My words have dwindled here a bit over the past couple of weeks. That’s because my writing has been focused elsewhere.
I’m, like, a newspaper reporter again.
But, dude, it’s so much better this time around.
I landed a regular freelance gig for the local newspaper, which means I am scheduled each week to cover night meetings (school board, city council, etc.). I’m assigned based on my availability and my proximity to the meeting. In other words, I only get sent out for stories that are close to my house on days that I feel like doing it.
On days I work, I eat dinner with my family, go to a meeting, come home and file my story that night. The next morning, I wake up and go back to my regularly schedule life: pre-school drop-offs and grocery shopping and banana bread baking and Friends marathons.*
I think I may have found it … that elusive balance we all crave.
It’s amazing the way life can work itself out. When I left the newspaper industry four years ago, I assumed I was saying goodbye to it forever. Newspapers – and newspaper reporters, for that matter – are a dying breed. I got out the first time around on my own terms before I became another casualty. I knew then and I know now: I don’t want to be a full-time news reporter.
But a freelance reporter? Oh hell yes. It’s easy, flexible money. I’m building professional contacts of my own in the area. I’m dusting off clothing, shoes and oversized work bags that haven’t been used in months. I tell Ryan, “I have to go, sweet pea. Give me a kiss. Mommy’s gonna go make the monies.”**
Honestly, I have felt more like myself over the past couple of weeks than I have since we got on that airplane seven months ago. I know work isn’t everything. It is important to me, but it was never the most important thing. Family is. Hands down, every single time. But people are complicated, layered beings. And beneath my Family Layer is a Work Layer that was shriveling up and in need of some attention.
Plus, going from two incomes to one is a bit of a shock to the system. A little extra money now and then? Not terrible right now.
The strangest part about this is the fact that I write for Mike’s hometown paper. I’ve never written for a paper that was read by family. The first time a couple of my stories ran, Mike’s uncle called his mom and said, “Hey, I just saw Meg’s byline! She’s reporting again?!”
It’s a little intimidating to write for an audience that has lived in this area for, oh, their entire lives, while I’ve lived here since, oh, April. But it’s forcing me to learn about the area on a deeper level and that sort of knowledge is what makes a place start to feel like home.
Now I just need to make some local friends and I’ll be REAL happy/balanced. Lehigh Valley happy hour, anyone?
*Just kidding, Mike! (Ok, FINE. Once. I watched a Friends marathon once. I am weak.)
**I know, I call myself a “writer” and then speak to my son in this horridly ungrammatical fashion. I can’t help it … I think it’s funny to say “make the monies.”