I left my staff writer position at the Daily Camera on Tuesday after three years there and 12 years of professional journalism. It’s 14 years if you count the time at the college paper, which I totally do.
That’s a long time to do anything, and this journey I’m about to take couldn’t have come at a stranger time. I’m turning 40 in about a month, and I always scoffed at people older than I speaking about 40 in these hushed tones. But it’s true, I’m freaking out a bit.
Life is half over, and I don’t know what to do with the rest of it. My father, who was not a picture of mental health, descended further into a spiral of depression and prescription drug use that ended with a gunshot wound in the bathroom. That sounds like a drag, so I don’t want to go that route.
This time last year, I said “I’m in too deep” with regard to leaving the newspaper business. I guess I was wrong, and my future as a journalist looks pretty dim at the moment.
But what to do now?
In January, I wrote this under the heading “Possible Career Moves”:
“Laying on the couch and listening to “The Moonlight Sonata” while I stare at the ceiling. This would be preferable with a ceiling fan. Way more arty. Alternative: Lay on couch and listen to “The End” by The Doors and pretend I’m Captain Willard.
There was a note attached that read “My girlfriend says I’m just being dramatic.”
And she’s right.
If it’s drama I’m looking for, well, I spent a lot of my career as a crime reporter, and I often joked that if journalism were to ever fail me, there was always a life of crime. So I guess I could embark on a brief, interstate bank robbery spree that ends in a hail of police gunfire somewhere in Texas. Don’t ask me why, Texas just feels right.
But absent a bloody death in some bank parking lot in Deaf Smith County (real place, always wanted to use it in a sentence), there’s jail and showering with dudes. Hard pass on that.
My mother was a school teacher for a long time. I’m pondering going back to school and getting a teacher certification. For the longest time I said, “No, I don’t have the patience to deal with children.” But then I realized that I’ve been dealing with children for 14 years –- uncooperative public information officers, elected officials, angry old white men with guns, other reporters. Children can’t be as bad as any of those people.
Part of me wants to go down to the track and get a job shoveling horse manure. I might do that for a few weeks, just as a 40th birthday present to myself. Maybe that’s just me being dramatic again.
I don’t know what’s going to happen. It will be an adventure though. It always is.