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Sunday, May 3, 2020

I had no idea days can be so long. When you work in a newsroom, one of the most-common phrases is when someone looks up at the clock and yells, "How in the hell did it get to be 4'o clock?" When you're the editor of a small-town daily, that is everyday. It's as though 20-30 people need your attention RIGHT NOW at each minute of the day. So your brain teaches itself to constantly reset priorities throughout. Although this is speculation, I'm pretty sure having my shoelaces on fire would fall off the Top 10 list of things I have to fix in the next minute. Let that fire move its way up my pant leg -- right now I have attorney threatening to sue me because of "Garfield." "Sir, are you aware that feeding a cat lasagna would lead to its untimely demise?" Yes sir, but you see that's a syndicated cartoon and meant to be a joke. In the meantime, I have someone on hold who thinks the crossword has clues that are too liberal. Or conservative. Or reading their mind. But God, I love it so. Being a newspaper editor to me is like playing in an improvisational jazz band of the highest nature. On a high wire. While people are shooting arrows at you. And at the end of the day, no matter what -- blizzard, power outage, not enough staff -- we had to have a newspaper put to bed. I've done that about 10,000 times by my count. So as busy as I was today, it stretched. I looked at the time on the computer at one point, tired and ready for bed and thought: Jesus, it's only 2 p.m. Busy it was. I've had so many friends from across the country reaching out to offer help: a place to stay, a little money, some beer. Upland drinking buddy Greg Hanek brought me two Upland beers. I think he had the other two in the four-pack. I talked with old college buddy Dan Parks who is now the editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy. He was my editor at our college newspaper and I once referred to him in a column as a "strapping Mennonite buck." For the record, he was only two of the three. I caught up on emails and messages, looked for local housing, checked journalismjobs.com and indeed.com -- little if anything on a Sunday. Christ, it was only 4 p.m. I thought about standing on a street corner with a sign: "Will edit for beer." After texting with some friends and journalists, I made my way to Taco Bell -- don't judge me damnit. I had beer and a need for 73-percent meat tacos. It was now 6:30 p.m. when I could enjoy a cocktail and sit down to ruminate and then write. I have struggles but I have blessings. More so than ever, I'm reminded of Miranda in Shakespeare's "The Tempest": "O wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world That has such people in't!" Thank you for reading, dear friends, far and near.

20 comments:

  1. Rich: We already miss your Sunday columns. Hope to run into you at Nick's soon enough. Mike Morris

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  2. You are one talented writer. And I know from my former newsroom colleagues how much you were liked and respected at the H-T. Damn those corporations and the Almighty Buck.

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  3. Rich, as a fellow Indiana journalist, it pains me to see you get bounced from your job and your home all at once. I don't know your situation, obviously, but my home on the north side of Indy is open to you if you need more housing options. My wife and I (empty nesters) have two extra bedrooms and we're happy to share for a month or two if you need a place. You can reach me at johnondeadline at gmail dot com. All the best.

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  4. So who is handling the editing job now? Are they doing it with software or in some other place? Your former bosses are idiots. If its losing money, just give it to the employees who would keep it alive with their efforts.

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  5. Thank you Rich for the blog posts. My heart hurts for you having to endure a this situation. If you make it to Madison, we definitely need to connect for a cocktail and escargot at the Tornado(if we can ever go out to eat again). Stay well my friend, Naomi

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  7. So sorry to hear this news - we had a few online interactions when you were at the H-T and you quickly earned my respect.

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  8. Please put a “Like” button on your blog so I “like” it officially.

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  9. Please send a private email address where I can contact you to milt@uss1.net.

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  10. Best wishes! I can't offer anything, but somehow knowing your former employer I'm not surprised. Here's hoping you land on your feet and do well in the end. I think some progressive journalism profs in s or central Indiana owe you a few dinners, beers, & maybe somewhere to conduct your job search.

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  11. I deeply empathize with your situation as a fellow member of the human family. I hope it to be a blessing in disguise for you.

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  12. dear homeless editor,
    could you bring the font size up to like a 14-16 pt? Can't read the small stuff and blowing it up won't fit on one screen.
    thanks
    faithful reader

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  13. Homelessness is FUCKING DANK. You gotta find a nice bridge to live under in Cali my dude, its fucking awesome! You're guaranteed to lose weight

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  15. I wish you the best. I love your writing. Take care. Kirsten’s mom in Michigan.

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    1. Thank you so much, Kirsten is a joy and James is even better.

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  17. I really enjoyed your blog and would like to sign up. How do you do it?

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  18. one of the things I so enjoy about your writing, both here,and at editorial page of H-T, is your deep knowledge of literature, but so approachable, not excluding in any way. The quotes make one want to go and read the thing, not be all "what the heck is that".... :)

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  19. This blog is a great idea. To turn a negative experience into a positive. By chronicaling it while it is happening. I too am a journalist who was homeless for two years in Australia where i am from. I was fortunate to have the support of a homeless womens organisation. They helped me get temporary accomodation but i still had to sleep in my car. Here the journalists union can provide some financial relief. Prayer helps too.

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