several miles ago
I set down my angels’ shoes
On a lost highway
For a better view
I’m on a metaphorical lost highway. I have no idea where we’ll go for a better view. But I have a best friend and a cat and five guitars and a Garmin in an embarrassing color. What more do you need?
I revel in the weariness of the miles. I am so tired of worrying. I will never tire of running.
I finish up and do my 35,000th google search for the day to see if there’s news. There’s not. No news is not good news.
I go home and eat macaroni and cheese. I need all the comfort I can get.
I read a column a couple of days ago by the brilliant writer Frank Bruni. He’s going blind, and there’s not a damn thing he can do about it. One eye has gone out completely, some kind of weird eye stroke and there’s reason to believe it will happen to the other eye as well. Every day he wakes up, terrified to open his eyes. But in the column, he quotes the filmmaker Joseph Lovett, who made a documentary about sinking into glaucoma. He told Bruni his best counsel was this:
“You cannot spend your life preparing for future losses.”
What better life advice could you get? So I’ll try not to. If this is the end of my life as a journalist, that’s OK. The gerbils need me. Tomorrow, I’ll go to my meeting. Then I’ll come home and pull on my shoes. The trail will say hello. We’ll celebrate life, and the joy that can’t be found at a desk in a newsroom realizing the world never wanted to be saved in the first place.
“The truth will set you free,” David Foster Wallace once said, “but not until it is finished with you.”
I will find the truth on that one-hour run. I hope it’s never finished with me. That’s a lot more important than a job, even if the cat who prefers the fancy cat food would disagree.
Of course, if tomorrow’s meeting really IS to congratulate us on a job well done and to hand out bonuses, never mind. Yay journalism.
It’s always darkest before the dawn.
I’m sleeping in for sure.
We had our bitter cheer
And sweet sorrow
We lost a lot today
We’ll get it back tomorrow …