Monday, June 29, 2009

Changing Dreams

A few years ago I had
an opportunity to work
at a newspaper office.

I guess that sounds fairly boring
until I tell you that this was
my dream job.

I started out typing
classifieds and legals
and greeting every
rummage sale fanatic in the world
with a list of goods and specifications
available at their weekend sale.

For a year and a half I worked
with some great people in
the front office-
always secretly looking down the hallway
to the editorial department-
wishing I could scoop up
a notebook and camera
and run to write
the next story.

After sharing a few humor stories
and letters to the editor,
I was asked to transfer full time
as a reporter.

How perfect.
How romantic.
A desk.
A press pass.
The freedom to come and go.
The beauty of words
and images
and making people smile.

I loved writing a weekly column.
It was titled Porch Ponderings,
which is how I named this blog.

beyond that,
it was so much more complicated
than I had ever realized.
The dream I had yearned for
was not quite as great
as I had imagined it.

I had to go to the local animal shelter
and interview the orphan animals.
I had to stop people on the street
and in the mall and ask them
what they thought of some current event.
I had to sit through press conferences
and school plays
and summer camps.
Boring speeches,
lame awards,
and county fairs.

Once I spent a whole week
covering a 4H livestock show.
And, I do admit,
other than the sawdust in my hair
and sheep manure on my shoes,
I enjoyed being part of
the excitement
and outdoors.

my favorite thing
was having free reign to
invent thoughtful columns
from my own imagination.

I must add that there was
one very overbearing,
egotistical reporter
who was elected as my mentor.

She taught me nothing.

Except a feeling of loathing
and sickness whenever
I saw her car in the parking lot
and knew she'd have a
"List Of Things Nobody Else Wants To Do, So You're Going To."

Once she gave me three stories to
cover on a Saturday,
which consisted of
a car wash at 9 am,
an art exhibit at the museum
all afternoon,
and a demolition derby
that started at 8pm and lasted
till midnight.

On top of that,
she requested that the
stories for all three events
be written and ready
to go to press by 4 am
on Monday.
With a dozen or more
good photos, too.

I did it.
But I wasn't happy.

In my dreams,
all the reporters were like family.
Chumming around-
the office a buzz of excitement
and creativity-
a place where you bounced ideas
off one another-
felt a certain literary bonding-
an importance to the community.

But in reality,
it was not a dream job.
It was just hard work.

It actually stifled the need
to express myself.
It put chains and restrictions on me.
I couldn't editorialize
or use flowery language
or fluff things up a bit.

It was facts.
And news.
And boring everyday stuff.

So after four months,
I said goodbye
to deadlines
and steno pads
and my overbearing mentor.

It just goes to show you
that when dreams come true
they may turn out
completely different
than you expect.

I didn't miss the newspaper,
but I missed writing.

So, last July I sat down
in front of my computer
in my pajama pants,
a cup of coffee in my hand,
and a new dream in my head-
and started this blog.

And I am truly happy.