Most of us define who we are by what we do. That makes sense to me since that’s the interface we have with others and the world. However, I also realize the two aren’t inextricably linked. “What we do” is only a descriptor, an onramp, an invitation to others to “come into our parlor” and get acquainted with us.
So, welcome to my parlor…
I just love that term. It reminds of the old bordellos of the past with rich velvet drapery, lanterns, a fireplace … and lots of lace. Look closer and there are tears in the lace, stains on the old furniture, burns in the carpet and everyone ends of disappearing down the hallway somewhere to “do their business.” Hmmm, business intrigues me. So does that hallway. There are so many doors.
I’m not suggesting that I’ve made a career out of visiting old whore houses. It’s an apt metaphor for what has plagued me my whole life…I just can’t stop wondering what’s down that hallway, around that corner, across that ocean, …what’s happening in that boardroom, behind that desk, behind that brain.
What I do…
I have almost completed my task of raising four wonderful, beautiful, incredibly challenging, and sometimes maddeningly difficult children. That was my first and most important job.
Okay, my first job was actually dusting hardware in the lumberyard my father managed while I was growing up in Idaho. But, obviously - beyond introducing me to work ethic - that wasn’t as important as raising children.
My journalism career started in 5th grade at Heyburn Elementary when I launched the school’s first student run newspaper. It was one page, typed on a typewriter (remember those?) and duplicated using an antiquated carbon copy process in the principal’s office. Its main focus was a feature on the school’s librarian – my heroine. The school newspaper archive includes exactly one issue and it lived just long enough for the copies to be distributed to my classmates and thrown in those dull grey garbage cans by the teachers’ desks. Seeing that first issue in the trash was crushing for me. I wanted to know that people actually read it. I think that was where I first added “apathy” to my knowledge base. It’s also when I started getting tough psychologically when it came to journalism.
The last time I remember shedding tears in front of a keyboard was in my “Beginning Reporting” class at Humboldt State University. Howard Seamann put an end to those tears. “What the hell you cryin’ about?” I looked up to see Howard looking down at me with a half grin, half good natured scowl. That’s where I learned to separate criticism of my journalistic work from personal criticism aimed to hurt me. That’s also where I started to understand that, if “they” can make me cry and run away because of hurt feelings, that elusive hallway stays a mystery and I would never get to peek (sometimes gawk) through those doorways. Howard Seamann’s Beginning Reporting class is where I learned to stand firm and keep asking questions when politicians and people in power turn on the attack mode and suggest that I’m an imbecile for asking such probing and “stupid” questions.
“Yes, sir. I understand your frustration, sir. But, if you could just be patient with me, I would really like to understand…(etc. etc. etc.).”
…Excuse me sir, I’m headed down that hall now…so, if you’ll kindly step aside…